Recently I read yet another book where the character I most identify with ended up sad and alone after the death of her beloved partner. Reader, I am fucking done with these books. DONE. Done done done.
If you nodded along to Ferrett's post about how the "logic" underpinning all-white and all-male award nomination lists is suspect
, then nod along to this. Every time a lesbian dies, every time a wife is widowed, every time a mother grieves the death of her child, every time rape is used to define a woman's character, it serves the story that the author wanted to tell--the story the author chose
to tell. And I am no longer content with "it makes sense in the context of the story" as an explanation or an excuse. That "logic" is just as suspect.
TELL DIFFERENT STORIES.
Tell stories where it doesn't
make sense for her husband or wife to die. Tell stories where her child dying is unfathomable
. Tell stories where women live happy fulfilling lives. Tell stories where women find love and don't lose it again. Tell stories where women and their bodies aren't treated like objects.
Tell stories where women are happy, where a woman's happiness makes sense in the context of the story, where a woman's happiness serves the story, where a woman's happiness is integral to the plot. Tell stories where women's hearts and minds and bodies and families and vocations are healthy, and treated with respect by other people.
Tell stories where women are happy.
This should not be such an outrageous suggestion. But take a look at recent SF/F, at the books that get awards, at the books that get talked about, and it is entirely and utterly radical.
Tell stories where women are happy. I dare you. And I'm begging you, please. I can't handle any more unhappy women. I can't. It's why I read romance more than SF/F these days. I don't identify as a woman anymore, but that doesn't stop me from identifying with
women, and they are all so sad
and I can't do it. Stop showing me how tough and realistic your grimdark is by making the women as miserable as the men. Stop showing me how exciting and dangerous your space adventure is by putting the women through as many trials as the men. I believe you, okay? It's tough and realistic, it's exciting and dangerous, I believe you, you can stop now
It will be hard the first few times, because it's so alien, this notion of women's happiness. But you'll get used to it, once you can adjust your ideas of what's "logical".
Tell stories where women are happy. Go on. Give it a try.
Today was a lot better than yesterday. X fought off gluten-poisoning to meet me after work and brave the perfumed chaos of BB&B, and we got curtains and curtain rods and various other useful things. We took a cab over to the new apartment and installed curtains and were happy.
I got some hooks that hang off of cabinet doors (super useful!) and while I was figuring out which doors to put them on, I realized that I hadn't yet had a chance to ask X the all-important question of "which drawer do you assume the silverware is in?".
R: Hey, I have a question for you that I asked Josh already.
X: Yes, I will marry you.
R: *stammers and blushes and grins like a fool for several minutes*
We held each other in our new kitchen and it felt like home, our home, our family home.
And then I asked about the silverware drawer and we both felt (as J had) that it should be one of the middle ones because towels go nearest the sink and cooking utensils go nearest the stove. We all tend to be very in tune around things like that. It makes things so lovely and easy.
Later on, as we were walking back to the old place from the subway:
X: Huh, there was something I was going to ask you...
R: Yes, I will marry you.
X: Well, FINALLY. I've been waiting for ages!
And there you have the difference between the two of us. :) But it's just a different kind of in tune, really. Sappiness and silliness, melody and harmony.
Just five more days.
Fun things, Apr 17: ...no idea, that was a million years ago
Apr 18: went by the new place after therping and immediately felt less stressed
Apr 19: packing party! and then dinner with J, and another trip to the new place, and watching The Princess Bride
Apr 20: another nice dinner out with J, and companionable packing with X
Apr 21: X and I got curtains and other things at BB&B and installed them (except the shower curtain rings, which are too big for the grommets on our shower curtain)
Yes, all the joy in my life right now comes from packing and interior decorating. This will be true for another few weeks at least.
33) The Princess Bride.
(Movie.) Rewatch, of course. It remains brilliant, but I kept thinking "This scene is better in the book!" and now I want to reread the book. Cary Elwes is so young
. I continue to ship Humperdink/Rugen like whoa.
I mean, what is there to say about it, really? We've all seen it a billion times. It's one of the wittiest and most quotable scripts ever written, Wesley castigating Buttercup for marrying someone else after she thought he was dead is kind of tiresome (especially given all his later assertions about true love--if it's Meant to Be and all that, why did he ever doubt her?) but over quickly, the acting is phenomenal even if Mandy Patinkin's broad Spanish accent is cringeworthy these days, and I will always love the fencing scene to tiny little itty bitty pieces. I appreciate Andre the Giant more than ever--his Fezzik is such a wonderful portrayal of a man who's not nearly as short on brains as everyone else thinks he is, and is more bighearted and noble than anyone else imagines, a perfect paladin minus the armor--and Wallace Shawn is incomparable. Carol Kane and Billy Crystal are so splendid that you barely stop to wonder how a couple of Brooklyn Jews ended up working miracles and eating MLTs in Florin. They're all marvelous.
Except, oddly, Robin Wright, who is wooden and one-note throughout. But she's given far less to work with than anyone else in the film; Buttercup really is the dolt that Fezzik is supposed to be, with no redeeming qualities except for her perfect breasts. Note that literally none of the famous quotable lines are hers. She's the straight man for Wesley's wisecracks, and then she sets him up to die away from her because she can't bear him dying in front of her. Inigo immediately knows that the cry of ultimate suffering is Wesley's; Buttercup is baffled by it. Her one shining moment is "You never sent those ships", and that realization is so completely belated
that all I could do was roll my eyes. I'm surprised Fezzik remembered to steal a horse for her, given that she's more of a quest object than a person.
Oh well. All the men and Carol Kane are great, anyway.
One intriguing side effect of spending so much time doing literary criticism is that I was totally fascinated by the grandson arguing with the book whenever it diverged from his culturally mediated expectations of a fairy tale. "You got that wrong, grandpa!" He hates "kissing books" but he knows enough about romance conventions to know that Wesley has to get the girl and Humperdink has to die (and he's so mad
when his grandfather tells him that Humperdink lives--that's not how it's done!). It's a fascinating little study on how quickly and thoroughly children absorb the tropes we feed them, and it helps to make up for the movie being more of a fawning homage to cliché than a sneaky send-up.Verdict:
The book is better. (Not least because it is much more of a sneaky send-up, including the greatly superior ending.) But the movie is still great.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
I expect we'll wear out the DVD. I plan to read them the book, too. Including the descriptions of the boring parts.
34) My Real Children
by Jo Walton. (Book.) NOTE: The following contains spoilers, and also a major spoiler for the Small Change books (Farthing/Ha'Penny/Half a Crown
). If you don't want those, stop reading now.( Spoilers ahoy )Verdict:
Annoying verging on upsetting.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate. It's not inherently offensive or objectionable. It's just not in any way my thing.
Moving stress is THE WORST. I HATE IT. I HATE IT SO MUCH.
Tea and Daniel and Stacy C. came over and packed a ton of book boxes, because they are marvelous people, and now the "how will we pack everything?!" stress is gone because we can clearly pack everything that's left with minimal trouble, but instead there's all the stress of being surrounded by boxes and chaos and tiny ants (we have a bonus! infestation thanks to a hole in the baseboard that we don't have time to patch). I hate it all so much.
This apartment was never really home, not like our place in Inwood was. We always knew it would be temporary, so we overlooked or put up with a lot of things, and now all the cumulative impatience and dissatisfaction is crushing. The physical disarray of moving is crushing. The anxiety--what's going to break? what will we lose? how far will we fall behind our schedule? how much is this all costing us?--is crushing. We're all struggling a lot. I suppose later on I'll be able to look back with intellectual curiosity at the different ways our various neuroses manifest under this sort of pressure, but right now we're all at the emotional level of your average underslept five-year-old and it's kind of awful.
I'm just so glad that no matter how defensive or agitated or scared or sullen or cranky we get, we don't get mean. We're never cruel. We gripe but don't snipe. Some days that's all that saves us.
Today X and I got into a stupid verbal spiral and couldn't pull ourselves out of it, and then J knocked to ask about dinner plans, and we were so happy to be interrupted! We were utterly hating the conversation we were having and didn't want to be having it and couldn't figure out how to stop, and being jarred out of it was a huge relief. It was actually very heartening how glad we were to pull him into the room and talk about dinner and hug one another and let all the rest of it go. We were so eager to stop making one another unhappy. Everything was better after that. Not 100% better, but better.
The stress is making me slightly dizzy all the time. It's not vertigo. I know it's not because whenever I go over to the new place I magically feel better. I'm just lightheaded. But of course I keep checking to see whether it's vertigo.
Tonight I burst into tears and sobbed on X's shoulder, wailing, "I'm homesick! I want to go home!" But by this time next week I will be home, or at least in a place that we can make into a home instead of a place that we're dismantling. And then I hope we will stay there for many many many MANY years. Ideally without any ants.
Fun things, Apr 15: took possession of the new apartment!
Apr 16: ate tasty Seder leftovers
The apartment remains amazing. I cannot wait to move in. Sooooooon.
After several days of my ear being very blocked and loud, I woke up at 5:40 a.m. today with mild vertigo. ( Blah blah details blah )
Nine days since the last bout. They're getting further apart and milder. Still lasting an obscenely long time, but I don't mind so much as long as I'm reasonably functional.
We're moving in ten days. X has a "what if R gets vertigo on moving day" plan all ready, which means I don't have to worry about it, so I am doing my best to think about anything else
. Like culling and packing. Once I can move my head again.
Fun things, Apr 14: giant ice cream sundae.
I earned that ice cream. Today was the Menière's treatment study enrollment day, which ate four hours of my work day with a lot of paperwork, a blood test, a hearing test, an ear exam, and more paperwork. I put on my most bright and cheerful and funny attitude, and made the study coordinator's day when I pulled up all my carefully tagged LJ/DW entries and was able to give exact dates for diagnosis and various treatments. I was the perfect patient. Then I got lunch, got ice cream, attempted to work a bit, came home, and fell over.
In four weeks I get a cold liquid injected into my ear that then turns into a gel and hangs around for a month. Four months after that, I find out whether it was the medication or the placebo. Yay science, or something.
The hearing test shows that the hearing in my right ear is the worst it's been (or at least the worst it's been on a day when I'm getting a hearing test). I've been braced for vertigo for days. I almost wish it would show up just so my hearing would improve for a few days. Only almost, though. Being hard of hearing in one ear is better than vertigo. It's just tiring having to work so hard to hear people. And today I got talked at a lot, by people with thick accents who were telling me very important things that I needed to understand fully, so there was a lot of active listening and careful hearing going on. I am so wiped.
I went up on the roof earlier to watch the lunar eclipse for a bit, but it was chilly and I was tired, so I came back in. It's nearing totality now, so I'm going to take one last look. Then I'm passing all the way out, with no alarm set.
Fun things, Apr 13: got prettied up for the Seder.
