No mood score for the last couple of days; been feeling just kind of meh and low on motivation. I blame poor sleep, the continuing terrible news from Missouri, and Sam knocking over a glass of grape juice onto me, my bed, my laptop, some books, etc. The bed and laptop are fine, though the keyboard action is a bit sticky now. The books are probably toast. :( But they're replaceable, not rare or signed or sentimentally valuable or anything like that.
In good kitty news, I weighed Sam by the time-honored method of stepping onto the scale* both holding her and not holding her, and she's gained two pounds since we started feeding her kibble in a more secluded and protected part of the house. Hooray! In less good kitty news, the vet called and left us a message today saying that the post-antibiotics urine test turned up some evidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so I have to call back tomorrow and find out what we do about that. I really don't want to give Sam more antibiotics that upset her stomach and make her all lethargic. She seems totally fine right now, energetic and happy and with a very hearty appetite, so I hope the infection is minor enough that we can trust her immune system to fight it off.* Scale bought for this purpose. ( It's weird owning one. (Cut for very brief talk of people-weighing; no numbers.) ) I have shoved it into an obscure place behind some boxes and plan to ignore it until we actively need it, same as any other tool.
My physio prescribed daily short walks up and down a hill, so now I have to leave the house every day. This is a very good thing. Between working from home and cooking dinner at home, it was getting to the point where I could go two or three days without going outside. I should not be worrying about SAD in August! And being that sedentary really isn't good for me (or anyone). Conveniently we have a nice little gently hilly park right nearby, so I plan to take lunch-break walks there.
Working from home has let me get a little too sloppy with my workday schedule, so here's my attempt to get back on track.( Work-from-home schedule )( Work-from-work schedule )( Weekend schedule )
I'm going to go set up a bunch of alarms and see whether I pay more attention to them than I do to my current alarms. *shifty eyes*
One last Ferguson link: karnythia
are planning a trip down there from Chicago to provide supplies and offer help to the town's residents. If you have some spare change, please send it their way; if you don't, please signal-boost the link.
I know them personally and absolutely vouch for their integrity and follow-through.
Here is a list of donation opportunities in Ferguson MO, various online petitions, and info on protest marches in several locations.
pointed out on Twitter, the situation on the ground is complex. Different people involved want different things, and it seems pretty clear that a handful of people (maybe from outside the community) are leading violent actions that many of the residents are strongly opposed to. But the police are very definitely overstepping in a way that's guaranteed to provoke people: setting arbitrary curfews and violently enforcing them, sending tear gas and rubber bullets and aiming LRADs into crowds full of civilians (including children), arresting and threatening journalists, and lying and obfuscating at every opportunity. A residential neighborhood is being coated with tear gas residue that will be very difficult and expensive to clean up. The start of school was delayed, which means children went hungry without access to free meals at school. A food pantry was looted. A lot of the major media coverage has been sanitized and skewed. These are unambiguous problems and there are things we can do to try to fix them.
If you can donate funds or goods (keeping in mind that funds are almost always better, especially when delivery trucks may have a hard time getting into the area), please do. If you can sign and signal-boost petitions, please do. If you can join protests, please do. If you can write to your favorite news sources and ask them to include more citizen journalism in their news reports so that you're not just getting the official line, please do. And if you can get to know the people in your town or neighborhood and collaborate with them to bridge racial divides and fight racist and militarized policing, please especially do that. Otherwise the next Ferguson could be in my back yard, or yours.Here's that link again.
Comments are very definitely off, but feel free to share the link to this post.
Five points of hysterical laughter: achieved! with the coinage of "squam", tinned meat for giant squids. Also known as submarines.
I love family Saturdays. I slept in a lot (after sleeping very poorly), and when I got up, X and J came in to hang out in my room while we sorted out what we wanted to do with the day.
J: Do you want to take the first shower?
J: Hm, neither do I.
X: Okay, Rochambeau! One, two--
R: I win!
J and R simultaneously: You get to take the first shower!
R: Nice try.
J and I planned and shopped and cooked, turning a whole bunch of leftover chicken bones (from a ten-pound pack of chicken thighs that were supposed to be boneless and, uh, weren't) and the carcass of a roast chicken into glorious soup stock. We roasted the bones at 350F for about an hour, browned some mirepoix, threw in fresh thyme and fresh oregano and freeze-dried cilantro and two bay leaves and a corn cob, added a lot of water and a box of low-sodium broth for extra flavor, and simmered it down for nine full hours.
X logged and shelved a great many books, clearing off the shelve-me cart and the dining table. J and I culled some cookbooks to make room for more cookbooks, that being the cookbook cycle of life.
The stock wasn't ready in time for dinner, so we nuked up some insta-rice and homemade frozen meatballs, tossed in butter and a bit of sauteed spinach, and called it a food. I had a slice of banana cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert, which was pretty excellent. After that there was lots of good family snuggling and smooching and so forth.
R: Who wants to be in the middle?
J: I do!
X: I do!
*slightly awkward pause*
*slightly hilarious pause as we all realize the obvious solution*
X: Oh okay FINE. One, two--
X: I win! I knew you were going to play rock because Rose played scissors earlier.
R: You know, this is exactly what people think polyamory is like.
After everyone else went to sleep, I wrote a 1000-word piece on knitting innovation for #24CC
, the spiritual successor to #24MAG
. I miss the intensity of #24MAG
but it's nice to be able to do #24CC from home. And look, I did a creative thing instead of just being what SpaceCraftETK
calls "a creativity-doula"
I watched some of the livestream from Ferguson and wrote some angry tweets about the long-term effects of tear gas residue on poor residential communities. (One of those tweets is at 120 RTs and counting. O.O Didn't expect that.) When I hit my limit, I closed the livestream tab and let my rage cool down.
Around 03:15 I realized the stock was probably done and decanted it. There's about a quart and a half, and it's intense
; we were planning to make chicken soup with it but I could happily just drink it on its own. I did the dishes and took the trash out (it was full of delicious-smelling chicken bones and I didn't want Alex to attack the trash can) and now I'm relaxing and just feeling good.
hysterical laughter + hot sex + spontaneous creativity + joking around + household productivity = +15. No negatives at all today--I haven't even felt dizzy. My boobs are still sore, but if PMS is affecting my mood at all, I really can't tell.
It was a very very very good day.
- thinking about:
behavior.polyamory, body.reproductive system, body.sex, experiences.joy, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.soup, food.cooking.soup.chicken soup, mind.feelings.anger, mind.feelings.joy, people.family, people.josh, people.xtina, words.editing, words.editing.venues.24mag, words.writing
Yesterday: work and more work, as is typical for Thursdays. Home before midnight, which was nice. No therping as therp is still on vacation. Got caught up playing a video game but managed to get to bed by 5.
work productivity + compulsive gaming = -3
Today: slept a whole lot, then worked very little, as is (unfortunately) typical for Fridays. Was intermittently a bit anxious and cranky and dizzy, but I took some taurine and shook it off for a nice date out with X including a good long walk from SoHo down through Little Italy and Chinatown (with a detour for pork buns) to Fulton Street. My leg felt only very slightly knee-twingy post-walk and it's fine now, which is excellent. Pulled myself out of compulsive stuff twice before they ate my face: once work things that were annoying me, once tidying when X was waiting for me. Post-date I got another wave of anx but without the crankiness this time. Suspect I needed to eat more, at more appropriate times, than I did. That said, I carefully avoided sugar and chocolate during my cranky and anxious times, and I think that was a very good idea and I should keep doing it.
When I hugged X goodnight, I felt it in a way that I haven't felt hugs in ages. I didn't even realize I missed that. I just felt more there
, more able to experience the sensation of a hug. For a moment I was totally present, just being there for that hug and nothing else. I think it showed, because they came out of their room a bit later to ask me something and then gave me another lingering hug just because. It felt really good.
long walk + spontaneous pork buns + joking around + two waves of anxiety + one wave of angry/grouchy + two partial instances of compulsive behavior = +1
I've had various parts of Janelle Monáe's ArchAndroid
album stuck in my head for days. I keep thinking of Ferguson. Such a pity that the city's just a danger zone.
We decided to take Alex off Prozac--going off antidepressants is the trendy in thing these days!--and he's actually more friendly and snuggly without it. Last night while I was doing my leg exercises, I was petting Sam with my right hand and Alex with my left, and they were both purring up a storm.
PMS appears to now be a two weeks on/two weeks off thing for me, which is very annoying. My boobs are starting to get sore and swollen again, so I guess it's time for the two weeks on. (That might also have been affecting the crankiness today.)
I just finished day six of Headspace's ten-day introductory set of guided meditations. Not yet sure whether I'll upgrade to the paid version. I wish the site gave more information about the content of the sessions behind the paywall.
I think my tinnitus increases and decreases in tune with my anxiety. Hard to be sure, though.
I've bitten down all my fingernails again. ( Sex TMI )
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.meditation, body.ears, body.exercise, body.hands, body.legs, body.relaxation, body.reproductive system, body.sex, body.sleep, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.work, mind.dreamtime, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.ocd, people.cats
Monday's PT for my intermittently sore knee appears to have annoyed my quad tendon. My leg tendons are so tight that it's very easy to annoy them. Fortunately I know lots about treating unhappy tendons, so I just did my ten-minute Headspace meditation with a big ice pack on the sore spot, and I've been doing gentle stretches all day, and I'll take Celebrex before I go to bed, and I'll keep doing stretches and focused exercises on the nearby muscles and by next week it should be fine.
Ironically, the knee itself is doing fine, but walking hurts in new and interesting ways. That didn't stop me from going to PT today (where the physio was very apologetic about the ouching and gave my leg a splendid deep massage), getting some work done, going out again to run errands (including hauling around ten pounds of kibble and two vials of cat pee*), directing and spearheading the transformation of various ingredients into two trays of turkey meatballs and three servings of dinner, and organizing the hell out of our bathroom supplies. Finally X lovingly chivvied me into my room, where I promptly fell into a chair and decided that would be a good place to stay for a while. I had one (1) slice of cake and some watermelon and a few potato chips, and that fueled me through the rest of the editing I need to do before bed.
* Sam is all done with the antibiotics for her UTI, so we're doing a post-meds test to confirm that the infection is really truly gone. Getting her pee to the vet is much, much easier than getting her to the vet. Much. And the pet food store is conveniently around the corner from the vet's office.
I was not expecting that going off the Zoloft would make me more productive--not in the compulsive uncomfortable way but in the butt-in-chair way--but I'm definitely finding it easier to make myself stop faffing around and get work done. A couple of weeks ago I would have left the editing for tomorrow (and then gotten stressed out by having too much work all piled up at once). I suppose motivation and anxiety have a lot in common.
On the other hand, I'm a bit more forgetful and less focused. This is the second night in a row of forgetting to call the vertigo reporting line before midnight, and I let my phone die and then forgot to plug it in.
I'm also quite dizzy but I think it's mostly from being tired, or at least exacerbated by being tired. I only got 5.5 hours of sleep, which I blame on having too much chocolate and watching an exciting movie too close to bedtime. (I was up until 6:30. Oof.) I've held off taking taurine for the dizziness because I didn't want the taurine to damp down what little energy I had left, and it's not stopping me from doing anything. The top of my head just feels kind of loosely attached. Compared to the Ménière's vertigo, it's barely worth mentioning.
