Talk Like an Open Book: My Walker

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention Attendance, Health, Too Long For Twitter, Whining

I planned to post this two and a half months ago. I wanted to post it before Balticon for friends that would see it in our room, as warning of sorts. I know my haircut seemed rash for some reason, after years of talking about cutting it all off. Here’s some warning on this one for future visitors to #TheSeuss (our silly nickname for our home.)

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My General Practitioner prescribed something last winter(? Spring?) that I am only now finally coming to terms with enough to post publicly — a walker. Even after the daily struggles that I described for basic self-care, let alone toning and cardio and strengthening exercise, the determination somehow still felt like an accusation and led to a variety of ridiculous thoughts. I joke about living a #VealLife, but denied the need for a walker, in spite of:

  • Using a cane/sturdy parasol for years. They either compensate for dizziness; strength; pain management; removing cob webs from my sometimes slow moving brain; and hooking stuff to pull toward me when necessities are slightly out of reach.
  • Using braces and wraps for a decade. The trigger for their use was over a decade ago and, really, it took a particularly long time to recover from a sprained ankle while dizzy on stairs in December of 2012. I’m now also alternating compression gloves (also a gift from Heather, they help so much!) and various braces to help with hand joint pain (the pain is similar to broken bones, at its worst) and carpal tunnel. They are necessary for any keyboard work, chores or for holding our sweet Little Bear.
  • For years now, when traveling on public transportation, I have been using all the disabled services available. I feel I’m entitled to since I’m also traveling with my handicap placard. Whether it’s seating on a bus or a requesting a waiting wheelchair after getting off of a plane after hours of my joints stiffening at high altitude (a particularly nasty combo). I’ve literally gone from running in 5k’s and training for a half-marathon in 2011, to now simply hoping to survive the luxury of travel beyond a 3 hour radius. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post.)
  • My refusal of scooters as an option to the extent that I have long told loved ones that if they ever saw me in a scooter that they have to knock me out out of it and make me wrestle my way back onto it, to stay strong. Meaning, I could use it, but only when I HAD to. And I had to be ready to demonstrate that I hadn’t given up the fight, not yet. And if I had given up, it would remind me that there still is a fight to be had, every day.

But… a walker?

My heart sank, as it felt a bit like going backwards so many more steps than having to stop running and then regular cardio exercise. But she explained that it would make me more able to move around with the further stability for my continual dizziness as well as balanced support for my lower body. For years now, I am continually switching sides because of the flare up cause by stress on one side or the other, for using the cane. It would lead to more movement, knowing I was supported no matter which symptom had me debilitated, or chose to hit me while crossing a room.

Reminder: None of my illness/conditions are degenerative or terminal. And I only really remember telling a handful of trusted friends, venting fear of what it might be signalling – the next phase in body FAIL. I was already lost in the maze of options of which type would be perfect for me and was frustrated and venting to Heather, an extremely supportive friend, who literally jumped in at offering not only moral support but … a brand new walker. It was one of my first conversations and I was griping and whining, I don’t want to use one and I can’t afford one anyways and making all the excuses possible not to sink to that use.

Heather said that there was an unused walker, a basic one with the tags still on it and everything, back at her home for a family member that ended up not needing it and they’d just never gotten rid of it. Knowing that the lower end was $50+ after a previous Amazon session, I gratefully accepted the gift after the briefest of hesitations. It happened so fast and was so generous, that it made me accept the need and begin using it. In hindsight, I guess I was ready to use one before I knew it.

Boosters at the ready.

I set it up in our bedroom and then didn’t touch it for months. I had to stare it down and get used it, and to measure if I thought it would help move more.

Then, I spontaneously put it next to the bed one night last fall after laying in morning “stores” (breakfast, drink, pills, cane), in the hopes that maybe the first and most painful steps of the day would have me, at least, better supported than the cane gave with the joint pain I had. I just dove in and didn’t think about what it meant.

It was the difference between crawling to the bathroom and walking, granting much peace. Yup, crawling. It’s that bad and you should know that about me. This is me, now and I use it throughout the day in our bedroom.

In the months since then, it’s been a great relief to have it, next to my bed, every morning. I haven’t left the top floor of our home with one, yet. I only recently have allowed myself to assess and decide I need to pass that milestone, too, which means getting a 2nd one for the main floor. It’s where much of my Daughter and Grandson spend the daytime hours and where I’m of my most use as a human baby monitor, when I’m able.

And as a few very kind people know, I had it at Balticon. There are some folks that kept its presence private and secret, after I voiced my embarrassment, or didn’t have to, and they have my thanks for their discretion. It did make the difference to me getting out of the room or having any productivity in our room when I wasn’t able to leave it.

The following week, I asked my Rheumatologist about the weight of it and differences, after she was so happy to hear my motion has indeed increased with the use of the walker in the bedroom. She agreed that I need something lighter because of my Fibromyalgia “hot spots” for the main level of the house making it more of a challenge to use. And because on days I’ll need it, I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to get the one I have downstairs without aid and I’m shopping for a wheeled option for downstairs. Sexy, I know, but better to know before you visit.

Our oldest son and wife are living with us, and they and my husband are kind to me and I haven’t had to make that move, yet. For that, I’m exceedingly grateful (although not nearly good enough at showing it), because it also allows me to “watch” Little Bear from the comfortable nest of my bed/desk/dining table/sofa in our bedroom. Chooch or Gal are always on the same floor with me, so if any needs arise that I can’t cover still have him safe, but they are free to roam.

I’m the baby monitor, when I’m able to be one, watching him while he sleeps if nothing else. Lifting him, now at 13.3 pounds and two months old, is a painful struggle, but the Baby Bjorn helps, although rarely after getting him in it with assistance. Otherwise, I only carry him a few feet at a time and never on the stairs. Ever. I’m terrible on the stairs now.

