It's my 35th birthday! If you want to "get me something", here's my wishlist:
1) Donate to the ACLU
, the EFF
, or Lambda Legal
2) Submit a story to Long Hidden
3) Tell me about something beautiful.
4) Support someone in your life who's having a hard time.
5) Get CPR (re-)certified.
6) Do something good for yourself, something indulgent and delicious or quietly happy-making.
7) Question the dominant paradigm. Ask "why?". Explore the roots of customs you take for granted.
8) Ask someone you know to teach you something that's new to you.
If you do any of these things, I'd love to know about it. Please leave me a comment or drop me a note.
I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like to be 35. Thanks for keeping me company along the way. <3
(I bet X knows the song the subject line comes from. It's been stuck in my head off and on the entire weekend, for reasons that will become obvious.)
There are two ways I could describe the trip that xtina
and I took this past weekend, to New Orleans for World Horror/Stokers Weekend.
-----( The glum version )
-----( The happy version )
Both versions are true, of course.
The reason that version #2 feels more true to me is that traveling with X turns out to be just plain wonderful. We'd never taken a trip like this before, and it was very much a trial run for next year's London/Paris trip around Worldcon, so there was a bit of pressure on us to Do It Right. X has frequently been known to say "I hate travel!" and we're both anxious types, so I was worried we would just stress each other out. But no, we're totally compatible, we relax each other, we want the same things out of a trip, we like the same mix of scheduling and spontaneity. X soothed me through bumpy flights and I supported X through a massive social situation full of strangers. Our good cheer barely faltered throughout the entire weekend. It's a cliché, I know, but as long as we were together we really didn't much care whether we were in Miami or New Orleans. We joked around and loved each other and relaxed, and came home full of affection and gratitude for each other. Despite everything, it was in some ways one of the best vacations I've ever taken.
I mean, yes, it would be nice if the next vacation we take together involves neither illness nor flight mishaps. But now we know that if those things come up, we can handle it just fine and still find ways to have a good time.
Last night I neglected to put in earplugs, and I was woken by someone singing outside my apartment door. (This happens.) I put in earplugs, went back to sleep, and had a nightmare where I had gone deaf. I was in a community of queer hippie pagans, which was great for a bit, but then things started going wrong in that cascading nightmare way: batteries burned out, when I replaced them the device I was using kept tuning in radio stations instead of doing what I wanted it to do, and finally I made a joke about photocopies of photocopies getting paler and paler and was accused of committing racial microaggressions. I ended up in a weird ceremony/tribunal where various gods I didn't believe in were invoked and I kept screwing up by handling ritual objects that only men were supposed to touch. Every time I insisted that someone use my pronouns, I was accused of hypocrisy for demanding sensitivity while having been insensitive. My hearing was getting worse and worse. Finally I bellowed, "I'M DEAF! I CAN'T HEAR ALL THE RULES ABOUT WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO DO AND NOT DO!"
And then I woke up and yanked out my earplugs, and I could hear just fine.
So the next time you feel like you're in a nightmare where arbitrary rules for behavior put you in danger
, take a minute to check whether the problem is you. Maybe you put those earplugs in so long ago that you've forgotten they're there—but once you remember, you can still take them out.
(Please don't get into arguments with the person who left that comment, but if you're a past or future Readercon attendee, please do leave your own comments telling us what you think of the new safety documents. I would personally really love to get more feedback of any kind, positive or negative.)
X: Tomorrow I'd like to spend some time with you where we don't talk about Readercon.
R: Yes, I'd like that too.
X: Where you don't even mention Readercon.
X: At all. In any way. Even a little.
R: Okay, sounds good.
X: Do you think you're capable of that?
R: ...I'll do my best!
Of course, part of why I can't shut up about Readercon is that I'm finally getting to do the part I like best: making the actual program! Eeee it's going to be awesome! But the other part is that I'm doing a lot of hacking around in the program software, and it's really satisfying when it goes right but also I totally don't know what I'm doing (in the "I think I remember talking about arrays in my advanced comp sci classes 15 years ago" sense), and X is my database and PHP mentor, so when it goes right I want to say "X! Look! It went right!" and when I'm stumped I want to say "X! Help!" and you can see how one might occasionally want different sorts of interaction with one's partner.
It's crunch time on the work-work and freelance-work fronts as well, so expect to see very little of me between now and July 14. (Unless you're going to be at World Horror/the Stokers next week, in which case, see you there!)
A freelance check came in, so I bought men's pants! Men's Wearhouse was having a two-for-one sale and the 31–30 slim fit 100% cotton slacks fit me perfectly. Another gap in my wardrobe has been filled.
Tonight J and I made lentil soup and then I made mint chocolate chip ice. Both came out reasonably well but could have been better. ( Recipes behind the cut. )
Ever wonder whether something is really as awful as you remember? X and I watched Blues Brothers 2000
tonight. It is actually more
awful than we remember. Considerably more. That said, we're now very inspired to hunt down some good live music when we're in New Orleans for World Horror/Stokers Weekend next month. (Will you be there?) And it turned out she hadn't seen the video for "Q.U.E.E.N." so we rectified that as soon as the movie was done, and that made the world considerably better.
Last weekend I got both my inboxes down to zero, and I've kept them there all week. I have also been way WAY more productive at work and more relaxed at home. (I read a book--no, two books! I watched two episodes of DS9
!) I don't think this is coincidence. I really had no idea how much stress I felt looking at unanswered things in my inbox until they weren't there anymore. Now I tab to my inbox, smile, and feel like I really get to choose what I do next--no pressure, no stress. I recommend this highly.
After consulting with my therp, I'm tentatively planning to go off the Zoloft once Readercon is done. (The timing is not coincidence.) I'll wait a month to make sure I'm doing okay without it, and then try very carefully drinking some flavored tea and see what happens.
Readercon stuff is not actually that stressful right now, because we're in the part I love best: collecting data and building the program. I'm also organizing a really exciting thing for Saturday night that I hope will be stupendously awesome. Yay for friends who know what they're doing and can reassure me that my plans are feasible and unlikely to become "a clusterwhentwopeopleloveeachotherverymuc
h". Yay for feeling much better about trying this new-to-me thing now that I've actually got the ball rolling.
I wonder what I will do with all my free time and energy once Readercon is done. I'll still be on the concom and progcom and safecom, but I'm stepping down as program chair, and that's a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't go dancing anymore, and even if I took it up again, I wouldn't volunteer to nearly the extent that I used to (if at all). I don't cook for Arisia anymore. I have Long Hidden
to co-edit, but that's a freelance project and I'll do it in freelance time. For the first time in a long long while, I will have no unpaid volunteer gigs to occupy me.
Maybe domesticity will be my next thing. It's what I most love doing right now: bustling around the house, talking with X and J about household projects, cooking, building and buying things, having people over, family time. More of that would be really nice.
Maybe I'll knit more, read more, do a better job of keeping up with the rewatch.
Or maybe I'll just improvise, be spontaneous, do whatever I feel like doing. I'm not very good at spontaneity, but the only way to get better at it is to make space for it.
Augh, is it really getting light out? I am not doing very well with sticking to anything resembling my sleep schedule. Having a week off from work isn't going to help with this. Oh well.
- thinking about:
behavior.organization, behavior.planning, behavior.volunteering, body.body clock, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.movies, experiences.music, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.ice cream, food.cooking.soup, food.cooking.soup.lentil, food.recipes, stuff.clothes
( Health TMI )
In equally annoying health news, I went to an allergist today and described my reactions to perfumes and flavorings. Her conclusion is that I'm essentially getting contact dermatitis on my tongue and throat when I inhale/ingest things I'm sensitive to. I noted that the problem had gotten a lot worse since I started taking the Zoloft; at first I thought it was related to the Zoloft-induced dry mouth, but that side effect has mostly gone away. However, upon Googling "contact dermatitis artificial flavor", I find this note in a case study of a woman who developed an allergic reaction to artificial cinnamon
:Contact allergies are common in the skin but rare in the mouth due to the protective role of saliva against the accumulation of allergens
It's true that my mouth is still dry; it's just not dry enough to really bother me most of the time. In addition, the Zoloft continues to cause a bit of acid reflux, which is probably making my throat more sensitive to other irritants. Hooray! Bodies are fun.
Conclusion: once Readercon is over, plus a week to make sure there's no post-Readercon fuckery this year, I'm going to get my doctor and therapist's approval to go off the Zoloft. It's definitely been helpful, but I'm feeling a lot more settled, and most of my anxiety these days is related to--surprise!--being scared of food because I don't know when it's going to make my throat feel like it's swelling up. I keep being glad to have the Zoloft to help me deal with that, but it would be even better to not need
to deal with it. In the meantime, lots and lots of peppermint candy (and a search for lemon or other citrus candies that have no artificial flavors or sweeteners, since citrus is naturally mouthwatering), and probably going back to taking Pepcid with the Zoloft.
Also conclusion: the allergist was not entirely
useless, but pretty nearly. I mentioned the Zoloft dry mouth and she didn't say "It might be worth taking a closer look at that". She expressed surprise that Claritin appeared to help with the reaction but offered no suggestions for alternatives. Bah.
- thinking about:
behavior.planning, behavior.relaxing, body.allergies, body.arms, body.pain, body.sleep, body.strength, experiences.2013, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance, mind.feelings.calm, people.cats, people.futurekid, people.josh, people.xtina, places.home, projects.crafts.knitting, stuff.clothes
Another issue of #24MAG
is done! And gorgeous! And full of data and genders and PTSD and color and theater and physics and cows! Read it for free here
or buy a glorious tangible print copy at http://24mag.org/
This continues to be my absolute favorite freelance gig. I had to leave the last issue after 13 hours because I was unwell, and tearing myself away made me so
sad. This time I did about 28 hours onsite (with a two-hour break and maybe four total hours of sleep), came home, and kept working in between naps and baths and meals. I made my last edits from my bed at 3:30 this morning. I think it ended up being something like #47MAG
for the design team. Worth it, though. I'm really pleased with the piece I wrote about my sleep statistics, and everyone else's contributions are superb, as always.
