Monday, March 02, 2015

Con Schedule, Reading, and Writing

MarsCON 2015 is this weakend, and I'm one of their guests of honor.  So, I hunted and pecked through the on-line programming list and I think I found everything I'm scheduled to be on:

How Come Nobody’s Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) -- Friday 04:00 pm
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam


Fiction Reading: Lyda Morehouse
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) —Friday 08:00 pm
Come hear our Author Guest of Honor read her work.
With: Lyda Morehouse

FanFiction - Who, What, and Huh?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Friday 09:00 pm
From the basics for the beginners to your favorite websites to share your own stories.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rakhi Rajpal mod, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Susan Woehrle

Marvel Phase 2, on to Phase 3
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 12:00 pm
Catch up on all of Marvel films from phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-man Days of Future Past. Marvel One-Shots: Agent Carter, All Hail the King, on TV with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. (There will be spoilers for all listed above.) The end of phase 2 with Avengers: Age of Ultron and the start of phase 3: Ant-Man, Captain America 3, Doctor Strange, and the rest of phase 3.

With: Lyda Morehouse, Tony Artym, mod.; Aaron Grono, Bill Rod, Ruth Tjornhom

The Rise of Women Superheroes
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 01:00 pm
Let’s talk about some awesome female superheroes who have become breakout sensations in recent years! Why do we love them so much, and how can we get more?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Christopher Jones, mod.; Cynthia Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Chandra Reyer

What is Anime?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Saturday 02:00 pm
What really is Anime? What’s the real difference between Anime and cartoons, and why do we classify them like that? Hear all the facts and argue it out yourself!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Hojo Moriarty

Lyda Morehouse Interview
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 04:00 pm
Learn about the mind and works of our Author Guest of Honor.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Interviewer

Mass Autographing
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 05:00 pm
The Author Guest of Honor and other interested authors sign their work.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Sammi Kat, Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan, et al.

The Wyrdsmiths: Twenty Years
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 08:00 pm
GoH Lyda Morehouse is in a writers’ group that was founded in 1994. How does a critique group sustain itself for two decades?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Eleanor Arnason

Hero Support: Sidekicks and Minions
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 09:00 pm
How does your hero go about getting a really good sidekick or a really good minion? Who are some of your favorites in literature and other kinds of storytelling? Who is the hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rick Gellman, mod.; P M F Johnson, Ozgur K. Sahin, Tyler Tork

Otaku Dilemma: Wait for Season Two or Read the Manga?
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 11:00 am
Your friends just turned you on to a hot new anime (think: “Attack on Titan” or “Yowapeda”) and you burned through the first season in one sitting. Now you’re wondering that age old question, should you jump in and read the manga or sit back and wait for season two to air? What are the pros and cons to reading “ahead”? Is there a reason that waiting is better, is there a reason NOT to wait?
With: Lyda Morehouse, mod

No Country for Old Heroes / Happily Ever After
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Sunday 12:00 pm
Topic one, No country for old heroes…. Life after heroism. How do former heroes—real or imaginary—continue to have meaningful lives? Topic two, Happily Ever After. Consider act two of Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Many if not most stories end at the moment of maximum joy for their characters. But life is more complicated. How do two people—real or imaginary—go about staying reasonably happy together for a long time? What are some good examples of this in fantasy literature?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rick Gellman, mod.; Rachel Gold, Ozgur K. Sahin

Convoluted Quests: The Modern Writing Career
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 03:00 pm
Book contracts, self-publishing, short fiction, editing… writing careers these days are often made up of a patchwork of options. Join GoH Lyda Morehouse and other professional writers to talk about how they’ve dealt with current publishing realities.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Roy C. Booth, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan

I will, of course, also be at Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies as to be expected. I may be AWOL from the con for a brief period on Saturday morning in order to take my son to his swimming class, but otherwise he and I will be around the whole weekend. Maybe, with luck, Shawn, too.

The last thing I wanted to report is that I finished reading THE GIRL IN THE ROAD and am now on to what appears to be a contemporary fantasy novel called MEMORY GARDEN.

