In case you hadn’t noticed, I seemed to disappear into a short hiatus at the beginning of April.
If you were wondering where I have been and why the reviews and unboxings seem to have stopped, wonder no more!
We have moved house.
For those that have followed the drama, we basically have been trying to move since August last year and we have won the “moving house” bingo so many times in the category of “what can go wrong”. I had scheduled posts up until a few days after moving house, but the bingo card/luck wasn’t done with us. We had dodgy unreliable internet for a few weeks, and then the exhaustion of unpacking and sorting and returning to work was a lot. Plus I finally got a diagnosis for my chronic pain.
I am not ready yet to talk a lot about that because I am still trying to process it myself and what it means for me, my lifestyle and my future. There is a lot to think about.
But, the good news is that now that a big chunk of the stress has gone away, more blog posts will come soon and you can read about the books that have kept me sane through all the madness.
Hoping you are all still here reading. Thank you for your support!
This Easter weekend, I decided to take the plunge and attend my first Eastercon. This is a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention during Easter (not that the name gives it away, right?). To make myself easier to find, I wore my Knit Anele cosplay (it has a huge Moon on the chest), and this definitely helped, plus given that it was a warm day, it felt quite breezy and nice.
The wonderful guys at GeekyClean and The Clockwork Tea made my day a little bit extra nice with letting me hang out a little with them. They’re awesome sellers, awesome creatives, and have great products (I love all GeekyClean products and I kept talking about them to anyone that was around, woops).
I also had the chance to meet several authors I interact with on Twitter and hang out with them, plus meet some new authors. And a lot of books signed (nothing like YALC, but also I only went one day and I was behaving, I didn’t go crazy buying stuff).
The main event for me was the Fountain Pen Meetup (huge thanks to Aliette and Juliet for organising this and being the masterminds behind it), which was a neat way of trying new pens and inks. I finally tried a few I couldn’t decide if I wanted to buy, plus found a new love, the fude pen! Jeanette Ng introduced Tade Thompson and me to it and we both loved it for sketching (and Zen Cho ha da lot of fun using it for its intended purpose, Chinese calligraphy). I also confirmed I do not love Lamy Safari pens (or any fancier type either), enjoyed the TWSBI 580 (now I am getting an Eco), and trying so many new ink colours.
Then we had lunch and afterwards joined a Tor launch party. I was glad to see a few familiar faces, and happy to help organise (because of course I was early). There were free books, wine, and a gorgeous cake!
I then took a break and rested, attended an imprompty launch party for Genesis by Geoffrey Carr and bought a book. Then attended (again, by accident as in I was wandering around and went into the room and sat down and lo and behold it had started) the BSFA. Maybe we should’ve invited Ian McEwan… Wonder if knowing that there have been 70 conventions to celebrate Science Fiction might surprise him…
Finally, I attended an author reading, my main intent to see Stephanie Burgis, but there were two other authors and gosh I enjoyed their readings so much I now have their books on my wishlist. (People, author readings are awesome, but they’re a trap! You will end up buying books you hadn’t even heard about before, or that you weren’t sure if you’d buy)
As you can see on the top picture, even if I didn’t spend a lot, I managed to get a lot of loot. The two piles on left and middle, of books are books got at the convention (free/bought). I also bought some illustrated books from an Indian/Asian press, and got a lot fo ribbons for my badge, plus pins and other goodies (all the stickers).
Finally, my cosplay got SO many comments it made my heart swell. This was a dream I made true last year and wearing it this past weekend and having it complimented so much was a great thing. It fuelled a little my creative juices.
