From back when I started the Zoloft:Taking Zoloft with lunch means it wears off enough by bedtime that I have a bit of trouble falling asleep (my old anxiety-induced awakeness) but stay asleep all night. Taking it with dinner means I fall asleep easily and then wake up every few hours. I'll stick with lunchtime for now.
(I cannot overstate the value of having this journal to track medication use and effects. It's a personal PDR. So essential.)
I'm still taking it at lunchtime, but reducing the dose has me waking up every few hours again. Last night I kicked the cats out so I could get a solid night's sleep, and then I woke up two hours later thinking I'd heard the doorbell. I hate it when that happens, because I don't even check the time and realize that it's 6 a.m. and I'm imagining things; I just leap out of bed to go answer the door.
Presumably this effect will fade either once I get used to the new dose or once I go off the meds altogether. Hopefully the former, since I've got three and a half weeks to go.
Yesterday I actually felt a little flirty, which was very nice.
Tonight I made a joke that fell very flat and J (who is also underslept) got upset and I got upset and we got into one of those stupid conversational spirals where we knew nothing useful was happening but we couldn't stop, and finally I had to text X and ask them to come in and intervene. That broke the spiral but left us all pretty thoroughly done in for the evening. We all forced ourselves to eat and then went our separate ways. I did the dishes and found my brain filling with angry upset self-loathing thoughts, so after I was done I pinged X and they let me cry on them. I am so, so, so tired of crying. On the bright side, I did resist the urge to smash all the dishes, and I no longer feel so awful at/about myself.
I don't think
any of that is about the reduced dose, though who knows? But mostly it just felt like being underslept.
I took taurine and put on "Thursday Afternoon"
(eternally grateful to meetar
for introducing me to it) and now I'm feeling calmer, though I made the mistake of playing a rather intense game on my phone and now my heart is pounding a bit. Might take more taurine. No more intense games tonight, for sure. Just Wanikani kanji practice
(I totally blame yhlee
for getting me into this) and a bit of Swords & Potions 2.
I really hope I can sleep tonight.
EDIT: I slept for a solid seven hours, woo! I think I'm going to keep taking bedtime taurine until I'm entirely done with the Zoloft; it clearly helped a lot.
This userpic isn't applicable to many sorts of pain, but it is perfect for physical therapy.
PT is EXHAUSTING. I'd forgotten. Also, going straight from PT to walking half a mile to the subway station, sitting on the L for 45 minutes, and then driving from Manhattan to Brooklyn was maybe not my smartest move ever.
The physio thinks my lifelong right hip wackiness is the cause of the knee issues, which would make a whole lot of sense. Apparently my right ITB and quad are "astonishingly tight". "Wait until you get to my hip flexors!" I said cheerfully. Then he tried to make my right hip bend the way most people's right hips bend and I yelled a lot.
* 8 weeks of biweekly PT
* Daily exercises at home w/ Theraband: 3 x 10 @ leg press, 3 x 10 @ hamstring curls, followed by ice (have the ice pack handy before starting to exercise so I don't have to hobble to the freezer for it)
* Start taking glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM (I've ordered an unflavored drink mix version
that I can mix into chocolate milk or something, rather than swallow those enormous pills)
* No more sitting with both knees pointing to the left <.<
I'm seriously tempted to just keep going weekly or every other week after my eight weeks of intensive PT are up. The physio is hands-on and terrific, and therapeutic massage is amazing. And because I'm going to a shabby little PT clinic over in Brownsville (also known as "the neighborhood that will never, ever gentrify"), it's only $50 a session. That's the uninsured
rate*. O.O The physio was telling me that he moved to Staten Island because he can't afford Brooklyn--maybe it's because he's seriously undercharging his clients. At that rate I really could go just for... well, not fun
, exactly, but because it would probably be good to work on fixing my hips so that the knee problems don't recur, and because it feels good, and because I'm a lot more likely to exercise if it's been prescribed by someone I have to fess up to every week or two.* I have insurance, but my plan year just started and I haven't met my deductible yet. Insert standard "American health care system is broken and bullshit" rant here.
The drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn was because auntyglory
is in town and she hasn't driven to our place before. Giving her directions would stress her out and navigating from the passenger seat would stress me out, so she drove into Manhattan from her cousin's place in New Jersey, and I met up with her and drove us home in her car. This was definitely the least mentally and emotionally taxing option, but NYC traffic means a lot of right-leg work, and by the time we got home I was very thoroughly done with any sort of moving around. She wants to go shopping tomorrow; I hope I'm up for it.
Today I went looking for a paper I wrote for a college course in 1996--and found it. It's... um. It's not bad, by the standards of papers written by white freshmen about AAVE. There are surprisingly few parts that make me cover my face and shake my head, probably because most of it is primary source quotes. I'm amused to realize that I still write articles basically the same way: quote primary sources as much as possible, with just enough link text to provide some structure and flow.
Anyway, that got me looking through my folder of old text files, and I found a diary entry of sorts, dated December 3, 1996. If LJ had existed at the time, it would have been an LJ entry, so I posted it, backdated. It's here
if anyone's curious. I find it of interest mostly because it establishes a date for my first self-diagnosis with depression and describes my experience of being depressed at the time. Also little notes about my life that are very telling:
"I've found a job that makes me almost as happy as writing for a living would, and which requires much less courage." That job was copy editing for the NYU student newspaper. I admire 18-year-old me for being so perceptive; I continue to cherish editorial work, and to choose it as a career, because it requires far, far less bravery than writing.
"I still have my writing talent, but no time to exercise it, and it's trapped in a cage where I can feel it reverting from housepet to wild animal, all the training eating itself away.... I still have story ideas, though they rarely get to bloom, and the only thing that hurts worse than the unsprouted seed is the one which pokes up a few shoots, looks promising, and then withers away because I don't have the time to care for it properly." Clearly I came into my talent for metaphors at an early age. And... yeah, this is all still true, except that I've gotten a lot better at not looking at it.
"The present never interested me; the past, the future, and the timeless are my domain. The present is vaguely repellant. The past is warm and familiar, the future softly bright and promising..." The positive descriptors are misleading. I'm not drawn to
the past or future. The description of the present as "repellant" is much more accurate; specifically, it describes what I would now call anxiety. The past and the future are places to hide from the present.
"I use that word a lot these days. 'Safe.' I wonder what I feel that I need to be kept safe from. My own weariness, maybe. Or the world. Or time." These days I challenge the whole notion of wanting to be kept safe. Risk and bravery are better.
And now I'm going to close those folders before I start reading old chatlogs. That way lies days of secondhand angst and misery.
Zoloft taper time! The plan:
Day 0 (today): 12.5 mg/day (the dosage I've been on for the last 18 months)
Days 1-14: 6.25 mg/day
Days 15-28: alternate 6.25 mg/day and 0 mg/day
Day 29: fully discontinue
The last time I went off Zoloft I dropped it cold turkey because I was at much too high a dose for me and it was making me suicidal, manic, and possibly psychotic. (As indicated above, my therapeutic dose is below most people's starting dose, and my psychiatrist at the time had no idea how to dose someone like me.) I don't recall experiencing any adverse effects from the abrupt stop, but I wasn't really paying much attention at the time, and I'm not sure I would have noticed anything unless it was worse than the effects of the Zoloft itself. That said, I don't expect to have any problems, especially since I'm tapering this gradually.
I wasn't expecting to be able to cut my half-pills in half again, but J keeps our kitchen knives nice and sharp, so that makes life easier. I could possibly cut them even smaller but I think that's probably unnecessary.
I cannot wait to be off this stuff. Cannot. Wait.
Usual rules for comments about medical stuff: no advice unless I specifically ask (which I'm not) or you think I'm about to inadvertently harm myself.
( Kitty micturition TMI--all good news )
Other than that, it's been a very lovely day. My mother came over for lunch and was thrilled by the new place and impressed by our kitchen layout and equipment. Always nice when an FCI-trained chef is happy to cook in your kitchen. :) After she left, X came home early from work and I sobbed all over them for about an hour--going to the vet's office is very hard on me, plus it's just generally been a rough week--and then wiped my face and declared myself done with crying. We spent the rest of the evening snuggling and knitting and attempting to make gluten-free bread in the bread machine (the dough was too wet, so it overflowed and scorched on the heating element; I'm letting it dry out overnight in hopes of that making it easier to clean up, since right now it's basically yeasty glue).
Pre-pregnancy things have shifted X's sleep schedule around a lot. We used to have tea five nights a week from ~10 to ~midnight, but now they're exhausted and ready for bed by 10 or 10:30. This is our first time trying a weeknight date, on the theory that one long date a week could replace shorter but more frequent teatimes. I had been very very reluctant to delete the "time for tea!" alarm from my phone because it felt like such a loss, but if all our dates are as good as this one was, I'll feel a lot better about the change.
The one (1) knee doctor in NYC who takes my insurance was great. He says I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which means "That pain you told me about, where your knee meets your shin bone? It's pain where your knee meets your shin bone". I love medicine. ℞ is physical therapy to stretch and strengthen my quads, biweekly for eight weeks. Conveniently, the one (1) physical therapist in NYC who takes my insurance is also 20 minutes from my house by a single very direct bus.
This particular variety of knee pain is like most back pain: the best day-to-day treatment is to pretend it's not there and keep doing what you'd usually do. So I've been doing that and my knees are doing better, though still really not fond of stairs.
X and J and I had a really really nice family date night last night. We made a tasty dinner and watched "Encounter at Farpoint", and then J went to bed and X and I stayed up for a bit and snuggled and watched Northern Kings metal covers of pop ballads and giggled together. It was just right, and sorely needed.
I bought new sandals: Naot Karenna, dark brown ("buffalo")
. They're very comfortable, though it's taking me a little while to figure out how tightly to fasten the straps; I'm used to the shift-and-give of buckles, not the firmness of Velcro. I had the toe strap on the left one too tight today and it rubbed a bit. But they suit my gender perfectly and my knees feel great when I'm wearing them. And I already had a dark brown belt to wear with them, because this dandy is prepared
Therapy today was of the wrenching emotional variety and also the being gently
challenged by my therp. "Be messy," he said, "and stop policing your emotions." New therp is very very good. I am very very full of feels and now very very aware of being full of feels and very very nervous about letting them out. Augh. Oh well, this is what therapy is for. It is still a good thing, though it's hard.
After therping I decided that what I really needed was a steak and a book where people are nice to each other, so I went out to Outback (not the best steak in the world, but in my price range and right across the street from work) and read a good chunk of a romance novel, and felt considerably better after that. Yay self-care.
Rose, mid-May: "I'm going to cut back my FSA contributions a lot, since I'm finishing up with my therapist and generally in good health."
