How I Deal With It

I just got a chain email  – “PLEASE FORWARD WITHOUT COMMENT,” it says, or thinking presumably, because it details a thoroughly fictional Meet The Press on September 7, 2008 where Obama claims the flag “conveys a war-like message” and heartily promises, if elected, to try to change the National Anthem to “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”  and then admits that he and Michelle have attended “several” flag-burning ceremonies.
I could argue with this dude, I guess.  Explain that two months before the election, this certainly would have made headlines. Or that despite this faux-concern, Obama has yet to attempt to legislate our National Anthem to “Good Vibrations.”
Or I could just send him this:

Dear Random Dude:
I thought you should know that some spam program has evidently compromised your account and is sending out moronic, factless dribble like this to millions of people who couldn’t care less.

But What About Bees?

The most-asked question I get is “Ferrett, you hungry stud-muffin, I hear you’re hung with the brobdingnagian proportions of a Germanic heroic saga, will you whisk me off to a bathroom stall and take me now before my panties explode in anticipation?”
But after that, people ask about the bees.
Problem is, we don’t know how the bees are doing.
See, at some point in late August, Gini and I decided not to harvest any honey this year so the bees could have all the food they could get to supply them through Cleveland’s notoriously harsh winters.  And after listening to all the debates of what you should do to prepare your bees for the winter – you should douse them with chemicals! you should use these natural supplements! you should stand on your head! – we panicked and actually did nothing at all.
So the hive has gone untouched since September.  And we hold out little hope.  We remember a conversation we had with a noted Michigan beekeeper, who said, “It’s your first year as a beekeeper?  Yeah, they’re gonna die.”
He said it with such knowledge and resignation, like a gypsy pronouncing a horrid fate for a greedy businessowner.  It kind of disheartened us.
We’ve watched, and luckily, there are some signs of life.  There are dead bee corpses at the front, which indicates that there’s some activity in the hive (the bees are clearing out their dead).  And yesterday, when the temperature hit fifty, Gini said she saw some bees taking cleansing flights.
(Bees do not poop all winter.  They wait until it’s warm, and then go outside and poop in one massive bee-dump that looks a little like brown bird splatter.  I won’t say it’s endearing, but it’s kind of neat, as apiary-related things are.)
So there are still bees.  In a week or two, on a warm day, we’ll crack the hive to see how they’re doing – enough of them may have died that there’s not enough critical mass to keep the hive together.  Or they may have eaten through their supplies of honey and need to be fed sugar water, which would require the purchasing of new equipment to put the sugar water near them.  (Our current feeders would require them to break off from the huddled mass, which they won’t do since their massed body heat is all that’s keeping them alive.)
So yeah.  We have bees.  Some bees.  Let’s see how this works in a few weeks.

A Very Atypical ConFusion Report

The con reports at ConFusion were almost unanimously glowing – people reporting having glorious times.  And I think it was, in the objective, a pretty damned fine convention.
I, unfortunately, had a really wobbly time at it.
Partially, that’s because I think ConFusion is starting to gel in a really nice way as a literary convention, slowly metamorphosizing into the ReaderCon of Michigan.  The con was packed with more authors than ever before, coming from a wider range (I think in part due to last year’s attendance of Cat Rambo and the relocation to Michigan of up-and-coming author Saladin Ahmed, which spread the word), and the literary track was good enough that I kept getting annoyed that I had to go to my own panels.  Why should I be on my boring ol’ panel when there were more interesting ones to see?
(No worries.  I did what I could to make my panels lively and interesting and full of zombie whale jokes.)
That’s good – for ConFusion, for Michigan, for pretty much everyone involved.  The problem was, for me, that I felt like I was doing a spectacularly bad job of balancing career and personal life.
See, the thing about ConFusion is that I’ve been going there for five years and have achieved what I refer to as Con Critical Mass – when you can’t walk across the hotel lobby without running into at least two people who you need to catch up with.  These are often con-buddies, which is to say that you see them twice a year and follow ’em on Twitter the rest of the time, and you want to say hello because – cons being what they are – if you miss this ten-minute conversation now, you won’t see them for another six months.
So there’s a ton of beloved pals I want to hug and say “hi” to and see how they’re doing.  That’s one end.
On the other end, we have a bunch of new writers I’ve never spoken to before.  And not only is there the whole “You should network with writers!” pressure in my brain as an author – I’m not saying this is what I should do, but it’s what every fucking writer-blog tells me I’m at a con to do – but I find writers fascinating.  I don’t get a whole lot of time in my real life to spend with people who get jazzed about debating the future of publishing, or who can give me gossip on what it’s really like to hang with The Legends of Science Fiction, or who’ll just understand what it’s like when you know how this story is going to go but you’ve taken five stabs at the opening scene and you just don’t know where to fucking start the ball rolling.
Problem is, since ConFusion is, as I mentioned, packed with newer writers, I don’t necessarily know them that well.  And I’m stupidly fucking shy at cons; if I’m introduced or greeted, I’ll chat your goddamned ear off.  But even if I have met you seven times over, if I see you sitting at a booth with two other strangers and you’re not waving me over, I’ll go, “No, she won’t remember me, and even if she does she won’t want to talk to me” and I’ll sit in the corner and meep.  So that’s a form of con-stress.
(An example of how bad I am: There’s one Very Famous Writer who, even though I have met him several times and he’s perfectly nice to everyone and he’s even been my mentor at a fucking writing workshop, I cannot approach him.  I’m convinced he doesn’t want to hear from me every time… right until he says hello.  This is how stupidly freezing I am about such things.)
So the pattern of ConFusion was this:
* Spend ten minutes working myself up to actually go over and hang with the one person I know, who is surrounded by a group of two to three new writers who I’d like to meet.
* After too much sweat, insert myself sideways into said conversation.
* Just as I start to get involved in some interesting discussion of writing, an old con friend sees me across the room and runs over to hug me.
* Try to insert old con friend into current discussion of writing.  Fail magnificently.
* Now must choose between blowing off old con friend or walking lamely away in mid-discussion that I’ve inserted myself into.
So the whole con, I felt this strange tension wherein I was either dismantling old friendships or walking away from create new ones, and I didn’t feel like I was ever making the correct choice or understanding how to manage this properly.  Essentially, ConFusion was a perfect storm of social anxieties all colliding.
This doesn’t happen at, say, WorldCon, because everyone who’s there is a writer and if I happen to see you, well, we’re gonna be discussing what the fuck Twitter means for writers.  And it didn’t happen at PenguiCon, because PenguiCon is not really a lit-con and as such I could just hang and doof out.  But at ConFusion, I felt very caught between two worlds.
Worse, I kind of needed to hang with the writers to hang with the writers.  As it turns out, many of the folks I’d hoped to get to know better with gathered on Saturday night in an impromptu hotel room party, which I didn’t know about because I was off snuggling my sweetie for two hours and thus missed the information-train.
So I dunno.  Jim Hines was writing about his Post-Con Neuroses, and not only do I share his issues, this is one of my own.  I felt bad at ConFusion because I wasn’t bonding with new people and I wasn’t spending the right amount of time with the old people, and as a result it led to a rather stressful time where I just had to spend all of Sunday trying to recover.
(Though I’m told by people who’ve seen me that I looked fine.  One person said I even looked “relaxed.”  I can fake it, man, when I have to.)
Even now, I’m a little worried about posting this in public, because as regular readers will know, I’m in a state of heavy depression and flux in my personal life, and trying to work out some new anti-depression meds (which I usually eschew, but hey, it’s bad this time) and therapy – all of which certainly didn’t help the con any.
But I dunno.  I hope Penguicon will be better.  And I don’t know whether anyone else deals with this, or how they do, but man, I know I do experience it and I need to work it out.