So what is the veredict? I liked Eastercon. I loved seeing way more older fans (YALC has mostly under 40 attendees, most fo them in their 20s, for example), their approach to SFF was delightful and made my heart soften a little more. But it also made me realise that maybe we younger people need to check our privileged attittude towards YALC. There was barely any drama here, people were extremely polite and helpful. They had badges for every need (need Visual/Hearing/Other priority? Invisible Disability? What pronouns you want? Do not take pictures?) you could select from the welcome table to suit your needs. Absolutely well handled and I never felt like a stranger, everyone was wonderfully welcoming and non judgemental. Instead, there was so mcuh glee, so much respect of “you got here first, or you have needs, therefore you first”.
So I will plan better next year to make more of Eastercon. And if anyone wants to join, let me know, as I’d love to catch up there too 🙂
For some odd reason this topic keeps coming back in conversations I have had in the last few weeks.
Hi, I am Moon. I am a blogger. I am an engineer. I have published research in international journals and book compilations. And I draw and write.
The Twitter insert above is genuine some of the classes I had during my engineering major. But let me start at the beginning. Or rather do a “summary”.
Summary: Don’t worry too much about what you study or if you go to university/college. Even the best of plans can change by things out of your control, and sometimes you change.
Now to the longer version. I don’t remember what I wanted to be when I was a child. I know I wanted to write and create since I was 11 (when I wrote my first “novel” according to me at the time, filled a notebook with my mystery story). And I had the delightful benefit of being smart. The kind of smart that means your teachers send you to national competitions on topics and the like.
Everyone that knew me expected great things of me. My parents refused to let me study fashion design or to archivology (? this exists in Mexico), and I knew in the back of my head that they wouldn’t. So I chose an engineering major, and you know what criteria I used?
I chose the university first, because we had had one of those university/college fairs come to our school, and we were able to visit some of the universities. And I fell in love with the one I ended up choosing. It was relatively small, focused on making sure the graduates left ready to work in the industry, with more practice and certifications than just filling them up with theory.
So, university chosen, now what to study? I grabbed a pamphlet for each major they offered and read what actual classes they offered, alongside the certificates you could get for free and I chose the one that intrigued me the most and sounded more fun. That was it. And I don’t regret it.
However, I have never ever worked as an Engineer in Telematics.
Don’t get me wrong. The major helped a lot and it is because of what I learned in it that I have gotten several jobs. I have worked in cybersecurity, in supercomputing and clusters. I also did a lot of research. Because life happens I ended up working as a carer for people with dementia, autism and/or palliative care. It is because I knew what SCMP was (alongside other things) that I got the job I have now (and which is one of the best things ever).
I had great plans for my career. And I have done none of them. But as I look back, I can see that I haven’t missed out. I am actually probably better.
Yes, it wasn’t a straightforward path of “start as a newbie in X company, move up to be CEO”, and everyone kinda expected me to do the CEO thing. But once I shed all the expectations, I managed to stumble and find the job I have now. I love it.
So don’t give up on your future, or stress about the choices you make when choosing a major, or when going for a job. Sometimes we choose jobs outside of our “scope” (like me being a carer) that may give us unique skills that can help us get a much better job (like my people skills and emergency reactions thanks to that carer job). And you’ll find your way, one way or another. There isn’t only one way to do it.
Photosensitivity is in the simplest form an allergy to light (most of the time this is just allergy to the sun). It presents in several degress (mild to “I have to live in absolute darkness”) and forms.
The most common is photosensitive eyes, which is when your eyes are very sensitive to light. It can also appear as a side effect of other illnesses (like lupus) or even of medication.
I was born with photosensitivity. In my eyes it is a medium-high degree, whereas on my skin/body it is mild-medium. Also, as far as I know, it is not a side effect of something, it just is.
Here are some facts about my own experiences:
I was diagnosed when I was 11-12. At the time I hated having my picture taken when flash was involved and wasn’t too happy with places that had a lot of bright lights.
Since my diagnosis I have worn Transitions/photosensitive glasses (I also need them to see). I can tell you how many leaps and bounds the technology has come along in the last 10+ years. (Quite a lot).
