Jules asked me about the things that warm my geekly heart. I love topics like this: how fun, right, to just babble about one’s passions? And there are so many things I could go on at length about! Television alone–I have a regular feature called ‘Telewitterings’ on my blog, just so I can bibble about whatever I’m watching. I also wrote for a time for Favorite Thing Ever (www.favoritethingever.com), which is a site entirely devoted to fannish delights.
Some things I am mad in love with that I didn’t write about in this essay, in no particular order: walking, Sicily, Instagram, mystery novels, the queer choral movement, the city of Austin, Texas, teaching, my cats, the feature articles curated by Longreads, car-sharing, persimmons, opera, Orycon, flowering cherry trees, creme brule, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the books of Connie Willis, and the shiny new mold-free windows that my strata council just installed in my building.
Today’s top five?
5. Quantum Leap
True story: I was writing book and media reviews for the webzine formerly known as Scifi.com when I learned season one of Quantum Leap was newly out on DVD. I fired off a note, immediately, to my editor that read: “I don’t know if you’re staring at the box set of QL and wondering which one of your reviewers is that much of a dork, but I am your guy.”
“I was wondering that,” came the reply, “It’s on its way.”
And so I jumped around the house, making high-pitched bat noises of joy for awhile. Eventually, I got to review all five seasons for the site. I also wrote a QL quiz for Scifi’s Mindprobe trivia game, and did a rewatch of the show in 2010 for Tor.com. By my count, I’ve been paid to watch the show about four times. Which feels, plainly, like getting away with something.
I am ludicrously, almost embarrassingly, devoted to the adventures of Doctor Sam Beckett and Al Calavicci. They haven’t worn well: they’re dated and preachy, but the show has a bulletproof combination of things I like: time travel stories in and of themselves turn my crank, and I’m a history nerd so the journey through the U.S. of the Fifties through Eighties really works for me.
Beyond that, I just find the Bakula so very charming. Especially when he’s in drag.
4. Boutique espresso
I had been managing to hold myself to a single daily latte for years, made by the Murdocco men of the excellent Cafe Calabria on Second Avenue and Commercial Drive in Vancouver.
But this past December I went to Italy, and there I fell into the habit of having stunningly awesome coffee whenever and wherever I pleased, and now I find myself plotting quasi-legitimate reasons why I absolutely *have* to go to Vancouver’s best coffee-making cafes, places with names like 49th Parallel and Wicked and Trilussa and the incredible and always-packed Revolver.
If only Scott Bakula would only open a top-notch coffee shop in my neighborhood, I could give up living in a house and just pay rent. Bug-eyed, jittery, caffeine-addicted rent.
I am absolutely blown away by the miracle that is birds–I friggin’ love them. I will stop dead in mid-walk, when I’m late getting somewhere, to stare at or better yet photograph a bird I’ve already seen and shot thousands of times.
There are birds in almost all of my stories: Sahara’s starlings, in INDIGO SPRINGS and BLUE MAGIC are just the latest manifestation. I live in a terrific city for birding: even in my urban neighborhood, one can see Northern Flickers and Stellar’s Jays and varied thrushes and little colorful finches who leave me breathless with the exuberance of their spring song. Every time I think I’ve heard the best they can do, one of them goes all virtuoso on my ass.
The crows of Vancouver commute: at dawn they fly west to downtown to forage, and at sundown you see streamers of them (the murder here in Vancouver is 20,000 strong) flocking home to their roost between the highways, cawing all the way. They’re shameless and bold. The owner of the above-mentioned Cafe Calabria usually throws yesterday’s bread to them at around seven in the morning. On a warm day, if the door’s open and Baristo Senior is running late, one of the crows will walk right in and give us all an expectant look.
I chase birds with a 24x zoom lens camera that I bought specifically for birding: it is no lie to say I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of herons alone.
What this experience has taught me is that as birders go, I’m a dilettante. I go out to places like Burnaby Lake and Maplewood Flats and I see the serious birders sitting out under plastic camouflage sheets, with cameras whose lenses are as long as my arm and heavier than a German Shepherd, patiently waiting for the right duck to come along. I’m mostly happy to amble along and catch whatever shows up. . . and maybe occasionally rewatch The Life of Birds when the skies here in Vancouver are too rainy and dark to lend themselves to the chase.
