I was on this panel with Brent Allison from Gainesville State College. While, on the surface, there was not a lot of relationship between his paper, "Japanese Animation Fandom and Media Education: A Response to Media Education Literature and Classroom Practice," and mine, they certainly did intersect both on matters of authenticity (an issue he raised) and, I think, very strongly in the response from the room.

While I mentioned this in passing at the panel, it's worth reiterating I'm not an anime and manga person by default (the same goes for Western comics and animation for me); it's not a medium I respond to instinctually. However, working on this aspect of my mourning research and hearing Brent's paper along with some of the presentation from the panel before us, I feel like I have a lot more tools to approach anime and manga than I have in the past, so that was personally a very rewarding expansion for me.

Over the past year, I've had the opportunity to talk about fan responses to character death a lot -- at Gallifrey One, at the Desiring the Text conference at the University of Bristol (UK), and here on Livejournal, where I started this research really in response to what I was seeing and experiencing in the Torchwood fandom, which didn't feel new to me, so much as very, very old.

Most of the time there's a lot of anger when I talk about this topic. The Torchwood fandom isn't just still gutted by the narrative events of its third season, but large swathes of it remain in conflict -- with the show writers and producers, and with other fans who have had different responses not just to the program, but to their feelings about it.

And, of course, it's not just Torchwood fandom. Joss Whedon fans are still nursing wounds from deaths like that of Tara on Buffy, and those wounds are very real, even if I posit that they are less likely to create a ritualized mourning response because of the way Whedon structures his narrative arcs.

In fiction, death is everywhere, and given more than twenty minutes there's lots to say about tons of other properties -- some of which I was able to mention in Atlanta -- like Harry Potter, Elf Quest, Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow's Joe), Sherlock Holmes and the work of Dickens (there's a lot to say about Little Nell) to name just a few.

If you love stories fannishly and so also love characters privately and passionately and in a nearly embodied sense, chances are you know all about this type of mourning, because you've lived it, even if you've never talked about it.

But for a lot of people, this type of grief is really alien, or, if experienced, has been uncomfortable or eclipsed by non-fictional losses. When we talk about the pain of absence, there's a lot for anyone to get pissed about.

Which is to say, a lot of the time, the response I get to this work is one that is angry and in pain (Seriously, I've been on panels with yelling matches, tears, personal stories of non-fictional loss, and more. Grief is big). And that's fine, even if I'm not always as gracious, generous and supportive as I wish I knew how to be. Because my choosing to this work is also a response to my own losses (I even refer to it as "my own 1,000 cranes" in the paper I did for the Bristol conference, not afraid of sentimentality am I).

Spending a lot of time around grief is pretty exhausting. I've been doing it for over a year, and it's taken me on one hell of a trip (including to the UK twice). It has forced me to mourn fictional characters that matter to me both more publicly and more privately than I would wish and to find commonalities with people I'd, quite frankly, rather just argue with in fandom.

Often, when I present on this topic, it's really heated, and it leaves me drained and uncertain of the value (but not the relevance) of this work. Dragon*Con, however, was an entirely different experience.

The audience was generous and curious, provided a perspective through manga, anime and comics, that framed a lot of new and exciting questions (how do we emotionally respond to comics that are constantly retconning and resetting? are we mourning a fictional lover or friend or are we mourning the self?) and also helped to further confirm a lot of the arguments I've been working with.

More than anything though, I felt a sense of eagerness and relief from the audience, and really felt we could have gone for far more time than the slot we had allowed. Unfortunately, I also had to run to another panel right after.

If you're here because you were at the panel (or not) and want to talk about this topic more in comments here, please feel free. If you have particular feelings about how you'd like to access more material on this subject (i.e., book? website? academically focused? pop-culture-y? travel-log of visiting sites of fictional grief? etc), I would love to hear it. In addition, I am always grateful to hear more personal tales of mourning for the fictional. While I do not necessarily feel an obligation to request permission to quote people discussing such issues publicly on the Internet, since I am soliciting your input directly here, I will say that I will not quote or paraphrase anything you say in comments to this post without your explicit permission, and I'll drop you a note if I ever need it.

