Becoming - November 2003

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Donna Camp




††††††††††† Iím not sure when the deadline is and Iím afraid I may even have missed it.Lucy, I really miss those reminders you used to send and I wish you would go back to doing them.My house is so chaoticI canít even find the last mailing.I did, however, take your editorial to heart, so Iím writing while I have a couple of things to write about, and if it misses this mailing, then it will be there for the next.

††††††††† Iíve been thinking about the comment someone made (Iím sorry I canít find it now to direct my response personally) about my reading leaning heavily toward several books by the same author and series books.Also, in someoneís reading list, she noted reading The Skies of Pern with the comment ďWhat can I say; itís PernĒ.In that context, Iíve also been thinking about Lucyís comments over time about not enjoying multiple books in the same world.†† I realize Iím not a very adventurous reader.I like to have an idea where Iím going when I start, because for me reading is a lot like travel.I look forward to my next trip to Pern, or Darkover, or Barrayar, or the Humanx Commonwealth, or Nero Wolfeís New York City, or Manticore,Maybe Iíll visit a new tourist site there because I find a book I havenít read yet.Or maybe Iíll go back to a place Iíve been before and discover new things about it.Or maybe Iíll just visit the same old place for the comfort of an old friend.†† Yet I often find, especially on Barrayar, and I suspect also on Recluce, that each new book in a series almost requires re-reading all the other books.When I said that to Bujold at an Albacon event, she observed that what can make a book interesting is the interstices, the spaces between the reader and the read, between one book and the next.By extrapolation, each time I re-read a book it is a new book because I am not the same person.

††††††††† Another reason I look forward to new books on old established worlds is that they are like letters from an old friend.They bring me up to date on whatís been happening in their lives.If the book is also good literature, thatís a bonus. (Insert smiley face here.)Iím not very good at writing back (witness these apazines, or the years-old letter from a real old friend that I just found in a suitcase and have not yet answered), but I do look forward to receiving them.And I am going to try to answer that letter, too!


Another step


††††††††† I have two directions to go in with this topic.The first has to do with my health.In May, I finally had my second hip replacement, so I am now two- thirds of the way done with getting my chassis rebuilt.After the surgery I spent a month in a nursing home/rehabilitation facility.It was not as bad as I had expected.The rehab was intense -- 2 sessions a day, each about an hour and a half, plus Ďhomeworkí to do in the evening, and the staff was wonderful.The main problem was finding places to start IVs because I developed an antibiotic-resistant infection which required intravenous antibiotic therapy, and my veins were not co-operative.In order to prevent me from going into Internet withdrawal, Marc got me a used laptop, so now we all have laptops. (While crossing the border into Canada for Torcon, we told the customs agent about them, and she said ďI would think if youíre going to visit a place, you would want to see some of the sights.ĒEthan told her ďWeíre not that kind of family.Ē)Still I was glad to get back home to my familiar keyboard and program set-ups.And now I am finally beginning to walk again.It is tremendously harder than I thought it would be.In the two or so years in the wheelchair I have lost a lot more muscle tone than I thought I had to start with.Also my cardio-vascular status/endurance now really ďstinksĒ, to quote my physical therapist.However, I AM walking.Itís still a feat to make three round trips from the living room (where I sleep) to the kitchen, but bit by bit Iím working on it.Also weíre going to get the exercise bike up from the basement so I can hopefully improve my cardiovascular status.I am much more independent in my Ďactivities of daily livingí, which is fortunate, because the second day I was in the nursing home, Garyís mother fell, and he has been staying with her since then to help her.Iíll be seeing the hip and knee surgeon in January to see if I am ready to have my knees replaced.He would like me to have lost some weight by then and be able to walk two hundred feet.


††††††††† The second direction for this topic has to do with being a parent, and seeing/watching your kid move another step away.We went to Torcon this year (about which more later) and also to Albacon, which is a regional usually near where Ethan goes to school.It turned out this year that Albacon was not so near as usual to Albany, so each trip involved going to Troy, picking up Ethan and then traveling to the con.So we had a few meals on the road together, and I noticed that a number of times Ethan would say to me, while we were ordering,*ďI can handle it, MomĒ.Sometimes, it would just be a straight comment, through a smile, but sometimes the smile would turn into gritted teeth, and once in a while there were overtones of ďMother, please! Iíd rather do it myself!ĒSo eventually I asked him if he thought I was being overprotective, and he allowed as though, yeah, sometimes he did.But when I look at myself to see what Iím feeling/thinking/doing,itís much more similar to bragging.I donít quite know how to explain it, but it feels like I want people -- strangers, waitresses and the like -- to know that this great kid is mine.So Ijoin the conversation, and it feels to him like Iím butting in and, I guess, taking over.So I guess I need to learn both how to shut up more and to talk more, but talk so the message is not confused.




††††††††† As I mentioned, we went to Torcon.We got another lesson in how traveling with a handicap is an ordeal.I guess weíd gotten overly optimistic because our trips to Troy have only been a bit of a hassle.Part of the ordeal was our doing and part of it was the hotelís.On our part, we neglected to pack the battery charger for the electric wheelchair.On the hotelís part, there was either some outright misrepresentation or merely a large failure to communicate.We spent the first two days trying to find if we could rent a charger locally, and finally ended up having Gary run around down here shipping the charger to us UPS Next Day,and trying to get the hotel room with a wheelchair-accessible shower we had been promised when we made our reservation, and finding out that the hotel we were in didnít have any.†† This entailed changing rooms the second day we were there, to no avail.Thus I missed getting to either of Amyís program items and ended up not seeing any BWAns.On the other hand I did get to several pleasant meals with various friends and got to play a few games in gaming.We had planned to visit my parents on the way up, but got such a late start that we had to scratch that plan.So we stopped on the way back home for a couple of hours.Once again I was very proud of this great kid who is my son.

††††††††† We also went to Albacon, which as I said, is usually In Albany. However, this year the hotel had cancelled out at the last minute and the convention ended up being held in a resort about an hour north.It was a lovely place for a variety of resort activities, but not quite the best venue for a science fiction convention.Still, it was pretty good.I got to go to the aforementioned panel with Lois McMaster Bujold, as well as another, more formal one.And I bought a few books and got some gaming in.And again we had some pleasant dinners with old friends.On the way back I tried driving again, for the first time in two or three years.It too was harder than I had ever thought it could be, and an hour exhausted me, partly because we had only gone twenty miles due to the unanticipated congestion around a number of huge tourist-trap malls in the area.However, the driving turned out to be another area for me to relate to Ethan, and him to me, as we critiqued each otherís performance.




††††††††† So, thatís been my life for the past few months.I can only remember one comment that came to mind from last issue, and that was to tell Esther that maybe she could be a jockey if school didnít work out.Weíre planning to make a concerted effort to reduce the amount of chaos in the house over the next few months.(Must be a result of reading those Recluce books.)Itís pretty clear that the mess is out of control.We find ourselves buying things we know we have but canít even begin to find.After I started this I downloaded my e-mail, so I know that if I can get this finished up, it will get into the apa.I hope you are all well and have had a pleasant summer and are having a pleasant autumn, too.



This has been Becoming

a work-in-progress of Donna Camp

1088 East 40th St.


(718) 692-2373 a.k.a. (718) NY CADRE

*Ethan is allergic to milk and a part-time vegetarian, so it is often not a simple task to find acceptable dishes on a restaurant menu.

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