There heroine of my next fantasy is a nature photographer and underwater videographer. I’m going to put all that bird-shooting to good story use, and possibly I’ll learn to dive, too.
2. Office supplies, real and virtual
Like a lot of writers, I am something of an office supply fetishist. I can spend an hour comparing the shapes and colors of all the Post-it notes in Staples, handling the pens, and trying to figure out which notebook will have the best vibe (or something) for whatever book I’m writing now. I like to look at all the weird and shiny stuff in office supply and paper stores: the stamp pads and labels and super-magnets and three-ring binders and all the bags and backpacks (that could be a separate category) and pen holders and desktop organizers and things to set your laptop on.
Since the advent of the mobile device, I’ve discovered that I’m equally happy to spend a dippy, ludicrous amount of time in app stores, looking at all the little bits of software that are supposed to make you better, stronger, faster, more efficient, better slept, more regular and probably less pimply, too.
1. Gay Marriage.
I spent my early childhood in a Northern Alberta community that was very Catholic and very conservative, and part of the legacy of that experience is that I came to really value the institution of marriage. So, when my partner Kelly and I got together in 1989, we had a wedding. It was a mosh, held concurrently with a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, thrown together with all of a week of planning. Even so there was a Dress and Rings and Vows and serious talk of commitment beforehand, and when people ask how long we’ve been together, that’s the anniversary we give them.
It rankled, of course, that my marriage wasn’t the real deal as far as the government and a good number of Canadians were concerned. I had conversations with strangers where I’d say ‘my wife’ and they’d wrinkle their noses or brows, in distaste or confusion, and say, “Is that… legal?”
When I was in my twenties and thirties I had no doubt at all that gay marriage would *never* come to pass within my lifetime. It just didn’t seem possible that we could come so far, as a society, from where we were in the Eighties. And then, suddenly it was 2001 or 2002, and I thought: well, maybe before we’re dead, anyway. Not long before we’re dead, but still… And maybe six months after that it was: “Holy fuck. It’s gonna happen. Make a plan!”
Because I hadn’t held out much hope and because I don’t follow the news closely, that change seemed to come overnight. One day it was “Never gonna happen…” and the next–or so it seemed–I was saying, “You know, your whole family will be in town in mid-August. If it happens by then, we could do it that weekend.”
So six weeks after the law changed here in B.C. in 2003, the two of us got hitched again, with about twenty family members and friends in attendance, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most momentous and emotionally moving experiences of my entire life.
News, fiction, articles: http://alyxdellamonica.com
You may know Alyx Dellamonica already from her fabulous “Buffy Rewatch” series on Tor.com, but here are some more fun facts:
Alyx lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she sings in a community choir and takes thousands of digital photographs. In 2003, soon after finishing her first novel, Indigo Springs, the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled in favor of legalized same-sex marriage. A month later, she achieved a lifelong dream by marrying her long-term partner, writer and wine critic Kelly Robson, at one of their favorite places, the UBC Botanical Gardens.
About Blue Magic
This powerful sequel starts in the small town in Oregon where Astrid Lethewood discovered an underground river of blue liquid—Vitagua—that is pure magic. Everything it touches is changed. The secret is out—and the world will never be the same. Astrid’s best friend, Sahara, has been corrupted by the blue magic, and now leads a cult that seeks to rule the world. Astrid, on the other hand, tries to heal the world.
Conflicting ambitions, star-crossed lovers, and those who fear and hate magic combine in a terrible conflagration, pitting friend against friend, magic against magic, and the power of nations against a small band of zealots, with the fate of the world at stake. Blue Magic is a powerful story of private lives changed by earthshaking events that will ensnare readers in its poignant tale of a world touched by magic and plagued by its consequences.
Don’t forget: Alyx Dellamonica (@AlyxDellamonia) will be joining me on the Geeky Pleasures Radio Show at The Look 24/7 (@TheLook247) on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 7 pm PT/ 10 pm ET/ 3 am (Saturday) GMT, to discuss her latest novel, Blue Magic, LGBT stuff, and more.