Hooray for no mood crashes. I was a little cranky but no more than I'd expect given undersleep and pain and a lot to do, and I haven't been teary or anxious. Everything going on in Missouri is horrible, and I feel compelled to bear witness and help the news get out, but I have been looking at Twitter as much as I can stand to and then turning it off when it gets to be too much, and so far it hasn't crushed me.
Today's mood score: work productivity + kitchen productivity + compulsive bustling = -2. I'm not counting making dinner, which was really easy, but the meatballs were an actual accomplishment and a task that I would have put off if I'd been in a lousier mood.
And now I sleep ALL the sleeps.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, body.legs, body.pain, body.sleep, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.housework, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, mind.wiring.ocd, people.cats
I got to use my baking station! Now there's a chocolate chip banana cake
cooling on the windowsill (literally--it's lovely and rainy and cool out, so there's a nice breeze coming in, and I couldn't resist the cliché) and the dishwasher is humming and I'm happy
I'd forgotten what it's like to be happy like this. Happy all the way down to the very center of me, and all the way out through my fingers and toes. Not manic, not jittery, not bustling, just sitting here listening to rain and feeling the rainy breeze and smelling banana cake and happy.
I'm sure it helps a lot that I slept a solid 8.5 hours last night. I took two taurine and did ten minutes of Headspace
meditation (thanks to australian_joe
for the pointer) before bed, and closed the curtains instead of leaving them open several inches so the cats can get to the windowsill. Clearly I should do all those things again tonight. Sleep makes everything better. But going off mood-levelers is redefining
"better" and I am so, so, so glad to be doing it.
Other good things today: a great date with J (brief walk before the drizzle turned into pouring rain, cooking with zero reference to recipes, snuggles, excellent conversating, planning for future good things), a little bit of giggly time with X, getting work done even though I didn't really want to, sorting out a freelance gig for the next four weeks, Alex and Sam peacefully sharing the windowsill
. I also got a bit of sad news, but it wasn't entirely unexpected and I took it well.
Now I'm watching Toys
because it's the best way I can think of to remember Robin Williams. Still such a strange, great jumble of a movie. The casting is probably singlehandedly responsible for shortening several hundred Kevin Bacon chains--really, LL Cool J and Robin Wright and Joan Cusack all in one place? The soundtrack is Hans Zimmer and Trevor Horn with guest appearances by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Tori Amos, and Enya. The visuals are a mix of dollhouse surrealism and just plain surrealist surrealism (I really should be watching it on the big TV for the full effect). The plot hasn't aged well; the notion of turning toy planes into weapons, steered by people whose hand-eye coordination and lack of empathy were trained in childhood by video games, is obviously no longer anything like novel, though it really wasn't shocking even in 1992. (The nods to Ender's Game
are... unsubtle.) But the importance of taking joy seriously is timeless, and there was no better champion of that than Robin Williams. Highly recommended to fans of unique, ambitious, peculiar cinematic experiences.
Today's score: snuggles with J + improvisational cooking + spontaneous banana cake* + spontaneous movie + joking around with X = 15. A very very good day.* Three-word band name!
EDIT: 5 a.m. and I'm still up and my heart is pounding because I had two pieces of chocolate chip cake. Oops. But I don't feel anxious; I'm just a bit caffeinated. I'll do my leg exercises and meditation and take some taurine, and that should bring me down enough for sleep.
- thinking about:
experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.joy, experiences.movies, food, food.baking, food.baking.bread, food.baking.bread.banana bread, food.baking.cake, food.baking.cake.banana cake, mind.feelings.joy
I went to my doctor today, or rather to my covering doctor. She says a little dizziness and some mood swings are not uncommon when coming off SSRIs. ( Her advice )
This all sounds a bit dire but it's mostly protecting against worst-case scenarios. Hopefully the trend will be positive and all will be well.
Numerical data will help a lot with getting an accurate portrayal of the situation, and should ideally be reassuring when we start to doom-think. (And now I want one of those "N days since our last industrial accident" signs.) She suggested a scale from 1 to 10 but those things never make sense to me, and it's hard to give a single score to a day that might include both very positive things and very negative things. I was thinking more of a point system, where higher numbers indicate more calm and happiness and lower numbers indicate more anxiety and distress:
* Laughing until I can't breathe: +5 points
* Good happy satisfying physical activity: +4 points
* Spontaneous or improvised self-care, self-indulgence, or fun: +3 points
* Joking around: +2 points
* Work-related productivity: +1 point
* Anxiety-related gut-twinge or rapid heartbeat: -1 point
* Unexpectedly teary-eyed or angry: -2 points
* Tossing and turning when trying to sleep: -3 points
* Compulsive bustling or other agitated behavior: -4 points
* Panic attack or uncontrollable sobbing: -5 points
Today: pedicure + joking around once + productive + teary-eyed once + tossing and turning = +1. That's pretty good, and certainly better than yesterday! I did have a bit of rapid heartbeat but it was clearly linked to excessive chocolate consumption, so I'm not counting it.
I'm exhausted--in addition to the doctor's appointment I had physical therapy for my knees and I got a ton of work done--so time to try this sleep thing. Hopefully I will actually sleep, which I didn't really manage last night.
Just finished my second week at 6.25 mg/day of Zoloft instead of the 12.5 mg/day I've been on for a year and a half.
The mood swings are UNREAL. I had sobbing meltdowns last night and tonight, of the "well, I might as well go to bed, since I'm apparently not going to stop crying and I keep repeating myself and nothing makes me feel any better" variety. That was awful. :( X and J have been total champs, but they're getting pretty burned out and I don't blame them at all. I'm pretty burned out too.
I'm also getting occasional dizziness, which is a whole lot of no fun since I keep thinking it's the vertigo coming back. But when I take taurine the dizziness goes away. It's like a panic attack without the panic. Very weird. (I'm tagging this experiences.vertigo even though it isn't, to aid future-me in researching my medical history.)
When I sleep, I wake up every few hours, but I can usually get back to sleep fairly quickly. I remember similar things from ramping up the Zoloft, and it sorted itself out within a week or two, so I'm fairly confident that that side effect, at least, won't linger for long.
At least I'm not getting the dreaded brain zaps.
Tomorrow I start two weeks of alternating meds/no meds, since I can't really cut the quarter-tablets any smaller. (I was pleased that I was even able to cut the tiny little 25 mg tablets into quarters.) I'm a little worried that that will make things worse, but mostly I just want to get fully off these meds so my neurochemistry can stop freaking out. I sure am glad I didn't try to stop cold turkey, though. Sometimes ripping the bandage off is appropriate, and sometimes it really really isn't.
My therapist is on vacation, but I've emailed him. Tomorrow I'll call my primary care doctor. Dr. Lavine, the marvelous doctor who's been my primary care doctor for several years and was the prescribing physician for the Zoloft, just moved out of town *sob* and I don't really know her replacement very well yet, but better to have the support of a doctor I don't know--and one who has access to Dr. Lavine's notes and the rest of my medical history--than no MD support at all. I might also get in touch with X's awesome awesome psychiatrist and see whether he's got time for a consultation.
In the meantime, I would welcome advice on non-pharmaceutical ways to cope with and mitigate the mood swings. Stuff I'm already doing: taking a gram of taurine when I feel dizzy or anxious (which right now means three to four times a day), doing my best to sleep enough and at regular hours, doing my best to eat enough and at regular hours.
I kind of fell out of the habit of keeping a media log, but I wanted to note this one down. On a random Twitter recommendation, I watched The Brothers Bloom
tonight, and really liked the first 75% of it or so. Then it went completely off the rails from my perspective--because I kept trying to see Penelope as a real person, and the movie kept trying to make her a symbol and an object.
I am so tired of this.( SPOILERS etc. )
The person who recommended it saw it as "a straightforward existentialist narrative"
. (We had a whole long conversation about it here
.) So if you like that sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like, I guess. I just found it profoundly frustrating, a word I use way too often to describe movies and books. It's so tiresome. Why can't people write stories that are interesting and complicated and have female characters who deserve to be happy and realize their dreams and shape their lives?
The worst part is that the writer created a really splendid and amazing character in Penelope. She's smart, she's funny, she's interesting, she has a powerful personal philosophy and moral code, she has a wealth of talents. But once he'd written her, he had no idea what to do with her
other than objectify her. A criminal waste.
Bah. Bah, I say.
On the bright side, this bit of TBB/The Avengers crossover fic
, which hinges on Mark Ruffalo coincidentally playing characters in both films, fixes the ending of TBB
in a pretty fantastic (if cracktastic) way. Superhero Penelope! Yes!
Unlike many mental illnesses, OCD has actual advantages, at least in the way it manifests for me. One of them is that its itches can be scratched, and when they are, it feels really good
. There's something so satisfying about getting that painting hung perfectly straight, or sweeping up every last crumb on the floor, or being confident that I have caught every single typo in a document. It's not just relief from the pressure of wrongness that demands correction, but active pleasure.
The other night I had a dream about starting work at a biotech company. As I was being introduced and saying a few things about myself, some of the men on the team started talking over me like I wasn't even there. I got outraged and told them off. At some point during the ensuing discussion, the dream began to degrade into little colored blobs. I've been playing a marble-matching game
a lot lately, and the blobs looked a bit like the marbles, but instead of being in a long string they piled up in heaps. They were very untidy, so I got a Dustbuster and vacuumed them all up. When I was done, I woke up feeling really good.
This morning I awoke mid-dream; I don't remember what I was dreaming about, but I had that nasty unfinished feeling that can hang over me for hours or send me into a lengthy spiral of dozing and trying to finish the dream and dreaming about something else instead. So I closed my eyes and imagined the dream falling into pieces. I guess this dream had a different structure from the other one, because some pieces were colored blobs but others were long and spiky. When it had fallen apart completely, I got the mental Dustbuster and vacuumed all the pieces up until my dreamscape was clean and white and empty. Then I opened my eyes and felt calm and refreshed, ready to get up.
I am going to try very hard to remember this and apply it as needed. Hooray for OCD making it so satisfying to tidy my brain.
Now I'm pondering whether I can use it on the other end of the day, to somehow "tidy" my evenings so that I feel like the day is properly done and I can go to bed with that same calm, ready feeling. I wonder what that would entail.
New haircut! I love love love it.
And the photo's not bad by bathroom mirror selfie standards.
At some point I should go around my various accounts and replace my old headshot with one that's a bit more current. I wear my contacts all the time now--I switched back to them in the spring when I thought my outdated eyeglass prescription might be contributing to the vertigo--and I'm definitely a fan of the buzzed on sides/longer on top hairstyle. I've had it for a few months and expect to stick with it for a while.
And now to sleep, even though my freshly buzzed hair rustles and crackles oddly on the pillow.
Now that X is going to bed earlier in the evening, I find myself with a whole lot of free time. Hours on end. I have no idea what to do with free time. I end up just refreshing Twitter and LJ and DW (but I'm only reading limited lists so new things don't come up that often), and desultorily playing S&P2 (I'm pretty bored of it at this point and may just give up), and doing WaniKani lessons and reviews (but they space them out every few hours). Sometimes I snack--ooh, exciting! Sometimes I play games on my phone, because they're there and easy. Sometimes I do chores or tidy, because that is a responsible use of my time.
I can reel off a list of other options: knit, cross-stitch, read, watch TV or movies, listen to music, organize and log books, bake cookies, work, write, call a friend who's in an appropriate time zone. But nothing grabs me.
Basically, I'm bored. And I don't know quite how to un-bore myself.
All the options sound difficult, somehow. Effortful. I'm not sure whether that's because I'm tired or because it's generally hard for me to motivate myself without some external prompt like a deadline or an interaction or a commitment.