June 1: annual FSA contribution adjustment deadline passes
Rose, mid-July: "I'm seeing a new therapist who doesn't take my insurance and now I need 16 sessions of physical therapy. Um. Welp. Guess I use post-tax money for that."
Can't foresee everything, I suppose.
The Naot sandals are made in Israel. I struggle a lot with the whole boycott idea, which has some significant downsides, but it's still hard for me to buy Israeli goods right now. I can talk around and around the politics and morals and practicalities and it comes back to that point of pure emotion: it's hard for me. And I'm so sad that Israel is doing such terrible things. And I'm going to stop here because I can't even really bear to think about any of this right now. (So no comments on this topic, please.)
My poor little Sammycat has a UTI. I think this is the first time she's been ill in the nine years she's lived with us, so she is confused and perturbed. I had to put her in kitty jail overnight because she was leaving sad little pink-tinged puddles all around the house in hopes that maybe if she pees in this
spot it won't hurt. I lined the entire thing with wee pads and gave her food and water and a cardboard box to sleep in. It's going to take her a while to figure out that kitty jail is a place she can't get out of, and then she's going to whine and wail for a bit, and then hopefully she'll be able to sleep.
Alex is completely freaked out by the sight of kitty jail--he spent several days in quarantine there when we first got him, and clearly has not forgotten--and really confused by being on the outside of it and another cat being on the inside of it. I hope he leaves Sam alone. I placed it as far from all our bedrooms as possible, and well away from the cat tree that's Alex's most likely perching spot. Usually he and Sam both sleep in my room, but I have my door shut so I can't hear her crying. My poor tiny cat. :( :( :( I just hate making her sad, but I can't stay up all night and follow her around with paper towels.
One of us will take her to the vet tomorrow and get her some tasty antibiotics. Good thing we've trained her to think of Pill Pockets as treats. Since she's never been sick, we've never had to pill her, but I can't imagine she'd handle it well.
Augh, even with the a/c and fan on "high" I can hear her agonized lonelyhowl, the sound she used to make at our old apartment every night because I couldn't let her sleep in my room. This is awful. At least I know from that experience that she'll give up once it's clear that I'm not coming out to free her.
I keep telling myself that this is character-building and will help me prepare for being a parent. Or something.
Time to sleep so I can be a good cat-parent in the morning.
- thinking about:
behavior.responsibility, body.health, body.legs, experiences.therapy, ideas.politics, people.cats, people.family, people.josh, people.xtina, stuff, stuff.clothes, stuff.clothes.shoes, stuff.money
The last piece of IKEA furniture is DONE. DONE DONE DONE DOOOOOONE.
(Well, we may put knobs on the drawers at some point. But whatever, that's minor and easy to do and we may decide not to bother. Everyone seems happy to open the drawers from the side right now.)
The very last remaining things to do:
* I put the base and lids for our old blender up on Craigslist Free Stuff, and someone is coming to get them tomorrow.
* The IKEA boxes go out with the recycling on Friday.
* On Saturday J and I will haul two huge bags of fabric recycling to the farmer's market.
* Possibly there will be some vacuuming.
And then I will take photos of the living room/dining room/kitchen/library and you can all see what a splendid apartment we have, now that it's populated by furniture and books and appliances rather than boxes and boxes and boxes.
My knees were feeling somewhat better today (yes, plural--I'm putting more weight than usual on the left to spare the right, so the left is complaining too), despite poor sleep. I've been trying to work from my very comfy office chair instead of in bed, and I think it's helping. After J and I met for dinner, we took a very small stroll in the park. I had the brace on my right knee and was careful not to overdo it, and my caution was rewarded by an almost pain-free climb up the subway stairs on our way home. I rested for a few hours and then got up and did a bit of tidying (no heavy lifting). So far so good.
I can feel my shin muscles aching now that I know what I'm looking for, and the heating pad helped a lot yesterday, so I'm increasingly certain that working from home in a one-flight walkup has simply made me too sedentary and my muscles have weakened to where they can't adequately support my joints. I also need new sandals, which I will hopefully get on the way home from the knee doc tomorrow. I don't like any of this season's Merrell or Timberland sandals, and I've been wanting something a bit more solid and butch, so I'm seriously considering my first Birkenstocks
. Fortunately the knee doc is at 33rd Street, so I'll pop over to Eneslow and try on shoes there to get a sense of Birkenstock sizes and how they feel on my feet.
Yesterday was a pretty rotten day for me and X, and we were both staggering a bit today from the emotional hangover. But we managed to pull through it with a great deal of support from the always amazing J, and there was even a bit of cuddling and laughing later in the evening. Tomorrow we inaugurate our weekly family date night, which is probably going to be like a typical night except with more snuggles. I think that sounds excellent.
I didn't get to bed until 7 a.m. yesterday, so I've been groggy and fleh all day. Time to try the yoga nidra mp3
's that rydra_wong
pointed me to, and see if it can put me to sleep at something approximating my best bedtime.
My right knee has been cranky for the last couple of weeks. The pain feels like it's directly under my kneecap. I didn't twist it or fall or anything; it's just started complaining when I go up and down stairs or spend more than about 15 minutes on my feet. I've been PRICEing and NSAIDing to no avail. J says it's a sign that I'm getting old. In 11 months I'll be able to say "I'm 37, I'm not old!" at him; for now I just roll my eyes.
...okay, I admit, it's more like PICE. I don't know how to rest. I certainly didn't rest it much last weekend; Readercon = lots of walking around the hotel + lots of driving. And when I have a brace on it doesn't hurt, so then I run errands and do dishes and so on. I'm sure I should rest it more.
I just don't know how to treat joint things. I am a tendon injury treatment expert. Muscle aches are easy to work out or soak away or ignore until they get better. But joints... I feel like the ice isn't even really getting through to the part that's sore, because my patella is in the way. Advil doesn't touch it (though I may still have an Advil tolerance from back when I took 2400 mg/day for my arms) and more troublingly, Celebrex doesn't either. And I hesitate to wear the brace all the time because that's counter-indicated for tendon injuries and (like any pain relief) it encourages overuse rather than rest. So I'm kind of stuck on what to do, other than literally sitting around with my leg up on a couple of pillows.
I have an appointment with a sports medicine doctor for Wednesday. In the meantime, joint pain sufferers, any suggestions?
: In recognition of the possibility that a harasser may eventually learn to behave himself like someone who graduated kindergarten, we will guarantee that a minimum of two people (the ones he harassed) will no longer feel comfortable at our convention.
Good job, folks. That is some solid community-minded thinking right there. When you have loads of people saying "As long as this dude is at your convention, I will not feel safe there" the OBVIOUS feminist position to take is that the dude's potential rehabilitation matters more than the feeeeeeelings of all those laaaaaadies. They're probably just being oversensitive. They'll come back. After all, there are no other soi-disant feminist conventions for them to go to!
All sarcasm aside, I suggest that any con that has ever permanently banned a harasser begin labeling itself a feminist convention, as the claim to the term is clearly pretty wide open at this point.
I wrote about redemption narratives and convention harassment
in 2012. I could write about it again, but why bother? It's clear that the people who needed to read it the first time around either never did or forgot it as soon as they closed the tab. And we're right back where we started, following some guy through his sin-repentance-redemption story while ignoring all the women who will be going to other conventions
or just staying home
(Incidentally, if you want to help mitigate the financial costs to Elise for having to stop selling her gorgeous handmade jewelry at Wiscon, please consider buying some of her wares
for yourself or someone else.)
Note that Frenkel can appeal the decision in case he thinks it's too harsh, but no one else can appeal it for being too lenient. That's a very clear sign as to which way the committee thinks it's erring. And it's dead wrong.
The subject line of this post is from Dan Harmon's plot embryo:
1. A character is in a zone of comfort
2. But they want something
3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
4. Adapt to it
5. Get what they wanted
6. Pay a heavy price for it
7. Then return to their familiar situation
8. Having changed
That's the Frenkel story. He's supposed to pay a price for getting what he wanted--the opportunity to harass a couple of women--but all he loses is four years of Wiscon. However, anyone who doesn't want to be around harassers loses Wiscon forever. And Elise and Lauren pay the highest price of all for having spoken up: the price of being told, almost in so many words, that their pain and sorrow don't matter as much as Jim Frenkel getting a second chance. They don't get to return to their familiar situation. They don't get what they wanted. They don't get the neat episodic story arc. They're left to make new stories for themselves, with so much less cultural and community support than they need and deserve.
This is really dispiriting.
For about the first year I was on Zoloft, it was basically perfect: fewer panic attacks, increased ease of controlling anxiety, minimal side effects. The worst of the latter was dry mouth, and once I switched to special toothpaste/mouthwash and started carrying around peppermint candies all the time, that was pretty bearable. I had to very strictly avoid caffeine and alcohol, but my consumption of those was already minimal, and the dry mouth exacerbated my oral allergy reactions, but I really can't object to having an additional reason to not eat things I'm allergic to.
Then a few months ago, as I really shook off the last of 2013's depression, I started to feel like my emotions were wrapped in a blanket. It's become particularly apparent since the vertigo went away and I stopped being a storm of vertigo-related frustration and misery. I can tell that my moods are being artificially leveled. I do not like this feeling. I do not like it at all.
X and J are bubbling with NRE and silliness, and I can't enjoy it the way I'd like to. I'm quietly terrified that X is going to get pregnant and I won't be able to really feel my reactions to that either; that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I want to be there for it. And not being able to access deep emotions is very inconvenient for being at the beginning of a course of therapy that's touching on a lot of deep, old stuff. Readercon was fun but not transcendent, and I suspect that's because I can't achieve transcendence right now. There are other things I can't achieve either--the famous SSRI anorgasmia has struck at last, with really terrible timing--but mostly I'm bothered by not being able to be giddy. I can float, but I can't fly.
Seven weeks until the vertigo treatment study is done and I can get the hell off this drug.
Home from Readercon. It was an excellent con and I spent most of it feeling floaty and joyful. As usual, Friday night ended with "there's still so much of the convention left!" and by midday Saturday it was "how is the convention almost over?!". It remains my most favorite convention ever.
Highlights of this year, in no particular order:
* Peter Straub very sweetly asking me to autograph his copy of Long Hidden
. "Teenage me just fainted," I told him. Afterwards I actually leaned on the wall in the hotel hallway and cried happy tears.
* Lots of driving. Every time I return a rental car, I'm a little sadder than the time before. Driving is tiring but so exhilarating, even when other cars rocket around hairpin turns and nearly hit me. (Fun times. The adrenaline rush from that might have contributed a bit to the tearfulness noted above.)
* Lots of wonderful time with some of my favorite people in the world, especially grahamsleight
* Getting to dandle dailyjuna
on my knee as we sprawled on the grass on a sunny afternoon.
