Otakon 2016

Welcome to Wonderland

In one way or another, I have kept a journal since age 12. I've kept an online journal called Musings since late 2002. My topics range from things that happen in my daily life to my thoughts on pop culture to my ponderings about everything from dreams to the secret thoughts of pets. In November 2007, I began mirroring it here, although I often included extras to this version, such as memes and quizzes. In February 2010, I stopped updating the original journal on my home page and instead started a writing journal there.

For some insight into who I am, read Intro to Alyce. For a guide to the many nicknames I use in my online journal, check out Who's Who in Musings.

The beautiful, sweet dog in one of my icons is Una, my best friend and nurse dog for nearly 11 years, who passed away on October 22, 2010. She was my inspiration, and she taught me how to be a better friend and mother; a better person. My son, Kung Fu Panda (KFP for short), benefits from all the caregiving skills I learned in those 11 years. My husband, The Gryphon, probably does, as well!

The goals I established when I first begin an online journal remain the same: this is a way to explore the tangential, the seemingly accidental observations many of us overlook but which may, ultimately, be where all life and all mystery hinges.

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Philcon 2023 Schedule

I have my Philcon schedule. This is going to be good!
Star Trek in 2023 - Crystal 2, Fri 7:00 PM
Matt Black (moderator), Alyce Wilson, Keith DeCandido, Savan Gupta, Andre Lieven
Description: Since last Philcon, a ton of new Star Trek content has been released: new seasons of Prodigy, Picard, Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks. What were the most memorable moments? Where will they go from here?
Deep Space Nine: An Unfolding Text - Crystal 2, Sat 3:00 PM
Daniel M. Kimmel (moderator), Raven Green, Alyce Wilson, Barbara Purdom, Dan Persons
Description: 2023 marks the 30th Anniversary of this well-loved show's premiere. How did it change the Star Trek universe when it first aired? How has it stood up over the last three decades? Does re-watching the show in the present day give us any new takeaways?
Star Trek: Lower Decks - Plaza 5, Sat 5:00 PM
Alyce Wilson (moderator), Courtney Kwok, Daniel M. Kimmel, Dr. Jim Prego, Michael D. Pederson
Description: Star Trek is BACK!! From Picard to Strange New Worlds, Star Trek is back on the small screen for fans across the generations. For the first time since 1973, we have a new animated Star Trek series. Lower Decks follows the misadventures of the low-ranking support crew of cadets assigned to duty aboard the California Class Starship the Cerritos in the 24th century. It is also the first sitcom of the Star Trek franchise. Now in its third season, the show is a hit! So join us to talk about and share why we love the misfits of ST: Lower Decks.
THE VAMPYRE - Plaza 3, Sat 7:00 PM
Richard Stout (moderator), Alyce Wilson, Teel James Glenn, Scheherazade Jackson
Description: In 1816 a teenaged girl, her married lover, a lord, and his physician decided to have a ghost story competition. While the teenager’s eventual novel became more famous - something about a modern Prometheus - the physician, John Polidori, also published his shorter work a year later in 1819. "The Vampyre; A Tale" caused a sensation that started a vampire craze throughout Europe. Among other elements, it greatly influenced Bram Stoker to make his Count Dracula a member of the nobility like Polidori’s Lord Ruthven. While a film starring Malcolm McDowell and Derek Jacobi is in development, has Dr. Polidori gotten his literary due? Let’s discuss it.
Dracula: Eternal *and* Changing? - Plaza 3, Sun 1:00 PM
Hildy Silverman (moderator), Teel James Glenn, Alyce Wilson, Darrell Schweitzer, Amy Grech
Description: How has the story of Dracula changed over time and through different portrayals in media? What vital aspects of Bram Stoker's original story have been lost, which have been twisted into something new, and what - if anything - has stayed the same through all the various retellings?

A Poem by my Grandmother Heritage

I always knew my Grandma Heritage as a very cheerful and quietly brilliant woman, who had a mind for details. No surprise she worked for many years as a librarian for the Bureau of Prisons, which is where she met my step-grandfather, Dave Heritage, whom I always knew as Grandpa Heritage. They married when I was only 2, so he was the only grandfather I ever knew.

Grandma was also, it turns out, an occasional poet. I just found two folders of her poetry, some of which clearly dated back to school. They have perfect meter, apt use of language but are overly sentimental, along with some angsty love-lorn poems not doubt dotted with tear stains from her young adulthood, one presumes.

But this poem, typed by her familiar typewriter (which I know quite well from having already pored through all her genealogical work), stood out to me. The work of an older woman, who's seen things, and it shows. She signs it simply "MMW," which would be Miriam Marshall Wilson, so she wrote it sometime after her first husband, my biological grandfather, died in 1943. It might have been to a man she dated previously to Dave Heritage. Last night, going through photos with Dad, we found one of her with a man named Frank. Dad told me that he was very proud of his cars but also that they dated in D.C. and broke up before she and Dad moved to New Jersey. According to Dad, part of the reason was that Frank wanted to send Dad to military school!