As much as I loved the intense magazine atmosphere
, when I got home I was suddenly awash in clingy love for J and X and utter deep joy at being home with them. I kept saying "I love you and I missed you" like I'd been gone for weeks. Since then I have been fed excellent tasty food, and there has been a great deal of cuddling and cuddling++, and the cats are their usual selves (which is good, as Java was briefly but worryingly ill on Thursday and Friday), and I took a long oatmeal bath, and I have gotten a whole lot of sleep. Today I slept from 4 until noon, and then again until 15:00 or so, so I think I'm more or less caught up. Super wacky dreams, of course. (I would have a dream and then have the bad porn fanfic version of the same dream
. It was ridiculous.)
It has been a most splendid weekend, and I'm glad I have the whole week to recover from it.
Xtina is continuing her project of cataloging all our books in LibraryThing. Our initial estimate was that we had around 4000 volumes, but she's at over 2600 and not yet done with the living room, so it might be closer to 5000.
Since most of the books are mine, she occasionally IMs me with questions.
Xtina: i got to a couple of magazines, then make electronics, and now something in russian
Rose: it's new worlds
Rose: the cover says "novi miri" but that's "new worlds" in russian
Rose: why it's in russian, i have no idea
Xtina: what in the hell is this thing
Rose: a magazine from the dawn of time
Rose: by which i mean, the 1970s
Xtina: oh, no, apologies; i didn't mean "what am i looking at"
Xtina: i meant, "what the hell am i looking at"
Rose: right, that's sort of where i was going... "because the 1970s and drugs" is the answer you're looking for, i think
Xtina: a kung fu: the legend continues fanzine
Xtina: i'm judging you, you know
Rose: that's josh's
Xtina: i judge the both of you
Xtina: freely and without reservation
Xtina: there are two types of "complete guide to middle earth"
Rose: different authors?
Rose: what makes them different?
Xtina: did anyone sort the uh metafiction books?
Rose: not to my knowledge
Rose: they might be in some sort of vague "books about fictional universes" "maps" "bestiaries" grouping
Rose: like the cookbooks*
Rose: but beyond that, no
Rose: if you feel compelled to alpha by author, i won't stop you
Xtina: i feel compelled to sort them by author
Xtina: if someone wants to rearrange them by latitude and longitude, they may do so only if there are index cards
Xtina: or some other indication of wtf this-all is
Rose: if you feel compelled to sort them by dewey decimal number i will stop you
Xtina: but whyyy
Rose: because LCC
is clearly superior!
Xtina: oh, fair* The cookbooks are not grouped into "fictional universes" "maps" "bestiaries". They are, however, grouped into "nationalities" "gadgets" "vegetarian/vegan" and so on.
Xtina: 2627 books so far
Xtina: projected 2750 by end of the living room
Rose: then i get to sort my romance novels
Rose: i assume you'd break out in a rash if you had to catalog those
Xtina: i can do any number of things so long as i don't gotta read them
Rose: well, i did have my heart set on this heterosexuality indoctrination program
Xtina: read one romance novel, and bam! slippery slope down to 0-Kinsey-ville
So there is this thing that happened recently, with some folks I know.
A dude told a lady, uninvited, that he'd done some pretty awful things in the past. The lady was really shaken up--she'd been on the receiving end of similar awful things, which the dude knew--and told a friend about it. The friend said, "He must have meant something else by what he said. I know that dude and he's a great guy."
I just keep looking at that and thinking, no.
No, do not let your egotistical certainty of your ability to judge character win out over someone saying, literally coming out and saying, that they've done awful things.
No, do not tell someone who's just been put through a pretty traumatic situation that they must have just misunderstood.
Sooner or later, I think we're all likely to encounter situations where someone we thought was awesome turns out to be doing or have done something reprehensible. How do we handle them when they arise? Not like this, I'm thinking. Which means we have to prepare to take that ego blow, to be wrong, to have misjudged.
We have to prepare for our misjudgment possibly putting others at risk. Trust is communicable, like a disease. The lady knows lots of people who think the dude is a great guy, not just that one friend. She might not have spent so much time with him and gotten to know him so well if he hadn't had the seal of approval from so many people. While it's not their fault that the dude hid his history from them, they might feel pretty terrible about the situation and their part in it. Feeling terrible often leads to being defensive, and that just perpetuates the problem.
We have to look around at our friends and colleagues and then at the statistics about rape and assault and abuse, to really understand that someone we know and like is also someone who batters their partner or mistreats their children, or has done so in the past and may or may not feel particularly repentant. We are being wrong to trust someone, right now. And we don't know who we're wrong about. We may or may not ever find out.
We have to prepare for finding out that someone we know and like has done awful things in the past and is genuinely repentant. It's worth thinking about how we'd react to such a disclosure, and what friendship means in a situation like that.
We have to prepare to suddenly and unpleasantly acquire firsthand knowledge that contradicts our past assumptions and beliefs, and we have to prepare for people not to believe us when we tell them about it. Preparing for it won't make it any less disastrous when it happens, but it's still better than going into a situation like that unprepared.
I'm not saying that we should never trust or get close to anyone. There are lots of genuinely terrific people in the world; for example, the lady has some wonderful friends who have believed her and supported her completely through all of this. I'm saying that those of us who feel confident that we are good judges of character need to take the time now to question that, so that somewhere down the line, when someone comes to us and says "This person we both trust turns out to have done some awful things", we have an easier time understanding that this is part of our reality, and we don't try to wish it away.
How the lady and her friend interact with the dude after this is up to them. I'm not prescribing anything there. I'm just noting that the lady has to deal with the world the way it is, a world in which the dude has done these awful things and decided to tell her about them, while her friend is choosing to go on pretending that it's a very different world where the dude would never do or have done any such thing. And in my opinion, the friend is doing friendship wrong on both fronts.
Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. For those reading the comments, TW for discussions of rape, assault, consent and its lack, etc.
and I just completed workout #8 of Mark Lauren's You Are Your Own Gym
workout program. I'd say we completed week two (of ten), but it's taken us about three and a half weeks to get here for various reasons.
We've had to make a lot of adjustments--the base program was not designed for people with forearm injuries--but the general shape of the program seems pretty decent so far. The first two weeks are about getting used to working out; we've seen the usual rapid improvement and are now plateauing, so it's good timing for moving on to the strength development portion of the program. So far my arms are handling it well, which I'm delighted about--especially since I can't take Celebrex at the moment, as it can interact badly with Zoloft.
While the YAYOG
book is pretty decent, the Android/iGadget app is invaluable, and a lot cheaper. Download the app and the free video pack and you'll seriously have just about everything you need to work out just about anywhere. That said, the book is good for explaining the rationale behind the somewhat unusual workout regimen, and while the app just has videos of Mark Lauren doing the exercises, the book's illustrations are divided between photos of Lauren and photos of an awesome short skinny Asian woman in sensible clothes, which X and I were very pleased to see. Recommended.
Half a year ago I posted about wanting new clothes
. I finally wore holes in my two pairs of jeans, and I'd lost enough weight that they didn't really fit anyway, so supertailz
let me drag her out for jeans-shopping. I have six pairs of jeans that fit! No one else has ever owned them before! And I got shirts too, lots of them! And then today I went to Target because grahamsleight
is visiting and wasn't prepared for winter weather (we could see our breath today and it's supposed to be 70F tomorrow, which is pretty extreme even by NYC spring standards) and needed to buy shirts, and I went to the boys' section and realized I could get boys' size L socks, the perfect black crew socks I've been wanting... and they're $6 for a pack of 10 pairs. I got two packs. I'll wear holes in them and I don't care at all.
A while back I got pajama pants and some lovely fleece-lined tights, and I stole a pair of auntyglory
's hiking boots from the house upstate, and the other day I snagged a 32S men's single-breasted three-button suit jacket from Goodwill (it's only slightly too wide in the shoulders, otherwise perfect), so I feel very pleased with how I'm whittling down that list.
Having Graham here has been lovely, of course. We've had some very nice meals--dinner at Lobo on Sunday, homemade five-spice chicken salad from a Nigel Slater recipe today--and done a fair bit of walking. I took him to Coney Island, despite the cold weather, and it was sobering to see how much work still needs to be done six months after Superstorm Sandy. The boardwalk is being replaced, board by board; Nathan's still has plywood over the windows; the aquarium is "reopening soon!". Cheerier was a stroll through the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, where the cherry trees are just coming into bloom and the magnolias are just past their peak, and a bit of wandering through Greenwich Village, where we dropped in at my mother's place and were promptly plied with Cornish game hen and carrot-fennel-almond salad (as happens). We swung by the B&N at Union Square and I actually bought a couple of books! I'm really glad I took a couple of days of "staycation" leave; it's been very restorative.
All that walking has reminded me how much better my body feels when it's moving around; X has had a lot more post-workout soreness than I have and I think it's because I've been out walking while she's been stuck at her desk. I've finally gotten a standing desk set up at work, and I hope that will help my achy muscles keep from cramping up, though I may not be so happy about it tomorrow and Thursday when I'm feeling all the lunges and squats we did tonight.
Another nice side effect of Graham being here is that he's sleeping in my room and I'm bunking with X. Between the workouts and the cosominating, she and I are getting a lot of good reminders that we have bodies and are capable of feeling good. I've been more cuddly with J lately too. Yay spring.
Right now it's just me and the cats in the living room. Everyone else has gone to bed. I'm going to ice my arms (just because they've generally been fine doesn't mean I want to take risks, especially with a heavy editing day ahead of me) and enjoy the solitude a bit longer. Then, sleep.
Reports are hitting Twitter of explosions at the Boston marathon. (No links because there are a lot of graphic descriptions and images floating around right now. If you Google it up, click with care.) Boston-area folks and marathon runners, please check in. I'm worried about you all.
Usual disaster protocols:
If you're in the area and can give blood, please do.
Text or tweet/DM; don't call.