* Going to a really good panel on new models for masculinity.
* So much celebration of Long Hidden
! Daniel and I gave a great talk, Crossed Genres threw us a great party, and our authors gave great readings. I lost count of how many books I signed, for friends and strangers.
* A splendid room party where people drank cocktails, ate chocolate, and played Slash.
* Squeezing emilytheslayer
's hand as Ada Palmer sang about the importance of the people who make conventions happen. And aahairsto
's performances at the Miscellany, which were glorious in entirely different ways.
* Reading my room poems
aloud at the poetry open mic, and having people compliment both the poems and my reading all weekend. Also, having my mind blown by the amazingness of the open mic! Brilliant poems, brilliant reading. kythryne
's readings especially took my breath away. tithenai
was the perfect gracious welcoming emcee.
* A sleepy snuggly morning phone call with X that recalled all the best parts of our LDR days.
* Squealing and hugging with vschanoes
after she won a Shirley Jackson Award.
* Kit Reed telling me that if we did a Long Hidden
sequel she'd send me a story for it.
* Shoshana E. actually jumping up and down and squeeing when she realized she was talking with one of the editors of Long Hidden
giving me an ice pack for my arm and beaming with the joy of being useful and helping someone feel better.
* Going to L.L. Bean with J and buying we-missed-you gifts for X.
* Watching the safety team work like a well-oiled machine. There were no major incidents, and the minor ones were quickly and smoothly handled.
* Having a friend tell me, "I ragequit the con scene several years ago because of all the harassment, but at this convention no one talked to my breasts. I'll be coming back."
* Talking with vschanoes
for the entirety of the train ride home.
And now I am home, and J and I have clung to X and been clung to in return, and now I have Sam snuggled up against my arm and I am content.
As of today, I have resigned from the Readercon concom. I'll probably stay on staff in some capacity, but that's all; I'm done with that kind of exhausting volunteering for now. Of course the very first thing I did with my new civilian status was head to the registration desk to buy a membership for Readercon 26. I may be off the committee, but there are very few things that could keep me away from this convention. I was going to say that nothing could, but if X gets pregnant in October and is due in July... yeah, that would do it. Barring that sort of excitement, though, I am already very much looking forward to next year.
And seriously, I signed my book for Peter Straub
. How amazing.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.volunteering, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, experiences.driving, experiences.egoboo, mind.feelings.joy, people.friends, words.editing.venues.long hidden, words.poetry, words.poetry.room poems
- feeling:blissed out
Oh hey Readercon is THIS WEEK. Amazing how relaxed I feel now that I'm not program chair anymore.
Here's where I'll be, complete with absurd room names that all sound the same. (What was the Marriott thinking?)
3 p.m. Friday, Embrace: Long Hidden reading with seven of our amazing authors: Sofia Samatar, Claire Humphrey, Lisa Bolekaja, Sunny Moraine, Michael Janairo, Sarah Pinsker, and Sabrina Vourvoulias!
7 p.m. Friday, Salon G: Romance recs for spec fic fans! Come hear me talk about how Isabel Cooper wrote the best time travel novel that no one in SF has ever heard of.
3 p.m. Saturday, Enliven: Daniel and I talk about how we edited Long Hidden!
9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Envision: Long Hidden party, open to everyone!
You may detect a theme.
I think J and I may also be doing some sort of room party thing on Friday night, so if you feel like joining us, ping me anytime Thursday evening or Friday to get our room number.
I should be much less of a running-around blur this year, so feel free to stop me and say hello if you see me in the hall. I am easily identified by my shorn head, snazzy clothes, and wry smirk.
A friend with some experiences of OCD made some super helpful suggestions and comments that I'm noting here in hopes that other people will find them useful.
* It's very common to self-treat OCD with exhaustion. I know I do this a lot. Unfortunately it's also really bad for me. I need to be more aware of when I'm doing it, and try to use other coping mechanisms instead.
* Urges can't really be shut off, but they can be redirected/retrained in combination with being reduced. For example, I channel my judge-and-fix urges away from people and toward housework and editing. As I identify problematic behaviors as coming from OCD-urge-space, I'll try redirecting them as a first step in combination with dialing them down, rather than trying to battle them head-on.
My friend suggested redirection into strength training; my first reaction is to be really wary of that, since I already have a) a chronic overuse injury and b) gender-related body dysphoria. I don't want to treat my body as a thing that's wrong and needs to be fixed at all costs. On the other hand, I find the structure and orderliness of things like the 10-week You Are Your Own Gym
program very appealing, and strength training is a thing I want to do once my arm recovers from this weekend's overexertion*. So maybe there is a way to do some channeling of OCD urges without it turning dysphoric or leading me to overwork my body.( * I let agitation get the best of me )
* Meditation is useful for calming the mind, but OCD brains are too noisy to handle traditional no-stimulus or single-stimulus meditation. Try two-stimulus instead, like doing visualization exercises while playing with sand, or listening to music while doing free-form drawing. I may try walking meditation with music.
* Treat the urges as entities that can be negotiated with, rather than as instructions that must be obeyed. I've already done some of this
. It's definitely a useful tool to have in the toolbox, especially when combined with my techniques for negotiating with other people.
* My friend suggested cannabis to help dial down obsessive thoughts and compulsions, but I don't use it. However, I will add OCD thoughts/feelings to the list of things that I can probably mitigate with taurine when I need to.
* The OCD need for control is a response to obsessions and urges, which can make you feel very much out of control. Seeing that need for control as a thing that's induced
, rather than a thing that's inherent
to me, will be very helpful as I try to overcome my fear of unstructured, uncontrolled situations. Developing comfort with unstructured things is not in conflict with my entire personality, even though it feels that way sometimes. Rather, I've been programmed a certain way and am now trying to change my programming. Still scary and hard, but not so much terrifying and impossible.
Thank you very much, awesome helpful friend!
I appear to have OCD, not in the "ha ha all editors have OCD" sense but in the "hits all the diagnostic criteria" sense.
Mental illness diagnoses are so weird. Simultaneously, everything I do makes so much more sense and appears totally disordered.
New diagnosis + new therapist to help me with that diagnosis = expect this journal to be all OCD all the time for the next few months. I know I can have bouts of anxiety triggered by descriptions of other people's anxiety symptoms, and I figure this is likely to be similar for other folks with OCD and anxiety-spectrum things, so I will cut-tag any descriptions of agitation and similar things.
I know lots of people who talk in public about having depression or anxiety. I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk in public about having OCD. American culture treats it like a joke, a synonym for perfectionism or neatness; and the actual experience of it often involves disturbing thoughts that are deeply embarrassing to admit to. Since I'm me, I figure that means I should
be public about it, and hopefully help other people directly as well as helping to fix our awful broken culture, which is so especially broken around matters of mental health.( Miscellaneous things )
Positive things: My coping mechanisms are top-notch given that I developed them without really knowing what I was coping with
. The OCD is relatively mild and controllable. I'm not feeling any urge to self-harm. The condition doesn't interfere with work; quite the contrary. (I am certainly in the right profession.) My new therapist is awesome. J and X are being splendidly supportive.
General comment policy on this topic: I'm willing to take advice from other people who have direct experience with this type of mental illness, either their own or a loved one's. Everyone else, no advice, please.
Yesterday was a pretty crap day. I was full of sadfeels pulled up out of the dusty depths by Thursday's therapy session, and then I didn't eat enough, so I got really cranky and then cried a lot. J and X were understandably unsettled by this, and there was a lot of eggshell-walking and nervousness all around. Despite all our best efforts, I was still fussy and anxious when they went to bed, and I ended up tidying for a couple of hours just to tire myself out. Before I went to bed, I emailed them to say, "All I want for Saturday is for it to be better than Friday."
Saturday was SO much better than Friday. As soon as I woke up, X let J know I was awake so he could wind up his gaming session, and then came in to give me snuggles. As I gradually acquired actual consciousness, I felt the last shreds of yesterday's bad mood blow away. It was such a relief to be able to feel happy and enjoy things again! I got up and showered and shaved and had a proper lunch with actual calories in it, and J finished gaming and he and X took their turns in the shower. Then we hauled out all the unwanted furniture that's been taking up physical and psychic space for weeks. The neighbors promptly scavenged the lot, hurray. Also X found someone on Craigslist who came and took away all our empty book boxes. And none of the cats got out or even tried to, despite there being a few minutes where the stairgate was down and the front door was open.
After that there was lots of snuggling and making out and happy good times. That wound up around 18:30 and we realized it was too late in the day for the big batch of cooking we'd planned to do. J suggested a quick stroganoff, I found a recipe
, and we shopped and cooked while X did some room-tidying. And then! Then! We ate dinner at our new dining table!
Amazing how many things needed to come together for that to happen. We have a splendid new table that's pretty and comfortable, with no one's knees banging into awkwardly placed table legs. Thanks to new insulating curtains in the windows and some nice weather today, the living room wasn't a sauna the way it's been for the past couple of weeks. My tidying bout from the previous night meant there was actually space on the table for food. Everyone was at home and feeling well. Our lovely new restaurant-quality napkins had just come back from the laundry. And having all the old furniture gone meant the space was so much more pleasant to be in.
When the three of us first moved to Brooklyn together, we had some awkward and difficult negotiations around dinner because we all had different ideas of what Dinner At The Table is supposed to be like. We ended up mostly eating dinner in X's bedroom, picnic-style on the bed, to avoid all the confusion and stress. Tonight we realized that the confusion and stress were gone; a couple of years of picnics have helped us find our own shared family rhythm and understand one another's expectations, and it was delightfully easy to just settle in and enjoy a very tasty dinner.
Post-dinner, X cleaned up while J rested and I wrote up the recipe, and then we snuggled up on the couch and watched Kung Fu Hustle
. After that X and J were wiped out and went to bed. I was all wired up from the movie, so I built the new microwave cart and put wheels on the butcher block cart. Now all we need is to make the drawers for the new hardware cabinet and we will be DONE DONE DONE with the living room. DONE.
I just managed to install the first set of drawer rails upside down while thinking admiringly "IKEA is so smart to make it impossible to install things the wrong way", and my arm is getting kind of sore, so I think I am done for the night.
...and 40 minutes later I have finished doing the dishes and tidying the kitchen, and I am REALLY done for the night. Ice pack on arm. Dishwasher running. Soon: snack, Advil, sleep.
...and then Graham introduced me to Euclid: The Game
and suddenly it's 6 a.m. Augh. BED.
Aaaaa The Cascadia Subduction Zone
(a really respected feminist literary journal with an SF/F focus) has the MOST AMAZING review of my book!