Easy, Incorrect Answer
Maybe the best way to deal with the "because I'm tired" possibility is to take the fidgety page-refreshing as my cue to go to bed. If I do that often enough, I'll catch up on sleep and be more awake in the evenings, and then maybe getting out my knitting and picking a movie to watch while I knit won't sound like a dreadfully large amount of work.
I don't think it's just tiredness, though. I feel like there's something blocking me from doing those things in the evenings, something that makes them look more difficult than they are, or actually makes them more difficult than they should be.
*pokes at it* *frowns* *pokes some more*
It feels something like anxiety, maybe. My anxiety is very good at coming up with Very Good Reasons why I can't do something. I can't bake cookies because it might wake up X (whose room faces the kitchen). I can't start reading because I will choose reading over sleep every time, no matter how tired I am, and that means I won't sleep enough. I can't watch a movie and knit because it takes time to pick something out and just as I settle in to watch it, it'll be bedtime. Etc. etc. All these reasons, which sound very reasonable at first and then can be easily undermined with about two seconds of thought. X sleeps through me putting away dishes; baking won't wake them. I can read short stories and have easy stopping points when bedtime nears. I can pick out a movie in advance, or listen to music instead; I have many happy memories of evenings spent cross-stitching while listening to Casey Kasem count down the top 40, back when radios had antennae and dials, and I'm sure knitting to music would work just as well.
And yep, as soon as I start to argue with the Very Good Reasons, I start feeling the actual frantic anxiety, and the Very Good Reasons are replaced by unspecified Potential Terrible Consequences! Good job, brain. Once again I am scared of fun.
Okay, that's not entirely fair. It's more accurate to say that unstructured time provokes intense anxiety in me, and picking out a thing to do in that time--a thing that's just for myself, not a response to something external--is an overt way of admitting the time is unstructured that brings the anxiety to the fore.
Also, once I commit to doing something for myself, I'm no longer available to do things for other people. I'm reminded of the day in 1999 or so when a friend came over and suggested I impulsively take a weekend trip with him to visit another friend. "I can't go," I said. "My [long-distance] boyfriend might call." My friend stared at me and said, "You have a mobile phone. You could bring it with you. Do you even have plans to talk with him?" "Well... no... but he might call." After a few more exchanges like this, he basically instructed me to pack a bag and get in his car. We went off to visit our other friend* and had a great weekend but I cannot begin to describe how terrifying that was. This is sort of like that, on a smaller scale.
* Who, in a hilarious twist of fate, is now partnered with my at-the-time boyfriend.
Rational-brain says that when everyone is asleep I get to do whatever the hell I want as long as I don't wake anyone up, especially since the things I'd be doing are all very interruptible in case of an emergency. I expect that X and J would entirely concur with rational-brain on this.
Anxiety-brain claims that if I were interrupted, I'd resent it, and then I'd be putting myself above other people, and then they'd be upset with me for doing that, and then I'd resent not feeling like I get to come first sometimes, and maybe that would trigger a whole bunch of long-harbored resentment, and off we go sliding down the thought-spiral into doomland. This is old, old baggage that has almost nothing to do with my current life; among other things, I don't actually have any long-harbored hidden resentment, and I frequently get to put myself first in my life without any pushback from other people. I get pushback from me, but I'm working on that.
Restatement of Problem
Unstructured time always freaks me out. Overtly doing things for myself often freaks me out. When I'm confronted with unstructured time that I want to spend doing things for myself, I freak out a lot.
Easy, Mostly Correct Answer
Put the time on my calendar as "my date with me" and let J and X know about it. Their acceptance/approval will ease my anxiety about taking time for myself. Then do a little advance prep, the way I do with my dates with X and J: around mid-afternoon, ask "What do I want to do tonight?". If it's a movie-and-knitting night, pick a movie and put it at the top of my Netflix queue. If it's a book-and-bath night, pick a book, put it on my phone, and make sure we're stocked up on oatmeal bath stuff. If I'm not sure what I'll be up for or interested in, at least narrow it down to two or three options that can be selected from based on energy levels or whatever. This will provide structure, reinforce "my date with me" as a real thing that gets to happen, and keep valuable date-time from being eaten up by indecision.
Difficult, More Correct Answer
When my therp gets back from vacation, work with him on feeling less freaked out by these things.
Zoloft taper: All the side effects are lessening, and I'm not having any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms other than occasional moments of very slight dizziness. Taking a gram of taurine at bedtime has helped considerably with the sleep issues. My body and brain both feel more present, more responsive to stimulus, and more... dextrous. Like I just took off my mittens and now I can use all five fingers. It's a good feeling.
Home: The apartment is still awesome. Our landlord is traveling right now, but when he gets back we plan to ask about extending our lease to two years. Everyone's in decent health, which is refreshing, and very happy about my increased happiness and silliness and snuggliness as the Zoloft-fog lifts.
Knees: Mostly not achy. Did more PT on Friday, with a different guy who massages more gently but makes me exercise more. Isometric exercises (leg raises, knee extensions) have been added to the Theraband exercises. I've figured out how to do all of them without using my arms, so I can play phone games while doing the lying-in-bed exercises and eat ice cream while doing the sit-in-a-chair exercises.
Sam-the-cat: After a week of antibiotics, she's back to her old self. For a while she only had energy to get halfway up to her usual perch, but yesterday and today she's bounced right up there. She's on the antibiotics for another week just to be sure the infection gets entirely gone. We've also been feeding her lots of protein-rich dry food in hopes of getting her weight back up. She certainly has an appetite, and she thinks kibble is the best thing ever, so hopefully having snacks easily available will be sufficient. She's snuggled up to me right now and purring happily. I think that means it's bedtime.
From back when I started the Zoloft:Taking Zoloft with lunch means it wears off enough by bedtime that I have a bit of trouble falling asleep (my old anxiety-induced awakeness) but stay asleep all night. Taking it with dinner means I fall asleep easily and then wake up every few hours. I'll stick with lunchtime for now.
(I cannot overstate the value of having this journal to track medication use and effects. It's a personal PDR. So essential.)
I'm still taking it at lunchtime, but reducing the dose has me waking up every few hours again. Last night I kicked the cats out so I could get a solid night's sleep, and then I woke up two hours later thinking I'd heard the doorbell. I hate it when that happens, because I don't even check the time and realize that it's 6 a.m. and I'm imagining things; I just leap out of bed to go answer the door.
Presumably this effect will fade either once I get used to the new dose or once I go off the meds altogether. Hopefully the former, since I've got three and a half weeks to go.
Yesterday I actually felt a little flirty, which was very nice.
Tonight I made a joke that fell very flat and J (who is also underslept) got upset and I got upset and we got into one of those stupid conversational spirals where we knew nothing useful was happening but we couldn't stop, and finally I had to text X and ask them to come in and intervene. That broke the spiral but left us all pretty thoroughly done in for the evening. We all forced ourselves to eat and then went our separate ways. I did the dishes and found my brain filling with angry upset self-loathing thoughts, so after I was done I pinged X and they let me cry on them. I am so, so, so tired of crying. On the bright side, I did resist the urge to smash all the dishes, and I no longer feel so awful at/about myself.
I don't think
any of that is about the reduced dose, though who knows? But mostly it just felt like being underslept.
I took taurine and put on "Thursday Afternoon"
(eternally grateful to meetar
for introducing me to it) and now I'm feeling calmer, though I made the mistake of playing a rather intense game on my phone and now my heart is pounding a bit. Might take more taurine. No more intense games tonight, for sure. Just Wanikani kanji practice
(I totally blame yhlee
for getting me into this) and a bit of Swords & Potions 2.
I really hope I can sleep tonight.
EDIT: I slept for a solid seven hours, woo! I think I'm going to keep taking bedtime taurine until I'm entirely done with the Zoloft; it clearly helped a lot.
This userpic isn't applicable to many sorts of pain, but it is perfect for physical therapy.
PT is EXHAUSTING. I'd forgotten. Also, going straight from PT to walking half a mile to the subway station, sitting on the L for 45 minutes, and then driving from Manhattan to Brooklyn was maybe not my smartest move ever.
The physio thinks my lifelong right hip wackiness is the cause of the knee issues, which would make a whole lot of sense. Apparently my right ITB and quad are "astonishingly tight". "Wait until you get to my hip flexors!" I said cheerfully. Then he tried to make my right hip bend the way most people's right hips bend and I yelled a lot.
* 8 weeks of biweekly PT
* Daily exercises at home w/ Theraband: 3 x 10 @ leg press, 3 x 10 @ hamstring curls, followed by ice (have the ice pack handy before starting to exercise so I don't have to hobble to the freezer for it)
* Start taking glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM (I've ordered an unflavored drink mix version
that I can mix into chocolate milk or something, rather than swallow those enormous pills)
* No more sitting with both knees pointing to the left <.<
I'm seriously tempted to just keep going weekly or every other week after my eight weeks of intensive PT are up. The physio is hands-on and terrific, and therapeutic massage is amazing. And because I'm going to a shabby little PT clinic over in Brownsville (also known as "the neighborhood that will never, ever gentrify"), it's only $50 a session. That's the uninsured
rate*. O.O The physio was telling me that he moved to Staten Island because he can't afford Brooklyn--maybe it's because he's seriously undercharging his clients. At that rate I really could go just for... well, not fun
, exactly, but because it would probably be good to work on fixing my hips so that the knee problems don't recur, and because it feels good, and because I'm a lot more likely to exercise if it's been prescribed by someone I have to fess up to every week or two.* I have insurance, but my plan year just started and I haven't met my deductible yet. Insert standard "American health care system is broken and bullshit" rant here.
The drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn was because auntyglory
is in town and she hasn't driven to our place before. Giving her directions would stress her out and navigating from the passenger seat would stress me out, so she drove into Manhattan from her cousin's place in New Jersey, and I met up with her and drove us home in her car. This was definitely the least mentally and emotionally taxing option, but NYC traffic means a lot of right-leg work, and by the time we got home I was very thoroughly done with any sort of moving around. She wants to go shopping tomorrow; I hope I'm up for it.
Today I went looking for a paper I wrote for a college course in 1996--and found it. It's... um. It's not bad, by the standards of papers written by white freshmen about AAVE. There are surprisingly few parts that make me cover my face and shake my head, probably because most of it is primary source quotes. I'm amused to realize that I still write articles basically the same way: quote primary sources as much as possible, with just enough link text to provide some structure and flow.
Anyway, that got me looking through my folder of old text files, and I found a diary entry of sorts, dated December 3, 1996. If LJ had existed at the time, it would have been an LJ entry, so I posted it, backdated. It's here
if anyone's curious. I find it of interest mostly because it establishes a date for my first self-diagnosis with depression and describes my experience of being depressed at the time. Also little notes about my life that are very telling:
"I've found a job that makes me almost as happy as writing for a living would, and which requires much less courage." That job was copy editing for the NYU student newspaper. I admire 18-year-old me for being so perceptive; I continue to cherish editorial work, and to choose it as a career, because it requires far, far less bravery than writing.
"I still have my writing talent, but no time to exercise it, and it's trapped in a cage where I can feel it reverting from housepet to wild animal, all the training eating itself away.... I still have story ideas, though they rarely get to bloom, and the only thing that hurts worse than the unsprouted seed is the one which pokes up a few shoots, looks promising, and then withers away because I don't have the time to care for it properly." Clearly I came into my talent for metaphors at an early age. And... yeah, this is all still true, except that I've gotten a lot better at not looking at it.
