mmerriam: (Coffee)
Edwin Jagger DE with Astra Platinum Blade
Escali Badger Hair Brush
Dapper Dragon Shaving Soap in Strawberry Lemonade
LadySea Creations Shaving Scuttle
Clubman Pinaud Aftershave

IMAG1298

As some of you know, I've stopped shaving with expensive multi-blade cartridges, going back to the way I was taught by my grandfather and the way I shaved until my early 20s, using a double-edged safety razor. I don't often do these "Shave of the Day" things because once I find a razor, blades, shaving soap, and aftershave I like, I tend to stick with them, but I've been trying a lot of different products lately, so I thought I'd post a review of some of the new things I'm trying from time to time.

The Jagger DE is a loaner from a friend, but I'm thinking I want to buy this one. I liked the control of the shorter handle and heavier weight over my lighter long-handled workhouse Lord L6. The Astra is my usual blade, though I'm always willing to experiment.

What really made this shave was the Dapper Dragon Strawberry Lemonade, which is a seasonal, but I'm sure still available at their Etsy store. It whipped up super easy with great foam (I just traded up from a boar brush to a badger brush and the difference in how well and quickly soaps whip is significant). The shaving soap smelled delicious and left my skin feeling a nice tingle. The razor went over it smooth and easy and I only needed two passes to get a good close shave instead of the traditional three. I highly recommend this shaving soap.

On a personal note, I like using the scuttle instead of just a bowl because it keeps everything warm, which I find makes the shave more pleasant, and the LadySea Scuttle is just a lovely piece.

Finished off with the Clubman Pinaud because this is pretty much the aftershave my grandfather used and if it works for me, why switch?
mmerriam: (Coffee)
Make tea. Forget to turn off the kettle. Notice cat running around the house frantically, racing between the up and downstairs meowing at the top of his lungs. Finally smell the smoking and smoldering kettle. Run downstairs in the dark, remove kettle from stove, open all the windows. Realize I really need another cup of tea...
mmerriam: (Default)
We didn’t have tornado here in Hopkins yesterday, though the WCCO radio did say we had a funnel spotted at Highway 169 and Excelsior Blvd. Despite that, we never heard any sirens here. What we did get was lots of hail, some of it ping-pong ball sized. Nothing seems to have been damaged, which I am thankful for.

I started the day with a headache, so it seemed a good idea to head back to bed. What it did was make me groggy all day, so that I’ve never seemed to get things in gear. Not even Chinese buffet could save the day. S and I spend a fun and quiet hour building a small birdhouse and watching the Reverend Selena watch the squirrels. Tonight, we will head to St. Paul for an evening of hanging out with friends at the Muddy Pig.

I’m nearly finished with the final pass of Dark Water Blues. This is a last continuity check after I rewrote several sections. I should be able to finish it tomorrow evening, once I’m home from my every-other week visit to Lifetrack Resources. I really hope I can finish it tomorrow night or by Friday afternoon, if for no other reason than I am sick of looking at the manuscript.

Now I am off to make dinner and feed the Reverend before we head out.
mmerriam: (Default)
We didn’t have tornado here in Hopkins yesterday, though the WCCO radio did say we had a funnel spotted at Highway 169 and Excelsior Blvd. Despite that, we never heard any sirens here. What we did get was lots of hail, some of it ping-pong ball sized. Nothing seems to have been damaged, which I am thankful for.

I started the day with a headache, so it seemed a good idea to head back to bed. What it did was make me groggy all day, so that I’ve never seemed to get things in gear. Not even Chinese buffet could save the day. S and I spend a fun and quiet hour building a small birdhouse and watching the Reverend Selena watch the squirrels. Tonight, we will head to St. Paul for an evening of hanging out with friends at the Muddy Pig.

I’m nearly finished with the final pass of Dark Water Blues. This is a last continuity check after I rewrote several sections. I should be able to finish it tomorrow evening, once I’m home from my every-other week visit to Lifetrack Resources. I really hope I can finish it tomorrow night or by Friday afternoon, if for no other reason than I am sick of looking at the manuscript.