I think it’s important to highlight how deliberate the editorial, authorial, archival, and genealogical politics framing the publication of Long Hidden are.
This is not just an anthology about history and magic. It’s an anthology emergent from ongoing histories of oppression, collaboration, and resistance, one that orients itself towards a radical future featuring multiple storytellers while simultaneously connecting itself to a shared past filled with secret histories of survival, hope, and grief.
...Its publication now reflects the growing power of fen of color, LGBTQA fans, and other marginalized voices. The quality of its stories reflect the power of these voices and the passion behind their craft.
To be honest, I figured Long Hidden
would sink without a trace, the way most small-press books do. I'm beyond thrilled to see it still getting traction and attention two months after publication.
Sometimes when I'm about to go to sleep, fragments of the previous night's dreams creep into my head, like waking up just paused them and they're ready to start playing again.
Last night I dreamed a) that I had lung cancer and was about to be operated on by one of the most incompetent people I know, and b) that we had to pack up all the books we'd just unpacked because we needed to move again. Both halves of the dream were equally horrifying. And equally implausible, fortunately.
J went upstate this weekend to spend time with his mother and grandmother, and X and I got a weekend all to ourselves. It was pretty excellent. We talked and snuggled and giggled and made out and accidentally fell asleep on each other. We went shopping and I cooked tasty food and X did all the dishes. We built the last bookcase and shelved all the trade-size novels (SINGLE-STACKED AT LAST) and hung heat-blocking curtains, so the living room is less of a sweatbox and X's poor little air conditioner doesn't have to work so hard. We played video games. We were kind and loving and patient. We spoke up about our needs and desires. We were satisfied with our accomplishments. We had fun.
I wish I felt satiated and glow-basking; instead I just want more more more. I want more weekends like this. I want this weekend to keep going. I want the things we thought about doing but didn't do: going to a museum, watching a movie, knitting. I want more of the things we did. I want things we didn't even think about doing, like going to the beach and playing cards. More. More. More love, more togetherness, more getting things done, more of making our home a better place to live, more silliness, more sweetness, more.
Every time I think I've finally settled into believing that X and I live in the same house instead of three thousand miles apart, I find another pocket of starvation mentality. There will be next weekend, and the weekend after that! But this felt like a holiday, somehow, a special occasion, and now all I can think is that it's over too soon and the next big dose of time together is unfathomably far in the future. And that there is really never any such thing as getting enough of my beloved spousebot.
I'll feel better tomorrow, when they come home from work and we have our evening tea-date and I'm reminded that we really do get as much time together as any two working adults can. J comes home tomorrow and that will help too; I'm sure some of the loneliness I'm feeling right now is from him being away, and family time always cheers me up. It's just hard right now, with Sunday night winding slowly down and feeling so much like an ending.
The last panel of this comic
is something I'm striving toward pretty hard right now.
I started seeing a new therapist yesterday. We talked a lot about how uncomfortable I am with things that aren't structured or controlled: playfulness, improvisation, creativity, spontaneity, physicality, intoxication, ecstatic experiences. He asked what my goal is for therapy and I said, "I want to stop being afraid of myself. And I'd like to learn how to be playful and have fun."
It's going to be really, really hard.
42) Clue. (Movie.) Rewatch. I could swear I'd watched this since the start of the year but maybe not, since I can't find it in the log. Anyway, it remains brilliant. Everything Madeline Kahn does is worth rewinding and rewatching several times. Such a genius. The whole cast is great--the world needs more smart movies with ensemble casts of character actors--but she outshines them all without even trying.
There isn't even a shred of plot, but who cares?
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, as an interesting bit of quasi-history ("She had friends who were... socialists") as well as an entertaining whodunit.
43) Strictly Ballroom. (Movie.) Rewatch for X, first time for me. We wanted something to watch on our enormous new television*, and it has an internet connection and Netflix app**, and Strictly Ballroom was in my "watch instantly" queue because X had recommended it to me, so we settled onto the couch in front of the television*** and enjoyed the spectacle. It's one of those movies where you have to turn off social awareness if you're going to enjoy it; it's difficult to appreciate the movie as much once you see Scott and Fran's relationship as a metaphor for the wholesale appropriation and whitewashing of Latin dance. This is supposedly a film about how creativity and uniqueness matter more than conformity, but the creativity and uniqueness are all supplied by or channeled through the white guy. If Fran and her father entered the competition and just danced the way they grew up dancing, they'd be kicked out for doing it wrong. But once Scott is taught rhythm and passion by those clever ethnic people with their clever ethnic ways, he can win competitions with it.
I may have a little extra bitterness about this from the small amount of time I've spent around competitive ballroom dancers, and the much larger amount of time I've spent in a community of folk dancers who care at least slightly more about historical authenticity and acknowledging the progenitors of dance styles.
On the bright side, the film itself doesn't treat women badly, which I thought it did at first; it just depicts a culture of men who treat women badly. Literally every man in the film is terrible to women, and every woman's visible personality is limited to her own unique response to being treated terribly by men. I'd like to see it remade as Fran's story rather than Scott's.
Visually it's quite glorious. The costumes and makeup are amazing. The set is clearly a stage set, and a Baz Luhrmann stage set at that. (It makes me want to rewatch Moulin Rouge, and then go back in time to see the Luhrmann La Bohème onstage again.) The dancing is great, though it's a bit odd to see it through 1990s film camerawork instead of in the style of present-day televised competitive dance. And the acting's good, if one-note--which is appropriate to the flat characters, I suppose.
Verdict: Pretty and shallow, which is fine if that's what you want.
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate, I think. Maybe share if they share X's fondness for watching dancing.
* I haven't owned a television... uh... well, ever, now that I think about it. And I haven't lived in a house with a television since 2005. They've changed a lot. I had not had occasion to say "reboot the TV" before today. o.O Now I sort of know how my mother feels about her new smartphone.
** My television has APPS. This is SO WEIRD.
*** In the guest room of our giant house in the ~suburbs****. This is really not the life I expected to have.
**** Eastern Crown Heights isn't quite as suburban as, say, Flushing, but we're in a detached house with a garage out back and flowers out front, and that's suburban enough for me.
I had a most excellent birthday. There was perfect weather: it drizzled in the morning and was sunny in the afternoon, and the air was just warm enough and deliciously breezy. I had to work, but it was enjoyable work, and then I got my Starbucks birthday drink and strolled down to Union Square for dinner at Peacefood with my fabulous spouses and my mother and her fella. X and J were ridiculously adorable at each other. We all had food that made us happy and I stuffed myself with strawberry shortcake.
J's birthday present to me was acquiring and installing my new air conditioner. X's birthday present to me was coming to dinner and being focused and present and happy even though they were feeling very unwell. My mother's birthday present to me was greeting me with a big hug and "Hooray, it's the birthday person!", and providing a charming clay vase full of paper roses in my favorite colors because real ones would make me sneeze. I feel tremendously loved.
As a bonus, Miriam and Alex are visiting this weekend, and Alex went to IKEA with me tonight to return incorrect things and get correct things. I got to drive, which was fun, and we have acquired everything on our acquisition list (plus store credit for the returned things, on the assumption that one is never really done with shopping at IKEA). By the time we got home it was 22:30; J had dinner waiting (a lovely pasta primavera with almond cream) and X and Miriam showed no signs of starvation, so we still got to have a group dinner despite the hour. I love having houseguests who say things like "How early in the morning is too early to start building furniture?". They are such splendidly good friends--the perfect people to be our first overnight guests in our new home.
After everyone went to bed I tackled the heaps of cardboard boxes, and now there are many bags of cardboard out by the curb for the weekly recycling pickup. Also the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean. (X did the first round of dishes, but the second round is my job, since I'm the only one awake when the dishwasher finishes running.) Slowly, slowly, the house comes together. I am desperately impatient to be done with building and unpacking, but I'm told it's rude to rip open boxes and use power tools at 4 a.m., so I will make myself sleep instead.
It's my 36th birthday! If you feel like celebrating it with me, here are some things that would make me very happy:
* If you've read Long Hidden
, post an honest review of it on Goodreads
* Ask your local library or independent bookstore to carry Long Hidden
(print ISBN 9780991392100).
* Buy the Loncon memberships that J and I can't use. $300 for the pair (well below current prices), voting rights intact. Feel free to pass the word along to anyone you know who might be interested.
* Come to Readercon
! It's just four weeks away!
* Buy something shiny from Wyrding Studios
for yourself or someone else. (Not for me, please. I have a ton of jewelry that I almost never wear, including some lovely Wyrding pieces; I don't need more.)
* Back this Kickstarter
for a really gorgeous-looking cooperative puzzle game, and help them reach the Mac stretch goal so I can get to play it. :)
* It's been oppressively hot the last couple of days, so if you have a lovely cool photo of shady woods or deep blue oceans or penguins frolicking on icebergs or similar, post it in the comments (maximum 600 pixels in either dimension, please!).
* Donate money or time or signal-boosting to any good cause. Support any crowdfunding project. Patronize any local independent business. Buy a self-published or small-press book.
* If you're in a position of power or authority in any respect, do something to help your industry or community or family or self be more welcoming and safe for marginalized people.
* Teach someone how to do something.
* Tell someone you love that you love them.
* Eat or drink something delicious.
* Do something kind.
No obligation to tell me if you do any of these things, though I'd be happy to hear about it. I just want to spread the birthday joy around.
1) We made chicken and vegetable stir-fry tonight and it tasted just like it came from a restaurant, only better! Recipe here.
It's adapted from a recipe for cashew chicken in Easy Chinese Recipes
by Bee Yin Low, and it's delicious. Since I'm on a low-sodium diet and X can't have gluten, Chinese restaurants are mostly off-limits to us, and we were both SO HAPPY to be able to have Chinese food again. I can't wait to try more from that cookbook, which in addition to having lots of interesting recipes is full of hilarious snarking at nasty greasy over-sauced American Chinese restaurant food (so of course we tripled the amount of sauce because we are uncultured Americans).
2) Yesterday I built a cabinet for my room, a new china cabinet, a new hardware cabinet, and a new liquor cabinet. My palm is bruised from pressing against the butt of the screwdriver, and I still want a version of crimershow
where it's @IKEAshow and every episode ends with people shouting "IKEAAAAAA" and shaking their fists in rage, but the furniture looks really nice. I'm especially pleased with the cabinet door knobs, which I had to place and drill; they are exactly even.
3) It's been ages since I did a cat update. Short version: the new place is perfectly suited to cats, and all is well.
Sophie is still entirely X's cat, but she's getting more tolerant of other people and other cats; these days, when I go into X's room, more often than not they have both Sophie and Sam on the bed, and earlier today I was in X's room alone and Sophie came over to curl up near me. Alex is slowly learning that when Sophie corners him she's not going to attack him--she just wants to gaze adoringly at him--and so he can just walk past her. When he does, she follows him around like a lovesick stalker. It is utterly ridiculous.
