mrissa: (writing everywhere)

I know, it’s not the end of 2014 yet, but I will be Christmasing merrily away for much of the rest of the year, and then collapsing in a heap. So it seemed like a reasonable time to talk about this year in writing.


My bibliography tells me that I have twelve things with 2014 publication dates, which seems like a goodly number. (Right now it actually has thirteen things with 2014 publication dates, but one of them is a tyop it is on my list to fix.) I appeared in new places! I reappeared in old places! I made my first invitational anthology sale! Hurrah stories! They are:


The Young Necromancer’s Guide to Re-Capitation (co-written with Alec Austin), On Spec, Winter

Ask Citizen Etiquette, Asimov’s, February

The Suitcase Aria, Strange Horizons, February

The Stuff We Don’t Do, Nature, April

The Salt Path, Apex, June

Maxwell’s Demon Went Down to Georgia, Nature Physics, June

Calm (co-written with Alec Austin), Analog, September

Emma Goldman: A Biography for Space Aliens, Daily SF, October

The New Girl, Apex, November

Boundary Waters, Nature, November

A House of Gold and Steel, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, December

The Hanged Woman’s Portion, Not Our Kind, December


Also I wrote a lot more stuff. I didn’t finish any novels this year, but I worked on some that will pay off next year, I think. And so far–this is one that could easily change depending on my mood and everyone else’s mood at the lake house with the in-laws in the last week of December–I’ve finished twenty short stories. Which is quite a few short stories, actually, even for me. I looked, and that’s how many I wrote last year, too, but I don’t plan on doing it every year. Also I have more short stories waiting to come out (six) than I did last year at this time, so that’s good.


(One of the things about that is that I calibrated how many short stories I should have in circulation at any time back when I was not quite as good at short stories. So I was selling a smaller percentage of them. Still, I am adjusting what “a reasonable number of stories out in circulation” means for me. Some things are a process.)


Last year I talked about having the spigot, just being able to write and write and write. This year I did not have the spigot turned on. And I wrote anyway, and it was good, and other people liked the stuff I wrote, and I liked the stuff I wrote, and I even had fun with the stuff I wrote. So that is its own kind of victory: to be there, to be hanging in and doing it and making the art work, when it’s not in free flowing amazing mode.


Also I led the Fourth Street beginning writers’ seminar, which I will do again next year, and ideally next year I will do it when I am not recovering from such a bad virus. (As I said at the time: on Wednesday of that week, I was still so sick that we had to put a stool in the shower for me to sit on, because standing up long enough to shower was still too much for me–not because of the vertigo, because I was just that sick and weak. On Friday morning I went to lead the writers’ seminar. I think it went well! I just think it can go better next year when I am not quite that wretched.) And I have learned a great many things this year about process and about people in one’s writing life and about a great many other things, so I will have different things to say next year. So that will be good too.


So onwards.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

So I realized that I had not put this clearly anywhere: the vertigo has been quite bad since Christmas. I had hoped that it would get a bit better when I recovered from my cold, but it has not. I am going to the neurologist soon, and when I do, the likeliest outcome is the same meds I’ve been on before, which are fairly effective but which (among other side effects) make writing somewhat harder. (Still possible! But somewhat harder.)


In the meantime I cannot drive, which complicates alllllll sorts of things around here.


So. Combination of these factors means that I am trying to get a whole book’s worth of revisions done before I go on the meds. Brain is not cooperating–the good kind of not-cooperating, the kind that is generating lots of new material for other projects. Still. Focus required. Revisions required.


And the upshot of that is that you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see me on social media for the next week and a half, two weeks or so. I will probably be ignoring Facebook and Twitter completely and checking in with lj less frequently (once or twice a day rather than having the window open and refreshing when I feel like it). I will still do my midmonth book post so that I don’t fall behind (yes, I recognize that that only matters in my own mind), and I’ll be checking my email, because, well, email. If you’re someone who has long-duration correspondence with me just for fun, though, rather than topical timely communications, don’t be surprised if my long-duration correspondence pieces don’t arrive very much before the end of the month.


