Apparently, I’m a strowler

I’d always kind of wondered about my native species. Someday I will have to write a treatise on the subject. Anyway, just got home from Strowlercon and thought it’d be a great jumping-off point for having a grown-up blog as opposed to an ignored LJ nobody reads.

So… Fucking Strowlercon. Wow. Unique experience in many ways, all of them good. For one thing, I just conned all weekend and I’m not exhausted. The pace was very gentle. Using a suburban hotel disposes of so many con-related issues. No epic train journeys between your car and the venue. No strange shuttles and mysterious hikes to a hotel room. Hell, hotel rooms! Back in my anime convention days, well, I generally just caught microsleeps in the overnight viewing rooms and drank an awful lot of warm Mountain Dew. (Can’t touch the stuff now. Toxic waste is more appealing.) Another neat thing about the location-for a given value of neat-is that the hotel apparently houses the local sports bar. Weird juxtaposition. I found it kind of charming. And it did a great job discouraging me from actually going to the bar to drink. I spent way too much money anyway. Draft beer would not have gone well with my already strapped wallet.

Of course the real crux of the con was the music. Which was amazing. Beyond amazing. I went mainly for Sooj and Tricky Pixie.

Must admit disappointment. I have yet to see Alex perform with the band. I was really hoping for a “Creature of the Wood” and “Daughter of the Glade” in quick succession. Might have been too much for my heart, but I wouldn’t have minded.

Anyway, S.J. was as fantastic as she’s been every other time I’ve seen her. More so. So much amazing energy onstage. She is, to quote my dear Talia, my favorite of the humans. I unfortunately missed Friday and only saw her perform a full show once. There were spontaneous moments throughout. Tam Lin with a crammed stage and extra shibari show (it kind of made sense in context) was a little overwhelming. We might have briefly passed into another dimension. Also, Betsy is 100% awesome. Not to mention the glue that holds the strowlers together, apparently. And from near the stage, where I was always sure to be, that cello is even visually hypnotic. I may get the vapors from the memory, and I’m not even clear on what the vapors are.

I was only passingly familiar with Heather Dale before Strowlercon. I now own two albums (my broke status can be legendary now). It’s a start. I love me some sprightly, Celtic-inspired majesty.  “Sedna” is possibly my absolute favorite, and I’m a massive fan of all of The Road to Santiago songs. Featured more Betsy, too. Can’t go wrong with Betsy! The range of sound and clever utilization of odd little instruments is a strowler thing, it seems, but Heather was especially excellent at it. Wonderful work.

Kellianna isn’t to my taste lyrically, but there were fans out in legion, and I wish them every enjoyment. Powerful voice on her. Just not much in the way of lyrics for me.

Sharon Knight has a wisecracking German. I hadn’t heard any of her work before and I enjoyed the mix of goth with folk and the very penetrating quality of her sound. But few acts wouldn’t be helped by a German in leather pants.

I only got to see the Gypsy Nomads once, which was a pity, but at least I finally found them! I almost saw them in Chicago over the summer and the day didn’t quite work out. Very sad. It felt like fate to finally find them and now I am in love. Due to living on a waitress’s salary (grumble grumble), I only picked up one album. The future will hold more. I think the drumming is still hanging around in some of my thicker bones.

So all in all? Wow. Just wow. Even I with my tin ear am still overwhelmed by the incredible array of music. Strowlers win.

I wish I’d been able to spend more time and energy on the awesome makers of strowlercon. I saw lovely work, but was forced to avoid most of the browsing due to temptation issues. I have a pile of business cards, at least. My roommate had a great time, as his job pays him actual monies, and picked up some lovely hats.

I was lucky enough to participate in Cat Valente’s writing workshop due to being clever and stalking the internet. And luck, let’s be honest. The two day format was fantastic! Individualized assignments were a lot more useful than a lot of writing workshop exercises, and we had time for long discussions as well as actually writing. There was some fantastic work. I was shocked that people actually liked my little explosion of manic tragedy.

I will not be telling my mother I wrote a story about a tuberculosis vampire using the voice of my baby sister. Not sure what I do if it gets published… At least the little one will feel the compliment, I think.