Today's outfit was entirely logic-driven:
* going to the Seder at my mom's place, so dressing up a bit
* want to wear a skirt and sandals because it's warm and breezy
* needs to be a long skirt so my mother doesn't give me the hairy eyeball over my hairy legs
* following the recent de-femming of my closet, I have precisely one long skirt, one top that goes with skirts, and one jacket that goes with that top
* oh right, girly clothes mean earrings and a necklace, I remember that
* it's warm enough to justify a straw hat
(Image is a link to a larger image. Photo by xtina
When I cleaned out my closet, my rule was that I would keep any femme clothes that make me think "I look smashing in this", on the theory that those are the ones that really work for me
rather than being about conforming to what other people think I should look like. This was my first time testing that theory and I am extremely pleased with the results. This blouse (which you really can't see at all under the jacket--it's a black sleeveless blouse with a deep v-neck) was my cleavage blouse back when I had cleavage, but I've lost so much weight since then that my chest is practically flat, which is great for menswear and gives me a fun bit of cognitive dissonance when I femme up. I also just got my hair buzzed, and gave my face a nice proper shave this morning. I didn't feel like a guy in drag, though. I just felt like me, looking and feeling good. It's nice. :) And something of a relief. I always want to have the option of girling up, even if I don't often take it.
Originally I was going to wear a women's wide-brimmed straw hat, but it didn't quite work when I put it on--too much of a muchness with the long skirt--and then I tried the straw fedora and it was far better than I expected. I think I always need something just slightly gender-dissonant like that. Even if I'm not in a particularly transgressive mood, I look better and feel better when I'm a little bit audacious.
Oh, and I think this is my first photo post since going back to wearing contact lenses! (Contacts + completely buzzed hair = my face looks naked, so when I got rid of my hair I switched to glasses.) I LOVE them. I love how I look in them, I love how much easier life is with them, love love love. I plan to stick with this hairstyle for a while--still buzzed on the sides and back, but longer on top--so I can keep wearing them.
Fun things, Apr 6: talked about Long Hidden on the Black Girl Nerds podcast
Apr 7: giggled on Twitter about a book that opens at a black werewolf strip joint
Apr 8: had that absolutely splendid anniversary evening with J.
Apr 9: an excellent dinner with X and J at Blue Water Grill.
Apr 10: family dinner at home for the first time in ages.
Apr 11: wore short sleeves and sandals! Spring spring spring!
Apr 12: got haircuts with X; went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier
29) The Mummy
(1999). (Movie.) Rewatch. X and I haven't had much opportunity for movie-watching lately, so it was really nice to cuddle up and knit while indulging in something familiar. It's really not bad for what it is. The cast is great, especially Rachel Weisz and Oded Fehr. The special effects are tolerable. Actual people of color are cast as people of color (other than Kevin J. O'Connor as Beni) and the Americans and Brits are cartoonish ethnic caricatures just like everyone else. The plot doesn't make a lick of sense, but you're not watching it for the plot; you're watching it for nostalgic recollection of the days when Brendan Fraser was a leading man instead of a washed-up former actor.Verdict:
Entirely tolerable.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
30) Hot Lead, Cold Iron
by Ari Marmell. (Book.) The word I keep coming back to for this is "cute". Harry Dresden is a better Chicago supernatural PI, and Vicki Pettersson writes better 1950s slang and characters by several miles, but if you want a book with both of those things together and a tolerable flair for description, this is your book.Verdict:
Fine while it lasted and then instantly forgotten.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
31) The Double Cross
by Carla Kelly. (Book.) Another Carla Kelly book about people being kind to one another. The "Double Cross" of the title is not a doublecross in the espionage sense, but a rancher's brand. It's set in colonized New Mexico in the late 1700s; the protagonists are Spanish, but Kelly manages to make them some of the most ethnically sensitive colonizers you ever did see. She doesn't pretend the race relations are all sweetness and light, though. A number of Spaniards are killed by Comanches offscreen, and the death of a young enslaved Indio girl at the hands of a cruel and senile rancher is described rather more vividly, in a way that's calculated to horrify rather than titillate. There's also matter-of-fact mention of how many of the second- and third-generation ranchers have Indio ancestry (though no mention of that coming about due to Spanish men raping native women). There is a bit too much emphasis on the contrast between the honorable magistrate hero and a "lawless" Comanche warrior who thinks nothing of killing anyone who causes him trouble, but on the whole I felt such things were handled fairly well, given Kelly's choice to put the colonizers front and center.
I'm no expert on that time or place, but it felt incredibly vividly real, actually more so than the Regency England setting of Kelly's other books. The dialogue rang very true. The characters had little complexity, being either very noble and good (of the "troubled by my sins but always striving to improve myself" variety) or very nasty and spiteful, but I don't read Kelly for complex characters. I read her because she's willing to make characters really really kind
. And I weep over them, and over the ways they blossom under one another's tender care.Verdict:
Light and sweet.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, with a heads-up about the racial issues.
32) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
. (Movie.) Where Iron Man 3
was the post-9/11 civilian PTSD movie, this is the soldier PTSD movie: "I went to war because I thought the battle between good and evil was simple; I came home knowing it's not; now I have no idea what to do." I continue to be impressed with Marvel's handling of sensitive and complicated social issues in movies that are ostensibly about shit getting blown up. I'm not entirely comfortable with the conclusion that a handful of superheroes are what's needed to save the world from corrupt intelligence agencies, but I'm willing to wait and see where they take it.
Also, a big giant HOORAY for a movie with male and female leads on an equal footing who don't hook up and who explicitly disclaim any interest in hooking up.
I really felt astonishingly twitchy seeing Robert Redford play a bad guy. He did it very well, no complaints, but it's just... he's so typecast in my brain from childhood imprinting on The Sting
and adolescent imprinting on Sneakers
that I just can't believe in him as a villain.
And now I can finally read all the spoilery things that I've been avoiding, so if you wrote a CA:TWS
spoilery thing or have seen some good ones, please share links. :)Verdict:
A strong addition to the canon.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, as both a fun action flick and an excellent history lesson. These movies are perfect snapshots of 2010s American culture.
Ah, what different people we were when this photo was taken. (Ten years ago, maybe? Something like that.) My hair is considerably shorter, Josh's is a bit thinner, and we both have a lot more grey than we did. Tonight we were both in button-down shirts; that dress still hangs in my closet, but it's gathering dust. And yet we're not so different, because we still look at each other that way.
Twelve years since we fell in love; eight since our wedding. I don't always get sentimental over anniversaries, but I did this year, looking back over our ups and downs. I'm so proud of us for coming through it together.
Tonight we went for our first proper walk of the season, perhaps three miles meandering across Central Park amid daffodils and budding trees (we sometimes get cherry blossoms for our anniversary, but this year the trees are still timid after a long hard winter) and then down through Midtown. We discussed our various proposed cures for the gentrification problem--he wants to prioritize fixing income inequality and stagflation while I want to prioritize bringing down housing prices, though of course those are two sides of the same coin--while mocking the awful haute couture window displays on Madison Avenue. Eventually we ended up at Matisse, a little faux-French bistro that Yelp thoughtfully picked out for us, and had a very nice non-poisonous dinner of Moroccan lamb (in honor of the Moroccan restaurant where we had our wedding) and branzino to an improbable soundtrack of disco and R&B. We zoned out together on the train home and bustled a bit when we got in; my need to burn off energy grated against X's need for quiet alone-time, but J patiently waited while we sorted it out, and then J and I cuddled and made out and cuddled some more until he had to reluctantly admit that it was well past his bedtime. It was a very us anniversary, through and through.
"Let's keep doing this thing," I said at some point as we snuggled in my bed.
"I'm good with that," he said.
"Hooray!" I said. "We renewed our vows!"
Yesterday my right ear was very blocked/loud and vision was slightly unfocused in that impending vertigo way, so I spent the entire day staring at corners to see if they were moving. The bout finally hit around 3 a.m. I tried to sleep through it but it woke me at 5--not awful, but annoying. I took a quarter-tablet of meclizine in hopes that such a low dose would be enough to kill the vertigo and have minimal hangover. (Assuming most bouts of vertigo last 10 to 12 hours without meclizine, I figured I was going to be out of it until mid-afternoon and my workday would be shot regardless.) Alas, here I am 13 hours later feeling like a bobblehead doll. The cure continues to be worse than the disease, even at low doses.
Updated decision tree:
1) Is it hideously horrible terrifying constant-puking awful horribleness?
If yes: take 25 mg meclizine, write off the next 36 hours.
2) Is it bad enough that I throw up once but not again, and/or have a panic attack, and/or it wakes me up or I can't fall asleep?
If yes: take 1 mg Valium for the panic/awakeness and Tums for the nausea, sleep through it as much as possible, be a bit wobbly but functional the next day.
If no: take taurine for any anxiety and Tums just in case, sleep through it as much as possible, feel totally fine the next day.
Took today off but will go in to the office tomorrow instead. Was planning to spend tomorrow packing. Oh well.
I am so tired of this.
We're having a book-packing party! Shoving our ~5000 books into ~200 boxes is a daunting task for three people, but ten or twenty of us should make quick work of it.
Date: Saturday April 19
Time: 2 p.m. until the shelves are bare
Place: Our extremely transit-accessible soon-to-be-ex-apartment in Crown Heights (if you don't know the exact address, email me)
You should bring:
* Yourself and any friendly book-loving people you feel like dragging along
* Antihistamines to ward against all the dust and cat hair
* Willingness and ability to put books in boxes
* Empty bags for taking home books we're getting rid of
We will provide:
* Snacks and drinks (please let us know of any dietary restrictions)
* Free books! (including many excellent ones we're replacing with e-books)
* There are cats in residence, ranging from bitterly antisocial to merely standoffish
* There is a short flight of steps up to the building door
* We have limited crash space for out-of-town guests
* "They" is the house default pronoun; please use it for everyone unless instructed otherwise
Depending on what time we wrap up, we may order in food or haul everyone out to dinner somewhere in the neighborhood.
Please leave a comment or otherwise let me know if you plan to attend. Hope to see lots of folks there!
Today is catch-up day, apparently.
27) Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind
by Carla Kelly. (Book.) I will read basically anything by Carla Kelly because all her books are about people being kind to one another. This one nearly made me cry just because it was so, so, so kind. It's about 40 pages too long and by the end I was quite impatient for Mr. Butterworth to just propose to Miss Milton already, but otherwise it's basically perfect, and such a soothing contrast to the rapey and quasi-rapey alpha males I keep encountering in romance novels.Verdict:
Delicious.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, for sure!
28) "The Devil in America"
by Kai Ashante Wilson. (Story.) I am deeply envious of Tor.com for publishing this story, which I would have leapt to include in Long Hidden
had it landed in our slushpile. It's really, really brutal. I mean, it's about a massacre, of course it's brutal. But the brutality is in the everyday things, not just the massacre itself. It's brutal, brutal, and utterly necessary. Brace yourself, a lot, and then go read it.Verdict:
I just keep coming back to the word "necessary". The way Long Hidden
is necessary. I don't really know how to explain it beyond that.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share when they're at an age to learn about the horrors that human beings inflict on other human beings, without being entirely undone by it.
Wow, those two works could not be more different. But I loved them both, because they're both so real. They're just about entirely different kinds of reality.
Fun things, Apr 3: Alex (Alex-the-cat's namesake) and Miriam came to visit and I got lovely hugs and snuggles.
Apr 4: I had a very nice dinner out on my own.
Apr 5: Alex and I took a stroll in the sun and heard a hilarious anecdote.
While we were getting packing tape at the local postal services shop, I saw some unplugged vending machines.
R: How much for one of the vending machines?