Now, as was offered by a dear friend for my cane when I first got it years ago, I could dress my walker(s) up and make it snazzy, but I’ve decided I like the medical/functional appearance of it. It’s a constant reminder that it’s not an accessory, it’s a tool to strengthen my body, and to be used only as needed, not to the extent of my tendency recently towards laziness from fatigue.

I use my current, hefty and solid gifted walker next to my bed, for stretching and light exercise, balance and strength boosting, as little as it is. It’s not as much as other friends have/are doing in the aftermath since brother-from-another-mother P.G. Holydfield’s passing last August. But I’m still fighting where I can, damn it. I have realistic goals that I aspire to so I can make them and feel empowered to aspire to more. That’s my process.

And with all the added stress of moving in difficult times, weight gain has hit this Future Fat Granny. I’m doing ok with little changes and minimizing calories and increasing nutrition in my sustenance (smoothies for TMJ relief). But motion is still so painful that my vascular is not as cardio as it once was. Or whatever.

I’ve got goals for this year, and I need to lose some of the grief and uber nesting weight gain and get as strong as many of my friends are getting, as my body allows. There won’t be a race, but there will be health improvement.

Okay, so, yes, I actually have challenged a few folks to a race to age 100, including my former M-i-L on my Son’s wedding day. She has a lead on me, which she pointed out, and I told her something along the lines of hoping I was there to celebrate it with her. Sincerely. She’s a wonderful grandmother to my sons and I’m so grateful for that.

April 7, 2015

Rushed hospital photos by professional photog. Epic cuteness, and here’s my fave with us.

The health goals are there, and post-Balticon 2015, with the last memorial we have promised to throw for our P.G. is done. So many planned things were not done, but that was because I aimed too high. Those things are stashed away in the hopes we (SpecFicMedia.com) get to throw next year’s New Media Party.

Lookit, with multiple setbacks, thanks to the chaos of our rental home and such, I didn’t go as strong into grand-parenting as I’d hoped. But I can get moving a lot easier with the walker, and once I’m in motion, I keep going until I can’t anymore. Which is, admittedly, not very far, but as satisfying as I can get for now, newly dedicated to enlarge my route beyond the bedroom, first floor and home.

The walker has improved my motion to be less of a burden, and so my new friend stays so that I can try and keep up with all the wonder and surprise that the future holds.

 

 

Don’t Be “That Guy/Girl” at Balticon, M’kay?

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention Attendance, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Friends, No Whining, Too Long For Twitter

Balticon folks, please look over the Harassment Policy posted on the Baltimore Science Fiction Society site.

There have been issues in previous years, as most folks know. I like to think we all want to gather and have fun together with folks that genuinely share interests, but either alcohol or missed social cues can and have created issues in the past.

Sadly, not everyone realizes how their actions can be seen as harassment. Consider reading this over to ensure you don’t cause upset to your fellow con-goers AND/OR how to handle behavior you deem as harassment you see or experience.

Also, if you see someone giving cues that there are in need of “rescue” please consider giving a distraction and/or exit assist. If you are not comfortable, please summon assistance as instructed in the policy. (Yup, gonna make you click that link and read it. #CliffHanger

Of note:
Other people or their personal effects should not be touched–this includes hair, clothing, assistive devices, bags, and service animals–without an express invitation.

If physical contact is wished, express this verbally or with a friendly gesture, and do not proceed without a positive verbal or physical response.

Holding a hand out for a handshake and waiting for the other person to reciprocate is good example.”

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After seeing hotel renovations last week, I say this can be a fantastic experience yet again as our community gathers together to share, learn, contribute and geek out with our dice out!

Balticon 46 Update To Come?

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention Attendance, Family, Friends

Dear Readers,

My blogging process these days is lengthy now when it comes to events, as I have to journal first and try to pull all the people, memory and thoughts in and un-jumble them. My hope is to afterwards post a Balticon update, but it will be at least a few days.

A few quick thoughts:

I have too few hours with folks outside of our room, and for that I’m sorry.

For those people and events beyond me, please know that I missed you greatly.

For those that showed kindness, no matter how small it may have seemed, it all combined to cobble me together to see as many/much as I did.  I am greatly in your debt. I cannot promise that I will remember it, but I can promise that the accumulated kindnesses and after effects got/will get me through some rough stuff.

If anyone wants to help me fill in memory gaps, please email me at VivMuse@gmail.com with stories or pictures with me and Chooch. I will give photo and story credit if used anywhere beyond my own eye holes.

And while I know that everyone only posts in Facebook now, I created a Flickr Group for photos to be collected. Facebook will not last forever kittens, share your photos in places where they can be viewed, as appropriate. Add or view at flickr.com/groups/balticon46/ .

Also, if you come across other online photos from this year’s Balticon, please also send those along and I will try and link to them.

If you send something and you never see it used, know that it is still GREATLY appreciated. By me and Chooch both, at the very least <3

From the Post-Apocolyptic Recovery Ward,
Viv

2012 Conventions

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Too Long For Twitter, Uncategorized

Two things I want to announce on the subject of conventions:

My planned conventions:

Chooch and I will attend Balticon, only one week away, at the Hunt Valley Marriott in Maryland. I am shocked and gratified that this will be my 5th in attendance and 4th as a panelist!