The workshops were a mixed bag. I seldom managed to give them my full attention, which was entirely my fault. What I did manage to attend was amazing. I especially enjoyed lessons in dueling and costuming. The steampunk group that attended the con were some fantastic people and need to be friends with me. Roommie got their contact info. I’ll have to steal it.

I’ve never had such fun lurking in the halls of a hotel and stumbling into random conversations. Strowlers are the bestest people.

I feel like I ought to say something on the topic of Late Night Naughtiness. Magic is neat, burlesque is mildly perplexing (being asexual is weird, guys, and by that I mean weird for everyone else), and dancing is nifty. I was kind of sleepy at that point.

I had a fantastic time every minute of the con, but I was especially pleased to manage to squeak into the Strowlercon Challenge. I didn’t get my submission in until around noon on Sunday, so that was lucky.The reason was that I wasn’t sure I’d have anything concrete until then. Writing itty-bitty stories in bed while your roommate is in the shower? Good times. But potentially poor timing.

I got an amusing moment when I got the call about a sound check and was standing down the hall from the origin point of the call. Silly cellular communication.

Anyway, I joined the procession of cool, cool talent that went up on stage to finish out the night. Everyone else was pretty much musical. I guess I was a break for the sound crew, but I had no idea how my little vignette-thingy would go over. I’d only tested it on roommate, who doesn’t react much, and awesome friend, who’d been very kindly reading through my stuff all weekend. A bit desensitized, I’m afraid. So here I was with about five-hundred words of grimdark (it’s a word, shut up) blather on the subject of a half-selkie.

I felt mean after hearing Heather Dale sing a terribly cute song about seals, Scotland, and true love two days in a row. My perpetually gloomy and painfully cranky writing tends to tangle in an aggressive fashion with cute.

But people seemed to like the little thing. So, to conclude, I’ve attached it. This isn’t exactly what I read. I poked at that all day, and made revisions while I was on stage. Because I’m crazy like that. But here’s the gist. Pretend it’s being read to you by a glowery redhead in a silly outfit and very fine hat.

“Everyone knows the story. A lonely fisherman spots one of the seal-women on the beach. He makes off with her skin. She marries him. They have a handful of brats. She finds the skin and heads back to the water. It’s tidy. Add an epilogue about lucky fishermen if you like.

That’s only halfway to the end. There’s a generation left on shore, and maybe some of us will settle in and raise unusually lucky fisherfolk and live and die on a fog-soaked shore that stinks of rancid fish. None I’ve ever seen.

Six sisters have gone before me. Selkies deal with magic numbers with a certain glee. Mother stayed on shore seven years before she couldn’t take another damned moment and slid back into the salt with a sigh that left all her little ones behind. No malice in it. Seal pups are ready to face the world alone far younger than human whelps. She never had her head much in the air.

I’d still wring her slim, perfect neck if I found her again. It wouldn’t change anything, just make me feel better.

She left us here. Here in the dirty sand among fish guts and squealing gulls. Here where the people are slow and fragile and stupid, where the girls dream of nothing but boats and the cloddish boys who trawl the seas for fish that belong to my folk, not theirs. Where the ocean laps at everything, warping wood and melting stone and calling even to the tiny human souls that cluster around the shore, begging for its cold, proud bounty.

Little selkie girls will try to run back. They can’t understand that they’re as useless in the waves as the landbound dolts around them. If their dreamy mothers don’t pay close mind, they’ll drown. Two of my sisters went that way. Father got the hang of dragging us back then.

I’ll admit he wasn’t a bad sort for a human. He didn’t keep my mother against her will like so many of them. She gave him the skin. There was some spark in him to seek more than the idiot girls of his dirty little town. He didn’t know that his children would be trapped, mad things, seals trapped in human skin with spines that mean to twist and wend their way through deep water, with teeth flat and dull and useless, hide as weak as kelp on the tide.

He’s been dead for years. It wore him down, so many of his girls leaving him.

Because the time comes for the poor things locked on shore without a tail to drive them on or blubber to keep out the cold. The time’s come for me. To walk away from that filthy shore and into the waves, to let the cold leech into your bones and the water and its debris strike and grab by turns. The time when you’ve had enough of your halfway-life, and the sea will take you back, one way or another.”

I know, such a chipper way to bring a con nearly to its end. I win. Well, that was Strowlercon. Now I really ought to do some sleeping.


~ by badandfierce on October 11, 2010.

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