Determination, go.




mrissa: (getting by)
I've been feeling pretty deeply cruddy for the last few weeks, with quite a variety of causes and effects. I'm hoping it's getting better, but in the meantime, if I've forgotten something related to you or phrased something particularly badly or otherwise screwed something up, please let me know as gently as possible.
mrissa: (hats off)
I wrote this post already. About all the stuff I managed to accomplish in 2012 and how I felt about it. Then livejournal ate it. Thanks, livejournal! Sigh.

So I did stuff. I did writingy stuff. ("Writingy" is one of those words people use that lets you know they're real writers, not like those hacks who have to use dictionary words.) I wrote ten stories, which is by no means a personal record but isn't anything to sneeze at, either. I did some revisions for a long-trunked project and have detailed plans for more. I wrote a fairly sizable chunk of a novel that was like pulling teeth, put it aside, and started a novel that is not the least bit like pulling teeth. I sold seven new stories and had eight new stories published (several of which are available from links on my bibliography page).

This was the year [livejournal.com profile] alecaustin's and my collaboration first saw publication, and we sold a couple more collaborative stories and have plans to do more work together in the new year. So that's been a very good set of things for both of us. I also had a story in a Year's Best and sold a story for this year's YB, and while I am not an assiduous pursuer of reprints, I found some all the same.

I stayed pretty closed-mouthed this year about how the vertigo and related meds were affecting me, and I kind of want to keep to that. Suffice it to say that they were, and that I am beginning to be able to notice patterns in the med/no-med periods. Ideally this will be something I can exploit when I have to do it again. (If, I suppose. But realistically, when.) So while I'm not pleased with everything I dealt with, I'm actually pretty pleased with how I dealt with it. When I let myself be.
mrissa: (memories)
I posted earlier this week about trying to segregate my dealings with politics and do it deliberately and consciously. That's not the only thing I've done recently for the care and conscious maintenance of available levels of Mris. Another one happened as I was packing for Montreal, and it was an odd step for me.

I admitted that I am no longer keeping a paper journal.

I started with my paper journals in 1997, when I was in an Intro Creative Writing class. When I went to pack for Montreal, the suitcase and backpack were pretty full, and I looked at my paper journal and realized that it didn't have any entries for 2012, just for 2011. So that's 14 years, basically. When I started, there were personal thoughts and feelings, there was personal log stuff, and there were lots of scenes and scenelets, lots of pieces of story development, lots of title ideas, things I was thinking about what I was reading, quotes I liked, a hodgepodge of thises and thats. The paper journals went everywhere with me. Seriously everywhere. For awhile I wrote in huge ones because I went through them too fast for the little ones to be economical. I have some fancy ones, some lab notebooks, some hand-painted by me and some by others, some carefully selected for me as gifts and some bought in a panic when I ran out of journal and had to get what I could. All of them were bound books with pages that couldn't be removed. They fill a shelf to slightly overflowing.

As time went on, my use of them shifted. My computer was on all the time, and writing out scenes in them and then retyping those scenes on the computer was no longer a good use of my time, particularly as I became a professional writer. Soon I was composing pretty much everything on my computer, and the journal entries were for thinking stuff through, keeping records--but only the things that weren't public, only the things that wouldn't go on lj. And I started doing that differently too. Soon it didn't make a lot of sense to have my journal with me all the time--it was bulky, and instead of being able-bodied I was a person who was having to deal with a cane some of the time. So instead there would be a tiny notepad in my purse, and the pages of the tiny notepad could get stuck in the journal.

Except a lot of times there's no reason for them to be. A lot of times they can go directly into the story file, or directly into the file I keep for story ideas, or directly into the library list, or the to do list, or...yeah.

These things have a natural ebb and flow to them. My paper journals served me well for awhile, and sometimes when I was particularly stressed I would think, "I should make more of an effort to write in my journal again." Except...whenever I did that, it became an item on the to-do list. It never became a natural outlet for me again.