Now I am off to make dinner and feed the Reverend before we head out.
mmerriam: (Default)
I've been head down and pushing forward with revisions and rewrites of Last Car to Annwn Station, so I haven't been the best of bloggers lately. I very nearly finished with this pass, and hope to return the manuscript to the editor in the middle of next week. Right now I plan to take the rest of the week off and recharge. I'm sick of looking at the this book right now, and the next thing I need to do is read it through for continuity and some tweaks before I send it back. I plan to have JAWS for Windows read it to me.

I took most of today off as well, getting in a much needed introvert day, including reading, practicing my bass, and generally staying off the computer. I ran errands in downtown Hopkins in the early afternoon, though I missed my bus and ended up walking home. I had the wind at my back and was walking downhill, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I also started poking at my next couple of projects. I'm ready to start writing new words.

Once I turn in the manuscript, I need to focus on preparing for a meeting with our accountant and the filing of taxes. I also need to start working on passport applications. [livejournal.com profile] careswen has a professional conference in Canada this spring.

I've started reading Dracula in anticipation of seeing Walking Shadow Theatre Company's production of Drakul, written by [livejournal.com profile] mistoffo.
mmerriam: (Default)
Year before I posted an entry here on Live Journal. I suspect, nay, I know, that it is the holiday crush. We have been busy: family visit, visiting friends, New Year's Eve, having a belated birthday get together. Much fun has been had, as well as food consumed and alcohol imbibed, all good things to help push back against the darkness of winter.

The Christmas decorations are taken down and put back into storage. Tomorrow, I shall start to reset the house back to normal, or at least what passes for normal around here. [livejournal.com profile] careswen starts her final class of graduate school this week. We are working on financial things, trying to get ready for her to finish school and make the jump into her career. Things are moving forward all around me.

I'll make a post about what cons and such I will be at this year later this week. I will say that it looks to be a busy year. I have a cool sounding MinnSpec meeting coming up on two weeks, one of our members giving a presentation about a seminar focused on story construction he attended last autumn. I am taking part in a self-editing seminar being run on a forum by the Editor-in-Chief of Carina Press for Carina Press authors for the next three weeks. This can only help me as a writer, moving forward.

I saw the ophthalmologist last week. Still blind. No surprise, really.

The Reverend Selena is very fuzzy still.
mmerriam: (Default)
Year before I posted an entry here on Live Journal. I suspect, nay, I know, that it is the holiday crush. We have been busy: family visit, visiting friends, New Year's Eve, having a belated birthday get together. Much fun has been had, as well as food consumed and alcohol imbibed, all good things to help push back against the darkness of winter.

The Christmas decorations are taken down and put back into storage. Tomorrow, I shall start to reset the house back to normal, or at least what passes for normal around here. [livejournal.com profile] careswen starts her final class of graduate school this week. We are working on financial things, trying to get ready for her to finish school and make the jump into her career. Things are moving forward all around me.

I'll make a post about what cons and such I will be at this year later this week. I will say that it looks to be a busy year. I have a cool sounding MinnSpec meeting coming up on two weeks, one of our members giving a presentation about a seminar focused on story construction he attended last autumn. I am taking part in a self-editing seminar being run on a forum by the Editor-in-Chief of Carina Press for Carina Press authors for the next three weeks. This can only help me as a writer, moving forward.

I saw the ophthalmologist last week. Still blind. No surprise, really.

The Reverend Selena is very fuzzy still.
mmerriam: (Quantum Cat)
1. Finished Bujold's Shards of Honor, because I might be the last SF fan in existence to read these books and I thought I needed to correct that. I was suitably impressed and will be starting on Barrayar soon.

2. Dear Reverend Selena: We love you, but if these expensive trips to the vet don't stop soon, you are going to have get a job of your own. I'm just saying.

3. Speaking of jobs: Dear Universe: I really need a part-time position that pays between $14 and $15 per hour and is 20 to 24 hours a week and no more than an hour commute involving no more than two buses. I need this so that [livejournal.com profile] careswen can free up more time to build her psychotherapy practice. I know this might be much to ask considering the crummy economy, my complete and total lack of marketable skills, and the fear and dread you see in the eyes of hiring managers and HR people when the gimp walks into an interview, but still, it never hurts to ask.