Be very careful with unverified information. Don't spread it, and if it comes your way, be skeptical.
Put trigger warnings on photos and text as appropriate.
Tell your loved ones you love them.
Josh and I had nojojojo
and Dr. Danielle over to dinner tonight, and we decided to drag out the pressure cooker (which was actually dusty, poor thing) and make ropa vieja. We based it on this recipe
with some extra vegetables because why not?( Ropa vieja recipe )
Josh also fried up some green beans in sesame oil and garnished them with sesame seeds. Somehow this went perfectly with the ropa vieja, as did a bottle of Petit Chapeau bordeaux and, improbably, a loaf of French bread that Danielle contributed. Dessert was rosemary cilantro sorbet from SkyIce
, and Josh had a glass of port from a bottle Nora brought. It was quite a splendid communal meal.
I mentioned that it's the time of year when I dig out "Sprung"
, my favorite springtime poem, and to my genuine shock Nora and Danielle asked me to read it aloud. Then everyone listened patiently while I extolled the virtues of pantoums
. I love my friends.
After they left, I finished cleaning up, took a little time to myself, and then got in a lovely cuddle with X. Now I'm sitting in the tidy and dimly lit living room, the dishwasher churning away on its second load, corn muffins baked and ready to be tomorrow's breakfast, the cats dozing on their chairs, my loves asleep in their rooms. I love this time so much--the quiet after the noisy joy. I slept badly last night, woke up cranky, and shook myself out of that mood only with great effort, so it's wonderful to feel a little genuine deep-down peace. I wish I could kick back and doze off here, listening to the dishwasher's steady rhythm and feeling Java settle himself on my outstretched legs, but instead I will go off to my room, carrying as much of this contentment with me as I can fit in my heart.
A brilliant idea from comments on this post
: chocolate syrup made one serving at a time! I just tried it and it worked very well.
1 Tbsp cocoa
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 dash salt
1 splash vanilla extract
Put in a mug and mix well. Microwave on high 20 seconds or until bubbly. Fill mug with milk, coffee, or other beverage that needs more chocolatey goodness. Stir, heat if you like, drink.
I like a lot of chocolate, so I'd probably increase it to 2 Tbsp of cocoa and 1 heaping Tbsp of sugar, plus a bit more water as needed. Or if I want real nostalgia for iced chocolate from the Peacock Caffe (which I was missing with a deep visceral ache last night when screwed-up trains left me stranded and hungry in the West Village), I can increase the cocoa but not the sugar, tell Arturo that I'm brave enough to have proper bitter iced chocolate the way the Italians drink it, and then hastily pour in some sugar when his back is turned. Then I'll drink it carefully, stirring often and holding the straw up so I don't just suck up a mouthful of undissolved sugar from the bottom of the glass. There will still be some sugar on the half-melted ice (because you have to make hot chocolate first and then pour it over ice to cool it, that's how it's done) when I get to the bottom of the glass, but if I'm diligent with the stirring I won't miss too much.
I hope Arturo got to go back to Milan and be a painter the way he always wanted. I hope Virginia is surrounded by adoring grandchildren who fetch and carry for her so she no longer has to stump around on her enormous orthotic shoes. I hope every once in a while they fondly remember the quiet girl who spent hours upon hours sitting and reading and writing papers and listening to Arturo's Italian opera records and eating tortellini and drinking iced chocolate in the dim, cavernous haven of the Peacock. I hope someday I can bring as much cumulative peace and happiness to someone else as they gave me.
X: I love headscritchins, you, babies, cats. In that order.
R: Once there is an actual baby it will go right to the top of that list, and I'm fine with that.
X: My ass! I will still love headscritchins.
X: And you!
R, helpfully: Don't die.
X: Only headscritchins will help!
R: I really need to go to bed. *starts to get up*
X, dramatically: Nooo! You're--*normal voice* what's the word?--*dramatic voice* CONSIGNING ME TO DEATH!
I keep wanting to write here but I don't have time. I think a lot of why Twitter and Tumblr overtook LJ/DW is because you can squeeze in a tweet or a reblog on the train or on your lunch break. Sitting down to blog takes time and focus that I had in much greater quantity five or ten years ago.
Today it was splendidly warm out, summer-warm, warm all the way into evening—it's still 70F at nearly 3 a.m. and I think I will go open my window after I post this—and Josh and I sat out in the backyard and read books. After we came in, I hung out with X for a bit and then I went to my room and finished my book. I read a whole book tonight, start to finish! That's amazing! I used to review three books a week while working a full-time job and now I read maybe a book a month. It felt so good to just sit and read.
I expect it would feel good to just sit and blog, but it seems like that's become a once-a-month thing too. In the meantime, I do catch up on everyone else's posts every couple of days. I'm still here. Just... quiet, for now.
I want to tell you all everything, about the Long Hidden Kickstarter and really being an anthology editor for real, about the radio show and other changes at work, about what it's like to fundamentally change the way I think about every relationship in my life (especially because a friend specifically asked me to write about this whole notion of transactional vs. egalitarian/communitarian relationships), about losing weight and gaining weight and buying clothes, about earning and saving money and planning for the future, about the way the apartment is really coming together as a space we want to live in, about the wonderful dinner Josh and I had to celebrate our anniversary, about the ways X and I get better at talking to each other every day (after seven years of long distance you'd think we'd be good at that, and we were--but we're better now), about the ridiculous cats, about the egregiously long late winter and the splendor of spring being here at last. Everything. And I will, when I can. I'm just not sure when I can.
Maybe I should make blogging dates or something. Yesterday I thought about suggesting that "Planning is what makes things happen" should go on our family motto list, right after "Don't make yourself sad".
In the meantime, I've spent 15 minutes on this that I should have spent sleeping. But I missed you, and I wanted you to know.
I'm taking a break from a weekend of work (69,000 words edited, 27,000 to go) to share some random things that we here at #SubtleHouse have figured out or implemented to make life easier around the house.
1) Tablecloths are awesome. Thanks to SCIENCE there are now really nice non-plasticky tablecloths that are almost entirely spillproof and stainproof. We have several of these
in blue and red. After many washes they still do the nifty water-beads-up thing. They look nice and make cleanup so much easier.
2) Invest in matching plastic containers. Sure, lots of Chinese takeout comes in free round containers, but those take up a ton of space, and soon you have an assortment of containers and lids and figuring out what goes with what is a pain. We really like the Ziploc ones
, especially because the same lids fit both deep and shallow square containers. (The shallow ones are perfect for one person's worth of leftovers.) Keep a few larger unique containers to organize the lids for the smaller matching ones, and throw the rest away.
3) Label those containers with a dry-erase marker (not a Sharpie). We have two markers hanging on the fridge and a policy of automatically throwing out anything undated. The dry-erase ink stays on as long as you need it to and then wipes right off when you wash the container and lid. Just make sure you get a relatively non-stinky brand of marker.
4) If you have a microwave oven but don't use it often, it makes a great breadbox.
5) Frozen dumplings are basically the best emergency food ever. They nuke up in three minutes or fry up in ten and contain vegetables, protein, and starch. We stay stocked on them at all times.
6) We got stainless steel wire racks (the sort you cool cookies on) and put them on our bathroom shelf. Bottles and such go on them. This makes it very easy to move all the bottles at once to wipe the shelf down when it starts to get icky, and the bottoms of the bottles don't get any of the ick on them.
What's made your life easier lately?
I'm using my "spring" userpic because it is finally spring, snow notwithstanding. On my walk to the train today I saw multiple fully open daffodils, and lots of violets, and of course the crocuses that have been around for a while, and leaves on the forsythia, and the beginnings of buds on the rosebushes. And snow. But eventually there will be no more snow, or so I'm told (though this might be one of those years where we still get occasional freak snowstorms into April). Eventually I will be able to go outside without a coat on. In the meantime, every time the clouds part and sunlight hits the window, I have to stop myself from licking it off. LIGHT AND WARMTH GIVE ME IT.( Spring is also a state of mind )
Obligatory cat update: Sophie is very slowly relaxing and getting used to being around the other cats, and they're likewise getting used to being around her. There's still occasional hissing and growling, but she's pretty comfortable with Java being up on the loft now, even if there isn't a person around. Java has been stealing her food, so the other day she came out and stole some of his. (It's all the same type of food, so this is just a territory/pecking order thing.) She had to have five teeth pulled a couple of weeks ago, poor thing, but she appears to have recovered very well, and not being in pain from rotting teeth and sore gums is no doubt contributing to her improved disposition. Java eagerly awaits the day when he finally gets to lick Sophie's head. Sam mostly avoids her. As far as I can tell, Sophie has not actually gotten into any kind of a physical altercation with either of them (though at one point she did freak out and jump directly down from the loft
, startling the hell out of me and X, because she couldn't make herself go past Java to get down via the bookcases; but she landed fine, so we're mostly trying to pretend that didn't happen). So far, so good.
- thinking about:
behavior.love, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.omeprazole, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.seasons.spring, experiences.weather, mind.feelings.contentment, mind.feelings.stress, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, mind.wiring.depression, people.cats, people.josh, people.xtina, stuff.money, stuff.tech
The gendered terms in the following post are deliberate, because this is very frequently a gendered thing. There are exceptions, and you can feel free to generalize if you like, but I don't want to elide over that.
TW for discussion of violence and violent language.
There is this thing I do sometimes. I'm sure you know other people who do it too. It goes like this:
Female friend: And then he [did an obnoxious thing]!
Me: Oh man, if that guy were here I would punch him in the face.
I know I don't mean this literally. I'm pretty sure I haven't punched anyone with intent to harm since my brother and I were bickering kids. When faced with any sort of physical altercation I back the hell up and call the cops. I am not actually going to punch that guy in the face.
What I am doing in that moment is indulging in my fantasy of saving my friend, like Mario rescuing Princess Toadstool. I will stomp her own personal Bowser and then fireworks will go off and I will be a hero. Victory! Hooray! Twenty thousand points!