THE GIRL IN THE ROAD is a difficult book to describe or categorize. I was talking to a friend about it and, while there were a ton of things I really enjoyed in the book (future India, future Africa, the strange journey across the wave power generator), the main character(s) were problematic in that they were not only typically unreliable, they were also, at times, hallucinatory. I can't say that necessarily got in the way of my enjoyment of a book, but I'm usually a careful enough reader that I can get to the end and have a fair idea of what happened. I'm not nearly as sure as I normally am having finished THE GIRL IN THE ROAD. Again, I'm not entirely sure that detracted from my enjoyment of the book, honestly. It was well written, engaging, science fictional and many things like that that I normally enjoy but... I don't know that I could recommend it with out the caveat of, "Okay, but this one is seriously TRIPPY."

Between THE GIRL IN THE ROAD and ELYSIUM, OR, THE WORLD THAT CAME AFTER, I have to wonder if 'trippy' is the new black. From the looks of things (so far) MEMORY GARDEN is more traditional in its narrative tropes, but we'll see. THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE had some oddities in its storytelling practices, but I wouldn't have labelled it "trippy," per se. I will say, in light of the conversations I've been having about women's writings, all of the four books I'm mentioning here are very feminine in their approach to science fiction.

I think a lot about what my friend Richard had to say when trying Margaret Atwood's HANDMAID'S TALE for the first time. The books women write are often (though obviously not always), quite intentionally, infused with the feminine. It probably does seem somewhat alien and unsettling to someone who isn't used to ever thinking about pregnancy, periods, and sex (and its corollary: death). These things all showed up in the books I've been reading--sometimes just casually, but sometimes as the point. THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE is very much a female apocalypse, both literally and figuratively. ELYSIUM less so, because the gender of our pov character constantly shifts.

So, it's been an interesting ride so far. The library tells me that ANCILLARY SWORD is ready for me to pick up (speaking of oddities in gendering. I read a large part of ANCILLARY JUSTICE before I had to return it and the ship AIs, who are the pov characters, always identify any human they encounter as 'she' regardless. They will sometimes tell you 'she was male.' But it really f*cks with a person's perception of gender identity, gender stereotypes and other such things when everything is always female. Makes you think. Particularly when women are always told, "oh, 'he' includes you." I'm thinking, by this way this feels, that doesn't work the way we think it does.)

I'm looking forward to reading that one, too.

All this reading has also inspired me. I'm about 3,000 words into a short story that, I'm thinking, is ultimately about redemption. I saw an anthology call for "angel and demons" and so I started considering what I might write since, as you know Bob, this is directly in my areas of interest. So, fingers crossed.

I don't think I can really pull off 'trippy' though, so....

Friday, February 13, 2015

New Book Cover



I have some VERY AMAZING cover art design to share with you guys for the book that Rachel Calish/Gold and I have written. This is the story that we've been publishing in serial form over at http://entertheunseen (and re-issuing, as it were, on WattPad as well). The cover art was designed by Rachel's friend Kristin Smith, and I really love it!  What do you think??

This is, at the moment, a GIANT TEASE because we're still in the production phase. The book, however, will (baring acts of god[s]) be available for purchase at MarCON (March 6 -8). Kristin did an amazing job with the interior as well and there will be illustrations through out from our artists Alexis Cooke and Mandie Brasington. There will be an ebook version, as well, but I have no idea when that will be available. Of course, as soon as it is, I'll link it here. I'm assuming we'll sell the print version via the usual e-bookstores, too. (This is where, once again, I'm SUPER-GRATEFUL not to have to be the only one in charge of dealing with all this, because the dealing with Amazon.com, etc. is never fun.)

In other news, Happy Friday the 13th.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When Writing Breaks Us

Last year, my friend and fellow writer, Sean M. Murphy decided he needed to stop calling himself a writer. This morning, I woke up and discovered that another dear friend and colleague is considering doing the same.

This is heartbreaking to me.

I want to blame something for this, but there are, frankly, too many options.

It seems to me that it's far harder to break-in to pro markets (magazine and novel) than it was when I first started writing. A lot of people are jumping straight to self-publishing these days, and, while that seems to work well for many, it's no more a guaranteed road to success than any other. Personally, I find trying to motivate myself to write for self-publication much, much harder because of all of the extra work you have to take on yourself in order to get a finalized product out there. This why the first of my self-published books is going to be the collaboration I'm doing with Rachel. (She just went over our proofs, because I have to head off to work in about fifteen minutes! Thank gods for a co-writer!!)