Alex mostly hangs out on the enormous cat condo or the window behind it. He also likes the window in X's room (where he watches cars go by like he wants to chase one down and drag him home) and the window in my room (where he watches birds and the stray cats that like to run across the garage roof). He's not really a people-cat, but he's willing to indulge us when we pet him and pick him up. He trusts me the most, probably because X doesn't have much patience for him and J likes to tease him, whereas the worst I do is drag him onto my lap and hug him. Whenever we cook he hangs out in the kitchen hoping for scraps. I call him "the dog I never wanted". At some point we gave up on any notion of rehoming him; he's here to stay.
Sam is still my kitten, but she's very fond of all of us. When I'm asleep she'll go hang out with X or J, and if they're not home, she'll hang out on the suitcase in my room. She's thrilled that I've started working from home most of the time, since it means more time near an awake person. When I go to bed she curls up next to my head for a bit, but she always leaves before I fall asleep. She also naps on the book boxes in the living room. She and Sophie get into spats occasionally, but they're mostly of the "aaa you startled me! *batbatbat*" sort, and she's stopped growling at Alex when he goes past her to get to the window. Her life is mostly placid and uninteresting and she seems to like it that way.
(Right now she's lying comma-style next to me, purring and looking hopefully at my hands. I pet her after every sentence.)
4) It recently emerged that both X and J had harbored a few quiet "what if we...?" thoughts about each other. And now, catalyzed by the baby-planning and baby-making, they're all smoochy and giggly and cuddly and flirting and roughhousing and affectionate and hilarious and adorable. I am about 98% "eeeeeee! they are SO CUTE" and 2% "ngh insecure", which as I recall is pretty typical when one of my partners hits NRE with someone else. We're all dealing fine with the 2% as it comes up, and the rest of the time I melt with delight.
I never expected this in a million years, or hoped for it. They so obviously weren't interested in dating or being lovers. They'd only just gotten to be friends! (I told J that if this were a book I'd have instructed the author to go back and put in more foreshadowing, because it came out of nowhere and that makes it hard to suspend disbelief.) But all my well-honed poly mechanisms are kicking into gear like they hadn't been lying dormant for years. It feels like relief, like the first warm breeze of spring after a long, long winter.
I can't express how marvelous it is to watch them making each other happy. I thrive on the joy of the people I love. To see it doubled, and doubled again--my heart overflows.
Our family already felt like a family, and it was already a good solid family. It's just a differently configured family now, and full of squee. :)
I am also reminded that I can tolerate being someone's only partner, but I always relax more when I'm not; it helps me step down from thinking I have to be available 24/7, and I worry less because I know they're in good hands when I'm not around.
(Now Sam is kneading the blanket over my leg, and Alex has come up onto the bed and thence to the windowsill.)
5) I don't quite know how much is too much to say in public about babystuff, both because I don't want to reveal more than X is comfortable with and because I know it's triggering/upsetting for some folks. I will just say that we're at a stage where all we can do is wait, and it's daunting and terrifying and frustrating and I hate waiting so much. Also, everything important happens much earlier in the morning than I would usually be awake for. I really ought to go to sleep because I have to get up in about four hours, but it's hard to sleep because I'm so nervous.
(Now Sam is asleep on the pillow to my right, and Alex is asleep on the pillow to my left. Earlier he was purring and licking my hand. What good kitties.)
6) I reached level 72 in Swords & Potions 2, and "beat" Gemcraft Chasing Shadows in the sense of completing the level that it thinks of as final. There are some other levels I haven't even unlocked yet, but I'm carefully staying away for now. My arm needs to recover from the cabinet-building.
(I patted Alex and woke him up. He's purring like gangbusters and kicking my hand away whenever I try to pet him. He gets like that sometimes. Silly cat.
(Ah, he's rotated so I can reach his back without threatening his tender belly. Everyone's happier now.)
7) No but really I should go sleep as much as I can. I hope I can sleep at all.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.polyamory, body.sleep, experiences.housework, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.stir fry, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.cats, people.futurekid, people.josh, people.xtina, stuff.games, stuff.games.video games
Catching up on the media log. Spoilers abound, as usual.
38) Marco and the Devil's Bargain
by Carla Kelly. (Book.) Sequel to Double Cross
, and manages to magnify its flaws while missing most of its virtues. Our heroes, having suffused themselves with being kind to each other, now take their kindness out into the wider world, helping a rather odious American doctor bring smallpox cures to the local Comanches. Kelly really does her best to undermine stereotypes and avoid pitfalls--( spoiler spoiler spoiler )
--but there's no escaping the twitch factor of Spanish colonizers being adopted into a Comanche band, made chiefs, treated like family, etc. I hope she goes back to writing about Regency England. We'll all be happier.Verdict:
Well, that sure is a thing that happened.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate, I suppose. With lots of discussion.
39) The Captive
by Grace Burrowes. (Book.) First in a Regency series that ties in to her Duke's Obsession series. This is a really quite lovely portrait of two people with PTSD finding healing through mutual love and support. He was captured and tortured by the French for a few months. She was physically abused by her husband for eight years. Their physical and psychological injuries are approximately equal, and each is horrified by the other's experiences while downplaying their own. ( spoiler spoiler spoiler )Verdict:
It's a very good book. I don't know why it didn't quite make it over the line to "great book" for me, but it didn't. Maybe it's because I know the story too well, from the inside. But it's very good.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
All of Burrowes's books are firmly in the "share" category.
40) Nueve Reinas.
(Movie.) Re-rewatch; it was also item 14. X hadn't seen it and they love con game movies, so we watched it over two nights because we were both too tired to watch it all at once. I enjoyed rewatching it with them a lot more than rewatching it on my own, mostly because I wanted to see whether they'd see the ending coming. (They didn't.)
41) The Widow's House
by Daniel Abraham. (Book.) Book four of an ongoing series, so discussing it in depth will spoil the earlier books too, and I'm not terribly inclined to do that. Instead I will tell an anecdote.
A few years ago, J decided he wanted to run an RPG set in the world of the Harry Dresden books. We got a few friends together and we made characters and we built the setting and it was pretty cool. There was just one problem. I'd made my character a pacifist, thinking it would be interesting to do that in the context of violence-driven urban fantasy. Well, it turns out that it's not possible
to be a pacifist in the Dresdenverse. If vampires are at war, anti-war protesters get eaten, the end. Violence is so thoroughly and completely ingrained in the setting that there's simply no getting away from it. J still teases me about this and I still maintain that this is a failure of the setting, not of my character. (Though yes all right I could have realized that aspect of the setting and made a different character.)
Well, Daniel has written an epic fantasy where it's possible to be a pacifist. In fact, it's not only possible, it's necessary for the survival of the world. And when that slowly sank in, I may have just hugged the book to myself for a moment and felt redeemed.
Also, these are books about religion and economics and the lives of older women, and I can't think why I haven't already recommended them to amaebi
. So here is that recommendation.
There were a few moments that didn't work for me: ( spoiler spoiler spoiler )
Geder remains one of the most fascinating characters I've ever encountered. He has a handful of clashing personality traits and carries them all to extremes and then further, and he finds the most fascinating ways to justify his appalling behavior to himself. He is a complete scathing takedown of the insecure nerdy guy that most fantasy novels cater to; the moral of the story is, basically, "don't be this guy". You could write dissertations about him. I hope someone does.
Clara is the best and I want to be like her when I grow up.
I found the first book or two fairly predictable. This one was not. I appreciate that a lot. Verdict:
I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to seeing where the series goes.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share if they don't mind reading about a lot of violence and brutality and a creepy creepy man thinking creepy creepy objectifying thoughts about a woman he thinks he loves. So creepy. Brrr.
I had my four-week follow-up appointment today for the experimental Ménière's treatment. IT WORKED LIKE GANGBUSTERS. I haven't had any vertigo for those entire four weeks, and wow the difference between my hearing tests! I actually gasped when I saw the audiogram. My right ear upper-range hearing is in the "normal" part of the chart for the first time in a year or more--almost as good as my left ear--and my word recognition went from 70% four weeks ago to 96% today. This is the sort of result that drug manufacturers want to decorate with gold leaf and parade around to funders.
I obviously already knew that I hadn't had vertigo and that my hearing was a lot better. But it's one thing to know that and another to see it written down, you know? And it makes me extra happy that I'm participating in a study that will help this treatment get FDA approval so other people can benefit from it too.
Also, the otologist confirmed that my eardrum is completely healed; you can't even see the injection site. So if I need future injections, I'm confident that my body will cope well.
Yay modern medicine. :)
EDIT: If you have Ménière's and you're in the U.S., you may qualify to enroll in the study. Info at http://menieresdiseasestudy.com/
. Obviously my individual response to treatment is no guarantee that other people will respond the same way, and half the study participants will receive the placebo rather than the steroid, but I would still strongly encourage anyone with active Ménière's to investigate it.
The lack of posting is not due to a lack of things going on; rather the opposite. Yesterday I created a calendar item that goes from mid-May to mid-July next year. It's labeled "RT, BEA, romance feature, announcements, Readercon, RWA" and it takes up the entirety of my freelance calendar for those eight weeks. I didn't even go to RT this year, and I barely went to BEA, and I'm still drowning because I made the mistake of taking on big freelance gigs during summer crunch time. While adjusting to working from home. And nesting, which is a surprisingly time-consuming occupation.
Today the three of us started the day with lovely giggly cuddles. In the afternoon Nora and Tea and Josh S. came over and unpacked and shelved books under X's direction while J and I built bookcases. The job isn't finished by any means (not least because one of the bookcases we got from IKEA is missing a significant part, and we won't be able to go there and pick up a replacement for another two weeks) but the library is starting to look like a library! I also organized the guest room so there's room to build the couch, and J gleefully demolished an enormous ratty old cabinet we referred to as "the white thing" and are all really glad to be rid of.
After everyone left, we ordered food and napped until it arrived. I have a fabulous sweet photo of X and J all cuddled up and dozing. I can't decide whether to share it with the world or just hug it to myself forever. After we all ate dinner at J went to bed, X and I watched Nueve Reinas and managed not to fall asleep on each other, though it was a near thing.
This is what I mean by nesting: alternating between upgrading infrastructure and snuggling, with the goal of increased familial happiness and comfort. It's one of my favorite ways to spend my time. X is all hopped up on hormones and cuddly and affectionate, and X and J recently clicked in a way they hadn't before and are being totally adorable with each other, and our new house is just so wonderful, and we have all this furniture to build. I could happily nest forever.