And so I've let go. It's not a permanent and dramatic renunciation--"I will never write in a paper journal again!" There's room at the end of the last one. I didn't decide that I had to set myself a goal of filling its pages or anything like that. I can pick it up again if I decide I want to. But right now, where I am and who I am right now, it's not the thing that's working for me. It's not the process I have right now. And that's okay. It was good then, and doing without it is good now, and if it's good again in the future, I'll pick it up again then.

I'm just trying to be careful about doing things because I want to or need to or because they're in some way good or useful, and not because I Always Have Done. I'm trying to be careful about watching my habits to make sure that they're there for a reason and not just for inertia.
mrissa: (getting by)
I am having one of those weeks where I am very carefully enumerating the good things and calling them my precious, because if I don't hold onto them, they slip away kind of quickly with the rest of this week's stuff. And I know lots of you are having one of those weeks, too, so I thought I would tell you one of my good things, and maybe you will tell me one of yours.

I was at the grocery store yesterday, having drawn the "most capable of getting groceries" straw by process of somewhat sad and pathetic elimination, and we had reached the part where M---, one of the baggers I know, was bagging my groceries.

M---: Do you mind if I make the bags kind of heavy? They'll hold a lot, but some people don't want them heavy.
me: Go ahead. I'm strong even when I'm feeling gimpy.
M---: I always thought that about you.
me: Why, thank you, M---!

Seriously, I was touched. This is a thing people almost always underestimate about me, even though I am [livejournal.com profile] sksperry's favorite Valkyrie. I think because I am femme and a nerd? I don't know. But it has been one thing after another, and then my bagger always thought I was strong? Okay. Okay. Yes. I can keep that. Anyway, so M--- kept bagging my groceries in my sturdy cloth bags that I love, and he was not sure he was going to get them into two tubs of bags to go out to the pickup lane.

M---: I don't know, I don't know. Can I do this? I don't know.
me: I believe in you, M---.
M---, looking up from his bagging in surprise and utter sincerity: Thank you!

Maybe M--- was having one of those weeks, too. Maybe he wasn't. He has some challenges in life, and hey, don't we all. But one of his regular customers believes in him, and he always thought she was strong. So hey, that was a ten minutes at the check-stand well spent on both sides.

How about you? What small thing went right for you this week?
mrissa: (tiredy)
In some ways this is a really good week. I got an unspecified really big project out the door and got confirmation that it got where it was going and the person who got it was still interested in getting it, so that is a thing. I finished a new short story and got that sent out and worked on some others that are exciting and fun and shiny and like that. [livejournal.com profile] markgritter gets home tomorrow and should be done with the every-other-week-out schedule, he thinks; [livejournal.com profile] alecaustin also arrives tomorrow, and gets to stay somewhat longer than his previous usual, which ideally will mean more short story work. There have been cool new [livejournal.com profile] timprov photos, and there have been meals with people I like and there are plans for more. I have a peach scone for breakfast in the morning, and the vases in the library and kitchen are full of tulips. (Purple in the library, white in the kitchen.)

And I am doing that thing where I am shoring myself up with reminders of lovely solitary afternoons reading and satisfying work and time with people I love, because I have had two bad falls in the last week, and I am both heartsore and rest-of-me sore. I am so tired of this. So very tired. We are doing what we can, we are doing what we must, but I am just plain exhausted with it, and I hate that what we must includes changing the bandages on my knees repeatedly and having to take computer time in short bits because my neck and arms are seizing up. I hate not being able to lean on elbows and knees because of bruises and scrapes and finding that my back is constantly needing rearranging because of having been banged around a couple of thorough times not to mention the two not-bad times. I put this on Facebook yesterday because Facebook is short and I could deal with short. But then there was a lot of, "Feel better soon!" Which...good idea. Yes. I appreciate this. But livejournal, you people have a bit more context, so while I know you wish that I will feel better soon, I also know that you understand that the feeling better, it is...a process that is complicated at this point.

