Hey, it's been a while since I did this:
Fun things, Mar 6: inadvertently launched the #SoWeary hashtag on Twitter
Mar 7: went to Dave and Danielle's new place, hung out with them for a bit, and acquired their empty book boxes (hooray for synchronous moving)
Mar 8: went out with X in the SUN SUN SUN and got haircuts
Mar 9: MORE SUN and good talking and happy fun snuggles with the spouses
Mar 10: felt totally on the ball at work and got lots done (work is fun when I'm in the groove!), opened this week's issue of PW
to find a review of MY BOOK
:D :D :D
I'm going to leave off doing the hour-by-hour logs because a) it's difficult to keep track of things while I'm at work and b) at this point I'm pretty comfortable with the steroids. I'm constantly thirsty (though not badly dehydrated) and peckish (though not starving) and beyond that I can't identify any side effects at all. That's pretty great.
All ear things have been great today. It's marvelous to be able to hear clearly with my right ear again! I hadn't realized just how much I'd gotten used to reduced hearing in that ear. If systemic steroids didn't have nasty side effects when used long-term I'd seriously consider seeing whether my doctor thought that might be a good way of keeping the Menière's in check.
Unfortunately, there's no way to tell whether the steroids are having an effect on the vertigo, because it was already trending in the direction of going away on its own. But the steroids are definitely doing something
for my ear, so I hope they're helping to make sure the vertigo goes away and stays away. I'll just have to wait and see.
Today I was full of energy and focus in a way I haven't been in weeks. I got SO MUCH done. And then I came home and did more, both household things and work things. And now I'm wiped out, because I haven't been sleeping quite enough, so I'm going to take my nighttime dose of meds and go get some good sleep.
Plan for tomorrow:
Finish the freelance gig that was supposed to be done last week
(I'm very grateful to my client for being flexible)
Evaluate a potential client's manuscript and write back to her
Vacuum the living room and hallway
Find some excuse to go out in the warmth and sun
(I sat on the back deck and worked for an hour!)
* Proofread Long Hidden
Have a really good date with Josh
* Keep proofreading Long Hidden
I have so much to catch up on. But it feels so good to be able to do it! I just have to be careful not to run myself into the ground, especially with the steroids depressing my immune system.
Bah, I'm in that state where I can't tell whether I'm starting to get a little vertigo or just wobbly from being tired. Probably just tired. Bedtime for sure.
EDIT: When I'm sitting in bed and I close my eyes, the room tilts a bit. When I'm standing and I close my eyes, it's perfectly steady. I'm going to firmly call that "just tired".
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.planning, body.ears, body.illness, body.tiredness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance
It occurs to me that these logs should be tagged with a content note that I'm sodium-counting and being very careful about what I eat, so heads-up to anyone who might have stuff triggered by those things.
Today in numbers:
20 mg methylprednisolone
2.5 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
12.5 mg sertraline
1 g calcium carbonate
0 mg meclizine (yay!)
455 mg sodium
2 hours looking at apartments
0 feasible apartments
1 household meeting
2 rounds of talk-snuggle-smooch (yay!)
1 hour lost to DST (grrr)( Log )
I remain astonished by how well I tolerate the mpn. By all rights, given how ultra-sensitive I am both to stomach irritants and to mood agitators, I should be feeling wretched. Instead I feel great. This time around it's not even making me ravenous. And wow, it's so nice to be able to hear again!
Taking all that taurine is probably a big part of why I feel so mellow and cheerful. Maybe I should make it a daily thing (though not at these levels).
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.antacids, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.drugs.taurine, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.moving, food, food.cooking, food.nutrition, food.nutrition.salt
Embarking on my second biennial course of steroid treatment for Menière's symptoms (last time it was tinnitus, this time it's vertigo). No vertigo since evening of Sunday 3/2. Aggressively low-salt diet (under 700 mg/day) for the past week. Hearing in right ear has been reduced, but no ringing, just the quiet rushing/roaring sound that I associate more with "ear is blocked"; Menière's tinnitus for me is more like the extremely high noise of "someone left the television on and muted".
Today in numbers:
24 mg methylprednisolone
12.5 mg meclizine
12.5 mg sertraline
3 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
1 g calcium carbonate
580 mg sodium plus whatever's in the tap water I've been drinking steadily all day
5 hours of mild, non-nauseated vertigo
1 bout of tinnitus (ongoing, variable)
1 bout of frustrated tears (brief)
0 panic attacks( Log )
I had hoped for better, I admit. I'm just so glad I didn't need to take more meclizine. The hangover is usually about 12 hours per 12.5 mg, so I'm hoping that by the time I wake up my head will no longer feel like a balloon. Most importantly, I had very little of that staring-into-space can't-form-words thing, which is what I most despise about the stuff.
I think I really might have to keep my sodium intake under 500 mg a day for a few weeks, and spread it out more (no more having half my quota for breakfast!).
No words for how incredibly incredibly maddening this is. I sure hope the steroids help because I am ready to break things.
On the bright side, no panic attacks. I'm taking a bit less taurine than I did last time, and the Zoloft appears to be making up the difference. Yay drugs that work.
- thinking about:
body.body clock, body.ears, body.hair, body.illness, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.antacids, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.drugs.taurine, experiences.drugs.zoloft, food, food.nutrition, food.nutrition.salt
I saw a very nice otologist today who confirmed the Menière's diagnosis (not that anyone's really surprised) and suggested a course of steroids to treat the current flare-up. I took steroids for a flare two years ago, and I remembered that I'd made some notes about it in my journal, so I went back and looked.
a) I tagged all the posts so I could find them easily.* Yes, it took a bit of work to do the initial set-up of my meticulous tagging system. Yes, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.
b) My "notes" were hour-by-hour logs of my physical and emotional reactions and what I did, ranging from "this visualization technique helped with a wave of anxiety" to "a friend says I have to take the pills with food, but the literature disagrees, and I feel fine as long as I take antacids twice a day". For the full six days.
Now I feel completely prepared! Taking new meds really stresses me out, especially when they can exacerbate my chronic anxiety, and it's wonderful to be going into this course of treatment feeling so relaxed and ready. Thanks, past-me!
Also, today's tests show that the flare isn't any worse than past flares have been, which means the condition isn't progressing, which is VERY good news. The doctor was fabulous and didn't talk down to me. He told me about a pilot study for a new treatment that might be really helpful for me, and I won't disqualify myself from treatment by taking the steroids, so I can wait to see whether they work before trying a new thing. His office staff comfortably called me "Rose" (I don't always out myself as trans* to customer-facing folks, but I do ask them to use my first name because I hate having gendered titles applied to me), and they got me out of there quickly enough that I could get to work not too late and get a lot of work done. So for a day that could have been pretty awful, it's been pretty great.
* If anyone's curious, the posts are here
. My biochemistry and neurochemistry are a bit wacky, so my experiences may not be applicable to anyone else's.
Usual request: Please don't offer medical advice unless you think I'm about to do something that will significantly harm me.
Fun things, Mar 4: made a delicious salt-free dinner with J for our date night: tilapia on a bed of mirepoix, sautéed fennel, white rice.
Mar 5: tea with Gail Carriger, who complimented my outfit
. (Those are lousy pictures but you get the gist. The knot is an Ellie knot
, which I love because it looks really impressive and I can tie it the night before so I don't have to rush in the morning.)
Also: felt human, thought coherent thoughts, typed without typos. For the first time in days.
Also: cried and raged and still felt stifled and choked no matter how much I cried and raged.
I told J--rather alarming him, I think--that I am always full of anger and pain. That's why I work so hard on being happy and productive. This is both true and not true; yes, I'm generally not all that good at expressing it when I'm angry or hurt, but I'm a lot better at it than I used to be, and I don't stifle it much. I'm just really angry and hurt right now. (Both in the sense of "WTF body, why are you doing this to me?!".)
The difference between vertigo and anxiety is that when I close my eyes and the room tilts and I say "No
" and it stops tilting, that's anxiety. And if it doesn't stop, that's vertigo.
Depression is exhausting. Hey, guess what happens when I'm depressed and/or exhausted? I start to feel a little loopy and disconnected, the room starts to tilt...
No idea how much worse I'd be feeling right now without Zoloft and taurine. Don't want to think about it.
I think I'm basically having a panic attack all the time right now. I'm so tense that my jaw aches. But if I unwound I wouldn't be able to function and I have to function. I'm behind on everything.
Boobs are sore, so I get PMS on top of everything else, YAY.
Hate this hate this hate this.
No comments. Can't deal.
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.anger, mind.feelings.hurt, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, mind.wiring.depression, stuff.clothes
Meclizine/vertigo dreams are... a thing. Lots of water and motion; no surprise there. Very vivid. These are the ones I remember from the past week:
I dreamed that I was in a tour airplane that was super comfortable. I lounged in a plush recliner. We flew low to the ground, swooping about, visiting wonders of the world: a prehistoric whale skeleton embedded in a mountain, that sort of thing. Unfortunately my racist subconscious populated the Amazon jungle with stereotypical spear-chucking natives who saved us from poisonous water snakes while mocking the clueless white tourists. Way to go, brain.
I dreamed that I was sailing in shallow waters and a great white shark rose up to attack us. (I think the water was so shallow that it had no choice but to swim near the surface.) I killed it with a harpoon. The older guy I was with wanted me to marry his son, and he hinted that the shark's testicles would make excellent wedding gifts, or perhaps presents for our future twin children. Alas, as I discovered when I woke up and went directly to Google, sharks have internal testes, not testicles.
I dreamed that I read a story in a book where the color of the text and the paper changed with the mood of the story. If you didn't like this, you could tilt the book at a certain angle and change it back to black text on a white page. The story was about someone who psychically bonded with a horse, and it was so beautiful and moving that the ending--where the horse disappears but lives on in the person's mind--reduced me to sobs. I put the book back in the library and went back into the other room, where I broke my glasses (maybe from crying so hard? not clear). Nisi Shawl very graciously offered me hers, even though we have totally different prescriptions.
I dreamed that a small press hired me to edit an anthology of aquatic horror stories. I was very firm about wanting NON-Lovecraftian work. We argued over whether the title should be From the Deep or From the Deeps. When I woke up I had a head full of submission guidelines and ideas. (I tweeted about it and a couple of people suggested I do a Kickstarter. HAHAHA no. Way too much work. I just want a publisher to pay me so I can focus on editing instead of relentless promo.)
I dreamed that I drove from California to Arizona to visit Miriam. On my mental map, Arizona was about where Kansas is, a straight shot east from San Francisco over a picturesque mountain range. On the way back, Miriam and I went to get haircuts and when I said "clipper cut" the barber--who looked like Cypher from The Matrix and had a similar attitude--began to shave the back and sides of my head. Miriam was appalled, as was the owner of the barbershop, but I pointed out that my hair was long enough on top to cover the shaved parts and I actually kind of liked it.
And now I'm awake and my head is CLEAR and I can THINK and I am going to go do ALL THE WORK.
Fun things, Mar 3: I took a shower. Okay, so it wasn't fun in the sense of "whee fun!", but it felt very good to a) be able to stand up for that long and b) get clean.
Also I ate real food, thanks to J making good use of our spice cabinet. Cumin thyme chicken is entirely tasty without salt.
