tablets
applewoman
I own and adore one of the older e-ink Kindles: the kind with manual buttons, not a touchscreen. I mostly load stuff on it with Calibre, which works pretty well, but lately I'm finding myself wanting to read shorter fiction on the Web directly so I can respond to it more immediately. Right now I have to plug in my Kindle on my iMac and look in Calibre to see what I've read, and then go look up the work on AO3 to post kudos or comments.

So I think I'd like to get a small, paperback-sized tablet I can use to browse the Internet. I'm not sure what I should get, though. My mother has a Kindle Fire, which she adores, but I've heard it's a bit clunky, and I don't want to get even more enmeshed in Amazon's web. (I would love an iPad mini, but it's WAY too expensive.) I just want something that lets me connect to the Internet with a decent web browser and has a screen that won't give me a headache.

Time for some research!

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/12845.html.

the fannish river
applewoman
At work today I had to meet with our shiny young intern about a project, and about halfway through he apologized for calling me “ma’am.” Oh, sweetie. I’m old enough that I could not care less, but I appreciate that he asked whether I minded. I’m still laughing to myself about it an hour later. (Honestly, ma’am is SO much better than “miss.” I always feel about twelve when people pull that one on me.)

***

I had strong fannish feelings when I was a kid, pre-Internet, but something about sharing the huge collective of FEELS with the Internet magnifies everything tenfold. Like, I’m not even sharing these feelings with anyone in particular, just dipping my toe in the fannish river, but the current carries you right along.

Right now the Internet is making me really want to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier again. Seeing it only twice in the theater was not enough. This is unusual for me, because I don’t often watch visual media more than once. (Words are much more my thing.) But I’m reading so much fascinating analysis of CA:TWS (and seeing so many animated GIFs as support) that I really want to experience it over and over and look for different things each time.

I love that online fandom has given me the desire and the ability to engage with all sorts of interconnected media—like, I see a movie, I read fanfic interrogating it from different directions, I watch vids made about it, I read thoughtful meta—there’s just so much!

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/12590.html.
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a work in progress
applewoman
It felt a little uncomfortable to be reading R-rated fanfic when my mom was visiting this weekend. Mom is a close friend and knows me better than most, but I haven’t shared the deepest parts of my fannish life with her. She would try to understand, but it would hurt her, and she would worry about me. She has specific ideas about what a “good Christian woman” should allow into her life, and I’m sure R-rated fanfic would be right out. I love my mom a lot, but she doesn’t know everything about me, and I don’t need her to.

Growing healthy boundaries and learning how to use them has been one of the nicest things about getting older. When I was in college I thought I had to share everything about myself, all my most shameful secrets, or I couldn’t really call someone my friend. If they didn’t know everything about me, how could they really love me? How could I trust them not to hurt me if they hadn’t already embraced my worst self?

I don’t do that anymore. That urge to inappropriately intimate self-disclosure grew less and less as I grew more confident of my right to exist without having to explain why I was allowed to.

And part of the growth had to be letting go of the shame I still felt for throwing myself upon the mercy of so many people during my college years—love me, love me, rescue me, don’t hurt me, please love me!

Be gentle with your past, I remind myself. I was in pain; I dealt with it the best way I knew how. I look back on that person with love, and I wish I could heal her. And then I think: I did. That was me. And here I am now. Still a work in progress! But here I am.

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/12471.html.
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wet dog!
applewoman
“Why does it smell like wet dog in here?” my husband asked, out of the blue. We were sitting in his Jeep, stuck in traffic on the freeway during rush hour.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t smell it. Are there are wet towels or something…?” I poked around a little in the detritus surrounding my seat, but nothing surfaced. Then I had a thought.

“Ha ha, it’s not the scent I’m wearing, is it?” I asked, holding my wrist under his nose.

“Oh yes, that’s it!” he said immediately.

“Are you saying I smell like wet dog?”

“...in a good way! Like freshly groomed from the doggie beauty shop! Like Bailey.” Bailey is his mother’s miniature poodle.

(By this point we were both laughing our heads off.)

“So I smell like freshly groomed wet dog. Well. Guess I’m not wearing this scent again.”

