Back from CONvergence!

I’m back in the real world, but still catching up to reality, if that makes sense. There’s something I put on Twitter about how hard and strange it is to return to life outside the convention after spending a week deep within it. The feeling of isolation has passed (radio withdrawal is a THING), but there’s still a part of me that hasn’t quite put down the mantle of responsibility. I still feel a bit like I’m holding up a pillar upon which my part of the convention stands — and, to some extent, I am. Because I am not a Co-Head only for the 6ish days of CONvergence. I am a Co-Head always. Because stuff happens, always.

But that’s a different discussion.

Anyway, I’m almost back to being fully able to pretend to be a muggle. I’ve had new ideas for stories since CVG, and I’ve appreciated my condo more than ever — cleaning up 3 rooms is SO MUCH EASIER than 3 levels of a house. I’ve even sung a choir gig, including the song where I have the big solo. So life really is continuing whether or not I’m fully back in it.

This week is going to be a bear, however, as I spend the next 3 days locked for 9 hours in one conference room with my work team doing in-person training. Which means not being at home, not hugging Sarah whenever I feel like it, not sitting around in comfy pants, and not having any chance to not be a perfect worker in front of my boss. SIGH.

So I’m going to take this evening and enjoy myself fully to stock up for the next few days of pure slog.

But before I go — look! I actually remembered to get a picture of myself in my full steampunk gear! Complete with a hat I made out of cardboard (that looks absolutely fabulous up close)!

This was, hands down, the most comfortable cosplay I’ve ever done. And, yes, there are rainbow colors in my hair. A friend wove colored extensions into my braids, which freaking made my day when it turned out so well. I think I may start taking more opportunities to add a little color to my hair whenever I can because it made me so happy!

The whole cosplay made me happy, actually. From the Victorian-era maps on the inside of my tails to the gears broach to the plaque on my hat that says “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” to the prismatic goggles to the LEDs that lit the whole thing up. It just worked for me.

What do you think?

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CONvergence is imminent!

And therefore my brain is tied up in knots and feeling very much like an Escher painting. So I’m going to take my official break and pick the blog back up afterwards.

Until then, here’s about how my brain feels chasing after this crazy thing we call my convention…

(It really is wonderful and fun, too. Just…”you starve and near exhaust me” has a solid ring of truth to it…)

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Art! (And Friends)

So, I think I’ve written previously about my total and complete lack of art skill. It’s not just that I can’t draw, or paint, or otherwise produce visual art. I’m also not great at envisioning it. I can imagine a scenario in a story, or characters, or abstract symbols. But creating something visually interesting and artistically coherent is just not my strength. At all.

But I love art. I love to have color around me, and images of things that make me feel. I have collected figures and pieces from every place I’ve ever traveled or lived, and I love being able to look at them or pick them up and remember what the air tasted like, or how the birds sounded, or what I learned while there. And I love art that is unconventional, art that means something to me but others would find stupid. It’s like an in-joke with myself.

The house used to be filled with art, a picture or a hanging or a carved statue every 3 feet. We kept all of it, because it all had meaning, but moving to a smaller place meant rethinking how we deal with it. Also, while you absolutely can just line the wall with paintings, it’s much more effective visually when you cluster them together in a collection.

So, on Saturday, after 6ish hours of meetings for CONvergence, a couple of friends came over to help us do just that.

Here is the result:

Can I just say? MY FRIENDS ARE AMAZING. For so many reasons. But in this case…I mean, just look at it! It’s beautiful!

I keep walking into the room and just STARING.

I love everything about it. I love the shape, I love the balance, the colors, the way not all the frames have to be black to look like they belong. I love having all the disparate pieces that add up to who I am (and who Sarah is — it’s hers too!) put together like this. And this is just one collage of the three we did!

Moving left to right, we start off with a picture of Princess Mononoke. Beautiful art we bought at CONvergence two years ago from the artist, along with the picture of Nausicaa at the other end. Next in is the newly framed picture of our art print from Beth Kinderman’s album, which arrived just in time to take its rightful place amidst the beauty. Below that is my signed picture (that I bought, did not get in person, SIGH) by the voice cast from the 2012 TMNT. I like everybody, but, let’s be honest, IT IS ALL ABOUT ROB PAULSEN VOICING DONATELLO.