It's Business – It's Business Time!

You get to be the parent sometimes in almost every relationship.  Which isn’t bad.  You have to ask your partner to pick up something from the store, or remind them to take out the garbage, or hey, have you paid that bill you owe?
The problem comes when you have to be the parent all the time.
When you’re dating someone who’s sufficiently irresponsible, you start to slide into a situation that’s more nagger-in-chief than actual relationship.  Your job is not a love that feels good, but rather a constant reminder of all this stupid shit your partner has to do – because, you know, if they wanted to do the goddamned dishes, they would have by now – and so the majority of your interactions with your partner become these boss-employee talks where there’s something they should be doing and you’re not letting up.
Sex suffers in a lot of these relationships.  Because really, who wants to fuck someone who’s making them feel inept and stupid all the time?  It’s hard to switch gears from “Hey, we’re in an apartment where you didn’t clean out the cat box like you said, now let’s make sweet love.”
Roleplaying aside, it’s not sexy being someone’s caretaker, and it’s usually not sexy being the caretaken.
This particular dynamic often gets worse in poly relationships, because it’s a pattern I’ve noted recently where there’s the “unfun” poly partner who pays the bills and takes care of the home and gets none of the hot sex, and the “fun” poly partner off-site who gets all of the giggles and hot sex and fun dates.  Which is a relationship configuration that rarely works in the long-term.
The problem is that the core solution to this is usually pretty blunt: date someone more responsible.  Yeah, I’m sure they’re a lot of fun, but if they can’t keep what you think are the basic building blocks of life together without you continually riding them, is that the kind of person you want to be with in the long run?  So it sucks, but it may be time to move on, because you’ve got to date someone who shares your long-term goals – and like it or not, so many of those long-term goals are built on the tiny day-to-day expectations that you can’t ignore the little shit like this.
Usually, the solution is to just fucking go.  Which sucks.  But it’s better than continually wondering if your lover is going to remember to pick you up after work like they said.
The other solution may be to adjust your expectations.  Yeah, if your partner’s continually getting fired and spends all of her space money on dope and videogames instead of kicking in with the rent, then you probably should apply the boot.  But sometimes, it is you.  Maybe your need to have zero dishes in the sink at all times is just a preference, not a command of how life should be, and that requirement that the checkbook be balanced to the penny at the end of every day is a bit onerous.
Sometimes, you chose the “fun” partner because they’re a change of pace from your normal life, and then what you do is stomp them down until they fit into your routine.  Then you wonder why they’re boring.  The solution in that case is to lighten up and recognize that maybe what you’re interpreting as irresponsibility is just a different set of priorities, and that your “requirements” are just personal quirks, and that maybe you can learn to meet in the middle of a dirty sink.
But it’s hard to be both parent and lover.  The dynamics of forcing someone to do unpleasant, necessary things are at odds with the free love that leads to hot sex and happy attraction.  So at some point, you’ve gotta find someone who shares roughly the same set of responsibilities that you have, or you have to change your expectations.

In Which I Announce Two Hugo Winners

…well, okay, I get to announce the winners of a Hugo-nominating membership, thanks to my own contest.  But this is probably as close as I’ll come to announcing a Hugo, so I’m gonna grab it with both hands.
The winners (and now able to be nominators!) are:

Contact me at with your physical address and preferred email so I can buy you your membership stat, before the 31st deadline passes!
Alas, only ten people suggested short stories to read, so this wasn’t as successful as I hoped.  I think if I do it again next year, I’ll give out only one.  But I do maintain that the $50 for a WorldCon membership is a great bargain, and if you’re at all interested, you should sign up stat.
…speaking of WorldCon, anyone in Chicago feel like hosting a weasel and his wife the the week before Labor Day?  If so, lemme know.