4. Dear Muse: A vampire novel? Really? Oh, I get to write them as the deadly monsters they are? Cool!

5. Is there some kind of fair or something going on right now?
mmerriam: (Quantum Cat)
1. Finished Bujold's Shards of Honor, because I might be the last SF fan in existence to read these books and I thought I needed to correct that. I was suitably impressed and will be starting on Barrayar soon.

2. Dear Reverend Selena: We love you, but if these expensive trips to the vet don't stop soon, you are going to have get a job of your own. I'm just saying.

3. Speaking of jobs: Dear Universe: I really need a part-time position that pays between $14 and $15 per hour and is 20 to 24 hours a week and no more than an hour commute involving no more than two buses. I need this so that [livejournal.com profile] careswen can free up more time to build her psychotherapy practice. I know this might be much to ask considering the crummy economy, my complete and total lack of marketable skills, and the fear and dread you see in the eyes of hiring managers and HR people when the gimp walks into an interview, but still, it never hurts to ask.

4. Dear Muse: A vampire novel? Really? Oh, I get to write them as the deadly monsters they are? Cool!

5. Is there some kind of fair or something going on right now?
mmerriam: (Loon)
I have finished the draft of the untitled monster-hunting barista novel. It clocked in at 68,000 words, which might be a little thin. I'm glad to be done with this one, and ready to start working on other things.

Had an author's online meeting with the editorial and marketing staff at Carina Press. All of Harlequin is behind the launch of this line. I need to set up an author's page at e-Harlequin. I am bemused that I set out to write a near-future Urban Fantasy and ended up with Paranormal Romance. The working title, "Should We Drown In Feathered Sleep," will probably not survive, but I'm okay with changing it to something marketing thinks will appeal more to the target audience.

I keep pulling out and petting my copies of The Horror At Cold Springs. I am a little boggled that I'll have two stand-alone novellas published this year. Now to sell a novel.

Met with the The Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers last weekend to talk about the Northern Lights: 20 MinnSpec Tales anthology. Several members did not know the extended history of this project (it was first proposed in 2007). There were a few moments of "Michael squirms in his chair" as I took questions from writers I had rejected. Next weekend I will be presenting at MinnSpec again, this time with [livejournal.com profile] cloudscudding and Conrad Zero on social networking for authors.

I sat down today and worked out what needs to be done in order to salvage "Dark Water Blues." I can fix this, though it will mean some serious rewriting. I also realized I only have eight pieces of short fiction out right now, which is a low number for me. Turning more and more of my writing attention to novels has cut into the number of short stories I have in progress, though there are a couple of WiPs I'm excited about.

On the home front, we’ve been hit with several larger repairs lately: a new compressor for the AC in [livejournal.com profile] careswen's car, and heating elements for both the dryer and hot water heater. On the positive side, The Reverend Selena seems to be pretty much back to normal, though she still get IV fluids twice a week to help her ailing kidneys. Had wonderful and successful birthday parties for both [livejournal.com profile] careswen and [livejournal.com profile] greykev and went to [livejournal.com profile] dlandon's dance recital, which was a joy to watch.

Preparation for attending 4th Street Fantasy Convention, CONvergence, and possibly Diversicon are starting to rev up. I updated my website, mostly the bibliography page. I am looking forward to seeing everyone. I really need to spend quality time practicing with my bass guitar before music circles at these cons.

Big Update Done!
mmerriam: (Loon)
I have finished the draft of the untitled monster-hunting barista novel. It clocked in at 68,000 words, which might be a little thin. I'm glad to be done with this one, and ready to start working on other things.

Had an author's online meeting with the editorial and marketing staff at Carina Press. All of Harlequin is behind the launch of this line. I need to set up an author's page at e-Harlequin. I am bemused that I set out to write a near-future Urban Fantasy and ended up with Paranormal Romance. The working title, "Should We Drown In Feathered Sleep," will probably not survive, but I'm okay with changing it to something marketing thinks will appeal more to the target audience.