It is untitled, but I would call it "Good Enough," if I were to give it a title. But, following in the tradition of those who published Emily Dickinson's poetry, I suppose we should consider it untitled by design.

Who is it likes the simple things in life
And yearns for a domestic type of wife
To mend his clothes and clean his house in VA,
And cook his dinner so's not to taste like hay?

Who is it likes a Larry Coffee Sunday
And works his best 10:30 on a Monday?
Who is it buys two overcoats and chairs?
Who is it music softly calms his cares?

Who is it has oh, cars and cars galore!
And rats come out at night from 'neath the floor?
Who is it termites love and little boys too,
And big girls love him so they just turn blue?

Who is so tall and handsome and so smart?
But mother still has first place in his heart.
His heart's so big there still is plenty ther [SIC]
For the girl who may remind him of his mare.

He's searched and searched, but no one does he see.
I had hoped once that he might think 'twas me.
But why should he? I'm just a little dope.
I wash my hair with egg instead of soap.

I cry and cry just buckets full of tears,
Then give out pills for all our ills and fears.
I think bus stations romantic places to be,
And cough drops then taste good enough to me.

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LJ Idol Voting

The vote is tight this week at LJ Idol! A vote or two could make all the difference for these many fine entries. I swung for the fences and wrote a song. Hope you enjoy it. You can vote using a free Dreamwidth account or use the "Open ID" option to log in from another blogging platform, like LiveJournal. If you create a new DW account, make a note of it in the comments, either here or on my entry, so I can friend you!


Alice hiding

My Last Three Weeks

This has been a weird few weeks for me. Here are the highlights:

* A little more than two weeks ago, on May 24, KFP started sniffling a little. My husband and I thought it was seasonal allergies, since he has been bothered by them in the past. By Saturday, he had a mild cough, and since we were supposed to attend a party on Sunday with a person who gets kidney dialysis twice a week, I insisted we use one of our home tests and see if he had COVID. He did. While this did scrap our holiday plans, including participation with the Scouts in the Memorial Day parade that Monday, KFP's symptoms never worsened. He was completely healthy by Tuesday and even went on an overnight camping trip with the school, with the consent of the school nurse.

* My husband started sniffling on Saturday, May 30. He tested negative on that day and didn't retake the test until I urged him to take one again on Tuesday, June 1. He was positive. Being the mensch that he is, he isolated himself in the bedroom and wore a KN95 mask whenever he had to come out. I was bringing him meals and sleeping on the couch for several nights. He was feeling pretty good by Friday, June 6, when my son and I were packing for an overnight camping trip with the Scouts.

* Meanwhile, I was testing negative every single day and, as instructed by the CDC, wearing a KN95 mask whenever I went out. I still taught my classes, but I exercised extra caution and avoided close contact with my students.

* KFP and I went on the overnight camping trip, which involved the Scout leader, myself, our two sons, and one other Scout. Together, we did about a 4-hour hike with a lot of elevation, which was more challenging than anything I've done since I hiked the Appalachian Trail in high school. I was exhausted and in pain but very, very proud of myself afterwards. KFP even cooked me breakfast.

* By the time we returned, my husband was completely healthy again, so I washed all of the bedclothes, and he was released from "jail."

* Sometime during the day on Friday, June , I received a text from my aqua director at the main YMCA where I teach classes, telling me the pool would be closed for the weekend to deal with a safety issue. I then got a call upon arriving home with more details. It was the fact that the ceiling, which dates back to the 1960s, was starting to bulge downwards in areas. After an assessment, it was determined it needs to be entirely replaced. The pool is therefore closed until the end of the month.

* This means I currently have some freer days on my hands, and I'm using that time to follow-up on some personal projects. So I might actually be more vocal in here again, at least for the next month!

Oh! I should add my best theory as to why I never showed positive. Turns out that I might have been the first one in the family with COVID, but I had very different symptoms. About three weeks ago, I had a LOT of muscle pain in my legs that was actually so bad it made my knees feel similar to the way they did when I was still recovering from a couple knee injuries I've had in the past. At the same time, I was very tired, so that naps never seemed like enough for me. But I never had an upper respiratory symptoms, aside from morning sniffles that went away after blowing my nose.

Given my lifestyle -- I usually teach 6 to 7 hours of aqua fitness classes a week, in addition to doing weightlifting at home -- I thought the muscle pain was just from over-exertion. I did a lot of stretching, used my foam roller, took more OTC pain reliever and workout recovery supplements and powered through it. I also thought being tired was just the cumulative sleep deprivation from my admittedly weird sleep schedule.

So in other words, the symptoms never screamed, or even suggested, COVID to me, and I never tested.