"The present never interested me; the past, the future, and the timeless are my domain. The present is vaguely repellant. The past is warm and familiar, the future softly bright and promising..." The positive descriptors are misleading. I'm not drawn to
the past or future. The description of the present as "repellant" is much more accurate; specifically, it describes what I would now call anxiety. The past and the future are places to hide from the present.
"I use that word a lot these days. 'Safe.' I wonder what I feel that I need to be kept safe from. My own weariness, maybe. Or the world. Or time." These days I challenge the whole notion of wanting to be kept safe. Risk and bravery are better.
And now I'm going to close those folders before I start reading old chatlogs. That way lies days of secondhand angst and misery.
Zoloft taper time! The plan:
Day 0 (today): 12.5 mg/day (the dosage I've been on for the last 18 months)
Days 1-14: 6.25 mg/day
Days 15-28: alternate 6.25 mg/day and 0 mg/day
Day 29: fully discontinue
The last time I went off Zoloft I dropped it cold turkey because I was at much too high a dose for me and it was making me suicidal, manic, and possibly psychotic. (As indicated above, my therapeutic dose is below most people's starting dose, and my psychiatrist at the time had no idea how to dose someone like me.) I don't recall experiencing any adverse effects from the abrupt stop, but I wasn't really paying much attention at the time, and I'm not sure I would have noticed anything unless it was worse than the effects of the Zoloft itself. That said, I don't expect to have any problems, especially since I'm tapering this gradually.
I wasn't expecting to be able to cut my half-pills in half again, but J keeps our kitchen knives nice and sharp, so that makes life easier. I could possibly cut them even smaller but I think that's probably unnecessary.
I cannot wait to be off this stuff. Cannot. Wait.
Usual rules for comments about medical stuff: no advice unless I specifically ask (which I'm not) or you think I'm about to inadvertently harm myself.
( Kitty micturition TMI--all good news )
Other than that, it's been a very lovely day. My mother came over for lunch and was thrilled by the new place and impressed by our kitchen layout and equipment. Always nice when an FCI-trained chef is happy to cook in your kitchen. :) After she left, X came home early from work and I sobbed all over them for about an hour--going to the vet's office is very hard on me, plus it's just generally been a rough week--and then wiped my face and declared myself done with crying. We spent the rest of the evening snuggling and knitting and attempting to make gluten-free bread in the bread machine (the dough was too wet, so it overflowed and scorched on the heating element; I'm letting it dry out overnight in hopes of that making it easier to clean up, since right now it's basically yeasty glue).
Pre-pregnancy things have shifted X's sleep schedule around a lot. We used to have tea five nights a week from ~10 to ~midnight, but now they're exhausted and ready for bed by 10 or 10:30. This is our first time trying a weeknight date, on the theory that one long date a week could replace shorter but more frequent teatimes. I had been very very reluctant to delete the "time for tea!" alarm from my phone because it felt like such a loss, but if all our dates are as good as this one was, I'll feel a lot better about the change.
The one (1) knee doctor in NYC who takes my insurance was great. He says I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which means "That pain you told me about, where your knee meets your shin bone? It's pain where your knee meets your shin bone". I love medicine. ℞ is physical therapy to stretch and strengthen my quads, biweekly for eight weeks. Conveniently, the one (1) physical therapist in NYC who takes my insurance is also 20 minutes from my house by a single very direct bus.
This particular variety of knee pain is like most back pain: the best day-to-day treatment is to pretend it's not there and keep doing what you'd usually do. So I've been doing that and my knees are doing better, though still really not fond of stairs.
X and J and I had a really really nice family date night last night. We made a tasty dinner and watched "Encounter at Farpoint", and then J went to bed and X and I stayed up for a bit and snuggled and watched Northern Kings metal covers of pop ballads and giggled together. It was just right, and sorely needed.
I bought new sandals: Naot Karenna, dark brown ("buffalo")
. They're very comfortable, though it's taking me a little while to figure out how tightly to fasten the straps; I'm used to the shift-and-give of buckles, not the firmness of Velcro. I had the toe strap on the left one too tight today and it rubbed a bit. But they suit my gender perfectly and my knees feel great when I'm wearing them. And I already had a dark brown belt to wear with them, because this dandy is prepared
Therapy today was of the wrenching emotional variety and also the being gently
challenged by my therp. "Be messy," he said, "and stop policing your emotions." New therp is very very good. I am very very full of feels and now very very aware of being full of feels and very very nervous about letting them out. Augh. Oh well, this is what therapy is for. It is still a good thing, though it's hard.
After therping I decided that what I really needed was a steak and a book where people are nice to each other, so I went out to Outback (not the best steak in the world, but in my price range and right across the street from work) and read a good chunk of a romance novel, and felt considerably better after that. Yay self-care.
Rose, mid-May: "I'm going to cut back my FSA contributions a lot, since I'm finishing up with my therapist and generally in good health."
June 1: annual FSA contribution adjustment deadline passes
Rose, mid-July: "I'm seeing a new therapist who doesn't take my insurance and now I need 16 sessions of physical therapy. Um. Welp. Guess I use post-tax money for that."
Can't foresee everything, I suppose.
The Naot sandals are made in Israel. I struggle a lot with the whole boycott idea, which has some significant downsides, but it's still hard for me to buy Israeli goods right now. I can talk around and around the politics and morals and practicalities and it comes back to that point of pure emotion: it's hard for me. And I'm so sad that Israel is doing such terrible things. And I'm going to stop here because I can't even really bear to think about any of this right now. (So no comments on this topic, please.)
My poor little Sammycat has a UTI. I think this is the first time she's been ill in the nine years she's lived with us, so she is confused and perturbed. I had to put her in kitty jail overnight because she was leaving sad little pink-tinged puddles all around the house in hopes that maybe if she pees in this
spot it won't hurt. I lined the entire thing with wee pads and gave her food and water and a cardboard box to sleep in. It's going to take her a while to figure out that kitty jail is a place she can't get out of, and then she's going to whine and wail for a bit, and then hopefully she'll be able to sleep.
Alex is completely freaked out by the sight of kitty jail--he spent several days in quarantine there when we first got him, and clearly has not forgotten--and really confused by being on the outside of it and another cat being on the inside of it. I hope he leaves Sam alone. I placed it as far from all our bedrooms as possible, and well away from the cat tree that's Alex's most likely perching spot. Usually he and Sam both sleep in my room, but I have my door shut so I can't hear her crying. My poor tiny cat. :( :( :( I just hate making her sad, but I can't stay up all night and follow her around with paper towels.
One of us will take her to the vet tomorrow and get her some tasty antibiotics. Good thing we've trained her to think of Pill Pockets as treats. Since she's never been sick, we've never had to pill her, but I can't imagine she'd handle it well.
Augh, even with the a/c and fan on "high" I can hear her agonized lonelyhowl, the sound she used to make at our old apartment every night because I couldn't let her sleep in my room. This is awful. At least I know from that experience that she'll give up once it's clear that I'm not coming out to free her.
I keep telling myself that this is character-building and will help me prepare for being a parent. Or something.
Time to sleep so I can be a good cat-parent in the morning.
- thinking about:
behavior.responsibility, body.health, body.legs, experiences.therapy, ideas.politics, people.cats, people.family, people.josh, people.xtina, stuff, stuff.clothes, stuff.clothes.shoes, stuff.money
The last piece of IKEA furniture is DONE. DONE DONE DONE DOOOOOONE.
(Well, we may put knobs on the drawers at some point. But whatever, that's minor and easy to do and we may decide not to bother. Everyone seems happy to open the drawers from the side right now.)
The very last remaining things to do:
* I put the base and lids for our old blender up on Craigslist Free Stuff, and someone is coming to get them tomorrow.
* The IKEA boxes go out with the recycling on Friday.
* On Saturday J and I will haul two huge bags of fabric recycling to the farmer's market.
* Possibly there will be some vacuuming.
And then I will take photos of the living room/dining room/kitchen/library and you can all see what a splendid apartment we have, now that it's populated by furniture and books and appliances rather than boxes and boxes and boxes.
My knees were feeling somewhat better today (yes, plural--I'm putting more weight than usual on the left to spare the right, so the left is complaining too), despite poor sleep. I've been trying to work from my very comfy office chair instead of in bed, and I think it's helping. After J and I met for dinner, we took a very small stroll in the park. I had the brace on my right knee and was careful not to overdo it, and my caution was rewarded by an almost pain-free climb up the subway stairs on our way home. I rested for a few hours and then got up and did a bit of tidying (no heavy lifting). So far so good.
I can feel my shin muscles aching now that I know what I'm looking for, and the heating pad helped a lot yesterday, so I'm increasingly certain that working from home in a one-flight walkup has simply made me too sedentary and my muscles have weakened to where they can't adequately support my joints. I also need new sandals, which I will hopefully get on the way home from the knee doc tomorrow. I don't like any of this season's Merrell or Timberland sandals, and I've been wanting something a bit more solid and butch, so I'm seriously considering my first Birkenstocks
. Fortunately the knee doc is at 33rd Street, so I'll pop over to Eneslow and try on shoes there to get a sense of Birkenstock sizes and how they feel on my feet.
Yesterday was a pretty rotten day for me and X, and we were both staggering a bit today from the emotional hangover. But we managed to pull through it with a great deal of support from the always amazing J, and there was even a bit of cuddling and laughing later in the evening. Tomorrow we inaugurate our weekly family date night, which is probably going to be like a typical night except with more snuggles. I think that sounds excellent.
I didn't get to bed until 7 a.m. yesterday, so I've been groggy and fleh all day. Time to try the yoga nidra mp3
's that rydra_wong
pointed me to, and see if it can put me to sleep at something approximating my best bedtime.
My right knee has been cranky for the last couple of weeks. The pain feels like it's directly under my kneecap. I didn't twist it or fall or anything; it's just started complaining when I go up and down stairs or spend more than about 15 minutes on my feet. I've been PRICEing and NSAIDing to no avail. J says it's a sign that I'm getting old. In 11 months I'll be able to say "I'm 37, I'm not old!" at him; for now I just roll my eyes.
...okay, I admit, it's more like PICE. I don't know how to rest. I certainly didn't rest it much last weekend; Readercon = lots of walking around the hotel + lots of driving. And when I have a brace on it doesn't hurt, so then I run errands and do dishes and so on. I'm sure I should rest it more.
I just don't know how to treat joint things. I am a tendon injury treatment expert. Muscle aches are easy to work out or soak away or ignore until they get better. But joints... I feel like the ice isn't even really getting through to the part that's sore, because my patella is in the way. Advil doesn't touch it (though I may still have an Advil tolerance from back when I took 2400 mg/day for my arms) and more troublingly, Celebrex doesn't either. And I hesitate to wear the brace all the time because that's counter-indicated for tendon injuries and (like any pain relief) it encourages overuse rather than rest. So I'm kind of stuck on what to do, other than literally sitting around with my leg up on a couple of pillows.
I have an appointment with a sports medicine doctor for Wednesday. In the meantime, joint pain sufferers, any suggestions?
: In recognition of the possibility that a harasser may eventually learn to behave himself like someone who graduated kindergarten, we will guarantee that a minimum of two people (the ones he harassed) will no longer feel comfortable at our convention.