Meanwhile, what my friend quite possibly hears is:
* someone she cares about (me) might get into a physical fight with this other dude, who may well also be someone she quite likes who is just being obnoxious in this way
* that means we will both be in danger of getting hurt
* if she's around it, she might also be in danger of getting hurt
* and it will all be her fault for confiding in me and setting me off
* but even though she is the wronged party, and even though she might be blamed for inciting violence, her ability to determine and take appropriate action has been usurped by a third party
Yes, the "fault" bit is classic internalized victim-blaming. Some women don't have that script playing in their heads, but a lot do. Even without that, the rest is bad enough. Rage! Violence! Injury! Possible collateral damage! Powerlessness! Maybe bonus extra guilt! Maybe even double bonus extra PTSD triggering if she's seen or experienced violence in the past! And don't forget that a friend she thought was safe to confide in (me) is now not safe at all, because who knows what else I might react violently and ragefully to!
My fantasy, in other words, is her nightmare. Which means it's bullshit and I need to stop fantasizing about it.
This goes double for conversations where my friend starts talking about punching the guy herself. She's the wounded party; she gets to have the revenge fantasy. It would be rude in the extreme for me to insert myself into her dream. (If she invites me to be a part of it, that's a separate matter.) My job as her friend is to support her in fantasizing whatever she likes while perhaps offering the occasional "Ha ha, you're not actually going to do that, right?" if it starts to sound like she might actually intend to dig out the brass knuckles (or "I'm not comfortable with listening to you talk about that" if her musings go in a direction that I find distressing).
Sympathetic: "Wow, that's awful."
Sympathetic, close friend version: "You sound really upset. Would you like a hug?"
Outraged: "What an obnoxious thing to do!" (Note: not "What a jerk!". This person probably does have redeeming features, and name-calling him might put my friend in the position of feeling she has to defend someone she's annoyed at or downplay his obnoxious behavior in order to reassure me that "he's really not so bad".)
Supportive, unequivocal: "You are totally right to be upset/offended/appalled by that."
Supportive, equivocal: "I can totally see why you'd be upset/offended/appalled by that."
Practical, generic: "What can I do to support you right now/the next time you're around him?"
Practical, specific: "Would you like me to be backup the next time you need to be around him? I'm not one for physical altercations but I can stay between you and him and get you out of there real quick if need be."
Practical, specific, mutual friend version: "Would you like me to take him aside and explain why that was not okay? I don't usually offer to be a go-between, but in this case I think it might work because [reasons]."
In other words, I need to let her take the lead on describing and reacting to the situation, then follow that lead, while maintaining my own boundaries (e.g. not offering hugs to someone I'm not on hugging terms with, making it clear what sort of help I can offer). If she's confiding in me, my role is to listen, not to white-knight all over the place. She gets to be the hero of her own story, whatever story it is.
EDIT: A response in email reminds me that saying "I will punch him for you" is saying "I would commit a crime for you"; what the other person may hear is "I, the person you rely on enough to confide in, will now undertake something that might get me sent to jail, leaving you unable to rely on me". Yet another reason not to do it.
EDIT: VERY IMPORTANT. The comments on this post are not a space for discussing how much you would like to do violence to another person, or telling stories of violence that stopped someone from misbehaving, or otherwise suggesting that actually undertaking a violent response to obnoxious behavior--which is what is being discussed here, not assault or harassment*--is ever appropriate. You're welcome to hold those views in your own space. This is not the space for them. This is also not the space for jokes about violence.
* I don't think a violent response to either assault or harassment is appropriate either, but that's a separate conversation, and also not up for discussion in this space. I'm making the distinction primarily because I think most people can agree that it would be excessive to punch someone in response to obnoxious behavior that doesn't rise (or sink) to the level of assault or harassment.
X noted that I haven't been using LJ/DW much, and asked why. I just haven't been thinking long-form lately. I'm very focused on the moment: enjoying the moment when I can, being functional in the moment when I can, and getting through the moment when it's hard. This is a great mindset for Twitter. Less so for here.
I'm in that early stage of therapy where my head is full of tangled heaps of thoughts, and I'm trying to cut way back on relying solely on figuring these things out myself, on long introspective blog posts where I tease out a thread and follow it to its end but lose sight of how it got tangled in the first place. I'm trying to have more questions than answers right now. I think that's a more honest approach to where I am, and not filling all the available space with answers means leaving more room for all the questions that I need to ask about anxiety and depression and history and bodies and work and family... These are big complicated things I'm thinking about, and I don't want to try to enforce some false simplicity on them. But that means more sitting and thinking, or sitting and looking, or sitting and being, rather than analyzing. It's hard for me to write non-analytically, so there's less writing.
Asking questions in public and not having answers is hard for me too. I like looking like I have the answers. And I'm emotionally fragile enough right now that there are some answers I'm not ready to hear from other people, that I really do need to painstakingly grope my way toward myself so I have the whole long journey to brace for what I'll find. I'm not talking about life changes or anything like that, not "should I change my career" or "will my family survive this turbulent time" (the answers to those are "no" and "yes" respectively, in case you were wondering), but deep personal history stuff, deep brain stuff, "why do I do this and how do I stop doing it" stuff.
Writing things down makes that real. I'm reluctant to do that with things I haven't figured out yet, and with things that I would really prefer were temporary.
So that's why I've been so quiet. I'm not talking much about this in person either, or tweeting it (even on my private account). I'm laying groundwork. I'm settling in for this process to be slow and thorough, because I never want to go through this again. I want to fix my broken shit and I want to fix it so it stays fixed, plus getting in the habit of regular maintenance so regular wear and tear doesn't wear me out. Maybe there will be a flood of posts in another month or two when I start figuring things out. In the meantime, we're at the stage of construction where there's a big hole in the ground and some heaps of dirt and a board fence with "HARD HAT AREA" on it, and the rest is all blueprints and budgets and codes and regulations and hopes and dreams.
Except for the blueprint part; I don't have one of those yet. But I'm working on it.
Some kids dreamed of growing up to be dancers or doctors. I dreamed of being an anthology editor. (Not even kidding. I practically had an altar to Terry Carr and Judith Merril.) Now that dream might come true.
The anthology in question is Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History
. As we all know, history is written by the victors, and that includes historical fiction. The goal of this project is to focus on and amplify the voices of people who have been pushed to the margins. What was it like to be a Mayan laborer when the conquistadors showed up? to be a newly freed slave trying to start a business after the U.S. Civil War? to be transgender in Elizabethan England? Stories like these will be told in Long Hidden
, each with a speculative twist. We have an incredible group of authors lined up to send us stories, including Beverly Jenkins, Victor LaValle, Tananarive Due, Ken Liu, and Amal El-Mohtar. We'll also be open to submissions, so if you're a writer, start thinking about sending us a story!
The publisher is Crossed Genres, a fabulous small press that's known for taking chances on unclassifiable and niche books that would otherwise never see the light of day. They do this by raising money through Kickstarter; advance fundraising means we can pay the authors well and be confident that there's a market for the book. Here's the Kickstarter page for Long Hidden.
We're over 13% funded already, which is tremendous for our first day and has me really hoping we make a few of our stretch goals, like interior illustrations or an audiobook edition. I'm obsessively refreshing the page like an author checking their Amazon ranking on launch day (which I'm sure I'll do too when the book is actually published next year).
When I was a kid, people who knew my parents (both novelists) would ask me when--not whether--I was going to write a novel. Many of the PW
staff have written books, and a year or two back, someone asked when--not whether--I would do one. But really, I will probably never write a novel. I'm not a writer; I'm an editor. So I'm pleased as punch to find my own editorial way to get my name on a book jacket, especially in service to such a great cause and in the company of such a great people. I really, really, really hope we can make this happen as splendidly as the subject matter deserves.
It's February and my spring and summer are already basically full. That's ludicrous.
March 6: anniversary with Xtina*
April: negotiate next year's apartment lease
April 8: anniversary with Josh**
April 13: anniversary with Josh**
April 20–23: houseguest
April ~24–~30: visiting my father
May 10–11 or 17–18: #24MAG
May 29–30: my brother's graduation***
May 29–June 1: BEA***
June 9: anniversary with Xtina*
June 13–16: World Horror/Stoker weekend
June 19: my 35th birthday
June 21–23: Boston?
July 11–14: Readercon
July 14–28: post-Readercon collapse (there had better not be any fucking crises this year, I am just saying)* She claims it's March 6 but I think it's June 9. Just to be on the safe side, we observe them both.
** Our wedding was the 8th; our coupleversary is the second Saturday. Dual anniversaries appear to be a tradition in the household.
*** Welp, guess I'm missing the first two days of BEA and then dashing back from Boston to catch the last two. That will be exciting.
Things I'm not going to: Worldcon, RWA, RT. And now you can see why. In fact, I don't think there's anything booked for August yet, which is good, as I expect to need the entire month to recover from the previous four. (I'm sure that as soon as I post this I will remember something planned for August.)
I know I'm feeling happier because I'm cooking again! Tonight I made faux-Moroccan chicken for me and X, based on a Cook's Illustrated recipe
that I modified fairly heavily for our various dietary restrictions. It was mild and savory-sweet and delicious. I'll definitely be making this again.
Modifications in case you want to try the original recipe: I used unsalted broth rather than low-sodium, diced raw carrots instead of a can of diced tomatoes, and dates instead of dried apricots. Instead of spicing it up with garam masala I measured in cumin, coriander, and cardamom. I put in half an onion instead of a whole one, and three cloves of garlic rather than four. I left out the suggested 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro.
claims this takes 30 minutes, including prep. They lie. From when I started prep to when I served dinner was almost exactly 1.5 hours. I suppose there are ways I could have been more efficient, but I have a hard time picturing this taking less than an hour.( Soi-disant Moroccan chicken tagine with carrots, chickpeas, and dates )
(crossposted to omnomnom
This is a very long overdue post about gender and me.
Here are the things I'm pretty sure about:
* I'm part of the asterisk in "trans*". Transcendent, perhaps. Sometimes transmasculine. Certainly transgressive. But I'm not transgender; that term as it's currently used implies a whole bunch of things that aren't applicable to me.