In addition, if you're curious about the work that's coming out of the Bristol conference, please visit The Society of Friends of the Text. You can also get more information on the Dragon*Con Comics and Popular Arts Conference that put this panel together and its parent, The Institute for Comics Studies. A big thank you to Dragon*Con Anime and Manga Track for giving us the time and space necessary for this panel.

Thanks for attending the panel and/or for reading along here. The Dragon*Con panel was one of the most lovely experiences I've had since I've started working on this project, and I am truly full of gratitude for it.

sundries

Sep. 8th, 2010 09:40 am
  • Really tired and still catching up on sleep from Dragon*Con. I remain impressed by Patty's comps diligence and know I babbled at her quite oddly when she came to bed last night and I was more or less asleep. Ah well. Only a few more days of this.

  • Meanwhile, I am trying to solve our cruise drama for April; it's a long story that I thought I had solved and then a sailing we want is sold out and the timing is complicated. So I suspect the next cruise will be 2012 for us, and that in April of 2011, we're either going to do one of the two domestic trips we've talked about or just choose an island and go there for a week. We loved Bonaire, and there are a few places we haven't been that we'll probably consider too. I dunno; if you have recommendations about islands, resorts and the like, please let us know since It's probably not the right time for us to go to Sydney (not the warmest for them), which is a shame, as I want a room in the Altamont right now.

  • In case you missed it last night, [livejournal.com profile] bifemmefatale's 16-year-old daughter has run away from home. If you're in the Illinois area and could keep an eye out that would be good. If you could also not be an asshole or a concern troll (i.e., telling her to go to one of the places it is suspected Morgan might be heading to in order to understand - right now the priority is finding an underage girl who may need help; the Internet can be a part of this. But Morgan is not the Internet's kid, and this sort of stuff is NOT helpful right now; useful advice from folks that work with runaways and street kids is a different matter).

  • [livejournal.com profile] rarelylynne is participating in the DeKalb County Wheel-a-Thon to raise money for disability services in her area. If you're interested in helping, you can visit her journal where she writes more about the event and her fundraising team, Team Caitlin (named after her daughter).

  • Hey, [livejournal.com profile] sihaya09 is facing some MASSIVE vet bills for a lovely cat that is having some hardcore neurological/spine issues. Luckily, [livejournal.com profile] sihaya09 is an AWESOME artist and runs a cool etsy shop. If you're looking for something for you or yours, you might wish to check out her wares.

  • Hero rats search out landmines in Africa. The rats are too light to trip the mines themselves, so only one has died in the field, and that was a result of a car crash.

  • Religious leaders of several faiths have gathered to condemn the sharp rise in religious intolerance directed at Muslims.

  • Iran has suspended the sentence of a woman slated to be executed by stoning for an adultery conviction.

  • Students protest the forced resignation of a lesbian dean at a Catholic college after she married her partner.

  • After the media apocalypse, stories survive as patchwork quilts. This is an amazing art exhibit. Quilts as storytelling mechanisms are nothing new; quilts as a future mechanism of telling our current stories when they are near lost, however, is an amazing idea.

    Said to [livejournal.com profile] tsarina at Dragon*Con: "You know, after Children of Earth happened I asked what it would take to remember Ianto for a thousand years, and you know, people wrote fic if they saw me say that or not, but that wasn't what I meant. No one got it. I meant, if this story means so much to us all, let's sit around and speculate on the process by which narrative becomes remembered outside of its pop-culture moment and, eventually, becomes myth. How do we make that story survive? How do we force those characters to keep their promises?"

    These quilts make me think of that discussion I never really got to have. Link via [livejournal.com profile] shadesong.