I keep pulling out and petting my copies of The Horror At Cold Springs. I am a little boggled that I'll have two stand-alone novellas published this year. Now to sell a novel.

Met with the The Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers last weekend to talk about the Northern Lights: 20 MinnSpec Tales anthology. Several members did not know the extended history of this project (it was first proposed in 2007). There were a few moments of "Michael squirms in his chair" as I took questions from writers I had rejected. Next weekend I will be presenting at MinnSpec again, this time with [livejournal.com profile] cloudscudding and Conrad Zero on social networking for authors.

I sat down today and worked out what needs to be done in order to salvage "Dark Water Blues." I can fix this, though it will mean some serious rewriting. I also realized I only have eight pieces of short fiction out right now, which is a low number for me. Turning more and more of my writing attention to novels has cut into the number of short stories I have in progress, though there are a couple of WiPs I'm excited about.

On the home front, we’ve been hit with several larger repairs lately: a new compressor for the AC in [livejournal.com profile] careswen's car, and heating elements for both the dryer and hot water heater. On the positive side, The Reverend Selena seems to be pretty much back to normal, though she still get IV fluids twice a week to help her ailing kidneys. Had wonderful and successful birthday parties for both [livejournal.com profile] careswen and [livejournal.com profile] greykev and went to [livejournal.com profile] dlandon's dance recital, which was a joy to watch.

Preparation for attending 4th Street Fantasy Convention, CONvergence, and possibly Diversicon are starting to rev up. I updated my website, mostly the bibliography page. I am looking forward to seeing everyone. I really need to spend quality time practicing with my bass guitar before music circles at these cons.

Big Update Done!
mmerriam: (Default)
I have an interest in abandoned, derelict places.

When I was younger, I loved finding my way into old buildings. When I was younger, it was a combination of the thrill of exploration combined with the inherent danger of being in a decaying structure. Add in the adrenaline-pumping fear of being caught, and it was a wonder I didn't end up in more old building.

When I was a pre-teen and early in my teenage years, we lived in a tiny little rural town, Oney, Oklahoma. The town's official name was Albert, because that was what it said on the post office, but the original name of the town was Oney. The school was Oney school and all the old-timers called the town Oney. Albert existed only for governmental purposes.

It was a town in decline. Serious decline. The railroad had not only stopped running trains there decades before, but had torn up the tracks themselves and taken them away. The population was small (around 150 people at that time) and there were plenty of old buildings from the village's better days standing around empty: an old grocery store, a tiny movie theater, the old bank, what we thought might have been a jail. On the property my family owned stood the abandoned cotton gin and mill and its adjacent office. I found my way into all of them, exploring with a handful of other adventurous boys and girls.

As I grew older, my thoughts became less about the thrill and adventure aspect and more about exploration and remembrance. I developed a sense of these empty building having actually been places where people lived, worked, and loved. I could feel the echo of those lives in the empty corridors and graffiti covered walls.

As I became older still, I grew less adventurous, stopped wandering into old places. Failing eyesight and a sure sense of my own mortality tempered my love of exploring these lost structures. Instead I turned to the internet and followed other explorers in their photographs and videos.

What interests me now is the history of a place. What was it? Why did it fall into ruin? Who were the people who worked or lived there? What must they think to see this place abandoned? Now it is about remembrance. These places meant something to people, to the community, to history. They deserved to be remembered.

Like I said earlier, Oney is small place. I lived there (off and on) from 1974 to 1980, doing most of my elementary school and all of junior high in that little town. The school was one of those solid brick structures built by the WPA in the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was not air-conditioned, and was hot during the late summer and early fall months, but it did have big windows and doors, so it had good air circulation. The classes were small; no more than a dozen of us in a class at anytime and sometimes a class might be as small as six kids. Budget cuts and dropping class sizes finally caught up to the little town, and the state closed the school, rolling it into the larger Binger school district. The last class left Oney school in 1991.

I knew this, of course. I had worked at the 3M plant in Weatherford with some old schoolmates from Oney. I knew the school was closed. I knew it was gone. This isn't something rare out in rural Oklahoma. The land is dotted with little school buildings (and sometimes entire multi-building campuses) that have closed and been left to rot.