But most of us struggle alone. Even Sean, who was part of a writers' group, was ultimately alone with his own sense of 'being a writer' and all the myriad ways a person can fail at that.

That's the other thing I really want to blame. Because, I think everyone realizes how hard it is to break it (and how hard it to survive once you do,) but I think we all underestimate how easy it is to undermine ourselves. Ultimately, I think Sean hit the nail on the head when he said 'writers' write' and that that should be the defining quality, but that's still a trap. Because how OFTEN does a writer need to write in order to call themselves a writer? Every day? Every week? Once a month? Once a year?

My answer is that I think we ought to expand this definition a little, give ourselves a tiny break. A writer is a writer if they have written, if they want to write, and if they write, but not necessarily all those things all the time, every day. Some days, the best we can manage is that we wanted to write. Sometimes, especially after some hard writing-related news (the publisher doesn't want to renew your contract, say,) it's enough to say, "I have written" while you take time to recuperate.

Of course, it's maybe easy for me to say. I have books on the shelf with my name on them.

But, damn it, my friends, I don't want to lose any more of you. Cut yourselves a break. You are a writer because you WILL write. You're a writer because you HAVE written. You're a writer because you WANT to write. Courage is measured in that voice that says quietly, "I will try again tomorrow."

Monday, February 09, 2015

My Partner Has this Fear of...

.. of all things, lightbulbs exploding into her face while she's changing them. She reminded of me of this fear of hers this weekend as we switched out the kitchen light. It burned out when I got up to feed the cats at o'dark thirty. At the time I thought, "Whelp, this is why they call them IRRATIONAL fears, because, really, how LIKELY is that?"

Well, I can now tell you that it's fairly likely when, say, you're idiotically fiddling around with recalcitrant lightbulb in the betta's fish tank where there is running water and electricity. Perhaps, one should have considered, say, unplugging the light, or maybe not twisting it in and out in such quick succession... but yeah, BLAMMO! It exploded in my hand. I am, not, however, writing this from the emergency room, probably only because fortune favors the foolish. In fact, I only have one Hello Kitty Band-Aid on my pointer finger.

I had to IM my Bleach fan friend, though, because, while my finger has the one obvious gash, I discovered when I started dripping blood on my keyboard, there are actually a thousand *tiny* cuts, too. Just just Senbonzakura, I'd imagine.

Because, yeah, I'm an otaku to my core.

At any rate, today is one of those days where I started out really strong but have petered out quickly. My family and I decided to blow off going to the big grocery store yesterday. All of us are really suffering from the collapse of Rainbow. None of us REALLY much liked grocery shopping at the big store much even then, but we all HATE Cub--partly because it's just not organized in a familiar way. I'm sure we'd learn it in time, but so far any excuse not to go is a good one. Though I said I didn't really want to shoulder the burden of the HUGE staple run, I'd be willing to do several really short trips to the big store over the week. Knowing myself like I do, I knew I had to pretty much drop everyone one off at their respective places and head to the store before I lost my resolve. So, that's what I did. I came home with about four bags of groceries, which seemed just about the right size for me, and, feeling super productive, also finally took care of some correspondence and a Loft teaching contract that had arrived in the mail that needed attention.

The correspondence had actually been hanging over me for several months (since last October actually.) The thing that's slowed me down is so silly too. The letter was basically fan mail, but the fan also really wanted to share their idea for a book--in that classic, I'll give you the idea, you write it sort of way. I know a lot of authors mock people like this, but I totally get the impulse and I really wanted to encourage this person to just go ahead and do it on their own. I believe, deep in my heart of hearts, that the only difference between a published and unpublished writer is drive and dream. I didn't know how to write when I started, but I was determined to learn. Similarly, when things got tough (and oh, they always do,) the dream kept me slugging away at things.

So, why did it take me almost six months to tell this poor fan that? They'd written snail mail.

I don't even have a printer at home any more, and while I kept MEANING to sit down and write and actual letter... it was so easy to forget when I started each day with the Internet to distract me...

But today I finally wrote back. Hopefully, this person won't be too angry that it too me so long.

