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Tiny acorn

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It all started with a crush.

A pair of them, really.

Though I wouldn't have called them that at the time.

In eighth grade, the most charismatic and interesting kids I knew were actors. I didn't know them well, but I admired them from afar. There were two in particular: a boy and a girl, who seemed to me to be more or less the king and queen of the school's theatre. I had crushes on both of them, though I didn't realize until years later that it wasn't only the girl who I found attractive.

And so in ninth grade, at a new school, I wanted to get involved in theatre. But I knew acting was not for me. And so I signed up for the elective stage tech class.

Which turned out to be exactly my cup of tea, and I took stage tech all four years of high school, and went to the Soviet Union because of it. But that's another story.

The story I'm here to tell is that when I signed up again in tenth grade, there were these two guys in the stage tech class, David VS and David H, and I hit it off with them, and they introduced me to their social group, known as I-Club.

And almost everything in my current life sprang out of that:

  • I followed David VS to Swarthmore, so that's how I met all the Swarthmore people.
  • Arthur E was in I-Club. After college, we became housemates and close friends, and he suggested that I try technical writing, which is how I ended up in my current career. Arthur also helped me specifically to get my current job, in a slightly roundabout way.
  • Andrea E was in I-Club, and she introduced me to Sarah L, who years later introduced me to Kam (and the first time Kam and I met was indirectly via Arthur).
  • A confluence of many factors led me and Mary Anne to get together, but it probably wouldn't have happened without Arthur, Alex (who I met at Swarthmore), Kam, and Thida (who I met via Dominus, who I met while I was at Swarthmore—via Ranjit, who doesn't tie into this tapestry but whom I probably wouldn't have gotten back in touch with if we hadn't both been in the Philly area).
  • I met bunches of folks (including Beth O and Twig and Stephanie) through Kam.
  • I had been interested in reading and writing science fiction all my life, so some things in that area might have turned out similarly without I-Club (who were not, by and large, big sf fans). For example, I probably would've attended Clarion sooner or later. But I would certainly not have become a Strange Horizons editor if not for Mary Anne. And I probably wouldn't have gone to WisCon or Potlatch, and I wouldn't have been in various writing workshops, and I thus most likely wouldn't know most of my friends in the sf world.
  • If not for the Swarthmore friends scattered all around the country, I probably wouldn't have embarked on my wanderjahr, probably wouldn't have posted my father's name on the web, and thus probably wouldn't have ever met Gabrielle.

I'm making it all sound kind of simple and linear, and it's not. There were lots of complicated factors that went into all of these things. There was no single Jonbar Hinge from which all else follows; it was a web of interconnected influences and subtle pulls. A tapestry, not a string.

And I do still know people who I knew before eighth grade: family and a couple of friends.

And it's entirely possible that the webs are interconnected enough that some of the things I've done and people I've met were fairly inevitable, regardless of what path I was on.

Still, it seems likely that if I hadn't had those theatre crushes in eighth grade, my life would be very different now.

2 Comments

It's odd that you didn't feel much of a sci-fi influence in I-Club. Most of my I-Club friends were (and are, AFAIK) very much into sci-fi and fantasy. But it was a pretty big group.


I meant to post this before.

My life was made radically different by agreeing to be paid $5 at the age of 11 to participate in a psychology study. (Oh, the hazards of being the daughter of a developmental psychologist!) I was paid to meet an unfamiliar 11 year old girl, who ended up being being my best friend for years. Had it not been for meeting her, I wouldn't have gone to the high school I went to (which was an immense influence on me).

On the one hand, all kinds of decisions (both my own and others') have had repercussions on my life. On the other hand, that particular happening feels like it was a particular turning point; that it made more difference to my life than many other events.


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