Good job, folks. That is some solid community-minded thinking right there. When you have loads of people saying "As long as this dude is at your convention, I will not feel safe there" the OBVIOUS feminist position to take is that the dude's potential rehabilitation matters more than the feeeeeeelings of all those laaaaaadies. They're probably just being oversensitive. They'll come back. After all, there are no other soi-disant feminist conventions for them to go to!
All sarcasm aside, I suggest that any con that has ever permanently banned a harasser begin labeling itself a feminist convention, as the claim to the term is clearly pretty wide open at this point.
I wrote about redemption narratives and convention harassment
in 2012. I could write about it again, but why bother? It's clear that the people who needed to read it the first time around either never did or forgot it as soon as they closed the tab. And we're right back where we started, following some guy through his sin-repentance-redemption story while ignoring all the women who will be going to other conventions
or just staying home
(Incidentally, if you want to help mitigate the financial costs to Elise for having to stop selling her gorgeous handmade jewelry at Wiscon, please consider buying some of her wares
for yourself or someone else.)
Note that Frenkel can appeal the decision in case he thinks it's too harsh, but no one else can appeal it for being too lenient. That's a very clear sign as to which way the committee thinks it's erring. And it's dead wrong.
The subject line of this post is from Dan Harmon's plot embryo:
1. A character is in a zone of comfort
2. But they want something
3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
4. Adapt to it
5. Get what they wanted
6. Pay a heavy price for it
7. Then return to their familiar situation
8. Having changed
That's the Frenkel story. He's supposed to pay a price for getting what he wanted--the opportunity to harass a couple of women--but all he loses is four years of Wiscon. However, anyone who doesn't want to be around harassers loses Wiscon forever. And Elise and Lauren pay the highest price of all for having spoken up: the price of being told, almost in so many words, that their pain and sorrow don't matter as much as Jim Frenkel getting a second chance. They don't get to return to their familiar situation. They don't get what they wanted. They don't get the neat episodic story arc. They're left to make new stories for themselves, with so much less cultural and community support than they need and deserve.
This is really dispiriting.
For about the first year I was on Zoloft, it was basically perfect: fewer panic attacks, increased ease of controlling anxiety, minimal side effects. The worst of the latter was dry mouth, and once I switched to special toothpaste/mouthwash and started carrying around peppermint candies all the time, that was pretty bearable. I had to very strictly avoid caffeine and alcohol, but my consumption of those was already minimal, and the dry mouth exacerbated my oral allergy reactions, but I really can't object to having an additional reason to not eat things I'm allergic to.
Then a few months ago, as I really shook off the last of 2013's depression, I started to feel like my emotions were wrapped in a blanket. It's become particularly apparent since the vertigo went away and I stopped being a storm of vertigo-related frustration and misery. I can tell that my moods are being artificially leveled. I do not like this feeling. I do not like it at all.
X and J are bubbling with NRE and silliness, and I can't enjoy it the way I'd like to. I'm quietly terrified that X is going to get pregnant and I won't be able to really feel my reactions to that either; that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I want to be there for it. And not being able to access deep emotions is very inconvenient for being at the beginning of a course of therapy that's touching on a lot of deep, old stuff. Readercon was fun but not transcendent, and I suspect that's because I can't achieve transcendence right now. There are other things I can't achieve either--the famous SSRI anorgasmia has struck at last, with really terrible timing--but mostly I'm bothered by not being able to be giddy. I can float, but I can't fly.
Seven weeks until the vertigo treatment study is done and I can get the hell off this drug.
Home from Readercon. It was an excellent con and I spent most of it feeling floaty and joyful. As usual, Friday night ended with "there's still so much of the convention left!" and by midday Saturday it was "how is the convention almost over?!". It remains my most favorite convention ever.
Highlights of this year, in no particular order:
* Peter Straub very sweetly asking me to autograph his copy of Long Hidden
. "Teenage me just fainted," I told him. Afterwards I actually leaned on the wall in the hotel hallway and cried happy tears.
* Lots of driving. Every time I return a rental car, I'm a little sadder than the time before. Driving is tiring but so exhilarating, even when other cars rocket around hairpin turns and nearly hit me. (Fun times. The adrenaline rush from that might have contributed a bit to the tearfulness noted above.)
* Lots of wonderful time with some of my favorite people in the world, especially grahamsleight
* Getting to dandle dailyjuna
on my knee as we sprawled on the grass on a sunny afternoon.
* Going to a really good panel on new models for masculinity.
* So much celebration of Long Hidden
! Daniel and I gave a great talk, Crossed Genres threw us a great party, and our authors gave great readings. I lost count of how many books I signed, for friends and strangers.
* A splendid room party where people drank cocktails, ate chocolate, and played Slash.
* Squeezing emilytheslayer
's hand as Ada Palmer sang about the importance of the people who make conventions happen. And aahairsto
's performances at the Miscellany, which were glorious in entirely different ways.
* Reading my room poems
aloud at the poetry open mic, and having people compliment both the poems and my reading all weekend. Also, having my mind blown by the amazingness of the open mic! Brilliant poems, brilliant reading. kythryne
's readings especially took my breath away. tithenai
was the perfect gracious welcoming emcee.
* A sleepy snuggly morning phone call with X that recalled all the best parts of our LDR days.
* Squealing and hugging with vschanoes
after she won a Shirley Jackson Award.
* Kit Reed telling me that if we did a Long Hidden
sequel she'd send me a story for it.
* Shoshana E. actually jumping up and down and squeeing when she realized she was talking with one of the editors of Long Hidden
giving me an ice pack for my arm and beaming with the joy of being useful and helping someone feel better.
* Going to L.L. Bean with J and buying we-missed-you gifts for X.
* Watching the safety team work like a well-oiled machine. There were no major incidents, and the minor ones were quickly and smoothly handled.
* Having a friend tell me, "I ragequit the con scene several years ago because of all the harassment, but at this convention no one talked to my breasts. I'll be coming back."
* Talking with vschanoes
for the entirety of the train ride home.
And now I am home, and J and I have clung to X and been clung to in return, and now I have Sam snuggled up against my arm and I am content.
As of today, I have resigned from the Readercon concom. I'll probably stay on staff in some capacity, but that's all; I'm done with that kind of exhausting volunteering for now. Of course the very first thing I did with my new civilian status was head to the registration desk to buy a membership for Readercon 26. I may be off the committee, but there are very few things that could keep me away from this convention. I was going to say that nothing could, but if X gets pregnant in October and is due in July... yeah, that would do it. Barring that sort of excitement, though, I am already very much looking forward to next year.
And seriously, I signed my book for Peter Straub
. How amazing.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.volunteering, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, experiences.driving, experiences.egoboo, mind.feelings.joy, people.friends, words.editing.venues.long hidden, words.poetry, words.poetry.room poems
- feeling:blissed out
Oh hey Readercon is THIS WEEK. Amazing how relaxed I feel now that I'm not program chair anymore.
Here's where I'll be, complete with absurd room names that all sound the same. (What was the Marriott thinking?)
3 p.m. Friday, Embrace: Long Hidden reading with seven of our amazing authors: Sofia Samatar, Claire Humphrey, Lisa Bolekaja, Sunny Moraine, Michael Janairo, Sarah Pinsker, and Sabrina Vourvoulias!
7 p.m. Friday, Salon G: Romance recs for spec fic fans! Come hear me talk about how Isabel Cooper wrote the best time travel novel that no one in SF has ever heard of.
3 p.m. Saturday, Enliven: Daniel and I talk about how we edited Long Hidden!
9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Envision: Long Hidden party, open to everyone!
You may detect a theme.
I think J and I may also be doing some sort of room party thing on Friday night, so if you feel like joining us, ping me anytime Thursday evening or Friday to get our room number.
I should be much less of a running-around blur this year, so feel free to stop me and say hello if you see me in the hall. I am easily identified by my shorn head, snazzy clothes, and wry smirk.
A friend with some experiences of OCD made some super helpful suggestions and comments that I'm noting here in hopes that other people will find them useful.
* It's very common to self-treat OCD with exhaustion. I know I do this a lot. Unfortunately it's also really bad for me. I need to be more aware of when I'm doing it, and try to use other coping mechanisms instead.
* Urges can't really be shut off, but they can be redirected/retrained in combination with being reduced. For example, I channel my judge-and-fix urges away from people and toward housework and editing. As I identify problematic behaviors as coming from OCD-urge-space, I'll try redirecting them as a first step in combination with dialing them down, rather than trying to battle them head-on.
My friend suggested redirection into strength training; my first reaction is to be really wary of that, since I already have a) a chronic overuse injury and b) gender-related body dysphoria. I don't want to treat my body as a thing that's wrong and needs to be fixed at all costs. On the other hand, I find the structure and orderliness of things like the 10-week You Are Your Own Gym
program very appealing, and strength training is a thing I want to do once my arm recovers from this weekend's overexertion*. So maybe there is a way to do some channeling of OCD urges without it turning dysphoric or leading me to overwork my body.( * I let agitation get the best of me )
* Meditation is useful for calming the mind, but OCD brains are too noisy to handle traditional no-stimulus or single-stimulus meditation. Try two-stimulus instead, like doing visualization exercises while playing with sand, or listening to music while doing free-form drawing. I may try walking meditation with music.
* Treat the urges as entities that can be negotiated with, rather than as instructions that must be obeyed. I've already done some of this
. It's definitely a useful tool to have in the toolbox, especially when combined with my techniques for negotiating with other people.
* My friend suggested cannabis to help dial down obsessive thoughts and compulsions, but I don't use it. However, I will add OCD thoughts/feelings to the list of things that I can probably mitigate with taurine when I need to.
* The OCD need for control is a response to obsessions and urges, which can make you feel very much out of control. Seeing that need for control as a thing that's induced
, rather than a thing that's inherent
to me, will be very helpful as I try to overcome my fear of unstructured, uncontrolled situations. Developing comfort with unstructured things is not in conflict with my entire personality, even though it feels that way sometimes. Rather, I've been programmed a certain way and am now trying to change my programming. Still scary and hard, but not so much terrifying and impossible.
Thank you very much, awesome helpful friend!
I appear to have OCD, not in the "ha ha all editors have OCD" sense but in the "hits all the diagnostic criteria" sense.
Mental illness diagnoses are so weird. Simultaneously, everything I do makes so much more sense and appears totally disordered.
New diagnosis + new therapist to help me with that diagnosis = expect this journal to be all OCD all the time for the next few months. I know I can have bouts of anxiety triggered by descriptions of other people's anxiety symptoms, and I figure this is likely to be similar for other folks with OCD and anxiety-spectrum things, so I will cut-tag any descriptions of agitation and similar things.
I know lots of people who talk in public about having depression or anxiety. I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk in public about having OCD. American culture treats it like a joke, a synonym for perfectionism or neatness; and the actual experience of it often involves disturbing thoughts that are deeply embarrassing to admit to. Since I'm me, I figure that means I should
be public about it, and hopefully help other people directly as well as helping to fix our awful broken culture, which is so especially broken around matters of mental health.( Miscellaneous things )
Positive things: My coping mechanisms are top-notch given that I developed them without really knowing what I was coping with
. The OCD is relatively mild and controllable. I'm not feeling any urge to self-harm. The condition doesn't interfere with work; quite the contrary. (I am certainly in the right profession.) My new therapist is awesome. J and X are being splendidly supportive.
General comment policy on this topic: I'm willing to take advice from other people who have direct experience with this type of mental illness, either their own or a loved one's. Everyone else, no advice, please.