At this point, I’ve not received my official schedule, but as of now I know that I am scheduled to be at:

  • Friday’s Meet and Greet
  • Saturday at 8 pm (I believe) in the Derby A Live Recording of SpecFicMedia.com Presents – Beyond the Wall: A Game of Thrones podcast. Come join our entire ‘cast cast as we explore the HBO series “Game of Thrones” as well as the book series. We vigilantly try to avoid spoilers, but either the cast or the audience may drop one or two. Based on our recordings to date, expect more F-bombs being dropped than spoilers. *It is known.*
  • Sunday at 10 pm in the Chase, I will be joining authors Barbara Friend Ish and P.G. Holyfield as we do readings from our works. Nothing makes me more nervous than a reading, but I hope to do it up right for my breast cancer anthology, with a tentative July release date.
  • When feeling up to it, my standard meeting points are the foyer, the bar, the courtyard or the Dealer’s Room.  Is it true there is no

I will be attending Philly Comic-Con, June 2 and will remain in Philly until the 4th for a private celebration. At this point, it appears that work obligations make keep Chooch away for this one.

We hope to make the trek to Dragon*Con for Labor Day weekend, but we will not know until closer to September if we will be able to attend or not.

TuacaCon, hosted by P.G. Holyfield and presented by SpecFicMedia.com is a virtual convention with writers, artists, musicians and performers giving their all with no travel costs! The date has yet to be determined, but the last two years was great fun and free! It is rumored that it may occur in Northern Virginia this year, and have even more folks in the live audience than ever before!

Also, if we meet at Balticon, Philly Comic-Con, Dragon*Con and/or TuacaCon, please know that for many possible reasons that I am sometimes easily confused or overwhelmed, hopefully due to one or all of my Health Blahs** or treatments. Please do not take offense if you get a negative vibe from me, in nearly all cases I can assure you that it is not you. It’s me. I am posting this here in case I have trouble verbalizing or am unaware of the issue. I don’t want a fuss made, I just want to avoid causing any misunderstandings.

Otherwise, I’m shy but say hi if you recognize me. Or leave a comment, @ me on Twitter (@VividMuse) or whatevs to let me know if you will be at any of these and maybe we can meet up!

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**Health Blahs – my term for my small collection of non-life threatening, yet problematic maladies.

Balticon 45 – In Lieu of a Wrap-Up

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Uncategorized

As the title implies, I’m not doing a rundown of all the exquisitely awesome and awful things that happened this year. Chooch has con crud and I’m just not up to it with everything going on here.

Suffice it to say I saw many beloved friends, some old and some new, and this year’s con has had the greatest impact in my life of any I’ve attended.

I treasure all the laughter and kindnesses of friends, especially those that came to my reading. I couldn’t have made it through that without each of you there, lending me strength. I hope I did Mom proud.

If you attended and took photos, please add them to the Balticon 45 Flickr group I created. It’s a great way for folks to uncover the many photos taken, regardless of how they are tagged. If you rely solely on Facebook, I would ask you to reconsider for at least this pool of photos. Many have left FB due to privacy issues and it would be a shame for them not to see the photos you have taken and shared. You can always link to Flickr from Facebook, and you also get to see how many folks have viewed them and it allows for folks to “Favorite” them to find in the future.

The next episode of Into the Blender may include a run-down, if Chooch is in favor of it. If not, know that I tremendously enjoyed all of the events I participated in or attended.

Whether you made it to the show or not, if you want more info on Chooch’s band Ditched by Kate, you can go to their website. There will be information posted soon about how to get a physical  or digital copy of their EP, Stumble.

Hectic Silence

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Health, Household

Apologies for the sporadic posting here, in Twitter, and in Facebook. We have so many things going on right now that it’s been hard to maintain contact as we’re in constant motion.

The house is still on the market, as the Open House yielded no offers. Nor have any of those that have viewed it before and after. We’re still waiting it out, and hoping it sells sooner rather than later, but it’s not encouraging.

There has been a lot of activity with Chooch’s band, Ditched by Kate, as they have been playing shows and are preparing for a fierce throwdown at Balticon on May 28th at 7:00 pm in the Garden Room.

We’re also really excited about their EP Launch Party on Tuesday, May 31st at Jammin Java in Vienna. There will be three other acts performing, and as soon as I know their performance time it will be posted on the official Ditched by Kate site. If you are unable to attend either show, we will be posting information on how to order the Stumble EP very soon.

In other news, I’m fulfilling button orders for Balticon and if you are interested in purchasing some custom buttons with either your design or a design that we create for you, please take a look at my fledgling business, Vivid Muse Creations, LLC.

As for non-business stuff, I’m excitedly planning out the summer visit for my youngest son, LT. It’s a bit chaotic with the house on the market, but we will have a wonderful time!

I’m having some issues with running after the Komen 5k, as the final hill has caused me continuing knee pain. That partnered with my flared up back pain (manageable) and some pulled muscles in my ribs have finally forced me to take a short break from running in the hopes of not doing long-term damage. It’s just fast-paced walking for me now, but I’ll be pulling out my bike this week as well. I’ve been afraid of riding it in case I get dizzy on it, but I won’t know until I get on it. With padding and helmet to protect me, I’m going to give it a try. I promise if I fall to take pix of the boo-boo’s and have a hilarious telling of it here.

I’m really bummed, because I signed up for an 8k for next Saturday, thanks to a $10 registration fee through Groupon, but I’m now thinking I won’t be able to even attempt it, let alone finish it. If I’m lucky and rest up and can restart my training, then the 10k in mid-June is still possible.

We are having great fun watching George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series on HBO every Sunday night, and we hop on Skype with friends P.G. Holyfield, Christiana Ellis and Nuchtchas (Nutty) Nimlas on Monday nights to record our Beyond the Wall Podcast. We discuss the series, the books and it is always a lot of fun. I’m grateful the P.G. is bearing the brunt of the production work, as he’s doing a wonderful job and I’m very proud to be a part of it. He just created a promo for it from outtakes that shows how much fun we have, but I think it’s likely NSFW or kids.