That said, I'm feeling a little short on alone-time, which I've been getting late at night and into the early morning. (It's 04:30 right now and that's not the latest I've gone to bed this week.) I've stopped going to therapy (at my therp's instigation), so I'm not getting my Friday solo evenings out anymore. Last weekend was BEA, which was the usual glut of meetings, and there's something social going on every weekend in June. Working from home helps to balance that out, but of course work time is not entirely restorative. And when I'm in nesting mode it's so hard to make myself go into my room and shut the door, even when I know it's what I need. But I do need it, and I also need sleep, so I should probably figure out some way to get both.
Oh hey, it's getting light out. That's my cue to go to bed. I will be glad when we're past solstice and the nights stay nights for just a little longer.
- thinking about:
behavior.domesticity, body.body clock, body.sleep, events.parties, experiences.housework, experiences.socializing, experiences.therapy, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.introversion, people.josh, people.xtina, places.home
Things I'm supposed to do this weekend:
* Edit reviews.
* Edit articles.
* Edit more reviews.
* Work on fall announcements.
* Write an edit letter for a client.
* Help Emily with Readercon stuff.
* Build furniture.
Things I actually want to do this weekend:
* Laze around with my family, snuggling and giggling and enjoying the delicious late-spring breeze.
* Play video games.
So far the latter is winning out.
The practical thing, time-wise, would have been to take a cab to IKEA. Cost: $30, 15 minutes.
The practical thing, money-wise, would have been to take public transit to IKEA. Cost: $2.50, 1 hour. (Brooklyn has hub-and-spoke trains that make it very hard to get from some parts to other parts. There's no good direct transit between Crown Heights and Red Hook. At all.)
But J pointed out that ferries run there from Wall Street, and Wall Street is very easy to get to from here, even on a construction weekend when the trains are partly replaced by shuttle buses. And I started to say "Well..." and suggest something more practical, and then I remembered this whole idea of whimsy and play. And I like ferries. And I like adventures with J, when I let myself have them.
So we took the shuttle bus to the train, and the train to Wall Street. Two little girls from Sydney sat next to me and were fascinated by my knitting, and I joked around with them while J gave their mother directions to Houston Street ("Hyu-ston? How-ston?"). We just missed a ferry and the next one wasn't for 40 minutes, so J held our spot in line while I got us drinks and we relaxed in the sun and talked about this and that and felt like tourists in our own city. The weather was perfect, sunny and breezy. The ferry trip itself was perfect, and we savored various shared and separate fond memories of other boat rides in Venice and Chicago and London and Sydney. IKEA was tolerable, and we met all our goals for the trip (find a comfortable sofabed, look at the other things we want to get to make sure they're what we're looking for). And we took a cab home, because some things are worth doing exactly once and I think the ferry to IKEA is one of them.
The nice thing about having been in therapy so many times over the years is that I can very efficiently diagnose my issues. Leaving aside medication effects for the moment, it seems clear that I've fallen into a familiar pattern with regard to strong emotions: I close them off in the name of efficiency, and then I get scared of opening them up again because what if they take over my entire life forever. But I miss feeling strong emotions, and I would like to figure out some relatively safe-feeling and comfortable ways to access them. Obviously not all strong emotions are safe or comfortable, but that can at least be mitigated a bit.
My fear is that I will spend all my time doing nothing but feeling things; I won't be able to function because all those feelings will be too big and distracting and overwhelming. I have actually experienced this multiple times, so I can't just say "That's a ridiculous fear and of course it won't happen". All my adolescent and adult life, being functional has been placed in direct opposition to having feelings. Intellect and willpower battle against emotion and psychological disturbance. I don't know how to change that. Given free rein, my emotions dominate my life. It's hard to negotiate with that; all I can think to do is fight them, to dominate them right back. Obviously that's not a healthy dynamic but I don't know how to get from here to... anywhere better, I guess. Whatever "better" is.
I don't even know what a happy collaboration of intellect and will and emotion and mental wiring would look like. The closest I can get is the experience of reading a book, where I willingly suspend my disbelief in order to feel whatever feelings the story is trying to evoke. With movies and TV, I often feel manipulated and helpless to stop it, and I'm rarely willing to subject myself to that. (There's a reason that most of the movies I love are caper films and comedies.) But with books there's more interaction and collaboration. Maybe I can do something with that, figure out how to approach innate feelings similarly to how I approach feelings induced by fiction.
My therp suggested a sort of emotional meditation where I ask "What am I feeling?" and spend some time just sitting with the answer and accepting it. That might be useful for getting reacquainted with my feelings in a sort of neutral, low-pressure way. I don't have to do anything with them or respond to them; the idea is simply to feel them. And if I start to feel overwhelmed, I can dial it back pretty easily by getting out of the meditative space.
The fun-every-day thing is starting to feel like an obligation that I'm failing to live up to, which is really not what I want, so I'm thinking about shifting away from the idea of "fun" and more toward "play", a word my therp used tonight that I latched onto. Playfulness sounds safe and unthreatening. It's not a Great Big Feel like excitement or exhilaration (I miss those too, but I think I have to work up to them), and it's not as specific as having fun. I can seek it in small moments here and there.
I've also realized that I don't really do fun or playfulness or anything like that when I'm alone (which I'm okay with and don't see as something that needs to be fixed). Alone-time is for self-care. It's not... whimsical. My whimsy comes out in interactions. Everything I can think of that's either fun or play is a thing I do with other people: having friends over for dinner, playing card games and hashtag games, cracking terrible jokes, going to gardens and museums and movies and parties. But being a semi-introvert means that I can't do fun interactive things every day; it would totally exhaust me. So the fun-every-day goal really is impossible to meet, and I need to set it aside and find other ways to motivate myself toward meeting my new year's resolutions.
If life is a mix of work, play, and rest, I've been doing nothing but work, with the idea that after the work is done I can rest and then I will wake up and play. This would be fine on a day-to-day scale. It's not fine on a season-to-season scale. Again, I need integration rather than compartmentalization.
Slow progress is still progress.
Fun things, May 19: mug cake followed by bath + book
May 20: long walk with J
May 21: teaching X how to breathe into stretching/exercising
May 22: testing a website and finding ways to break it
J and I started out just strolling aimlessly and ended up walking down Kingston Ave, the heart of the Lubavitcher part of Crown Heights. I have never felt so much like a tourist in all my life. I was wearing my usual summer casual clothes--men's knee-length shorts, loose unisex black t-shirt, sandals, cap--and very, very aware of my bare legs and ambiguous presentation. After we headed for home, J said, "You know people were staring at you, right?" Yes, I knew, and I very carefully didn't stare back. Important to be a good neighbor and all that.
We passed two stores advertising boys' suits. I gazed at them wistfully. J was not optimistic about my chances of getting good service should I attempt to shop there. He's probably right.
While we were walking, J defined "fun" as a thing that makes you say "That was fun! Let's do it again!". By this definition, I really do not have fun every day. Later I was talking with X, and I mentioned that I'd tried to make a list of fun things and ended up making a list of self-care things, which is also valuable but not the same. X gave me a sympathetic look and said, "It's like you've forgotten how to have fun."
Combine that with a separate recent conversation about there being a wall between me and my libido, and I think it's time for me to go off the Zoloft.
Except that I can't do that until September, because I told the people running the vertigo treatment study that I wouldn't change any of my medications until the study was done so as not to confound the results. I sent them a note asking whether it was possible to get an exception and they're checking with the study sponsor.
Today I got my IUD swapped out, which was the opposite of fun. But it's done, and once the cramping ebbs, I won't have to think about my uterus for another five years. (And I totally forgot to ask my gyno about the libido thing. Oh well.) And I got work done on a freelance project of a sort I haven't done in a while, which was enjoyable if not fun. And last night there was an awesome thunderstorm, which I enjoyed even though it wasn't fun. Life isn't terrible by any means. And the Zoloft has been very very very useful for the past year. But I think I'm done with having this blanket over my emotions.
- thinking about:
body.reproductive system, body.sex, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.weather, experiences.work.freelance, mind.feelings, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.libido, places.us.ny.new york.brooklyn
- feeling:quiet... too quiet
As parts of my life expand, other parts contract. Therefore:
1) J and I are not going to Loncon. If X gets pregnant in June or July, it'll be too early in the pregnancy for us to go to another country for two weeks. If not, we won't want to skip a cycle. In addition, the vertigo has eaten all of my sick leave and I need to keep my vacation time available as backup sick leave. So we're looking to sell our attending memberships. (I've already found someone to take our hotel room.) Let us know if you'd like to buy them.
2) I'm resigning from the Readercon concom, effective July 14 (the day after this year's convention). I've been very non-participatory this year and at this point it really doesn't make sense for me to keep a concom vote. I'm not yet sure whether I'll be leaving the safety committee or the program committee; if I stay on either it will be in a pretty low-commitment fashion.
3) I have five tabs on Hootsuite: no spoons (cat photos and tweets about Long Hidden), low spoons (tweets from my "family" list, mentions for my locked account, DMs), some spoons (my locked account home feed, mentions for @rosefox, random funny/surreal things on my "nifty" list, NYC-related news and info), many spoons (my "quiltbag-poly" list, retweets of my tweets), all the spoons (my @rosefox home feed, my "politics" list). I just deleted the last two tabs. With everything else that's going on right now, I don't ever actually have many spoons, let alone all the spoons; I can't deal with full-on Twitter right now, and that means I shouldn't make Twitter deal with me. Today's incredibly stressful set of conversations/arguments about trigger warnings was the last straw. I will still see replies/mentions, I'll keep tweeting about cats and cooking and health and various other random things, and I'll keep up with my nearest and dearest. That's about as much as I can handle.
Still keeping up on LJ/DW, but that's neither difficult nor likely to be rage-inducing these days.
Fun things, May 15: -
May 16: -
May 17: clothes-shopping with X
May 18: workouts for the first time in aaaages
The most interesting part of Project Fun has been getting a sense of what I think of as fun. For example, on Friday I stopped by my mother's place and had a wonderful conversation with her about all my giant feels around baby-stuff, and she gave me mom-hugs and let me cry on her a bit. It was vitally necessary and deeply comforting and just the best thing. But it was counteracting an existing unhappiness, so I don't feel like it really belongs on the "fun things" list. I mean, workouts aren't done simply for enjoyment either, but they're active, not reactive. They're about adding happiness into my life for its own sake.
I need more weekday fun things. It's hard to find ways to fit extra happiness into my weekdays.
Maybe I'll bake cookies tomorrow.