Yesterday was a pretty crap day. I was full of sadfeels pulled up out of the dusty depths by Thursday's therapy session, and then I didn't eat enough, so I got really cranky and then cried a lot. J and X were understandably unsettled by this, and there was a lot of eggshell-walking and nervousness all around. Despite all our best efforts, I was still fussy and anxious when they went to bed, and I ended up tidying for a couple of hours just to tire myself out. Before I went to bed, I emailed them to say, "All I want for Saturday is for it to be better than Friday."
Saturday was SO much better than Friday. As soon as I woke up, X let J know I was awake so he could wind up his gaming session, and then came in to give me snuggles. As I gradually acquired actual consciousness, I felt the last shreds of yesterday's bad mood blow away. It was such a relief to be able to feel happy and enjoy things again! I got up and showered and shaved and had a proper lunch with actual calories in it, and J finished gaming and he and X took their turns in the shower. Then we hauled out all the unwanted furniture that's been taking up physical and psychic space for weeks. The neighbors promptly scavenged the lot, hurray. Also X found someone on Craigslist who came and took away all our empty book boxes. And none of the cats got out or even tried to, despite there being a few minutes where the stairgate was down and the front door was open.
After that there was lots of snuggling and making out and happy good times. That wound up around 18:30 and we realized it was too late in the day for the big batch of cooking we'd planned to do. J suggested a quick stroganoff, I found a recipe
, and we shopped and cooked while X did some room-tidying. And then! Then! We ate dinner at our new dining table!
Amazing how many things needed to come together for that to happen. We have a splendid new table that's pretty and comfortable, with no one's knees banging into awkwardly placed table legs. Thanks to new insulating curtains in the windows and some nice weather today, the living room wasn't a sauna the way it's been for the past couple of weeks. My tidying bout from the previous night meant there was actually space on the table for food. Everyone was at home and feeling well. Our lovely new restaurant-quality napkins had just come back from the laundry. And having all the old furniture gone meant the space was so much more pleasant to be in.
When the three of us first moved to Brooklyn together, we had some awkward and difficult negotiations around dinner because we all had different ideas of what Dinner At The Table is supposed to be like. We ended up mostly eating dinner in X's bedroom, picnic-style on the bed, to avoid all the confusion and stress. Tonight we realized that the confusion and stress were gone; a couple of years of picnics have helped us find our own shared family rhythm and understand one another's expectations, and it was delightfully easy to just settle in and enjoy a very tasty dinner.
Post-dinner, X cleaned up while J rested and I wrote up the recipe, and then we snuggled up on the couch and watched Kung Fu Hustle
. After that X and J were wiped out and went to bed. I was all wired up from the movie, so I built the new microwave cart and put wheels on the butcher block cart. Now all we need is to make the drawers for the new hardware cabinet and we will be DONE DONE DONE with the living room. DONE.
I just managed to install the first set of drawer rails upside down while thinking admiringly "IKEA is so smart to make it impossible to install things the wrong way", and my arm is getting kind of sore, so I think I am done for the night.
...and 40 minutes later I have finished doing the dishes and tidying the kitchen, and I am REALLY done for the night. Ice pack on arm. Dishwasher running. Soon: snack, Advil, sleep.
...and then Graham introduced me to Euclid: The Game
and suddenly it's 6 a.m. Augh. BED.
Aaaaa The Cascadia Subduction Zone
(a really respected feminist literary journal with an SF/F focus) has the MOST AMAZING review of my book!
I think it’s important to highlight how deliberate the editorial, authorial, archival, and genealogical politics framing the publication of Long Hidden are.
This is not just an anthology about history and magic. It’s an anthology emergent from ongoing histories of oppression, collaboration, and resistance, one that orients itself towards a radical future featuring multiple storytellers while simultaneously connecting itself to a shared past filled with secret histories of survival, hope, and grief.
...Its publication now reflects the growing power of fen of color, LGBTQA fans, and other marginalized voices. The quality of its stories reflect the power of these voices and the passion behind their craft.
To be honest, I figured Long Hidden
would sink without a trace, the way most small-press books do. I'm beyond thrilled to see it still getting traction and attention two months after publication.
Sometimes when I'm about to go to sleep, fragments of the previous night's dreams creep into my head, like waking up just paused them and they're ready to start playing again.
Last night I dreamed a) that I had lung cancer and was about to be operated on by one of the most incompetent people I know, and b) that we had to pack up all the books we'd just unpacked because we needed to move again. Both halves of the dream were equally horrifying. And equally implausible, fortunately.
J went upstate this weekend to spend time with his mother and grandmother, and X and I got a weekend all to ourselves. It was pretty excellent. We talked and snuggled and giggled and made out and accidentally fell asleep on each other. We went shopping and I cooked tasty food and X did all the dishes. We built the last bookcase and shelved all the trade-size novels (SINGLE-STACKED AT LAST) and hung heat-blocking curtains, so the living room is less of a sweatbox and X's poor little air conditioner doesn't have to work so hard. We played video games. We were kind and loving and patient. We spoke up about our needs and desires. We were satisfied with our accomplishments. We had fun.
I wish I felt satiated and glow-basking; instead I just want more more more. I want more weekends like this. I want this weekend to keep going. I want the things we thought about doing but didn't do: going to a museum, watching a movie, knitting. I want more of the things we did. I want things we didn't even think about doing, like going to the beach and playing cards. More. More. More love, more togetherness, more getting things done, more of making our home a better place to live, more silliness, more sweetness, more.
Every time I think I've finally settled into believing that X and I live in the same house instead of three thousand miles apart, I find another pocket of starvation mentality. There will be next weekend, and the weekend after that! But this felt like a holiday, somehow, a special occasion, and now all I can think is that it's over too soon and the next big dose of time together is unfathomably far in the future. And that there is really never any such thing as getting enough of my beloved spousebot.
I'll feel better tomorrow, when they come home from work and we have our evening tea-date and I'm reminded that we really do get as much time together as any two working adults can. J comes home tomorrow and that will help too; I'm sure some of the loneliness I'm feeling right now is from him being away, and family time always cheers me up. It's just hard right now, with Sunday night winding slowly down and feeling so much like an ending.
The last panel of this comic
is something I'm striving toward pretty hard right now.
I started seeing a new therapist yesterday. We talked a lot about how uncomfortable I am with things that aren't structured or controlled: playfulness, improvisation, creativity, spontaneity, physicality, intoxication, ecstatic experiences. He asked what my goal is for therapy and I said, "I want to stop being afraid of myself. And I'd like to learn how to be playful and have fun."
It's going to be really, really hard.
42) Clue. (Movie.) Rewatch. I could swear I'd watched this since the start of the year but maybe not, since I can't find it in the log. Anyway, it remains brilliant. Everything Madeline Kahn does is worth rewinding and rewatching several times. Such a genius. The whole cast is great--the world needs more smart movies with ensemble casts of character actors--but she outshines them all without even trying.
There isn't even a shred of plot, but who cares?
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, as an interesting bit of quasi-history ("She had friends who were... socialists") as well as an entertaining whodunit.
43) Strictly Ballroom. (Movie.) Rewatch for X, first time for me. We wanted something to watch on our enormous new television*, and it has an internet connection and Netflix app**, and Strictly Ballroom was in my "watch instantly" queue because X had recommended it to me, so we settled onto the couch in front of the television*** and enjoyed the spectacle. It's one of those movies where you have to turn off social awareness if you're going to enjoy it; it's difficult to appreciate the movie as much once you see Scott and Fran's relationship as a metaphor for the wholesale appropriation and whitewashing of Latin dance. This is supposedly a film about how creativity and uniqueness matter more than conformity, but the creativity and uniqueness are all supplied by or channeled through the white guy. If Fran and her father entered the competition and just danced the way they grew up dancing, they'd be kicked out for doing it wrong. But once Scott is taught rhythm and passion by those clever ethnic people with their clever ethnic ways, he can win competitions with it.
I may have a little extra bitterness about this from the small amount of time I've spent around competitive ballroom dancers, and the much larger amount of time I've spent in a community of folk dancers who care at least slightly more about historical authenticity and acknowledging the progenitors of dance styles.
On the bright side, the film itself doesn't treat women badly, which I thought it did at first; it just depicts a culture of men who treat women badly. Literally every man in the film is terrible to women, and every woman's visible personality is limited to her own unique response to being treated terribly by men. I'd like to see it remade as Fran's story rather than Scott's.
Visually it's quite glorious. The costumes and makeup are amazing. The set is clearly a stage set, and a Baz Luhrmann stage set at that. (It makes me want to rewatch Moulin Rouge, and then go back in time to see the Luhrmann La Bohème onstage again.) The dancing is great, though it's a bit odd to see it through 1990s film camerawork instead of in the style of present-day televised competitive dance. And the acting's good, if one-note--which is appropriate to the flat characters, I suppose.
Verdict: Pretty and shallow, which is fine if that's what you want.
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate, I think. Maybe share if they share X's fondness for watching dancing.
* I haven't owned a television... uh... well, ever, now that I think about it. And I haven't lived in a house with a television since 2005. They've changed a lot. I had not had occasion to say "reboot the TV" before today. o.O Now I sort of know how my mother feels about her new smartphone.
** My television has APPS. This is SO WEIRD.
*** In the guest room of our giant house in the ~suburbs****. This is really not the life I expected to have.
**** Eastern Crown Heights isn't quite as suburban as, say, Flushing, but we're in a detached house with a garage out back and flowers out front, and that's suburban enough for me.
I had a most excellent birthday. There was perfect weather: it drizzled in the morning and was sunny in the afternoon, and the air was just warm enough and deliciously breezy. I had to work, but it was enjoyable work, and then I got my Starbucks birthday drink and strolled down to Union Square for dinner at Peacefood with my fabulous spouses and my mother and her fella. X and J were ridiculously adorable at each other. We all had food that made us happy and I stuffed myself with strawberry shortcake.
J's birthday present to me was acquiring and installing my new air conditioner. X's birthday present to me was coming to dinner and being focused and present and happy even though they were feeling very unwell. My mother's birthday present to me was greeting me with a big hug and "Hooray, it's the birthday person!", and providing a charming clay vase full of paper roses in my favorite colors because real ones would make me sneeze. I feel tremendously loved.
As a bonus, Miriam and Alex are visiting this weekend, and Alex went to IKEA with me tonight to return incorrect things and get correct things. I got to drive, which was fun, and we have acquired everything on our acquisition list (plus store credit for the returned things, on the assumption that one is never really done with shopping at IKEA). By the time we got home it was 22:30; J had dinner waiting (a lovely pasta primavera with almond cream) and X and Miriam showed no signs of starvation, so we still got to have a group dinner despite the hour. I love having houseguests who say things like "How early in the morning is too early to start building furniture?". They are such splendidly good friends--the perfect people to be our first overnight guests in our new home.
After everyone went to bed I tackled the heaps of cardboard boxes, and now there are many bags of cardboard out by the curb for the weekly recycling pickup. Also the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean. (X did the first round of dishes, but the second round is my job, since I'm the only one awake when the dishwasher finishes running.) Slowly, slowly, the house comes together. I am desperately impatient to be done with building and unpacking, but I'm told it's rude to rip open boxes and use power tools at 4 a.m., so I will make myself sleep instead.
It's my 36th birthday! If you feel like celebrating it with me, here are some things that would make me very happy:
* If you've read Long Hidden
, post an honest review of it on Goodreads
* Ask your local library or independent bookstore to carry Long Hidden
(print ISBN 9780991392100).