Ahem.

Starting above Beth’s art are a matched pair bought at the same 2017 CONvergence from a different artist; they happen to be characters in a series she puts out, but they also pretty much stand in for Sarah and I (I’m the tiger and she is the hawk). Next to them is the framed Morpho butterfly which was a gift from a friend after I saw them in person when we were in Ecuador in 2009 and proceeded to have a series of life-changing realizations about myself.

Then we have the two big ones, the centerpiece of everything. These we also bought in Ecuador from the artist. They represent the sun god and the moon goddess and they are. Just. Perfect.

(Even if the matting in the frames is giving way — we intend to get that fixed eventually.)

Those two used to hang over our fireplace in the house, so I’ve pretty much been staring at them nonstop for a decade, and I have yet to get tired of them, of the colors, of the symbols. They’re made with banana leaves and recycled paper, if I remember correctly, and the texture is really neat up close, too. Even after all this time, they still speak to me.

Anyway.

Below the moon goddess is a set of three which goes back to 2008 in one of the apartments. All three were found online somewhere (probably a long-dead Deviantart site) and meant to represent the three of us then living together — Sarah, me, and another friend. It was our promise that we would be a home and a refuge for one another, no matter what life threw our way. The friend lived with us for a long time, even in the house for a while, and now lives just across the river from our condo. But for 11 years, we have still be home base for him and for others.

The condo really couldn’t be home if it wasn’t home for more than just Sarah and I.

Left of those is my signed picture of Leonard Nimoy as Spock. It was in one of the last batches he ever signed before he passed away, and I was lucky enough to buy it from his website just in time. That was when he was also offering to be a surrogate father or grandfather for people as well, and I got in on that, too. He also sent a free gift when he sent the picture, which I have perma-loaned to my biggest Trekkie friend so she has something of him in her house as well. I miss him in the world and his wisdom and wonderful humor, but I’m so glad to have this piece of a person who helped define me as a nerd when I was sneakily watching TV long after my parents had gone to bed.

Above is my big TMNT print, also bought at CONvergence in 2017 but not by me. That was a gift from a friend who saw it and thought I would love it. I pretty much broke down and cried when he gave it to me. I didn’t even SEE IT when I was looking for art, and it just…I…IT TURTLES OKAY!!!

Above the turtles are a pair of wolves Sarah bought for herself, also from the artist at CONvergence, but back in 2013. She says they don’t have specific meaning to her other than the fact that she also strongly identifies with wolves, but I look at them and I see her reflected too.

(Which is not to say that the rest of the art is “mine.” It’s VERY MUCH MUTUALLY SHARED. But some things, like the butterfly or Leonard Nimoy, speak more to me. These wolves speak more to her. Mostly, though, it’s both of us.)

And lastly is Nausicaa, so we have Miyazaki on either side.

It makes me SO HAPPY to have this. To see these things brought together intentionally and beautifully, a space made for all of it. And doubly, triply so because I could never have fashioned this layout on my own. I needed my friends for that.

But I never could have fashioned myself alone, either, so it all works out.

There’s more art to hang, but this will be the centerpiece of it all, and very rightly so. After all, this is who lives here, feelings and experience and knowledge of self all wrapped in one.

And also nerdity and fandom.

Because, well. What else would you expect, really?

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Sorry

Last week got missed due to ALL THE CVG stuff. This week I was all set to write an actual post, but now I’m not feeling very good. So I’m going to just…not.

(Yay for a resurgence of my old friend costochondritis, probably…)

This is the time when I may need to take some weeks off due to CONvergence, so don’t be surprised if there is radio silence for the next month or two. Hopefully this time I’ll actually remember to get a picture of myself in my awesome cosplay getup!

(Spoiler — it’s a year for steampunk!)

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Nothing to Prove

I spent the long weekend catching up on sleep, playing an impromptu game of volleyball with about a third of my Operations leadership, and continuing to turn the condo into home. I also started swimming again, and I’m up to 500+m of swimming in a session, which is a good start.

Which also means I’m very tired and my brain is all over the place.

Therefore, I just leave you with this. I love this song, and what it stands for, and everybody who contributed to it.