At some point the main building was torn down, probably for safety issues. This seems a mercy to me. But the gymnasium is still standing. I suspect there was a plan to use it was a community center, and somehow those plans, (like so many plans and dreams in small-town Oklahoma) fell through. Recently, someone I know on Facebook entered the old gym and took some pictures, and there it was, a piece of my childhood, a piece of my history, standing forlorn, decaying slowly on the Oklahoma prairie.

I was unprepared for how sad this made me feel. It was like looking at old friend who had fallen on times so hard there was no return. And there is no return for this place. The best thing that could happen to it would be for someone to come along with a bulldozer and level it. I suspect this how the old-timers felt about all those old empty and ruined buildings I loved exploring as a kid.

I was struck by the fact that, not only is it part of my history, but I am a part of its history, however small. I played basketball in that building, went to school assemblies, plays, and banquets in that building, had an 8th grade graduation and dance in that building. The blue paint on the rusting handrails may be chipped and faded, graffiti may be painted on the concrete bleachers, the ghosts of basketball goals may be broken bits that lurk at either end, and the old parquet floor rotted and covered in fallen bits of ceiling, but I know these things in my soul and remember them as they were.

I am a part of that old building's memories. Its history.

I am one of the ghosts of that place.

There will come a day when that building is no more, either knocked down by man or carved up and reclaimed by nature and the land. I know that this is simply the way of things. Buildings come and go. People come and go. Everything dies, in the end.

But I will remember that place as it was, and it will always be a place where people lived and worked and learned and played and loved and were.

And someday, when I am no more, I will take that memory with me, and we shall both be ghosts...
mmerriam: (Default)
I have an interest in abandoned, derelict places.

When I was younger, I loved finding my way into old buildings. When I was younger, it was a combination of the thrill of exploration combined with the inherent danger of being in a decaying structure. Add in the adrenaline-pumping fear of being caught, and it was a wonder I didn't end up in more old building.

When I was a pre-teen and early in my teenage years, we lived in a tiny little rural town, Oney, Oklahoma. The town's official name was Albert, because that was what it said on the post office, but the original name of the town was Oney. The school was Oney school and all the old-timers called the town Oney. Albert existed only for governmental purposes.

It was a town in decline. Serious decline. The railroad had not only stopped running trains there decades before, but had torn up the tracks themselves and taken them away. The population was small (around 150 people at that time) and there were plenty of old buildings from the village's better days standing around empty: an old grocery store, a tiny movie theater, the old bank, what we thought might have been a jail. On the property my family owned stood the abandoned cotton gin and mill and its adjacent office. I found my way into all of them, exploring with a handful of other adventurous boys and girls.

As I grew older, my thoughts became less about the thrill and adventure aspect and more about exploration and remembrance. I developed a sense of these empty building having actually been places where people lived, worked, and loved. I could feel the echo of those lives in the empty corridors and graffiti covered walls.

As I became older still, I grew less adventurous, stopped wandering into old places. Failing eyesight and a sure sense of my own mortality tempered my love of exploring these lost structures. Instead I turned to the internet and followed other explorers in their photographs and videos.

What interests me now is the history of a place. What was it? Why did it fall into ruin? Who were the people who worked or lived there? What must they think to see this place abandoned? Now it is about remembrance. These places meant something to people, to the community, to history. They deserved to be remembered.

Like I said earlier, Oney is small place. I lived there (off and on) from 1974 to 1980, doing most of my elementary school and all of junior high in that little town. The school was one of those solid brick structures built by the WPA in the late 1930s or early 1940s. It was not air-conditioned, and was hot during the late summer and early fall months, but it did have big windows and doors, so it had good air circulation. The classes were small; no more than a dozen of us in a class at anytime and sometimes a class might be as small as six kids. Budget cuts and dropping class sizes finally caught up to the little town, and the state closed the school, rolling it into the larger Binger school district. The last class left Oney school in 1991.

I knew this, of course. I had worked at the 3M plant in Weatherford with some old schoolmates from Oney. I knew the school was closed. I knew it was gone. This isn't something rare out in rural Oklahoma. The land is dotted with little school buildings (and sometimes entire multi-building campuses) that have closed and been left to rot.

