Sandy, the ex-con Promoter: Memories of OktoberTrek ‘92 – Part Two

Sunday, WBFF TV / Fox45 showed up to do a smear piece. We were selling porn to children in the dealer’s room!

“Ethel, they’s pitchers o’ Cap’n Kirk an’ Doctor Spock in ther, and they’z nekkid as jaybirds n’ touchin’ each others’ doodads!”

Oh. The humanity.

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The Worst Month

July 7, 2021

Dear Jessica —

Yesterday marked thirty days. 

Thirty days since we last looked on your beautiful face.

Thirty days since we watched you draw your last breath. 

Thirty days since we were able to hold out a shred of hope that life might go back to being what we expected it to be.  

I can’t speak for everyone, but I still just can’t believe you’re gone. Your stuff is still everywhere. Your name is still on mail and packages that come to the house. Your account pops up when we watch TV. Your reading room—“the shecava”—still smells like a gentle herbal tea. Goodreads still shows the books you’re working on finishing. Your pens and coloring book are still waiting to be used. Your study guide for working at the Aquarium is still on the shelf, waiting for you to make more notes. 

Milo’s meow has gotten louder, as he checks each room to see if, maybe, you were there all the time and he just didn’t notice. 

We’re in no hurry to change any of that. Except maybe the volume on the meows. If you can’t be with us, it helps to be reminded that you were. As the old woman says at the end of “Ever After,” if you and Ethan did or did not live happily ever after, the most important thing is that you lived. 

Still, for thirty days, we’ve missed you and wished that time would just reset, or that we’d go to sleep and wake to learn it was an actual nightmare, not a nightmarish reality. This nightmare started twenty days before you died, when we were told the cancer was in your lungs. Until that moment, we truly believed you were beating it, and had nowhere to go but up. From that day, things just cascaded downward.

I’ve been posting pictures of you, or things related to you, every day since you left us. I want people to know who you are, why you were perfect as a member of our family, and why the world is better off because you spent 25 years and just under six months as one of its inhabitants. I hope you don’t mind. Although you blogged and didn’t flinch at telling a room full of authors it was time to stand up, shut up, and let someone else have the room, you could be shy. I hope you wouldn’t think I’m drawing too much attention your way. It’s just that I think there’s not enough admiration in all the world to give you your due. I’m known as a pretty cynical, pessimistic person (by those who think they know me and really don’t), but, dammit, when I’m proud of someone, when I love someone, I want everyone to know it. 

I wish I could tell you everyone here was okay. Truth is none of us really are. But we keep going in the knowledge that you would keep going, if you could. And I imagine you would want us to keep going until it’s well and truly time for us to journey to wherever you are, and see you again. 

Ethan firmly believes you’re still with him, watching over him. I’m glad. I believe that too. If you have any power to reach out and help him, I know you will. And you know we’ll do our part too. Thank you for loving our son so well. From the moment the two of you met, I could see in your eyes how you both felt. That’s one of the most precious things a parent can ask, to see that love in someone else’s eyes for the person they love so much. I always saw it in yours for him, and his for you. 

Other than that, all I can saw is that this sucks. We miss you. I hope you know that, and can somehow see us. And I hope you’re not hurt or scared anymore.



PS: I’ll follow this up in the coming days with a collection of the photos I’ve been posting. Some of your friends, young and old, just don’t do the social media. 

Revisiting Fan Fiction

2021 is here, and, so far, I’m not impressed. But, as the year laughs at my meager expectations for it, throws them down in the mud, stomps on them, urinates all over them, and then flips me the bird for good measure, I press on. 2021 is a petulant child, and perhaps a lot of encouragement and a few timeouts will train it up into an acceptable adult.

And let’s not rule out spanking. I will put this year over my knee if it pushes me too far, no matter what Psychology Today says about the damage to Baby New Year’s tender self-esteem.

I believe I’ve mentioned that I haven’t been writing. Or have I? In case I haven’t mentioned it, I haven’t been writing. But then you know that, don’t you? If I had been writing, you’d be reading about it here.

In an effort to get myself back in touch with the writer within, who has taken to living in a shack with no central heat or running water somewhere in the uncharted wilds of my cerebral cortex, living off Squirrel meat and hoarded cases of Key Lime LaCroix, I have been revisiting opuses past. (Opii?)

To wit, I’ve been reading and gently correcting (which involves neither timeouts nor spanking) my fan fiction, written between 1982 and 1996. I’ve also been sharing it on AO3, as I’ve been sharing some of the works of my late mother-in-law, Bev Volker, and her sister, Nancy Kippax.

Writing characters not your own in universes you didn’t create can, if approached with care, but a stimulating mental exercise for the writer. Going back and reading those exercises can be pleasantly nostalgic. It can also be cringe-worthy. If you’re honest, it can give you a glimpse into who you used to be and how you got where you are.

And, at the end of the exercise, maybe—just maybe—you’ll feel up to doing original writing again.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, if such appeals to you, my Fan Fic page has been updated with more links to the works that jump-started what we laughingly call my career. (And if you look closely, you’ll see that one more fan fic slipped out of me recently.)


On Change

If you’ve found this piece because you want information on The Forsyte Saga, you can skip my personal ramblings by clicking here.