And also — the Doubleclicks are coming to CONvergence 2019! So if you want to see them live, be in Minneapolis in July!

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The Hero’s Journey

“so walk your path in your own shoes
send off what you stand to lose
cause you can let it be
or let your destiny
become the one you choose”

These lyrics are by my dear friend and acquired sister Beth. They come from the first track of her newest album, The Hero’s Journey.

And now I’m going to tell you why this album is FUCKING EPIC and you need it in your life.

The concept of the hero’s journey as written by Joseph Campbell was the original inspiration when Beth began on this journey of her own more than a decade ago. It’s a structure more than a trope, a monomyth that underpins so many, many,many stories in our culture. You can tell the story of Jesus, Ahab, Jane Eyre, Frodo, the last unicorn, Spock, Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, and a gazillion others under this model. Roughly, it’s been illustrated this way (thanks Wikipedia):

It’s a natural subject for an album, especially for someone so deeply embedded in music and filk culture as my friend Beth. But Beth’s perspective is always unique and I find it no less so this time than I have on any other song project.

(Look here for Beth’s rewrite of Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” No, seriously. And look at the lyrics. When you finish laughing your ass off, you’ll thank me.)

I’ve known Beth for more than a decade as well. We started as friends of friends — I was pulled into her group by a then-roommate who was regularly at her place for roleplaying on Sundays. Before long, I became a fixture at their table, and those Sundays were my escape from everything. Then I became a player in Beth’s game, and there was pretty much no going back from there. The people at Beth’s table became my friends, and ultimately many of them became family.

Sarah and I had tried doing music in the cities a tiny bit before we met Beth, including one hilariously disastrous Christian music competition (spoiler alert: being married kinda played against us). But we really didn’t know anybody, didn’t know where to perform, didn’t have any contacts or anything. One night, though, Sarah came up with me and we jammed with our guitars with Beth for a while, and she thought we might have something worth sharing. Not long after, we played our first gig at a bar.

(The only people who showed up were our friends and Beth’s band. But that was our biggest audience outside of a dorm room so we were more than pleased.)

For a few years, Sarah and I did some light gigging around the Twin Cities. We didn’t really seek it out for ourselves — but if Beth was performing with her band somewhere, a lot of times we could sign up to open for them. It was fun. Her bandmates are fantastic, and as often as not, they’d end up on stage with us jumping in to back us up.

Then, in 2010, Beth was performing at CONvergence but her usual backup singer couldn’t be there and she asked me to step in. Singing with the full band was amazing, but I got a lot more that night than a neat experience rocking out with Beth and the Player Characters. That was the night I spent at my first CONvergence, and when I crawled home at 3am, I woke Sarah up to tell her that I had just discovered our community and we needed to go to it the following year.

So, really, everything that’s come since then for me and CONvergence can be traced back to Beth.

In 2012, Beth and Dave (her producer, engineer, and originator of all the weird guitar noises) helped Sarah and I put together a 4-track album of our own. We only ever sold about 5 copies, but the experience was great for us regardless. And it meant we were a lot more prepared when we started performing at CONvergence ourselves.

But all the while, as Sarah and I figured out our style, and what sort of performance schedule worked for us, and what songs we could share versus which ones we kept for ourselves, Beth was working her way through this album.

Beth’s songs always seem to speak to a part of myself that I don’t always remember to listen for. She does things with music that would never occur to me. (Dave calls it the “key of Beth” and Sarah and I have to agree. It’s that thing where a level of mastery means you can break all the rules; Beth just does it naturally. It’s amazing.) She can hear combinations, melody lines, arrangements that my brain just can’t grasp. But she also writes lyrics that are so strong, so beautifully crafted. What she does putting language together to create meaning always leaves me in awe.

Like the hero in her album, Beth’s made her choice to walk this journey, but she does not come to it empty-handed. She’s not the plucky hero who has nothing going for her but a quip and dumb luck. She embarked on this journey well-supplied with talent and experience and allies and clarity in her eyes.

As an author, the hero’s journey is an important motif — knowing it, knowing when to invoke it, knowing when NOT to invoke it, these all help me create narrative. But I use it as a tool. I don’t think I could have done what Beth did here. She didn’t just tell a story. She turned the journey into an emotional one.

