Scattershot from a Fallen Anarchist
Vol.I, issue 3
A zine for Minneapa 346
from Lydia Nickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
3721 Blaisdell Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55409
I remember my parents fretting about Grimmís Fairy Tales, and whether or not it was ok for the kids to read them. It was, after all, the Seventies.
The gruesome, sometimes violent stories had a great many child psychologists up in arms. My parents, after some liberal agonizing, decided that since the stories were traditional, they were necessarily wholesome. How it is that Fundamentalists come to the conclusion that the older something is the more wholesome it is I do not understand. However, it meant that I was allowed to read them.
I didnít find them horrifying. They didnít give me nightmares. I got a shivery satisfaction from the ending of "Sleeping Beauty" where the evil stepmother is made to dance in red-hot shoes of iron until she is dead. Justice for children against parents? What a marvelous, subversive concept. Not that I mentioned it to my own parents, or even thought about it in precisely those terms where my parents might overhear me.
The scariest story for me, now, is the story of Cinderella and the glass slippers. Thereís a fair amount of feminist writing on the whole Cinderella problem. I sympathize with much of it. But Iím always amazed that they never stop to focus on the damned glass slippers.
The beginnings of the story are horrific enough. Hereís a woman, brave, resourceful, kind, and dutiful. She has been rejected by her father and persecuted by her stepmother and stepsisters. She takes all of this abuse meekly. One assumes, that she had no other choice. Her only refuge, her only escape, is marriage. A grim world, indeed.
But stop, think about the slippers. Her lover cannot recognize her face, knows nothing about her but one physical characteristic; he loves the woman who can wear the glass slipper. What a narrow, bizarre qualification for love. What an untenable foundation for marriage. How desperate must Cinderella have been, to accept such a refuge, based on such a fragile, impossible requirement? The story is horrific because it cuts so close to my own bones. Like Cinderella's sisters, I have hacked off pieces of myself in order to fit into the glass slipper so that the prince would marry me. As with her sisters, the prince did not stay when he saw my mutilated state, and so I was left maimed and alone.
Could it really have that much better for Cinderella? Itís true, the slipper fit her that day. She could walk away with her prince, walk the path assigned. But then? Will she ever dance in those slippers, again? Surely not. There's no give, no stretch, no margin, no slack. She must walk carefully, softly, ladylike, or they'll shatter and shred her feet and the prince will love her no longer. Run, dance, play? No, no longer. And after a long day, when her feet are swollen and she is tired, she has only two choices: to hobble along in this rigid role which she has promised, or to take off the damn torture devices and live her own life. The risk, to dance in glass, can be taken when the prize is not won. At the ball, for brief hours, dancing in glass slippers is a parlor trick, a skill and a talent to make one feel proud. But for that to be the only thing that the Prince really values about her Ö poor Cinderella.
Love changes us. It is true. Is it more than a biochemical change? Can anything be more profound than biochemical change¾ biochemical change, put in 50 mics of acid, get back your change in streamers of color following movement. Theobromine, attitude-helper, it lightens the burden of the knowledge of existence while endorphins melt the lines between pleasure and pain, patience and passion. Quite a chemical cocktail. Love, so very real that it is physical pressure upon the heart and a pain in the groin. It is as real and permanent a change as hacking off a finger, and as ephemeral as shaving oneís head. Love is starlight and moon rocks, hot as the flames of hell, and as consuming. It is an eternity, burning in starfire, wrapped up in single instant of time. Whoíd have thought that the body could do all that. Quite a biochemical roller coaster ride.
Comments on Minneapa 345
Glenn Tenhoff: Youíre still here! Thatís grand. As for procrastination, Iím a deadline junkie, myself. I work on my zine the night before the collation. This being my third one, I think I can state that I have identified a trend. For a brief period of time, I worked as a freelance researcher. I found that to produce paying copy, I had to stay up really late, right before the deadline, and drink really, really bad coffee. Normally, I pour fresh-made coffee into a thermos. Iím a coffee snob, and especially sensitive to the taste of burnt coffee. However, when I need to create paying copy, Iíll leave the coffe on the warmer. As the coffee gets more and more foul, I produce more and more paying copy. I used this same formula to create a large portion of the initial High Resolution Proposal, which may explain some things. :-)
ct me: I like the idea of buttons. I agree that there appear to be positive things coming out of the meeting. But it was one of the most difficult things Iíve ever gone through. Frankly, if nothing good was coming from it, I would feel cheated. That sucker hurt.
ct Don: I agree, another invitation is in order.