The other thing I did today that felt very productive was that I looked through the list of Twin Cities meet-ups and I found a group that gets together to practice Japanese conversation. They say on their page that they're for Intermediate students, but I'm hoping that it will be okay for me to come and listen for a while as I keep learning. I can't go to their current meet-up, anyway, since it's on Saturday and I took the Saturday gig at the North St. Paul library all this month again. But, so I have that bookmarked and hopefully will be able to join them at some point. In the meantime I still have my class on Tuesday nights and the Japanese language podcasts that I've been listening to, which are teaching me basics like how to ask someone's name and where they're from and what they do for a living, which should be a good start to an actual conversation.

MarsCON is coming up fast (March 6 - 8). I'm going to be one of the guests there, as I'm sure I've said a few times. I'm waiting on my collaborator for a cover of School for Wayward Demons so I can get some promotional stuff ordered. But, otherwise, I'm signed up for paneling and all that. It should be a lot of fun. Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 06, 2015

All Sort of Things I'm Up To...

I just spent about a half-hour queueing things up on the School for Wayward Demons Tumblr page. During the process I was chatting with a friend who encouraged me to link to my other Tumblr page (which if you go there RIGHT THIS INSTANT, you'll see I did.) It's a funny thing, my resistance to... invading this sacred fan space I've made for myself with self-promotional things. It's REALLY silly when you consider that I have no qualms about posting links on my fan tumblr space to my reviews of manga or my podcast or my fan fic. She asked me if I was afraid to tarnish my professional reputation with my fan one. My response? No, it's the other way 'round.

I'm really protective of my fan spaces. I don't mind people knowing about them. In fact, I will happily give out my fan name or my AO3 account handle to anyone who asks me at con. I'm very, very proud that at CONvergence last year, in the women's bathroom, I had someone shyly ask if it was true that I was "junko from AO3." It turned out, the woman asking was the person who podfic'd my Bleach/Free! x-over, and, once I confirmed and she told me who she was, we did the dance of squee with each other.

So, it's not like I care if people who are my fan friends find out I write professionally, or vice versa.

I guess it's strange, but I almost feel like self-promoting my original fiction on my fan sites sullies them somehow. I mean, I should get over that, because, as my friend said, "The data stream is so fast. No one will really notice." Which is VERY, very true. I used to worry that if people found out I was a professional writer on my AO3 account that the tenor of the conversation would change. The very last thing I want is for people to stop telling me when I suck because, you know, I guess you know better because you're some kind of pro. Which is, of course, bull.

I sometimes wonder if that's partly why Rachel and I don't get many comments over on entertheunseen.com or why they're not more critical on either of my Wattpad entries. (It could be, too, that both those venues require some kind of log-in.) But, I think, often people are reluctant to tell someone they perceive as a professional that they'd like to see the story go another direction... face-to-face/directly. Obviously, people are happy to say all sorts of things about professional writing on review sites once a book is done and dusted. I mean, I can understand this hesitance. People are afraid of being yelled at. But, I THRIVE on critique. I love it. And fan fiction has been a great place to be treated like a peer by a large number of people again.

At any rate, I suspect I've said all this somewhere before. It's one of my favorite topics to hold forth on. But, so if you want to tell me what-for (and check out some of the new content that's been added) on Wattpad, there is a new installment of School for Wayward Demons up: Gabe Runs (into Darkness.
Also, my review of the latest chapter of Ao no Exorcist (#64) is up on MangaKast.

In other news, I finished reading Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta. It was the first of the books I've read so far that are on the Philip K. Dick award nomination list that I would call straight-up science fiction. It's also a very... subtle, quiet book, despite having a LOT of tension woven in throughout. I found it very interesting. The story follows a woman who is the tea master's daughter in a future Scandinavia where we've depleted much of the Earth's viable drinking water. There's been a kind of post-oil apocalypse and the 'past world' is shrouded in mystery, mostly understood by the things recovered in the plastic graveyards on the outskirts of town. I would totally recommend the book without any reservations, so long as you weren't expecting a rip, roaring, page-turning thriller. The ending is also very much a downer, and the only sense of hope comes from the prologue and the implication that there might be a second book to continue some of the threads that don't really get answered. But, I didn't mind that, surprisingly.