Not without help — the Player Characters really outdid themselves on this album. I will never get tired of listening to what they can create when they unleash their massive talents.

But anyway.

I’ll admit it. I am more often than I am happy with thoroughly intimidated by Beth and what she can do as a musician. Her style, her skill, her raw talent, her lyrics, her drive — there’s really no part of me that feels I could ever do what she does even remotely as well. But then Beth invites me to sing on her album, and all my feelings go WOOOOOOSH.

Sarah and I both sang on this one. We’ve sung on others, too, but this one was so much more. It was a project that was close to Beth’s heart and soul, and it was a project we watched eagerly when Dave gave us access to the files, because we could feel what it was becoming. The chance to be a part of this journey, well. There was no way we wouldn’t happily sign on to be a couple of side characters for a few steps of the quest.

You’ll hear us singing backup in a few places, but the ones that had the greatest impact are the Crossing the First / Crossing the Return Threshold songs. They’re some of the finest and most well-crafted pagan invocations of the elements and directions I’ve heard put down, and we got to be part of them. Sarah sings for Fire, and I sing for Earth. And when I think about standing in the studio next to Sarah and Beth, putting these verses together, I am humbled by the trust Beth put in me to sing this all-important set of tracks with her.

There is nothing easy or simple about letting someone else into what you hold dear and giving them the chance to ruin it. And I wouldn’t ruin it, if I could help it. But there was always the possibility that what I would contribute would not be right, would not be enough, would not fit. (Between Sarah and I, I am the one who is super lousy at harmonizing, and I have to really, really work at it to get something respectable together.) But Beth didn’t worry about that. She trusted me, and she invited me into her heart to get this project done.

Besides the music — and, believe me, the music is enough ALL ON ITS OWN — there is also some absolutely, positively stunning art. The artist made art for all 17 of the songs. They’re very difficult to describe. But they…I mean, they just LOOK like how the songs sound.

Talk about fanart. That is just the ULTIMATE in fanart.

So. Now that I’ve gushed at length about Beth, and her art.

Why did I want to put this in today’s blog?

Well, first. Because the album is out, and I have one, and I love it, and you will love it!

Second, because wayyyy back when I began blogging in the first place, I had always intended to spotlight people who were making things, people who deserved an extra boost of attention. Not that I have a wildly robust readership here, honestly. But if I have a thing, I share it, regardless of how big or awesome it is. I have this small blog, and this small audience, and if that’s all I can offer to a person who has been friend and sister and supporter and source of wisdom and kindness and help, well, then that’s what I’m going to do!

But third?

Last week I wrote about my own writing and inspiration, about the relationship between me and those who contribute to my creative process.

Beth is one of the most supportive people in my life when it comes to my own art. She has always helped Sarah and I with music, has believed in us, has offered us opportunities to perform or grow or learn. But she also can understand my investment in fanfic, can ask me about writing and genuinely care how I feel about it. We approach writing differently, but she has never been far from my list of trusted people I could talk to about stories.

What people do on AO3 with comments, on Twitter/Tumblr with fanart, Beth has done for me in person for the better part of a decade.

I don’t talk about my friends, my family, my Clan very often. Many or most of them are private, and I try to respect that. I don’t give many real names, nor links to ways to reach them. (Sarah is different; she’s always up on YouTube with me.) But promoting Beth, spreading her music and her message and her talent as far as I can is not an invasion or an unwelcome peek into her life on the interwebz. I have her enthusiastic consent to make known to however-many people read this thing how awesome she is and how you should buy her CDs.

While writing this blog (and also working), I’ve had the album on repeat. And I finish writing it feeling like that first time I’ve stepped into a new situation, a new place, a new adventure, and I’m breathing in that new wind and looking up at the new sky, and I am ready to start walking.

She actually captured that feeling for me, that feeling of taking a journey, of stepping into one’s best and truest self, and thereby finding the way home.

“so I’ll depart for more adventures
but know they’re only for a while
though my journey goes on, I am anchored
I’ll come back knowing I am free

I am awake
I am awake
I am awake
I have always been awake.”