This time the meclizine hangover only took 24 hours to wear off to the point where I could string three words together. On the bright side, I'm functional again! On the dim side, this bolsters my concern about it being less effective than it was. J suggested I just get a prescription for mild sedatives with a shorter half-life, to help me sleep through the mild vertigo bouts that the meclizine doesn't really help with. I have a specialist appointment on Friday--this is second-tier specialization, my fab ENT referring me to an otologist--and will ask about it then.
Maybe this will help me get over my fear of sedation. A few nights ago I was shaking with anxiety over going to sleep, because I'd had two bouts of vertigo wake me up. At some point last week I had a night where I woke up every two hours: "Vertigo yet? No? Good. Back to sleep, then." But when the room starts tilting and spinning, all I want is to not be there for it. Yes, sedate me, please. A panic attack over the loss of control and/or the tiny remote possibility of dying in my sleep would be far preferable to the hideous merry-go-round.
Today was a grimly cheerful day; I got the sobbing and shouting over with on Saturday, a storm that came out of nowhere and left me gasping and weeping and snarling with rage as X gently rubbed my back and made appropriate soothing noises. "I'm afraid of sleep, eating, and sex," I said bitterly. "What's next? Being afraid of breathing? No wait, I had that with the bronchitis. Fear of taking a shit? Fear of shelter? What else on Maslow's lowest tiers can I be afraid of?" Even when I'm a miserable mess, I'm an intellectual miserable mess.
I'd hoped to stop taking the Zoloft this month, since I was doing so much better with the anxiety and depression, and we're at least theoretically past the worst of the winter. (WINTER. GO AWAY.) But I think I need to stay on it until the vertigo stops being chronic. Bonus: both sertraline and meclizine dehydrate me. Bonus bonus: vertigo nausea makes it hard to drink water. And then dehydration makes me dizzy, woo! *punches everything*
The ENT thinks the vertigo is a response to some sort of precipitating event--though there are no obvious candidates for such an event--and the bouts are getting milder over time, so he predicts that it will go away and stay gone as long as I keep my salt intake low and don't do whatever I did that set it off. I hope he's right. Hope hope hope.
And now I sleep.
Fun things, Feb 28: another day eaten by vertigo :(
Mar 1: Skype date with Miriam and Alex, domesticity with X
Mar 2: snuggles with J and then with X before vertigo ate my face again
Friday morning's bout was less bad than Monday morning's bout: woke up spinny and queasy but not in deep distress, whacked it immediately with 25 mg of meclizine, went back to bed, even managed to get to work for a few hours.
Sunday evening's bout was less bad than Friday morning's bout: wasn't even sure it was vertigo for an hour or so. Unfortunately the meclizine also wasn't sure it was vertigo, so it didn't really help, but it did eventually sedate me to the point where I could sleep despite my bed rocking like a cradle whenever I closed my eyes. (Being rocked in a cradle is not as soothing as one might expect when one is fully aware that the "cradle" is an unmoving bed.) Unfortunately I needed 37.5 mg of it to do that, so I am not functional today.
Another day off from work. That's four of my five sick days for the year used up. Work people are being lovely, freelance client gladly gave me an extension, but I hate it, I hate being behind on everything, I hate my head feeling like a balloon (where is Peter Cook with a pin to help me with this
), I hate it.
I refuse to say "I need a vertigo userpic". REFUSE.
Fun things, Feb 26: that was only yesterday, why is it so hard to remember back that far? Oh right, I had tea with the VanderMeers, that was lovely.
Feb 27: an excellent chatty dinner with supertailz
, who took away some things from the infinitely huge pile of clothes I'm getting rid of, and I got to hang out with kythryne
for a bit after that.
Forecast.io says it's 9F outside. I would like to register a complaint. I bought Yaktrax for walking on ice and overboots for walking through puddles, but it's not icy or wet out, just cold
. We're supposed to get close to a foot of heavy snow on Monday, though, so I guess the new gear will get a workout then.
The overboots fit perfectly over my falling-apart hiking boots. Then I pulled the overboots off and the soles of the hiking boots came off with them. That was not what I expected. So now "I should get new hiking boots at some point" has been upgraded to "I need new hiking boots with very sturdily attached soles", and I wear the overboots over my loafers, which they fit a bit more loosely. It's odd getting used to my feet being two sizes bigger than usual. The overboots sure do keep my feet warm and dry, though, and they don't chafe my ankles like rubber rain boots do. I'll be very glad of them come summer thunderstorm season.
I like pretending that there will ever be summer. It's a fun game to distract me from the endless wind and clouds and snow.
26) Tina Essmaker's 2013 interview with Merlin Mann.
I kind of want to quote the whole thing because he's the first person I've ever heard talk about his life the way I talk about my life. Like this:
"I've never been very ambitious, especially as a kid."
"I wish I could be more helpful and say, 'You should find your dream path and paint a rainbow to your love cloud!' But, most of us are so stuck in this notion of how stuff should go that we want to find one of seven stories that matches our narrative. The fact is that most of us are wandering around, scared shitless, wondering what the fuck's going to happen next.... I understand that you’re asking me this because you’re trying to get the narrative, but my narrative is that I've never known what’s coming next—I still don't." (YES. YES. ALL OF THIS. YES.)
"I always felt like people who consider themselves to be successful, creative go-getters want to go out and win a contest, make a comic book, or write a rock opera in high school. I, on the other hand, gave up on stuff very easily. I had so little experience with a lot of the things I thought I wanted to do that when I started doing them and it didn’t come easily, or I didn't get great acclaim for it, I gave up very quickly."
"I think a lot about do-ability with whatever silly project I want to do next. I don’t think about whether something is easy or not: I think about what trade-offs I have to accept in order to do it well, on time, and on budget." (This is KEY to being both a very go-do-things person and functional/sane. The cost-benefit analysis is everything.)
"It's about doing something, even if it's stupid, and getting through it as far as you can. It's not about thinking that you’ll learn from your mistakes. It's a matter of saying, 'Here's what I learned that I'm capable of that surprised me,' or, 'Here’s what I learned I could do, but it takes a lot more time than I thought.' It's weird: the things that seem easy can be so hard, and the things that seem difficult can be surprisingly enjoyable."
And so on. He says some very smart stuff and makes reference to some smart people (and now I want to research Mihaly Csíkszentmihalyi's analysis of "flow"
), but mostly he says stuff that sounds like me
, and it's so marvelous to unexpectedly stumble across a kindred spirit.Verdict:
I want to print it out and put it up on my wall or something. Or turn the best quotes into embroidery.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. I think a lot of what Mann talks about is hard to learn or identify with except through experience, but it's certainly an excellent glimpse into my head.
Thanks for the kind words on the previous entry. I am feeling much better. Yay modern medicine (even if the meclizine hangover did last well into this evening, to the point where half of my date with Josh was dinner and the other half was a nap).
Fun things, Feb 25: swapped some entertaining emails with my father.
25) The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell. (Book.) Sequel to London Falling. The premise is that a spirit of some sort is horrifically murdering rich white men, in ways that recall Jack the Ripper, while London erupts in class-based riots. Our Heroes--three tolerably decent police officers and one extremely good data analyst, all afflicted with the Sight--have to figure out who or what the spirit is and how to stop it. This is made more difficult by the rioting, and the police going on strike, and two of the protagonists desperately pursuing some significant magic for their personal use.
I still have no idea how to write about this book, even though my head is clearer now. It's very gory, in ways that took me aback, and I've read and enjoyed some pretty gory horror in my time. There's nothing titillating about it whatsoever. These may look like urban fantasy novels, but they're really horror novels with a thin coating of urban fantasy to make the bitter pill a little easier to swallow. Neil Gaiman appears in the book not just as a cameo but as a character who does plot-moving and rather upsetting things, and that felt very weird to me. (An afterword says Gaiman approved the whole thing, so it's not like it was done without his consent or knowledge. It still felt weird, maybe partly because the setting is clearly one step removed from real-world London and it's jarring to see a real person in that not-real setting.) There's also a revelation that Cornell slips in rather late in the book that undermines a significant part of what the protagonists think they understand about the world they're in, in a way that's clearly deliberate, and I really wonder what the characters will do when they find out about it.
Two of the cops are black, and the scenes where they infiltrate the mostly white subculture of magic-users--who are themselves caught up in an old guard/new guard schism--are a sharp and spot-on indictment of recent events in fandom. I wonder how many people will see that. I don't think Cornell is trying to be subtle about it, but I also don't think the people who most need to be aware of the parallels will catch them.
The gender stuff, the transformation of the Ripper murderers targeting vulnerable women into supernatural murders targeting privileged men, is... I can't talk about this without massive spoilers and there's really no point until the book is out and more people have read it, because it's the sort of thing I want to discuss with others, to get reality checks and feedback on, to analyze in a way that's very difficult to do solo.
It's not a comfortable book. It's not meant to be comfortable, especially for relatively privileged people. I can deal with that, and admire the intent behind it. But I'm pretty sure at least part of my discomfort was not the sort of discomfort I was supposed to feel.
Augh, I can't talk about it. Get back to me in the summer when it's out.
Verdict: I... don't know. I think I'm unlikely to reread it, but it won't stop me from reading the next book in the series.
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate, I think? Discourage if the gore and violence are likely to really bother them.
Fun things, Feb 22: had a lovely time at a friend's birthday party.
Feb 23: read a book.
Feb 24: no fun :(
I woke up at 5 a.m. on the 24th with terrible terrible
vertigo. ( Gory details )
Once I woke up again mid-afternoon, I had the meclizine hangover to contend with--it makes me all balloon-headed and spacy--and that ate the rest of the day. So my nearly two-month streak of daily fun is broken. :( I mean, I did things that on other days would count as fun, like playing S&P2, but I wasn't really capable of enjoying them.
On the evening of the 23rd I got a wave of what was either really bad PMS or a mild mixed episode. (Everything is relative.) All my feels were Very Big Feels and I went through a few oscillations of giddy and upset. I wonder whether there's some link between that and the vertigo. I also haven't been watching my salt intake, which apparently I need to do for the rest of my life because this is yet another chronic condition that I can manage but no one can cure. (I get so upset and angry when I think about this. I try not to think about it.) And the virus that gave me bronchitis might also have inflamed my eustachian tubes. So who knows, really.
Book report coming when I can think more clearly. I'm still a bit muddled. Meclizine is a wonder drug but the lingering effects are lousy.
Fun things, Feb 21: read another book. I appear to be thoroughly over my reader's block.
24) California Bones
by Greg Van Eekhout. (Book.) This is Ocean's Eleven
(the remake) as written by Tim Powers. That was probably the actual official pitch for the book and it doesn't matter because the influences are so
obvious. (The protagonist's name is Daniel! There's strange magic in the canals of Venice!) It's pure coincidence that I just watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
, but I wouldn't be surprised if that movie also influenced California Bones
, particularly its transmutation of Los Angeles politics. I caught a whiff of Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures
, too. Fortunately Van Eekhout knows how to use his borrowed tools, and the result feels like homage, not rip-off.