  • Last night on White Collar: Read more... )

  • Last night on Covert Affairs: Read more... )

  • Really, none of you wanted to talk about The Dark Crystal sequel with me? You all suck.
  • sundries

    Aug. 29th, 2010 12:01 pm
  • Brief, as it's Sunday, and you got a few links from me last night too. This included me jumping the gun on a thing. Sorry to get my over-excitedness on you. If you have any questions, please address it with me privately.

  • You do no want to know how many moths decided to come into our flat last night. Ugh ugh ugh ugh. Fuckers.

  • Yay, finished the edit for HackGender.

  • Hey, so a friend of mine is a CART provider, and has a cool blog about it, that's interesting from a few perspectives -- including disability access, being a sole proprietor in New York, and neat technology stuff. It occurs to me that with my readership, a large number of you may very well care about at least one of those three things. So hey, check it out.

  • Advocating for people with disabilities in Syria.

  • Black and (mostly Orthodox) Jewish.

  • Rounnd 1 of bidding in the [livejournal.com profile] help_pakistan auction ends today.

  • I still cannot find just a handful of links I find adequately discusses the many problems with the Beck rally: from intense racism to the apocalyptic delusions that rule of law has fled in the US and Marxist homosexuals are rampaging through the streets stealing everyone's guns.

  • Folks, voting for [livejournal.com profile] writerinadrawer Round 10 -- the round that decides the winner -- closes tonight. More votes are needed. Check it out. It's just three little stories and some opinions. You can do it!

  • So, the Buffy finale.... Read more... )
  • Title: The Seventh Time Jack Shagged Ianto Silly
    Rating: R
    Spoilers: CoE, "Day 4" (so that's your warnings right there, although story takes place right at beginning of episode, not at the end).
    Notes: Part of Seven Times Jack Shagged Ianto Silly as spawned in the comments at [livejournal.com profile] tw_gleeclub and written by 7 different authors. All the parts are going to be linked in one place later this weekend, and I will add that here, so you can read the 7 pieces of the story together.

    They don't even get out of the warren of warehouses before Jack swerves the car off the road so abruptly that, for a moment, Ianto's sure he's about to intentionally ram it into one of the other buildings. )

    sundries

    Jul. 19th, 2010 08:55 am
  • Last night we got home to signs all over our building that someone else's apartment had been burglarized Saturday night much in the same way ours was some time ago. Both of us found this a little disturbing, not in the "I'm scared" way, since we now have appropriate security measures, but because our first thought was to wonder if someone was home at the time. Of course, we eventually figured out that since the burglary, according to the signs, occurred sometime between 11:30pm and 4:30am, someone was clearly out at a bar at the time. Poor bastards, and I hope they catch the fuckers.

    This morning, we were awoken abruptly by sounds of people on the fire escape around dawn. We couldn't see anything though, and there were non-nefarious things it could be, but I think we were a little startled, although so asleep Patty and I just looked at each other and said "Hi." before passing out again.

  • Cajun culture and the oil spill.

  • Making the city more friendly for the elderly.

  • A significant number of deaths (17 last I saw, with 18 injuries) have occurred at an LGBT party in Mexico. Whether it's a hate crime or related to the war on drugs, no one is yet sure.

  • Of course, there are plenty of hate crimes and/or government sanctioned violence against LGBT people elsewhere. And not just the places you might expect, like Iraq and Dubai. Nope, also New York City, Atlanta and Helsinki. via [livejournal.com profile] sparkindarkness.

  • I survived another round of WIAD. I'll put my story up here eventually. It was a hard week; I think the prompt frustrated everyone (I was soooooo aggravated while writing mine and think what I mostly produced was a passable outline for an actual story); I think the stories were largely cracky and weird, and they were frustrating to me as a reader. And I think it's clear a lot of people felt this way just by the sort of silence in the feedbacking we normally do for each other.