My journey as an author is my own. My journey as a musician is bound always to Sarah. But Beth has been there for all of it for a decade. And now that I get to experience her own version of that journey, feeling what she has felt and hearing her heart in her words, all I can do is grin and feel my own heart soaring in return.

I put a lot of music in this blog. Rarely does the music mean as much as this does.

Beth let me step on her journey for a bit, and I am the better for it.

Go listen to it, go buy it. You’ll be better, too.

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Fic and Fandom and Fanart

I’ve written before about the symbiotic relationship between me as a writer of fanfic and the fanfic fans who read what I write, about how they can inspire me and fill me with joy. I’ve also written, though, about how I really only write fanfic for myself, because I have no other choice. Like any author, I have stories that stamp up to me and grab me by the nose and scream “WRITE ME NOW DAMMITALL” and won’t leave me alone until I satisfy them. That’s the creative life, I think.

But sometimes — sometimes — I do write for others.

The glorious thing about a really small fandom is that we all get to kind of know one another. When you’re one of a very small number of contributors to a fandom, you kind of get all the fans, because they are looking for any content they can get. It gives you the chance to get to know them, to form relationships, to collaborate if you so desire.

It’s not something I ever went looking for, but YE GODS am I glad I found it.

The Mighty Max fandom is tiny. I mean, for serious, it’s tiny. The number of people who remember the show is small to start with — the number who like it still and like it well enough to go seeking fan-created additions is miniscule. If there are more than 500 of us online who actively consume Mighty Max fan-stuff, I’d be shocked. I only ever get around 100-200 hits on any given MM story, and fic isn’t everybody’s thing so I don’t expect to grab the whole community. In a world where every person and their great aunt has read/written/drawn for/imagined/begged for Harry Potter fic, to say nothing of the rest of the art, crafts, etc., that is a drop in the ocean.

But just because we are small does not mean that we are not mighty, or that the fans who join us are not awesome. Because they are.

Yesterday a piece of art was debuted on Twitter to me by a friend in the fandom. We are not IRL friends — this is a person who read my MM stories, liked them, and sought me out. It is also a person who has such an amazing capacity to see what I’m doing with my writing and build on it. Now, this person tends to build out in one direction and I tend to go in another, but that’s what makes it so very excellent all around. Because now I have my work, my writing, my headcanon, and I’ve triggered an alternate universe that’s fleshed out and detailed and awesome in its own way alongside it.

But the thing…the thing is…

FANART.

Let me say it again.

FANART.

I love fanart. I love anything that people can draw for me, but most especially from my stories. My ability to draw is FUCKING ZERO, folks. I can’t manage a decent stick figure. I have absolutely, utterly no visual arts ability. I just totally suck at it. It’s weird, because my imagination is so visual. When I’m writing, I can picture my characters and their movements, their expressions, where they stand, how they hold themselves — it’s all in my head. But I just cannot reproduce it one tiny bit.

And, so, because my imagination is so visual and my ability to draw is so thoroughly nil, it makes me so, so, so profoundly happy when somebody draws something that I imagined.

This particular picture is of a recent OC I introduced into my long-running Mighty Max series, and it just about made me cry. It’s so perfect in every respect. It captures almost identically how I had envisioned the character — not just his look, but his attitude. His posture, the slightly defensive way he holds his shoulders, the pride in how he pushes his chest forward, the vaguely sour expression (since is a good guy who has made some pretty awful decisions and now his choices are no longer quite his own).

AND THEN THE SHADOW THING.

I just love every part of it.

But this is just one piece of art. This particular friend has drawn me dozens, I think — bits of character interaction that I wrote or didn’t write, bits invented in that alternate universe we chat about over email, wacky “what ifs” that made me laugh on awful days. But it so perfectly illustrates the point about the relationship between writer and reader.

This OC, and this particular MM universe, came out of my head. Birthed like Athena from the head of Zeus, it sprang from me nearly fully formed, and strode out into the world demanding to be seen and respected. But once that universe existed, it draw to it the kind of people who really understood what it was about, and they offered me much squee and enthusiasm. And from that came new ideas, and new energy.

I didn’t necessarily start writing the stories *for* my fans, but the energy to prioritize those stories over other projects certainly came from them.