I love that the secondary protagonist is a bureaucrat of the earnest, cautious, skeptical school. He feels like a minor noble from an epic fantasy novel: someone who understands the system inside and out, and doesn't like it much, and gradually realizes that he doesn't get enough out of it to want to continue supporting it. I don't recall the last time I saw a character like that in a book like this, and his presence adds a very nice depth to the story.
There's something about the language that feels very YA--or maybe not the language? Maybe it's the focus on relationships: family, friends, bosses, exes. Anyway, it's not a bad thing, just a particular flavor that I suspect is left over from Van Eekhout's middle grade books. The focus on relationships also made it much easier for me to tolerate the protagonists and antagonists all being men. Daniel's gang of thieves is gender-balanced, but they don't really get developed, and the only other notable women in the book are Daniel's absent mother and a human plot point. If there's a conversation that passes the Bechdel test, I missed it.
This is a book with a very, very solid sense of place, which I always appreciate. It's also quite sensory, and it's particularly all about smells, which I thought was a totally fascinating choice. Smell is frequently overlooked, culturally and in literature, but it can be a powerful trigger for memories and emotions and other things that are difficult to put into words. I suspect this aspect of the book will make mrissa
I will be very interested to see how people compare California Bones
to Jamie Schultz's Premonitions
, which is another supernatural heist book set in Los Angeles and coming out this summer. Zeitgeists are fun.
I'm deliberately not saying anything about the plot because it's difficult to describe without getting spoilers everywhere. I'll just say that it held together pretty well for me, though I have one burning question about a thing at the end that didn't make sense to me. I might resort to asking the author directly (which I try not to do because it feels like cheating, but augh must know). Anyway, despite the heist and all, it's mostly not a plot-driven book. It's about oppression, and what oppression does to people down through generations; and about resource management, because non-Hollywood Los Angeles books are always about resource management no matter what else they try to be about and this one is very forthright about it; and, as noted above, about relationships. I liked it a lot.Verdict:
Good stuff.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. The only question is whether to share it before or after Dinner at Deviant's Palace
, at whose feet this book worships.
Fun things, Feb 20: read a book because I wanted to, and loved it.
23) Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare. (Book.) Quite improbably, this is a Regency romance about fandom. It has at least one Reddit in-joke. It takes a lot for a book to make me either really cry or really laugh, but this one had me chortling on the subway.
I've loved Dare's work since she stormed onto the scene a few years ago, because her women are so real. More than that, they insist on being real. Izzy, the heroine of Romancing the Duke, has a particularly desperate need for realness, and she gets it from Ransom, perhaps the only man in England who's never read any of the extremely popular stories that Izzy's father published about "Little Izzy Goodnight". Since Ransom doesn't know the Izzy canon, he's free to take her as she is. (Which he does, deliciously.) Meanwhile, Ransom is dealing with an injury that left him blind and frequently in pain, on top of a lifetime of being unloved and a childhood in which there were no bedtime stories of any kind. All he wants is to be left alone, because that's all he knows. But as the book's conceit forces him to contend with Izzy's company, he comes to appreciate her charming blend of pragmatism, imagination, and sincere kindness, and she slowly draws him out of his shell.
And then her fans show up, in costume, with banners... and they demand that Ransom prove he's a real Izzy fan and not just some fake geek boy.
The book is a love letter to fandom, both fervently supportive of it and affectionately aware of its flaws and foibles, and a love letter to love, as the best romance novels are. I have no idea whether it will work at all for historical romance readers who don't know much about present-day fannishness, but it sure worked for me.
I still can't believe she put in the Reddit joke.
Verdict: I want to hug this book. It goes straight onto the keeper shelf, where all of Dare's other books will keep it company.
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, absolutely! Ideally once they've found at least one fandom of their own so they can laugh at it in a knowledgeable way rather than in a "people don't actually behave this way, do they?" way.
Fun things, Feb 17: had the day off and spent it playing Swords & Potions 2. Yes, the whole day.
Feb 18: ramen-date with Josh.
Feb 19: went to KGB for the first time in a while, ran into old friends there, and enjoyed the readings.Swords & Potions 2
is basically the perfect game for me. I haven't been this hooked on something since Gemcraft. It's inverse D&D: you're a merchant outfitting adventurers, and you have to stock your shop with the things they want, which means hiring people to make items. The more items the workers make, the more they level up and learn how to make niftier items, which in turn are sought after by higher-level adventurers, who pay more money for them. You send adventurers on individual quests and help them form parties for bigger gigs, and they bring back gold and precious rare ingredients that can be turned into high-ticket items. As a bonus for interior design nerds like me, you have to figure out how to fit all your stuff (bins of materials, workbenches, displays and decorative items to draw in more customers--all of it different shapes and sizes) into your shop. As a bonus for urban planning nerds like me, your shop is in a town with other shops, and you balance investing in your own shop with joining the other townspeople in tithing to boost shared resources. Want your iron ore bin to refill faster so you can make more armor? Get everyone to pay a few thousand gold to upgrade the mine. And so on.
Gameplay is fast enough that I have to pay attention but slow enough that it's very easy on my arm and I can play left-handed with little difficulty. Think a slightly more relaxed Diner Dash or Airport Mania. Both the workers and the adventurers are splendidly diverse in race, gender, and body shape. (The wiki has pictures of workers
. I love the completely androgynous armorer
and the extremely cute engineer
.) I generally like the design sensibility a lot. Just when I was getting frustrated by the customers wanting more items than I could make, I hit level 40 and unlocked a third worker slot, and now I'm back to rapid-fire manufacturing for 20 minutes at a time and then taking a break so my resource bins can refill; this is also very good for my arm. There's just enough strategy in deciding which resource to fund next, how to balance tithes and shop improvement and keeping cash on hand to buy things from customers, who to hire so you deplete your resources equally, which customers to send on quests, and what to offer a customer when you don't have the thing they want. There's just enough luck in which customers come by and what they want or offer. It's a very good balance.
When I was perhaps 6 years old, I had a tiny little Casio VLT-1 keyboard with a calculator function
. (I have no idea why anyone thought this was a good combination.) Whenever I went to the grocery store with my mother, I would pick up free recipe pamphlets and coupons, take them home, and carefully cut out the pictures of food. I made a wobbly little cardboard shopping cart from the backs of notepaper pads, and filled it with the paper food, and rang up my "purchases" using the VLT-1 as a cash register. This was my idea of a good time. And apparently it still is.
(THERE IS A VIDEO OF SOMEONE USING A VLT-1
AAAAA that demo music is giving me FLASHBACKS
imagine this thing in the hands of a small child and feel pity for my parents)
When I was slightly older, my brother and I would play Dragon Warrior constantly for weeks on end. My mother got sick of the 8-bit music and would turn it off and put a record on instead. We were all quite fond of Keith Jarrett's Köln concert, and that became the Dragon Warrior soundtrack. On Monday I was playing S&P2, and on a whim I turned off the game music and put on the Jarrett album. Instant nostalgia! Except I was playing the wrong game! Except it was sort of the right game, only inside out! That was a fun bit of cognitive dissonance.
Media log:( It's kinky poly erotica, so if you don't want to read my thoughts on that, don't click )
Fun things, Feb 13: had dinner at my mom's place and watched Desk Set
with her and her inamorato.
Feb 14: wore a tie; treated myself to ice cream.
Feb 15: cooked an excellent dinner with J.
Feb 16: brunch with karnythia
and Tea and Nora; lovely family dinner; watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
with X because we both have tomorrow off work and can stay up late.
Cookery: We made braised chicken by following the French chicken inna pot
recipe (a.k.a. "self-carving chicken") from the ever-reliable Cook's Illustrated
, increasing the amount of vegetables (one sizeable onion, two carrots, a few stalks of celery), and pouring in .5 c white wine and 1.5 c chicken broth before putting the chicken atop the veg and sticking the pot in the oven. When the chicken was done, we pureed the veg with the defatted jus and an additional cup of broth to make a lovely thick gravy. The gravy was surprisingly orange from the carrots, but it tasted chickeny and delicious. The chicken wasn't fall-apart tender, but it was very juicy and flavorful. Sides were pan-roasted broccoli (fry stalks for 2 min, add florets and fry for 2 min, steam with salted water for 2 min, sauté for 2 min, serve) and crispy potatoes. Tonight I threw the leftover chicken into some almond cream, added microwave-steamed mixed veg, and poured it all over pasta for a quick tasty one-dish meal.
18) Desk Set.
(Movie.) Rewatch. I could swear my mother showed me this ages ago, but she says she doesn't remember having seen it. It remains terrific. It passes the Bechdel Test without even trying, Tracy and Hepburn have splendid chemistry, everyone sympathetic is an unabashed nerd, and the topic is so timely that it's really hard to believe it was made in 1957.
The character of Richard serves as an excellent reminder that the "nerd with no social skills" portrayal has not always come with a heaping helping of faux-Asperger's. He's not at all incapable of interacting with people; he just considers it low-priority. I love when his sly wit comes out, and when he says flirtatious things almost without realizing he's doing it. And let us note that he was played by an extremely handsome leading man with no thick glasses or nasal voice or physical clumsiness. Sometimes nerds are handsome and kempt (other than mismatched socks)! Who knew?
I want a remake where Emmy the computer is a robot, Richard is a woman, the Emmy/Richard/Bunny polyness is explicitly poly, and everything else remains exactly the same--except I wouldn't trust today's Hollywood with it. You just know someone would put more men in it to make it "more appealing to male viewers". Bah. It's a geeky movie about libraries and computers, a romantic comedy, and a movie about women's professional and emotional needs, and there is no contradiction there at all
Now I want to watch it again.Verdict:
Thumbs way up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
19) "The Public Voice of Women"
by Mary Beard. (Essay.) This is long enough to include here, and short enough for me to just say: go read this, right now. If you have time to be reading LJ you have time to read this essay. It pulls together vast amounts of history into a narrative of men telling women to be quiet. It's smart and thoughtful and painfully true. Share it around.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, for sure.
20) Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
(Movie.) Rewatch. I've seen this movie approximately a billion times, and every time I catch something I'd missed before. The melding of animation and live-action remains incredibly well done. Of course when I was a kid I missed all the bitter humor about Los Angeles transit and traffic; now it's what makes the movie really work for me. I still can't believe that someone said, "Hm, let's make a movie about how shady businessmen killed L.A.'s streetcars and built the freeway. I think the right way to do this is to have the main plot be about murder, adultery, and a cartoon rabbit." Hollywood is amazing.
This is the second movie in a month where I've said "Wait, that's Christopher Lloyd?!" (the first being The Addams Family
). What a genius that man is. Judge Doom would be ridiculous in lesser hands, but Lloyd turns him into one of the most genuinely creepy villains I've ever seen on the screen. His final scene is riveting, as is his soliloquy on his wondrous vision of on-ramps and gas stations and billboards. Everyone remembers Jessica Rabbit saying "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way" but right now all I can hear is Judge Doom breathing "My God, it will be beautiful"
The best.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share share share. I loved this movie when I was young--my brother had a tape of it and we practically wore it down--and I love it now.
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.2014.media log, experiences.movies, experiences.socializing, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.broccoli, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.pasta, ideas.feminism
Fun things, Feb 12: had a marvelous lunch with Joe Monti, watched Ocean's Eleven
16) Ocean's Eleven.