At some point the main building was torn down, probably for safety issues. This seems a mercy to me. But the gymnasium is still standing. I suspect there was a plan to use it was a community center, and somehow those plans, (like so many plans and dreams in small-town Oklahoma) fell through. Recently, someone I know on Facebook entered the old gym and took some pictures, and there it was, a piece of my childhood, a piece of my history, standing forlorn, decaying slowly on the Oklahoma prairie.

I was unprepared for how sad this made me feel. It was like looking at old friend who had fallen on times so hard there was no return. And there is no return for this place. The best thing that could happen to it would be for someone to come along with a bulldozer and level it. I suspect this how the old-timers felt about all those old empty and ruined buildings I loved exploring as a kid.

I was struck by the fact that, not only is it part of my history, but I am a part of its history, however small. I played basketball in that building, went to school assemblies, plays, and banquets in that building, had an 8th grade graduation and dance in that building. The blue paint on the rusting handrails may be chipped and faded, graffiti may be painted on the concrete bleachers, the ghosts of basketball goals may be broken bits that lurk at either end, and the old parquet floor rotted and covered in fallen bits of ceiling, but I know these things in my soul and remember them as they were.

I am a part of that old building's memories. Its history.

I am one of the ghosts of that place.

There will come a day when that building is no more, either knocked down by man or carved up and reclaimed by nature and the land. I know that this is simply the way of things. Buildings come and go. People come and go. Everything dies, in the end.

But I will remember that place as it was, and it will always be a place where people lived and worked and learned and played and loved and were.

And someday, when I am no more, I will take that memory with me, and we shall both be ghosts...
mmerriam: (Default)
The reason I've been stopped as a writer lately is not that I don't have any stories to tell (I do), or writer's block (I can hear the words in my head just fine), or that my life has gotten all hectic and stressful (though it has) or that I spend too much time on social network sites (though I do): it is that I've forgotten to be kind to myself.
mmerriam: (Default)
The reason I've been stopped as a writer lately is not that I don't have any stories to tell (I do), or writer's block (I can hear the words in my head just fine), or that my life has gotten all hectic and stressful (though it has) or that I spend too much time on social network sites (though I do): it is that I've forgotten to be kind to myself.
mmerriam: (Coffee)
It's not that there has not been things I've wanted to post about, it's that I've been a little overwhelmed lately, struggling for time and focus.

In Which Michael Yammers On About Everything On His Mind )
mmerriam: (Coffee)
It's not that there has not been things I've wanted to post about, it's that I've been a little overwhelmed lately, struggling for time and focus.

In Which Michael Yammers On About Everything On His Mind )

Love

Nov. 19th, 2009 09:42 pm
mmerriam: (Love)
15 years ago today, I asked [livejournal.com profile] careswen to marry me. It was one of the smartest things I've ever done.

Love

Nov. 19th, 2009 09:42 pm
mmerriam: (Love)
15 years ago today, I asked [livejournal.com profile] careswen to marry me. It was one of the smartest things I've ever done.
mmerriam: (Blind)
I attended several SF/F/H conventions this year, all local here in the Twin Cities where I live (we have a plethora of local SF/F/H conventions) along with one gaming convention. I go to conventions for a variety of reasons: To see my friends and to be around other folks who share my enjoyment of SF/F/H in literature, movies, games, or other media. I go to support my friends who are professional authors by attending their readings and hawking their books and to get my own name, face, and fiction in front of the local public. I go to just enjoy myself.

It was a tough convention season for me this year. Each convention presents different challenges for this blind fan and writer, and at times those challenges overwhelmed me. The larger the convention, the greater the challenges, but even small conventions can present me with difficult situations.

For example, small conventions typically mean small consuites: Small, narrow, crowded, hard to get around in consuites. I usually end up sitting somewhere and asking my wife to bring me things, but this is sub-optimal for several reasons. For one, I still hate to be a "bother" to anyone, and would rather sit silently than risk breaking up a brilliant conversation because I need help getting through the crowds to the soda. And I know that's a personal choice on my part. I know.

