XOXO thoughts

So in the closing remarks, one of the Andys said to go and set up a blog or whatever, if you don’t have one, and to write about the experience, and then to share it with them.

I took a deep breath, thought about this site that I’ve had since ~2000, and tried to remember the last time I wrote a “real” blog post. (What’s here now is all automated posts from Ravelry and Goodreads.)

[stares into space]

[keeps staring]

[tries not to cry]

Someday I’ll write something about the careful balancing act of having been a person on the internet, but a nobody of a person, who then has to lock everything down. I don’t know if I have anything new to contribute to the genre; I’m not living with hate mobs or death threats, so it’s a very quietly strange experience. Those who know me can guess how anxiously and cautiously I’m gauging every single word I write.

And that was the thing about being at XOXO: not feeling careful and compartmentalized, feeling whole with strangers in a way that I didn’t think was possible. And also with friends; I got to spend quite a bit of time with Dylan, and with Meri Williams, who I hadn’t seen in thirteen years. Conversations were deep and silly and weird and ranged all over the place.

From almost the very first moment, too: a woman asking me about the socks I was knitting who then drew me into a card game where I got to tell my favorite family story, then checking off the first item on my to-do list because Lucy Bellwood was in that game, and I had a poem ready to trade for the Boat Gnome pin. (Humpbacks, by Mary Oliver, copied into a Google Doc from my college copy of American Primitive, because apparently it exists absolutely nowhere online in full.)

Selfie of the author with Brian David Gilbert
Yeah, that happened. I was shockingly chill, went into Hostess Mode and asked how he was enjoying Portland. Before of course asking if I could get a selfie, and then telling him that he “made a bad winter less bad.” Which might be the understatement of the year.

My to-do list for the event, by the way:

  • Poem <-> Boat Gnome
  • New Unraveled
  • The Adventure Zone tabletop game playtest
  • Talk from the authors of Burnout (spoiler: I bought a signed copy of the book)
  • McElroys fan meetup (saying “Munch? Squad!” IRL is very satisfying)
  • Knitting meetup

All of these were good, in some cases better than I had even imagined. (I have sworn an oath, btw, not to talk about the TAZ game playtest, although I will say: it’s fun and not just for fans.)

I’ve made some notes (inspired by having done the same thing when a friend visited recently) but in my head it’s all this kaleidoscope of little moments, sun and rain, donuts and tacos, breakfast sandwiches and mochas (some very good, one remarkably bad), crying and laughing and hugs, and a steady drumbeat of revelations that I’m going to be working through for a while.

Maybe I’ll write about it in more detail? It might not be here — maybe I’ll use my Dreamwidth, where I can fine-tune the privacy settings — but I do think I have more to say. In classic fashion, I got home and was wiped out by some combination of a cold, allergies, and exhaustion, so I spent my 45th birthday hiding out, napping, and watching YouTube. Which means I haven’t even really finished making notes for the last day or so of the experience, and there’s a lot in there, too.

Either way, I’m going to be thinking about this a lot, and I’m grateful that this is how I got to spend the days leading up to my birthday, because I think it’s just what I needed to launch into a new year.

PS: I just tossed out my carefully crafted design with its custom background image and coordinating colors…….from 2010. Feels good, to be honest. Maybe I’ll redesign, maybe I won’t, not sure yet.

Hark! A Vagrant (Hark! A Vagrant, #1)

Hark! A Vagrant (Hark! A Vagrant, #1)
author: Kate Beaton
name: Elaine
average rating: 4.26
book published: 2011
rating: 5
read at:
date added: 2019/08/31
shelves:
review:
Have read many of these over the years, but what a delight to have all collected on paper. Borrowed from the library, but I really need my own copy, I think.

Abbott

Abbott
author: Saladin Ahmed
name: Elaine
average rating: 4.03
book published: 2018
rating: 5
read at:
date added: 2019/08/17
shelves: fiction, graphic-novel
review:
Absolutely fantastic. Like a good hard-boiled mystery from the 70s, but with a supernatural twist. Abbott is a wonderful character and I just want more of her, tender and badass. (smart black bisexual reporter? Yes please) The art is also deeply evocative and just crammed with detail. All around delightful.

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!
author: Clint McElroy
name: Elaine
average rating: 4.81
book published: 2019
rating: 5
read at:
date added: 2019/07/20
shelves: d-and-d, fantasy, fiction, graphic-novel, own
review:
A great adaptation! Really translates the humor of the original while adding hints of the drama to come. Just a fun book that I’ll definitely be reading more than once.

Chronin, Vol. 1: The Knife at Your Back

Chronin, Vol. 1: The Knife at Your Back
author: Alison Wilgus
name: Elaine
average rating: 3.55
book published: 2019
rating: 5
read at:
date added: 2019/07/20
shelves: fiction, graphic-novel, own, sci-fi
review:
Maybe there’s an extra layer that I might’ve gotten if I were knowledgeable about either manga or Japanese history, but a thoroughly enjoyable tale nonetheless. It unfolds in a really satisfying way, gradually revealing the connections between the characters, the way that time travel (yes, I enjoyed a time travel story!) plays out through the plot. Lots of emotional and plot tension, and of course lovely art, with expressive faces and delicate landscapes. Will definitely be getting book 2!

Content Audits and Inventories

Content Audits and Inventories
author: Paula Ladenburg Land
name: Elaine
average rating: 4.00
book published: 2014
rating: 0
read at: 2015/05/01
date added: 2019/01/29
shelves: business, own, non-fiction, technology
review:

e galactic mu

e galactic mu
author: Sunday Williams
name: Elaine
average rating: 4.33
book published: 2012
rating: 0
read at: 2013/09/01
date added: 2019/01/29
shelves: ebook, fiction, sci-fi, didnt-finish
review:

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing
author: Merve Emre
name: Elaine
average rating: 3.41
book published: 2018
rating: 4
read at: 2019/01/12
date added: 2019/01/12
shelves: history, non-fiction, psychology
review:
There was a very good article going around about the history of the MBTI: this is the book-length version, after the author got so intrigued that she had to keep going. And it’s a fascinating story, all tied up in the birth of both modern psychology and the white-collar workplace, a story of two women who married ideas that wouldn’t seem to go together at all, and yet by the time I was a babby professional, were EVERYWHERE.

I really wish she’d had access to the official archives of the organization that owns MBTI, because I think the last third of the book could have been so much richer for it. My other wish is that she’d covered more about where other personality testing went in the 60s and later; it seems like the MBTI is in dialogue with so many other personality testing systems and I would have liked to have known more.

(But honestly, the entirety of this book was made by two extremely weird facts: Briggs having written Reader/Jung fanfic, and type testing having been carried out on an entire high school without the parents’ knowledge or permission.)