(Movie.) Rewatch. X showed this to me for the first time last year, I think, and we've watched it at least twice since then. I had a craving for it because kate_nepveu
mentioned Danny and Rusty as the perfect drift-compatible couple. Other than the Tess subplot, in which two men treat a woman like an object until one of them says he cares more about money and she decides the other one is suddenly awesome, it's basically perfect. The con is complex and just enough things go wrong to make the outcome uncertain. The complete lack of chemistry between Danny and Tess is more than made up for by the Danny/Rusty friendship. Carl Reiner is so wonderful that I even forgive him for his involvement in The Adventures of Captain Cross Dresser
. And unlike the original Ocean's 11
, the pacing is great, the acting is terrific, the dialogue is hilarious, and I can tell all the actors apart.Verdict:
A++++++ will watch again and again.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, probably until they're sick of it.
17) Ancillary Justice.
(Book.) DNF. I could pretend that I'm going to pick this up again, but I put it down weeks ago and feel no urge to go back to it, so it's time to DNF it and move on. My hopes were raised by everyone squeeing about how adventurous and radical its treatment of gender is, but while that might be true compared to other SF, it's pretty bland compared to the conversations I see among trans* folks on Twitter and Tumblr every day. It also goes ON and ON about gender in a way I find tremendously grating. A lot of SF forgets that technology is a tool, and gets caught up in technical jargon that no one would actually use in real life. I don't remove a pressurized can of carbonated sugary beverage from the home refrigeration unit; I take a soda out of the fridge. The way Ancillary Justice
's protagonist talks about gender is precisely equivalent to the worst sort of jargony space opera. Actual quotes from page 3 (3!) of the ARC:
She was probably male, to judge from the angular mazelike patterns quilting her shirt.
I am already bored. This is boring. I would rather put down the book and call my egg-producing parent, whom I refer to as my mother because blah blah blah. Oh, and in this totally radical far future, clothing is apparently a very reliable indicator of gender identity. How... convenient.
It didn't help that cues meant to distinguish gender changed from place to place, sometimes radically, and rarely made much sense to me.
CRY MOAR. This whining is pure cis privilege, the gender equivalent of "I don't see race, so stop talking about it like it matters!". I realize the protagonist is supposed to be non-gendered, so I guess as a genderqueer person I'm supposed to identify with them? But since they come from a culture that "doesn't mark gender in any way"*, their approach to gendered cultures is sneering and disdainful, which is incredibly rude as well as being completely foreign to my experiences as a member of an actual minority who has always lived in an aggressively gendered culture.* When translating that culture's language, Leckie has made the peculiar choice to use female pronouns, words like "sister" and "grandmother", etc. for everyone. This is how you get constructions like "She was probably male": "she" just means "this person", and "male" is a foreign gender-concept being applied to a foreigner. Since English has perfectly good gender-neutral words like "they" and "sibling" and "grandparent" that could have been used instead, I assume Leckie's intent was to mess with the reader's head. I find this annoying. I also think it would have been genuinely more effective to use gender-neutral terms for and among the Radch, for the sharp contrast to the gendered terms used in gendered cultures. But then the reader would be much less confused, and much more sympathetic to Breq's struggles with gendered language, and that would be... bad?
I do not like tourists. Breq is not only a tourist but the former AI of a military ship that engaged in some very unpleasant culture-suppressing invasion and colonization. Oh, and they're basically emotionless, as far as I can tell from the 70 pages I read before giving up, and also a caricature of the bored (and therefore boring) hypersmart nerd forced to do menial work for less intelligent bureaucrats, and also insane. This isn't a character I have any interest in identifying with, or reading about. Is it supposed to be some sort of trans* revenge fantasy, where agender entities now have all the power and privilege and get to throw their weight around? Blech. Not my thing, at all.
But if you thought 2312
did shocking things with gender (a man who's given birth OMG WOW *eyeroll*), and you found the protagonist of The Magicians
extremely compelling and sympathetic, then you'll like this, I guess. I'm just tired of supposedly speculative fiction that's less interesting and complicated than the actual people I know in actual real life in the actual present day. And as someone who cares a great deal about gender, I am not the slightest bit interested in this portrayal of the superior agender culture and the constant snubbing of all gendered everything.Verdict:
Didn't throw it at the wall; just never got hooked.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate, I suppose, though any child raised in this household will probably not find the conceit terribly interesting.
To end on a happier note, here is what love looks like in my family:
J has had a hard day. I want to do something good for him. On my way out of work, I spot an ARC of the new Dresden Files novel, which I know both X and J want to read. Usually I'd leave it up to them to decide who gets it first, but I make the executive decision to give it to J because he could use cheering up. (I've also spotted Changes
on the shelf where X usually leaves in-progress books, and I'm pretty sure X will want to finish reading it before moving on to the new one, which gives J time to read it first.)
X and I spend at least half an hour affectionately teasing each other over this decision while J is buried in the book. Reading and teasing are briefly paused for dinner.
As usual, I say goodnight to J at 10, which is his bedtime, and go into X's room for tea. We snuggle up to watch a movie. Just past midnight, J--who's usually quite scrupulous about going to bed on time--comes in and hands X the book, which he has finished reading.
Reader, I melted. :) I love them both so much, and all the more when they're sweet to each other. My spouses are so great.
Fun things, Feb 10: X and I worked out for the first time in a while.
Feb 11: I wrote an extremely thorough crit for a freelance client. He is definitely getting his money's worth from me.
I suppose it doesn't make sense to note client manuscripts in the media log.
The workout was great. I just did a 10-minute strength-focused session (10 reps each of 5 exercises, focus on form, nothing too taxing) because my lungs are still recovering from the bronchitis, but it felt very good to get back to it, and I was able to breathe properly through the exercises without coughing at all. X and I are considering getting free weights and/or some sort of home workout machine thingy, since we're starting to run up against the limitations of bodyweight exercises braced on living room furniture; any recommendations?
Yesterday and today were very productive work-wise. I like that. It feels good. Of course it correlates with getting more sleep and sleeping at the proper time, so I'm going to stop writing this entry and go to bed.
Fun things, Feb 9: cooked a whopping great dinner and invited Tea over to share it. We had pot roast for the omnis and pan-fried chicken thighs for the pollotarian, plus mashed potatoes and maple thyme carrots. Dessert was a splendid vegan GF apple crumble with various ice creams.( Pot roast )
Pan-fried chicken thighs: salt and pepper skinless boneless thigh filets, heat oil in pan, fry chicken a few minutes on each side until cooked through.
Mashed potatoes: cook potatoes, mash with lots of Earth Balance and unsweetened almond milk.
Maple thyme carrot recipe here
.( Apple crumble )
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, food, food.baking, food.baking.apples, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, food.cooking.beef.pot roast, food.cooking.carrots, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.potatoes, food.recipes
I woke up to incredibly sad news: wcg
's younger daughter, Amanda (ladyalafair
), died very unexpectedly on Saturday morning
. I've known Bill going on twenty years, and Amanda for most of that, though I didn't know her well. She'd seen some very hard times in her 33 years, and come through them with grit and grace. She leaves behind a young daughter, a sister, and a recently widowed father. Poor Bill. :( I wish I were close enough to go keep him company; his house must feel very empty right now. I hope he's got lots of good friends around him.
I was pretty shaken up for the early part of the day. X and J were very understanding and let me cling to them a lot, and eventually J distracted me with shopping and cooking and socializing. But in the quiet moments, when I let myself think about it again, I'm just... bewildered. People my age aren't supposed to die in their sleep. Parents aren't supposed to have to mourn their children. No one should have to suffer the loss of his wife and his daughter in less than two years. It's outrageous and wrong and terrible and it doesn't make any sense at all.
I'm pretty sure I will always react to death this way. Sad, yes, because loss is sad, but mostly outraged and confused, because the concept of permanent loss is simply unfathomable.
Comments off. I'm not up for talking about this right now.
Fun things, Feb 7: dinner at my mom's place.
Feb 8: went erranding with X, went out with J to visit Daniel and trade soup for nine ARCs of Long Hidden
(!!!), cooked dinner with J, had a delightful family dinner full of joking around, helped X build furniture, snuggled with J, snuggled with X, played a bunch of Swords & Potions 2. A very good day.
Dinner was turkey meatballs, based on this recipe
, which came out very well: moist, flavorful, and containing only ingredients that all of us actively like and aren't allergic to. J was skeptical when I suggested meatballs, since we haven't made them in ages and for some reason he thought of them as a lot of work, but I pointed out that they're basically tiny hamburgers and how hard can it be? Turned out it wasn't hard at all. Recipe for my reference:
1.3 lb (one package) ground turkey*
2 Tbsp GF "breadcrumbs"
1 Tbsp mixed dried herbs (your standard Italian seasoning mix will do nicely), or 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs
2/3 cup grated carrot*
1 egg, whisked
A few grinds each of salt and pepper* If your package of turkey is only 1 pound, reduce the carrot to 1/2 cup.
Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients, mix thoroughly, and shape into 24 meatballs. Bake 20 minutes or until thermometer in the center of the largest meatball registers 170F.
We had them on a bed of rice and mixed veg, which worked very nicely. They'd be great in pasta, too. Now that we have a successful recipe, next time I'll get a three-pound "family pack" of turkey, make extras, freeze them raw, and label them "bake 30 minutes at 350F".
Fun things, Feb 5: stayed up until 4 a.m. playing Swords & Potions 2
. Oops on the 4 a.m. part--I belatedly realized that I'd turned off Chrome Nanny, and then I repeatedly failed my willpower saving throw--but it was exactly the sort of brainless game I needed.
Feb 6: more of the same, only this time I remembered to turn Nanny on so that it took my keys at 01:30 like it's supposed to.
I haven't been putting music in the media log, I realized today. It didn't occur to me to log it because I don't experience music the same way that I experience books or movies or television. It's more something I wear like clothes, or consume like food or meds; the decision of what to listen to is similarly driven by a combination of need-satisfying and whim. Today it was cold, so I wore a flannel shirt. Today I was at work late, so I played progressive house mixes to keep my energy up. Today I was a bit mopey and sad, so I ate some delicious tacos and very carefully did not
put on Information Society's Don't Be Afraid
Plus I never just listen to music. It's always a thing that happens while I'm doing something else. I grew up with Keith Jarrett's Köln concert as the soundtrack to Dragon Warrior
because my mother got sick of the 8-bit Nintendo noise; to this day, when I fire up the emulator for a few rounds of slime-squashing, I put on Jarrett in the background. I spent many an adolescent evening doing cross-stitch as Casey Kasem counted down the top 40, and my favorite knitting music is prog rock. I don't care whether it's incongruous as long as it keeps my mood where I want it to be.
So I think I will keep not logging it. I just wanted to walk through the reasons why that makes sense to me.
...now I'm having a craving for cross-stitch and Wilson Phillips.
Fun things, Feb 4: After a really lousy month and a half, J and I FINALLY had a purely nice date. We went out to a lovely dinner, walked a bit, came home, and snuggled. That maybe doesn't sound like much, but our recent date nights have involved things like fevers, panic attacks, and sobbing with grief, so I will totally take it.