  • I am struggling, more than a little, with the Jack/Auggie fic. I can see the whole fic in my head, so I'm not sure what the problem is. But let me try to figure it out. )

  • I don't follow True Blood closely; it's Patty's show. I missed most of last season, and have already missed one episode this season. But OMGWTFBBQ, it's like crack!fic come to life. Are they fucking serious? Should they be? What is happening? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!!!! Best characters are totally Lafayette and the boyfriend; Eric; and Jessica (oh, all my love for Jessica).

  • About a week ago the occasionally useful, often offensive and regularly bizarre The Art of Manliness did a piece on men's magazines from the 1940s and 50s.

    [livejournal.com profile] bodlon, with whom I regularly discuss many things (including the ongoing WTFery of The Art of Manliness), and I had the following awful conversation in response:

    [livejournal.com profile] rm: These covers of men's mags from the 1940s and 1950s are all reading like Torchwood plotbunnies to me. Read more... )

  • On a similar, but less utterly sketchy note, Jack Harkness vs. Ben Franklin is totally the best conversation on the Internet today.

  • Torchwood fic rec: Debris by [livejournal.com profile] heddychaa. Go read. Right now. It's like pressing your thumb into a bruise and feeling the better for it.

  • One more picture from Governors Island. Read more... )
  • We have plan: Patty will be home Saturday. Yay.

  • Tragically, she'll probably be here too late or too tired for the Moulin Rouge singalong. Life is cruel.

  • Have to put up a few more auction things tonight, but remember that bidding at [livejournal.com profile] graduate_maria opens at 12:01am EST on 7/15/2010. You can still add new items to auction after that point, but it's nice to have a much stuff up by tonight as possible. So far things posted including awesome art, handmade items, fanfiction, a steno starter kit, laster-etched glassware with the custom design of your choice and more. For those willing to signal boost, now is a good time!

  • The Argentinian senate votes on the legalization of gay marriage today.

  • While not going to Infinitus was TOTALLY the right choice (I just got off a plane, the thought of getting on another one tonight is AWFUL), I'm a bit sad. Have fun, you all.

  • Last night the new season of White Collar began, and I liked it very much. The show is still very much a 2+2=5 experience for me, in that the thing itself is greater than the sum of its parts, mostly because of the chemistry between all the performers. And it's the opposite of Merlin -- here the chemistry helps the story instead of consistently getting in the way of it.

    White Collar and gender issues, let me rant. )

    About last night's actual episode, probably not spoilers, but I can never tell anymore. )

    And since I was mentioning it to [livejournal.com profile] bodlon last night and he hadn't seen it, if you like Tim Dekay go netflix Carnivale right now, even if it was designed for a three season arc and only got two; even if it's super disturbing and occasionally frustrating in terms of internal mystery. It is, among other things, one of the most interesting examinations of female sexuality I've seen on screen.

  • Then I watched Covert Affairs which isn't very good and also has one of these central mystery plots I don't really care for. Let's talk about the blind guy, though. )

  • I don't know if it's my reading habits lately or if this there is suddenly a spate of Torchwood fic about Ianto adjusting not to the idea of being attracted to and sleeping with Jack, and not about Ianto dealing with being out in the public world, but Ianto dealing with a sense of internal disconnect regarding being out to himself or having a life very different than the one he once anticipated: i.e., waking up next to Jack, negotiating domesticity, not having the easy heteronormative guidance of "okay, I'm the guy, now I do this" about all the weird little nitpicky things about sharing intimate space with someone. Has anyone else noticed this? I'm not sure I'm even explaining it well. Anyway, it's a potentially interesting phenomenon (if it's not just all in my head), both for theme and timing.

  • Did anyone, btw, debunk that Torchwood casting sheet yet? It's fake, btw, but I don't feel like showing my math. Someone should get on that.