We’ve sadly had little to no time for gaming. I’m having increased difficulty as I almost always end up extremely dizzy and nauseous during a gaming session and usually end up with a migraine. We treasure the time with our long-time gaming friends and I’m refusing to let that stop me. I’m learning some tricks to minimize it and will keep trying new ones.

On a teensy note, I willingly tried asparagus and portabello mushrooms last night and they were delicious in the pasta dish our dear friend Jenn made. I’m tentatively branching out as I am continuing my quest for healthier foods that may or may not make my pee smell funny.

A Lesson Relearned

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention Attendance, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Dizzy, Friends, Health

Writing my blog post for Balticon took longer than it should because I write here for me. My memory is full of suck lately, whether due to the health issues or the medication or both. I forget things. A LOT of things. So I take extra time to write things out, and when I’m doing this in a blog I try really hard to give links for the cool people or things I’ve seen. This leads to a lot of searching, which leads to a lot of reading as things catch my eye. While doing this I discovered further proof that Dave Slusher is a really cool guy. I’m not saying this as a podcast fangirl, because I only found out after Balticon that he even has a podcast. Yes, I’m that clueless…

I first chatted with Dave at Dragon*Con 2009, but I was told we actually met at Balticon 2009. I didn’t recognize him because he had been wearing the Mexican wrestler mask that is the key component to his Señor Muerte costume. Not having much time with him in Atlanta, he did make enough of an impression on our evening that Rich, Susan, Chooch and I developed the “Dave Slusher Temperature Scale” and it involved a body part that I won’t mention at this time. Because I’m a lady.

I got to spend some real time in conversation with him at this year’s Balticon, and I just can’t say enough nice things about the guy. At every instance, he was smart, funny and thoughtful with an edge of irreverence around his really big heart.

I found his Evil Genius Chronicles podcast and blog just as hubby said I would, for the usual “clicky linky” opportunity for my readers. My eye was pulled to a blog he posted last year before Dragon*Con, and as I read I found a paragraph that really touched me. It’s the kind of behavior I’ve been striving towards for a while, although I’m far from where I want to be, as a part of my desire to push negativity away and embrace positivity. I’ll be damned if Dave didn’t put my own thoughts down in his blog, in better words than I could have.

An excerpt from Dave Slusher’s “Dragon*Con and the Geek Hierachy“:

“I don’t do nearly enough volunteering and charity in my life, something I need to fix. However, here’s a small thing I do that costs me exactly nothing in time or energy. It actually saves me time and energy. I don’t make fun of anyone at Dragon*Con for anything. Not even for smelling funny, being awkward and completely inept socially, for wearing costumes that are age and/or weight inappropriate, for saying dumb things. I don’t care. This is a long, cold, shitty, lonely life and if dressing up like the green belly dancer girl from the original Star Trek or pretending you are a fictional super-heroine makes your life a little better, have at it. Moments of true joy are hard enough to come by in this world. If wearing funny clothes or putting on an accent that you haven’t practiced enough or acting like a complete spazz makes you feel better, do it with my blessing. Don’t knock me over, don’t harsh anyone else’s mellow, be a good steward of the space carved out to allow you this freedom and don’t deprive anyone else of the same, and then we are cool.”

It seems simple, doesn’t it? Akin to the Golden Rule and something we learned in elementary school.  How did we get so far from it? Speaking for myself, I know that at recent events I slipped right into a lifelong habit of teasing when I was with my family. That’s just the way we’ve always interacted. I realized that I really don’t like myself when I’m like that, and didn’t even realize I had joined in on it.

I find myself rededicated to cleaning up my words and actions after reading this. It won’t be easy, because old and sarcastic habits die hard.

So thanks, Dave! I’ve even printed out the portion that I put in bold type and have hung it next to my desk. In Comic Sans, natch.

Balticon 44 Part 3 (Final) – Sunday and Monday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast, Uncategorized

Sunday was an extremely rough day with dizziness, disorientation and migraine but in hindsight I’m lucky it was the only full day of it. Still, I missed a hell of a lot of amazing things and I can’t wait for all the recordings to hit the feeds.

Chooch slept in, so I headed out solo. I started the day right by grabbing lunch with P.G. and Christiana, again at Baja Fresh. We chatted about a variety of things and it was the kick-start I needed to get my brain energized and ready to tackle the day. I can neither confirm nor deny that there was plotting for Balticon 45.

I finally made it to the Dealer’s Room, sort of. I actually only made it to the Dragon Moon Press table, where the paparazzi was in full effect. In other words, a group of us were standing all in a group so pictures were snapped. Did I mention that I love my friends?

Sadly, farewells began again on Sunday, as Doug “Geek Acres” Rapson departed. I had missed the DS Breakfasts because I ended up on an opposite schedule, and found that we really didn’t have much time to catch up. I made a point of finding him in the lobby before he left and am very glad I did. Somewhere there are pictures, but I can’t find them right now on Flickr and I don’t have any in my sets 🙁

There were so many folks in the lobby, that I ended up spending quite a bit of time there chatting with folks and gathering more author signatures for the books we had picked up over the last year. It was at this time that I discovered my ability to summon J.R. Blackwell by simply tweeting her name! Sadly, this only appears to work while at Balticon since my subsequent attempts have failed.

Happily I was given a spot on the schedule to record an episode of my new podcast, Girls’ Rules. I took advantage of some of the amazing authors at the con by asking Philippa Ballantine, J.R. Blackwell, Christiana Ellis and Mur Lafferty to join me. Color me surprised, they all agreed! I was not feeling my best, but was energized by the panelists and the full audience. I found the discussion to fascinating as the women gave their different points of view and experiences as female authors and podcasters. Yes, I’m extremely biased but have gotten the same opinion from others. I was also encouraged by the support they gave the project and look forward to living up to their kind words. I haven’t posted it yet because the file we got from the official equipment was only two minutes long. Luckily, Chooch had recorded it with our H4N but he’s been working on improving the audio as much as possible before posting.