Ugh, got hit with a massive wave of insecurity today. I keep picturing the three of us out in the world with FutureKid, and everyone assuming that J and X are "Dad" and "Mom" and I'm a friend or something. Realistically I know that X and I will immediately look like the classic Brooklyn lesbians-with-baby couple (you should have seen us the day we showed up at the cat shelter in Park Slope and realized we were wearing matching rainbow jewelry... gayest moment of my life, and that's saying something) and people will probably assume that J is the "friend". Or because J and I are the chatty extraverts, we'll look like a couple and X will look like the third wheel. Or who cares what strangers think anyway. But I'm not going to be a biological parent, and we have to fight the state and jump through absurd hoops to get me recognized as a legal parent, and all of X's pre-IUI appointments are at 8 a.m. (so they can do same-day bloodwork) and I'm on a West Coast schedule that makes that feel like 5 a.m. for me and I really can't be there for them, and right now I just feel so disconnected from the whole thing and it hurts and I'm sad. And desperately, desperately insecure. Which is triggering my dysphoria too, because why only care that strangers won't see me as part of my family or as the parent of my child when I could also care that they get my gender wrong? Bah.
X promised me that on Saturday we'll go shopping for baby things together (not a whole lot, since they aren't actually pregnant yet, but just some onesies or something) and that will help. Unless I sit down on the floor of Old Navy and burst into tears. You'd think I was the one getting all hormonal.
I would really appreciate any words of support from non-bio parents and parents-to-be out there! Not just "once the baby comes you will absolutely feel like a parent" but sympathy/empathy from people who've been in an emotional place like this. Fellow-feeling. You know.
Bonus: I had a total foot-in-mouth day on Twitter (I think I managed to piss off four separate people, mostly without meaning to), and meanwhile Daniel has been totally splendid and fierce and eloquent, and so the insecurity says that he's the visible "parent" of Long Hidden and I'm relegated to a dark dusty corner or something. And I'm white and that cancels out all my queerness and transness and polyness so really who am I to talk about being marginalized anyway. And augh brain shut. up.
I haven't had to deal with insecurity this bad in ages. I have no idea how to deal, other than by maybe having a good cry (why couldn't I have cried while everyone else was awake? I hate crying alone) and going to sleep.
- thinking about:
behavior.being wrong, behavior.being wrong.on the internet, behavior.foolishness, behavior.parenting, body.body image, ideas.race, mind.feelings.insecurity, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, mind.wiring.gender, people.futurekid
- feeling:my own worst enemy
I have kind of fallen off of the daily-fun wagon. Been a little busy around here, what with the book launch and the ear injection and setting up the apartment and trying to get X pregnant. I am almost certainly having fun! But it's a very busy sort of fun.
Let's see... I think I can actually remember most of these.
Fun things, May 7: X came up to my office for dinner with me, since I was working late
May 8: had a giant midnight ice cream sundae to celebrate Long Hidden
May 9: stopped by my mother's place for further celebrating
May 10: launch party!
May 11: Mother's Day brunch and games with my mother and brother
May 12: got ice cream after the injection, because I was very brave and I deserved it
May 13: had waffles for lunch, with raspberry "compote" (frozen raspberries nuked until liquid) and maple syrup
May 14: played a bunch of S&P2 and reached level 67 (I'm making a serious push for 70)
Woo, remembering! I can do it!( Book update )
Hearing is better today (rather to my surprise), but tinnitus is higher and louder. Ear pain is gone but my ear still feels slightly cranky and offended. No vertigo since Monday. The improved hearing has me hope hope hoping that I got the medication and not the placebo. I'm trying not to hope too much or I may explode.( Apartment update )
X starts the first course of Clomid tomorrow. We wait for it to do its ovulation-stimulating thing and then we go in for the IUI. This is agonizing and exciting and terrifying and amazing and we don't quite know what to do with ourselves. *flail*
R: What if I drop the baby?
J: They bounce.
R: That is a lie.
J: They do, if you wrap them in enough rubber and springs.
R: This is like that MIT thing, right, about dropping eggs off a building? Only with babies.
J: Right, exactly. A layer of foam, then some springs, no problem. Fully insulated.
R: The baby wouldn't suffocate or anything.
J: Well, you put a helmet on them.
R: Darth Baber!
J: Or how about installing a giant positive magnet in the floor and putting more magnets on the baby? Maglev baby!
R: Your ideas get better and better. Next you'll tell me about installing antigravity in our living room.
J, witheringly: There's no such thing as antigrav. Don't be silly.
(Hee, I'd forgotten I had a "bad ideas" userpic!)
Many many thanks to those who helped us pack! We're now in our SPLENDID new apartment and getting our library all set up, and once again we're hoping you can lend a hand for some barn-raising in exchange for food and drink, the exquisite company of our marvelous friends and adorable cats, and the opportunity to browse and borrow from our extensive collection of really good books.
Date: Saturday June 7
Time: 2 p.m. until the boxes are empty
Place: Our shiny fabulous new apartment two blocks from the Utica stop on the 3/4 (RSVP for the address)
* People who are more the bend-bars-lift-gates sort will unpack, alphabetize, and shelve books that have already been categorized and logged (which includes all the SF/F and some of the nonfiction).
* People who are more the use-laptops-at-parties sort will log unlogged books in our household LibraryThing database, meticulously following our tagging system.
We will provide:
* Snacks and drinks (please let us know of any dietary restrictions).
* Free boxes. Lots of them. Lots and lots. Please take our boxes please oh please
You should bring:
* Yourself and any friendly book-loving people you feel like dragging along.
* Antihistamines to ward against all the book dust and cat hair.
* Willingness and ability to shelve and/or log books. (If you plan to log, please bring a laptop or other device that can communicate happily with LibraryThing.)
* Empty bags for the books you will inevitably end up borrowing.
* Chatting is always welcome but never required, and we will have quiet space set aside for introverts who need a time-out.
* Our apartment can get quite warm, so dress lightly, especially if it's hot and/or sunny out, and hydrate hydrate hydrate!
* There are cats in residence, ranging from bitterly antisocial to cautiously friendly.
* There is a short flight of steps up to the building door, and a single long flight of stairs inside.
* We have limited crash space for out-of-town guests, including a cat-free guest room.
* "They" is the house default pronoun; please use it for everyone unless instructed otherwise.
Depending on what time we wrap up, we may order in food or haul everyone out to dinner somewhere in the neighborhood.
Please let me know if you plan to attend. I hope you can make it!
(Subject line courtesy of rushthatspeaks
I went through with the injection. I kept wondering whether I would back out at the last minute. I'm kind of surprised that I didn't. I was so scared.
On a scale from "steak dinner" to "IUD insertion" it was about a 6. I wouldn't do it every day. But if it gives me six months without vertigo, it will have been far more than worth it.
X was there and held my hand (or, more accurately, permitted me to clutch their hand). When X was running late and I was freaking out, J came over from his office to make sure I'd have someone with me. The study coordinators and the doctor took excellent care of me. I feel about as good as I could expect to, under the circumstances, and very well loved and cared for.
Now to wait four months until they tell me whether I got the real thing or the placebo.
EDIT: Injection at 16:00. Got a bit of vertigo from it, as predicted; it only lasted maybe 30 to 60 seconds. Then at 21:00 I got the real thing, a solid two hours of spinny room. No nausea, though, and it did only last two hours, so that's good. My poor sad outraged ear. :(
The walls have stopped moving, so I'm going to go take a bath and try this whole relaxing thing everyone keeps telling me is so great.
The Long Hidden launch party today was everything I could possibly have hoped for: a full house, great readers (especially Sabrina Vourvoulias, who blew us all away), boundless joy. Daniel and I hugged so much that I came home smelling of his cologne. Three of my Tapestry kids showed up and I nearly cried to see them there clutching my books. My books! As I signed their copies, I told them that in 15 years they'd be on my side of the table. They looked bemused and quite pleased by this idea.
I held up a copy of the book and told everyone there, "This is ours. This is yours. We are no longer 'the other'. We get to be 'we'." I surprised myself by getting a little choked up. This is the first time I've really let myself feel what this project means to me personally. (Before this I was too busy making the thing happen.) And it means a lot, apparently.
Nicci Barischoff let me be her substitute reader, and people complimented my reading. I inscribed books right and left. And so many hugs, so much happiness and pride, so much love.
By the time I got home I had a raging headache. I genuinely think it was muscle tension from smiling so much. Smiling? No: grinning, beaming, exulting. Also trying not to cry.
I have four copies of my book on my bookshelf. I sent one back to Hunter in the care of the Tapestry faculty advisor. (I want them all to be able to read it and not worry about having to buy it.) A copy goes to the Hunter library. A copy goes to my father if he hasn't bought one already. (I know my mother and brother bought copies.) The other two I keep. And I think J backed the Kickstarter at the hardcover level, so eventually we'll get one of those too.
I am so proud of this book and what we've done with it. So proud and so happy. Such joy.
Had what felt like brief vertigo at 6 p.m. today, just for a few minutes, and again around 10 p.m. or so. Now it's hitting for real at 02:45. In all three cases, no real visual effects, but a lot of sensation of movement. Body, whyyyyyy.
Oh well, better today than at the launch party on Saturday.
On the bright side, as vertigo bouts go, this one isn't too bad; I'm going to take some valium (or maybe even just taurine) and sleep it off. And it's thunderstorming out, which always makes everything better. Hello, summer, I missed you.
(The vertigo and the thunder arrived at the same time. I wonder whether atmospheric pressure has something to do with the former...)
MY BOOK IS OUT.
There's a URL with my name in it on B&N's website. I still don't quite believe it. :D
If you'd like to enjoy my labor of love and contribute a penny or two to my royalties, you can get Long Hidden
at any of these fine places:http://www.longhidden.com/
Amazon (print) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0991392108
Createspace (print) - https://www.createspace.com/4634422
Amazon (ebook) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K6T45YM
Barnes & Noble (ebook) - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/long-hidden-rose-fox/1119448970
Other options coming soon. Feel free to also ask your local library and/or bookstore to order it. First-day sales matter a lot, so if you plan to buy it and you can buy it today, please do.
