To everyone else, I dedicate this post. ( Warning: squee-harshing about to commence )
To everyone else, I dedicate this post. ( Warning: squee-harshing about to commence )
Yesterday, for a random reason, I started reading it again. And... I liked it. The prose is perhaps a little purple, the pace a little slow, the hints at things I should have just said a little opaque. In the middle half, some of the soap factor needs to be reigned back. But by and large...
The more serious problem (which I've known for ages and is probably one reason I abandoned the novel as a lost cause) is that I was doing this 'post-feminist' (with all the quotation marks) thing of "Sure, a woman can run a starship if she wants, but sometimes a woman just wants to go home to one's hyperpatriarchal society and be owned by a man with no real recourse if he decides he wants to kill her". Which: Young Zeborah, what were you thinking?(*)
But also, I noticed this time and not then, the entire rest of the novel is steeped in all the rape culture. It's all terribly asexual, but wow. The main character is harassed and almost everyone including herself blame her for not reciprocating; the author-at-the-time saw Both Sides of the Story while now I'm all, "Dude, she said back off. Back off!" In an important subplot, her best friend makes a complaint of harassment and all the focus is on exonerating the poor guy she's complaining about and then it turns out she made a terrible mistake and he's innocent after all. In other really important subplot, same person defends herself from super serious charges by explaining about the super serious harassment she was undergoing and no-one including the main character believes her.
It's... wow, it's really bad. Or... they're some really horrible situations, narrated uncritically. So now I can't help but feel that if I told them more critically, and was also more critical of some of the politics behind Federation and space exploration and post-war peace treaties -- I could make a really powerful theme out of boundaries and the violation thereof and the reclaiming of agency afterwards.
Or possibly waste my time on a novel I filed away seven years ago with very good reason.
It's not like I don't have a pile of unfinished things I could be working on instead....
(*) I'm pretty sure what I was thinking was that I was young and nervous about being an adult.
- How A Relationship Brought Me Halfway Around The World And Back Again - a tale of culture shock using the February earthquake as a punchline
- To New York, From Christchurch, With Love. - Karen Healey responds angrily
- If I didn't have my writing, Christchurch would have broken me - AJ Fitzwater picks up the thread, with particular reference to the arts and culture in Christchurch
"They started bringing that joy back mere weeks, maybe days after the quakes."
My sister and I made sandcastles out of the liquefaction the morning after February. We'd barely slept after a night of three quakes a minute (the bloody Port Hills kept reflecting them back on us) and the world had brought us sand, so. It made a few neighbours smile: well worth the time.
One thing I was thinking the other day — walking past the chalkboard on Colombo and (Tuam?) and an empty block which is mostly carpark except for the footprint of one shop taped off, with "No parking" sprayed in pink on the aggregate, and signposted "GapFiller coming soon" — is that Christchurch is making an artform of the temporary. Sandcastles, and yarnbombs, and Easter bunnies made from milk bottles atop road cones. We might have four seasons in a day and we sure don't have a clue what the roadworks are going to do tomorrow morning, but we also never know where a GapFiller might pop up next.
There's a tremendous beauty in that. And a pain underneath it that for me makes the beauty all the sharper. And this beauty is everywhere in Christchurch these days, like and in the wildflowers blooming in the piles of rubble.
( Spoilers for Elementary S2 episodes 5 and 6 )
Not to even mention the friendship between Sherlock and Watson, every episode. The theme is partnership and mutual respect, and it's awesome.
I won't bore you with the Criminal Minds stuff that feels, for no obvious plotly, thematic, or setting reason, like it begins this dream sequence. Nor even the fairly standard sequence in which I was trying to escape people through a maze of a high-rise's corridors and capricious escalators which also feels somehow linked.
It really started on a road that wends along the Heathcote in suburban Christchurch. Specifically here (google street maps link).
The bridge was wider, but we'll come to that, and the sky wasn't so conspicuously grey. It may even have been sunny, because you could see in the north right to the police station in town, which was in my dream the tallest remaining building in the city.
Except that as I looked I realised it was getting shorter: floors were being teleported off. The [bylaws|algorithms?] ruling the city had decided it was too tall and the excess floors had to be relocated. One was already on a site somewhat southeast of me.
Such is Christchurch: buildings come down, buildings go up. I must have mentally shrugged and decided to go on home, a route that takes me over that bridge. As I mentioned, in the dream it wasn't a mere footbridge. It was, specifically, the size of a building site, and it had a number of strategically placed knee-high pillars ready to be foundations.
