Thursday, July 29, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Njera Perkins looked at the expectations that Black women athletes face. 
2. David Perry talked about the dangers of trying to return to normal
3. This couple went with a DC metro theme for their wedding. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

What Sports Demonstrates About Athleticism and Consent

People much smarter than I have already talked about the importance of protecting one's body and soul, even if you are an athlete, and even or perhaps especially in a pandemic. 
I want to talk about two things: athleticism and consent. 
On the athleticism front I think there is a weird thing that sometimes happens in sports, where we assume the sporting is a prelude. Like obviously so-and-do will win and we're all just here to watch it. Except obviously not, or we could just hand out trophies. Those other folks - sure not all of them expect to win each day, but you don't have to travel across the world and sleep in a strange bed just to run, or swim, or do back flips. 
Sports is about the unexpected. This is why I am fascinated when the weather factors in. The story could and often should be about the folks who had a great day, not just who wasn't. 
On the consent front, one of the most challenging things about consent is that we tell everyone it is an ongoing conversation and yet we don't really mean it. Let me tell a story, I swear is related. 
I had a train ticket and the folks I was visiting said, oh, let's go to breakfast beforehand. In the discussion the night before the cafe at the train station had been mentioned, so I assumed it was an option being considered. That morning there was some texting with one party and some focus on other things. And then it was decided we should breakfast. I mentioned the cafe at the station and was vetoed. Three other options were mentioned, including one that the last time I ate at it took two hours to complete our meal and we were now just over an hour from my train. 
I picked the one closest to the station, when I expressed time concerns, I was told that everything was very close and it was a weekday, nowhere would be busy. 
Well, we got to said place, and there were people standing around near the entrance clearly waiting to be called for a table. 
At this point I rescinded my vote for said place because by the time we got on the list, got a table, it would be too much to expect a packed restaurant to turn over our food that quickly and it would mean eating in a rush. 
So then we (after another attempt at an order and pay first place) we ended up at the train station cafe where we all finished well before the train arrived. 
So, the thing with consent is, you agree to do (or not do) something based on the information and circumstances you are aware of at the time. Sometimes you sleep like crap, sometimes there's way more traffic than you planned for, sometimes once you get there, the things you were expecting aren't as you expected. And we have to be okay with people changing based on new information, even if that information exists inside their own body. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Sports in Pandemic Times

Years ago, I visited Barcelona and one of the things you could go see was the Olympic Stadium and the hotel built for the Olympics.  I was there in June, and I hope there are things in normal times that the stadium is used for, but wandering through a huge empty stadium was off, and the hotel looked odd, taller and shinier than most buildings in Barcelona, it just looked plunked down there.  
A cousin got married near Lake Placid and we went to visit some of the things leftover from that that are still used for training.  
I went on a work trip to Salt Lake City, and we took a look at the bobsled tracks still there.  
I started to wonder how many leftover bits there were in various cities that had hosted the Olympics. The housing, the various equipment needs, it's probably not anything that any city needs to speed zillions of dollars building for two amazing weeks.  
I used to love the reading of the Olympic oath.  These days it is ever more clear to me how much the athlete's rules are bendable if you are the right kind of athlete.  If you're a privileged white guy, it's fine to vandalize things, harm other players, and so on.  Some folks have been able to appeal their positive drug tests, and others have not.  It's not fair, and like so many things, it in part has to do with who has the time, energy, and social capital to make an issue of something.  To move forward and survive headlines associating you with scandal.  
When runner Dutee Chand's gender was questioned, her mother talked about the shame of all of this happening in public.  Likely plenty more athletes have run afoul of the narrow gender definitions and simply not wished to press it.  
And then you add in a pandemic.  A pandemic where gathering in groups increases risk.  A pandemic where the virus causes long term lung damage, a particular problem for athletes.  A pandemic where travelling and unequal access to vaccination increases the risk of variants developing.  A pandemic where vaccinated folks are more likely to contract asymptomatic versions and not know to further limit contact.  
All of this is to say, my love for the Olympics is tarnished, and it is completely ridiculous that we are asking these athletes, the many volunteers and staff, to do this so we can watch safely from our TVs.  
And I still cried when I saw who lit the flame.  

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This article noted that cross cultural casting has always existed, the current change in just in who is getting cast cross-culturally. 
2. I will possibly stop sharing every post about Fiyahcon at some point, but this piece with Vida and Iori talking about the costs and time accessibility for what will now be BonFiyah, was interesting. 
3. I caught up to this Lil Nas X profile.  (Content note: there are some passing mentions of suicidal ideation.)

Monday, July 19, 2021

Some of Your Uncertainty is Wisdom

I was talking to a friend a bit ago and she was saying that she was stuck in the decision cycle and it annoyed her to still be noodling over some things, but also she couldn't figure out the best way forward.  And I said to her, well, some of your uncertainty is wisdom.  
I wasn't trying to be super profound, but the reality is, certainty comes from being able to predict reliably, and this last year plus has shown that many things are not going the way anyone expected them to.  
Uncertainty sucks, and of course, we like to try to think our way out of it.  But sometimes you can't.  I have predictions for what the fall will look like as offices and schools resume more in person gathering, but they are guesses.  I think my guesses on this are better than some other people's but - much like that article about sporting events in the UK, we are going to try a bunch of things and see how they go.  
Obviously people can't stay inside forever, not even the ones who've been privileged to have some say about that.  And everyone who stays inside is relying on those who aren't or can't to some extent.  
We are all weighing risks and making the best choices we can based on the data and our own predictions, but we do still have a limited sample set to work with.  And even when I say I have predictions, I have predictions about infection spread.  I don't know how offices and schools and other businesses will respond.  I don't know how the government - local or federal will respond if infections tick back up.  
We are all trying and this would be less worrisome if real people's lives weren't at stake.  I remember a co-worker saying once, well, we're not brain surgeons, no one's dying today.  Except that we were dealing with prescription files, so like I could pretty easily get to the part where someone's health was at risk.  And the pandemic has been like that.  I know some people have narrowed their focus to themselves because the larger responsibility is too much to think about.  
So uncertainty sucks, but sometimes it is not a failing for you to be uncertain.  