I completely fell apart shortly after the panel from relief, dizziness and then my brain just went *POOF*. I ended up grabbing dinner at Outback with Chooch, Jett, Helen, Patrick, P.G. and Zach. It was a great time and fascinating conversation, but I did have  some disorientation, confusion and fatigue. I was really having trouble following the conversation at times, and formulating responses. I was just keeping my mouth shut for the most part as my dear friends and husband knew something was up already, and I didn’t want to worry anyone.  I had resigned myself to napping as soon as possible, as that is one thing that sometimes gives relief. I bumped into Bruce Press and his AMAZING family, and let me just say that if any of them ever want to show you a picture of something they found in their hotel room you should RUN, not walk away.

Having a solid meal helped, so in spite of how I was feeling I went to the Grow Up New Media panel. I was curious to see how this panel went, as there was talk about it being very caustic towards podcasters that are supportive of new media productions regardless of their “quality”. I was intrigued by this because, if true, it didn’t seem to take the purely personal opinion of the podcaster in the hot seat into account. Who’s to judge that something I enjoy is “bad”? Chooch and I already only support podcasts and novels that we enjoy, and only minimally promote things purely out of friendship.

In I went braced for insults, and instead got hit in the face by logic I couldn’t really argue with from Evo Terra. And it was on the subject of the annual NaNoWriMo program. He pointed out that the point of NaNoWriMo is to see if you are able to write a novel, and questioned why someone that won would need to do NaNo again. If you have already proven you can, then just write another novel. Simple, right? I had been on a panel the day before discussing NaNo and my possible plans to do it again in the future. Add to that the fact that I haven’t even finished my first edits on the one I wrote last year, and I now have a lot to think about. Judge me all you want, the community support for NaNo participants is addictive and having a deadline with public accountability definitely helped to keep me motivated.

I hit rock bottom about halfway into the panel, and headed back to take a nap in our room. Chooch headed off to Living Proof, a meet-up with home brewers and ale connoisseurs held by Thomas “cmdln” Gidon and John Taylor Williams. This was one of the many conflicts for me over the weekend, because in spite of my dislike for beer of any kind I happen to genuinely adore Thomas and John. Sleep won out so I napped until eleven or so, and I’m really glad I did.

Chooch was staying at Living Proof longer than we had planned, so I headed over to Books and Braun solo. I still felt pretty disoriented and wandered around a bit in a daze before grabbing a seat. Pip and Tee were giving a hell of a good reading, and even popped the cork to celebrate their announcement of the publication of Books and Braun in 2011! It was going swimmingly until someone in the audience decided to grind the panel to a halt to make a phone call during their show to spread the news. Tee and Pip handled the interruption and resumed the fun. Congratulations to them both as they launch the book and also the newest phase of their relationship. I wish them every happiness that can be found in this world!

I returned to our room and P.G. had some folks gathered for a party. I talked Zach into coming in with me, and felt guilty for doing so as he immediately became the insult gauge for some “jokes”. Yes, I’m very protective of my friends and I wouldn’t have invited him in had I known that would be his greeting. After a brief time he headed out as he had originally planned since he had a very early flight, so we said our goodbyes.

The rest of the party was a lot of fun and I finally got to chat with some friends I really enjoy including Patrick and Brent, to name a few. I even got to meet even more amazing women, including Sheila Dee. If you don’t know who I mean, I’ll be describe her by saying that Evo Terra is lucky enough to be her husband. (She had introduced herself as Evo’s wife, and I told her we needed to shake that description up a bit). She is a real pleasure, and I’m glad we finally had a chance to get to know each other. I briefly chatted with author Gail Carriger, and am really looking forward to reading her highly acclaimed books. I also got to actually meet and chat with Starla Hutchton. I’d heard her name before as two friends had mentioned her beautiful singing voice, and she was also there at the pre-dawn concert Phil gave the night before in the hotel courtyard. As we talked I found out she also has a novel she has been podcasting and based solely on how much I enjoyed our chat, I’ve already added it to my listening pile. That’s saying something because I came out with a much shorter list than in either of the previous two years. After looking at her “Cast” page, I have no idea how I missed hearing about it, as I have several friends on the list as well as following several others’ projects.

The party grew, and the room ended up pretty packed. Since we were on the ground floor we spilled out onto the balcony and stairs. We again welcomed the sunrise in the company of friends, and then headed off to bed.

Favorite Moments:

  • Dave Slusher wearing his Prom King sash.
  • Becoming smitten with Starla’s new baby. Thank you, technology.

Defeats By Nature (Either mine or witnessed by me):

  • Guest Eating Shrub – I witnessed and assisted on the rescue.
  • Slippery Grass of Doom – I witnessed several after my own defeat.
  • Evil Day Star – Me, my roomies, and The Hobo.

Monday

Heartbreak. As awesome as Friday is with the joy of seeing old and new friends, is as crappy as Monday is with the departures of amazing people, most of whom you won’t see until next May.

Visiting in the lobby, that’s what it was all about for me. I didn’t make it anywhere else once I got there, as I was not only saying goodbyes, but also doing brief interviews with women for upcoming Girls’ Rules episodes. There are tons of photos in Flickr as people departed. After several hours, we finally headed out to grab a late lunch at Noodle & Co. with a quite large group.