  • Despite not being a Holmes fan, and not even converted to such through the research I did for Bristol, I have to say, Moffat's Sherlock looks very smart, and I may be watching. And I'm not just saying this because Moffat is now on Twitter.

  • [livejournal.com profile] redstapler just sent me this: OMGWTF, Batpug!
  • sundries

    Jul. 13th, 2010 07:52 am
  • I am home, but Patty doesn't get home until the weekend-ish, so all is not quite right with the world yet.

  • There will be some interesting, accessible to the public, outgrowth of the conference stuff available soon. Soon, of course, as regards academic timelines, which I find to be geologically slow. More about that from my own perspective later, but for now, soon there will be stuff for you, also I will still post my notes.

  • Also need to write about the Martin Carthy gig.

  • I have to say, Virgin Atlantic handled the gluten-free meal requests MUCH better than Delta. I did get a roll yesterday that contained "gluten-free wheat starch" that I was too scared to eat, because gluten-attack on an airplane? NO WAY IN HELL DO I WANT THAT EXPERIENCE. Do any of the other celiacs reading this have any insight into "gluten-free wheat starch"? Is it derived from clean oats (which I can't eat anyway) or is it some other bizarreo process?

  • Thank you to everyone who posted auction items to [livejournal.com profile] graduate_maria while I was away. I'll try to check up on and update tags and stuff tonight, and bidding will open in a few days. People who have asked me to post items for them or host pictures, I will also try to get that in order tonight. Sorry for the delay, things have been overwhelming.

  • George Steinbrener has died.

  • I cannot believe all this drama about the possibility of a mosque near the WTC site is still ongoing.

  • Oh, this kid again. Teen serial thief arrested.

  • Paperwork fuckery is preventing a team of lacross players from the Iriquois Confederacy traveling to an international competition in Manchester because the UK gov't is worried the US won't allow them back into the country with their tribal passports. The US won't guarantee that they will. WTF?

  • The Son of Sam, his image makeover and a bunch of evangelical Christians.

  • Geese removed (via death) from Prospect Park in response to flight that ditched into Hudson a year and a half ago. 1. Ugh. 2. You know the thing with birds? They'll make more. Killing park geese isn't going to stop them from flying into airplanes.

  • The Advocate has starting putting up the Day in Gay America photos.

  • Big DADT trial begins today, thanks to the Log Cabin Republicans.

  • That damn writing meme going around. It told me it thought "Because Men Once Went West" is written like Stephen King. That would be no.

  • Since I can tell it's going to be that type of morning, and I've other stuff to do: Yes, I've seen the purported Torchwood casting sheet; no, I don't have anything to say about it at this time.
  • Well, about to get on the tube for Heathrow. Am at the hotel where I'd left my bags most of the day and they are blasting random musical theatre in the lobby. So weird.

    Today I saw the Household Cavalry Guards (oh man, uniforms make me hot. I mean, I know this, and then I forget, and then I stumble on something like this and I'm like "oh yeah, I'm a perv), St. James Park, Whitehall, 10 Downing Street (people were just mad to get pictures of it, and I was like "er, so?"), the Centotaph, Duck Island (ducks are fucking evil, but really cool), Buckingham Palace from a distance, Islington and Mayfair. I walked enough that I now understand how everything connections.

    It's raining, so I hope it doesn't mess with my flight too hard.

    ETA: no matter how convoluted my relationship is with fandom and the Mermaid Quay memorial, this really, really upsets me.
    You know all those Torchwood fics I write about Jack involving space ports or other odd austere, fundamentally colonialist environments? I am in the porntastic luxury hotel equivalent right now.

    First off, it's in Bethnal Green, which is a bit the end of the world. Secondly, it's in a building from around 1810, that's been made dark, dreary and austere in a Kubrick-esque sort of way. The staff is Eastern European and both slightly hostile and overly helpful and there are enough weird decor items around that the whole thing feels a bit David Lynch as well.