Talking of eyes and sight, sunglasses do NOTHING for me. Transitions help my eyes adjust much better. Computer glasses aren’t a good suggestion either. (Trust me, the number of times people suggest this, is beyond count).
Up until a few years ago I couldn’t wear contacts and even now, I can only do so rarely (they make some polarized special ones).
On a bad day, I can spend most of the day crying because my eyes cannot cope with the amount of light. This is not fun to explain.
I am sensitive to all kinds of light, not just the sun (it isn’t common to be affected by all kinds of light).
I get rashes and spots on my skin if I am exposed to too much light.
Fun fact: I tan easily (rather than burn).
I have never had a lack of Vitamin D (so no, not being out in the sun doesn’t mean I lack it).
I tend to wear tights and long sleeves or cardigans even in summer.
I can go to the beach but I have to be careful of my exposure to the sun.
I can also get a headache/migraine from being exposed to light.
Because I am so sensitive to light, I have good night vision.
I have a tendency to prefer warm soft lights if there is a need for one or having candles.
Fire is the only light source that doesn’t seem to trigger my allergy.
Allergy pills help a tiny bit, specially to not be as itchy with the rashes.
For years I would scratch the rashes and now I have so many tiny scars they sometimes look like freckles.
Sometimes I still scratch them, despite knowing it does me no good.
After having tattooed my thigh I realised I would scratch less so I got a tattoo on each arm/shoulder to discourage the scratching. It has worked to a degree.
There is very little representation of this condition in literature (I only know of two books).
Yes, I have heard the “you are a vampire” joke countless times, I will still smile but trust me, you’re not the first one to say it.
There is very little knowledge in general about it (or at least all the doctors I have had and dealt with don’t know much and as far as I’ve found, each person that presents this condition has a unique way of having it.)
I have adapted to it because I’ve had this all my life and it isn’t until people ask why I do certain things that I realise how odd they are.
Now let’s talk representation.
There is very little. I know of two books that actually try to talk about it. One of them is The Ice Garden by Guy Jones, which I have reviewed and enjoyed. However in it the MC isn’t affected by every light just sunlight so as much as it was delightful to read about it, it was still not the same as I have to live. Still, it was good and I didn’t feel annoyed but rather it left me wanting my own ice garden.
The other book I know of, is Lovely, Dark and Deep by Justina Chen. I am still waiting to read this one but trust me, I am dying to do so. And I will post my review as soon as I have finished.
And well, that’s it. I do not know of any more books that represent this.
What I do know is that there isn’t enough information out there, and there is little representation. And I hope that this changes (not only for photosensitivity).
Last Saturday I hosted a taco party with friends, and met a few more fellow Book Box Clubbers.
If you wondered what box to buy, I can’t help but recommend Book Box Club. It is not just a book subscription box, it is so much more. It gives you a community, it gives you friends, it gives you new books to read.
I met my best friend thanks to Book Box Club, and I also have a lot of friends added to this with whom I have gone to signing events, book launches and soon will also attend YALC together.
Obviously, you also get the benefits of having me around, and getting invited to Taco parties or any other party shenanigans that come to mind. This year we’ve already had taco and piñata parties.
(Doesn’t all that food look amazing?)
But it is not only about food but about friendship, about community. I have to admit, Kate & Libby wanted not just a book box but a community and have made it! Girls, thank you so much from all of us.
We have slowly come out from behind our books and socialized between us and become friends that meet up (from several places in the country, someone travelled quite a lot to come to the taco party) when possible, but we also support each other.
We have had a few “drunk texts” from a few of us, which has made our weekend nights fun and makes us feel a little like part of it. We have gossiped about dates and life and work. We have counseled each other through bad things. We have celebrated success for one another.
We even started a “birthday elf box” where we send a box of goodies curated by one of us to another one on their birthday. And obviously we unbox them for all to see in a video.
And we have a “trade” and swap way, where we send books and goodies to each other, or pass along books we recommend or things we think someone else might prefer in their tastes.
