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I was hanging out in a bookstore recently, when I overheard a somewhat peculiar conversation. It was not a private conversation, but it didn't include me, and certainly didn't include all of you, so I feel the least little bit uncertain about sharing it with you.

Three young women were looking at fantasy, and having the kinds of conversation about new authors I sort of expect to hear at cons. One of them told her friends about a man she had gone to high school with, and how much he had changed. "Can you believe it? It's just so weird. He used to be such a geek, but now he writes urban fantasy!" The others agreed it was bizarre that a geek could grow up to have any interest in that sort of thing.* One of them said how strange it was for him to write about hot women and sexy vampires, when girls hadn't wanted anything to do with him.**

In a tone of sharing a scandalous bit of gossip, the first woman said she had seen her old classmate recently, and that he lifted weights now. "He's really buff. You'd never believe HE could write these books." A serious exercise program cuts into the time a person with a day job has available to write...but enough writers manage that it doesn't seem implausible. And of course the time problems are no worse for urban fantasy than for any other genre. (I suspect she might have been thinking something like, "I don't get it. He doesn't LOOK like he's got girl-cooties." I could, of course, be misinterpreting.) Her friends seemed to understand and agree with her.


*Because geeks aren't interested in worldbuilding? They're only expected to write nonfiction, or rigorously realistic novels with plot details worked out like sudoku?

**Because one's status as a teenager is supposed to define one's fantasy life, as well as one's adult life? Or because fantasies of being desired have too many girl-cooties for a boy, even a geeky boy?
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Way back before Arisia, on January 12, I had a prescription to pick up from the doctor's office. One of the advantages of having a car is that I can leave work less than an hour before the doctor's office closes, while it can take almost 2 hours to get there by bus. Unfortunately, I could not start my car. There wasn't anything wrong with the engine -- I just could not turn the key in the ignition. I made a couple of phone calls to ask for advice, and see if a friend could pick up the prescription for me. [livejournal.com profile] marius23 suggested turning the steering wheel all the way to one side and then trying to turn the key, but that was no help. So I just left the car in the parking lot at work. Another friend (not on LJ) picked up my prescription the next day, and we saw each other at Arisia.

Arranging for towing and repairs seemed rather daunting, especially in a crowded, icy, parking lot. So I didn't deal with it right away. It's not like I had an urgent need for the car. All I did was look up what might be wrong, and discover it's a known problem. http://consumeraffairs.com/automotive/ford_focus_ignition.html
I didn't find the information terribly reassuring. While I was stalling, I got something from AAA that I would ordinarily consider junk mail. They offered me a discount membership, with free roadside service and towing. They were generous enough to include a temporary membership card I could activate immediately. It's a sensible business practice on their part; "It's January, your car might break down in the snow, wouldn't you like to buy some inexpensive insurance so you don't get stuck?" I don't expect many people receive the offers when their cars are actually broken down and actively in need of towing or other roadside service.

So, Friday night, AAA sent a tow truck out for my poor car that wouldn't start. The driver asked me what was wrong with it. Then he asked me for the key. He applied enough force to get it to turn, and the car started. I started it a few times, to check that I could, and drove it home.

It bothers me that my hand wasn't strong enough to start the car myself. Even when I wasn't being careful to avoid setting off pain flares, just pushing as hard as I could, I simply did not have the strength. It bothers me a lot more that it did not occur to me to consider brute force as a solution to the problem. There are strong people at work I could have asked for help (with a lot less time and trouble than calling AAA), if I had thought of it. I'm finally accustomed to not being strong, to not using my hands. But I don't like it.

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