I felt like I turned a corner health-wise today. I celebrated by scrubbing the bathroom sink for the first time in I don't know how long. Maybe this weekend I can vacuum! My priorities are perfectly
in order thank you very much
Also I gave myself an excellent close shave, and got a lot of work done (by which I mean sat around and read a chunk of my current client novel), and was permitted to scritch Alex under the chin for multiple minutes. It was a very nice day.
15) "A Hollow Play" by Amal El-Mohtar.
(Short story.) I love Amal's work and this story is no exception. It's gorgeous and the emotions in it are very powerful and very real. Love is hard, sometimes. Letting go of people you love is hard. I got teary-eyed at the story's climax. And the ending packs a wallop. I won't be surprised to see this on the Nebula shortlist.Verdict:
Thumbs way up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, most definitely.
Fun things, Feb 3: watched Nueve Reinas
while finishing knitting a slipper
X and I were going to watch The Mummy
but X was zonked and went to bed early, so I figured I'd put on something else familiar and see whether I could focus well enough to knit. It's not an ideal knitting movie, since it's in rapid-fire Spanish and I have to actually pay attention to the subtitles, but the slipper was almost done, so it worked well enough. And now I have one warm foot, hooray! This is the first socklike thing I've ever knitted and I'm pretty pleased with it. Now I just have to resist improving the pattern so that the second slipper will match the first one's imperfections.
14) Nueve Reinas.
(Movie.) Rewatch. Hard to say much about it without spoiling it, and since it's about con artists, one ideally watches it unspoiled. Unlike, say, The Sting
, it doesn't hold up incredibly well to rewatching. The leads are kind of one-note, which I think is more the fault of the script than of the actors. The character actors are all wonderful, though, and the plot sticks together pretty well. I'll enjoy showing it to X when they're in the mood for it.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, of course. Our child will be raised with a thorough knowledge of caper and con artist films, just as I was. *firm nod*
Fun things, Feb 1: made bacon sandwiches and waxed nostalgic about childhood breakfasts in bed at my grandparents' house
Feb 2: household meeting. I realize meetings aren't supposed to be fun, but ours are, which is really nice. I <3 my family.
(how is it February already
13) "Tiger Stripes" by Nghi Vo.
(Short story.) Nghi contributed a short story to Long Hidden
, and I found this one while Googling around to see whether she's on Twitter. (As far as I can tell she's not.) It's melodic and rhythmic and bittersweet and satisfying. I was relieved when it didn't follow the obvious romantic path; I like friend-stories. I probably won't reread it, but it's nice to have it snuggled up in a warm corner of my brain.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. It would be a great read-aloud story, since it has that folkloric oral-tradition feel to it.
I'm trying very hard to take it easy, really I am, but my clothes weren't going to put themselves away, nor was the cast iron pan going to clean and oil itself. I did stop myself from scrubbing the bathroom sink or emptying the dishwasher, though. And I didn't go outside today at all. And I huddled in bed instead of helping J cook dinner. For me this counts as extremely well-behaved.
I told X that I'm going to treat the bronchitis like tendinitis of the lungs, because tendinitis is a chronic condition that I understand. So: rest rest rest and more rest, and scrupulous daily treatment even when it doesn't feel necessary, and ignore feelings of "getting better" until I've gone multiple days entirely symptom-free. It will be annoying, especially all the resting. I will deal.
Speaking of arms, they seem to be entirely recovered from the flare-up last week. If only I had the energy for working out or the focus for knitting. *sigh*
- thinking about:
behavior.self-care, body.arms, body.illness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.2014.media log, experiences.annoyances, experiences.history, experiences.housework, experiences.love, experiences.reading, mind.feelings.nostalgia
Rose: today i went to the store and made lunch and ran the dishwasher and took out the trash and took out the recycling and took out the bathroom trash and took out my bedroom trash and it all felt SO GOOD
Xtina: next time you get sick, we're strappin' you to the bed
I felt so good, you see, that I foolishly said to J, "Let's go for a short walk, just down to the park next to the museum; it's nice out, 44 degrees and something like sunny." About 45 minutes later I was back home and completely freaking out about being short of breath. ( Cut for details of non-emergency breathing issues and panic )
Part of the problem is that I'm getting several kinds of weak/wobbly at once:
1) nose is stuffed up and lungs are inflamed, so breathing is more work than usual (though when I was at the doctor's my blood oxygen level was 98% so again, nothing genuinely scary going on there)
2) anxiety makes me dizzy
3) my right ear is blocked up and that makes me a different kind of dizzy
4) I'm low-energy from fighting off the virus
5) I didn't eat much for two days and I'm still getting my caloric intake back up
6) ditto sleep
So when I feel woozy I don't know what to do: eat? drink tea? take a hot shower? lie down? distract myself? push through it? sleep? freak out? stay home? see a doctor? It's very annoying, especially because so many of those things contradict one another. And I am so. tired. of sitting here doing nothing. It felt good to get to work yesterday, and good to move around today. I don't want to be sick and weak and wobbly! I want to be better! I drank orange juice with lunch; shouldn't that have instantly cured me of all ills and woes?
I think I should add "panic attack triggers" to my list of things to work on with my therp. Maybe at the top of the list. Especially if I'm going to go off the Zoloft, which I do really want to do.
In the meantime, I'm going to go take a hot shower to try and de-stuff my nose, and then go to bed.
I am really ready to be done with being sick. Really a lot.
(How glad am I that we got a 15-month lease and will be moving May 1 instead of today? SO glad.)
EDIT: See, this is what I mean. I'd been avoiding the shower because if I'm dizzy, humid heat often makes me feel dizzier. I finally took a shower and immediately felt my lungs open up like flowers in the sun. Wish I'd known it would work that way, oh, eight hours ago
. My body's diagnostics are crap
. "Feel bad!" "What kind of bad?" "Dunno! Bad!" *sigh*
And then Alex got out and went up four flights of stairs because what I really needed was to climb stairs. (For once the building hallway was cool rather than icy, probably because it was above freezing and sunny today, so at least I wasn't sucking in cold air while doing it.) Fortunately he took his time about it, so I could follow him slowly rather than attempting to run up the stairs--which I wouldn't want to do anyway as he is not a very graceful cat, and I didn't want to risk him freaking out about being chased and attempting a dangerous jump through the stairway railing--and the roof door was closed. I stood with my back to the wall and gave him a nice clear path back down the stairs, and eventually he decided going back down on his own was better than me carrying him, a sentiment I heartily shared. So that was my exercise for the day. Somewhat to my surprise, I'm not especially short of breath after that. I guess the shower helped a lot.
Anyway, he is back inside, and I'm in bed with moderately functional lungs and a moderately clear nose (also thanks to the shower). Of course I'm all wound up from cat-chasing, but I'm pretty sure the tiredness will overwhelm that soon.
Fun things, Jan 31: long hot bath.
I went to bed at 11 p.m. and tossed and turned until 4 a.m., when I awoke in the canonical puddle of broken-fever sweat. I've never experienced it so dramatically. After that I slept a blissful solid six hours and woke up feeling like a whole new person, or at least a less fevered one. I went to work, and got work done, and went to therping, and came home, and was an angry feminist on Twitter, and took a bath to soothe all the aching muscles in my torso, which have been most distressed by all the coughing. All of that except the bath was punctuated by getting calories into myself, since I've been very short on them the last few days. I rapidly graduated from smoothies to crackers to vegan pesto pasta to a hamburger with a fried egg on top (protein with more protein, the breakfast of champions) and no longer feel like my stomach is going to leap out of my mouth and consume random passers-by. My nose is now completely congested, but I only cough when I laugh or go between the very cold outdoors and the very warm indoors. I can live with that.
Last session, my therp and I agreed that I'm doing well enough to wind down therapy sometime soon. (My plan is to drop the Zoloft in March, once the winter blahs are done, and then stop the therapy once I'm over any post-Zoloft bumps, probably by June.) That got me thinking about how to make the best use of the time that's left. The two major complicated issues in my life right now are sleep and sex, and sleep is the one that has a greater effect on my day-to-day life, so I figured I'd start with that.
I brought it up today and explained that sleep isn't the problem; bedtime is. While discussing the pressure I feel to get things done before I go to sleep, which leads me to shortchange myself on sleep in order to fit everything in, I mentioned that I used to stay up until dawn because then I knew the day was over and I could relax. "That's interesting," the therp said, "because technically the day starts at midnight." "Depends who you ask," I said. "In the Jewish tradition, it starts the night before."
Then a full-spectrum bulb went on over my head. Slowly I developed the idea of thinking of "today" not as "from when I wake up until when I go to bed" but "from when evening begins until when afternoon ends". It's not so much about sunrise or sunset. It's about the time after I sleep being just as good a time for doing things as the time before I go to sleep. Having the time before sleep and the time after sleep be part of the same "day" somehow makes it much easier for me to transfer tasks from one to the other. Sleep becomes a sort of... elongated naptime, a pause, rather than a halt and reset.
In theory this will make it much easier for me to set those pressures aside and sleep when I want to. (And I do actively want to sleep from 02:00 to 10:00. I feel good when I keep those hours. I do not feel good when I keep other hours.) In theory. We'll see whether it sticks.
To that end, time for bed. :) And if there's anything I neglected to do today--well, when I wake up it will still be today, and I can do it then!
(Jewish friends, do any of you do the "day starts the evening before" thing in your daily lives, as opposed to just for Shabbat/holidays? Is that a thing at all? If so, I'd love to know about it.)
Fun things, Jan 29: watched this knife skills video class
because it was about all I could manage given how utterly wrecked I felt. It's actually a really cool set of videos and I learned a lot, though who knows how much my somewhat fevered brain retained. Looking forward to trying out some of the techniques once I'm well enough to cook.
Jan 30: uh. I think I have not done anything fun today at all. :( Unless you count playing a few rounds of Juice Cubes, poorly. --oh wait! I sent PDF ARCs to a couple of people who want to blurb or review Long Hidden
, and was very pleased by their enthusiasm about the book. I think that counts.
What I did do: coughed and felt my body temperature fluctuate (amazing how different 98F and 100F feel) and argued with people on Twitter and went to the doctor and did my best to get calories into myself. Man shall not live by soy milk and banana smoothies alone*, but they'll keep me going for a couple of days until I can tolerate the thought of actual food again.* Pro tip: when you have bananas about to go off, peel and halve them and freeze the halves. They're just the right size to stack neatly in a rectangular takeout container or square Ziploc container. I actually did kill a blender once with rock-solid frozen bananas; to avoid this, nuke them for 30–60 seconds before adding milk or your preferred milk substitute and blending. Four banana halves will be enough for a pint of smoothie.
Doctor says I have viral bronchitis and at some point it will go away. Fever should be gone by Monday; cough may take weeks to ebb; call her if any symptoms get worse or new ones show up. That's pretty much what I expected but good to have it confirmed.( TW: weight numbers and my thoughts on them )
My head hurts from looking at the screen nonstop all day after two mostly sleepless nights. I'm going to try to sleep in hopes of being able to go to work tomorrow. I'm tired of being floppy and useless and fleh.
Fun things, Jan 28: I have a fever of 100.2F--either the flu or a nasty cold--so I told Twitter it was a great time to ask me personal questions, and ended up in a deep discussion with Sofia Samatar and Jaymee Goh about the work of David and Leigh Eddings. I did not expect to have fun today, given that the fever is making my arms hurt and I had panic attacks all day, so bonus.