Clerk: You serious? Because they are for sale.
R: Well, I was joking, but now I'm curious.
R: ...I assume you mean thirty-three hundred.
C: Right, yeah.
R: Because for three-thirty I'd be tempted. Wouldn't that be great for kids? Fill them with healthy snacks, give your kids a bunch of quarters, everyone wins.
C: See, I had a deal with a guy who runs an illegal gambling den over in Brownsville, but it fell through. He was going to stock them with beer, chips, and onion rings so people wouldn't get up from the card table. But he backed out. I really wanted it to go through just because then I'd have such a great story!
R: ...you sure would. Wow.
C: *rings up transaction* You have a good day now.
R: You too! Good luck finding another gambler to sell those to!
We laughed all the way home.
Fun things, Mar 31: J and I had an excellent dinner at Nyonya. I was craving a specific sort of thing, and what I got wasn't that thing, but it was tasty anyway.
Apr 1: the otologist did funny things to my head and neck that made my positional vertigo go away. It was lovely to feel steady on my feet again.
Apr 2: saw Ricky Jay interviewed by Paul Holdengräber, which was pretty superb. Then I came home and X fell asleep on me, which is one of my favorite things ever. No sarcasm! It's just lovely and cozy and warm and great.
Unfortunately, the otologist's maneuvers yesterday also triggered some Menière's vertigo a few hours later. It was mild--I could stand up and walk around, with some effort, and I didn't lose my dinner--but not much fun. I got to try treating it with 1 mg Valium for the first time. As predicted, the Valium did nothing at all to reduce the vertigo symptoms, but I entirely stopped caring. Not caring was really nice. I did get a bit of anxiety when I went to bed, a couple of hours after taking the pill, but I'm used to that, and I turned the light back on and breathed through it and was fine. Then I slept for about 11 hours total: woke up at 6, the walls were still moving a bit (something like 12 hours from onset of symptoms, which is ridiculous), went back to sleep, woke up at 10 pretty much fine other than a little bit of post-drug wooziness. I went to work today and was actually productive, moreso than I'd expected.
So, my current vertigo decision tree:
1) Is it hideously horrible terrifying constant-puking awful horribleness?
If yes: take 25 mg meclizine, write off the next day.
2) Is it bad enough that I throw up once but not again, and/or have a panic attack that I can't be easily talked down from?
If yes: take 1 mg Valium for the panic and Tums for the nausea, sleep through it as much as possible, be a bit wobbly but functional the next day.
If no: take taurine for any anxiety and Tums just in case, sleep through it as much as possible, feel totally fine the next day.
I can live with that.
The Valium is a lot like all the best parts of being drunk. Nothing seems important at all. I make lots of jokes and find them totally hilarious. I'm aware that I'm intoxicated, so I think I'm capable of maintaining self-control, but I'm actually probably not all that capable of it. I run the risk of getting into ridiculous arguments and otherwise doing foolish things, so my Twitter usage is restricted to book recommendations (I can make those in my sleep) and timestamping meds and symptoms, and I can draft LJ/DW posts and emails but I'm not allowed to press "post" or "send". The don't-care feeling is extremely appealing, so much so that I am very strictly forbidding myself to touch the stuff unless I absolutely have to. It helps that there is something of a hangover, though it's not NEARLY as bad as the meclizine hangover.
Oh, and I get wacky dreams. I dreamed an entire grimdark fantasy epic, and then I dreamed that I was starring opposite Robert Downey Jr. in the film version of the first dream. He was very nice when I forgot my lines; he wrote down a cheat-sheet of mnemonics and reminders that I could have on the table near where I was sitting in one scene. I woke up thinking, "What if the audience can see that in some of the shots? ...never mind, they'll fix it in post-production."
I have media log entries to post before I forget, but right now I sure don't feel like I slept for 11 hours last night, so right now I sleep and tomorrow there will hopefully be more posting.
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.valium, experiences.intoxication, experiences.vertigo, mind.dreamtime, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety
Fun things, Mar 21-24: I have no idea. That was a million years ago. This week has been a whirlwind of apartment hunting and vertigo and freelance work and aaa.
Mar 25: went to an apartment we really liked and met the landlord and got his approval. :D And then had a marvelous joyful celebratory dinner at Dutch Boy that I will remember happily for a very long time: all of us in top form, joking with the server and speaking in sync and laughing and snarking and being so good together.
Mar 26: got the draft lease from the broker!
Mar 27: went out and had a proper actual restaurant meal with J at Blue Water Grill, since I no longer need to be hyper-careful about salt.
Mar 28: read a book, first over dinner on my own and then in a lovely long hot bath.
Mar 29: did a walkthrough of our new apartment, took lots of measurements, and made a floor plan.
Mar 30: SIGNED THE LEASE.LOOK AT THIS APARTMENT.
(The link has been working for 90% of people--if you have trouble with it, try refreshing.) It's GORGEOUS. Our black wood bookcases will look utterly stunning against the white walls and black beams.Obligatory floor plan.
Furniture arrangement subject to change, of course. We're getting nearly 180 additional s.f. of usable space!
The landlord and his family will be our downstairs neighbors: two adults, both of whom are extremely nice, and three kids. We've only met the youngest child so far; she's adorable.
I love my family so much, so much. I can't wait to move to a place where we will be happier and healthier. More light, more air, more space. Enough wall space for both books and artwork. Fully separate bedrooms; no more walking through another person's room or the building hallway to get from one part of the apartment to another. (The layout of our current place is... a thing
.) No more narrow hallway. A big tub to soak our cares away. A big open kitchen for collaborating on making healthy food with love. Instead of upstairs neighbors, rain on the roof. Instead of clanking radiators, baseboard heaters and sunlight. Instead of a temporary space where we nervously hope we can live together without bloodshed, a family home where we feel comfortably settled and solid and confident in one another.
As a bonus, it's thunderstorming right now--the first of the season. :D I've always loved spring rain and its promise of splendid new things.
All the squee! :D :D :D :D :D
My ear has been blocked and loud for days.
Around 02:45 I started lurching a bit while walking.( Vertigo, again )
Around 12:45 the walls had stopped moving but I had given up on sleep, or it had given up on me.
Ten hours. TEN HOURS. Ten really very wretched hours.
But I rode it out, with no meclizine. It was really hard, and I don't think I could have resisted the siren song of sedatives if the bout had been any worse, but I did it and I think I was right to do it. Right now I feel tired in a way that's commensurate with the little and very interrupted sleep I got. I don't feel drugged. I don't feel like my head is a balloon. I'm still a bit wary, the way you are after a headache when you're not sure it's all gone and you don't want to nod just in case, and my stomach is still a little upset. I started to watch a video and immediately felt queasy, so I'm clearly still prone to motion sickness. But I can get work done today and meet my deadline, and meet with a prospective landlord tonight (even if I have to walk there--it's two miles away, which is usually well within my walking limits), and go to work and an important publisher lunch tomorrow.
It was a nice eleven days without any vertigo. Maybe the next break will be longer.
I do wish my ear would unblock and quiet down. It's so loud. :(
Now to shower, and brush my teeth forever, and drink some ginger ale, and have some Tums and then later some chicken soup, and see if I can get some work done.
EDIT: Dr. A (the otologist) will give me a prescription for a low dose of Valium on the theory that it's less sedating than meclizine and will help me sleep through the milder bouts of vertigo; it won't address the vertigo symptoms themselves, but that's fine. Last night confirms that the anxiety keeps me up at least as much as the feeling of motion. Sedation + anxiolytic? GIVE IT ME. And there's no known interaction between Valium and Zoloft (unless you count a very tiny study from back in 1997
that had absurdly high doses--200 mg of Zoloft and 10 mg of intravenous Valium!--and still had to measure blood levels to show the actual effects of the interaction, which mostly seem to be that Valium takes a bit longer than usual to clear out of the system), so that's excellent. And I have my journal entries from 2008 so I know exactly what dosage works for me (2.5 mg = 7 hours of groggy uselessness) and don't have to mess around with it. Yay for meticulous record-keeping.
One bit of good news: I've been scrupulous about a very very low-sodium diet and clearly that has had a minimal effect on my symptoms, so I can stop being quite so fussed over it. I should still keep it on the low side, but more like 1 to 2 grams a day than 500 mg a day. I can eat in restaurants again, hooray!
Another bit of good news: Dr. A emphasized that "Menière's" is really a bunch of different things that all have similar symptoms, so it's totally normal to try a whole lot of different avenues of treatment until you find one that matches up with whatever caused the problem. He estimates that 80% of patients respond to medicinal treatment (oral steroids, diuretics) and diet management. For the 20% who don't, the various injections and surgical options are 75% to 99% effective at eliminating vertigo, though all have some side effects/risks. He also said that he cares very much about preserving my hearing as well as treating the vertigo, which is why he wants to take the slow conservative course. So it's a long slog, but there are reasons for that, and there's good reason to be optimistic that I will eventually be done with all of this, even if it takes a couple of years to figure out the best way to go.
I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. A in a week, to do another hearing test and further discuss prognosis/treatment plans. He's giving me great care and I'm really glad my ENT sent me his way.
EDIT EDIT: Wow, my hearing in my right ear is a lot better than it was yesterday! I didn't notice at first because the ringing was so loud, but yesterday I got water in my ear while I was showering and it literally made no difference to my hearing, and today I could actually tell when the water had trickled out. That's excellent.
Fun things, Mar 18: nice date with J
Mar 19: nice coworking tea with X
I've gone six full days without vertigo. I am... cautiously hopeful.
I took on a big rush freelance project today, so my life between now and next Wednesday will basically be work. Worth it, though--if I can make this client happy, I think I'll get a lot more work from them, and the pay is decent and prompt. (She's a new-to-me editor at a nonfiction publisher I used to do a lot of freelancing for, so I know I can expect payment on time.) Today I wrapped up everything else I had going so I could fully focus on this; I'm pleased with my diligence.
* Get to work, eat lunch
* Prep for radio show
* Format this week's reviews
* Do radio show
* Assign books
* Fact-check reviews (if there's time)
* Doctor's appointment
* Come home, have dinner
* Freelance work from approx. 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., until the first part of the project is done and/or I pass out
Ah, the joys of 14-hour work days. But as I said, worth it. I just hope the vertigo stays away and lets me dive into this the way I want to. I know it's risky to take on a gig with zero schedule leeway when the vertigo could come back at any minute, but I can't let that fear rule my life. I just can't.
Fun things, Mar 13: interviewed Helen Oyeyemi for PW Radio
Mar 14: none, bad vertigo hit the night of the 13th and I spent the 14th recovering
Mar 15: took a walk with X in the sun
Mar 16: nice family dinner
Mar 17: pinged Tea to say "hi! I miss you!" and had a great catching-up chat
Just to recap, vertigo bouts of the past three weeks (how has it only been three weeks?!), on a scale of 1 to 3 where higher numbers are more horrible:
Feb 24, early morning, level 3
Feb 28, early morning, level 2
Mar 2, late night, level 1
Mar 8, early evening, level 1
Mar 14, late night, level 3( Specific symptoms for my reference )
To each of those, add 12 hours of meclizine hangover--meaning total non-functionality--per level. So you can imagine how tense I am right now, waiting for the next one. ( Anxiety ideation )
I was going to go off the Zoloft and now I'm considering cautiously increasing the dose because the anxiety is so bad. I have no idea how I'd be coping right now if I weren't taking it.
