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Jury Duty . . .

. . . tomorrow.  Looks like my number has been called.  We'll see if I have to actually sit on a case.  With the move coming up, I hope not.  It'll be nice to have a day off of work.

And tomorrow we'll know who is the next president . . . :-)
R&X

Things Are Moving Faster Than Planned

Looks like we're moving to Arizona (Phoenix area) in a few weeks, right after Orycon.  That's the short version. 

It's like this: one day at the end of September my mom fainted outside and hit her head.  She's in her seventies and head injuries can be problematic for anyone of any age.  I talked to her on the phone not long after the accident and she sounds fine.  Since then, she's gone into occupational therapy and released.  She walks on her own power.  She talks fine.  There is a problem with memory and also her motivation is low.  It's hard to get her up and going to do anything--this could be part of the head injury or a depression thing, or probably a bit of both.  She won't be able to drive.

So she needs round the clock observation because of the memory problems and in case she faints again.  Now I have a brother down there and aunts and uncles.  My brother has been great dealing with all this and probably overwhelmed.  There's some more big stuff down the road.  The doctors have suggested assisted living care, so that means we'll need to move our mom out of her apartment eventually.  Help would be greatly appreciated to everyone down there because it's hard to have someone there with mom all hours of the day (especially during the day working hours).  My brother stays at mom's every night.

One option for me and Ximena was one or both of us fly down there and stay a few weeks, but then we'd have to come back for our jobs.  The other option was to bite the bullet and start our move early, meaning a move to the Twin Cities via Arizona.  We're moving with as little as possible (but we'll still need an U-haul or some such vehicle) and we can stay at my brother's apartment.  We won't have to pay rent, so our expenses will be low.  We'll stay until March.  We'll get part time jobs at the very least.  We'll want to save up some money for the move to the  Twin Cities.  I thought the second option would be best since my brother (and mom) will need help beyond a simple few weeks.

As long as our expenses are low I think this should work.  All the moving makes it seem like it would be more expensive but with flying back and forth and missed work time and an Oregon apartment needing a rent payment, well, it doesn't seem all that expensive.  I also have an added problem of being summoned for jury duty on November 5.  Oh boy.

It's been a long week as we agonized over this decision.  When we finally made a decision I felt the weight off my shoulders.  Now we're doing something and we have a plan.

We were going to cancel out of Orycon, but this is our last and since we're moving in three weeks there's not a lot of time to see everyone before we go.  We'll go to Orycon, move on the Monday afterwards, be in Arizona the day before Thanksgiving.

As for OryCon, we'll be getting up there early Saturday morning so we'll have just two days of the con.  Hope to see you there!

It will be a busy few weeks with packing and getting rid of the non-essentials.  It's all scary and exciting at the same time, really.  We really want to help my brother out.  In the back of mind I keep thinking my mom is fine and what is wrong with her are things I have no power to fix.  That may sound cold and blunt.  Or I'm too far away from the situation.  What we do know is that we can help my brother out.  That at least I can do.
R&X

I Haven't Mentioned This Here Yet

The idea of moving away from Eugene has been an idea that's been batted around between me Ximena for about a year, but for at least the last six months we've been seriously looking at the Twin Cities as place to move.  X has a interest in prosthetic technology and there's very few schools in the country that offer a program in prosthetics.  One of those places is Century College in White Bear Lake, a suburb of Saint Paul.

At this point we've been digging into job and apartment hunting in the TC.  Yeah, unemployment seems high everywhere and the economy sucks, but a move like this would be tough no matter what the state of the economy.

When I moved from Minnesota to Eugene back in '93 I had no safety net, very few belongings, no job, no place to stay except for a motel room. Today things are a little more complicated and I'm inclined to plan this move a little more carefully.

Anyway, we hope to move in March or April of this upcoming year.  My thinking is since I've worked in groundskeeping and on a golf course for thirteen years, my best bet for employment is getting work with a golf course in the Twin Cities.  They'd be hiring around April.  This would be seasonal, of course, which is fine, since I really would like to do something else for a paycheck.  When winter comes around, I'll look for different work.  Ximena is doing temp work in Eugene right now and she's been looking for work in the TC by long distance and that's difficult to do.