Now I'm waiting for Book of the Unnamed Midwife to show up through Inter-Library Loan. Then, the last one will be the Jonathan Strahan book (which he seemed to have edited, Reach for Infinity which I'm reading last because I'm not a big fan of short story collections.) In the meantime, I think I'm going to start a Melissa Scott book that Shawn nabbed off Amazon when the Kindle version when on one of those 99 cent sales.

Not much else is going on. I finished up the two seasons of Tiger & Bunny that Hulu had, and have, on recommendation, started watching Zenkyou no Terror/Terror in Resonance while I wash the dishes. It's quite a shift in tone, I must say. Zenkyou no Terror follows two very disturbed and unusual young men (who to refer to each other by numbers because they were raised in some kind of horrible orphanage) who are exacting their revenge on society by... well, by being terrorists. So you know, from heroes to villains. It's a bit of whiplash, but I'm enjoying Zenkyou no Terror the same way I enjoyed DeathNote. It's kind of fascinating to go deep into the criminal mind. Like in DeathNote, there's a smart, vaguely outsider to root for on the other side, on the good-guy side. So, I've got that to cling to. I'm very, very worried for the female character in Zenkyou no Terror, but you know... it's early days. I'm only on the fourth or fifth episode so far.

Like much of fandom, I'm anxiously waiting for the arrival of this month's Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan. The things I've seen on Tumblr from the raws make me kind of happy (*anxiously grabs abs*)... I'll have a review up as soon as we see in English

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Dog whistles, Code, and Insider-ism

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, like you do, and I came across this: "Why 'Fandom is Family' is Problematic". It's a collection or round-up of tweets (probably involving a much larger discussion) about the phrase 'fandom is family' and why we should stop using it. First of all, I've actually never heard this phrase in my long association with SF fandom, and I tend to agree that family is not ALL THAT to everyone and it certainly should not be a phrase used to shelter abusers, etc.

What I'm reacting to is the idea that fandom (and it's not clear which 'fandom' is meant here, but maybe SF con fandom?) is unwelcoming because it has so many in-jokes... or...? I'm not sure, because I think, in point of fact, that the very term "not welcoming" is a dog-whistle for the Tumblr-generation/fans.

I'm not saying they're not right.

When I first entered con fandom, I felt very lost. I didn't know the routine. I didn't know the lingo. I didn't have many friends who went to cons. In point of fact, I dropped out of con fandom until I was a newly energized/hungry writer and saw the advantages of meeting people by being on panels. It should be noted, too, that I am, and have always been, a vey out-going and social person. It's not normally hard for me to make friends with strangers.

So it's absolutely true that a person's first con can feel very... exclusive, excluding even. Certainly, LONELY.

I experienced that whole feeling of exclusion all over again, despite years of being in sf con fandom, when I entered the anime fandom (and the anime con fandom, both of which have their own sets of rules and entire language books full of code and lingo and acronyms.) I even posted here that what i needed for the next Anime Detour was a translator to act as my guide.

But...

I never felt it was the duty of the con runners to make me feel "welcomed." I felt weird about my lack of knowledge--uncomfortable even, but I didn't let that stop me. If I felt any sense of privilege it was a self-empowered one, which was to say I NEVER DOUBTED THAT I HAD THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE, I just had to figure out HOW. I also never doubted that figuring out HOW was on me, and me alone. So, I thought, "Alright then, I need to ask what does mean?" I need to call up my friends and say, "Okay, who here is going with me?" I asked my more anime con savvy friends, "So... when someone is in costume, do I talk to them 'in character' or... What? How do I interact here? What are the rules?" In my early SF con days, I found someone I knew and asked, "Okay, so what DOES it take to get on panels? How do I volunteer for the stuff I like?"

I'm not saying this because I feel like "kids these days" (or people new to fandom) don't have the same where-with-all that I did/do.

But, because this term gets bandied about a lot, I do wonder if "not welcoming" actually is for them one of those words they use that means something that my generation doesn't quite understand the same way. I wonder if it means more than what I'm describing. I'm wondering if there are very specific ways in which the younger generation feels less empowered to just participate, despite the things I described above.

I'm not sure.

I want someone to tell me. I want to understand. I want to hear the stories that will open my eyes, so I can FIX the things for you (and, ultimately for all of us.)