And crowds. This is a fact of life at larger conventions, but it's something I struggle to deal with, to the point of sometimes getting so overwhelmed that I give up and go up to the room to hide. Now granted, I'm an introvert and at conventions I try to be "on" as much as possible--smiling, chatting, being social--which is exhausting to me. So I dive back into the room to recharge. But the crowds, oh the crowds, they are probably my greatest challenge.

Because people at conventions are talking and visiting and looking at all the shiny, and they don't actually pay much attention to their surroundings. Now, you'd think being well over six feet tall and wielding a long white cane would be a clue, but no. Any moment I'm in the hallways and trying to get around under my own power (as opposed to being assisted) the journey is fraught with peril, near-misses, people tripping over the cane, and accidental body-checking into walls. It is especially bad with small children, who tend to dash one direction while looking the other. This forces me to try and be extra slow and careful, hyper-aware of my surroundings. It's exhausting.

Dealer's rooms are another adventure. The same problems as above, now with bonus narrow aisles and displays lying in ambush, waiting for the hapless blind guy to stumble into them. Going into the dealer's room without assistance is nigh impossible.

The final thing the crowds tend to do is "blind" me. I'm already struggling with not being able to see much of anything in a rapidly changing environment, but the noise--especially around the party rooms (which I've learned to avoid)--basically leaves me without my other primary way of telling me what is happening around me. If I can't see clearly, and I can't hear clearly, what chance do I have? I've had to drop out of some things I wanted to do, simply because it became too hard on me in those situations to deal with the environment. There were moments where I quite literally froze in place because I lost my bearings and could not navigate my surroundings safely. It is a frustrating thing.

There was some disability programming at a couple of conventions this year, panels I pushed for about Disability in SF, which also touched on being a disabled fan (a panel I had taken part in at a convention a couple of years ago). Sadly, even this was problematic, as one of the conventions put us in a space that was too small and nearly inaccessible for our disabled fans in wheelchairs. And once I was in the room, I was stuck. There was no way I'd have been able to maneuver out of that room without help, and even then it would have been tough. Good thing I was safely ensconced on the panel!

And elevators: This is a real problem at larger conventions, where the elevators are few and broken down half the time (ask me about the night I climbed 22 flights of stairs). When the elevators are slow and not always working--placing them at a premium--and people want to get up their rooms to change for an event, or get to a room party, or whatever, all courtesy is tossed out the door. I've had to stand and wait through up to eight cycles of elevators because once one opens and clears, the faster, younger, able bodied people will happily charge forward and cram into the thing before those of us with canes or chairs can even start forward, squeezing us out in their mad dash to get aboard. Tough luck, gimp.

It's a wonder I even bother sometimes.

But I bother because I really want to visit with and see the people I want to see. I want to sit in the bar or consuite and talk with my friends, especially those I only see at conventions. I go because some of the panels were valuable to me when I was starting out as a writer and new to fandom, and I like to be on those panels now, paying it forward, encouraging new writers and fans (I especially like talking with teens about writing and literature and fandom. They're so enthusiastic, lacking all the world-weary jadedness so common in their adult counterparts).

I have learned tricks to help myself, like getting someplace early and scouting it out, figuring out the best routes, the best ways to get up on the raised platform to the panel table, how to get to various crucial locations in the convention. Since large-print programs are rarely offered and the program pages on the room doors and boards are sometimes in smaller fonts, I try to memorize my schedule and all the things I want to, though this can fall victim to last minute changes, leaving me wondering where the go for that panel I was suppose to be on.

The solution seems simple: Stop going to larger conventions and always make sure I have someone available to help me access the convention. I can tell you both of these answers are sub-optimal for me. I know I'd be missing some great stuff by avoiding the larger conventions, and I simply can't rely on having people to help me all the damned time.

I don't have the answers (yet), but I know I'll keep going to conventions of various sizes, trying to figure out the best and easiest ways to deal with these challenges. Because one thing I am is determined to do is this: I won't stop living my life because I'm blind. And conventions, both professionally and personally, are part of my life.

April 2017

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