Then there's my mom in Arizona.  She's doing much better since the accident but there's talk of moving her to assisted living.  Right now, my brother and other relatives are taking shifts watching her and they're having problems finding someone to watch mom during the day because they have dayjobs.  We would like to help out and they need help for the next month or two.  What might happen is either just Ximena or both of us could end up going to Arizona to help out.  There's a lot of things to consider at this point.  And I don't think this would affect the move, but it certainly might affect OryCon.

An interesting and uncertain time.  :-)

Getting back on track about the Twin Cities: there's a large writing community that we've already started touching base with.  I'm reading journals of some of those writers.  In other words, TC has that going towards its favor.  The Twin Cities is also a big and growing biking city, with bike routes, paths, trails, and lanes.  This is good as well since I've been communting by bike here for the last seven months.  And believe it or not, people do bike in the winter there.  Speaking of winter, I'm a native Minnesotan, so I know what to expect.  Ximena has spent winters in Boston for college, so she knows winter, too.

I'll report more here as our plans progress.
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OryCon 30


I received my OryCon schedule.  Generally I prefer a light panel schedule, however this time our weekend schedule is short.  I'm working until 4pm Friday and then we're planning on taking the train up to Portland early early Saturday morning (5:30), then leaving Sunday afternoon or evening. 

Yep, we're doing the train again (just as we did for JayCon back in June).  Granted the gas prices are lower but our car is getting old and approaching 200, 000 miles (it's a Toyota Tercel).  Plus if we take the train we don't have to pay for hotel parking and the Trimet ride from the Amtrak station to the hotel is free because it's in the fareless zone.  Not to mention saving one night's hotel stay!  This should work out just fine.



Sat Nov 22 1:30:pmSat Nov 22 2:00:pmReadings with Rob Vagle
SalemReading of the works of Rob Vagle by Rob Vagle
Rob Vagle


Sat Nov 22 2:00:pmSat Nov 22 3:00:pmAre Writers, Artists, etc., really crazy?
Mt. HoodIt has been said that writers, artists, filkers, and their ilk are successful because they are wired differently. There are those who will use the word crazy to describe this. Is this a fair assessment? Accomplished writers and artists assess whether this is true (at least from their point of view)
Steven Barnes Steve Perry Joan Gaustad Rob Vagle Harry Turtledove Jeff Fennel


Sun Nov 23 2:00:pmSun Nov 23 3:00:pmWill blogs replace the conventional media?
Medford 
Rob Vagle Ann Wilkes Alan Olsen





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Short Bullet Point Update

  • I've talked to my mom on the phone twice now since the accident and she sounds well.  Indeed she is surrounded by good care and family down in Arizona.  My brother has been good at sending updates.
  • After submitting a bunch of stories electronically over time, I sent a story through the post office.  And guess what I did.  I forgot about sending a SASE with the story for a response.   Color me embarrassed.
  • Since the short story workshop I've been writing at a glacial speed or not writing at all.  I think it's because I let inertia set in.  Taking a day or two off is fine, but beyond that I'm just asking for trouble. 
  • We are now officially in cookie baking and pumpkin pie-eating  weather.
  • I've been biking to work since April--5.75 miles each way for a total of 11.5 miles per day--and I hope to continue through the fall and winter.  Through the rain, wind, and any frost we might get.
Coffee Reflection

Update and On Having An Elderly Parent

I'm still on a short story reading kick.  In fact, I checked out the Del Rey Book of Science Fiction & Fantasy from the library.  I still would like my own copy, though.  But you just can't beat the convenience of the library.

The cold I had in the last entry only last a weekend.

Then during a week of threatening national economic collapse I got a phone call during the day job that my mom had fallen (a head injury) and was in the hospital.  This took my mind of the economy.  Life, after all, carries on.

Anyway, my mom lives in Arizona, she's in her mid-seventies and I have a brother down there along with uncles and an aunt (my mom's brothers and sister) and cousins.  There's only a few details as to what happened, but heat and exertion seem to be part of the problem that caused her to pass out, thus the head injury. 

This can't be good, considering her age.  I've talked to my brother a couple of times and she's improving but will need a couple of weeks in neuro-therapy.  I actually got to talk to my mom on the phone yesterday and she sounded good.  She still doesn't know why she's in the hospital.  There's still some blood on the brain that needs to be reabsorbed. 