I was feeling extremely sick, and it was my own fault. I hadn’t eaten anything other than 100 calorie snack bar since the night before and it was after 3 pm before we left the hotel to eat. Once fed, I noticed that Chooch and I weren’t the only ones hoping to extend the experience just a bit longer as folks lingered over their empty plates while chatting. More photos, and pretty much the only real chat time with Scott Philips, Nutty, and Nathan.

I was sad for those that I didn’t get to spend time with, but that’s unfortunately the nature of con attendance. While I was sad to say goodbye to everyone, I was excited to head home because our oldest son cleared his schedule to have dinner with us to celebrate his nineteenth birthday.

As was true after last years’ Balticon and Dragon*Con, as we pulled out of town it started raining. I’m still trying to remember when the rain actually started in 2008…

Favorite Moments:

  • Being pleasantly surprised by someone that I’m no longer very close with, even though it ended up just being fodder for insult by another. Lesson learned once and for all, as I’m now DONE with that endless source of negativity.
  • Holding hands with Baby Seidman, as she was nestled on Carrie’s shoulder.
  • Receiving a lovely purple wildflower that Elf Princess had picked.

Note: While I’ve decided to never take this much time to write a recap post, I have to admit it would have likely been twice as long had I remembered every special moment and genuinely fascinating encounter from the weekend. I want to thank everyone that I interacted with virtually and especially in person over the weekend, because that helped to shape my experience. Whether it was wonderful, unpleasant (yes, there were a few), awkward, inspirational or just a shy moment, I thank you.

Balticon 44 Part 2 – Saturday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast, Uncategorized

Saturday started rough for me, I was feeling pretty lousy and slept in past a breakfast as well as the first two of the three hours of the Master’s Audio Session with John Taylor Williams, Dan Sawyer and Arioch Morningstar that Chooch was moderating. I finally made it in for the last hour or so and found the conversation was waa-aaay over my head. I’m not surprised having missed the first two hours, but I loved seeing some of my favorite guys up there being all big-brained and what-not.

Afterward, we headed up to Heather’s room to meet with the cast of the Metamor City Live that was being recorded later in the day. There we found Heather, Marc Bailey, Kim Fortuner and Chris Lester running lines much to the amusement of Grailpup (Heather and Marc’s 13 month old son). He was fascinated as the reading went on, it was adorable.

We then returned to catch the rest of the New Media to Old panel with Phil Rossi, Bill DeSmedt, Nathan Lowell, Christiana Ellis and Brand Gamblin. The room was glistening with awesome, and I grabbed Bill for a signature and photo with Chooch. Bill DeSmedt is the author of Singularity, which is a fantastic novel dealing with intrigue, black holes and captivating characters. It’s tough to track down a copy as it’s out of print, but he has podcast it and his narration is fantastic! I met him last year, and while Chooch was a huge fan I had not listened yet. This year I went a bit fangirl because I loved it and his follow-up podcast explaining some of the more complex scientific concepts in Doctor Jack’s Soapbox Seminars.

Realizing we hadn’t eaten, we lucked into a trip to Baja Fresh with Christiana Ellis and Dave Slusher. These two peeps are the bee’s knees and while I did get some time with both of them, I left Balticon WANTING MORE! (Yes, I’m greedy.)

We hurried back to ensure that we would have seats for Jared Axelrod’s new podcast launch of “Fables of the Flying City”, and I’m so glad we did! I was really excited, because of not having been to a tea party of any sort since it involved a toy set and imaginary tea. Jared delivered a tea party that made up for that lapse. We were served tea of our choosing and dessert by a fabulously outfitted cast that included his wife J.R. Blackwell and friends Jennifer Rodgers and Russell Collins. Jennifer is an amazing artist, someone whose beautiful work I have followed and Russell is a brilliant composer. You may recall he wrote the “Aliens You Will Meet” theme and also the music for the new podcast of Jared’s. We were treated to a grand announcement of Jared’s publication in the fall of a graphic novel for the series he is now podcasting the prequel for.

At four p.m. was the NaNoWriMo for Noobs panel that I suggested. Chooch moderated for me again, as I was overtired and a bit nervous about taking the lead. We were joined by Mur Lafferty, P.G. Holyfield and Nathan Lowell. I had asked Zach Ricks to attend as I had wanted him on the panel but there was concern about the number of participants. I carefully chose for a balance of professional writers and non-writers, and those that had won or not won a NaNoWriMo challenge. In addition, nearly all on the panel had provided community sort in one way or another whether simply through Twitter support or via blog or podcast. I was thrilled to discover that Lee Budar-Danoff, a representatives from the Maryland NaNoWriMo group, had found the panel and joined us with some of her associates. They were able to provide more in-depth information about that and the Young Writer’s Program. Once the audio for this and the other panels I participated in is posted, I’ll link to it from my blog.

Our friend Pat, aka Fantastic Foe from our City of Heroes Podcast, invited us to a surprise birthday for his wife Lisa, so we headed to the Con Suite for the celebration. They very generously donated a huge cake for our new media party later that night. It was delicious and GREATLY appreciated! Happy Birthday to Lisa!

We then headed up for Chris Lester’s Metamor City Live reading, along with Chris, Heather Welliver, Philippa Ballantine, Gail Carriger (author of “Soulless” and “Changeless”), Dan Sawyer, Kim Fortuner, Marc “Grailwolf” Bailey. The story was brilliant and funny, and I was incredibly flattered to be included again this year. Luckily, my part was at the very beginning because I started feeling pretty damn sick about halfway through.

I faded pretty quickly, and hubby decided food would help so off we went to Noodle & Company. I’m a bit foggy on the details, but this may have been the trip that included Christiana, Rich and Susan along with a whole other crowd that was there when we arrived. I split off for a nap in the room, and ended up just resting and catching up with Patrick as he finally arrived and was getting ready for the book launch party.