It has become a wonderful group of friends, a great community, and we all owe it to Book Box Club.
Ps. Everyone in this picture is a confirmed not-serial killer, Dr. Bea approved, and Moon validated.
And how did this cleverness occur? By pure chance. I had bought a cheap low coffee table for my artwork because I am into biomechanics and trying to control pain in my body (but that is a story for another day), and I found the white table boring.
I love puzzles (either thinking puzzles or jigsaw) so I bought one and used it as my new “decoration”. I had initially intended to glue it to the table but that never happened because I loved the first puzzle so much I went out and bought a second one.
And after payday this month I treated myself to two more puzzles because I was bored of my current puzzle background. (So expect new “theme” without being on purpose).
So by chance I had to take unboxing pictures and other kinds of pictures and the table was the best place to do so, and well, they looked nice so I kept doing it, and it set a theme.
It is a relatively cheap way of doing a background (you can go to a charity shop and get a puzzle for almost nothing) and it is also a fun distraction. jigsaw soothe my mind and my anxiety and are of the few things that actually mean my brain isn’t doing ten thousand things at the same time. Once I start one, that is all I am doing.
So if you feel creative or you like jigsaw (and if you don’t maybe you know someone who does and can solve the jigsaw so you have an awesome background, you can probably convince (bribe) them with books or cake or cookies… chocolate is a good option too).
See, give me a Disney/Ghibli/animated film and my suspense of belief is on, anything goes (you’d have to be really bad at making a film to break this magic). But then, give me film with actors in it, and that is when it gets interesting.
If the film/tv show is set in real history time and it isn’t meant to be comedy (for example, Blackadder is set in historical points but it is comedy/humour and as such suspense of belief works) then my suspense of belief struggles. My engineer self goes bonkers when cars, planes, and other mechanical things don’t work. Or when you decide to replace sulfur with hydrogen in mustard gas (impossible, as it would not bond, hydrogen doesn’t hold together two sides, it is more like the end caps of molecules). Then I just can’t cope with it. Or when you take history and place it as a “historical” reality but change things.
Once again, it is one thing to tell me this is History but with Zombies/Vampires/Whatever. It is another to tell me this is history as is but things changed because the Zombie was suddenly there.
I think what breaks the suspense of belief is when they try SO hard to make it convincing, going into all the little details (like mentioning that it is hydrogen that they will use instead of sulfur, why not just say that you’ve got it and scribble a formula in gibberish?), and then those little details to make it more convincing are wrong. A simple google search could easily fix those little things and making them more real wouldn’t take away from the film or take you years to research. I don’t expect them to know everything, but that is why there are consultants (like Numb3rs or Big Bang Theory consult with scientists to make it as realistic as possible).
But that is regarding films., what about books?
I will use A Wrinkle in Time (AWiT) by Madeleine L’Engle and Throne of Glass (ToG) by SJM as my examples, I do not intend to offend or cause issues *white flag up*.
AWiT talks science all the way through, it talks about dimensions, physics, tesseracts, string theory and some really complex ideas, but at the same time it has fantastical creatures and IT. Two completely opposing parts. Yet the science in AWiT is real, it is just what you would learn in school/degree/book/internet. And because the science is so well done, the parts that require suspense of belief work. They make sense somehow.
On the other hand we have ToG. You have the most amazing assasin that survived a terrible slave camp/prison at just 18. However, she doesn’t act like someone who has lived through all of it, eating random sweets without checking for poison, and she keeps being found sleeping/snoring by several characters. It doesn’t make sense. If she is the best assasin in the realm, how is it that the basics of protecting your life and being suspicious as technically anyone may want to kill you, aren’t there? In this case my suspense of belief breaks and I just can’t understand why she is the best when basics aren’t covered, which then makes the more complex parts of the story harder to accept.
Have you noticed you struggle with your suspense of belief when reading books or watching films? Or is it just me?