This entry is really just a scatter shot of details.  There's nothing I can do being in Oregon while she's in Arizona.  And there is a feeling of helplessness here.  At least there's family down there.  It's hard to say when I see her next whether she'll be in her same home or in someplace with managed care.   
R&X

Weekend Cold

So the weekend's here and I have a cold.  At least it hasn't knocked me on my ass. 

I'm getting some writing done and sending some stories.  Seems like that short story workshop has sent me on a short story reading kick.  Today I've read two enjoyable short stories: "Twilight Time" by Lewis Shiner (story originally appeared in a '84 issue of Asimov's) and  "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among The Dogs of North Park After The Change" by Kij Johnson (The Coyote Road Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling).  The latter (and the collection itself) is on this year's World Fantasy Award ballot and a fabulous story.  I say this as a writer AND a dog lover. 

I also feel the need to go out and buy The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The short story reading kick is like a drug, I tell you!  Alas, I better get back to work on my own stories.  Perhaps later I'll go out.
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Now THAT was promising


Over the weekend I was in Lincoln City for a short story workshop with Dean Wesley Smith, Kris Kathryn Rusch, and Asimov's editor Shelia Williams.  Highlights:
  • Dean and Kris are currently NOT editing anything, so in this workshop forum Dean played editor as if he were still editing for Pulphouse and Kris played editor as if she were still editing for F&SF.  The workshop writers focused on craft and tried to write stories that begged the editors to read them all the way through.
  • I came through with flying colors in regards to the editors.  No sales, but my stories were well received.  Suddenly I'm able to ground the reader and compel them to read.
  • My overnight story came to sixteen hundred words.  It was easy once I settled on what I was going to do.  Friday afternoon I couldn't get my fingers moving on a story.  That evening I slept and woke at 4am Saturday to write my story before breakfast at 9am.   I like this story more than I thought I would--first hating the idea is probably why I had a slow start.
  • If Pulphouse were still around, my story "The Forgiving Execution" would have a home.  "The Forgiving Execution" is too creepy for Asimov's. 
  • Far Future science-fiction stories scare me because there's so many possiblities.  I need to finish my far future story just to be rid of that fear.  Kris Rusch said at Clarion her fellow workshoppers were telling her she wasn't a science-fiction writer.  Look at her now.  She told us writing science-fiction isn't hard at all.  This was good to hear.
  • I feel unscathed by the workshop experience.  And a little bit guilty.  Why?  Because other writers had gotten rejections and red lines on their manuscript where editors would stop.  The editors were tough.  Usually I'm getting rejected.  Usually my stories are getting ripped apart.  Not this time.  And if feels weird.  As if I had just climbed over a mountain.  What next?
  • The next mountain, of course.  I don't believe I'm perfect.  I know I sometimes don't ground the reader, sometimes my writing lacks the right sensory detail, sometimes I don't have conflict in my stories.  There's always craft to work on. 
  • Met jeffsoesbe for the first time.  He wore some great tie-dye on Sunday.  Wish I had brought mine.  There were a lot unfamiliar faces at this workshop so I found myself being quiet and watchful in most social interactions.  I manged to get to know some of them, though, like Melissa Yuan-Innes.  Other familiar LJ faces would be erdnase2000 and maryrobinette.  Plus, kenscholes and jens_fire stopped by to say hello.   bjcooper did great job drawing me out at breakfast on Sunday--I like her and I've seen her numerous times at conventions and workshops, yet sometimes I'm still too quiet.
  • The Anchor Inn in Lincoln City is a great place for writing workshops and Kip, the owner, cooked us some great meals.
Coffee Reflection

Labored

So I just read eight stories for the short story workshop next weekend.  All I have is eight more to go for a grand total of forty-two stories.  Someone added up the pages and you know how many pages we're reading?  1022 manuscript pages of short fiction!  Damn, I'm glad we don't have to critique.  We're just reading so we know what the editors are talking about during the workshop.

Many great stories in this bunch.  I'm buzzing with anticipation and can't wait to run through the workshop gauntlet.  I'll be writing a new story during that weekend--I'm most excited about that.

Focusing on short fiction recently has been great.  I'm forcing myself to finish stories and accomplishing that.  Also, finding conflict in my stories is coming easier.

I'll update more this week before the workshop (starts Thursday evening) and after the workshop I'm back to the novel.  Plus, I'll write some journal entries with a little more substance.  Or at least, hopefully, a little more entertaining.  :-)