And not a lot of fun.

But tulips. Peach scones. People coming home, or to my house to visit and eat frittata, or whatever. Yes. There are these things, and new stories with coppery keys and pneumatic tubes and things. And frittata, seriously, this is the best easy thing ever right now. You put the things in the skillet! And you cook some of them! And then you put more things in and you put it in the hot oven and go away! And you come back and there is this proteiny vegetable-full dish for you! Granted it will not feed your vegans. But frittata. We live in a world with frittata. Yay.

The unfortunate part is that Cheryl Wheeler has me singing "frittata" to the Mexican Hat Dance. But when I'm trying not to think of the stupid vertigo, sometimes we take what we can get.
mrissa: (intense)
So. I have just had a lovely squash crepe with a spinach salad on the side, and I am not quite ready to dive back into the story I'm trying to finish. Seems like a reasonable time to recap.

Yesterday was the first day in 16 that I was not Having An Official Rest. There was significant enforced resting before that, too, but I was doing serious, serious rest in that period. No cooking, no errands, no laundry, no chores, no writing, no nothing.

It was extremely good for me in some interesting ways. One of the rules was that I could write down new things (ideas for stories or snippets towards stories I already had) but could not pursue them. After the first two days, that started happening a lot. Not working on old ideas made my brain go, "Oh, not those? Okay, how about this? Or that? Or this other thing here?" And that was extremely good for me, and I think a lot of those ideas are going to be solid and interesting and good.

I also feel a lot less exhausted--I can watch a DVD at 8:00 p.m. and not fall asleep, is the main example I've been giving people for the less-exhausted. Eight hours of sleep in a night is feeling a lot closer to enough, which was my standard before the vertigo started acting up lo those many years ago. Dealing with vertigo is extremely tiring, and I will probably need to take rest periods like this sometimes as long as I am.

What the rest did not do: it did not affect the vertigo. Not even a little bit. If you'd seen me yesterday trying to stand by the kitchen counter to cut an avocado...the swaying really alarmed [livejournal.com profile] timprov, and he's been seeing the vertigo-related stuff for years now.

What this means: things have been getting bad enough again that I will have to go back on a med with significant side effects. I am not thrilled with this, but it helped last time, it will probably help this time, and I'm just not safe like this. The falls, the near-misses...they're not safe. So I need to deal with the side effects.

One of my friends was praising my patience with this today, and it's not that I'm patient. It's that the impatient bits don't do anything. They don't help. So there's not a lot of sense in expressing them, because they don't go anywhere. Makes a lot more sense to talk about books, or that soup I'm trying to figure out how to make, or what hilarious and wonderful thing my godson said last week. But I said I was doing this rest thing, so I figured I should let you know how it went.
mrissa: (tiredy)
I will start out by saying I had a really good time at World Fantasy. I start here because I don't want it to be obscured: I had a really good time. I have good friends, I work with good editors, and my friends have interesting friends and acquaintances. So I had a really good time at World Fantasy.

You knew there was a "but" coming, right?

But. One of the things it did is highlight that I am doing worse than I was earlier this year. If I'm honestly with myself--and you--I will say it's kind of a lot worse. There were four nights of convention, and in three out of the four of them I had such a severe energy crash in the evening that I had to go back to my room and get under the covers and stay there. This happened by 9:00 p.m.; after that, I was completely done for the day. I had to use my cane all day on Sunday. I haven't had to use my cane all day in awhile.

I am so very exhausted. I have been doing stuff to try to get to feeling better, and so far that stuff has not resulted in me feeling better but has resulted in the use of time, money, and energy. In kind of large quantities, in fact.

One of the results of this is that I came home from a major convention and trimmed my friendslist instead of adding to it. I feel bad about this, because I don't actually feel differently about those of you I've removed. None of you screwed up. But I'm having to cut to bone here. I'm doing things like putting a ban on baking until after Thanksgiving. That should tell those of you who have been around and know me how low I am feeling on time and energy. No one has offended or upset me recently; that's not what this is about. It's about trying to carve out some space to breathe. It's about trying to be sensible and rest a bit instead of making myself ill and then having to rest.

