Quick Look :: Being Understood in Pops by Michael Chabon

In Michael Chabon’s essay “Little Man”, found in his collection Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, Chabon talks about following his son Abe around fashion week in Paris. It was something he didn’t enjoy, something he wasn’t able to connect with his son over a mutual love. In fact, he realizes towards the end, his very presence may have impeded his son’s full enjoyment of the event.

I had been only his minder. I was a drag to have around a fashion show, and because I could not enter fully into the spirit of the occasion, neither could he.

The time his son was truly able to feel comfortable in the event, was when his father pulled back and didn’t take part in the event, and Chabon realized his son had found people.

You are born into a family and those are your people, and they know you and they love you, and if you are lucky, they even on occasion manage to understand you. And that ought to be enough. But it is never enough. … [My son] was not flying his freak flag, he was sending up a flare, hoping for rescue, for company in the solitude of his passion.

This reminded me of when I first started going to anime conventions, all those many years ago. (Seriously, half my life ago, oh my god, augh.) The first few times, my mom actually took me and my friends. Now, I’m pretty sure my mother had no idea why I liked anime so much. She spent a lot of time trying to convince me to stop spending all of my expendable income on DVDs and posable figures. But she booked a hotel, drove us into the city, stood in line with me while we waited for the dealer’s room to open. Even before that, she took me to the fabric store and watched me wrap duct tape around a giant cardboard spatula for my costume.

Like Michael Chabon to his son, my mother was my “minder” for the weekend. But she also stepped back, left me to my own devices, and allowed me to have my fun. I wouldn’t have been able to scream and freak out and sink down in this pool of nerds if she’d been on my all the time.

This was an occasion in which I was understood–at least enough to be seen that this was important to me, that I had found my people, that I wasn’t “flying my freak flag” but finally, comfortably, fitting in.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Recap

On Sunday I finished this year’s NaNoWriMo, winning the thing with 50,027 words. An awesome thing, especially considering that I had weddings and power outages getting in my way. I hadn’t attempted the challenge in a few years, and I’m glad I did, because it helped me learn a few things about me and my writing. Here’s a quick recap of what I figured out:

  • I can write a ton in one day. In order to stay caught up, or get ahead to prepare for the days I would fall behind, I had quite a few big output days, nearly reaching 3,000 words on several of them. 3,000 words! I’ve mentioned before not knowing how to stretch beyond my regular limit, but now I know how far I can go when I push myself.
  • I can write amongst people. I’m lucky in that I get a lot of time to myself, but that still wasn’t enough time to reach my regular writing quota. So, I had to do some typing in front of the television, with family around, figuring out how to scare the pants off my main character while other people watched football. It wasn’t that bad. I could even break to involve myself in conversation. Probably not the best environment if I’m having horrid writer’s block, and the writing slows down immensely, but good to know it is doable all the same.
  • A lot of fiction writing pushes everything else out. Obviously I haven’t written much (at all) on this blog during November. And I have fallen behind on my reviews. When I finished with NaNo stuff, I either didn’t have the time, or the energy, to write anything else. It’s nice to know that my fiction can fill up my world so well, but I have to watch out for that when I take on other commitments.
  • One story doesn’t kill another. I had been working on another novel before I began NaNoWriMo, and had managed to get a good ways through the first draft before November began. I had hoped to be able to write a little bit of it throughout the month, but as with the last realization, I never had the energy for it when I was done with my NaNo-ing. I worried that the story might die on me — but it’s still large in my head, I’m still excited to get back to it, to write it and finish it and see what it turns into. I may have to go back and reread parts (or type it up) to get back into the correct mindset, but now I know if I put some effort into it I can get a decent output for this month.
  • I can write at any time. Morning is my thing. My brain is the correct level of awake to make it the best time to get the most writing done. But I can crank out words in the afternoon, sucking down coffee to silence the part of my body that wants to nap, and I can do it at night with a hockey game as vague background noise. Whenever I need to write, I can figure it out. (Well, maybe not when the dog decides to lay across my arms. That’s really difficult, actually.)

That was my NaNoWriMo! Did any of you participate? Did you win? What did you learn about yourself and your writing?

#FreeComicBookDay Family Time

This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. I love going out on that day. An excuse to go to a comic shop, free reading materials, and the wonderful obligation to buy books to counter all the free stuff I’m taking off the shelf. Ah, bliss.

Free Comic Book Day

There’s one other thing I’ve really started to enjoy seeing each year: the families. Not just a mom or dad being dragged to various comic shops by their too-young-to-drive kid, but whole units, parents and kids, making their way through the shop together. Dad’s got his Superman hat on, Mom’s sporting a Green Lantern tee. Even baby’s decked out in a Batman onesie. And it’s not (just) awkward parents forcing their hobby on their children, these are families that each enjoy comics to their own degree, in their own way, so Free Comic Book Day becomes an outing that the whole family can enjoy, that they can bond over.

My husband and I are awkward nerds. Chances are, we will one day have an awkward nerd baby. So, it makes me happy for my future that families can get together and have fun with their shared passion, as happy and as normal as anything else you’d expect families to do.

Book Thoughts: New Finds

  • Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen Audio BookI’ve recently started listening to audio books, mostly while I putz around the house. I was never sure if I’d enjoy doing this, but since I discovered that I concentrate better on cleaning and any other chore that doesn’t use a certain part of my brain, I figured I’d give listening to stories a shot. And it works — my house is often much cleaner than it used to be, since I want to keep listening but need to find something to do with my hands. It works for longer car rides, too. Right now I’ve just been listening to young adult (Sarah Dessen) and funny stuff (Tina Fey) so it’s not as crucial for my concentration to be quite as full.
  • Also, obviously, I’ve been reading (listening) a lot of Sarah Dessen. I never thought I’d like her, but her stories are sweet and tough some inner teenager part of myself. Then I discovered that a bunch of her books have overlapping characters, and now I’m kind of hooked.
  • My grandmother went to Prince Edward Island a few months ago and of course read all the Anne of Green Gables books. I mentioned that I read the first one and would get to the rest eventually. She logically interpreted this as I wanted to borrow each one from her at exactly the same time, so now I have them all in a sack, on the floor, because where the heck are 9 books going to go?
  • There is a great amount of relief in recommending a book to someone wholeheartedly and having them enjoy it as well. Takes away the potential embarrassment of you flailing around and thrusting a book in their face, half-shouting “It’s good! It’s so good!!” when they also have an emotional response. This happened recently with my frantic praise of The Fault in Our Stars. (Which, have you read that yet? You should. Go read it. Go!)