I'm out of paid sick leave for the year. The YEAR. It's MARCH.
I have been strenuously resisting adding an "experiences.vertigo" tag. I guess I really should at this point.
My otologist wants to enroll me in a study for an experimental treatment that might help a lot. ( TW: injections )
The minimum symptoms to qualify for the study are two bouts of vertigo in four weeks, each bout lasting at least 20 minutes. Cue hollow laughter and envy of people whose vertigo only lasts 20 minutes. I could handle that. I could handle it without drugs, even, and then I wouldn't lose an entire additional day or two to the meclizine. I asked the otologist whether there were other sedatives he could prescribe and he said they all give you hangovers. Maybe I didn't sufficiently make it clear that it leaves me completely
non-functional for an entire day, and at maybe 80% functionality for a day after that, and I cannot mentally or financially afford this. Surely they can't all be that bad. I realize the meclizine is the only thing that actually stops the vertigo, but if something else would sedate me so that I don't have to be around for the vertigo and then leave me feeling human the next day, I'd consider that a pretty big win. I will attempt to explain this again when I see him next week.
I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss me
. I miss being able to make plans without caveats. I miss being able to assume that if it's Monday and I feel fine, I can safely make a lunch date for Thursday. I miss not being utterly undone by anxiety. I miss my back not being a mass of fiery knots. I miss making deadlines and not having to rely on the flexibility and kindness of colleagues and clients (all of whom have been splendid).
I started this entry with a catalog of fun things for a reason. Life has not been unremittingly awful. There's been a lot of good stuff. Spring is slowly springing, at last, at last; the crocus shoots have become crocus blossoms, and sometimes the air is warm and soft instead of bitterly harsh. I've been getting in good snuggle time and talk time with X and J, though I always want more. My mother has been very sweetly fussing over me via email and phone in a way that leaves me feeling loved and understood and supported; I can tell she's worried about me, but she doesn't express it in a way that makes my own worries worse, for which I am profoundly grateful. The baby planning is really exciting, even the dull paperwork parts (we just went to a lawyer and started the process of getting wills drawn up!). I managed to get a final copy editing pass done on Long Hidden
and it's off to the printers; we're getting in some wonderful reviews and blurbs
. Sara Eileen brought me copies of the last issue of #24MAG
. I've been working on some really enjoyable freelance client manuscripts. The cats are adorable, even when they bicker. I'm still playing S&P2 and enjoying it, and I've moved my shop to a pretty excellent town full of other dedicated players who are fun to chat with. No matter how groggy I am, I can usually manage to converse a bit on Twitter, so I don't feel entirely cut off from socializing. It's not all doom and/or gloom. I need to remember that. But boy, the hard parts are just really, really hard.
The taurine and tiredness are kicking in--I was up until 4 a.m. working on Long Hidden
, probably the last time I'll be able to say that--so I'm going to wrap this up and go to bed. I don't have any proof that being really tired makes me more vertigo-prone, but it's not like getting enough rest is going to somehow be bad for me.
Comments are off because I can barely deal with writing this all down and I really can't deal with discussing it. Your well-wishes are sincerely appreciated. Your offers of help are also appreciated, but there really isn't much anyone can do beyond the well-wishing. Emails from local or visiting friends with offers of flexible lunch/dinner plans would be lovely. Emails with advice on medical or psychological matters will be deleted.
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.sleep, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.disability, experiences.disaster, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.spring, experiences.vertigo, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.doctors, stuff.games, stuff.games.video games, words.editing, words.editing.venues.24mag, words.editing.venues.long hidden
Fun things, Mar 11: EVERYTHING. It was warm and sunny! I got work done! My client was really happy and said lovely things! I sat out on the back deck for an hour in short sleeves and got very very slightly sunburned! I vacuumed the living room and hallway! J left work early so we could have a walk in the park while it was still daylight, and the walk was great! We made a kickass dinner! We had super hot sex! It was a day of win. :D :D :D
Mar 12: had a really good family conversation over dinner
Also good today, though I wouldn't call it fun: X and I spent most of two hours consulting with an excellent fertility specialist
. She was extremely smart and extremely thorough, and we now have a PLAN, which is what we didn't have and so desperately needed.
Less good: Alex got into something smelly, and while X and I were washing him he managed to scratch my chin. It's just a little scratch and I'm sure it'll heal up quickly, but it's annoying, not least because I have Liquid Skin on it and I keep wanting to pick at the edges. Bah. Stupid cats.
Ungood: It's 4:20 a.m. and I'm still awake. Must go fix that immediately.
- thinking about:
behavior.planning, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.housework, experiences.joy, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.spring, people.cats, people.futurekid, people.josh, people.xtina
Hey, it's been a while since I did this:
Fun things, Mar 6: inadvertently launched the #SoWeary hashtag on Twitter
Mar 7: went to Dave and Danielle's new place, hung out with them for a bit, and acquired their empty book boxes (hooray for synchronous moving)
Mar 8: went out with X in the SUN SUN SUN and got haircuts
Mar 9: MORE SUN and good talking and happy fun snuggles with the spouses
Mar 10: felt totally on the ball at work and got lots done (work is fun when I'm in the groove!), opened this week's issue of PW
to find a review of MY BOOK
:D :D :D
I'm going to leave off doing the hour-by-hour logs because a) it's difficult to keep track of things while I'm at work and b) at this point I'm pretty comfortable with the steroids. I'm constantly thirsty (though not badly dehydrated) and peckish (though not starving) and beyond that I can't identify any side effects at all. That's pretty great.
All ear things have been great today. It's marvelous to be able to hear clearly with my right ear again! I hadn't realized just how much I'd gotten used to reduced hearing in that ear. If systemic steroids didn't have nasty side effects when used long-term I'd seriously consider seeing whether my doctor thought that might be a good way of keeping the Menière's in check.
Unfortunately, there's no way to tell whether the steroids are having an effect on the vertigo, because it was already trending in the direction of going away on its own. But the steroids are definitely doing something
for my ear, so I hope they're helping to make sure the vertigo goes away and stays away. I'll just have to wait and see.
Today I was full of energy and focus in a way I haven't been in weeks. I got SO MUCH done. And then I came home and did more, both household things and work things. And now I'm wiped out, because I haven't been sleeping quite enough, so I'm going to take my nighttime dose of meds and go get some good sleep.
Plan for tomorrow:
Finish the freelance gig that was supposed to be done last week
(I'm very grateful to my client for being flexible)
Evaluate a potential client's manuscript and write back to her
Vacuum the living room and hallway
Find some excuse to go out in the warmth and sun
(I sat on the back deck and worked for an hour!)
* Proofread Long Hidden
Have a really good date with Josh
* Keep proofreading Long Hidden
I have so much to catch up on. But it feels so good to be able to do it! I just have to be careful not to run myself into the ground, especially with the steroids depressing my immune system.
Bah, I'm in that state where I can't tell whether I'm starting to get a little vertigo or just wobbly from being tired. Probably just tired. Bedtime for sure.
EDIT: When I'm sitting in bed and I close my eyes, the room tilts a bit. When I'm standing and I close my eyes, it's perfectly steady. I'm going to firmly call that "just tired".
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.planning, body.ears, body.illness, body.tiredness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance
It occurs to me that these logs should be tagged with a content note that I'm sodium-counting and being very careful about what I eat, so heads-up to anyone who might have stuff triggered by those things.
Today in numbers:
20 mg methylprednisolone
2.5 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
12.5 mg sertraline
1 g calcium carbonate
0 mg meclizine (yay!)
455 mg sodium
2 hours looking at apartments
0 feasible apartments
1 household meeting
2 rounds of talk-snuggle-smooch (yay!)
1 hour lost to DST (grrr)( Log )
I remain astonished by how well I tolerate the mpn. By all rights, given how ultra-sensitive I am both to stomach irritants and to mood agitators, I should be feeling wretched. Instead I feel great. This time around it's not even making me ravenous. And wow, it's so nice to be able to hear again!
Taking all that taurine is probably a big part of why I feel so mellow and cheerful. Maybe I should make it a daily thing (though not at these levels).
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.antacids, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.drugs.taurine, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.moving, food, food.cooking, food.nutrition, food.nutrition.salt
Embarking on my second biennial course of steroid treatment for Menière's symptoms (last time it was tinnitus, this time it's vertigo). No vertigo since evening of Sunday 3/2. Aggressively low-salt diet (under 700 mg/day) for the past week. Hearing in right ear has been reduced, but no ringing, just the quiet rushing/roaring sound that I associate more with "ear is blocked"; Menière's tinnitus for me is more like the extremely high noise of "someone left the television on and muted".
Today in numbers:
24 mg methylprednisolone
12.5 mg meclizine
12.5 mg sertraline
3 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
1 g calcium carbonate
580 mg sodium plus whatever's in the tap water I've been drinking steadily all day
5 hours of mild, non-nauseated vertigo
1 bout of tinnitus (ongoing, variable)
1 bout of frustrated tears (brief)
0 panic attacks( Log )
I had hoped for better, I admit. I'm just so glad I didn't need to take more meclizine. The hangover is usually about 12 hours per 12.5 mg, so I'm hoping that by the time I wake up my head will no longer feel like a balloon. Most importantly, I had very little of that staring-into-space can't-form-words thing, which is what I most despise about the stuff.
I think I really might have to keep my sodium intake under 500 mg a day for a few weeks, and spread it out more (no more having half my quota for breakfast!).
No words for how incredibly incredibly maddening this is. I sure hope the steroids help because I am ready to break things.
On the bright side, no panic attacks. I'm taking a bit less taurine than I did last time, and the Zoloft appears to be making up the difference. Yay drugs that work.
- thinking about:
body.body clock, body.ears, body.hair, body.illness, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.antacids, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.drugs.taurine, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.vertigo, food, food.nutrition, food.nutrition.salt
I saw a very nice otologist today who confirmed the Menière's diagnosis (not that anyone's really surprised) and suggested a course of steroids to treat the current flare-up. I took steroids for a flare two years ago, and I remembered that I'd made some notes about it in my journal, so I went back and looked.
a) I tagged all the posts so I could find them easily.* Yes, it took a bit of work to do the initial set-up of my meticulous tagging system. Yes, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.
b) My "notes" were hour-by-hour logs of my physical and emotional reactions and what I did, ranging from "this visualization technique helped with a wave of anxiety" to "a friend says I have to take the pills with food, but the literature disagrees, and I feel fine as long as I take antacids twice a day". For the full six days.
Now I feel completely prepared! Taking new meds really stresses me out, especially when they can exacerbate my chronic anxiety, and it's wonderful to be going into this course of treatment feeling so relaxed and ready. Thanks, past-me!
Also, today's tests show that the flare isn't any worse than past flares have been, which means the condition isn't progressing, which is VERY good news. The doctor was fabulous and didn't talk down to me. He told me about a pilot study for a new treatment that might be really helpful for me, and I won't disqualify myself from treatment by taking the steroids, so I can wait to see whether they work before trying a new thing. His office staff comfortably called me "Rose" (I don't always out myself as trans* to customer-facing folks, but I do ask them to use my first name because I hate having gendered titles applied to me), and they got me out of there quickly enough that I could get to work not too late and get a lot of work done. So for a day that could have been pretty awful, it's been pretty great.