In the meantime, I have to guess from context.




One of the back-and-forths in the twitter round-up made it seem like one person felt left out because Michael Thomas joked about "TRUfandom" (which is also a phrase I didn't know). She said, basically: "Whelp, see what I mean, I don't know this stuff." To me, that's not being shown the door, and having it slammed in your face, that's just BEING NEW. I've had the same experience as an old-timer, getting onto Tumblr and going to Anime cons. I never felt unwelcome. I just felt NEW.




We all need to learn each other's language.




I think that this is less 'insider-ism' than just the way sub-cultures operate. I sometimes have to use the urban dictionary to parse out what my neighbor is saying to me or what comments on my fan fic mean. I don't think my neighbor or the fans of my writing are trying to insult me or exclude me or intentionally make me feel unwelcome. In fact, each time I deciphered a bit of the code, I felt brought closer in. When someone left me ILU on my fan fic, I'd no idea for sure what that meant. I looked it up, and it means "I love you!" or "I like you" and is kind of just a term of excitement, bonding, or, as my subculture would call it, squee.




I really think that when Michael made his comment his intention was inclusion, as in, 'like that joke we have about TRU fandom, you and me." Yet it was seen as endemic to the problem.




I think we need to stop assuming hostility from each other.




Fandom needs all of us, young and old.




Srsly.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Back in the Saddle (A Start, At Least)

I'm back to posting on UnJust Cause finally, so if you want to check that out, it's up on Wattpad now: "To Err is Human (and Tomorrow is Another Day.)" There's not a lot there, not too much more than 500 words, but I needed to get back in the habit. Honestly, what I really, REALLY need to do with this is what Rachel and I just spent three weeks doing to School for Wayward Demons (SWD)... I need to take all the parts and get them into a huge document and start to really examine the whole shape of it.

Because if I'm going to make it into a book, it needs that. I am learning, somewhat the hard way, that writing one's way into a book (and not planning it out like I used to do) might be hella fun, but it means a lot of work on the far end, the finishing end, as it were.

It's good for me to experiment with different ways of writing, though. So no regrets. I have learned much.

Besides, despite my belly aching, it's a well-known fact that I'm a heavy reviser no matter which method I chose: pants-ing or outlining.

In other news, Mason and I had some fun yesterday. Shawn had to work late, so we went to our usual favorite hang-out place when we have time to kill but it seems foolish to go all the way home: the Roseville Library. Mason tore through the shelves and took out old favorites and a few new-to-him books. I'd settled down at a table and was starting to write when he did that kid thing, "Can we go to the coffee shop and get a scone??" I didn't think we should. You know, it's money and treats, but then I thought about my own treat: a mocha, and so I was convinced. As we were waiting for the staff to ring our stuff up and make my mocha, we overheard two guys behind us starting up a game of Munchkin. If you're unfamiliar, feel free to check out the Wikipedia article I linked to, but the short of it is that Muchkin is a card-game version of D&D. Instead of role-playing you pull various cards and move through a very random "dungeon" as part of gameplay. It doesn't matter. What you really need to know about the game is that 1) Mason LOVES it, 2) it is ridiculously geeky and often involves, like the best D&D games, arguing the rules, and 3) Mason constantly begs us to play and Shawn and I... well, we like it, but don't LOVE it, if you get my drift. So, when these two nerdy college-aged boys asked if we wanted to join them, Mason was over the moon with joy.

I decided to opt out and sat nearby with my computer. At one point one of the boys came over and said (in such an adorkable outgoing nerd way, honestly) "Your son is a delight." To which I replied, "Isn't he just." But when nerd-boy looked baffled at that I said, "Yes. Thank you." Nerd boy wanted to let me know, too, that Mason was not only keeping up with them but, "talking just enough smack." Which I honestly found deeply delightful to hear. I wanted to say, "That's because I raised him right," but merely nodded and thanked them again for inviting us to join. Because I mean, Mason is 11, I bet these two young men were twice his age: 22.

Mason was so happy afterward he not only nerdgasmed about the game play all the way home, he kept dreamily and happily muttering, "They argued the rules, Ima. They argued the rules."

"Yes, my son," I said. "You have found your people."