* The best pronoun to use for me is "Rose", because it's always accurate. "They" is acceptable. "He" and "she" are both inaccurate in significant ways, and deprecated in this release. I'd rather be mistaken for male than for female, but that's mostly because the latter happens so much more often.
* My gender is inclusive, variable, situational, and complex. About the only things it never includes are being cisgender and being heterosexual. I am queer and genderqueer, and those things manifest differently from one situation to another.
* Broadly speaking, I don't identify as a woman or as a man. There are situations where I am... let's say "politically female", because as a FAAB1 person who's usually read as female, I get the short end of the patriarchy stick in many respects; but I'm also aware that by shifting away from being female-identified I am taking on some of the privilege of masculinity. (The simplest illustration of this is that I almost never get cat-called on the street anymore.) So when I say "we" to mean "people whose sex/gender is approximately like mine", I'm usually referring to trans* or genderqueer people.
1. FAAB = female-assigned at birth, i.e. possessed of a body that this culture thinks of as female.
* There are times when I feel and behave like a woman, a man, a sexless genderless androgyne, a dapper dude, a butch dyke, a gay boy, a drag king, or the belle of the ball. I really like employing and exploring aspects of binary sex and gender. Today I shaved my chin, went to the barber to have my head buzzed, and then stood at the ironing board in my jeans and white t-shirt, ironing a dress shirt to be worn under a vest. I did all these things as conscious performance of masculinity. But when my mother introduces me to people as her daughter, I don't correct her. In some ways this post has been waiting until I could work my way around to an understanding of my gender that includes the phrase "my mother's daughter". It is still tremendously important to me that I am part of my family's tradition of strong, smart, artistic, quirky, loving women. So that's what I mean by my gender being inclusive.
* My gender is also inclusive of my history as a female-identified, female-presenting person. I know some trans* folks have felt trans* since childhood. I... have no idea whether that's the case for me. Whether through nature or upbringing, I have always had a mix of what this culture thinks of as masculine and feminine traits, and that's all I know about that, really.
* I'm not planning to change my name, take hormones, or have surgery. None of that negates my sense that for the last few years I have been what might be called "in transition". And I still am. My gender is a work in progress.
* My identity shifts have not in any way undermined my romantic relationships. Josh and Xtina have been tremendously, tremendously supportive, going out of their way to appreciate me as I am, reassure me when I doubt my attractiveness, get used to uncommon pronoun usage, have thoughtful conversations with me about how their orientations intersect with my gender identity, and otherwise be awesome. There are no words for how grateful I am to them.
What this means for you:
* In print or in speech, please use "Rose" or "they" as pronouns for me, and refer to me in gender-neutral ways: as a person rather than a woman or man, as J and X's partner rather than their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend, as someone you admire rather than as your hero or heroine, as neither "sir" nor "ma'am". I'm not going to death-glare you for slip-ups; I make them too. But please try.
* It is perfectly fine to describe me to anyone as genderqueer or (in print) trans*. Please don't refer to me as trans or transgender. That asterisk is important.
* If you want to compliment my appearance, it's best to default to a gender-neutral phrase like "Wow, that outfit looks great on you" or "I love how you've tied your tie". If I'm deep in the dapper mindset, it can be very jarring and uncomfortable for me to be called pretty, or vice versa, and I don't expect anyone to be able to tell from the outside where my head is in that regard.
* If you feel tempted to divide the world up into men and women, remember you know someone who's neither/both, and adjust your worldview accordingly.
, what I would do if $N dropped into my lap in some legal non-taxable (or post-tax) way*:
$10: Buy myself lunch or dinner out on a day when I would otherwise have eaten something homemade.
$100: Save it for when my weight stabilizes and then buy new jeans that fit, if I can find any.
$1000: Pay off 1/40 of my debt.
$10,000: Pay off 1/4 of my debt.
$100,000: Pay off all my debt. Splurge a bit on fun things: a new laptop, some bespoke suits, travel. Divide the rest between investments and a rainy-day fund.
$1,000,000: Pay off all my debt. Invest, cautiously and ethically. Seriously consider buying a home. Go to Japan for two weeks and bring along every friend of mine who's ever said "We should go to Japan together sometime" (I think the list is at least a dozen people long).
Things I would not do: quit my job, move out of New York. But I might take a sabbatical and spend a few months in London or Paris, if I had the funds for that.* Depending on where the money comes from, for me "tax" might include keeping to an age-old agreement with my brother that we would split any sum >$100 acquired in a lottery or game of chance.
Today was a day. J spent most of the day gaming. I ran a couple errands in the neighborhood and started a new knitting project. X and I went to Tekserve and she bought a laptop. She got stabbing chest pains that we were pretty sure were caused by acid reflux, but we still spent a couple of hours at the urgent care clinic learning that her heart and lungs are absolutely fine, because that's generally better than going "meh, chest pain, whatevs" and finding out later that it was something you should have paid attention to. The doctor said the pain might be randomly achy connective tissue around X's ribs and sternum, so she took some Tylenol and that helped a bit. Neither of us got particularly freaked out, and J called and said soothing things to me while X was getting an EKG, and on the whole it was not too bad as urgent care clinic experiences go.
We came home and the three of us had a dinner of leftovers, and then J went to bed and X and I hung out in the living room with our respective computers and the various cats, sending each other giggle-inducing links
and cleaning out our inboxes and eating snacks. Eventually we realized it was late and called it a night.
We always hug goodnight, but tonight she hugged me tighter than usual, and didn't let go. "I have to stop reading those articles," she said into my shoulder.
I knew she meant the How to support someone with depression
articles that she'd turned to when my mental health first nosedived in December, the ones that tell you to placidly accept that your partner is wholly unreliable and you just have to smile and cope with whatever they inflict on you and never ever ask them to support you through your own sad feelings or other difficulties.
"Yes," I said, "you do. They're not good for you. And they're not true, not for this situation. Not for us."
"You're not gone," she said. I don't think I will ever forget how her voice sounded, saying that.
"I'm right here." I hugged her tighter. "And you don't have to erase yourself."
"It'll be okay," she said.
"It'll be okay," I said.
We held each other for a while, the way you do when it's been a day like any other day except in that it comes after two months of profound strangeness and difficulty and trauma and weeping and anger and confusion and exhaustion. The way you do the day you start to really believe that it will, in fact, be okay.
Then she asked if I wanted first turn in the bathroom, and I said I'd already brushed my teeth, and we kissed goodnight and went off to bed.
( Four weeks on Zoloft )
A story I told on Twitter that I want to retell here because it's worth preserving:
Xtina suggested I try some DIY cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, so I googled around a bit and found Burns's Feeling Good
. I downloaded a free sample to my phone's Nook app, and it seemed reasonably well written and perhaps useful. So I bought it. $4.99. I figured, $4.99 is not a lot to invest in my own mental health, really. I spend ten times that much on each individual therapy appointment.
Then I got all teary-eyed like I do when someone does an unexpected nice thing for me. Because I'd done something nice for me. Just 'cause. I gave myself a little $5 present that said "I believe that you can get better".
So that made me happy-sniffly and wishing I could give myself a hug. Thanks, me, for being a good friend to me. I needed that.
I'm reading through the book slowly. It's a bit odd, because Burns keeps saying "You might be reading this and thinking 'That will never work for me because I'm such a loser!'" and I keep getting puzzled because I'm not thinking anything of the sort. My depression-thoughts are much more insidious ("That doesn't seem very practical; my efforts would be better spent elsewhere" and then I somehow neglect to spend effort on anything because it's all "impractical"). But the actual self-help techniques will probably be useful, so I'll glean what I can and skip over author's attempts at mind-reading. And I'm going to look for more opportunities to be kind to myself, every day.
Cat update: Sophie is integrating well with the household. Sophie and Java are definitely at the live-and-let-live stage. Sophie and Sam are still doing the growl-and-flee thing, though less of both. For a brief moment the other day, all three cats were in the living room, sitting still, not making noise. Then Sophie caught sight of Sam and growled and ran off, but I hope the moments of détente will lengthen over time. As far as I can tell, there has been not one single actual brawl, nor anything close to one. We've been leaving X's door open during the day when we're all out so the cats can continue to sort things out when we're not around.
Sophie has also been exploring my room and Josh's; apparently all our windowsills are belong to her. Poor sad outdoor cat, stuck indoors. She'll learn to cope, I suppose.
Today's self-kindness is scrapping the to-do list and taking a long hot bath.
Very quick Tuesday to-do list (
Sleep a whole lot
Order cat food and litter
Write about giving myself a gift; doctor visit; sleep; #24MAG; cats
* Send emails
* Make a phone call
* Post to Genreville?
Take a bath
* Maybe go out and buy ham?
* Do Readercon things
* Find out who to ask at work about retirement fund things
* Clean out inboxes?
* Eat again
* Sleep a whole lot more
Hm. I kind of expected that list to be shorter. Oh well. In the meantime, new bedtime of 1:00ish is in effect, so I sleep.
Today was a pretty good day. I've been having more of those lately. I like that. I hope the trend continues.
What a pretty good day looks like: I slept and ate more or less enough. I got angry and expressed it, and I didn't let it control me or ruin my day. I felt anxious and asked for reassurance, and got it. I asked for a thing I wanted, a thing I would have been too nervous to ask for not so long ago (and once again I realize just how nervous and anxious I have been, how many things I haven't done or asked for because I was afraid of nameless Bad Things and it seemed safer to tiptoe past), and got it. I was helpful to someone else. I laughed a lot and didn't cry at all.