* If anyone's curious, the posts are here
. My biochemistry and neurochemistry are a bit wacky, so my experiences may not be applicable to anyone else's.
Usual request: Please don't offer medical advice unless you think I'm about to do something that will significantly harm me.
Fun things, Mar 4: made a delicious salt-free dinner with J for our date night: tilapia on a bed of mirepoix, sautéed fennel, white rice.
Mar 5: tea with Gail Carriger, who complimented my outfit
. (Those are lousy pictures but you get the gist. The knot is an Ellie knot
, which I love because it looks really impressive and I can tie it the night before so I don't have to rush in the morning.)
Also: felt human, thought coherent thoughts, typed without typos. For the first time in days.
Also: cried and raged and still felt stifled and choked no matter how much I cried and raged.
I told J--rather alarming him, I think--that I am always full of anger and pain. That's why I work so hard on being happy and productive. This is both true and not true; yes, I'm generally not all that good at expressing it when I'm angry or hurt, but I'm a lot better at it than I used to be, and I don't stifle it much. I'm just really angry and hurt right now. (Both in the sense of "WTF body, why are you doing this to me?!".)
The difference between vertigo and anxiety is that when I close my eyes and the room tilts and I say "No
" and it stops tilting, that's anxiety. And if it doesn't stop, that's vertigo.
Depression is exhausting. Hey, guess what happens when I'm depressed and/or exhausted? I start to feel a little loopy and disconnected, the room starts to tilt...
No idea how much worse I'd be feeling right now without Zoloft and taurine. Don't want to think about it.
I think I'm basically having a panic attack all the time right now. I'm so tense that my jaw aches. But if I unwound I wouldn't be able to function and I have to function. I'm behind on everything.
Boobs are sore, so I get PMS on top of everything else, YAY.
Hate this hate this hate this.
No comments. Can't deal.
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.anger, mind.feelings.hurt, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, mind.wiring.depression, stuff.clothes
Meclizine/vertigo dreams are... a thing. Lots of water and motion; no surprise there. Very vivid. These are the ones I remember from the past week:
I dreamed that I was in a tour airplane that was super comfortable. I lounged in a plush recliner. We flew low to the ground, swooping about, visiting wonders of the world: a prehistoric whale skeleton embedded in a mountain, that sort of thing. Unfortunately my racist subconscious populated the Amazon jungle with stereotypical spear-chucking natives who saved us from poisonous water snakes while mocking the clueless white tourists. Way to go, brain.
I dreamed that I was sailing in shallow waters and a great white shark rose up to attack us. (I think the water was so shallow that it had no choice but to swim near the surface.) I killed it with a harpoon. The older guy I was with wanted me to marry his son, and he hinted that the shark's testicles would make excellent wedding gifts, or perhaps presents for our future twin children. Alas, as I discovered when I woke up and went directly to Google, sharks have internal testes, not testicles.
I dreamed that I read a story in a book where the color of the text and the paper changed with the mood of the story. If you didn't like this, you could tilt the book at a certain angle and change it back to black text on a white page. The story was about someone who psychically bonded with a horse, and it was so beautiful and moving that the ending--where the horse disappears but lives on in the person's mind--reduced me to sobs. I put the book back in the library and went back into the other room, where I broke my glasses (maybe from crying so hard? not clear). Nisi Shawl very graciously offered me hers, even though we have totally different prescriptions.
I dreamed that a small press hired me to edit an anthology of aquatic horror stories. I was very firm about wanting NON-Lovecraftian work. We argued over whether the title should be From the Deep or From the Deeps. When I woke up I had a head full of submission guidelines and ideas. (I tweeted about it and a couple of people suggested I do a Kickstarter. HAHAHA no. Way too much work. I just want a publisher to pay me so I can focus on editing instead of relentless promo.)
I dreamed that I drove from California to Arizona to visit Miriam. On my mental map, Arizona was about where Kansas is, a straight shot east from San Francisco over a picturesque mountain range. On the way back, Miriam and I went to get haircuts and when I said "clipper cut" the barber--who looked like Cypher from The Matrix and had a similar attitude--began to shave the back and sides of my head. Miriam was appalled, as was the owner of the barbershop, but I pointed out that my hair was long enough on top to cover the shaved parts and I actually kind of liked it.
And now I'm awake and my head is CLEAR and I can THINK and I am going to go do ALL THE WORK.
Fun things, Mar 3: I took a shower. Okay, so it wasn't fun in the sense of "whee fun!", but it felt very good to a) be able to stand up for that long and b) get clean.
Also I ate real food, thanks to J making good use of our spice cabinet. Cumin thyme chicken is entirely tasty without salt.
This time the meclizine hangover only took 24 hours to wear off to the point where I could string three words together. On the bright side, I'm functional again! On the dim side, this bolsters my concern about it being less effective than it was. J suggested I just get a prescription for mild sedatives with a shorter half-life, to help me sleep through the mild vertigo bouts that the meclizine doesn't really help with. I have a specialist appointment on Friday--this is second-tier specialization, my fab ENT referring me to an otologist--and will ask about it then.
Maybe this will help me get over my fear of sedation. A few nights ago I was shaking with anxiety over going to sleep, because I'd had two bouts of vertigo wake me up. At some point last week I had a night where I woke up every two hours: "Vertigo yet? No? Good. Back to sleep, then." But when the room starts tilting and spinning, all I want is to not be there for it. Yes, sedate me, please. A panic attack over the loss of control and/or the tiny remote possibility of dying in my sleep would be far preferable to the hideous merry-go-round.
Today was a grimly cheerful day; I got the sobbing and shouting over with on Saturday, a storm that came out of nowhere and left me gasping and weeping and snarling with rage as X gently rubbed my back and made appropriate soothing noises. "I'm afraid of sleep, eating, and sex," I said bitterly. "What's next? Being afraid of breathing? No wait, I had that with the bronchitis. Fear of taking a shit? Fear of shelter? What else on Maslow's lowest tiers can I be afraid of?" Even when I'm a miserable mess, I'm an intellectual miserable mess.
I'd hoped to stop taking the Zoloft this month, since I was doing so much better with the anxiety and depression, and we're at least theoretically past the worst of the winter. (WINTER. GO AWAY.) But I think I need to stay on it until the vertigo stops being chronic. Bonus: both sertraline and meclizine dehydrate me. Bonus bonus: vertigo nausea makes it hard to drink water. And then dehydration makes me dizzy, woo! *punches everything*
The ENT thinks the vertigo is a response to some sort of precipitating event--though there are no obvious candidates for such an event--and the bouts are getting milder over time, so he predicts that it will go away and stay gone as long as I keep my salt intake low and don't do whatever I did that set it off. I hope he's right. Hope hope hope.
And now I sleep.
Fun things, Feb 28: another day eaten by vertigo :(
Mar 1: Skype date with Miriam and Alex, domesticity with X
Mar 2: snuggles with J and then with X before vertigo ate my face again
Friday morning's bout was less bad than Monday morning's bout: woke up spinny and queasy but not in deep distress, whacked it immediately with 25 mg of meclizine, went back to bed, even managed to get to work for a few hours.
Sunday evening's bout was less bad than Friday morning's bout: wasn't even sure it was vertigo for an hour or so. Unfortunately the meclizine also wasn't sure it was vertigo, so it didn't really help, but it did eventually sedate me to the point where I could sleep despite my bed rocking like a cradle whenever I closed my eyes. (Being rocked in a cradle is not as soothing as one might expect when one is fully aware that the "cradle" is an unmoving bed.) Unfortunately I needed 37.5 mg of it to do that, so I am not functional today.
Another day off from work. That's four of my five sick days for the year used up. Work people are being lovely, freelance client gladly gave me an extension, but I hate it, I hate being behind on everything, I hate my head feeling like a balloon (where is Peter Cook with a pin to help me with this
), I hate it.
I refuse to say "I need a vertigo userpic". REFUSE.
Fun things, Feb 26: that was only yesterday, why is it so hard to remember back that far? Oh right, I had tea with the VanderMeers, that was lovely.
Feb 27: an excellent chatty dinner with supertailz
, who took away some things from the infinitely huge pile of clothes I'm getting rid of, and I got to hang out with kythryne
for a bit after that.
Forecast.io says it's 9F outside. I would like to register a complaint. I bought Yaktrax for walking on ice and overboots for walking through puddles, but it's not icy or wet out, just cold
. We're supposed to get close to a foot of heavy snow on Monday, though, so I guess the new gear will get a workout then.
The overboots fit perfectly over my falling-apart hiking boots. Then I pulled the overboots off and the soles of the hiking boots came off with them. That was not what I expected. So now "I should get new hiking boots at some point" has been upgraded to "I need new hiking boots with very sturdily attached soles", and I wear the overboots over my loafers, which they fit a bit more loosely. It's odd getting used to my feet being two sizes bigger than usual. The overboots sure do keep my feet warm and dry, though, and they don't chafe my ankles like rubber rain boots do. I'll be very glad of them come summer thunderstorm season.
I like pretending that there will ever be summer. It's a fun game to distract me from the endless wind and clouds and snow.
26) Tina Essmaker's 2013 interview with Merlin Mann.
I kind of want to quote the whole thing because he's the first person I've ever heard talk about his life the way I talk about my life. Like this:
"I've never been very ambitious, especially as a kid."
"I wish I could be more helpful and say, 'You should find your dream path and paint a rainbow to your love cloud!' But, most of us are so stuck in this notion of how stuff should go that we want to find one of seven stories that matches our narrative. The fact is that most of us are wandering around, scared shitless, wondering what the fuck's going to happen next.... I understand that you’re asking me this because you’re trying to get the narrative, but my narrative is that I've never known what’s coming next—I still don't." (YES. YES. ALL OF THIS. YES.)
"I always felt like people who consider themselves to be successful, creative go-getters want to go out and win a contest, make a comic book, or write a rock opera in high school. I, on the other hand, gave up on stuff very easily. I had so little experience with a lot of the things I thought I wanted to do that when I started doing them and it didn’t come easily, or I didn't get great acclaim for it, I gave up very quickly."
"I think a lot about do-ability with whatever silly project I want to do next. I don’t think about whether something is easy or not: I think about what trade-offs I have to accept in order to do it well, on time, and on budget." (This is KEY to being both a very go-do-things person and functional/sane. The cost-benefit analysis is everything.)
"It's about doing something, even if it's stupid, and getting through it as far as you can. It's not about thinking that you’ll learn from your mistakes. It's a matter of saying, 'Here's what I learned that I'm capable of that surprised me,' or, 'Here’s what I learned I could do, but it takes a lot more time than I thought.' It's weird: the things that seem easy can be so hard, and the things that seem difficult can be surprisingly enjoyable."
And so on. He says some very smart stuff and makes reference to some smart people (and now I want to research Mihaly Csíkszentmihalyi's analysis of "flow"
), but mostly he says stuff that sounds like me
, and it's so marvelous to unexpectedly stumble across a kindred spirit.Verdict:
I want to print it out and put it up on my wall or something. Or turn the best quotes into embroidery.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. I think a lot of what Mann talks about is hard to learn or identify with except through experience, but it's certainly an excellent glimpse into my head.