Those of you who have kept up with me recently (that’s enough of you to count on two hands and allow for some digital amputations) know that I’ve pretty much gafiated from science fiction fandom.

For the unenlightened:

GAFIA (“getting away from it all”) + -ate

To drop out of fandom community activities, with the implication of “getting a life”.

I don’t know about the “getting a life” bit, because being part of SF fandom has been quite a life for most of the last 40 years. But my relationship to the community has, as Robert A. Heinlein once noted about dying relationships, begun to stink like rotten fish. I won’t go far into the details. I’ll just say that I feel like a misfit in fandom, the place one used to go to be a misfit and still be accepted. Alas, now it’s just a community of like-minded and judgmental cool kids, like any other clique.

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The Colonel’s Plan – It’s a SCAM – Part 2 of 6

The officer investigating informed me that the Department took calls about cases like yours every day. He wished there was more they could do to help, but there really wasn’t. The number traced back to a Jamaican account with no subscriber information. Via newspaper articles, I learned that the scammers lived in cardboard shacks in Jamaica, bought pay-as-you-go phones by the dozens, and murdered each other to get hold of the lists of phone numbers of seniors in the U.S. that they could call to scam.

And, boy, were you on lists! You received several pounds of mail each day, 95% of it fake sweepstakes offers, letters from alleged attorneys offering you money, and, of course, checks that you were not supposed to deposit until you called Bob or Jason or Melanie.

The Jamaican called you later that evening, after both the police officer and I had left. He was now offering you 2.5 million dollars and a car but wanted to know why you had called the police. 

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On Facebook… Or Off It, Rather

I announced late Tuesday night, possibly early Wednesday morning, that I had deleted Facebook’s apps from my phone and tablet and closed the perpetually open browser tab for it on my desktops and laptops.

This was not a rash decision. This had been building for some time, and, as I said in that post (call it a “flounce” if you will), it was time.

I can say a lot of good things about Facebook. It brings to my attention news items that I might have missed. It lets me know about the joys and sorrows of family and friends. It’s kept me in touch with my cousins in Carolina, my high school best friend in Omaha, and lots of old friends who live around the corner, but whose paths don’t cross mine often if at all. They’re all good people and I like knowing what’s going on with them.

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Life Without Lazarus – Day 4

He pulled the legs off crickets, just one per customer. The crickets would hop in circles, suffering.

He would torture, but not kill, a mouse; and he usually let it escape. We had maimed rodents in the walls.

He would sleep on top of books, because a book with a body on it was less likely to be picked up. A book not picked up was less likely to siphon attention away from him.

If a book was in active use, he bashed his head into its corner rhythmically, until threats of exile and violence ensued.

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Life with Lazarus – Day 725

Thursday Night – looking drained.

October 17, 2019

You get that feeling that you’ve heard this story before…

Almost two years ago–shy five days–I posted that Lazarus (the scruffy, orange fellow pictured above) had liver cancer. And then he didn’t. He had pancreatitis. Still, we were told he was going to die. Soon. And then he didn’t.

Two days ago, we were once again told that Lazarus probably had liver cancer, and we began mourning all over again. And now he doesn’t have liver cancer. Honestly, I think the boy’s liver was a gift from Loki, or maybe Anansi. It likes to f**k with us.

I also think that I’ve found cause to deny Harlan Ellison’s claim that “Let me help” are the three most important words in the English language, even up against “I love you.” I think “It’s not cancer” are those words for me. This is not the first or the second time I’ve heard them, about a cat or a human, and their emotional impact simply cannot be described.

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Remembering Lew Aide

At 1701 hours on September 26, my old friend Lewis G. Aide, West Point graduate, IT Wizard, Convention Magician and actual magician, first responder, senior center volunteer and NeighborRide driver, left this life.

And he left it better than he found it.

I met Lew in 1986, probably at a committee meeting for our Star Trek convention, ClipperCon. I don’t recall the exact circumstances or what we talked about. I know I first heard his name on a phone call with Marion McChesney. I was doing the con program book and needed to verify the spellings of all the staff and guest names. “Oh, there’s two people you haven’t even met yet,” she said. “They’ll get a kick out of being listed as committee members.” Marion played fast and loose with formalities. She had met these guys somewhere, and just decided they should join us. Lew Aide was taking over my old slot as “assistant film chairman,” also known as the poor schlub who threaded the 16 MM films and, more and more in those days, popped the VHS tapes in and out. Marc Lee was the other new “hire.” He was filling the new committee position of Being Marc Lee.

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The Colonel’s Plan – A Gold Mine of Junk

December 5, 2018

Dear Daddy –

Tonight I’m cleaning up the basement a bit more. Still working in the train room, as I’m calling it now. “We have a train room?” Christian asked me recently. “I’m just so amused that our family has a house with named rooms. Do we have a skinning and tanning room?” (He may not have said “skinning and tanning.” It was something just as absurd. It may have been “taxidermy.”)

This is a somewhat cleaned-up view of the East room of the basement. Before about a 40% clean-out, no view from one side of the room to the other was possible.

In all these weeks, I don’t believe I’ve discussed, in depth, how the basement came to look the way it did when you left us—the way it had looked for decades before that. I believe I mentioned the dreaded trip to the Sacred Heart Hospital in Cumberland, but I don’t think I told the whole story. So here goes.

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