A week ago or so, I drafted a post where I wrote:
I am desperately in need of perspective right now. People come to me to ask for perspective on their relationship problems and other issues, and I can do that, no problem. But I have no perspective on my own stuff, especially stuff I do. I do a small helpful thing for someone, because I like being helpful, and then I think "aaaa is this all part of my desperate need to be useful" and then I think "no, there must be ways of being helpful and useful that are not about terror of rejection" and then I think "but HOW CAN I KNOW whether I'm doing it the pathological way or the healthy way" and then my brain melts out of my ears. I get annoyed at something and then I think "no wait I'm depressed so I'm probably overreacting" and then I think "no wait I have been suppressing my anger and expressing it is good and healthy" and then I think "but I have no idea what good and healthy ways of expressing anger look like" and then I frantically rub my head like maybe good sense can be generated like static electricity. (So glad I keep my hair too short to pull out in frustration.)
I know this is what therapy is for, and I know my friends and partners and family are there for reality checks. But I'm questioning everything all the time and it's hard, especially when I'm in the middle of an emotional reaction, to ping someone what feels like every five minutes to ask for help. I just have to be patient and ride it out.
I was patient and rode it out, and I think I'm getting my perspective back now that the Zoloft is really kicking in. It's so strange, having one's brain rewired. But it's good and useful, and I'm glad for it.
Now to sleep a whole lot. Tomorrow I think I will buy tights and sausages and toilet paper, and get some editing done, and perhaps read a book, and perhaps watch TV and knit, and hopefully have another pretty good day.
( This is my brain on psychopharmaceuticals )
Enough about that. Have some kitty cuteness instead.
Sophie the new cat has been cleared by the vet to interact with the other cats, so X has been leaving her bedroom door open a fair amount when a human is around to supervise. Mostly Sophie stays in the room and Sam and Java stay out. When Sophie explores, Java disdainfully ignores her and Sam freezes in terror, and Sophie pretty quickly retreats to her safe space. When Java or Sam goes into X's room, it goes like this as soon as they make eye contact with Sophie:
Which is excellent! No physical altercations yet, other than a bit of batting under the bedroom door when it's closed. I trimmed Sam's claws today (they had gotten very sharp) just in case, but I suspect mutual avoidance is likely to be the policy for some time.
It's very strange seeing a non-black cat wandering around the house. She looks like a ghost of a cat, like she's not quite real. The Cheshire Cat, mid-fade.
Almost 15 years after Zoloft both healed and harmed me, I'm back on it. (1999/2000: 12.5mg/day = immediate cessation of panic attacks. 25mg/day = manic and miserable. 50 mg/day = psychotic and suicidal. 2013: 12.5mg/every other day to start with, 12.5mg/day once side effects abated, and NO HIGHER, EVER.) This time I have a doctor who says things like "My other patients who are super-sensitive to medications..." rather than "You can't possibly be feeling anything at that dose" so that's good.
As I wrote to a friend, the Zoloft is providing a fine layer of insulation between me and my feelings of unreasoning panic, so I am able to maintain a sense of perspective, which I very badly needed. And the side effects have almost entirely disappeared, so that's very good (though I miss the deep deep relaxation that I got the first few times I took it, a truly addictive sensation of my ribcage actually expanding as I breathed slowly and deeply and of muscles untensing that I didn't even know I had). I suspect it's dampening more useful and enjoyable feelings as well, unfortunately, but I can deal with being a bit bland for a while in the service of generally getting my mental health back on track.
When I took Valium to help me cope with massive stress and anxiety back in 2008, I felt like it was lying to me--"No no, you're not anxious, nope, LOOK OVER THERE A SQUIRREL"--and I could see through the lies and hated being lied to. Zoloft is more subtle. It's still lying, and I still know I'm being lied to, but as grahamsleight
says, it's like watching BBC news or listening to NPR: I find myself trusting the benign intentions of the liar, and the lies are palatable things that I really want to believe. It doesn't say "you're not anxious", which is so obviously false, but "you don't need to think about your anxiety", which oh god can I even tell you how badly I have been wanting and needing a break from thinking about how anxious I am. It had come to pervade every moment of my waking life and sometimes my dreams as well. Now I can set it aside to talk and think about when I have the resources to do so. Having the freedom to do that is incredible.
Like the BBC-watcher or the NPR-listener, I have to stay aware of the extent to which I buy in to this system. Letting myself slide into unconscious nodding along would be no better for me than being back in that state where anxiety rules my life. It's nice that I can set the anxiety aside, but I need to come back to it and do work to root it out. The key is balance. It's the same with the other feelings that the medication is dampening. I have to remember what it's like to be deep-down happy, horrified when something terrible happens, and compassionate toward someone who's hurting. I have to remember that connecting with other people and connecting with myself are important. I don't want to lose that.
It doesn't hurt to indulge for a little while, though. Just until I figure out where my limits are (and make myself understand that I have any limits at all). Just until I get these nasty gnawing anx-worms out of my brain. Just to remember, and maybe even internalize, what it's like to believe that I get to take breaks and relax.
1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Lived with Josh and Xtina for a full year. Lived in Brooklyn. Lived in a room with a connecting door to another bedroom. Lived in a ground floor room with street-level windows. Lived in a room painted to my specifications. Helped to foster two cats. Had an urban back yard. Chased a chicken. Got a satellite radio show (I have to say "satellite radio" because I did actually previously have radio shows, broadcasting at about a quarter of a watt, at Buck's Rock and Bennington). Earned $5000 on a single non-medical freelance project. Probably turned down more potential clients than in any previous year, though I don't keep records of that. Registered and used copymancer.com as my primary work domain. Used Dwolla and ditched PayPal. Deleted my Facebook account. Passed 40,000 tweets. Got a summons for riding public transit without paying my fare (even though I had in fact paid my fare). Contested a summons. Made my own vegan cheese. Made mug cake. Developed sensitivities to soy and perfume-like beverage flavorings. Began using Flonase daily. Made a public request for people to use "Rose" and "they" as pronouns for me, and to stop using "she" and "her". Regularly wore men's clothes. Took Ativan. Went to Worldcon on the company dime. Explored Chicago. Went to a wedding of a relative in my generation. Went to France with Josh. Was the primary communicator/translator for myself and my partner in a foreign country. Used my UK passport to cross an international border. Broke a major relationship rule and worked through it and past it with the partner in question. Created an hour-by-hour schedule for myself, structuring every single day from start to finish. Began seriously balancing my virtual checkbook. Was trained in handling reports of sexual harassment and assault. Collaborated with a number of others in saving Readercon. Joined Readercon's board of directors. Ran CDNY's Playford Ball. Lost 9% of my body mass in three months for no apparent reason. Agreed to start planning to have a child. Recovered from my tendinitis enough to do focused upper-body strength training. Volunteered with an Occupy group (Occupy Sandy, after the hurricane). Walked in the surf on Coney Island. Went to the Nebula Awards weekend. Hugged Neil Gaiman. Went to a Quaker-style wedding. Preferred e-books over print. Passed my fifth anniversary at a job and my tenth in an industry. Reached the top vacation benefits tier at a company. Decided to eat fewer, smaller animals and almost entirely stopped eating beef. Used a light box to fight SAD. Lots of other things.( End-of-year memeage )39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
Sleep deprivation is equivalent to intoxication. I need to sleep responsibly.40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Stronger than you can imagine
Stranger than you can suppose
--The Shamen, "Heal the Separation"
We rang in the new year with Helen and Jonas and Veronica and David (and, very briefly, H & J's adorable son), and it was basically the best party ever even though I have either my third head cold in three weeks or the same cold for the third time. I keep accidentally ingesting things that trigger my allergies; apparently my perfume sensitivity now extends to basically any natural or artificial beverage flavoring, including the sort used in jasmine tea. *sob* When I drink anything I'm allergic to, I get a sore throat that leaves me ripe for infection, and my immune system is too busy freaking out over the allergen to fight off the virus, or at least that's my theory. But I drank honey ginger tea instead of Champagne and still had a damn good time, so that worked out.
I am just superstitious enough to care about how I spent the first day of the year, so I am grimly holding to the interpretation that I spent it reading an excellent book (Robert Jackson Bennett's American Elsewhere, which was good and chewy and I think I should reread when I'm more compos mentis) and practicing good self-care (by e.g. turning the thermostat up to 75F and putting a down coat on over my clothes before climbing into bed with four blankets) rather than the interpretation that I spent it shivering, sniffling, and feeling like ass.
Traditional new year's resolutions:
* Stop doing things that aren't fun.
* Keep doing things that are fun.
* Start doing more fun things.
Done, done, and done, though not enough of the last one. This has been a hard work year more than a fun year; I'm hoping 2013 will be less work and more fun. Anyway, re-resolved for this year, as usual. And in the theme of self-care, I am setting myself a challenge that just happens to start on January 1: see how many nights in a row I can go to bed on time, by which I mean under the covers and lights out by 2 a.m. Which means, since it's 1:55, that I should post this and go to bed.
( Misc. )
There have just been a few very bad days recently, made worse by emotional weather: being sick for a week, PMS, winter blahs, irregular and interrupted and unsatisfying sleep (plus those odd dreams), and various sources of stress. I was a walking bruise for a while, and even the slightest nudge felt like a gaping wound; things that would have been hard under any circumstances became unspeakably difficult. But I have love and a light box, and the illness and hormones have ebbed, and our wonderful l*undry-folk managed to get the cat pee out of my jeans, and as the cop was writing me the ticket she told me exactly how to fight it, and good Readercon things are happening, and people whose judgment I trust say they trust me, and a childhood dream of mine might be coming true, and the stuff that isn't okay yet will be.
Time for bed.
P.S. When I try to read LJ it's down more often than not, so I'm starting to shift my reading over to Dreamwidth. If you use DW please leave me a comment with your username. If you don't, please consider getting an account and crossposting
, which is exactly as easy as posting to LJ. If you have a Wordpress blog, you can automatically crosspost to Dreamwidth
. After a quick bit of setup, these things just work; there is no ongoing cost to you.
I know some folks have had unhappy experiences with DW's founders, but ironically, when I tried to reply to an LJ comment about that, the site wouldn't load. Me, I'll take a functioning site with occasionally problematic staff over a non-functioning site with perpetually problematic staff. I just hope more of you make the migration!
