Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2012 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 So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it!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'm not at WisCon, for the first Memorial Day weekend in several years, because I knew I would not be able to enjoy it. Scifi conventions and work meetups use similar energies, for me, and I'm less than a week away from the yearly Wikimedia Berlin hackathon. We've been planning it for months now. "Berlin" in my brain feels inextricably linked from this event, such that seeing Cabaret for the first time several weeks ago required a little reset.
Instead this weekend I hosted a pal whom I met at WisCon a few years ago. No panels, no speeches, but vegan food and talk of scifi and relationships -- a minuscule methadone. We walked from Astoria to the charming Louis Armstrong House Museum, on the ultra-residential 107th Street in Queens. The curators tell good stories, and the kitchen is amazing.
On the way we passed through Jackson Heights, the South Asian neighborhood in Queens. It's strange to walk through a Little India; I'm used to being the only woman or the only non-white person in a room, but it always feels acutely vertiginous to walk through a crowd of people whose skins and faces look like mine, yet feel alien. My hair and clothes and demeanor signal I'm not one of you; I am doubly alone, an American in India in America, my syncopated apartness echoing past both my ears and behind me.
Today there's a street fair in Astoria. Beth, Leonard and I discussed: if we had booths at the fair, what would they be? Beth would show her art. Leonard would teach people board games. I would help people learn to edit Wikipedia.