* Buy the Loncon memberships that J and I can't use. $300 for the pair (well below current prices), voting rights intact. Feel free to pass the word along to anyone you know who might be interested.
* Come to Readercon
! It's just four weeks away!
* Buy something shiny from Wyrding Studios
for yourself or someone else. (Not for me, please. I have a ton of jewelry that I almost never wear, including some lovely Wyrding pieces; I don't need more.)
* Back this Kickstarter
for a really gorgeous-looking cooperative puzzle game, and help them reach the Mac stretch goal so I can get to play it. :)
* It's been oppressively hot the last couple of days, so if you have a lovely cool photo of shady woods or deep blue oceans or penguins frolicking on icebergs or similar, post it in the comments (maximum 600 pixels in either dimension, please!).
* Donate money or time or signal-boosting to any good cause. Support any crowdfunding project. Patronize any local independent business. Buy a self-published or small-press book.
* If you're in a position of power or authority in any respect, do something to help your industry or community or family or self be more welcoming and safe for marginalized people.
* Teach someone how to do something.
* Tell someone you love that you love them.
* Eat or drink something delicious.
* Do something kind.
No obligation to tell me if you do any of these things, though I'd be happy to hear about it. I just want to spread the birthday joy around.
1) We made chicken and vegetable stir-fry tonight and it tasted just like it came from a restaurant, only better! Recipe here.
It's adapted from a recipe for cashew chicken in Easy Chinese Recipes
by Bee Yin Low, and it's delicious. Since I'm on a low-sodium diet and X can't have gluten, Chinese restaurants are mostly off-limits to us, and we were both SO HAPPY to be able to have Chinese food again. I can't wait to try more from that cookbook, which in addition to having lots of interesting recipes is full of hilarious snarking at nasty greasy over-sauced American Chinese restaurant food (so of course we tripled the amount of sauce because we are uncultured Americans).
2) Yesterday I built a cabinet for my room, a new china cabinet, a new hardware cabinet, and a new liquor cabinet. My palm is bruised from pressing against the butt of the screwdriver, and I still want a version of crimershow
where it's @IKEAshow and every episode ends with people shouting "IKEAAAAAA" and shaking their fists in rage, but the furniture looks really nice. I'm especially pleased with the cabinet door knobs, which I had to place and drill; they are exactly even.
3) It's been ages since I did a cat update. Short version: the new place is perfectly suited to cats, and all is well.
Sophie is still entirely X's cat, but she's getting more tolerant of other people and other cats; these days, when I go into X's room, more often than not they have both Sophie and Sam on the bed, and earlier today I was in X's room alone and Sophie came over to curl up near me. Alex is slowly learning that when Sophie corners him she's not going to attack him--she just wants to gaze adoringly at him--and so he can just walk past her. When he does, she follows him around like a lovesick stalker. It is utterly ridiculous.
Alex mostly hangs out on the enormous cat condo or the window behind it. He also likes the window in X's room (where he watches cars go by like he wants to chase one down and drag him home) and the window in my room (where he watches birds and the stray cats that like to run across the garage roof). He's not really a people-cat, but he's willing to indulge us when we pet him and pick him up. He trusts me the most, probably because X doesn't have much patience for him and J likes to tease him, whereas the worst I do is drag him onto my lap and hug him. Whenever we cook he hangs out in the kitchen hoping for scraps. I call him "the dog I never wanted". At some point we gave up on any notion of rehoming him; he's here to stay.
Sam is still my kitten, but she's very fond of all of us. When I'm asleep she'll go hang out with X or J, and if they're not home, she'll hang out on the suitcase in my room. She's thrilled that I've started working from home most of the time, since it means more time near an awake person. When I go to bed she curls up next to my head for a bit, but she always leaves before I fall asleep. She also naps on the book boxes in the living room. She and Sophie get into spats occasionally, but they're mostly of the "aaa you startled me! *batbatbat*" sort, and she's stopped growling at Alex when he goes past her to get to the window. Her life is mostly placid and uninteresting and she seems to like it that way.
(Right now she's lying comma-style next to me, purring and looking hopefully at my hands. I pet her after every sentence.)
4) It recently emerged that both X and J had harbored a few quiet "what if we...?" thoughts about each other. And now, catalyzed by the baby-planning and baby-making, they're all smoochy and giggly and cuddly and flirting and roughhousing and affectionate and hilarious and adorable. I am about 98% "eeeeeee! they are SO CUTE" and 2% "ngh insecure", which as I recall is pretty typical when one of my partners hits NRE with someone else. We're all dealing fine with the 2% as it comes up, and the rest of the time I melt with delight.
I never expected this in a million years, or hoped for it. They so obviously weren't interested in dating or being lovers. They'd only just gotten to be friends! (I told J that if this were a book I'd have instructed the author to go back and put in more foreshadowing, because it came out of nowhere and that makes it hard to suspend disbelief.) But all my well-honed poly mechanisms are kicking into gear like they hadn't been lying dormant for years. It feels like relief, like the first warm breeze of spring after a long, long winter.
I can't express how marvelous it is to watch them making each other happy. I thrive on the joy of the people I love. To see it doubled, and doubled again--my heart overflows.
Our family already felt like a family, and it was already a good solid family. It's just a differently configured family now, and full of squee. :)
I am also reminded that I can tolerate being someone's only partner, but I always relax more when I'm not; it helps me step down from thinking I have to be available 24/7, and I worry less because I know they're in good hands when I'm not around.
(Now Sam is kneading the blanket over my leg, and Alex has come up onto the bed and thence to the windowsill.)
5) I don't quite know how much is too much to say in public about babystuff, both because I don't want to reveal more than X is comfortable with and because I know it's triggering/upsetting for some folks. I will just say that we're at a stage where all we can do is wait, and it's daunting and terrifying and frustrating and I hate waiting so much. Also, everything important happens much earlier in the morning than I would usually be awake for. I really ought to go to sleep because I have to get up in about four hours, but it's hard to sleep because I'm so nervous.
(Now Sam is asleep on the pillow to my right, and Alex is asleep on the pillow to my left. Earlier he was purring and licking my hand. What good kitties.)
6) I reached level 72 in Swords & Potions 2, and "beat" Gemcraft Chasing Shadows in the sense of completing the level that it thinks of as final. There are some other levels I haven't even unlocked yet, but I'm carefully staying away for now. My arm needs to recover from the cabinet-building.
(I patted Alex and woke him up. He's purring like gangbusters and kicking my hand away whenever I try to pet him. He gets like that sometimes. Silly cat.
(Ah, he's rotated so I can reach his back without threatening his tender belly. Everyone's happier now.)
7) No but really I should go sleep as much as I can. I hope I can sleep at all.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.polyamory, body.sleep, experiences.housework, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.stir fry, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.cats, people.futurekid, people.josh, people.xtina, stuff.games, stuff.games.video games
Catching up on the media log. Spoilers abound, as usual.
38) Marco and the Devil's Bargain
by Carla Kelly. (Book.) Sequel to Double Cross
, and manages to magnify its flaws while missing most of its virtues. Our heroes, having suffused themselves with being kind to each other, now take their kindness out into the wider world, helping a rather odious American doctor bring smallpox cures to the local Comanches. Kelly really does her best to undermine stereotypes and avoid pitfalls--( spoiler spoiler spoiler )
--but there's no escaping the twitch factor of Spanish colonizers being adopted into a Comanche band, made chiefs, treated like family, etc. I hope she goes back to writing about Regency England. We'll all be happier.Verdict:
Well, that sure is a thing that happened.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate, I suppose. With lots of discussion.
39) The Captive
by Grace Burrowes. (Book.) First in a Regency series that ties in to her Duke's Obsession series. This is a really quite lovely portrait of two people with PTSD finding healing through mutual love and support. He was captured and tortured by the French for a few months. She was physically abused by her husband for eight years. Their physical and psychological injuries are approximately equal, and each is horrified by the other's experiences while downplaying their own. ( spoiler spoiler spoiler )Verdict:
It's a very good book. I don't know why it didn't quite make it over the line to "great book" for me, but it didn't. Maybe it's because I know the story too well, from the inside. But it's very good.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
All of Burrowes's books are firmly in the "share" category.
40) Nueve Reinas.
(Movie.) Re-rewatch; it was also item 14. X hadn't seen it and they love con game movies, so we watched it over two nights because we were both too tired to watch it all at once. I enjoyed rewatching it with them a lot more than rewatching it on my own, mostly because I wanted to see whether they'd see the ending coming. (They didn't.)
41) The Widow's House
by Daniel Abraham. (Book.) Book four of an ongoing series, so discussing it in depth will spoil the earlier books too, and I'm not terribly inclined to do that. Instead I will tell an anecdote.
A few years ago, J decided he wanted to run an RPG set in the world of the Harry Dresden books. We got a few friends together and we made characters and we built the setting and it was pretty cool. There was just one problem. I'd made my character a pacifist, thinking it would be interesting to do that in the context of violence-driven urban fantasy. Well, it turns out that it's not possible
to be a pacifist in the Dresdenverse. If vampires are at war, anti-war protesters get eaten, the end. Violence is so thoroughly and completely ingrained in the setting that there's simply no getting away from it. J still teases me about this and I still maintain that this is a failure of the setting, not of my character. (Though yes all right I could have realized that aspect of the setting and made a different character.)
Well, Daniel has written an epic fantasy where it's possible to be a pacifist. In fact, it's not only possible, it's necessary for the survival of the world. And when that slowly sank in, I may have just hugged the book to myself for a moment and felt redeemed.
Also, these are books about religion and economics and the lives of older women, and I can't think why I haven't already recommended them to amaebi
. So here is that recommendation.
There were a few moments that didn't work for me: ( spoiler spoiler spoiler )
Geder remains one of the most fascinating characters I've ever encountered. He has a handful of clashing personality traits and carries them all to extremes and then further, and he finds the most fascinating ways to justify his appalling behavior to himself. He is a complete scathing takedown of the insecure nerdy guy that most fantasy novels cater to; the moral of the story is, basically, "don't be this guy". You could write dissertations about him. I hope someone does.
Clara is the best and I want to be like her when I grow up.
I found the first book or two fairly predictable. This one was not. I appreciate that a lot. Verdict:
I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to seeing where the series goes.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share if they don't mind reading about a lot of violence and brutality and a creepy creepy man thinking creepy creepy objectifying thoughts about a woman he thinks he loves. So creepy. Brrr.
I had my four-week follow-up appointment today for the experimental Ménière's treatment. IT WORKED LIKE GANGBUSTERS. I haven't had any vertigo for those entire four weeks, and wow the difference between my hearing tests! I actually gasped when I saw the audiogram. My right ear upper-range hearing is in the "normal" part of the chart for the first time in a year or more--almost as good as my left ear--and my word recognition went from 70% four weeks ago to 96% today. This is the sort of result that drug manufacturers want to decorate with gold leaf and parade around to funders.
I obviously already knew that I hadn't had vertigo and that my hearing was a lot better. But it's one thing to know that and another to see it written down, you know? And it makes me extra happy that I'm participating in a study that will help this treatment get FDA approval so other people can benefit from it too.
Also, the otologist confirmed that my eardrum is completely healed; you can't even see the injection site. So if I need future injections, I'm confident that my body will cope well.
Yay modern medicine. :)
EDIT: If you have Ménière's and you're in the U.S., you may qualify to enroll in the study. Info at http://menieresdiseasestudy.com/
. Obviously my individual response to treatment is no guarantee that other people will respond the same way, and half the study participants will receive the placebo rather than the steroid, but I would still strongly encourage anyone with active Ménière's to investigate it.