But now that I am 19 stories deep into this series, I can say that the dynamic has changed a little. Because the 20th story that is being written right now would not exist without this particular friend, and without the pictures, energy, thoughts, speculations, and commentary. It’s not just that I wouldn’t have launched into Fate Is A Gift #20 without the support, but I don’t think FIAG20 would be what it is becoming without the input.

I am a better writer because I get feedback, and because I can share my own fangirl happy with another. I am a better writer when someone else says “Hey, what about X?” and I think to myself, “I TOTALLY didn’t think about that, and I’m not going to go that way, but that sure leads me to Y and Z!” I am a better writer when I get those random emails and Twitter pokes with a picture or an insight, because it keeps me thinking and that keeps me focused.

Today got away from me — I had 3 meetings and had to take a 2 mile walk in the middle of the day in order to set up to purchase the condo on Wednesday. But I am ready to finish the next chapter of FIAG20, and I have the pieces of the rest of it in my head. And I am absolutely positive that I wouldn’t be to this point if not for that constant and enthusiastic interest and speculation and excitement.

So, I don’t normally write for others, but FIAG20…I might be writing it for a particular fan.

And you know what?

After pages and pages of ideas and insights and alternate versions and FANART…this fan TOTALLY DESERVES IT.

And if for literally nothing else, for this UTTERLY STUNNING depiction of Bran:

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I’m From Minnesota

So, I’m still pretty wiped out after the concert this past weekend. Due to personal stresses, I ended up not singing in it at all — instead, I opted to fill in as stage manager, logistics master, and general get-shit-done-person behind the scenes. I always do a certain amount of that before concerts; now I just did them during as well. It wasn’t as mentally or emotionally satisfying as actually singing, but it also wasn’t as mentally or emotionally exhausting. However, it was AT LEAST as physically exhausting, so there we are.

Rather than ramble with half the energy to do an entry justice, however, I offer you this song. I came across it a little while ago and it makes me happy. Partially because it is SO TRUE. Every Minnesotan, born and/or raised, that I have made listen to this song agrees as to its accuracy. I’m a transplant, but I’ve been here almost two decades, and I can confirm that this is very much the Minnesotan experience.

Also, it makes me laugh.

The TCWC concert was all about home, and what home means to people. Home has been on my mind, too, as I move in and unpack and turn this condo into home. Home is also the people around me, like Sarah in the next room or a person who is some mix of dear friend, brother, and platonic life confidant sitting on the floor of my den. Home is not just brick walls and windows, but the society surrounding it, the people and culture, the rhythm of the land and streets and skies.

One home has recently changed, another never will. And the third is Minnesota, in all its weird and wonderful glory.

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Home

Well, the hiatus is over and we are finally home.

Shifting from a house to a condo has been an interesting process, with no few adjustments that came easier than expected. Honestly, it’s a relief not to have to think about picking up branches, pulling weeds, planting gardens. At this moment, I really only miss one particular space, and I’ve been too busy to think about it much. That space, of course, is my quiet, sacred space. It will end up being shared with the bedroom, and when I pull it together enough to set it up, it’ll probably be fine.

But otherwise? Dropping from ~2,000 square feet of space to 1,272 hasn’t felt like a great loss, really. Sarah and I never really needed to be spread out that much. We’re enjoying the open layout that lets us snark back and forth from kitchen to couch without having to bellow. Being downtown is hugely fun; already we’ve walked more than we ever did in the suburbs. Groceries, going out to eat, visiting people — it’s all an easy stroll instead of needing to drive (at least when it isn’t freezing!). We’re part of the world now, not just sitting in our individual cookie cutter house.

The condo is 12 floors up, which means we have a beautiful view. We face northeast, both the direction and the neighborhood, so we can see the place where the Mississippi curves from north-south to east-west when it hits downtown. Funnily enough, the view is also a perfect metaphor. We’re across the street from the top of the nearest building, so my windows are directly across from their big air conditioning thing. But I literally just need to look past the obvious in the foreground to a beautiful background. Every single person who has come over wanders out to our balcony, and they just stay there. They go out to “take a peek” and vanish for 5-10 minutes. It’s pretty fun to watch.

