I'm finally feeling myself again after a wonderful, but taxing, week away at the World's Leading Feminist Science Fiction (and Fantasy) Convention, also known as WisCon. I had a fabulous time from day one and was sorry to go on the last day, as ready as my body may have been for it all. I don't have panel write-ups for the convention, but may I suggest that you Go Here and fill up on all the summary goodness provided!
I was scheduled for four panels, but due to the absence of a panelist and the generosity of the moderator and remaining panelist, I got to sit on five. The panel I "crashed" was titled: Paranormal/Sci-fi Erotica: More Room for Feminist and Anti-Racist Discourse? First, the answer to that question is a resounding yes, it is. Second, this panel took place at 10:30 Friday night and set the course for the entire convention, for which I'm exceedingly grateful. I immediately felt back at home at WisCon and remembered why I keep going back.
I loved being on Slactivism, Fringe: How is Olivia Duhnam so Awesome? and Your Fandom is Okay, panels. I felt heard, I walked away with expanded views and I could have stayed in each room for hours beyond the time we had. So by no means is this a comparison when I say I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED being on the What Is Queerness? panel! Between being on that panel and attending, I'd Object if I Weren't Invisible: Bisexual Visibility and Princess Boys: Is Male Femininity the Last Wave of Feminism? I have never felt more validated in a public space.
All three panels touched on the things I feel as an out Bisexual/Polysexual author who writes exclusively bisexual, polysexual and sexually fluid characters and worlds. I cannot remember such a sense of community in the last few years as I felt participating on or at those panels. More importantly, I saw what that sense of community and acceptance did for others struggling with where they belong on the spectrum of their own fluid sexuality and/or gender identity.
Comments made at the Queerness panel led to hours of conversation throughout the rest of the convention and online since I've returned home. I was incredibly honored to be a part of where everyone stood in their individual journies, on that given day, in that moment, and I feel blessed for those connections that have extended well beyond. Since moving cross-country, I'd forgotten how vital community can be to someone still finding their way and the convention safe space created by WisCon reminded me that regardless of how inactive it may be, I have a part to play in my local community.
Beyond the intense feeling of community and the desire for more of it, I had a few revelations about my health as well while at WisCon. I didn't take a brace with me due to last minute rushing and I limped, sometimes severely, throughout my entire time away. The issue wasn't merely with my knee but with the muscles surrounding the knee. My lower quad tightened so severely that I couldn't bend my leg and it only got worse as the days went on. I spent each night of the convention popping acetaminephen, crawling into bed and wishing I had something stronger so that I could do more. I missed well more than I thought I'd have to, but I don't regret a single moment. Missing out forced me to come to terms with a few things.
More years ago than I'll bother to count, I was diagnosed with CFS and part of that package is muscle and joint pain, especially centered around older injury sites. I've spent the last year blaming a minor twist and over-exercising as responsible for the, sometimes immobilizing, pain around my left leg, upper back and sciatic nerve. It's not inaccurate, but it's only 10% of the story.
I'm in a down-cycle of the CFS, I've known it for two years and I've ignored it. The energy issue has all been about the insomnia, the pain about this stumble or that fall, the depression related to my bloodsugar issues, there's always been something else to look at; but all of it is on the surface, riding a down-cycle wave of CFS, that I've left unattended. To look at it for what it was, would be to admit that I was no longer in remission and the honeymoon period of late 2006 to 2009 was well and truly over. Instead, during the up cycle in 2009, I worked and pushed too hard and by last year this time, I'd sparked the down-cycle. Every small rebound I treated like a recovery and over did it, only to spark another down-cycle worse than the one before. This particular cycle is the worst I've had since 1994, which ended in double-pneumonia. I kinda don't want to go there again.
So, there it is. I've said it aloud. I'm in a full down-cycle with the CFS and I can't sprint my way out of it as I've tried to time and again this last year. This, as always, is a crawl that will progress to a walk, that will become brisk and determined and end with sprinting somewhere on the horizon. Keeping that in mind and obeying the simple rules of dealing with my CFS the last five days, has led to my first (relatively) pain free movement in almost a full month. You don't get more "The Universe was trying to tell me", than that kind of immediate body feedback.
If I hadn't been forced to sit and think about it all at WisCon, who knows how long I'd have stayed in the self-defeating loop. So this is a thank you to everyone I spoke with, everyone that accomodated my limping and everyone dealing with their own limitations that helped me put mine into perspective. I'll never have the words to thank you, but may the Universe bless you tenfold for the blessings all of you were too me last month.
Namaste My Friends,