The lack of posting is not due to a lack of things going on; rather the opposite. Yesterday I created a calendar item that goes from mid-May to mid-July next year. It's labeled "RT, BEA, romance feature, announcements, Readercon, RWA" and it takes up the entirety of my freelance calendar for those eight weeks. I didn't even go to RT this year, and I barely went to BEA, and I'm still drowning because I made the mistake of taking on big freelance gigs during summer crunch time. While adjusting to working from home. And nesting, which is a surprisingly time-consuming occupation.
Today the three of us started the day with lovely giggly cuddles. In the afternoon Nora and Tea and Josh S. came over and unpacked and shelved books under X's direction while J and I built bookcases. The job isn't finished by any means (not least because one of the bookcases we got from IKEA is missing a significant part, and we won't be able to go there and pick up a replacement for another two weeks) but the library is starting to look like a library! I also organized the guest room so there's room to build the couch, and J gleefully demolished an enormous ratty old cabinet we referred to as "the white thing" and are all really glad to be rid of.
After everyone left, we ordered food and napped until it arrived. I have a fabulous sweet photo of X and J all cuddled up and dozing. I can't decide whether to share it with the world or just hug it to myself forever. After we all ate dinner at J went to bed, X and I watched Nueve Reinas and managed not to fall asleep on each other, though it was a near thing.
This is what I mean by nesting: alternating between upgrading infrastructure and snuggling, with the goal of increased familial happiness and comfort. It's one of my favorite ways to spend my time. X is all hopped up on hormones and cuddly and affectionate, and X and J recently clicked in a way they hadn't before and are being totally adorable with each other, and our new house is just so wonderful, and we have all this furniture to build. I could happily nest forever.
That said, I'm feeling a little short on alone-time, which I've been getting late at night and into the early morning. (It's 04:30 right now and that's not the latest I've gone to bed this week.) I've stopped going to therapy (at my therp's instigation), so I'm not getting my Friday solo evenings out anymore. Last weekend was BEA, which was the usual glut of meetings, and there's something social going on every weekend in June. Working from home helps to balance that out, but of course work time is not entirely restorative. And when I'm in nesting mode it's so hard to make myself go into my room and shut the door, even when I know it's what I need. But I do need it, and I also need sleep, so I should probably figure out some way to get both.
Oh hey, it's getting light out. That's my cue to go to bed. I will be glad when we're past solstice and the nights stay nights for just a little longer.
- thinking about:
behavior.domesticity, body.body clock, body.sleep, events.parties, experiences.housework, experiences.socializing, experiences.therapy, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.introversion, people.josh, people.xtina, places.home
Things I'm supposed to do this weekend:
* Edit reviews.
* Edit articles.
* Edit more reviews.
* Work on fall announcements.
* Write an edit letter for a client.
* Help Emily with Readercon stuff.
* Build furniture.
Things I actually want to do this weekend:
* Laze around with my family, snuggling and giggling and enjoying the delicious late-spring breeze.
* Play video games.
So far the latter is winning out.
The practical thing, time-wise, would have been to take a cab to IKEA. Cost: $30, 15 minutes.
The practical thing, money-wise, would have been to take public transit to IKEA. Cost: $2.50, 1 hour. (Brooklyn has hub-and-spoke trains that make it very hard to get from some parts to other parts. There's no good direct transit between Crown Heights and Red Hook. At all.)
But J pointed out that ferries run there from Wall Street, and Wall Street is very easy to get to from here, even on a construction weekend when the trains are partly replaced by shuttle buses. And I started to say "Well..." and suggest something more practical, and then I remembered this whole idea of whimsy and play. And I like ferries. And I like adventures with J, when I let myself have them.
So we took the shuttle bus to the train, and the train to Wall Street. Two little girls from Sydney sat next to me and were fascinated by my knitting, and I joked around with them while J gave their mother directions to Houston Street ("Hyu-ston? How-ston?"). We just missed a ferry and the next one wasn't for 40 minutes, so J held our spot in line while I got us drinks and we relaxed in the sun and talked about this and that and felt like tourists in our own city. The weather was perfect, sunny and breezy. The ferry trip itself was perfect, and we savored various shared and separate fond memories of other boat rides in Venice and Chicago and London and Sydney. IKEA was tolerable, and we met all our goals for the trip (find a comfortable sofabed, look at the other things we want to get to make sure they're what we're looking for). And we took a cab home, because some things are worth doing exactly once and I think the ferry to IKEA is one of them.
The nice thing about having been in therapy so many times over the years is that I can very efficiently diagnose my issues. Leaving aside medication effects for the moment, it seems clear that I've fallen into a familiar pattern with regard to strong emotions: I close them off in the name of efficiency, and then I get scared of opening them up again because what if they take over my entire life forever. But I miss feeling strong emotions, and I would like to figure out some relatively safe-feeling and comfortable ways to access them. Obviously not all strong emotions are safe or comfortable, but that can at least be mitigated a bit.
My fear is that I will spend all my time doing nothing but feeling things; I won't be able to function because all those feelings will be too big and distracting and overwhelming. I have actually experienced this multiple times, so I can't just say "That's a ridiculous fear and of course it won't happen". All my adolescent and adult life, being functional has been placed in direct opposition to having feelings. Intellect and willpower battle against emotion and psychological disturbance. I don't know how to change that. Given free rein, my emotions dominate my life. It's hard to negotiate with that; all I can think to do is fight them, to dominate them right back. Obviously that's not a healthy dynamic but I don't know how to get from here to... anywhere better, I guess. Whatever "better" is.
I don't even know what a happy collaboration of intellect and will and emotion and mental wiring would look like. The closest I can get is the experience of reading a book, where I willingly suspend my disbelief in order to feel whatever feelings the story is trying to evoke. With movies and TV, I often feel manipulated and helpless to stop it, and I'm rarely willing to subject myself to that. (There's a reason that most of the movies I love are caper films and comedies.) But with books there's more interaction and collaboration. Maybe I can do something with that, figure out how to approach innate feelings similarly to how I approach feelings induced by fiction.
My therp suggested a sort of emotional meditation where I ask "What am I feeling?" and spend some time just sitting with the answer and accepting it. That might be useful for getting reacquainted with my feelings in a sort of neutral, low-pressure way. I don't have to do anything with them or respond to them; the idea is simply to feel them. And if I start to feel overwhelmed, I can dial it back pretty easily by getting out of the meditative space.
The fun-every-day thing is starting to feel like an obligation that I'm failing to live up to, which is really not what I want, so I'm thinking about shifting away from the idea of "fun" and more toward "play", a word my therp used tonight that I latched onto. Playfulness sounds safe and unthreatening. It's not a Great Big Feel like excitement or exhilaration (I miss those too, but I think I have to work up to them), and it's not as specific as having fun. I can seek it in small moments here and there.
I've also realized that I don't really do fun or playfulness or anything like that when I'm alone (which I'm okay with and don't see as something that needs to be fixed). Alone-time is for self-care. It's not... whimsical. My whimsy comes out in interactions. Everything I can think of that's either fun or play is a thing I do with other people: having friends over for dinner, playing card games and hashtag games, cracking terrible jokes, going to gardens and museums and movies and parties. But being a semi-introvert means that I can't do fun interactive things every day; it would totally exhaust me. So the fun-every-day goal really is impossible to meet, and I need to set it aside and find other ways to motivate myself toward meeting my new year's resolutions.
If life is a mix of work, play, and rest, I've been doing nothing but work, with the idea that after the work is done I can rest and then I will wake up and play. This would be fine on a day-to-day scale. It's not fine on a season-to-season scale. Again, I need integration rather than compartmentalization.
Slow progress is still progress.
Fun things, May 19: mug cake followed by bath + book
May 20: long walk with J
May 21: teaching X how to breathe into stretching/exercising
May 22: testing a website and finding ways to break it
J and I started out just strolling aimlessly and ended up walking down Kingston Ave, the heart of the Lubavitcher part of Crown Heights. I have never felt so much like a tourist in all my life. I was wearing my usual summer casual clothes--men's knee-length shorts, loose unisex black t-shirt, sandals, cap--and very, very aware of my bare legs and ambiguous presentation. After we headed for home, J said, "You know people were staring at you, right?" Yes, I knew, and I very carefully didn't stare back. Important to be a good neighbor and all that.
We passed two stores advertising boys' suits. I gazed at them wistfully. J was not optimistic about my chances of getting good service should I attempt to shop there. He's probably right.
While we were walking, J defined "fun" as a thing that makes you say "That was fun! Let's do it again!". By this definition, I really do not have fun every day. Later I was talking with X, and I mentioned that I'd tried to make a list of fun things and ended up making a list of self-care things, which is also valuable but not the same. X gave me a sympathetic look and said, "It's like you've forgotten how to have fun."
Combine that with a separate recent conversation about there being a wall between me and my libido, and I think it's time for me to go off the Zoloft.
Except that I can't do that until September, because I told the people running the vertigo treatment study that I wouldn't change any of my medications until the study was done so as not to confound the results. I sent them a note asking whether it was possible to get an exception and they're checking with the study sponsor.
Today I got my IUD swapped out, which was the opposite of fun. But it's done, and once the cramping ebbs, I won't have to think about my uterus for another five years. (And I totally forgot to ask my gyno about the libido thing. Oh well.) And I got work done on a freelance project of a sort I haven't done in a while, which was enjoyable if not fun. And last night there was an awesome thunderstorm, which I enjoyed even though it wasn't fun. Life isn't terrible by any means. And the Zoloft has been very very very useful for the past year. But I think I'm done with having this blanket over my emotions.
- thinking about:
body.reproductive system, body.sex, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.weather, experiences.work.freelance, mind.feelings, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.libido, places.us.ny.new york.brooklyn
- feeling:quiet... too quiet
As parts of my life expand, other parts contract. Therefore:
1) J and I are not going to Loncon. If X gets pregnant in June or July, it'll be too early in the pregnancy for us to go to another country for two weeks. If not, we won't want to skip a cycle. In addition, the vertigo has eaten all of my sick leave and I need to keep my vacation time available as backup sick leave. So we're looking to sell our attending memberships. (I've already found someone to take our hotel room.) Let us know if you'd like to buy them.
2) I'm resigning from the Readercon concom, effective July 14 (the day after this year's convention). I've been very non-participatory this year and at this point it really doesn't make sense for me to keep a concom vote. I'm not yet sure whether I'll be leaving the safety committee or the program committee; if I stay on either it will be in a pretty low-commitment fashion.
3) I have five tabs on Hootsuite: no spoons (cat photos and tweets about Long Hidden), low spoons (tweets from my "family" list, mentions for my locked account, DMs), some spoons (my locked account home feed, mentions for @rosefox, random funny/surreal things on my "nifty" list, NYC-related news and info), many spoons (my "quiltbag-poly" list, retweets of my tweets), all the spoons (my @rosefox home feed, my "politics" list). I just deleted the last two tabs. With everything else that's going on right now, I don't ever actually have many spoons, let alone all the spoons; I can't deal with full-on Twitter right now, and that means I shouldn't make Twitter deal with me. Today's incredibly stressful set of conversations/arguments about trigger warnings was the last straw. I will still see replies/mentions, I'll keep tweeting about cats and cooking and health and various other random things, and I'll keep up with my nearest and dearest. That's about as much as I can handle.
Still keeping up on LJ/DW, but that's neither difficult nor likely to be rage-inducing these days.