It's not going to be enough. I know that. But I'm doing what I can here.

More about WFC when I can. I'm going to go rest and then have the workout I need to have in order to be able to get dinner in me.
mrissa: (Default)
I am not even sure what to say about this week. New stuff, private stuff, other people's private stuff, yet more stuff. And stuff! Data sets: they are kind of hard work even when oneself is the experimental subject.

But! This new book I am working on. It is fun, and it is good for me to be working on a new book.

Also I sent The True Tale of Carter Hall to people who said they were willing to read it, so...that should be off my plate for a bit in favor of the new thing and short stories. Unless the aforementioned volunteers are really really speedy. I didn't do it deliberately so that it would go out on the day the Wild season opened, but on the other hand I have been going around singing the hockey anthem all day long. (ETA: It is not, in fact, Saturday. Oh. So okay then.)

On the other other hand, that's largely because Certain Parties Who Shall Remain [livejournal.com profile] timprov had "The Guitar" playing on their computer when I went downstairs to say good morning, and I am trying desperately to get it out of my head get it out get it ouuuuuut.
mrissa: (mrischief)
So one of the things that's been going on here recently is that I was trying to figure out how to be able to make my good singing and my audible singing more...um...the same. Because I was not having a lot of success with [livejournal.com profile] timprov being able to hear me over the guitar, for one thing. I have talked before about how I do participatory music but not performance music, but that's a thing that affects participatory music. It doesn't have to be a big performance.

When I mentioned to [livejournal.com profile] timprov that this was something I was trying to figure out, he took me through a few things that were incredibly simple and worked. So yay for success! We have done a few things lately like having me sing a song for him while he tried to figure out the chords for it, since he can both play the chords and hear the notes now.

But it was sad to me because I realized that I had been actively taught wrong. Not just not actively taught right, but some of the things that my old church choir director, who was a very dear person, had explicitly taught us with teaching songs I can reproduce to this very day...were wrong. Were directly, exactly, the opposite of what you want to do when you're singing to get a good pure tone with volume control. What I was taught to do with my head and neck while singing was just exactly opposite. And now that I know it, I can look at footage of singers and go, "Uh, yah. They are all doing the opposite of what she taught us to."

Several of my experiences with this sort of thing were things I was aware of at the time and resented. I was, for example, taught that the Germans sunk the Lithuania, and that the Pentagon was on the Acropolis. I was taught that all electron shells after the first one contain eight electrons. And I fussed and fumed and fulminated against the teachers who taught me these things. But with this choir director...I'm just sad. I have fond memories of her. I can't dislike her. And yet she taught me a thing that has made an activity I enjoy more difficult than it had to be, with worse results, for literally thirty years, and I am only 33. I don't really know what to do about that except to be sad and baffled.
mrissa: (Default)
So hi. I haven't been posting much lately because I have either a) been doing other things or b) been collapsing after the doing of other things. And sometimes we get too much into "Let me esplain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up," mode around here. So here I am, summing up. state of the Mris, including concerts and vertigo report and who knows what else I'll get to )
mrissa: (intense)
Last week on e-mail one of my best friends asked how I am. Not, "Howwer yewwwwwww?" as in, "Fine howwer yewwwwww?" But really asking. The kind of question from the kind of friend where it deserves a genuine answer.

I was on the computer when the e-mail arrived, and I was not in the middle of something else, and he was still on, and I hadn't talked to him in awhile, and I thought, "I'll write right back."

I sat there for 45 minutes.

It's me, so I didn't just sit there. I paid the electric bill, and I went down and made some more ginger tea, on which my life depends these days, and I put away the earrings that had accumulated above my keyboard as earrings do accumulate above my keyboard, and I did lo these many other small tasks, and after each small task, I took a breath and looked at the e-mail I had open with, "> How are you?" ready to go.