Thanks for the kind words on the previous entry. I am feeling much better. Yay modern medicine (even if the meclizine hangover did last well into this evening, to the point where half of my date with Josh was dinner and the other half was a nap).
Fun things, Feb 25: swapped some entertaining emails with my father.
25) The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell. (Book.) Sequel to London Falling. The premise is that a spirit of some sort is horrifically murdering rich white men, in ways that recall Jack the Ripper, while London erupts in class-based riots. Our Heroes--three tolerably decent police officers and one extremely good data analyst, all afflicted with the Sight--have to figure out who or what the spirit is and how to stop it. This is made more difficult by the rioting, and the police going on strike, and two of the protagonists desperately pursuing some significant magic for their personal use.
I still have no idea how to write about this book, even though my head is clearer now. It's very gory, in ways that took me aback, and I've read and enjoyed some pretty gory horror in my time. There's nothing titillating about it whatsoever. These may look like urban fantasy novels, but they're really horror novels with a thin coating of urban fantasy to make the bitter pill a little easier to swallow. Neil Gaiman appears in the book not just as a cameo but as a character who does plot-moving and rather upsetting things, and that felt very weird to me. (An afterword says Gaiman approved the whole thing, so it's not like it was done without his consent or knowledge. It still felt weird, maybe partly because the setting is clearly one step removed from real-world London and it's jarring to see a real person in that not-real setting.) There's also a revelation that Cornell slips in rather late in the book that undermines a significant part of what the protagonists think they understand about the world they're in, in a way that's clearly deliberate, and I really wonder what the characters will do when they find out about it.
Two of the cops are black, and the scenes where they infiltrate the mostly white subculture of magic-users--who are themselves caught up in an old guard/new guard schism--are a sharp and spot-on indictment of recent events in fandom. I wonder how many people will see that. I don't think Cornell is trying to be subtle about it, but I also don't think the people who most need to be aware of the parallels will catch them.
The gender stuff, the transformation of the Ripper murderers targeting vulnerable women into supernatural murders targeting privileged men, is... I can't talk about this without massive spoilers and there's really no point until the book is out and more people have read it, because it's the sort of thing I want to discuss with others, to get reality checks and feedback on, to analyze in a way that's very difficult to do solo.
It's not a comfortable book. It's not meant to be comfortable, especially for relatively privileged people. I can deal with that, and admire the intent behind it. But I'm pretty sure at least part of my discomfort was not the sort of discomfort I was supposed to feel.
Augh, I can't talk about it. Get back to me in the summer when it's out.
Verdict: I... don't know. I think I'm unlikely to reread it, but it won't stop me from reading the next book in the series.
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate, I think? Discourage if the gore and violence are likely to really bother them.
Fun things, Feb 22: had a lovely time at a friend's birthday party.
Feb 23: read a book.
Feb 24: no fun :(
I woke up at 5 a.m. on the 24th with terrible terrible
vertigo. ( Gory details )
Once I woke up again mid-afternoon, I had the meclizine hangover to contend with--it makes me all balloon-headed and spacy--and that ate the rest of the day. So my nearly two-month streak of daily fun is broken. :( I mean, I did things that on other days would count as fun, like playing S&P2, but I wasn't really capable of enjoying them.
On the evening of the 23rd I got a wave of what was either really bad PMS or a mild mixed episode. (Everything is relative.) All my feels were Very Big Feels and I went through a few oscillations of giddy and upset. I wonder whether there's some link between that and the vertigo. I also haven't been watching my salt intake, which apparently I need to do for the rest of my life because this is yet another chronic condition that I can manage but no one can cure. (I get so upset and angry when I think about this. I try not to think about it.) And the virus that gave me bronchitis might also have inflamed my eustachian tubes. So who knows, really.
Book report coming when I can think more clearly. I'm still a bit muddled. Meclizine is a wonder drug but the lingering effects are lousy.
Fun things, Feb 21: read another book. I appear to be thoroughly over my reader's block.
24) California Bones
by Greg Van Eekhout. (Book.) This is Ocean's Eleven
(the remake) as written by Tim Powers. That was probably the actual official pitch for the book and it doesn't matter because the influences are so
obvious. (The protagonist's name is Daniel! There's strange magic in the canals of Venice!) It's pure coincidence that I just watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
, but I wouldn't be surprised if that movie also influenced California Bones
, particularly its transmutation of Los Angeles politics. I caught a whiff of Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures
, too. Fortunately Van Eekhout knows how to use his borrowed tools, and the result feels like homage, not rip-off.
I love that the secondary protagonist is a bureaucrat of the earnest, cautious, skeptical school. He feels like a minor noble from an epic fantasy novel: someone who understands the system inside and out, and doesn't like it much, and gradually realizes that he doesn't get enough out of it to want to continue supporting it. I don't recall the last time I saw a character like that in a book like this, and his presence adds a very nice depth to the story.
There's something about the language that feels very YA--or maybe not the language? Maybe it's the focus on relationships: family, friends, bosses, exes. Anyway, it's not a bad thing, just a particular flavor that I suspect is left over from Van Eekhout's middle grade books. The focus on relationships also made it much easier for me to tolerate the protagonists and antagonists all being men. Daniel's gang of thieves is gender-balanced, but they don't really get developed, and the only other notable women in the book are Daniel's absent mother and a human plot point. If there's a conversation that passes the Bechdel test, I missed it.
This is a book with a very, very solid sense of place, which I always appreciate. It's also quite sensory, and it's particularly all about smells, which I thought was a totally fascinating choice. Smell is frequently overlooked, culturally and in literature, but it can be a powerful trigger for memories and emotions and other things that are difficult to put into words. I suspect this aspect of the book will make mrissa
I will be very interested to see how people compare California Bones
to Jamie Schultz's Premonitions
, which is another supernatural heist book set in Los Angeles and coming out this summer. Zeitgeists are fun.
I'm deliberately not saying anything about the plot because it's difficult to describe without getting spoilers everywhere. I'll just say that it held together pretty well for me, though I have one burning question about a thing at the end that didn't make sense to me. I might resort to asking the author directly (which I try not to do because it feels like cheating, but augh must know). Anyway, despite the heist and all, it's mostly not a plot-driven book. It's about oppression, and what oppression does to people down through generations; and about resource management, because non-Hollywood Los Angeles books are always about resource management no matter what else they try to be about and this one is very forthright about it; and, as noted above, about relationships. I liked it a lot.Verdict:
Good stuff.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. The only question is whether to share it before or after Dinner at Deviant's Palace
, at whose feet this book worships.
Fun things, Feb 20: read a book because I wanted to, and loved it.
23) Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare. (Book.) Quite improbably, this is a Regency romance about fandom. It has at least one Reddit in-joke. It takes a lot for a book to make me either really cry or really laugh, but this one had me chortling on the subway.
I've loved Dare's work since she stormed onto the scene a few years ago, because her women are so real. More than that, they insist on being real. Izzy, the heroine of Romancing the Duke, has a particularly desperate need for realness, and she gets it from Ransom, perhaps the only man in England who's never read any of the extremely popular stories that Izzy's father published about "Little Izzy Goodnight". Since Ransom doesn't know the Izzy canon, he's free to take her as she is. (Which he does, deliciously.) Meanwhile, Ransom is dealing with an injury that left him blind and frequently in pain, on top of a lifetime of being unloved and a childhood in which there were no bedtime stories of any kind. All he wants is to be left alone, because that's all he knows. But as the book's conceit forces him to contend with Izzy's company, he comes to appreciate her charming blend of pragmatism, imagination, and sincere kindness, and she slowly draws him out of his shell.
And then her fans show up, in costume, with banners... and they demand that Ransom prove he's a real Izzy fan and not just some fake geek boy.
The book is a love letter to fandom, both fervently supportive of it and affectionately aware of its flaws and foibles, and a love letter to love, as the best romance novels are. I have no idea whether it will work at all for historical romance readers who don't know much about present-day fannishness, but it sure worked for me.
I still can't believe she put in the Reddit joke.
Verdict: I want to hug this book. It goes straight onto the keeper shelf, where all of Dare's other books will keep it company.
For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, absolutely! Ideally once they've found at least one fandom of their own so they can laugh at it in a knowledgeable way rather than in a "people don't actually behave this way, do they?" way.
Fun things, Feb 17: had the day off and spent it playing Swords & Potions 2. Yes, the whole day.
Feb 18: ramen-date with Josh.
Feb 19: went to KGB for the first time in a while, ran into old friends there, and enjoyed the readings.Swords & Potions 2
is basically the perfect game for me. I haven't been this hooked on something since Gemcraft. It's inverse D&D: you're a merchant outfitting adventurers, and you have to stock your shop with the things they want, which means hiring people to make items. The more items the workers make, the more they level up and learn how to make niftier items, which in turn are sought after by higher-level adventurers, who pay more money for them. You send adventurers on individual quests and help them form parties for bigger gigs, and they bring back gold and precious rare ingredients that can be turned into high-ticket items. As a bonus for interior design nerds like me, you have to figure out how to fit all your stuff (bins of materials, workbenches, displays and decorative items to draw in more customers--all of it different shapes and sizes) into your shop. As a bonus for urban planning nerds like me, your shop is in a town with other shops, and you balance investing in your own shop with joining the other townspeople in tithing to boost shared resources. Want your iron ore bin to refill faster so you can make more armor? Get everyone to pay a few thousand gold to upgrade the mine. And so on.
Gameplay is fast enough that I have to pay attention but slow enough that it's very easy on my arm and I can play left-handed with little difficulty. Think a slightly more relaxed Diner Dash or Airport Mania. Both the workers and the adventurers are splendidly diverse in race, gender, and body shape. (The wiki has pictures of workers
. I love the completely androgynous armorer
and the extremely cute engineer
.) I generally like the design sensibility a lot. Just when I was getting frustrated by the customers wanting more items than I could make, I hit level 40 and unlocked a third worker slot, and now I'm back to rapid-fire manufacturing for 20 minutes at a time and then taking a break so my resource bins can refill; this is also very good for my arm. There's just enough strategy in deciding which resource to fund next, how to balance tithes and shop improvement and keeping cash on hand to buy things from customers, who to hire so you deplete your resources equally, which customers to send on quests, and what to offer a customer when you don't have the thing they want. There's just enough luck in which customers come by and what they want or offer. It's a very good balance.
When I was perhaps 6 years old, I had a tiny little Casio VLT-1 keyboard with a calculator function
. (I have no idea why anyone thought this was a good combination.) Whenever I went to the grocery store with my mother, I would pick up free recipe pamphlets and coupons, take them home, and carefully cut out the pictures of food. I made a wobbly little cardboard shopping cart from the backs of notepaper pads, and filled it with the paper food, and rang up my "purchases" using the VLT-1 as a cash register. This was my idea of a good time. And apparently it still is.
(THERE IS A VIDEO OF SOMEONE USING A VLT-1
AAAAA that demo music is giving me FLASHBACKS
imagine this thing in the hands of a small child and feel pity for my parents)
When I was slightly older, my brother and I would play Dragon Warrior constantly for weeks on end. My mother got sick of the 8-bit music and would turn it off and put a record on instead. We were all quite fond of Keith Jarrett's Köln concert, and that became the Dragon Warrior soundtrack. On Monday I was playing S&P2, and on a whim I turned off the game music and put on the Jarrett album. Instant nostalgia! Except I was playing the wrong game! Except it was sort of the right game, only inside out! That was a fun bit of cognitive dissonance.