“Sorry!” he said. “It’s a pretty strong scent memory.”

For the record, the scent was The Forest Reverie, from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Glad it wasn’t one of my favorites.

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/12219.html.
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The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner
applewoman
PSA: The ebook version of the The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner, is on sale now for $1.99 from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Kobo. I own a hard copy, but I may buy the ebook version anyway, because The Thief! I love this series so much, and I was lucky enough to read the first book completely unspoiled for anything that follows.

It's interesting to me that these are marketed as YA, because reading them as an adult I didn't get the sense that they were specifically written for a younger audience. I certainly would've loved them had I read them when I was a kid, but I love them just as much having read them first as an adult. (I feel the same way about, say, Diana Wynne Jones, only in reverse. I'll read and love DWJ's books no matter how old I get.)

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/11813.html.
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substitute sisters
applewoman
I just met a woman I haven’t seen since she was about 11 years old. She and her sister lived next door when I was a kid, and we played together all the time. We were witches and their victims, space explorers, magical creatures—anything we could imagine. We loved each other and hurt each other, and in many ways I thought of them as substitute sisters: I saw my real (half)sisters only during the summers and holiday breaks, when I lived at my far-away father’s house.

Then my sister-neighbors moved out of state, down south, and that was that. But we reconnected recently through the magic of Facebook: The older sister and her family happened to move to Minnesota not too far from where I live now, and she looked me up.

It was very strange to meet the younger sister again after all this time. She doesn’t look much like her child-self, for one thing (she looks very like I remember her mother), and she’s a grown-up! With a job, and a marriage and a kid, and grown-up thoughts and opinions. It was like meeting for the first time a very nice woman who happens to know a lot about me without being told. So very strange.

It was healing to reconnect with them. I’ve been so grief-filled and angry about my childhood, though I’ve rearranged that mental furniture enough that I’m mostly comfortable with its configuration now. But it’s good to be reminded that there was magic in my childhood, and I’m not the only one who remembers it fondly and carries it with me still.

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/11772.html.
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little girl with glasses
applewoman
Last week we found out that our three-year-old daughter is slowly losing vision in her left eye. Fortunately it's fixable, and her particular issue is very common—about 4 out of 100 kids. Turns out she's slightly farsighted, and her eyes had to work so hard to focus on things close to her that they started crossing. Eventually her brain decided to "switch off" her left eye and focus on the right eye, so at this point she has about 20% poorer vision in her left eye.

(Part of me is going, "brains are cool! science is cool! wow, it's amazing the things we humans have figured out about our bodies!" and the other part is all "my baby girl's brain turned off her eye OMG!")

I'm not sure how we're going to convince her to keep her new glasses on when they finally arrive, never mind wearing an eye patch for two hours every day. But I'm very grateful that I decided to bring her in to the eye doctor after one too many people commented on her "lazy eye." After about nine years old, vision loss like this is usually permanent, the doctor said.

He also mentioned that if these initial accommodations (glasses and patching) don't work, we may need to consider surgery. He didn't go into detail about that, probably because he saw an OH HOLY SHIT EYE SURGERY MY BABY look on my face. Sure does give us incentive to make sure she keeps the glasses on, though!

Funny thing: the doctor said kids in this situation often don't need glasses after about age 12 or thereabouts—which is the age when I first got my glasses (I'm nearsighted).

The glasses they make for small children are neat. They're made of a sturdy, flexible plastic and are held on with an elastic strap. "Kids can whip 'em across the room and they'll be fine," the doctor said. She's getting a pearlescent lavender color, which is the closest to purple they had. I hope she likes them.

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/11180.html.
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books books books
applewoman
Jo Walton's What Makes This Book So Great just arrived in the mail. Yay! I'm so looking forward to savoring it, and possibly adding some books-to-read to my list. Her book Among Others was one of my favorites of the last few years.

I recently finished The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison's new book, and loved it. I checked it out of the library, but I'll have to buy a copy to reread, which I'm sure I'll be doing more than once.

That I loved it surprised me, because her previous series (writing as Sarah Monette) was so dark and gritty that I couldn't finish it, even though the characters and the world she created were compelling. But she's following a different kind of thread in this new book.