I eventually decided on, "Complicated." When I told [livejournal.com profile] timprov about this, before I got to, "Complicated," he suggested, "Variable," which is also true and has the advantage that there is such a thing as a variable star, which overcame my unfondness of the word in early grade school for when people misused it in equations when it was not, in fact, variable in a particular equation, but merely unknown. Eventually I got into some of the ups and downs that comprise complicated: effects and side effects, real and fictional social thises and thats, do-loops and modes of coping.

It's much easier to dive right in with one anecdote than to try to say how you are, is I think the moral of the story, and my one anecdote is that right now it takes me 45 minutes to come up with an approximate answer to how I am. So.

More Carter Hall stuff next time, then.
mrissa: (getting by)
I have alluded previously to the fact that we are trying a different treatment for This Stupid Vertigo Nonsense.

I guess what I want to say here is that it is being kind of hard right now, and if I don't get back to you in a timely fashion about something or if I don't pick up on cues you would usually expect me to, please note that my processor power is going to fighting nausea and discomfort a lot at the moment, and pain somewhat. I had gotten to the point in dealing with the vertigo where I was fairly familiar with what it was throwing at me. It was by no means easy or convenient, but it was familiar. This is some new stuff and not as familiar. (The nausea is not new. But the levels of it are new.) It's physically and emotionally wearing. I'm finding it harder to keep up with stuff. I'm finding it harder to let myself make minor mistakes. I'm appreciating gentleness from people when you-all can spare it.

If you're wondering whether I've described the new treatment in detail and you've missed it, the answer is that I haven't. There is only so much in the way of Helpful Suggestion I can deal with at the moment, and one of the ways I'm limiting that is by limiting the amount of detail I'm putting out there. Also, and quite frankly, I am really bored of talking about it. You can only repeat, "This is what we're trying and how it's working and NO that isn't a good option for me and YES we've thought of that and YES we tried that already and NO it didn't work and YES that other thing is still on the list but it's further down the list than what we're doing now for the following reasons so maybe in July if this isn't working by then and thank you but that doesn't apply to me at all and NO that's something else entirely" so many times while trying to get your head and your hands to stop hurting before you break down and Do Something Drastic.

There are things I can do now that I couldn't do two months ago, and on the other hand there are things that are much harder than they were two months ago. So. We are, to take a page from Real Genius, cha-cha'ing.

On Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] porphyrin said, "Bad day?", and I took breath to start minimizing, and then I stopped and took another breath and said, "Yes." Because I realized that she wasn't asking, "Can you find absolutely nothing redeeming about this day? Are you slagging on all the nice things that have happened today? Do you have no appreciation whatsoever for the pleasant breakfast conversation you and [livejournal.com profile] timprov had in the early morning, the quiet midmorning you had, and the lovely date you and [livejournal.com profile] markgritter had at the Count Basie Orchestra concert in the afternoon? Are you, in fact, completely insensible to the pleasures of your substantially pleasant life?" No. She was asking, "Friend whom I love, is today physically difficult?" And it was. It really was. And it was okay for me to say so.
mrissa: (Default)
If you've noticed that I haven't been posting to lj much lately, you may have thought that the vertigo was bad, or that I might have been sick, or that I might have been busy with other things, or that I might have been writing a lot of fiction. And in fact any of you who thought any of those things wins the prize: I have been sick, the vertigo has been bad, I've been busy with other things (most of them either fun or long-term satisfying and a fairly large number both), and I've gotten a lot of writing done.

But that's not what I want to talk about today. Maybe later.

No, it's this: I have some new favorite fake swears.

I love fake swears. It's not that I give up real swears for them. And I don't mean euphemisms. When somebody says, "Oh, fu-uummmmm, fudge. Fudge, yes. That is what I meant to say. Fudge. Also shoot," no one is fooled, except possibly the small child who is meant to avoid learning the word in question until it has enough discretion to choose when to use it and when not. No, I mean fake swears like "Oh for the love of Pete!", where it was not intended to come out as something else but there isn't anything particular about the love of Pete that might fit a frustrating situation. I love those. When I'm frustrated or disgusted and say, "Oh, for the love of Pete!", I often giggle and feel better.