    The room itself is huge and one wall is all floor to ceiling glass windows that can be opened entirely to let in the air, as everything is covered with a weird, artful, modernist metal grating. The bathroom is completely exposed to the bedroom thanks to the glass wall the separates it (although there's a curtain that can be pulled across for privacy, but it can only be pulled across from the bedroom side, which is sort of sketchy).

    It is soothing and lonely and the sort of place that says "use me in a location shoot for film about a luxury spa secretly run by malevolent aliens."

    Right now, I'm trying to figure out the correct emotional response (although, you have to admit it's arguably the appropriate setting for the aftermath of this whole thing) and whether I should (or even can with the dreaded Sunday tube closures) figure out how to get to Camden Town for a Martin Carthy (dudes, Martin Carthy, I'm out of my mind if I don't go, but motivation feels challenging) gig.

    ETA: There is a rubber ducky in the bathroom named LaLa (it's written on her). Pictures of EVERYTHING later.
    I'm back in the hotel room after the conference. There's an informal next steps meeting tomorrow, but for all intents and purposes this very strange odyssey, which hasn't been a year long, but which I keep describing that way, conflating, or perhaps reasonably dating even before it had conscious intent, my work for this conference to the events of "Day 4" in Torchwood: Children of Earth.

    I don't, yet, necessarily have a lot to say about the conference, but I took copious, though perhaps somewhat incoherent notes, which I'll type up and put here under general lock in the next few days while I can still make sense of my admonishments to myself to relate this or that random phrase to this or that random thing.

    One of the many themes that emerged today was that of exile, which was something we came to from multiple places. This felt personally resonant for me in a way that's hard to articulate without going into a very long and somewhat boring narrative about my 20s but is, trust me, central to my essential melancholy.

    Exile from normativity, from acceptable levels of fascination, from narrative, from desire, from home, from the idea of home -- all of these came up over and over again, and, in a discussion at dinner got related back to the idea of secrets, which aside from the personal resonance, I thought spoke to particular elements of my paper. To condense drastically, it would be fair to say the fictional mourned have secrets and are exiles, and those who so mourn have secrets and are exiles for doing so.

    Among the many remarkable things about the conference was the degree to which for most of it I thought the anxiety that I often see from institutionally affiliated scholars about the seriousness, reception of, or personal involvement in fandom was largely absent. This was refreshing, but somewhat peculiar, although I found it not less aggrieving when those anxieties ultimately did bubble up to the surface at the end of the day.

    I recognize, that in all and any things, being out is a privilege. In regard, particularly, to fandom activities and academics there are a number of issues in play including the sexism of the Academy that must necessarily make women work harder to prove their seriousness and make women more easily judged for and harmed by any and all indications of sexuality or lack there of.

    Having stumbled on my own history and proclivities more than once, I now live a necessarily, sometimes uncomfortably, public life. Nothing is more dangerous to my mind than secrets (except perhaps heights, cobras, certain species of jellyfish, and large dogs), than having something someone could hold over my head, ever and at all. Of course, I have the luxury of making that stand, being without institutional affiliation wherein everything from my grief to my sexual expression to my gender identity would make my words and my intellect suspect.

    Being out -- about anything you feel you need to be closeted about -- can be a hard, miserable thing. It is not always safe or pragmatic. But if we treat our passions, our intellectual fixations, our modes of being as shameful, we are in exile, from our selves, from our kind, from those we speak for, and from our fellow travelers, no matter how different from us they may be.

    If, in the scholarship, we continue to disguise, misrepresent and masque our fannish investment when doing work about or through the lens of fan studies, we are creating work that is suspect because its originating perspective is, often obviously, obscured. This impacts not just the quality of the finished product and its reception (because thanks, I can tell when a paper is produced by an acafan trying to hide that fact and it muddies the work for me), but also impacts the scholarly relationship with fandom which is already damaged and toxic due to a history of bad actors.