About half-way across I put two and two together and dropped to the ground to avoid being crushed by the floor(s) of police station that might materialise at any moment. I was worried my backpack extended above the safe crawlspace. Rather than wait to find out I crawled back to the road I came from.
Now, on the other side of this road were three or more booths, each about the size of that from which Lucy dispenses advice for 5c, except proportionate to an adult. At the leftmost, a customer (if a WINZ would-be beneficiary can be called that) was given a plate holding a scattering of cola-flavoured mini-jellybeans and told to use them to spell the word "food".
As I passed, the customer challenged me, "Can you spell 'food'?"
"F-O-O-D," I retorted at once; I don't know why so coldly.
Then the woman staffing the next booth over called me across for my own (medical) tests. I had no legal choice but to obey and go to her, but I did it reluctantly. I'm not sure if I knew that the idea of my body being a medical map to the city's health was scientifically suspect, or if I just recognised that the consequences of this pervasive politico-cultural belief were unjust and threatening to my life and limb, but either way I argued.
Particularly when I learned that taking blood wasn't going to be enough this time: they suspected one of the city's major organs was failing. The implications were unstated but clear, and being fond of all my major organs I argued.
In vain. The woman tried to reassure me, as hands held me from behind, "Actually your muscle mass is doing really well."
The hands were forcing my right forearm out for her scalpel. I pointed out, "It's not going to do my muscle mass much good if you cut out my veins."
But the city's roadways were fatally congested, you see: they needed my veins. So as I struggled desperately against the hands, she sliced into my wrist. It hurt. It was some small relief that she turned out not to be aiming for the larger blue veins but instead extracted a thinner purple one: a red thread in the air as she pulled it out. This did not, need I say, make the process any the less excruciating.
(When I woke, heart hammering, I could still feel the distinct memory of that pain, transferred to my pinkie finger. I had to rub at it for a couple of minutes to make it go away.)
I honestly don't know how much sense it will make if you're not familiar with the characters from either/both of the shows. If anyone is familiar with the characters from either/both, do you want to beta-read a novel-length crossover fanfic? It'd actually be particularly helpful to have a beta-reader who's only familiar with one (or even neither) since - being aware that the crossover between the fandoms is limited - I'd like it to be comprehensible by people who only know one or the other.
( Anyway, the dream plays out as an act excerpted from an episode. )
The thing that makes it easy is that the videos are clearly from sponsors. And which you get shown clearly depends on your region. And clearly in my region, there's only one sponsor and it is Tui Beer, and that's the answer to the captcha 50% of the time I've been on this site. The other 50% of the time it's a short slogan they've picked which I forget because it's been a week or so since I got it.
Doesn't matter, anyway. Because theoretically, if I could program this sort of thing, I could program a bot to go in and download All The Content by just trying "Tui Beer" over and over
item one email to a certain clothing company informing them that they are *still* emailing me order confirmations for someone who is not me despite me informing them of the problem previously, and that if they keep this up I will be writing to the postal address listed in said confirmations to offer my support (in the form of copies of all correspondence) in any legal action that person should wish to pursue against the company for the privacy breach;
item one email to a certain boarding school suggesting that their student's guardian probably didn't intend for me to receive all these details about said student.
(The clothing company has responded very apologetically and promised to fix it, but they did last time too, so we'll see if I still need to spring for postage.)
In the past I've also emailed a certain person informing them that they clearly intended to email their friend at a different domain name.
These are just the ones that I've researched and been sure at least some of the people involved are actual real people and I'm not getting spammed/scammed. There've been a bunch more I've been less sure of.
I'm starting to imagine that all these other-me's are in fact a single person, and piecing this hypothetical life together. (I know for a fact though that at least one is not at least one of the others.) Also I'm getting the kind of plot bunny that's cute but probably won't go anywhere. Also it's well past midnight.
And also! Googling for my handle, I'm now only #2 in results (today from New Zealand with my browser cache). Duckduckgo puts me at a mere #4. This is a disturbing trend when I know for a fact I used to be the #1 Zeborah on the web.