- thinking about:
body.allergies, body.illness, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.winter, food.drinks.tea, mind.dreamtime, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.depression, people.cats, people.groups.dreamwidth, people.sophie, stuff.tech
Whenever I go to the store and ask xtina
what she wants me to get, she always replies, "A kitten." Yesterday I complied.
A couple weeks ago, SPIBaseball
and I were walking from my apartment to a restaurant. About a block from home, we passed an apartment building with a fenced-in front garden, and a very friendly cat--a gorgeous tabby with a torn right ear--meowed at us from behind the fence. She came right over and demanded lots of petting and love. In fact, she was so friendly that I went into the building and asked the doorman whether anyone had lost a cat. He said she'd been living in the garden for a week, and he and some residents had been feeding her.
A neighbor popped out and said she'd tried to find someone to adopt the cat but no one would take her. In that entire building! She'd posted pictures to Facebook and emailed friends, with no luck. "Found cat" posters also had no effect.
It's December. December is a nasty time for kitties to be outside, even if they're in cozy gardens and people are feeding them.
I called J and got his approval to foster the cat if we could manage to coax her into a carrier. X's phone was dead, but I know her and kitties and was certain she would have no objection. So I ran home and got one of our carriers and a tin of wet food, and we managed to lure the cat out from behind the fence. She wouldn't go into the carrier on her own, though, and while I did actually manage to scruff her and pick her up, she squirmed away before I could quite get her into the bag. Once she'd run back into the garden she would not come out again, and we couldn't go in because the gate was locked. I left the carrier and my contact info with Chris the doorman and Marjorie the neighbor and asked them to call if they managed to snag the kitty.
Every couple of days I'd stop by; sometimes the cat was there, sometimes not. J got to meet her a time or two. It was wet and cold and we fretted, but Chris assured us she was still meowing every day to demand dinner. We emailed back and forth with Marjorie, giving her cat-catching tips and cheering on her efforts to regain the cat's trust.
Yesterday I went out to the store mid-afternoon, and on the way I spotted the cat. She had been snubbing me since the carrier incident, but now she was all friendly again. I noticed she'd lost weight and worried that she'd been pregnant and then had kittens. I gave her some pettings and made a mental note to get a tin of food for her at the store. "I'll be back in a few minutes," I promised her, since she looked very distraught that I was walking away. "I just need to go shopping first."
Just as I got to the cash register, my phone rang: it was Marjorie telling me she'd caught the cat! I juggled groceries and phone and promised to be right there. The awesome neighborhood pet store is on the way, so I stopped in and bought a litter pan and some litter, which I begged them to deliver even though it was outside their normal delivery hours. They were kind enough to agree; I think they were entertained by my excitement over acquiring a stray cat. Then I dashed to the building, where Chris led me down to the basement and handed me a carrier with a very, very loud cat in it. He looked a bit wistful--they'd gotten to be friends--and I assured him that he can come visit her anytime.
I walked home with the cat, running into our landlord on the way. Fortunately he doesn't mind us having cats, though since he lives in the apartment below ours, he was probably a bit concerned that the new occupant was going MEOW MEOW MEOW WOE MEOW very loudly and steadily. When I got in to our apartment, Sam and Java were likewise concerned.
I'd warned X--who told me "It took you long enough! I've been asking you to bring a cat home from the store for weeks
!"--so she had her room all set up as a cat sanctuary. We got the cat out of the carrier and in front of bowls of food and water. She mostly wanted to hide in the corner and say MEOW MEOW MEOW WOE MEOW a lot.
A minute later maryrobinette
arrived for our planned tea date, so she and I hung out in the living room and had tea while listening to intermittent faint meowing and reassuring Sam and Java that everything was okay; X stayed in her room to get a bit of work done and make friends with the new cat. Then the doorbell rang again with the litter and litter pan delivery and there was more bustling to get that set up, and it was all a very exciting evening.
Mary and I had a very nice chat despite the distractions, and after she headed out, X and I made a moderately successful split pea soup for dinner. Then we hung out in her room, sitting on chairs near the cat and giving her space to approach us. She briefly hid in the closet just to prove she could, but once she started to feel more secure about food and less freaked out, she came over and showed us how to pet her: head pettins yes, chin scritchins yes, rump no. She showed us her belly (and even let me rub it!), which made it abundantly clear that there were no nursing kittens hidden in the garden waiting desperately for mama cat to come home. We were very relieved. We tried getting her to play with the red dot and the feather-onna-stick, but she greeted them with disdain: "I've eaten REAL birds. What is this?" If she has a predator instinct, it's very well hidden. Domestication is clearly her destiny. And she loves people! When we left the room and then came back, she'd scold us for being gone.
Occasionally Sam or Java would try to talk to the new cat through the door. Her reaction was to go very still, neither threat-posturing nor fleeing. Later in the evening she wandered over toward the door, though she didn't quite approach it. Java and Sam seem much more curious than freaked out, and they're probably mostly annoyed about not being able to go into X's room, which is usually their sanctuary. (I caught some sort of ick from Boston friends and am home sick today, and the first thing I did was let Sam and Java come into my room and sleep on my bed with me all morning and into the afternoon, so they know they haven't been forgotten or abandoned. They're much calmer now than they were last night.) I think eventual introductions will go well, based on that, but we're going to take it very very slowly.
Between 5:30 p.m. yesterday when I brought her home and 3 a.m. when I went to bed, the new cat ate three tins' worth of wet food--as much food as Java and Sam jointly eat in a day. Today at 5 p.m. I checked on her and her dish was empty again. I know X fed her this morning before going to work, so that's four tins of food in 24 hours, which is astonishing. She looks pretty solid but it's just because her fur is short and thick; underneath it she's all skin and bones. She drools a bit when she's purring, which suggests a need for some dental work. Her torn ear-tip looks well healed but one never knows. I suspect she has not been spayed, though it'll be hard to know for sure until/unless she goes into heat. (I guess we could shave her belly and look for a scar.) She's polydactyl, which means we'll need to make sure her nails aren't growing in odd directions. She could also use a bath. My guess is that the first round of vet visits is going to be fairly expensive, but after that she'll be fine; she's a sturdy survivor. Impossible to know for sure how old she is, but my wild-ass guess is 2 or 3, though the way she's eating might indicate adolescence as well as starvation. She's a grey-brown tabby with tiger stripes and big eyes and giant paws and a stupendously poofy tail and a voice like a siren. We all love her already. I really hope she gets along well with the other cats and we can make her part of the family.
As for a name: Chris called her Bubbles, but... no. I suggested naming her after a Klingon warrior, since she has such a fierce battle cry; on the other hand, her real talent is for being charming and friendly, which is not such a Klingon warrior thing. It's surprisingly difficult to think of fictional characters whose main survival skill is being friendly to everyone. X suggested Sophie, which we both really like even though we haven't yet determined whether she's wise. We'll see what sticks. In the meantime, she's Tiger, Paws, Toes, Little Miss, Cutie, Gorgeous, Sugarlump, etc. She doesn't seem to care what we call her, as long as we don't call her late for dinner.
EDIT: My mother suggests Mitzy, since taking her in was a mitzvah. Awwww.
's Twitter feed for photos.
Back in the spring, SiriusXM and PW
came up with the idea of creating a PW
-branded show that would air on SiriusXM's Book Radio channel. It would be an hour long, it would air weekly, and it would be full of awesome consumer-focused bookish goodness. Based on the podcast I'd been doing for PW
, I was asked to be one of the hosts. For the other, we picked my fellow editor Mark Rotella, who handles consumer nonfiction reviews and our regular "Why I Write" feature; between the two of us we see most of the popular books, Mark had done some radio promo for his own book that demonstrated his great voice and presence, and we work well together.
"Come to the studio and record a demo," the Sirius execs said. To do that we needed an interviewee. Neil Gaiman graciously consented to be a guinea pig (as well as a demonstration that we could scare up some literary star power on short notice), and at the appointed time we called him and interviewed him "on the air" in Sirius's very spiffy studio. That piece will probably never see the light of day, but it did its job of being a satisfactory proof of concept. We did a live broadcast from BEA in June, which made everyone very happy, and since then it's been a matter of getting the details hammered out to everyone's satisfaction.
Now I'm delighted to announce that Publishers Weekly Radio is officially a thing! It is a thing, specifically, that happens on SiriusXM Book Radio (channel 80) every Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. You can listen on your handy SiriusXM device or through the Sirius website. Our first broadcast was on December 6th, interviewing Eloisa James about her romance novels and memoir and chatting with PW
children's reviews editor John Sellers about Christmas books for kids, and we'll keep doing them until they make us stop. So far it's exhausting and fun in about equal measure, and over time I expect we'll build up our radio muscles and it will get more fun and less exhausting.
Please do tune in, follow us on Twitter at pubwklyradio
, and send us suggestions for future people to interview--maybe Neil will be willing to do it again for real this time!--and questions to read and answer on the air. The focus is very much on providing industry insider info that will demystify books and publishing, and we'd love to know what you would want to hear on a show like that.
(And yes, I'm still doing everything else I was already doing at PW
I don't remember much about last night's dream (something something museum theater something?), but I know it ended with me in a large, dim, cluttered room, showing a girl of maybe 7 or 8--perhaps my daughter?--how to iron the wrinkles out of suit jackets. We started with my white pinstriped suit jacket and then moved on to my tailcoat. She took it very seriously and was very careful with the iron.
That was pretty awesome.
I spent a fair amount of yesterday looking up various soup recipes. They led me to conclude that you can make vegetable soup pretty much any way you want. So I improvised with what we had on hand, and I encourage you to likewise adjust this recipe to your own tastes and supplies. It's very flexible because you don't have to worry about different cooking times for different ingredients: it's all cooked into mush and then pureed.
You'll need a big pot for this. Our medium pot (5 quarts, I think?) barely handled it. Makes about nine 2-cup servings depending on how you adjust the quantities given.
The following are the ingredients I used, with suggestions for alternatives in parentheses.
1 onion, chopped
(could be two, plus a crushed clove of garlic or two)
a few shakes/grinds each of ground cumin, powdered ginger, and black pepper
(you could also try curry powder, turmeric, mustard powder, ras al hanout, whole mustard or cumin seeds, paprika, cayenne, etc.)