    Coming out, in this regard or any other, comes with costs. Always. But in all this talk of exile and secrets today and all this time I have spent with fictional men without faithful friends, consistent lovers, and loyal families, all I can ask is that you think of what truth remains unoffered in your life and offer it. This is, perhaps, the only thing I know how to ask on behalf of the stories I love, but it feels, right now, very important to me that I do so.

    We all have secrets, and we are all in exile, but we do so many so much honor every time we choose to speak and come a little bit closer to home.
    So today was Cardiff.

    Originally, the plan was that I was going to go to Cardiff by myself one day while Patty was at her conference (that is, after all, why we're here, she's delivering a paper on Friday), but then she came home one day and said there was a thing she needed to learn and there were only three places she could do it and she really thought the other two were more likely but the third was -- and you'll never guess where -- Cardiff.

    From that moment on I was pretty sure Cardiff was going to be the lucky winner, and so it's turned out to be the case. My private pilgrimage turned into Patty and I taking the (really quite confusing to purchase a ticket) train together to Cardiff and then each of us walking in a different direction: her towards the university and me towards Mermaid Quay.

    The area you have to walk through to get to the Quay is sort of crap. That's all right though. I spent a lot of time in crap seaside towns as a child (hell, we spent a rainy summer weekend in one last year), and I felt more or less fond of it right off.

    So the plan was, get to Mermaid Quay, ensconce myself in a Starbucks, do work (this is a working trip for me) and then see some stuff before meeting Patty at six.

    You already got my initial This Is So Weird, and in truth, it didn't get a lot less weird. I wound up talking on Google chat with Jill for a while, who was suitably amused by my various forms of flailing (i.e., "I packed poorly and it's cold so I'm wearing my pinstripe suit jacket over jeans and a girly t-shirt and now I feel like an asshole!"), getting crap done, and eventually forcing myself to go down to the memorial thing.

    I felt really self-conscious about it, and in the end, I can pretty safely say this was neither quite fannish embarrassment or genuine grief, but something older in me, a sense of sin for giving a shit about anything no matter what it's about. Even my parents always told me I was a cry-baby, and the people who are kindest to me are those who help me give myself permission to be as acutely permeable as I am.

    There were people down there, too, which sort of sucked. A family with a couple of kids that had come to see the Doctor Who exhibition and other sites for the day. The long-haired father tried to pose heroically in front of the memorial, but only after I heard him remark to a pair of girls sitting on a bench near it that he hadn't watched the third series yet, that it was waiting on DVD at home, and he supposed this meant that Ianto had died. All in all, he seemed a bit sanguine and puzzled about it -- not the memorial, but Ianto, being dead.

    Anyway, I couldn't really bear it for long. It wasn't for me I decided, and after watching the lone swan that kept coming up by the dock and harassing people, I went over to the Millennium Center and the Plass.

    It's really a ridiculous thing. Because it rises up out of nowhere, more or less, and it's massive, imposing architecture that makes no sense adjacent either to the rather minor mall-like stuff at the Quay or to the shit housing along Bute Street. But you can't see it, can't say those words -- in these stones, horizons sing -- and not get a bit of a chill. At least, if you're me.

    And that's not about Torchwood, that's about stories. And texture. And the way words are the bare, miserable edge of narrative.

    I had a button in my coat. One of the original buttons from my Jack coat. I cut them all off when I got it last year, because they were silver in tone, and therefore wrong, and they've been scattered on Patty's desk since. In sweeping up the jewelry she wanted to bring on this trip (Patty enjoys being a girl), she swept up one of the buttons.

    I noticed it yesterday on the desk in our hotel room, and I commented on it. She apologized.

    "No, no," I said, "it's good."

    And it was, because I thought, how can I go to Cardiff and not leave something at that damn tourist office memorial? Except, then when I was there, and I couldn't.