Chooch and I then went to the book launch party for P.G. Holyfield, Patrick McLean and Nathan Lowell, but shortly thereafter Chooch went off to start grabbing gear for the concert at 9 pm.  I luckily got a seat even though I missed the first few minutes and was just in time to listen as they read from each others books. First, Nate read “The Vampire in My Attic” from Patrick’s book “Stories I Told Myself”. Then, P.G. read “The Old Dog” from the same book. Ironically, these were two of my favorites so I was tickled pink! Patrick then read a passage from Nate’s “Quarter Share” and Nate read a the first scene from P.G.’s “Murder at Avedon Hill”. It was absolutely riveting hearing these stories in the voices of the other authors. Each of them has a unique and masterful touch when narrating, and it was a real treat for all in the room. It seemed the authors felt the same way. Sadly, you will never hear this if you weren’t in the room, because they didn’t record the event.

After the book launch, it was FINALLY time to watch the Phil Rossi and the Awakening concert. Yes, I’m a fan of Phil’s music and would have attended either way, but Chooch had just joined the band and I was crazy excited to see my man play bass in a band for the first time. He was understandably feeling stress, as he had about a week and a half to learn all of the songs and because the concert was only the third time he had played with them. For some reason, the previous act went well into our time, so by the time they left the stage and the band was set up it was about half an hour late. Lookit, I admit that I’m biased, but I loved the music and thought they sounded great!

I was able to catch almost a half hour, but had to leave to start setting up for the new media party that Chooch and I were throwing. I was pretty pissed at the earlier band for taking so much time away from my enjoyment, but off I went with some of my Prom Committee members to set up. Many thanks to Bruce Press and Tim Dodge for breaking down the camcorder and bringing it to me at the party!

The folks that came and helped with the prom set-up were AMAZING. People had volunteered to help, and they really came and worked their asses off! There were so many that I thanked that night, but am afraid to list them here for fear of missing someone. I feel extremely grateful to have so many people that are willing to frantically pitch in to make the party a success, and we TRULY could not have done it without their help. In addition, about a week before the party after Chooch and I had sunk hundreds of dollars into it, we finally did as had been suggested and started a chip-in to help offset costs and to make sure we had food for everyone to enjoy. The huge amount of donations we received rejuvenated our efforts to make this the best possible party and off we went spending again! For the donors, you can look around the room and see the difference you made, and I thank you on behalf of the attendees as well as Chooch and myself!

The party was a success, and we crowned Dave Slusher as Prom King and Helen “Cynical Woman” Madden as Prom Queen as they came in first place in the costume contest. May their reign be long and geeky! There are MANY pictures from the prom in flickr from other folks, sadly I was too busy to take my camera out at all. My friend Dan Tabor of many cool things, including Geekadelphia, took these photos for me, before and during the party. Thanks again, Dan! But for the kindness of others, I wouldn’t even have a photo with Chooch in front of the Stargate portal that we quilted!

The party is pretty much a blur for me, other than having fantastic conversations with fascinating folks. I chatted for a good long time with Brad Smith from the Second Shift audio drama, and I knew he was my kind of people when he stopped talking mid-conversation to sing along with a Jonathan Coulton song that was playing.

As the party wound down, I again found myself blessed to have countless helpers assisting with the clean-up around 2 am. We donated the non-perishable items to the gamers next door, having already invited them to come through and eat what they like since we had so much food left over. Ensuring that the hotel staff would vacuum we were off to our own devices. Exhausted, but not ready for sleep yet because the adrenaline was still flowing we ended up laughing and chatting until the sun came up with a wild and fascinating variety of people. And yes, Phil Rossi treated those of us in the courtyard in the pre-dawn hours with a serenade with Starla Hutchton and Dan Sawyer singing along at times. We were all thrilled to discover that Dan Sawyer has the voice of an angel.

Favorite moments:
Brad Smith’s reaction to realizing I had just introduced him to the author of the Seanachai, Patrick McLean.
P.G.’s face during his book launch party. Happy P.G. was happy.
Mighty Mur Lafferty telling me that I am an author. (Still processing that.)
Seeing the joy on my husband’s face as he played bass.

Photos from Saturday only:

Balticon 44 Part 1 – Thursday and Friday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast

*phew* That was quite a week. After returning from Balticon it’s been hectic with preparations for my nephew’s high school graduation (a whole year early!) and our oldest son’s 19th birthday party. I finally got photos edited and posted on Sunday and am finally able to do my post about Balticon itself. There are so many people and amazing moments that there is no way to capture them all, so am doing a few highlights from each extremely full and fabulous day. Also, I’m writing these as journal entries for myself so this will be lengthy, but I’ll break it up into a few posts for sanity’s sake.

THURSDAY
Hubby worked from home on Thursday, while I busily ran last minute party preparation and packing. He then delivered our goldie Kaylee to her beloved kennel. After loading up our car Tetris-style to get everything we needed, it was clear that our car would burst if we put even a wafer thin item in there.

Disappointed that we didn’t actually get on the road until 6 pm, we still found a way to enjoy the drive. I spent a good portion catching up with my dear friend Heather Welliver on the phone, and the rest doing some plotting and planning for the weekend. Have I mentioned that Chooch has a wicked sense of humor? We had an extra giggle as we both realized that the last push out the door had us both forget our wedding rings. We joked about being unwed for the weekend, but let’s be honest about the fact that no one else makes my heart go pitter-pat like my man.

We arrived in record time, luckily having missed rush hour and getting the jump on Memorial Day travel traffic. We roomed once again with P.G. Holyfield and Patrick McLean, as we had such a wonderful time with them at Dragon*Con. Both Patricks are brilliant writers, so go buy their books immediately.