Some advance reviews and blurbs:
"Fox and Older have taken a grand task upon themselves, and the results are laudable." ~ Publishers Weekly
"This book's existence proves a couple things: that there are both writers and consumers for a book with a message of resistance and social justice, and that such a project can be an absolute joy to read. Long Hidden is, in fact, one of the strongest speculative fiction anthologies I've read." ~ The Future Fire
"Rather than coming off as a Special More Diverse Edition of historical fantasy, it reads well enough – particularly in the very strong first half – that it makes mainstream historical fantasy feel poorer by comparison. Long Hidden
shows us the richness of setting and character that is available to us if we make use of all of history, not just the clichéd parts. So, why aren't the rest of us using it?" ~ Innsmouth Free Press
"I loved Long Hidden
… Not all of the stories have happy endings – but I think they're still well worth your time." ~ The Lesbrary
"Sharp, brilliant, and curated so well that it's like walking into a museum of the mind, this is a collection everyone should read." ~ Seanan McGuire
"Full of passion, love, anger, and honesty, these stories are a powerful reminder that there's so much more to our world, our histories, and our genre. I hope we'll see more Long Hidden
collections in the future." ~ Jim C. Hines
is a collection that demands to be read, featuring a host of wildly memorable characters that burst onto the page to tell their own history. This is speculative fiction at its finest." ~ Nathan Bransford
"An absolutely unprecedented anthology, dazzling in range and scope, beauty and strength. A success in every sense." ~ Saladin Ahmed
Media log, even more spoilery than usual:
37) City of Stairs
by Robert Jackson Bennett. (Book.) This took a little while to grow on me, but grow it did. Bennett's done a really interesting bit of worldbuilding: The Continent (not!Russia), with gods on its side, colonizes Saypur (not!India), which has no gods. Some centuries later, a Saypuri man figures out how to kill the gods. Their deaths undo all the magic they created, warping and destroying vast swaths of the Continent and leading to a decade of plague and other disasters. Saypur takes advantage of this chaos to invade the Continent and colonize it right back. This makes for some very interesting dynamics among the Saypuris and the Continentals--which Bennett basically doesn't explore because the book is actually a murder mystery. 75 years after Saypur's invasion of the Continent, a Saypuri professor who was studying the gods (which the Continentals are not themselves permitted to even so much as mention) is killed, and a Saypuri ambassador/spy, the long-exiled and rather obnoxiously entitled daughter of a Saypuri ruling dynasty, has to figure out whodunit in hopes of being finally permitted to come home, while trying to keep the unrest on the Continent from turning into war.
Everyone and their brother will compare this book to The City and the City
, because it's a mystery with complex political overtones, but a much more interesting comparison is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
, and particularly the characters of Shara and Yeine.
It was very entertaining reading this right after Half a King
, since Shara's sidekick, Sigrud, reads like a Joe Abercrombie character unexpectedly dropped into a completely different book. Entirely to my surprise, Bennett writes that character about as well as Abercrombie does (and certainly better than Abercrombie does in Half a King
, grr). I enjoyed Sigrud very much.
It's not a perfect book. The climactic confrontation is almost exactly the same climactic confrontation as in American Elsewhere
; it's still a very good climactic confrontation, don't get me wrong, but it loses something on the second go-round. The parallels to present-day American religious politics are so blatant by the end that I felt preached to. And I'm not... wholly convinced, let's say, by the Saypuri/Continental dynamics. I wanted more exploration of what it's like to be Saypuri, the invaded become invader. The Saypuris seemed awfully comfortable
with their roles as colonial authorities, only 75 years on. Is three generations long enough to give someone like Shara such a purely privileged and entitled approach to... well, everything, but particularly her appropriated Continental magic and knowledge? It didn't sit right with me. And I'm generally not a fan of stories where dark-skinned people oppress light-skinned people, no matter how cleverly the inversion is done.
LOTS OF MAJOR SPOILERS START HERE. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK, CLOSE THE TAB NOW, SERIOUSLY.
NO REALLY I MEAN IT.( I warned you )
I admire Bennett for creating this setting and writing this book, doing his very best with a brown female protagonist and a lot of complex racial politics. It was a brave effort. I don't think it's entirely successful, but he comes very close to pulling it off. I can't wait
to see what people say about it--particularly women of color and people who identify strongly with the colonized rather than the colonizers--once it's out.
Fun things, May 4: went out to BBG with J to look at the cherry blossoms, which always remind us of our hanami honeymoon.
May 5: spent two hours reading a very good book.
May 6: hung artwork in my room.
I had a nightmare last night about packing up my childhood apartment and moving everything to our house upstate. In the dream it was my mother's apartment, but the three of us were making the move happen. The movers showed up and loaded all the boxes into the truck and drove upstate, and X went with them to coordinate the unloading. J and I were supposed to follow after doing a bit of tidying, but we kept finding more things that hadn't been packed: clothes, bedding, books and books and more books. (This isn't just a reflection of my current library-as-home; I grew up surrounded by books too.) Finally X called to see where we were, and we were still packing. I asked X to ask the movers if they could come back--in other words, do a second three-hour round trip--and get all the boxes we'd packed since they left, and X (who in the dream was fluent in Russian [?!]) tried to get them to do it but they just laughed at the absurdity of such a request. We were left surrounded by boxes, and X was stranded upstate with no car or driver's license in a strange place full of stuff that wasn't theirs.
I woke up very unsettled and glum in a too-warm, stuffy room that still doesn't feel like it's really mine. I decided the bare white walls might have something to do with that, so after I bootstrapped myself into opening the window and showering and getting dressed*, I hung two paintings on the walls near my bed and put the EXIT sign that I stole from my high school over my bedroom door.** Amazing how much that helps.
* I may be a bit moody right now, but I've spent years developing
an immunity to iocaine powder coping mechanisms for much worse depressive bouts than this. I indulge the internal whining for a bit, and then I go right ahead and do whatever it is I'm feeling all don'wanna about. Also I eat a lot of chocolate.
** Don't tell them it was me.
My life is full of things that aren't done/ready/happening yet and it is driving me completely up the wall. I just want to fast-forward to the part where the new apartment feels like home and X is pregnant and we've bought all the furniture and the boxes are unpacked and Long Hidden is published and I've got the new PW deadline rhythm down and we have lots of money and all our various relationships are stable and everyone is healthy and my food/drink choices aren't quite so limited and everything is calm and great.
In the meantime I'm so tense that my back and neck are aching and I'm growling at everyone and I have less than no interest in anything approaching physical or emotional intimacy and I'm miserable and it sucks.
As I told X today, I'm not inherently depressive; I just get depressed in response to stressful situations. Right now I am very definitely depressed. The moment when I stood there in the bathroom thinking "ugh, do I really need to put in my contacts, that's so much work, why bother" was kind of a giant clue. But it's not a really terrible bout, in that I'm still stable enough to be confident that I'll feel better once some of the uncertainties resolve. I just have to endure until then.
While I was writing this, the nice people from Jugglebox came and took away all the bins we got from them. Suddenly the apartment feels vast again! I hadn't quite realized just how much space they take up. And I have bustled in my room and now it's much much tidier; the major thing that remains is unpacking the filing cabinet boxes, and I can do that tonight. Now it's time to take a couple of hours to
watch Alex watching the squirrels on the garage roof get some work done before my date night with J.
- thinking about:
behavior.self-care, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.moving, mind.dreamtime, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.impatience, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.depression, places.home, stuff
Fun things, Apr 30: pizza for family dinner (Daiya frozen pizzas are DF AND GF, woo!)
May 1: strolled around in glorious weather
May 2: indulged in a tiny bit of impulse-buying at BB&B and the Container Store
May 3: spent much of the early afternoon lounging in bed playing S&P2 and hanging out on Twitter
The apartment is slowly taking shape. I've shelved all the humor books, out of boxes for the first time since our last
move, and most of the cookbooks. I got a locking step-can to replace the old busted kitchen trash can: more convenient for us, more proof against Alex (who is basically a dog in cat form). We're still trying to figure out where to put the ENORMOUS new microwave--I didn't know it was going to be that big!--and toaster oven. This weekend's project is unpacking all the remaining Juggleboxes and enjoying the lovely spring weather.( Vertigo )
Media log catchup, with SPOILERS. You have been warned.
35) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
(Movie.) Rewatch. I wanted something to watch while packing the kitchen; it needed to be very familiar and not reliant on visuals. This was perfect. Steve Martin's brand of comedy and Michael Caine's brand of comedy are SO different, totally incongruous, but somehow it works. I would love to see the same series of events recreated from Janet's perspective, since we get almost no insight into her motivations until the very end. On the bright side, she has
motivations.( Spoilers )Verdict:
I've loved it since I was a kid and I love it now.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
It will be part of the "crooks and scams" series of homeschooling lessons. That's on the Core Curriculum, right?
36) Half a King
by Joe Abercrombie. (Book.) There are two plot twists and I saw them both coming a mile away. The characters couldn't keep my interest while I waited for the plot twists to twist. The female characters are even flimsier than the male ones. And I'm really not happy with ( spoilers )Verdict:
Disappointing, especially since I've really liked Abercrombie's work in the past, and dismaying, especially since it's aimed at teen readers who have fewer immunities to the [spoilers] bit above.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate, I suppose, but with a serious conversation about the [spoilers].
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, body.sleep, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.2014.media log, experiences.books, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.valium, experiences.housework, experiences.movies, experiences.moving, experiences.vertigo
Fun things, Apr 29: went out to dinner with J for our first post-move date night.
Today was all about answering the door--USPS package, UPS package, laundry, FreshDirect, FreshDirect with the thing they forgot the first time, and internet installation--and getting my room in shape. I moved things around so I could turn my bed 90 degrees, and I'm much happier with the setup now. I put shelves in my bookcases and discovered that I'm missing one cabinet shelf, probably lost in the last move; I may replace it with drawers, since craft supplies go in that cabinet and drawers would be a lot more useful than shelves for that. I unpacked and put away all the craft supplies, craft books, and language books. I also ran a couple of loads of dishes, and set up our .
After dinner, J and I moved lots and lots of boxes around. The nonfiction and YA are all in the guest room, the how-tos are in X's room, and the cookbooks are set aside to be shelved once we figure out where we're putting them. I put away the linens, so the only remaining Juggleboxen are the coats-and-shoes ones (which can now be emptied because I found the hangers for the guest room closet) and the ones with J's clothes.
The cats got so disgruntled at the box-moving that they all ended up on J's bed
, the furthest from the noise. I'm very amused that a) they're all as far from one another as they can get while still being on the same bed, and b) they're arranged in a rough circle in exactly the order I'd expect. Sophie is totally indifferent to Sam, but she's madly in love with Alex and staring yearningly at him from afar. (Not making this up. She's completely obsessed. At the old place she followed him around constantly, and sometimes sat and watched him sleep. It's adorable and horrifyingly stalkerish in equal parts.) Alex is oblivious to Sophie's interest, and is watching for Sam to get up and leave so he can chase her because chasing is fun. Sam is keeping a very wary eye on Sophie, whom she regards as more of a threat than Alex (an accurate assessment).
Earlier Sam and Sophie spent quite a while hanging out on my bed, much nearer each other, once again in identical poses
. I'm delighted by how much time Sophie is spending in places other than X's room, and by her allowing the other cats and even people (!) to approach her.
I'm resisting the urge to put more things away. Everyone else is asleep and it would be loud. Maybe tomorrow.