    By the Millennium Center and the metal column with the water that theoretically extends down into the Rift pool is an open hole in the ground of the same shape. It's fenced off, and you look down, and it's full of running water and coins; a wishing well. And that seemed right, so instead of pence or pennies, I threw the button in and won't tell you what I wished for, because those are the rules, and I've some pride besides.

    I felt lighter after that. Things were easier, and I sat on the steps of the Plass and checked my email and watched a little blond-haired boy kick a soccer ball around. He was about seven and was wearing a red and blue striped rugby shirt. And yeah, that was about like you'd expect.

    When I got up to go to the Tesco (I wanted a snack and I wanted to go to the Tesco), he'd made a bad but strong kick, and it had gone way far away from him. He was running towards it (me) but kept pausing and frowning. Oh! I was supposed to kick it to him! So I tried when he finally put his hands on his hips and waited, but it went crazy left and not very far.

    "Sorry," I shouted. "American!" I added with a shrug.

    On the way to the Tesco, I found Patty, who was over an hour early for our rendezvous.

    "You're early," I said.

    "I have been walking over two hours."

    "How? It should be a straight shot."

    "I went around a lake full of swans."

    She sat on a bench while I ran into the Tesco, and when I first skidded into it, I sort of had this moment of paralysis, because yeah, that's it, just right, just like in my head. But then I got chips and soda and ran back out to her just in time to watch a feminine creature of extreme artifice stroll down the street in a black tank top, black booty shorts that said FUCK ME across the ass and platform high-heels with stiletto heels.

    Did I mention it was like 50 degrees today?

    "Oh my," Patty said.

    "Fuck me," I repeated dully.

    "Did you see the shorts?"

    "Yes."

    "I want Welsh Cakes."

    "What?"

    There was a store selling Welsh cakes. I followed Patty in dutifully, assuming this would not be for me, but they had gluten-free ones too, and they were AMAZING. I ran back later to buy a whole bunch and the proprietress told us about a tea shop in Roath with lots of gluten-free stuff, so we'll go when Patty is here in the fall.

    After, Patty somehow led me back down to the Tourist Office memorial thing, and we looked at all the stuff and talked about it.

    "Is the blip in time thing something from the show?"

    "Yeah. From the death scene."

    "The paper cranes are nice."

    "Yeah."

    "He was only a year younger than me."

    "I know."

    "I like this one," she said, and it was just a scrap of paper that said Bye now.

    I took photos of a few items that might get mentioned in my paper, and we watched a couple of fannish queer chicks (was that you? did you have a Cyberman etch-a-sketch?) canoodle in front of the thing, which I still hated (the thing, not the chicks), albeit differently.

    We walked off arm in arm to look at our dinner choices and eventually settled on a pub. After we ate, we walked back towards the city center and around a bit. Ah, here was the rest of Cardiff, and I liked it very much and immediately without conflict or reservation or echo, although I could also (thankfully, in truth) find all those things in it if I concentrated even a little.

    It was good, and then it was time to go home. We had our photo taken in the photo booth in the train station and then I watched a loud, loud girl miss her train to Newport while Patty was in the bathroom.

    I'm writing this on the train now, and there are a few photos on Patty's camera I'll post eventually. I did what I needed to do, and that's what I was here for.

    Patty and I laughed all along our walk as she told me about meeting with the housing office of the University, because compared to New York, the rents are nothing. And yes, she knows not to wire money ahead for an apartment she hasn't even seen. And, really? she bets she can get a lot of Cardiff neighborhood information from the Internet

    "Totally!" I said, "Although it'll all be, 'okay, but Grangetown is where Jack owned that fucked up house that got haunted and then started being all House of Leaves, so you might find that a little creepy.'"

    And she laughed and elbowed me and made another Dead Ianto joke while a big fat hunting cat in a yard filled with litter looked up at the sky and thought extra hard about how to bring down a seagull. We paused to watch him, and he stared at us a long time until another seagull cawed, and he looked up again, dreaming of London.

    May 2016

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