12) "Femimo" by Akwaeke Zara Emezi.
(Short story.) TW: explicit sex, sex work, rape of a teenager. NSFW, obviously. If you can handle the content, it's a brutal, very powerful story about a man grappling with his complicity in his friend's prostitution business. There's some really gorgeous language and imagery: "She moved privately, the way women move when they have stopped dancing for hungry men, a thing faithful to the music. It was beautiful and none of my business." I thought Emezi set herself a pretty big challenge and met it well.
That's about as eloquent as I can get about it given the fever, but also I figure people are either really going to be interested in reading it or really want to get as far from it as possible, given the content, so either way, no need for me to say much more.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Some kids would be totally fine with getting something like this from a parent. Others would really really not. So share if appropriate, and otherwise certainly tolerate.
Fun things, Jan 27: ate a perfect ripe pear with pomegranate seeds and chocolate chips. I'm trying to eat more fruit and veg; the chocolate makes it easy!
My heroes today are X for speaking up about a thing I did that bothered them, and J for cracking the perfect tension-dissolving joke during an emotional family conversation. (The source of the tension is external; all's entirely well with the three of us.)
I played too much Plants vs. Zombies and also worked out a few days ago and also had to do InCopy things with lots of fiddly little menus at work today, and my arm is more sore than it's been in months. I don't even remember the last time I had to do more than ice and stretch a bit, but I've taken 4 Advil so far today and will take 4 more before bed; alas for Celebrex interacting with Zoloft and thus not being an option. A good whack of Advil should mostly take care of it, though. (Don't be alarmed by my dosage levels. I took 3 x 4/day for months when my arms were chronically bad, before I finally got a doctor to prescribe me Celebrex. I still have a bit of a tolerance for it, but Tylenol does nothing for my arm aches, so Advil it is. I promise to drink lots of water and stay well under the maximum safe dosage of 4 x 4/day. Ideally I won't have to take any at all tomorrow.) I'm just annoyed because I really wanted to do a bunch of Long Hidden copy editing tomorrow and suspect I will need to rest my arm instead. Grr.
...and then I looked up Zoloft/Advil interaction and made myself panicky and called the 24-hour nurse hotline so a medical professional could reassure me that I'm not going to die. Nurse April was very helpful in that regard. I hate my anxbrain. I'm going to take some taurine and get some sleep before I have a chance to freak myself out over something else.
- thinking about:
body.arms, body.health, body.pain, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.annoyances, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.ibuprofen, experiences.work, food, food.fruit, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.family
Fun things, Jan 26: beat 18 flags in Plants vs. Zombies endless mode. Enjoyed catching up with my brother at my mother's birthday party.
Other than that it's been a pretty crap day, starting with being misgendered when I was barely awake and hadn't yet eaten, continuing through a lengthy Readercon meeting and someone being foolish and entitled at me on Twitter, and ending with a complicated and difficult email from someone I really care about, which means I'm going to need to put a lot of time and thought into responding. It's not doom, nor is it time-dependent, and I'm glad we're having this conversation. It's just... one more thing.
But tomorrow is another day. And I did manage to have fun.
V. quick because I'm v. tired.
Fun things, Jan 25: snuggled up with X to knit and watch The Addams Family and then snuggled up some more afterwards just to snuggle.
11) The Addams Family. (Movie.) I had entirely forgotten that this movie has the plot of Brat Farrar without the final twist. (I am very sad that the apparently excellent A&E adaptation of Brat Farrar isn't available in any digital format. And now I want to reread the book. I wonder where my copy is... our non-SF fiction is in some disorder.) I'd also forgotten that it prominently features scenes of Fester enduring heavy emotional abuse at the hands of his adoptive mother. But the Addamses are all splendid other than forgettable Pugsley--though it's perhaps not his fault that Christina Ricci easily steals every single scene she's in--and it's a nice mix of "it's fine for our family to be weird as long as we're all comfortable with the kind of weird we are" and "here's how to survive being weird in a mundane world". There are also some terrific visual gags, including a well-timed billboard for Tombstone pizza that had us in stitches.
Verdict: Thumbs up.
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, with conversation during/after about the ways that Dr. Pinder-Schloss manipulates Fester into doing the wrong thing in hopes of winning her approval and love, and about the difference between that abuse and the consensual death-games between Wednesday and Pugsley, or Morticia and Gomez's consensual kink.
Today I shaved my face and wore a dress. I like smooth skin, and the defined look my face has when I shave off the peach fuzz. I like that particular dress; it's a very unfancy tube of stretch cotton that's one of my favorite things to wear around the house. It didn't feel contradictory to combine them. It just felt comfortable.
The combination wasn't so much an experiment as a pointer to my current state of mind with regard to gender. It didn't occur to me until I was putting the dress on that I was, by recent standards, crossdressing. I didn't pick it out with that in mind. I just saw it as clothing suitable for the day I had planned (which involved lounging around the house with X and not going outside at all). Part of that is because I don't feel nearly as much need to perform any gender at all when I'm at home; with X and J and the cats, I'm just me, and I don't need that layer of "Hello, stranger, let me use my clothing to explain to you how you should address me" that I need out in the world. The other part is that I no longer feel nearly as jealously possessive and defensive of my masculinity, so I don't need to perform it every second of every day to feel like I'm "doing it right" or "really trans*".
These days my usual sleepwear is a pair of men's pajama pants or cotton shorts, and a women's v-neck t-shirt. I don't see a contradiction there either. Why should I get rid of these shirts just because they show my cleavage, and replace them with men's v-neck t-shirts that are really only slightly different? That seems wasteful and ridiculous. I wear them to sleep. Sleep doesn't care about gender.
I think the NRE with masculinity is starting to fade a bit. Cleaning out my closet helped, because I got rid of all the things that were about performing femininity by other people's standards and kept all the things that were about performing femininity by my standards, and that reminded me that I can still perform femininity by my standards. Being deliberately masculine has taught me a lot about being deliberately me, about listening to myself and thinking about why I do what I do. Conscious gender. I really want to bring that to femininity and be consciously, self-supportingly feminine. The clothes I kept are the ones that feel most appropriate to that.
(It's funny to realize that I'm doing what lots of transfeminine people do: dressing in female clothes at home to try it out before doing it out in the world, so I can figure out my style and build up my comfort levels.)
The hard part will be dealing with people who don't know me, who won't see a neutral person expressing femininity but will see a woman fitting into a woman-role. It might be be easier for me to hear "she" and "ma'am" when they match my presentation--right now I tend to want to gesture at my clothes and say "What part of this outfit says 'she' to you?", so clearly the mismatch is at least some of the issue--but I'm sure I'll still prefer "they", because it's the most true. I am plural, not in the multiple-personality sense but in the sense of having lots of different ways I present myself. And I am neutral, not inherently gendered. My body is a doll to dress up in lots of fun ways, that's all.
I've been expecting a pendulum swing back in the feminine direction for a while, which is part of why I didn't do a clean sweep of the skirts-and-dresses closet. I certainly don't see it as "detransitioning" or anything like that, but as moving on to the next step in my process of self-definition and self-expression. What I'd like is to eventually end up in a genuinely polygendered place, performing masculinity or femininity or a combination of the two as the mood strikes me. I suspect it'll take a few more iterations of more-one-than-the-other to get there, though. And I wish I lived in a world where I could be "they" by default, all the time, to everyone everywhere, regardless of what I'm wearing, because that would make this all so much easier.
Ah well. We're in the world we're in. I'll just do the best I can with it.
Need to keep up with this or I'll forget what I did! But so far I have indeed managed to do at least one fun thing every day in January.
Fun things, Jan 21: J and I trudged through the blizzard for a very nice dinner at Amorina.
Jan 22: On a whim, we invited Tea over for dinner. Hooray for friends in the neighborhood and spontaneous socializing! J made shepherd's pie, which was excellent. X and I had a short but giggly evening date.
Jan 23: X came to my office for dinner. I stayed up late reading an extremely good erotic romance novel.
Jan 24: Madison Square Lunch was just me and Tea; we chatted about fanfic and misogyny, as we do. I decided I hadn't been getting enough fruit and ate about two cups of pineapple pieces.
No media consumption other than the book, which I'll write about when I finish it. Been too busy and tired. Worked a 12-hour day yesterday to make up for the Monday holiday and being a wreck last week. Still not entirely caught up. That's also why I haven't replied to the comments on my post about being a writer, though I have read them all. Hopefully I'll have time and energy this weekend--though my weekend plans include date-time with X, a Readercon meeting, and my mother's birthday dinner, so maybe not.
It's bitterly cold out, and the snow has predictably turned into revolting slush, but the days are slowly getting longer. The sun is higher in the sky, too, and occasionally it shines on the budding trees on the north side of our street. (The south side is still in 24-hour shadow.) I'm starting to believe there might be spring someday. It's good.
linked to this piece by Kameron Hurley on persistence and being a writer
. I read it, and nodded a bit sadly, and thought, "Yep, I'm not a writer."
By some measures, of course I'm a writer. I write hundreds of thousands of words on social media every year, and have for nearly 20 years. (Usenet was absolutely social media; the term just hadn't been coined yet.) I've had hundreds of piece of writing professionally published. It was a job and I did it well for several years and made a decent living with it. And then I went and found more enjoyable ways to make money, because I'm a writer but I'm not an obsessive desperate passionate writer. I'm an obsessive desperate passionate editor, and I'm very fortunate to be able to do that for a living instead of having to write.
Here's a thing I don't talk about much: I want to write fiction pretty much all the time. Story ideas come into my head almost daily. I have a talent for stringing words together, and a great deal of hard-earned knowledge about what makes a piece of fiction work or fail. I've never been able to plot--my natural inclination is to write vignettes full of setting and characterization and clever dialogue and absolutely nothing happening--but it's certainly a skill one can acquire. If I wanted to, I'm quite sure that I could make a decent living as a fiction writer, same as I did as a journalist.
I could, but I suspect I'll never even try. Because I'm "not a writer".
My father once told me that he writes books the way he builds tables. "What about inspiration?" I asked. He laughed. I'd never heard anyone laugh at the notion of inspiration before. It was a glimpse into a strange alien world where there are no muses, no story-fairies whispering in your ear--a world where people write books because they feel like writing books, not because they're mystically drawn to writing like fated mates in an angsty paranormal romance. If I wrote books, that's the world I'd come from. But this is the world I live in, this muse-driven obession-fetishizing fated-mate world, and in this world I'm not a writer.
(I always wondered why authors found the nauseatingly anti-consensual fated mate concept so appealing. Maybe it's because it feels so much like the relationship between author and book, if one is a particular sort of author. People talk about being mugged by ideas and pushed around by characters, so I suppose it's logical to extend the violent metaphor to one's entire career. I find this all baffling and unsavory. Why write if your writing abuses you? Get out now, before it's too late!)
(I'm joking except I'm not. I don't know very many writers who have healthy consensual negotiated relationships with writing. See also: "Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love."
