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January 1st, 2007

Fairy Tales Are Good

Two New Year's parties--one in Brooklyn last night, courtesy of an actress friend, one way uptown today, courtesy of friends we'd made doing the Nimrod Writer's Conference in Tulsa, OK a couple of years ago.  The first was full of lawyers, journalists, NGO workers, and a sprinkling of artists--not a crowd you'd think we'd really have a lot to say to (except the artists, of course).  But one of those lawyers (a patent lawyer) turned out to be a HUGE SF fan of the Old School, who regaled me with his efforts to buy a Star Trek phaser at the recent auction.  And one of the journalists turned out to be someone we'd met last summer in a completely different context (in a swimming pool, for one thing).  And some old SF friends were there (who knew?)  So it turned out to be much less work than I'd feared it would be.  And the artists were prime, being Theatrical People.  I love Theatrical People.

Plus, the eggnog was excellent, especially when poured over the bread pudding.

This afternoon was full of poets, all of whom knew each other, all of whom were having intense conversations.  I was pretty sure it was going to be one of those grab-a-bite-make-nice-to-your-host-and-skedaddle parties.  But then I met this nice young woman who'd been reading Hans Christian Anderson and wanted to know more about fairy tales, and then we met a woman who edited an anthology of fairy-tale poetry with Claudia Carlson that has poetry by Terri Windling in it.  Let's say it all together, shall we?  "Small world, isn't it?"

And you're wondering why I'm telling you all this ?  Two reasons, I guess (apart from the small-world thing).  One is that in New York--or at least the New York we're living in (there are many, some of them very parochial, but that's another post)--people at parties go up to people they don't know, introduce themselves, and make an effort to find a topic of mutual interest that will keep you both busy at least long enough to find out whether you like each other or not.  Opening gambits aren't complex:  "I like your earrings," "How do you know the host/ess?", "Are you a poet (journalist, lawyer, Indian Chief)?".  Not being in the same line of business can even be a plus, since it leads to more questions.  This is not at all the way things work in Boston, where evidence of difference was more likely to put an end to further conversation than not.

The other, related, thing is that I'm learning (late in life, but still) that I can learn more from people who are completely different from me than people who are like me.  The chances of any of these lawyers and poets and journalists becoming close personal friends is slender to vanishing, and neither they nor I expect it'll happen.  But I'm genuinely glad to have heard something about patent law (as well as the Star Trek auction) from the guy last night.  And my conversation about fairy tales with the young poet (who is also a psychologist) was very different from the conversations I've had with the folklorists and fairytale mavens who are my most frequent interlocutors on the subject.  (and where that word came from, I'm not sure, but it's just what I mean, so I'll leave it.)  It made me think about my beloved favorite topic in new ways, and that can only be a good thing.

Tomorrow is the First Day of Daily Writing, also Getting Back to Reality.  So I may not post for a bit.  I should, however, report on how I've done at the end of the week.  The fear of humiliation is a great motivator.

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