Fortunately, I have been in the habit of wearing either a surgical mask or a KN95 mask when I'm out and about for several months, once the CDC suggested upgrading the type of masks you wear from cloth to medical-grade. I figured that since I was in and out of schools -- little germ factories -- and then teaching seniors at aqua fitnesses classes, it was the most responsible thing to do. So hopefully, if I did have it, I managed to avoid infecting anyone outside my immediate family.
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LJI Week 4: An Elephant Never Forgets

This is my entry for Week 4 of LJ Idol (therealljidol, Three Strikes season. This week's topic is "The axe forgets; the tree remembers."

I was serving hash browns when a cheerful voice boomed, "Alice? Is it you?" I glanced up and couldn't place the nondescript person in front of me.

"I'm Duffy Manfred*," he announced. "We went to school together in fifth grade."

How could I forget? He'd made me miserable that school year.

Every school dance, he and his friend Coby Wentzel* hung at the sidelines, catcalling. "Boom! Boom!" they'd cry as I grooved with my friends. "That's the sound of Alice's feet landing!" He made elephant sounds in the hallway to trumpet my arrival anywhere.

At the time, I was maybe 20 pounds overweight, if that. Photos of the fifth grade me show a girl in transition towards becoming a teenager: malleable, pliable, soft mounds still forming into grown muscle. Thanks to kids like Duffy, I spent years hating my perfectly normal body. When he moved away, just before seventh grade, me and my nerdy friends held a dance party at our cafeteria table.

But now I was a college sophomore, who'd changed the spelling of my first name, the "Y" symbolizing rebirth as the person I was meant to become. I was working over the summer in the East Halls cafeteria, catering to the camps being held on campus. Duffy proudly told me he was a counselor at the Special Olympics camp, for special needs children.

I wanted to vomit. I wanted to report him to his superior, tell the camp director they'd hired a bully. At the very least, I wanted to confront him; let him know how much he'd hurt me.

But I sensed that would only take me backwards, into depths off pain I'd spent years shucking off. Besides, I reasoned, the fact that he was now a counselor for a camp like this, maybe it indicated that he'd changed.

So instead, I shrugged and said, "That was a long time ago, but you do look vaguely familiar." I nodded at the next person to hold out their tray, and Duffy awkwardly shuffled along, out of sight.

Me at about age 12 next to a tree in my backyard.
I'm wearing a soft striped sweater in pastel pink, purple, yellow and white stripes.
My belly is a little soft, but I otherwise look tall and healthy, someone growing into herself.
I'm hiding my face half in shadow, my large glasses covering half my face.
My wavy dark blonde hair falls to my shoulders.
It astonishes me how much my son looks like this now (but slimmer).
I tell him every day how handsome he is.
I hope he hears me.

* Not the real name.
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LJI Week 3: The Lake at Merli-Sarnoski Park, Early March

This is my LJ Idol entry for Week 3. The topic is "Morgenmuffel." I am posting from a bench beside the lake, one foot touching mud, another ice.

Various views of the ice on the lake at Merli-Sarnoski Park

The Lake at Merli-Sarnoski Park, Early March

Earth wakes slowly, iced into
blue-gray prisms. Rivulets
blown across untenable surface.
Ripe for cracking. Caked mud
oozes from frozen edges. Across
the glassy surface, geese
honk. And again. And honk
with black wings unfurled. Will
not stop. Their voices
like fingers rubbed over ice.
Awake, they call. Awake.

A shimmer crosses briskly.
The ice groans.
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LJI Week 2: Fossil

This is my entry for Week 2 of LJ Idol (http://therealljidol.livejournal.com). The topic is "What Really Matters."

My son,age 11, reclines in sleep


What remains, in our silted brains
over experiential eons, are calcified
fragments. Pressed in place
by layers of sedimented thought. Maybe
your infant son's deep stare as you
locked eyes through his Plexiglas crib;
throwing yourself at a breakneck jog
down green fallow hills with your brother;
your husband on your first date leaning
over an armchair to kiss across space.

Sometimes, we're gifted with full scenes
caught in amber. Aided by petrified
moments trapped by camera lens.
Your Mom in a white peasant shirt,
horn-rimmed glasses peering down
at an unknowable infant you.

More often, we excavate
only traces. A line from an unknown poem,
recurring like a dream through
conscious thought. A simple slant
of light. All the texture,
the skin and feathers, scraped bare.
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LJI Week 1: Black Rainbow

This is my entry for LJ Idol (http://therealljidol.livejournal.com), week 1. The prompt is "Black Rainbow."

Ship in Camden Shipyard

Black Rainbow

An oyster, hinged open in briny depths
to siphon seawater atop a flat, smooth stone
while brackish bubbles, like smoke, drift upwards
along the iron links of a chain
yoking a lead anchor to distant surface.
Above, barnacles bedew the soot-crusted steamer,
its glossy obsidian hull absorbing all.