Posts like Hurley's are written for other writers. They get comments from people who nod along and share their own stories of times when they had nothing but writing, and the writing pulled them through. Maybe they're also written for would-be writers who are struggling, an encouraging reminder that the unstoppable urge to write will help you surmount all the obstacles in your path. I respect both of those goals, and from all the comments and links, it seems likely that those moments of common feeling and reassurance do a lot for a lot of people. The snag is that not all of us have muses to lead us through the flames and smoke to safety. I wonder how many people who might write for a living don't try because the only kind of writer they know about is the obsessive desperate passionate kind, and that's not the kind they are.
Every post I've ever seen about being a writer has told me that I'm not one, because there are no blog posts about "I write to pay the bills" or "I write because it's a good match for my skill set and interests". I suppose that's not as gripping and romantic as "I write because it's the only thing worth living for" or "I write because I can't not write". Maybe people do write posts about non-obsessive writing, and then no one links to them. Maybe no one writes those posts because they're too busy doing the sort of writing that brings in money. Maybe no one writes those posts because it's embarrassing to admit that you're a writer who's not a writer.
I don't want to see fewer posts about fated-mate writing. I do desperately want to see more posts from other kinds of writers: the arranged marriages and the one-night stands and the happy long-distance lovers and the affectionate squabbling life partners and the stable triads with primary and secondary careers. And the ones like me, too, the celibates who feel the inclination but don't pursue it for whatever reason. I can't be the only one.
Every once in a while, I want someone to tell me it's okay to be the kind of writer I am, without an accompanying lecture on how I'm so talented
and if I just found my passion
then I could go far. I'm still not likely to go back to writing as a career, because I have a career I deeply love that makes me really happy. But I'm tired of thinking that I shouldn't
pursue it, just because it never pursued me.
Fun things, Jan 20: had a very enjoyable lunch at Dutch Boy with J, since our offices were closed for the holiday; watched The Usual Suspects
with X, who miraculously had not been spoiled for it, while knitting a slipper. I might even finish this pair of slippers while the weather's still cold!
10) The Usual Suspects
. (Movie.) Rewatch. I hadn't seen it in ages and was concerned that it had been visited by the Suck Fairy, but nope, for the most part it's still really excellent. Like many caper movies, it spectacularly flunks the Bechdel test; of the two women who appear onscreen, one gets about five lines and the other exists merely to scream, get raped, and die violently (which is then treated as a character-defining moment for her husband). If you can overlook that, though, it's a genuinely suspenseful action movie with hilariously filthy dialogue and some superb acting and direction. And if you haven't seen it and think you might want to, don't look it up
. (Especially not on Wikipedia, which helpfully provides a very detailed plot summary including the denouement.) I'm generally pro-spoiler but this is one of the exceptions.Verdict:
Thumbs up as long as one's inner sexism alarm is turned off.Would I share this with FutureKid? mrissa
left an interesting comment on my last media log post about this question. I think my responses are generally falling into three categories: eagerly share, tolerate, discourage. (In all cases, append "at the appropriate stage in their mental/emotional development" and assume open discussion with FutureKid about the reason for my decision.) I'd file this one under "eagerly share". By the time they can handle the depictions of violence, we'll presumably have had plenty of spot-the-sexism conversations, and once those things are dealt with, it's a very good movie.
I meant to go to bed earlier, but Sam and Alex were on my bed
being all well-behaved and snuggly, and I couldn't bear to kick them out. Alex actually trapped my hand against his head
so I would keep scritching him. Quite a purr on that cat once he manages to relax. Also quite a grip. He's a big strong tough guy and no mistake, even when he shows his belly
. (It looks all soft and fluffy and inviting, doesn't it? Spoiler: it's a trap. Try to pet it and you will be very firmly pushed away.) Even when he stretches out, he has to keep his legs akimbo
like a dudebro on the subway. Kitty, I would be more impressed by your enormous balls if you still had them.
Anyway, I finally managed to evict the cats and now it is very much bedtime. Hopefully I won't have nightmares like I did last night. (A classic being-chased-down-stairs nightmare, even. I was impressed and also really annoyed. I haven't had to endure one of those in years.) And for the rest of the week I will get back on my proper sleep schedule no matter how cute the blasted cats are.
- thinking about:
behavior.kindness, behavior.love, experiences.kindness, experiences.loss, experiences.love, experiences.marriage, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.grief, people.cats, people.josh, people.xtina
Fun is more important than ever at a time like this.
Fun things, Jan 16: I went out to dinner on my own with a fluffy romance novel (see below).
Jan 17: After a wretched day, the magnificent teaberryblue
came out to Dutch Boy with me for a late dinner (I'd barely been able to eat all day) and told me hilarious anecdotes over very good burgers. It was just what I needed.
Jan 18: Went out for a very nice lunch with J; logged books with X, which turned into a 1 a.m. gigglefest over Sam's ridiculous antics.
Jan 19: The three of us went to Astor Place and got haircuts. I'm growing my hair out on top but the stylist buzzed it very very short on the back and sides with an elegant fade. In my collared shirts I look like a nerdy gay prep school student. It's perfect. (Any FAAB folks who want masculine haircuts, go to Astor Hair and ask for Morales. He's there every day except Tue and Wed, and he's awesome. Not a whiff of judgment or gender policing.)
9) The Bride Insists
by Jane Ashford. (Book.) I loved Ashford's Once Again a Bride
and had high expectations for this one. Alas, it was not quite as good. The secondary romance was predictable, and while the constant head-hopping (sometimes within paragraphs) did a great job of showing how two people can interpret the same interaction very differently, after a while it grated on me. I'm also a little tired of the rich people being the "primary" couple and the lower-class people being the "secondary" couple. But it was a nice twist on the forced marriage trope, and the writing was strong, and it really helped me not think for a while, which was what I needed.Verdict:
Thumbs up, though not with immense enthusiasm.Would I want to share this with FutureKid?
They might be a bit confused by the highly euphemistic sex scenes--not because of the sex, which I plan to educate them about thoroughly, but because of the euphemisms--but otherwise, nothing objectionable in the content.
Java J. Jasper, 1996(?)–2014. He was the tallest, longest, hardest-working, kindest, most elegant, absolute bestest cat.
In his youth he was an escape artist--I believe he's gotten out of every home we've ever lived in, most notably by unlatching a window screen, going down the fire escape, and jumping onto an air conditioner four stories off the ground--and an athlete who once broke his jaw by misjudging a leap from the top of a bookcase. He aged gracefully into a dignified gentleman, tolerating years of medication for pancreatitis while acting as though he'd never been sick a day in his life. He took his responsibilities extremely seriously: kneading his favorite fuzzy red blankets like he had a biscuit quota, watching vigilantly to make sure we didn't drown in the shower, and cuddling anyone who was sad or unwell. He was strongwilled and could be demanding and insistent, especially if a person was eating chicken or steak and he felt he deserved a taste; there was never any question that he was Top Cat, and he was quite comfortable bossing around people as well as other kitties. But he was a gentle giant, never a fighter, and when we picked him up or dragged him into our laps he patiently put up with our shenanigans (though afterwards he would wash vigorously to recover his dignity). He had a purr like a motorboat and shared it more generously than any cat I've ever known. He was happiest curled up in a cardboard box, sprawled on a windowsill or in a sunbeam, stretched out on Josh's chest, hanging out on a bed with a person nearby, or licking Sam's head. (When we knew his life was nearing its end, both Josh and X independently brought Sam over to him so he could groom her one last time.)
Java was a tolerant step-cat to me and X. He was a bemused but affectionate foster parent to Sam, and he carefully and patiently taught her how to cat. When we disturbed his old age by bringing home Sophie and Alex, he graciously made room for them, brooking no disruption of his routine while magnificently ignoring their social errors. He was friendly and respectful to our human guests. Most of all he was Josh's cat, and Josh was his person, for 17 good long happy years.
He will be greatly greatly missed.( Photos )
Comments are off because I can't handle it right now, but your well-wishes are much appreciated.
Fun things, Jan 15: wrote a PHP script to generate my PW timesheets, and sent a $3300 contract to a new client. :D
By comparison, I made $4382--total, pre-tax--from freelance work in all of 2013. This is mostly because the first half of the year was eaten by Readercon (unpaid) and the second half by Long Hidden
(a small up-front payment plus hypothetical future royalties), punctuated by #24MAG
(unpaid). All were labors of love, and all taught me a lot. I particularly regard doing Long Hidden
as equivalent to taking a masterclass without having to pay for it. I knew going in that the payoff would be in learning and enjoying and making connections and building my professional reputation rather than in money. X and J unhesitatingly recognized the value of this and supported me in it, for which I am deeply grateful.
But now I'm much less involved in Readercon things, and Long Hidden
is nearly wrapped up, and the last issue of #24MAG
is done. This leaves my freelance schedule wide open. And since there's this notion that we're going to have a baby sometime soon, I'd like to start padding our bank account. So in December, I declared that 2014 would be the year of paying work.
Cue a few weeks of sitting around staring at my empty inbox and wondering whether taking what amounted to a six-month vacation meant I'd never get another client. (I haven't actually gone out hunting clients in years. They generally find me through the EFA
. That listing more than pays for itself.) I advertised a special discount for NaNo authors. I asked friends to recommend me. I joined a bulletin board for self-published authors and said some helpful things in various threads, with my business URL tastefully displayed in my signature. Nothing.
And then this week three inquiries came in at once. All three were projects I'd be happy to take on, and at least one of them is turning into a gig. I guess I can stand down. :)
Fun things, Jan 14: taught two classes of sixth graders how to write book reviews, and then spent an hour with Daniel teaching a bunch of teenagers about writing and editing.
It really was fun. I love teaching. I'm also hoarse and exhausted. I came home, had dinner out with J, and sent some sample edits to prospective clients (two weeks ago I was irrationally worried I'd never get another client again, and now I've got three people banging on my door!). I am 100% done.
Fun things, Jan 13: read a whole book because I wanted to.
by Daryl Gregory. (Book.) There's a very short list of authors whose books I read as soon as I can get my hands on them. Gregory is on it. This one showed up at work today and I grabbed it and gobbled it down, half on the way home and half after dinner.
The promo copy for Afterparty
makes reference to William Gibson and Philip K. Dick, I guess because it involves near-future tech and drugs. As I was reading it, all I could think was that it was like Caitlín R. Kiernan channeling Tim Powers. (One character in Afterparty
, Vincent, particularly reads like an escapee from Last Call
.) This mostly tells you that I care more about characterization and voice than the trappings of setting. The setting could be called Gibsonian, I suppose. The voice is not, at all.
I also care more about characterization and voice than I do about plot, which is good, because the plot of Afterparty
is a bit on the thin side. Fortunately, an author can get away with a lot when his protagonist is an unmedicated schizophrenic; her motivation makes sense to her, and she really couldn't care less whether it makes sense to you. Plus the plot really isn't the point of the book at all, and it holds together and moves along well enough. No, this is an ideas book, firmly in the what-if tradition of near-future SF, and in that regard it works very well indeed.
Of Gregory's other novels, Afterparty
has the most in common with Pandemonium
, I think, but it's much more clearly related to some of the work in the truly stunning collection Unpossible
, especially "Damascus" and the "Petit Mal" triad. When I blogged about Unpossible
, I wrote that the stories "poke at complex, difficult notions, not so much trying to answer questions as trying to figure out how to begin asking them." Those efforts have paid off in this novel, which very explicitly asks: what is reality? Is there free will? What is the value of religious belief? But it still doesn't try to answer those questions, though it does examine some answers other people have offered.