P.G. was kind enough to set down his drink and help us unload the car, and I ran to Greg and Carrie’s room to stash some party treats in their fridge. I was thrilled at this, because they have just had a daughter that I had yet to meet. I practically raced down the hall to see Carrie and babe, and was blown away by their beauty. I nommed baby toes and hugged on mama as we chatted and caught up. For you Apple fanboys, it was also my first sighting of an iPad in the wild.

I grabbed Chooch and P.G. for a visit with Carrie and the baby. That little beauty can throw down some fierce Kyoot Aggro so we spent some time there cooing over her before making it to the bar.

Ah, the bar. The drinks are subpar and overpriced, but this is the natural gathering place as people arrive. The sea of awesome is a blur, so I won’t try and name everyone I saw there as we hugged and got caught up with each other. Since most folks arrive on Friday it wasn’t a full-on glompfest as would be seen the next day. As the night progressed, we grabbed Christiana Ellis and headed back to our room for some Pandemic. To say we had a good time time would be a tremendous understatement as we encountered drinks, viral doom and spiders. We saved the world and headed to bed around 5 or 6 a.m. When it’s that late, specifics don’t really matter, do they?

Out Of Context Theater:
“Backgammon porn” – I believe Doc Coleman said this at the bar?
“It’s gonna eat me!” – Viv, after a spider sighting.
“Somebody give me a bikini so I can flip Viv off!” – P.G. while playing Pandemic

Twitter thread that amuses me:

Christiana – I have cured red and black. @vividmuse @choochus and @pgholyfield haven’t cured shit.
P.G. – @christianaellis I may not have cured anything, but I made you spit tostitos across the room.
Christiana – @PGHolyfield And onto your leg. I was TRYING to share! Ingrate.

I, of course, was giggling uncontrollably and contributed nothing.

I spoiled My Inner Child by…
…putting together a Tinkerbell puzzle with Elf Princess. She is delightful and sweet, and I love our playtime together.

Friday
Having no panels or any other need to get up early, we slept in. We grabbed food and headed out to get some last minute party supplies, since we figured Saturday would be crazy. In spite of rushing around, we sadly missed Chris Lester’s reading, but made it just in time for the 5:00 pm panels. The first of many difficult choices had to be made, as Mur Lafferty and P.G. Holyfield both had readings at the same time. We ended up splitting, with each of us going to one knowing that they would be recorded but still wishing we could be at both. P.G. did a reading from Murder at Avedon Hill, his recent release published from Dragon Moon Press. He ended it early to go to Mur’s, but by the time I got in there it had ended.

I got to spend some time very briefly with M.A. in PA and her new podcast partner Sara. As was true during previous Balticon weekends, I didn’t see much of M.A. and this year I saw even less of her. Luckily, we’ve had the opportunity to visit with each other previously this year, but it was something I definitely missed.

We grabbed dinner at Noodle & Company with P.G., Jett, Carrie, Greg and Baby and had a wonderful time as we chatted and gazed at the beautiful baby. Back to the hotel in time for Chooch’s Being a Parent in the World of New Media and Social Networking panel and while the conversation veered off topic a few times it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Chooch and I split up after that, as he attended Thomas “cmdln” Gideon’s FLOSS and Tech Geek BOF while I went to the scheduled J.R. Blackwell Reading. As had been hinted, Dr. Mercury made an appearance in J.R.’s place, and provided delicious entertainment. First an explanation of who she is, and then readings of exploits. Later, she kidnapped Mur Lafferty and forced her (against her will, naturally) to do readings including one from the collaboration between J.R. and Mur titled Her Side. It was one of the high points of the weekend for me, in that J.R. completely immersed herself in the Dr. Mercury persona to the delight of the entire audience. I had actually intended on slipping out a few minutes early to prepare for our show at 11 pm, but was unable to tear myself away until after Dr. Mercury exited.

We had invited our friends Christiana Ellis, cmdln and P.G. Holyfield to our Into The Blender Live recording to discuss movies, and I can’t speak for anyone else but I greatly enjoyed our chat. I was going to moderate the discussion, but passed my notes to Chooch when I started feeling under the weather. I could feel … it’s hard to explain what it feels like, but almost a jittery twitch in my jaw when the stutter is starting up. I also felt a little disoriented, but after I sat back and took a break from the conversation I felt a bit better. Chooch knew this was possible and took over, so I’m hoping it wasn’t obvious. We had a great crowd, many familiar faces and some new ones which is always a pleasant surprise. The audience participation was fantastic, which we had worried about with our family-friendly show at 11:00 pm.

Afterward, we hung some signs announcing our “Geek Prom” new media party that Jett Micheyl kindly made for us along with Thomas. We ended up in the bar since there were so many more folks that had just arrived that day. I met folks I only knew from Twitter, and glomped many friends that I rarely get to see. FYI, Chris Lester gives AMAZING hugs.

We closed the bar and finally made our way to our room with some friends including Susan, Rich, and Dave Slusher. I think Chooch and I got to sleep around 3 in the morning. That was our only early night, and it was tough to pull away from them but forced ourselves because Chooch had an early panel and I was fearful of not getting enough rest and being even more sick the next day. It was especially tough because I don’t get to see P.G., Rich and Susan NEARLY as much as I would like. And Dave Slusher is someone that I met VERY briefly at last Balticon, spent a bit more time with at Dragon*Con and finally got to really chat with him during this weekend. He is a fantastic and dynamic person, with a truly generous and nurturing spirit.

Out Of Context Theater:
From me: From @pgholyfield: “I’ll pull it out at the reading.” *
“It’s the wood that I like” -Keetara

*He was talking about untucking his shirt, but I thought he’d get more attendees if I left that fact out. On a related note, his reading was packed. 😉

My Balticon flickr stream is viewable below and includes photos from the entire weekend.