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. This article looked at the complicated feelings surfing hitting the Olympics brings, as it has come to be known as a sport of white people, divorced from its Hawaiian roots. 
2. Nathan Burgoine pointed to this older post about why being viewed as a plot bunny by people is tiring, in light of some recent book world revelations. 
3. This piece looks at how the Merrie Monarch Festival (which was able to be held in a socially distant fashion this year) has brought hula to a wider audience

Monday, July 12, 2021

Stealing People's Stories

For those of you paying attention to the discourse out there, this both is and is not about the revelation that the short story "Cat Person" lifted some details from a real person's life. 
I had a conversation with a family friend who is an artist, who said when she paints people, she usually envisions someone she knows to start with, and kind of adds enough bits on top that it isn't really them, but she can always see who she used to start with underneath, and was writing like that.  
For me it both is and is not.  I always remember the bit in L. M. Montgomery's Emily series, where Emily gets published and various neighbors decide they are the such and such character and feel affronted about this bit. Because I think no matter what you do as an author, people who know you are going to decide you stole it from them.  
I have written stories based on real people, but also not.  Because I'm a pantser, if I know exactly what happened, I am bored, and no longer care.  But I did once write a story that combined a bunch of things my brain had been noodling on, and then when it was finished, realize one element of it bore enough similarity to something that had happened to a roommate of mine that there was no way she wasn't going to think it was inspired by that, even though I hadn't thought about them once when I was drafting.  That wasn't the only problem with that story, my main character changes personalities halfway through and that meant at least half of it needed to be re-written, probably more, and so I trunked it.  It wasn't just because it resembled a thing that had happened to someone, because let's face it there are a finite number of things that happen to people, especially when writing contemporary.  But once the similarity was clear to me, I couldn't see how I could fix the story and disentangle it enough from what had happened to my roommate to not seem like a trauma vampire and so trunked that story is.  
But yes, writers joke about plot bunnies, but for me, unless I'm doing a retelling, I'm taking a thing and throwing it into a blender and using it to power the story engine, not using it as the entire story template.  These differences may seem subtle but I do think it's important.  I want people to feel seen when they read a story I wrote because I got to some emotional truth of a thing.  Now, of course, I did use a viral date gone wrong story for Undercover Bridesmaid, but I felt to me like that was different because I was using a thing and the story wasn't really about that, that was just a way to move the beginning bit.  Could I have done it another way?  Yes.  
And certainly I am often inspired by stories that I read, both the viral date gone bad, and other news stories.  But mostly the thing I wonder is - what happens next?  Like sure, you go on a date and discover the guy has booked other dates, but what do you do next? 
And yes, I have overheard things in coffee shops, and thought hmm, and talked to people about funny things that happened to them and thought hmm, but writing a story about Bob in accounting is not appealing to me.  And while I can never guarantee I won't stumble onto a combination of things that happened to someone I know, I can of course try not to do it intentionally. And it feels like if anyone can say I think your whole story is based on me and Bob, then rather than there's a bit in chapter two that happened to me once, well, it feels like that's not fiction anymore.  

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Eater had a piece about how restaurants could use these pandemic skills to also figure out how to better accommodate diners who are disabled.  
2. This teen has expanded her pandemic bakery into a growing business.  
 Pets of chefs - Washington City Paper interviewed some local chefs about their dogs.  

Monday, July 05, 2021

Holidays and Work

I have attended schools both private and public. I have worked for small businesses and large corporations. The one commonality is that there is no consistency in holidays. I had to become a freelancer to get Indigenous Peoples Day or Emancipation Day off (both city holidays in DC). 
When Y2K was a concern, the company I worked for took away New Years as a holiday for us. Like we all had to work January 1, even though if all the patches we had worked around the clock to implement failed, I personally was not in charge of fixing that. And all of that is totes legal in the US, because it was a company wide policy. 
I am not against holidays. I like them. I think the US has a lot to learn about letting people relax. But I think when we talk about things from Election Day to Juneteenth, the fact that holidays only exist for the privileged gets lost. 
Sure, most federal employees get federal holidays. But hospitals, nursing homes, electric companies, public transit, all of these things keep going. And what is it you think you're doing on this holiday? Are you going to a restaurant, stopping in a store? Of course you know those things are run by people. 
So, I like a good holiday. But holidays in the US are not equal. And they are not accessible to everyone. And not everyone gets holiday pay for working them. 
So holidays can be part of any movement towards making things better. But they are never the only response needed. 

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Three Interesting Things

1. Some European scientists want sports fans to know, this summer is all an experiment
2. Eddie Louise, who I worked on Fiyahcon with, had some thoughts about how awards could better accommodate teams.  
3. NPR's Joy Generator is a fun way to look at things that bring people joy and why, so you feel smart in your joy. Plus there are puppies and kittens.