Masonry fell, people started panic buying at supermarkets and one person was knocked out by a falling TV in the 20-second quake that was followed by a flurry of aftershocks.(Source)
For background, New Zealand is a series of seismic faults with a bunch of volcanic cherries on top. So yeah, technically this one was 'bigger than February' as another headline puts it, but in a different situation so no-one was killed and damage seems relatively minimal - nuisance value. I mean, absolutely all sympathy/empathy during the aftershocks and confusion for friends and family and others there, especially those who left Christchurch, but at least it relieves my own reflexive anxiety.
So sometimes (especially during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori) I'm reading stuff on the web and come across a kupu hou I don't recognise and want to look up. I used to select this, open a new tab, type in http://www.maoridictionary.co.nz/,
When I got up this morning it was raining particularly miserably so I took some extra clothes to change into at work if I got too drenched. Normally I shut Boots out of the living areas during the day, because she has a tendency to accidentally set off the burglar alarm (I don't even know how but she does), but when she saw I was going she said, "Yeah, not today, bubs," and went back to the bedroom to curl back up on my warm waterbed.
This seemed fair enough.
It started snowing on the way to work. By the time I got out there it was thick enough (though not yet settling) that the bus driver was saying if it kept up they'd be off the road within an hour. So (having shaken a quantity of snow to the floor) I relayed this to the boss, and about quarter of an hour later she decided to send home anyone who doesn't live in the local township, and offered me a lift back.
By the time we got back into town it was definitely sticking, in a slushy way. I've brought in Boots' litterbox, swept my porch, and turned on the kettle and the gasfire. Boots remains curled up on the waterbed but she'll probably exchange it for my lap once it's warm enough here in the living room.
Now to catch up on a few hundred journal articles and do some planning for that rapidly-approaching conference paper....
Also, I've now filled her kibble bowl and she's still trying to eat my sandwich. This is clearly unacceptable.
The bulldozer next door is now gone, as is the remaining rubble of the foundation. The garage remains, and I think the fruit trees do too.
The land assessment people visited my property this morning and discovered that there's a couple of patches of silt and some uneven pavers. This is approximately what I already knew, except that I wouldn't have mentioned the pavers because I think that predates the quake: it's an area of the backyard that regularly swamps in winter, and I keep a couple of bricks for the express purpose of placing there as stepping stones. But apparently I'm going to get an information package in the post in a few months which may or may not include some kind of compensation offer. Or maybe not, they said something something excess. I'm not clear on the detail especially because I hadn't quite clicked that one got compensation for silt in one's backyard: I'd just mentally classified the sand volcanoes as the remnants of a temporary water feature and moved on.
Because a while ago when I came home there was a fence up around the house next door. And yesterday when I came home there was a bulldozer on the driveway beside the house next door. So today when I came home it wasn't terribly surprising that there was a bulldozer on the small pile of rubble that is all that remains of the house next door.
But I am disappointed that I can't share any photos, because it's winter and my commute is about 1h15 each way, so when I leave in the morning it's dark and when I get home at night it's dark.
In related news, I got a surprise voicemail from EQC/Fletchers last Thursday and after a couple of rounds of voicemail tag they asked me if the repairs on my house had in fact been completed. No, I replied, in fact they had not. Much as I told you last time you asked me this five months ago. Oh, they said, and asked for details again, which I told them again. It's possible that this time they'll do something about it, but I'm not in a rush. (It's just aesthetics around my living room fireplace. It's serious aesthetics, so sometime in the next five years would be nice, but people are living in their cars and using bubblewrap for insulation, y'know?) Mostly I just want to know that their records reflect the fact that they haven't finished, so a call every several months suits me fine.
A few days later I got a further call from EQC related folks but in this case it was land assessment, wanting to check what damage my land sustained. I could have sworn they'd already assessed my land (you know, before spending all that time and money mostly-fixing my house 18 months ago) but I'm a librarian, not a geotechnical engineer so what do I know? I managed to get agreement that they don't need access to my house because, while they'd like to check the land underneath it, they respect my desire not to have my new insulation and plastic sheeting torn up for the purpose. Peering through the vents will apparently be fine. This means they can come and skulk around the property by themselves while I'm at work.
In unrelated news, I've been baking a series of Herman the German Friendship Cakes, which involves keeping and feeding a yeast-based starter. Whether it's particularly warm of late, or the ingredients have got off-balance, or what, but the last several days he's really taken off with serious bubbling. He also smells increasingly alcoholic. :-D
I mentioned making curtains: I now have the three incorrect ones up and will make the fourth one correct in due course.