Marty Helgeson: ct me: "In what sense do you not feel safe at Minicon and why is this the case?" Itís pretty amorphous, Iím afraid. The story I tell, which horrifies other people, isnít quite on point, but itís as close as I can come. I was in the consuite late in the evening, last year or the year before. They had run out of beer and hard cider. All they had was a disgusting, alcoholic mixture which they had christened blog, though it has no relationship whatsoever to the substance that Jim Youngís sainted mother once made. The bartenders were in tearing spirits, young, and drunk. One of them said, "If youíll take off your shirt, you can have some cider." I did think about it, if only to see the shock on their faces. Silly little boys. Honestly. Iíve walked around naked at conventions before, where do they get off trying to shock me? But I didnít. Not because I found their offer offensive (which it was) nor because I was afraid of them (which I wasnít) but because I didnít know anyone in the consuite. I didnít have back-up. If I miscalculated, and these foolish children were, in fact, dangerous boys rather than silly ones, there was no one within ear shot that I knew I could count on to help me haul my bacon back out of the fire. Minicon has gotten so large, so diverse, and so public that I donít feel a sense of community with everyone there. I can sit down in the consuite, and not be able to find a three handshake separation from random strangers. Indeed, asking people questions about how they are connected to fandom at Minicon is often met with hostility. Iím not trying to say that every fan is a saint. Too, it may just be that Iím getting older and my glory days are behind me. However, a lot of women I know have said that they are less comfortable at Minicon than they used to be. One of the ways that I judge the safety of a place is by how comfortable I am being provocatively dressed. Fandom has long been a place where I could wear low-cut outfits and still have real conversations with people. It is an enormous luxury, to be able to combine the sexual and the intellectual. Thatís one of the things that I seem to losing in the larger Minicon. I feel I need to be more cautious, more careful. I feel as if how I dress matters in a way that it never used to. And I donít like that.
Thanks for the background on the Amanda Breaks. I remain completely croggled by them. Iíve never seen sentences squiggle away quite like that. Itís like trying to read as snakes squirm through your brain. Remarkably uncomfortable.
I keep on forgetting that "PK" isnít commonplace. As a child, I used to introduce myself as Ronald Nickersonís daughter, rather than by my name.
Dean Gahlon: ct me: "Wow, Iím glad to be reading this history, but sorry you had to live through it." Yeah, well, me too. Except that Iím not. Sorry, that is. Iím here, now, and thatís awful damn cool. I donít know which pieces could have been left out and still left me me. Iíve never wanted to go back and do things over again. What I paid to get here is so bloody expensive, the idea that I could somehow change it is maddening.
ct Dean Gahlon: Oh, donít take it elsewhere! I love flamewars. Do, do argue in public. Itís ever so much more fun!
Don Bailey: ct me: I agree that there was some real communication happening at the Awful Concom Meeting. But I was so shell-shocked by the whole thing that my overwhelming impression remains that of a burnt out building. Too, the rant was not meant to be the sum total of what I saw or what I learned at the Awful Meeting. It was just one, small piece that I wanted to get out from under my skin.
"Pyromancer." I like fires. So I get to set the wood ablaze in the fireplace at Blaisdell Polytechnic. So far, I havenít actually been able to divine anyoneís future in the flames, but Iím hoping.
Nate "Hunter" Bucklin: Thatís one hell of a story, Nate. (Do you really want to be called Hunter? I can try, but itíll take me a while to get used to it.) I seem to recall a long time ago that it was de rigeur for the protagonist to croggle for a while when first introduced to a ghost or other supernatural phenomena. I donít recall ever reading a story where that moment of disbelief was handled, um, believably. I notice that you slide right past that moment, and I think that this has become the common solution to that problem. Is it because the actual scene is impossible to write, or is there some other reason?
ct me: Lydy is pronounced lidee, but you donít have to call me that if you donít want to. I answer to durn near anything that starts with an L, and many things that donít. Really, though, Lydia is just fine. When I was young, I was bitter about not having a nickname. There was no obvious diminutive of my name. I went to schools with Susies and Cindys and Ruthies by the score, and I was very jealous. My sophomore year in high school, I fell in with (and, eventually, in love with, but thatís another story) a girl named Angela Gugliotta. She was utterly unlike anyone Iíd ever known before, libidinous, brilliant, well read, and beautiful. She called me Lydy, one day, and my heart melted. Iíd never had anyone call me a pet name, before. (I didnít know, then, that Iíd fallen in love with her. I was a very naïve 16 year old girl. It wasnít until she tried to seduce me under the stars, with strawberries and Chablis, right before my family moved to Iowa, that I understood that there could be a romance between us. This was short months after Iíd lost my virginity, and was I was extremely flaky around the whole topic of sex, and I reacted with sorrow and panic. Poor Anga.) To this day, I retain a fondness for the nickname she gave me.