Media log:( It's kinky poly erotica, so if you don't want to read my thoughts on that, don't click )
Fun things, Feb 13: had dinner at my mom's place and watched Desk Set
with her and her inamorato.
Feb 14: wore a tie; treated myself to ice cream.
Feb 15: cooked an excellent dinner with J.
Feb 16: brunch with karnythia
and Tea and Nora; lovely family dinner; watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
with X because we both have tomorrow off work and can stay up late.
Cookery: We made braised chicken by following the French chicken inna pot
recipe (a.k.a. "self-carving chicken") from the ever-reliable Cook's Illustrated
, increasing the amount of vegetables (one sizeable onion, two carrots, a few stalks of celery), and pouring in .5 c white wine and 1.5 c chicken broth before putting the chicken atop the veg and sticking the pot in the oven. When the chicken was done, we pureed the veg with the defatted jus and an additional cup of broth to make a lovely thick gravy. The gravy was surprisingly orange from the carrots, but it tasted chickeny and delicious. The chicken wasn't fall-apart tender, but it was very juicy and flavorful. Sides were pan-roasted broccoli (fry stalks for 2 min, add florets and fry for 2 min, steam with salted water for 2 min, sauté for 2 min, serve) and crispy potatoes. Tonight I threw the leftover chicken into some almond cream, added microwave-steamed mixed veg, and poured it all over pasta for a quick tasty one-dish meal.
18) Desk Set.
(Movie.) Rewatch. I could swear my mother showed me this ages ago, but she says she doesn't remember having seen it. It remains terrific. It passes the Bechdel Test without even trying, Tracy and Hepburn have splendid chemistry, everyone sympathetic is an unabashed nerd, and the topic is so timely that it's really hard to believe it was made in 1957.
The character of Richard serves as an excellent reminder that the "nerd with no social skills" portrayal has not always come with a heaping helping of faux-Asperger's. He's not at all incapable of interacting with people; he just considers it low-priority. I love when his sly wit comes out, and when he says flirtatious things almost without realizing he's doing it. And let us note that he was played by an extremely handsome leading man with no thick glasses or nasal voice or physical clumsiness. Sometimes nerds are handsome and kempt (other than mismatched socks)! Who knew?
I want a remake where Emmy the computer is a robot, Richard is a woman, the Emmy/Richard/Bunny polyness is explicitly poly, and everything else remains exactly the same--except I wouldn't trust today's Hollywood with it. You just know someone would put more men in it to make it "more appealing to male viewers". Bah. It's a geeky movie about libraries and computers, a romantic comedy, and a movie about women's professional and emotional needs, and there is no contradiction there at all
Now I want to watch it again.Verdict:
Thumbs way up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
19) "The Public Voice of Women"
by Mary Beard. (Essay.) This is long enough to include here, and short enough for me to just say: go read this, right now. If you have time to be reading LJ you have time to read this essay. It pulls together vast amounts of history into a narrative of men telling women to be quiet. It's smart and thoughtful and painfully true. Share it around.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, for sure.
20) Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
(Movie.) Rewatch. I've seen this movie approximately a billion times, and every time I catch something I'd missed before. The melding of animation and live-action remains incredibly well done. Of course when I was a kid I missed all the bitter humor about Los Angeles transit and traffic; now it's what makes the movie really work for me. I still can't believe that someone said, "Hm, let's make a movie about how shady businessmen killed L.A.'s streetcars and built the freeway. I think the right way to do this is to have the main plot be about murder, adultery, and a cartoon rabbit." Hollywood is amazing.
This is the second movie in a month where I've said "Wait, that's Christopher Lloyd?!" (the first being The Addams Family
). What a genius that man is. Judge Doom would be ridiculous in lesser hands, but Lloyd turns him into one of the most genuinely creepy villains I've ever seen on the screen. His final scene is riveting, as is his soliloquy on his wondrous vision of on-ramps and gas stations and billboards. Everyone remembers Jessica Rabbit saying "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way" but right now all I can hear is Judge Doom breathing "My God, it will be beautiful"
The best.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share share share. I loved this movie when I was young--my brother had a tape of it and we practically wore it down--and I love it now.
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.2014.media log, experiences.movies, experiences.socializing, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.broccoli, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.pasta, ideas.feminism
Fun things, Feb 12: had a marvelous lunch with Joe Monti, watched Ocean's Eleven
16) Ocean's Eleven.
(Movie.) Rewatch. X showed this to me for the first time last year, I think, and we've watched it at least twice since then. I had a craving for it because kate_nepveu
mentioned Danny and Rusty as the perfect drift-compatible couple. Other than the Tess subplot, in which two men treat a woman like an object until one of them says he cares more about money and she decides the other one is suddenly awesome, it's basically perfect. The con is complex and just enough things go wrong to make the outcome uncertain. The complete lack of chemistry between Danny and Tess is more than made up for by the Danny/Rusty friendship. Carl Reiner is so wonderful that I even forgive him for his involvement in The Adventures of Captain Cross Dresser
. And unlike the original Ocean's 11
, the pacing is great, the acting is terrific, the dialogue is hilarious, and I can tell all the actors apart.Verdict:
A++++++ will watch again and again.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, probably until they're sick of it.
17) Ancillary Justice.
(Book.) DNF. I could pretend that I'm going to pick this up again, but I put it down weeks ago and feel no urge to go back to it, so it's time to DNF it and move on. My hopes were raised by everyone squeeing about how adventurous and radical its treatment of gender is, but while that might be true compared to other SF, it's pretty bland compared to the conversations I see among trans* folks on Twitter and Tumblr every day. It also goes ON and ON about gender in a way I find tremendously grating. A lot of SF forgets that technology is a tool, and gets caught up in technical jargon that no one would actually use in real life. I don't remove a pressurized can of carbonated sugary beverage from the home refrigeration unit; I take a soda out of the fridge. The way Ancillary Justice
's protagonist talks about gender is precisely equivalent to the worst sort of jargony space opera. Actual quotes from page 3 (3!) of the ARC:
She was probably male, to judge from the angular mazelike patterns quilting her shirt.
I am already bored. This is boring. I would rather put down the book and call my egg-producing parent, whom I refer to as my mother because blah blah blah. Oh, and in this totally radical far future, clothing is apparently a very reliable indicator of gender identity. How... convenient.
It didn't help that cues meant to distinguish gender changed from place to place, sometimes radically, and rarely made much sense to me.
CRY MOAR. This whining is pure cis privilege, the gender equivalent of "I don't see race, so stop talking about it like it matters!". I realize the protagonist is supposed to be non-gendered, so I guess as a genderqueer person I'm supposed to identify with them? But since they come from a culture that "doesn't mark gender in any way"*, their approach to gendered cultures is sneering and disdainful, which is incredibly rude as well as being completely foreign to my experiences as a member of an actual minority who has always lived in an aggressively gendered culture.* When translating that culture's language, Leckie has made the peculiar choice to use female pronouns, words like "sister" and "grandmother", etc. for everyone. This is how you get constructions like "She was probably male": "she" just means "this person", and "male" is a foreign gender-concept being applied to a foreigner. Since English has perfectly good gender-neutral words like "they" and "sibling" and "grandparent" that could have been used instead, I assume Leckie's intent was to mess with the reader's head. I find this annoying. I also think it would have been genuinely more effective to use gender-neutral terms for and among the Radch, for the sharp contrast to the gendered terms used in gendered cultures. But then the reader would be much less confused, and much more sympathetic to Breq's struggles with gendered language, and that would be... bad?
I do not like tourists. Breq is not only a tourist but the former AI of a military ship that engaged in some very unpleasant culture-suppressing invasion and colonization. Oh, and they're basically emotionless, as far as I can tell from the 70 pages I read before giving up, and also a caricature of the bored (and therefore boring) hypersmart nerd forced to do menial work for less intelligent bureaucrats, and also insane. This isn't a character I have any interest in identifying with, or reading about. Is it supposed to be some sort of trans* revenge fantasy, where agender entities now have all the power and privilege and get to throw their weight around? Blech. Not my thing, at all.
But if you thought 2312
did shocking things with gender (a man who's given birth OMG WOW *eyeroll*), and you found the protagonist of The Magicians
extremely compelling and sympathetic, then you'll like this, I guess. I'm just tired of supposedly speculative fiction that's less interesting and complicated than the actual people I know in actual real life in the actual present day. And as someone who cares a great deal about gender, I am not the slightest bit interested in this portrayal of the superior agender culture and the constant snubbing of all gendered everything.Verdict:
Didn't throw it at the wall; just never got hooked.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate, I suppose, though any child raised in this household will probably not find the conceit terribly interesting.
To end on a happier note, here is what love looks like in my family:
J has had a hard day. I want to do something good for him. On my way out of work, I spot an ARC of the new Dresden Files novel, which I know both X and J want to read. Usually I'd leave it up to them to decide who gets it first, but I make the executive decision to give it to J because he could use cheering up. (I've also spotted Changes
on the shelf where X usually leaves in-progress books, and I'm pretty sure X will want to finish reading it before moving on to the new one, which gives J time to read it first.)
X and I spend at least half an hour affectionately teasing each other over this decision while J is buried in the book. Reading and teasing are briefly paused for dinner.
As usual, I say goodnight to J at 10, which is his bedtime, and go into X's room for tea. We snuggle up to watch a movie. Just past midnight, J--who's usually quite scrupulous about going to bed on time--comes in and hands X the book, which he has finished reading.
Reader, I melted. :) I love them both so much, and all the more when they're sweet to each other. My spouses are so great.
Fun things, Feb 10: X and I worked out for the first time in a while.
Feb 11: I wrote an extremely thorough crit for a freelance client. He is definitely getting his money's worth from me.
I suppose it doesn't make sense to note client manuscripts in the media log.
The workout was great. I just did a 10-minute strength-focused session (10 reps each of 5 exercises, focus on form, nothing too taxing) because my lungs are still recovering from the bronchitis, but it felt very good to get back to it, and I was able to breathe properly through the exercises without coughing at all. X and I are considering getting free weights and/or some sort of home workout machine thingy, since we're starting to run up against the limitations of bodyweight exercises braced on living room furniture; any recommendations?
Yesterday and today were very productive work-wise. I like that. It feels good. Of course it correlates with getting more sleep and sleeping at the proper time, so I'm going to stop writing this entry and go to bed.
Fun things, Feb 9: cooked a whopping great dinner and invited Tea over to share it. We had pot roast for the omnis and pan-fried chicken thighs for the pollotarian, plus mashed potatoes and maple thyme carrots. Dessert was a splendid vegan GF apple crumble with various ice creams.( Pot roast )
Pan-fried chicken thighs: salt and pepper skinless boneless thigh filets, heat oil in pan, fry chicken a few minutes on each side until cooked through.
Mashed potatoes: cook potatoes, mash with lots of Earth Balance and unsweetened almond milk.