Going back to "If you liked ______ you'll like this", I think Neal Stephenson would probably be the closest analogy--but the Stephenson of Zodiac
and Snow Crash
, not recent Stephenson. This would be a fascinating back-to-back read with Snow Crash
, because they're both about the interrogation of reality and the entanglement of religion, hallucination, and technology. And then Powers's Dinner at Deviant's Palace
. And Kiernan's The Drowning Girl
. And then take some time off to detox.
So here is my entirely non-spoilery summation: If you really liked that moment in the mid- to late 80s when the New Wave was ebbing as cyberpunk coalesced, you will completely dig this book. I did, and I do.
(Possibly unnecessary disclaimer: this is not a professional review. It's me on my personal blog talking about a book I personally liked. If I were reviewing the book I'd write about it entirely differently.)Verdict:
Thumbs way up. Would I want to share this with FutureKid?
By the time they're old enough it won't so much be about me sharing it with them, but I certainly wouldn't have a problem with them reading it.
At long last, the Long Hidden
cover art (by the phenomenal Julie Dillon) and TOC are released! Now you can all be almost as excited as I am!
(click to embiggen--the whole thing is really worth seeing and not just because it is a BOOK COVER WITH MY NAME ON IT)
Table of contents, a.k.a. list of some of the best short fiction I've ever read by an array of truly top-notch authors:
Sofia Samatar - "Ogres of East Africa"
Thoraiya Dyer - "The Oud"
Tananarive Due - "Free Jim's Mine"
S. Lynn - "Ffydd (Faith)"
Sunny Moraine - "Across the Seam"
Rion Amilcar Scott - "Numbers"
Meg Jayanth - "Each Part Without Mercy"
Claire Humphrey - "The Witch of Tarup"
L.S. Johnson - "Marigolds"
Robert William Iveniuk - "Diyu"
Jamey Hatley - "Collected Likenesses"
Michael Janairo - "Angela and the Scar"
Benjamin Parzybok - "The Colts"
Kima Jones - "Nine"
Christina Lynch - "The Heart and the Feather"
Troy L. Wiggins - "A Score of Roses"
Nghi Vo - "Neither Witch Nor Fairy"
David Fuller - "A Deeper Echo"
Ken Liu - "結草銜環 (Knotting Grass, Holding Ring)"
Kemba Banton - "Jooni"
Sarah Pinsker - "There Will Be One Vacant Chair"
Nnedi Okorafor - "It's War"
Shanaé Brown - "Find Me Unafraid"
Nicolette Barischoff - "A Wedding in Hungry Days"
Lisa Bolekaja - "Medu"
Victor LaValle - "Lone Women"
Sabrina Vourvoulias - "The Dance of the White Demons"
This book will knock your socks off. Guaranteed. Mark your calendars now for our launch parties and readings: NYC May 10, Wiscon, and Readercon. SO EXCITE
Fun things, Jan 12: the #24MAG
wrap party. It was marvelous to get to hang out and talk with my amazing colleagues instead of being all focused on productivity! And people said some very very kind things about my contributions, which left me all verklempt. Aida snapped this wonderful photo of me and Sara sniffle-hugging
, which pretty much sums it up. You can just barely see that Sara is clutching the handkerchief I'd just given her so she could wipe her eyes.
While I was chatting with people about this most recent issue, I realized that it never really felt like a challenge. I mean, it wasn't easy
, but I was confident that we could do it, and that I knew what I was doing. It went smoothly. That more than anything convinces me that it was the right time for the project to end. We've done this. We nailed it. We know how it goes. That means it's time to move on to the next thing that challenges and stretches us.
and Readercon, I'm now absolutely certain that my optimal place in any organization--by which I mean both where I'm happiest and where I do the most good--is second in command. I like being able to make decisions and having the power to direct meaningful changes while not being responsible for running the whole thing. This is very useful to know. (See also: "The Grand Vizier"
. There are downsides to being second in command. But there are downsides to everything.)
I entirely misremembered the timing of my evening plans with X and ended up being 45 minutes late. *wince* But we handled it like adults--we made sure we were caloried up before we talked about it, I apologized sincerely and provided emotional support, and X talked through their upsetness while clearly distinguishing between perception/emotion and reality--and hugged and made up. We got some work done together, since we both have Monday deadlines to meet. Then I went through the books on my nonfiction shelves and pulled out a bunch to get rid of, and X logged most of the ones I wanted to keep. X's plan is to log and pack all our books over the next few months so a) we know exactly what we have in case anything is somehow lost/damaged when we move at the end of April and b) we're not frantically trying to pack 4000 books all at once. This is a very smart plan and I support it entirely. I hope we can actually pull it off. :) It was a very nice evening and I'm very pleased that we were able to enjoy it without it being overshadowed by my tardiness.
Belated media log, since I forgot AGAIN:
7) Galaxy Quest
. (Movie.) Rewatch. A great deal of fun with some truly brilliant acting. Alan Rickman and Tony Shalhoub are devastatingly good. Tim Allen, who I usually can't stand, out-Shatners Shatner with complete sincerity. And the fanboys are perfect
fanboys. (Alas, Sigourney Weaver is upstaged at every turn by her extremely improbable blond hair.) The film could be criticized for missing an opportunity to get into the difference between lies and consensual fiction, but it makes up for it by really digging into how people find ways to live up to unreasonable expectations under trying circumstances.Verdict:
Thumbs up.Would I want to share this with FutureKid?
Absolutely, though first we'll have to force them to sit through a few episodes of Star Trek
- thinking about:
behavior.being a grown-up, behavior.being wrong, behavior.decision-making, behavior.lateness, behavior.love, events.parties, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.2014.media log, experiences.egoboo, experiences.marriage, experiences.movies, experiences.work, stuff.books, words.editing, words.editing.venues.24mag
Fun things, Jan 9: Particularly enjoyed doing this week's PW Radio author interview
Jan 10: Started #24MAG issue 6
(our last issue!).
Jan 11: Finished #24MAG issue 6
. Came home and showered. There is no bliss like the first post-#24MAG
The magazine is gorgeous. We pulled it off in 28 hours; not perfect, but still pretty impressive. At the end it was just me and Sara and Jack, exactly like the end of issue 1 except that we were all happy and relaxed and confident. I feel like we've gone out on a high note not only in what we created but in how we created it: our editorial workflow was smooth as silk, our designers were on the ball, and all our staff and contributors were kind and supportive to one another and themselves.
On a personal front, I'm really pleased with my work for this issue. I got to gently encourage a first-time writer and make the "OH! That's what this article needs to be!" light bulb go on for an experienced one, and fraterrisus
earned my undying respect by taking difficult criticism incredibly well and doing significant rewrites at 08:30 when we were all completely exhausted and a bit on edge. I also contributed an interview and posed for photos, all of which came out very well. When Dropbox crashed mid-magazine, I switched us over to Google Drive with barely a hiccup. As usual, there were errors I didn't catch until after the issue went live--but not many of them, and no dire ones.
We've had a good run. On to the next thing.
Yesterday and today were a patchwork of dozing and editing and coughing (the space was extremely dry and dusty) and eating odd things at odd hours, but I managed to calibrate my post-magazine nap perfectly, and after a wonderful dinner of J's homemade chicken stew, I was fueled to stay up until my usual bedtime. I snuggled with J for a bit, and then X and I rewatched Galaxy Quest
and snarked on the #maleproverbs Twitter hashtag together. I had a midnight snack of pasta with really good olive oil and salt and pepper, and I'm ready to crawl into bed and be unconscious for a good long while.
EDIT: Oh, right! Media log:
issue 6. (Magazine.) The usual splendid mishmash of fiction, nonfiction, photography, illustration, and underslept flawed amazingness.Verdict:
Highly recommended.Would I want to share this with FutureKid?
Proudly and with joy. From an educational perspective, it's an example of what people can accomplish if they're committed and collaborative, of the power of deadline to get you past concerns and anxieties and force creativity, and of how an anti-oppressive editorial policy manifests in text and image. And personally, I think it's gorgeous and smart and interesting, and my kid will probably get very tired of me saying "Well, back when I was doing #24MAG...
Fun things, Jan 8: I created a fake Twitter account
to troll a friend who enjoys that sort of thing.
4) "In the Dying Light, We Saw a Shape"
by Jeremiah Tolbert. (Story.) He linked to it on Twitter and I idly clicked through. It did nothing for me. I think Long Hidden
has spoiled me for short fiction for a while: so many delicious layers of emotion.Verdict:
Meh.Would I want to share this with FutureKid?
5) The Quartered Sea
by Tanya Huff. (Book.) Reread. In a comment on an earlier post, I suggested that Huff's strengths are "deep characterization, extremely realistic interpersonal relationships shown from every angle so that everyone is at least a little sympathetic, good thorough worldbuilding, and raunchy jokes". This book has the raunchy jokes and none of the rest. It turns out raunchy jokes are insufficient to overcome a protagonist who is a complete and total whiner and whose final act of self-actualization is ( spoilery )
; I don't fault him for that, in the context of the book, but I do very much fault the author for putting him in the position of having to do it, and for making that the thing that helps him feel like a whole strong person. In addition, no explanation whatsoever is given for Benedikt's love interest loving him, nor does the reader see anything lovable in Benedikt (or at least I didn't), and basically no one else is sympathetic at all. The main plot is laughable; the romantic subplot is tissue-thin and completely out of character.
The race issues cannot be glossed over. ( TW: racism and violence )
There's no way around it: this is a profoundly offensive depiction of an extremely underbuilt culture based heavily on stereotypes of Mesoamerican cultures. It was very uncomfortable to read.
Oh, and in this context the raunchy jokes are uncomfortable too. Where sex was jolly good fun or a respectable business in the first three books, here it's dysfunctional. Benedikt has a sexual relationship with the water kigh (elemental spirits) that's arguably bestiality, given that the extent to which kigh are intelligent and capable of consent is never explored. (The bards certainly don't treat them as equals, but casually control them with magic; the air kigh in particular are treated like somewhat flighty telephones. The bardic oath specifies that bards will never use kigh to harm people. Nothing, as far as I can tell, is said about not harming kigh.) Both kigh and humans want to get in Benedikt's pants--even though he's a completely self-obsessed whiny git--but he can't even get it up with a human unless he thinks about kigh. When he bathes, water kigh basically jerk him off, but there's no sense of what they get out of it. They're just so drawn to him that they willingly and spontaneously engage in this very human thing that kigh don't even do with each other! When he encounters giant deep-water kigh, they're similarly unstoppably attracted to him, and in the scene that follows it's not clear who's abusing whom, given that the giant kigh are far too powerful for Benedikt to control, but it all feels obsessive and gross. Meanwhile, of course sex is just another weapon in the hands of the Petayn nobles, and the book as a whole is very grim. So all the elbowing and snickering just falls flat.
I still love the first three Quarters books. This one makes me really sad.Verdict:
So much nope. All the nope.Would I want to share this with FutureKid?
Only as an educational example of how even good writers can write bad books, and of what makes a bad book bad.