Once we started moving stuff into the condo, we immediately felt that we had come home. It was surprising to me how quickly we adjusted. Parking in the underground garage and riding an elevator became normal, even comfortable. It was going back to the house to clean it out that seemed strange. We walked the house on the last day and wondered why we ever thought we wanted or needed so much space, so much yard, so far away from the heart of the city. Really, I think a lot of it comes down to lifelong assumptions and expectations. The American Dream is still kind of the standard in the communities in which we were raised, and that means a house and yard kept immaculate at all times. That’s how you progress, right? You go to college, get married, buy a house and a dog or maybe have some kids, and you live in a good neighborhood where you can drive into the city sometimes for special occasions.

You don’t have to deconstruct that scenario very far to see the many implicit economic, social, and racial biases. (Also ecological impact of individual homesteads instead of more efficient communal living.) And we weren’t as knowledgeable about these things ten years ago, but we are now. And once you see the system, once you see the barriers raised to those who don’t have the same levels of privilege, well, I think you probably only have two options. You apologize for being part of the system, or you opt out of it. And Sarah and I have white privliege acting for us, but we’ve been on the wrong side of the privilege power dynamic, and we are always happier defying it.

But we didn’t just move to make a political statement. It’s just *better* for us here. The yard was a huge stressor for both of us, as well as various aspects of home maintenance. Being 12 stories up in the air with no yard to mow, no trees to trim, it lets us focus on other things. Having a built-in assumption of walking means more regular exercise as well as more time in the urban community. And there’s such a different experience looking out the window and just seeing the house across the street from looking out to see half of the city, the mighty Mississippi, and a humongous sky.

(It’s taken me 2 hours to write even this far, because I keep getting distracted staring out my own window. I think I could look at that river view for the rest of my days and never tire of it.)

The thing the house gave us wasn’t status or security like it gives to others. That’s not what we wanted. It did give us space to host our friends and family, but we just have to be a little creative and we can recreate that space just as well. This condo has places we can reserve to host parties bigger and more comfortably than we could at the house. (It also has an indoor pool, which I fully expect to make use of during some of those parties.) What the house gave us was a home base for the people who fill up our lives. And that is something that isn’t tied to an address in suburbia; it lives with all of us everywhere we live.

Which isn’t to say that we are sorry for the years we spent in that house. In our almost 9 years there, we loved that house. But it wasn’t the right fit anymore, and that’s neither bad nor anyone’s failing — things change, we change, the world changes, and priorities change. Add it all up, and the time had come for us to move.

Of course, living here will be far easier than *moving* here. Until Saturday, the room I am currently sitting in was wall-to-wall boxes. Storage won’t be a problem once we get it all organized, but in the meantime it’s a DISASTER. But we make some progress every day, and with everything we set into place, we’re more sure that this is where we belong.

It’s not that different to me from settling into Minnesota after being from New York. It’s a change, for sure. But the adjustment fits against my edges — not identically, but equally easily. Louise Fitzhugh wrote, “There are as many ways to live in this world as there are people.” (I think. It’s hard to be sure when my copy of Harriet the Spy is in a box somewhere. It’s close to that, anyway.) And, for me, there are right ways and wrong ways. This condo, this is the right way. The house was the right way too, for a long time. But now it would be wrong. The suburbs would be wrong.

Frankly? Anything that doesn’t give me this view of the Mississippi would be wrong.

This coming weekend is the TCWC spring concert and it’s theme, appropriately enough, is “home.” All the songs are about finding home, or losing it, or creating it, or not knowing where it is. And while the choir community has long been a home to me, this time when I sing those songs, I’m going to be thinking about my place halfway into the sky, with the river to the north and west, the sunset streaking across the balcony, and the room that was mostly boxes and is slowly growing itself into a den.

I have very much come home, once more.

(However, even if I have found my hallelujah, I sure can’t find anything else! Time to unpack more boxes!)

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Sorry!

I didn’t mean to slip into blog silence territory last week, but things with the house and condo are moving so fast, something had to give. And it’s got to give this week, too. And probably next week.

I’m just giving myself permission to go dormant on the blog while I figure out everything else. But I’ll be back, probably with tales of moving adventures and Many Feelings about leaving the house behind.

Until then, I need to work on everything that gets me to that lovely point of post-moving reflection.

See you around!

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