1 enormous turnip, peeled and chopped--seriously, it was bigger than the onion!
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
.5 cup tomato puree
(could also include other root vegetables, zucchini, squash, peppers; for the tomato puree, you can substitute canned diced tomatoes or peeled and de-seeded fresh tomatoes if you have good ones on hand)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through (or beans, chickpeas, or raw nuts)
2 cups cooked white rice (or .5 cup uncooked rice and 1 additional cup water)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
(and/or any other fresh or dried herbs you like; parsley or cilantro would be particularly good, or dried bay leaves, or you could be adventurous and try marjoram or sage)
4 cups (one 32-oz. box) vegetable broth
3 to 4 cups water
In your big pot, heat oil and a few drops of water over medium heat until the water sizzles. Add a dash of salt. Sauté aromatics 10 minutes until softened. Add and sauté spices 1 minute or until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to keep things from sticking to the bottom. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed so the liquid just covers the solids.
Adjust seasonings to taste and simmer 15 more minutes or until all the solids are soft and mushy. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Remove thyme stems; if the leaves haven't already fallen off them, strip the leaves off and stir them into the soup, discarding the stems. (If using bay leaves, take those out too.) Puree the soup with a stick blender or in batches in a regular blender. At this point, if you're not eating it right away, you can distribute the soup into containers, let it cool to room temp, and store in fridge or freezer.
Before serving, return to pot and heat; add a splash of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon or lime if you like; serve garnished with fresh thyme or parsley.
Lentils + rice = complete protein, hooray! There's probably a ton of fiber in there too. This is definitely Good For You as well as being tasty. And it's easy.
Most of the flavor in the soup comes from the broth and the spices and herbs; don't expect the vegetables to flavor it much unless you want to go to the trouble of roasting them beforehand. If your soup isn't very flavorful, add some vegetable boullion, or increase the spices at the 30-minute flavor-adjusting mark. The vinegar or citrus juice will punch it up too. Enjoy!
Xtina sent me this and it is so absolutely perfect for where I am right now that I had to post it. "It's like looking into the sun," she said.
You are tired
You are tired,
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.
Come with me, then,
And we'll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)
You have played,
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
So am I.
But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.
Ah, come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.
Made this a couple weeks ago and completely forgot to blog it, as I discovered when I went to look up the recipe.
Vanilla chocolate chip pound cake recipe taken from here
, de-dairy'd (not veganized) in the most lazy possible way, and halved to fit into a small ceramic baking dish I happen to have. The measurements that follow are for the half-recipe. Double to fill a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
1 C all purpose flour
.5 tsp baking powder
1 stick Earth Balance, softened
.5 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
.33 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Use the Earth Balance wrapper to grease the pan, or line it with parchment paper. Briefly warm the Earth Balance in the oven.
In a stand mixer, cream sugar and Earth Balance. Add eggs individually, then vanilla. Reduce speed and mix in dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.
Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Once baked, let the cake rest for about 15 minutes before you remove it from the pan to transfer to a cooling rack. Slice it.
Eat it. Best eaten fresh; even wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, it will dry out overnight.
Apparently I am just all about the vanilla chocolate chip everything right now. I'm comfortable with that.
Go home, go to sleep, do it again the next day
Following up on last night's post
, Xtina sent me today's Captain Awkward
, which is called “But you oooowe me!” — entitlement rears its head again
I wrote back:
Calling it entitlement is interesting not because you and J ever act entitled to my time (you don't) but because it's another thing I've seen [person] do. [Other person] asked me once, quite baffled, where [person]'s sense of entitlement came from. Maybe they felt they earned lots of tokens by being useful and loving.
I guess I feel like I have a token deficit and need to make up for it by being perfect until I've paid back everything others have done for me and made up for my years of being a jerk and a leech. I hate penance models and yet here I am, stuck in one. Bah.
(None of the bracketed people mentioned there read this LJ; that was just riffing off another conversation about how my tendency to push myself to support everyone was similar to [person]'s behavior patterns, and what I might learn from that.)What did you want to be when you were nine years old
When you were free, before your mind was cold and time was sold
For so much less than you thought it was worth
And so much stress since you were brought on this earth
Continuing the theme of economics and transactional relationships, I feel like a permanent debtor.
Some of that is a mindset brought over from being financially in debt; in the back of my head is a constant running thread of "How will I pay it all off? How does this financial choice add to or reduce my debt?". My laptop's display died over the weekend and it'll cost $450 to replace it. As it happens, I'd just sold a bunch of limited edition books and raised $415 that I was going to put toward paying off debt--but I need a computer to earn money to pay off more debt, so I paid for a new display instead. Even though I know that this was the sensible decision, I feel pretty glum about not being able to see my balances go down.
Some of it is plain old guilt. I hate guilt because it leads to things like this feeling of being permanently in debt. Instead of feeling entitlement, feeling that I can't trust someone to be a fair collaborator in our relationship and that I need to pressure them into doing things for me lest there be some sort of terrible imbalance, I feel that I can't trust myself
to be a fair collaborator without this weight hanging over me. If I let myself stop feeling emotionally in debt, I might never do anything good for anyone again. Instead of nagging someone else to make good, I nag myself, but the theory is the same: the person being nagged will never be useful unless forced. I am entitled at myself on behalf of others.
Some of it is the plain fact that over the course of my life I've taken more than I've given. I spent years being angry and feeling that the world owed me in some cosmic way. I spent years grieving and feeling it was right and proper that others support me through my grief. I spent years physically disabled and needing to rely on others to do things for me. I spent years being mean and unkind, snide and snarky, being a jerk to people without their consent. Now I'm a lot less angry, the grief is a gentle ache instead of a sucking wound, my arms are better and stronger every day, and I have learned to actively enjoy being kind. I'm no longer incurring
emotional debt--but I feel like I owe a lot of it.Set your sights too high, can't afford the view?
I'm warning you, it's never too late to start anew
And get to keep your honor too
What I would like at this point is a reality check.
I'm not looking for amnesty. If I owe you, then I owe you. I am looking for an accounting of what I owe. At least with my credit card statements I can look at numbers and make calculations and allocate budget and adjust payments, and I can pay off bills and have them stay paid off, with no lurking worry that suddenly the account will reopen itself. I want something approaching that for emotional debt too. If you feel you've supported me in a way that means I owe you support in return, tell me (in email or other private communication, please) what I owe you for and what you feel would be appropriate repayment so I can pay it off and be done with relationship capitalism. (That doesn't mean "done with you"--it means "we transition to an egalitarian relationship, where we mutually support each other with no debt incurred". Unless you feel you can only handle transactional relationships, in which case... well, talk to me, we'll sort it out somehow if we can.)
I also do not want to incur any more emotional debt. Please don't do anything for me if you're doing it in anticipation of me returning the favor someday. Believe me, I will keep putting plenty of effort into being a kind and useful person. This is not me announcing that I'm embarking on a new career as emotional leech. But I need relationships built on flexibility and mutual generosity, not debt and entitlement and guilt. Only be as generous toward me as you feel comfortable being with no promise of repayment.I will bust free, justly
You will too, trust me
I am offering
amnesty because accounting is no fun from either side, and the least I can do is release other people from any worries they have about owing me. No one owes me love or kindness or support or usefulness or anything like that. No one.
I'm very fortunate that my emotional needs are being met quite handily by the things people freely and generously offer to do for me. Amnesty is easy for me to offer because I don't keep that sort of record of what I do for other people. I can't think of any specific debt that someone else owes me that I'm forgiving. I only run that sort of accounting for what I feel I owe others (which hypocrisy points to how ridiculous the idea of emotional debt is). That said, I suspect I'm not the only one out there who feels like an emotional debtor, so if you think you owe me, your debt is forgiven, canceled, gone. You are welcome to do nice things for me if you feel like it. If you don't, that's fine too.
Think of this as Yom Kippur for emotional debt, basically.
Right, time for more self-care, which in this case means a) lunch and b) moving to a part of the house that isn't freezing cold.
(All quotes in this post are from "Shave and Shower" by Mass Exodus feat. DTM. The song is about breaking out of the nine-to-five grind and following your dream of creativity, but the sentiment turns out to be very broadly applicable.)
- thinking about:
behavior.being a grown-up, behavior.being useful, behavior.friendship, behavior.kindness, behavior.love, behavior.polyamory, behavior.responsibility, events.holidays.yom kippur, experiences.learning, experiences.love, ideas.communism, ideas.consent, ideas.economics, mind.feelings.fear, mind.feelings.guilt, mind.feelings.love, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.family, people.josh, people.relationships, people.xtina
We went upstate for the weekend and it wasn't perfect.
We came home and I felt sad because it wasn't perfect. I felt like if I'd planned better it would have been perfect. I felt like if I'd known to expect it to be imperfect in those particular ways I would have braced myself for it better. I felt like I failed because other people were less than perfectly happy.
I need to knock that shit off.( Long long post about transactional love and not wanting to be an asshole )
There is a lot here. I don't expect to absorb it all at once. But over time, I'm going to try.
Now I sleep because self-care is important.
As always, huge huge thanks to X and J for talking me through this, hugging me when I'm sad, reminding me that they love me because they appreciate me for who I am and not because they owe it to me like goods or services purchased with my good deeds, telling me they can take care of themselves when I'm burnt out, chiding me for burning myself out, teasing me and each other to crack me up when the sadness has run its course, and generally being the best family I could ever hope to have.
(Follow-up post here
, regarding emotional debt accounting and amnesty.)
- thinking about:
behavior.being a grown-up, behavior.being useful, behavior.foolishness, behavior.friendship, behavior.kindness, behavior.love, behavior.polyamory, behavior.responsibility, experiences.driving, experiences.learning, experiences.love, ideas.communism, ideas.consent, ideas.economics, mind.feelings.fear, mind.feelings.guilt, mind.feelings.love, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.family, people.josh, people.relationships, people.xtina