Maple thyme carrot recipe here
.( Apple crumble )
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, food, food.baking, food.baking.apples, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, food.cooking.beef.pot roast, food.cooking.carrots, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.potatoes, food.recipes
I woke up to incredibly sad news: wcg
's younger daughter, Amanda (ladyalafair
), died very unexpectedly on Saturday morning
. I've known Bill going on twenty years, and Amanda for most of that, though I didn't know her well. She'd seen some very hard times in her 33 years, and come through them with grit and grace. She leaves behind a young daughter, a sister, and a recently widowed father. Poor Bill. :( I wish I were close enough to go keep him company; his house must feel very empty right now. I hope he's got lots of good friends around him.
I was pretty shaken up for the early part of the day. X and J were very understanding and let me cling to them a lot, and eventually J distracted me with shopping and cooking and socializing. But in the quiet moments, when I let myself think about it again, I'm just... bewildered. People my age aren't supposed to die in their sleep. Parents aren't supposed to have to mourn their children. No one should have to suffer the loss of his wife and his daughter in less than two years. It's outrageous and wrong and terrible and it doesn't make any sense at all.
I'm pretty sure I will always react to death this way. Sad, yes, because loss is sad, but mostly outraged and confused, because the concept of permanent loss is simply unfathomable.
Comments off. I'm not up for talking about this right now.
Fun things, Feb 7: dinner at my mom's place.
Feb 8: went erranding with X, went out with J to visit Daniel and trade soup for nine ARCs of Long Hidden
(!!!), cooked dinner with J, had a delightful family dinner full of joking around, helped X build furniture, snuggled with J, snuggled with X, played a bunch of Swords & Potions 2. A very good day.
Dinner was turkey meatballs, based on this recipe
, which came out very well: moist, flavorful, and containing only ingredients that all of us actively like and aren't allergic to. J was skeptical when I suggested meatballs, since we haven't made them in ages and for some reason he thought of them as a lot of work, but I pointed out that they're basically tiny hamburgers and how hard can it be? Turned out it wasn't hard at all. Recipe for my reference:
1.3 lb (one package) ground turkey*
2 Tbsp GF "breadcrumbs"
1 Tbsp mixed dried herbs (your standard Italian seasoning mix will do nicely), or 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs
2/3 cup grated carrot*
1 egg, whisked
A few grinds each of salt and pepper* If your package of turkey is only 1 pound, reduce the carrot to 1/2 cup.
Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients, mix thoroughly, and shape into 24 meatballs. Bake 20 minutes or until thermometer in the center of the largest meatball registers 170F.
We had them on a bed of rice and mixed veg, which worked very nicely. They'd be great in pasta, too. Now that we have a successful recipe, next time I'll get a three-pound "family pack" of turkey, make extras, freeze them raw, and label them "bake 30 minutes at 350F".
Fun things, Feb 5: stayed up until 4 a.m. playing Swords & Potions 2
. Oops on the 4 a.m. part--I belatedly realized that I'd turned off Chrome Nanny, and then I repeatedly failed my willpower saving throw--but it was exactly the sort of brainless game I needed.
Feb 6: more of the same, only this time I remembered to turn Nanny on so that it took my keys at 01:30 like it's supposed to.
I haven't been putting music in the media log, I realized today. It didn't occur to me to log it because I don't experience music the same way that I experience books or movies or television. It's more something I wear like clothes, or consume like food or meds; the decision of what to listen to is similarly driven by a combination of need-satisfying and whim. Today it was cold, so I wore a flannel shirt. Today I was at work late, so I played progressive house mixes to keep my energy up. Today I was a bit mopey and sad, so I ate some delicious tacos and very carefully did not
put on Information Society's Don't Be Afraid
Plus I never just listen to music. It's always a thing that happens while I'm doing something else. I grew up with Keith Jarrett's Köln concert as the soundtrack to Dragon Warrior
because my mother got sick of the 8-bit Nintendo noise; to this day, when I fire up the emulator for a few rounds of slime-squashing, I put on Jarrett in the background. I spent many an adolescent evening doing cross-stitch as Casey Kasem counted down the top 40, and my favorite knitting music is prog rock. I don't care whether it's incongruous as long as it keeps my mood where I want it to be.
So I think I will keep not logging it. I just wanted to walk through the reasons why that makes sense to me.
...now I'm having a craving for cross-stitch and Wilson Phillips.
Fun things, Feb 4: After a really lousy month and a half, J and I FINALLY had a purely nice date. We went out to a lovely dinner, walked a bit, came home, and snuggled. That maybe doesn't sound like much, but our recent date nights have involved things like fevers, panic attacks, and sobbing with grief, so I will totally take it.
I felt like I turned a corner health-wise today. I celebrated by scrubbing the bathroom sink for the first time in I don't know how long. Maybe this weekend I can vacuum! My priorities are perfectly
in order thank you very much
Also I gave myself an excellent close shave, and got a lot of work done (by which I mean sat around and read a chunk of my current client novel), and was permitted to scritch Alex under the chin for multiple minutes. It was a very nice day.
15) "A Hollow Play" by Amal El-Mohtar.
(Short story.) I love Amal's work and this story is no exception. It's gorgeous and the emotions in it are very powerful and very real. Love is hard, sometimes. Letting go of people you love is hard. I got teary-eyed at the story's climax. And the ending packs a wallop. I won't be surprised to see this on the Nebula shortlist.Verdict:
Thumbs way up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, most definitely.
Fun things, Feb 3: watched Nueve Reinas
while finishing knitting a slipper
X and I were going to watch The Mummy
but X was zonked and went to bed early, so I figured I'd put on something else familiar and see whether I could focus well enough to knit. It's not an ideal knitting movie, since it's in rapid-fire Spanish and I have to actually pay attention to the subtitles, but the slipper was almost done, so it worked well enough. And now I have one warm foot, hooray! This is the first socklike thing I've ever knitted and I'm pretty pleased with it. Now I just have to resist improving the pattern so that the second slipper will match the first one's imperfections.
14) Nueve Reinas.
(Movie.) Rewatch. Hard to say much about it without spoiling it, and since it's about con artists, one ideally watches it unspoiled. Unlike, say, The Sting
, it doesn't hold up incredibly well to rewatching. The leads are kind of one-note, which I think is more the fault of the script than of the actors. The character actors are all wonderful, though, and the plot sticks together pretty well. I'll enjoy showing it to X when they're in the mood for it.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, of course. Our child will be raised with a thorough knowledge of caper and con artist films, just as I was. *firm nod*
Fun things, Feb 1: made bacon sandwiches and waxed nostalgic about childhood breakfasts in bed at my grandparents' house
Feb 2: household meeting. I realize meetings aren't supposed to be fun, but ours are, which is really nice. I <3 my family.
(how is it February already
13) "Tiger Stripes" by Nghi Vo.
(Short story.) Nghi contributed a short story to Long Hidden
, and I found this one while Googling around to see whether she's on Twitter. (As far as I can tell she's not.) It's melodic and rhythmic and bittersweet and satisfying. I was relieved when it didn't follow the obvious romantic path; I like friend-stories. I probably won't reread it, but it's nice to have it snuggled up in a warm corner of my brain.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. It would be a great read-aloud story, since it has that folkloric oral-tradition feel to it.
I'm trying very hard to take it easy, really I am, but my clothes weren't going to put themselves away, nor was the cast iron pan going to clean and oil itself. I did stop myself from scrubbing the bathroom sink or emptying the dishwasher, though. And I didn't go outside today at all. And I huddled in bed instead of helping J cook dinner. For me this counts as extremely well-behaved.
I told X that I'm going to treat the bronchitis like tendinitis of the lungs, because tendinitis is a chronic condition that I understand. So: rest rest rest and more rest, and scrupulous daily treatment even when it doesn't feel necessary, and ignore feelings of "getting better" until I've gone multiple days entirely symptom-free. It will be annoying, especially all the resting. I will deal.
Speaking of arms, they seem to be entirely recovered from the flare-up last week. If only I had the energy for working out or the focus for knitting. *sigh*
- thinking about:
behavior.self-care, body.arms, body.illness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.2014.media log, experiences.annoyances, experiences.history, experiences.housework, experiences.love, experiences.reading, mind.feelings.nostalgia
Rose: today i went to the store and made lunch and ran the dishwasher and took out the trash and took out the recycling and took out the bathroom trash and took out my bedroom trash and it all felt SO GOOD
Xtina: next time you get sick, we're strappin' you to the bed
I felt so good, you see, that I foolishly said to J, "Let's go for a short walk, just down to the park next to the museum; it's nice out, 44 degrees and something like sunny." About 45 minutes later I was back home and completely freaking out about being short of breath. ( Cut for details of non-emergency breathing issues and panic )
Part of the problem is that I'm getting several kinds of weak/wobbly at once:
1) nose is stuffed up and lungs are inflamed, so breathing is more work than usual (though when I was at the doctor's my blood oxygen level was 98% so again, nothing genuinely scary going on there)
2) anxiety makes me dizzy
3) my right ear is blocked up and that makes me a different kind of dizzy
4) I'm low-energy from fighting off the virus
5) I didn't eat much for two days and I'm still getting my caloric intake back up
6) ditto sleep
So when I feel woozy I don't know what to do: eat? drink tea? take a hot shower? lie down? distract myself? push through it? sleep? freak out? stay home? see a doctor? It's very annoying, especially because so many of those things contradict one another. And I am so. tired. of sitting here doing nothing. It felt good to get to work yesterday, and good to move around today. I don't want to be sick and weak and wobbly! I want to be better! I drank orange juice with lunch; shouldn't that have instantly cured me of all ills and woes?
I think I should add "panic attack triggers" to my list of things to work on with my therp. Maybe at the top of the list. Especially if I'm going to go off the Zoloft, which I do really want to do.
In the meantime, I'm going to go take a hot shower to try and de-stuff my nose, and then go to bed.
I am really ready to be done with being sick. Really a lot.
(How glad am I that we got a 15-month lease and will be moving May 1 instead of today? SO glad.)
EDIT: See, this is what I mean. I'd been avoiding the shower because if I'm dizzy, humid heat often makes me feel dizzier. I finally took a shower and immediately felt my lungs open up like flowers in the sun. Wish I'd known it would work that way, oh, eight hours ago
. My body's diagnostics are crap
. "Feel bad!" "What kind of bad?" "Dunno! Bad!" *sigh*
And then Alex got out and went up four flights of stairs because what I really needed was to climb stairs. (For once the building hallway was cool rather than icy, probably because it was above freezing and sunny today, so at least I wasn't sucking in cold air while doing it.) Fortunately he took his time about it, so I could follow him slowly rather than attempting to run up the stairs--which I wouldn't want to do anyway as he is not a very graceful cat, and I didn't want to risk him freaking out about being chased and attempting a dangerous jump through the stairway railing--and the roof door was closed. I stood with my back to the wall and gave him a nice clear path back down the stairs, and eventually he decided going back down on his own was better than me carrying him, a sentiment I heartily shared. So that was my exercise for the day. Somewhat to my surprise, I'm not especially short of breath after that. I guess the shower helped a lot.
Anyway, he is back inside, and I'm in bed with moderately functional lungs and a moderately clear nose (also thanks to the shower). Of course I'm all wound up from cat-chasing, but I'm pretty sure the tiredness will overwhelm that soon.