May 24th, 2008


Desperate No Longer

Thanks to the combined efforts of whumpdotcom and kelljones, my computer now works like the proverbial charm. It's a lean, mean, calculating machine, all spiffed up with an updated Firefox (I can't even count how old my version was--no wonder there were so many things I couldn't access with it) and a bunch of stuff I didn't even know you could update.

Which is why they're Computer Wizards, and I'm a humble End-User.

I can now go on my writing retreat in the happy knowledge that I don't need to worry about everything going pear-shaped when I'm miles from home and TekServe.

The LJ community is truly a wonderful thing.

So is Wiscon. Today was my Big Day--leading a writing workshop in the morning, lunching with the doughty workshoppers at Michaelangelo's, reading with Ellen Klages and P.C. Hodgell ditto, going out to a wonderful dinner at Etoile with friends, and then moderating a panel on why it's important, in an arguably post-grammatical age, to know (and use, when appropriate) standard English grammar and punctuation.

The workshop was lovely. Everyone was a committed, interested, and useful critiquer as well as a curious, open, and active critiquee. All I really had to do was sit there and eat my yogurt and talk a little about the theory and practice of structure and novel pacing, which I've given a good deal of thought to, since these things do not come easily to me and I'm having the devil's own time getting them right in Magic Mirror. We continued discussing, in a more relaxed manner, over tomato and cheese sandwiches at Michaelangelo's, the lovely coffee shop around the corner. Were I queen of space and time, I'd move Michaelangelo's to New York, lock, stock, and excellent chai, right into the space on 93rd & Broadway where Starbucks is currently squatting. It's also a lovely place to read, with good acoustics, and a relaxed atmosphere. We had a full house and then some, with an audience who laughed at all our jokes, which is always pleasant.

Dinner was at L'Etoile, a wonderful restaurant specializing in local food. Every dish on the menu lists not only the ingredients, but also the farm each one comes from, which somehow makes everything seem much more satisfying. They really think about how the different part of a dish go together. Usually, if I want a dish that includes bacon or ham in its preparation, I don't have any hesitation about ordering it and asking that the pork product be left out. At L'Etoile, I find something else to eat, because the dish just won't be what it was meant to be without that touch of salty porkness, and I'd rather eat something that wasn't designed with that particular grace-note in mind. I had two appetizers (I'm pacing myself, here), and then had to cut out before dessert to go to the Grammar panel.

Which was, against all odds, fascinating. My fellow panelists were Tom La Farge, a writer and teacher of English at the Horace Mann school and really interesting guy, Deb Taber, an editor at a house whose name has left my mind, and our very own truepenny. We talked about dialects, use of; spelling and grammar, history of; language, fluidity and development of; class and political issues, prevasiveness of in discussions of Correct English. The audience was vocal, lively, interested, and opinionated, and the 90 minutes went by faster than I would have believed possible when I sat down.

Then I stuck my nose in a few parties, and then I decided (having been told at the Gathering by Suzy Charnas, who read my cards, that I needed to rest from time to time or I'd regret it) that I probably should come upstairs and be quiet for a little. Tomorrow, after all, is another day.