It also pulled off the trick of being a complete and satisfying story while simultaneously making me wish there were more. (There are no sequels planned at this point.)

Some broad-strokes discussion of a character's choices but no discussion of plot, so not super spoileryCollapse )

I just started reading the third book in a trilogy, Strange Country, by Deborah Coates. The trilogy takes place in South Dakota, and I really enjoy the strong sense of place. I'm from the Midwest myself, and I haven't read a lot of books set in this area that feel true in the way that this series does.

Next up after that is the newest Dresden Files book, Skin Game. I was sooooo good and waited until it came in for me at the library instead of running right out and buying it. Oddly enough, I'm about to have an unpleasant medical procedure (esophageal endoscopy), and when the last book came out I saved it to read on the day I was prepping for a similar unpleasant procedure (colonoscopy). So this series has somehow become my reward for enduring the invasion of tiny cameras into my various bodily orifices. Well, it will be distracting to read about the latest crappy turn Harry Dresden's life has taken, anyway.

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/10797.html.
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but I love the Internet
applewoman
I’m feeling the need to set stricter electronic device usage time limits for my thirteen-year-old. It’s hard to enforce, because pretty much ALL he wants to do is play with his iPod Touch, or a game console, or watch his favorite shows recorded on the DVR. He likes to read, but not the way I did as a kid, when I was either reading sf/fantasy or running around outside making up my own stories. We don’t have friends or neighborhood kids nearby that he can hang out with on a casual basis, and he’s not interested in setting up “play dates” with kids from school—we’ve asked. He’s happy to hang out with other kids at school, but not so much when he gets home. We tried the Boy Scouts, but he was uninterested in continuing. He used to play sports like soccer, but now that he’s reached an age where people start getting ultra-serious about it, he’s done with that. “Can’t we just play for FUN?” he asked.

Plus, his dad LOVES his iPad and communes with it for hours when he gets home from work. Which is fine, because his dad is an adult and can regulate himself, but it sets a particular example of what one does when one gets home at the end of the day. And “do as I say, not as I do” does NOT work with our kid. But telling him “scientific studies have shown it’s not healthy for children and teens to spend that much time on electronic devices” isn’t a good enough reason for him to regulate himself when he REALLY wants to do something. I think he’d NEVER unplug except to eat and sleep if he didn’t have to go to school.

I mean, we ALL love our electronic devices, me included. I spend far less time on them at home than my husband, but we’re all plugged in to some extent. And I’m not expecting him to have the sort of wild, unplugged childhood I did, because that’s not the reality today. But the last couple months especially I’ve been getting the feeling that everything else in his life is an unwelcome interruption. And I don’t think that’s a healthy trend.

I get a bit tangled up in my own issues trying to help him, too, because I don’t want to push him the way I was pushed as a kid, to be social when I wasn’t comfortable and/or didn’t feel the need. But I also don’t want him to retreat into his devices entirely.

My own issues again: I was alone a lot as a kid, but often not by choice, and I was lonely much of the time. My son doesn’t appear to be. He has far less need for other people than I do, and I’m a pretty hardcore introvert. Part of this may be because he’s on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, but it may be just his personality. He likes people and enjoys spending time with them, but he doesn’t seem to need their approval or presence very much.

I’m mostly thinking out loud here, but if anyone has any insight, I’d love to hear it.

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/9645.html.
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fandom love
applewoman
I am super in love with the Marvel movieverse right now. I haven’t fallen for a fandom so hard since I first discovered online fanfiction during the early years of the X-Files. There’s just so MUCH to love, so many characters to explore, so many stories to tell! It’s making me very happy. Online fandom is such a gift, because I know anything the canon of origin screws up can and will be fixed by many talented writers in different and creative ways. It doesn’t lessen the pain of the original screw-up, I suppose, but it overwrites it with joy. HOORAY for all you wonderful writers! Thank you!

I’m also enjoying reading all the fabulous commentary on the Captain America movie and on Agents of SHIELD. I’m glad I hung in there with AoS, because I think it might start paying off now.

Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/9359.html.
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