I may have also mentioned dehydrating fruit. When my trees are in fruit this is peaches and plums; right now it's mostly cheap apples and pears; but sometimes I have some persimmons or honeydew melon going soft. So I can come home of an evening and grab myself a slice of dried persimmon, and it is good.
Also I had some trifle because nom.
I made thermal linings several months ago for my living room and bedroom curtains, and lo, they are good. I also started on new yellow curtains for my sunroom, but shiny things distracted.
The leadlight windows in my bedroom had no curtains, which is bright too early in summer and cold in winter. So with $0.50 of navy polyester from an op shop, leftover thermal lining scraps, tape and hooks scrounged from some dirty old netting curtains, a bunch of salbutamol to resolve the asthma triggered by said dirt, and railings and old nails found in my garage, I spent Saturday sewing and now have:
They make my bedroom super dark, it's fantastic.
On Sunday after church and grocery shopping I peeled, cored and sliced 2kg of cheap apples to throw in the dehydrator, bleached a path across my back porch where I won't have to slip on moss (I'd have bleached the whole thing but I have this habit of stopping work when my exertions start making me nauseous), and bought another 16 metres of curtain tape. Then I spent the rest of the day watching West Wing while sewing the tape onto three of the four curtains for the sunroom.
I went to bed with a slight headache (either bleach or lengthy-sewing induced) but it's Queen's Birthday weekend so I could sleep as long as I like, and accordingly had many cool dreams. The coolest was preparing to fight against a larger force and splitting our rearmost battalion so each member held up flags as if they were a battalion each. Our enemy promptly surrendered. It was fantastic.
Anyway, at the proverbial 2am I was mulling over this dream and thought: "...I shouldn't have sewn the tape at the top of the curtains." This morning I checked and yes, the curtain looks okay hung up as I sewed it, but if I had an extra 6cm of curtain on top of the tape it'd reach to the ceiling and thus block out more light and cold. It's just to do this I'd first have to unpick twice 11.2 metres of seams.
What should I do now?
Unpick 22.4 metres of sewing and resew
Just go ahead as planned
Make the last panel with 6cm above the tape, and leave the others to fix on Some Other Day
Eat some leftover trifle
Then there was an earthquake and there were no buses at all. Then they started running for part of the route but the nearest stop was ten minutes away (and my erstwhile 30-minute commute became a 2-hour commute due to omg the traffic, but that's another story). Then some many months later after various permutations of the route My bus-stop started being used again and I might have cried a little.
Then roadworks came to the street. Even before the recent "[image of a roadcone] = progress" propaganda posters went up I've always believed in the sentiment, and the challenge of trying to find a new route across the road every time I want to visit the supermarket is all part of the fun of living in a post-apocalyptic society. (Another is jumping over the semi-filled-in ditches they dig across the footpath away from every house when they're fixing the sewers. It's like playing Super Mario in a virtual reality system.) But it did put My bus-stop out of use again — at least the one I go to on the way to work; the one I get off at on the way home was unaffected.
But tonight! I was on my bus on the way home, and I pressed the buzzer and started collecting my bags. And the bus started slowing down at the lights. And I'm all, "Wtf, driver, don't you know those are flashing orange lights because of the roadworks, you don't need to stop at them!" And then the lights — wait for it — the traffic lights turned red.
So I'm all, "Zeborah, play it cool, this is just a thing traffic lights do." But, I mean, they turned red, so when we reached my bus-stop I said to the driver, "Did those traffic lights just start working today?!"
And he said, "Yeah! And I was like, where are all the roadcones?!"
Which passed me right by like it was just a figure of speech, because pff, you can't have roadworks without roadcones! That's just logic! So we said goodnight in good spirits and I hopped off the bus (carefully so as not to sprain an ankle on a pot-hole). Then, just as I was about to turn into my own street, I chanced to look back the way we'd come and I saw that the roadcones were gone.
(Okay, there are still several scattered at various spots, but it's less in the way of someone having set up roadcones to delimit roadworks, and more in the way of someone having missed picking them up. It'd be pretty easy to overlook a few bright orange cones with reflective stripes, because that sort of thing just blends into the post-apocalyptic landscape along with the "Safety is no accident" hi-vis vests: you only notice them if you're really looking for them.)
I... I think the roadworks are finished?
At least on that side of the road.
And I think that means I'm going to get My bus-stop back.
And you know what that means?
What shall I do with this extravagance of free time?
brush my teeth!
do a modicum of housework!
follow more links from Twitter!
other (please comment!)