Minicon, intensity, and tribes. You betcha, thereís a lot of passion on the other side of the Great Whither Minicon Debate. If there werenít it would have been easy. Worse, there are really good, valuable, important people who are on the other side, some of them not even in my tribe. Being of my tribe doesnít make you a better or a worse person. I remember Maureen, and she is definitely a neat person. I donít think that her coming to Minicon and enjoying the music constitutes a problem, either. When you change the degree of something, though, you can change its kind. If one person in 100 is fake fan, the convention is the better for it, it has breadth and depth (assuming the fake fan is an interesting person in their own right). If one person in 10 is a fake fan, perhaps the convention is starting to lose cohesion, but if they were the right ten percent, it could still be just wonderful. Iíve heard it theorized that only 1 person in 3 at Minicon is a fan. Thatís a whole Ďnother kettle of fish. There has to be some commonality for the community to work, I think. I donít know exactly where the break-point is. I donít think anybody does. I do think that Minicon is badly beyond it, though. Weíre holding a party, not for us, nor for our friends, but for friends of friends of friends who donít know our name, donít know our culture, and donít want to. You know, Iíve had No Fun, and it looked kind of like that.
"Your husband sounds insecure as all hell." And the sun rose in the east. I can delineate the reasons why he was so miserably insecure, but in the end, it didnít matter. With all the love in the world, I couldnít fix him. And he wouldnít fix himself. I am much better off without him, but I still missÖsomething. Not him, exactly. Certainly not who he is now. But Iím still sorry, in a sepia toned, nostalgic sort of way, that we couldnít make it work. "Do you ever notice how really intense people seem to lead really intense lives?" Snrch. When I was younger, I remember explaining quite earnestly to someone that, whatever happened, I never wanted my life to be boring. At the ripe old age of 35, I wonder what the hell I was thinking. :-) The intensity is so much a part of who I am and what I value about myself that I donít think I could set it aside if I wanted to. Not without doing irrepairable damage to myself. While the heartbreaks hurt a lot, the joy is transporting. I donít accept that pain is the price you pay for pleasure. I think thatís nonsense. But I do believe in high-risk, high-gain strategies, and thatís how Iíve chosen to play my life. Which doesnít negate the fact that I think that Blaisdell Polytechnic is as close to stable as anything is, this side of the grave. Things can happen, and I certainly have managed to put a terrible strain on my housemates recently (story not available at this time), but overall, Iím really kind of hoping on "living ecstatically" until Death comes knocking on my door. At which point, I shall spit in his eye. Much good it will do me, but there.
PK. Preacherís Kid. The most worrisome thing about abuse, I find, is not the scars it leaves behind, but the gifts. The insights and skills and brilliant beauty that it has caused in oneís life. How do you deal with that? All the "might have beens." They pile up, after a while, to unmanageable proportions. I hate them. In the end, most of life is doing the best you can with what youíve got. Part of what Iíve got is this lumpy, spiky, akward past. What would have happened, if Daddy hadnít gotten an offer from the Washington, Iowa congregation? Would we have moved? Or would I have gone to Carnegie Mellon University, as I had wanted to? What would have happened if Daddy hadnít been trying to escape the gay bars? What would have happened if Iíd followed Paulís advice and not lost my virginity that night, thus triggering the events which tore my family apart? Would I have been happier, if Iíd never fallen in love with DDB, never married Nigel, never met Neil Rest? Would I have found fandom, any other place? I donít think that these are, in the end, meaningful questions. Weíre here, now, and we are it, and what we do is it, and when we die, it will all be over.
Have you read Palwickís Flying in Place? Itís marvelous.
Ct Marty Helgesen: (Tiptoeing around the PC minefield) Job burnout. Oh, dear. Been there, done that. Not much fun. I have no good ideas, but you do have my sympathy. Is any of it possibly related to the flame out around the abrupt romance? Iíd rather be flayed alive and rolled in salt than go through that, Hunter. I adore the early stages of falling in love, the roller coaster ride, the headlong rush of emotion. To suddenly slam into a brick wall sounds more painful than I can imagine. Infra-black. Thatís the color that the book Good Omens claims that you see when your head hits a brick wall at 60 m.p.h. just as you lose consciousness and die.
Thorin Tatge: These are lovely. Do you have more? Thank you very much. Please do this again. Iím sorry I donít have anything more concrete to say.
Eunice Pearson: *shuffle* Shy hi. Pleased to meet you. I live with five cats, but only one of them considers me her human. Sheís a grey and white, eleven year old short- hair named Lilith, a cat of many opinions. (She has a bit part in Pamela Deanís forthcoming book, Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary. The cat in that book looks like Beryl, but has most of Lilithís mannerisms. This makes me enormously pleased, though Iíd be hardpressed to explain why. My catís in a book! Silly, but true.)