Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

10 Sep 2010, 23:07 p.m.

On The Other Side Of The (Snow)Globe, Upside-Down And Shaken

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2010 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I was so young when I went there that I only remember this because of a photo. It's me sitting in a "tub" with solid clear plastic bubbles, next to a static Ernie and the rubber duck. The theme park people sold us the photo as a big plastic-and-metal button someone could clasp to their clothing, not that I've ever quite understood who would do that, or why.

Close-enough-to-thirty years later, Sunday night, after the Hugos, after hanging out with James and Jed, in a room party full of Perthians, I met someone who'd lived fifteen young years in some corner of Pennsylvania. "Did you ever go to Sesame World?" he asked.

Sitting on a red-carpeted step in a hotel suite's unsafely narrow staircase, I said no. Sesame World? Sounded made-up. Then he described it and my jaw dropped with recognition. I could see the button, a memory that had lain dormant for decades. And I could see my interlocutor's utter pleasure at watching my recollection emerge and unfold, my disorientation, my wonder.

I wonder if anyone will be asking me, when I'm sixty, whether I ever visited Melbourne, Australia, whether I ever saw a particular piece of black-dripping-cityscape-silhouette graffiti that reminded me of World of Goo, or ate at the Green Tambourine in Brunswick, or knew Avi at Of Science and Swords in that Elizabeth Street arcade. My crinkled eyes might crinkle again as I sifted through those years and mentioned that sunny, sprinkly Friday when I walked from Parliament, calling my mom and sister along the way, and ended up spending hours at the glass-walled scifi bookshop, talking about comedy and alphabetizing shelves.

It's been so long since I worked at Cody's Books that when I saw something out-of-order, I reflexively mistrusted myself, and had to flash through that bit of alphabet to reassure myself that yes, D does come before K, and M before S, McCaffrey before Modesitt, Stephenson before Stross.

Last night, I went to the Wesley Anne in Northcote with Steph, Danni, Em, Jo, Emilly, and Neil. We saw Justin Carter (fine) and the Rosie Burgess Trio. Singer and guitarist Rosie Burgess is self-contained and perfect, a woman whose essence I wish we could copy and send into space to let aliens know what humanity aspires to be. Drummer Sam Lohs deploys so many instruments masterfully, including her born comedian's face and wit. And Sophie Kinston, on electric violin: she did a solo at the end of "Skin and Bones" that left me gasping. I think I understand music now.

Oh God, please help me remember this. Help me remember being transformed.


Kevin Mark
11 Sep 2010, 12:16 p.m.

I was reading, via google reader, this entry and enjoying your description of the events around the convention and was not quite sure about the last paragraph and went to the blog to comment on that and then I saw the tag as 'religion' and was totally confused. Can you provide some enlightenment about the tag.

11 Sep 2010, 21:12 p.m.

I mention God, ergo, religion.

12 Sep 2010, 1:00 a.m.

I don't know if we do remember all those moments that transform us, but at least we get transformed.

Thomas Thurman
12 Sep 2010, 12:21 p.m.

This was a beautiful entry; it reminded me rather of Single-Bit Error.