My two new favorites that I wanted to tell you about are chicken dishes and flax waffle. [livejournal.com profile] the_overqual designed a museum display with some chicken dishes, and he posted to FB about it, and it sounded so frustrated even though he didn't sound frustrated. Chicken dishes. Oh, chicken dishes! I have burnt my tongue on overly-hot cocoa! Chicken dishes! I didn't order tickets in time to see that concert, and it's all sold out! Chicken dishes!

Flax waffle is new today, because I was thinking about what I would have for dinner if [livejournal.com profile] timprov is not up and at-'em enough to have a real dinner with me, and we have flax waffles in the freezer, and they're not too bad, could be worse. No good with grape jelly, but never mind, one can't have everything, at least not in a waffle. And then I thought, wow, that's a great sound for an insult. Dude, don't be such a flax waffle. I was going to ask him, but he was being such a flax waffle that I didn't want to bring it up. Look, I'm sorry if I was kind of a flax waffle about this; I'll really try to keep it together more in the future.

I don't know, I just like them.

Edited to add: And then I forgot to mention one of my favorite old ones, which is from Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books. This came up when someone was unjust to a dear friend: that person can Go Way Back and Sit Down. I like this because it isn't ill-wishing, and it's too specific to be a euphemism for "go to hell." It's not like going to Hartford, Hereford, or Hampshire. It's its own thing: go way back and sit down. Do not forget to sit down when you get there. Yes.
mrissa: (Default)
I'm breathing much better. My speaking voice is strong again, and my singing voice is getting there--missing some of the upper register still. When I wake up in the morning I'm able to do stuff rather than feeling really run-down right away.

The feeling really run-down waits until afternoon to kick in.

So as a result of that, and also as a result of trying to do some time-sensitive stuff quick, before time runs out, I am behind on e-mail and behind on my to-do list. If I owe you e-mail, it's not you, it's me. If I don't comment on an lj post or come to a large group social event or whatever, it's not you, it's me. We're doing pretty okay around here. We're just really tired and trying not to start another round of sick and trying to keep on top of the stuff that absolutely must be kept on top of. Which is a weird mix of productivity and tea-drinking.
mrissa: (Default)
We overdid in November, with house guests and such, and I've switched up my PT as scheduled this last week. Between those two things, my butt: it is kicked. The PT change has been neither as great as one might hope nor as bad as one might fear. I believe it represents progress. But not the kind of progress that lets me skip ahead to Park Place and build three hotels. In fact I am still doing remarkably little skipping.

Also, I am trying to let Carter have his head a bit, but between Carter and my subconscious, some things are coming out wrong. "If you're some kind of desert spirit, you should act like some kind of desert spirit, that's what I say," is what I meant. What I typed was about dessert spirits.

I mean, we have ice wine in the fridge, but I don't think it's strong enough to qualify.

I'm just sayin'.
mrissa: (Default)
I am unduly relieved to find that I scheduled my doctor's appointment for a time that just flat-out would not work and had to reschedule it for the first week of November. It's not that there was anything particularly off-putting about this trip to the doctor, it's just that it was one more thing at a time when I really need no more things. (Of course, putting it off does increase the likelihood that it will be one more thing then. But it looks more cope-able at that time, from where I sit now. No impending foreign visitors. No likelihood that my suitcase will still be only half unpacked. Etc.)

The gutter cleaners also called to reschedule, as for some reason they did not want to be cleaning our gutters in the middle of Wintry Mix. Go figure. I don't even like Wintry Mix, and I love cold fall rain and I love snow. But not Wintry Mix. Anyway their rescheduling was a neutral in terms of Stuff, and there will still be clean gutters when Johan gets here, which I'm sure is a priority for him to report back to the rest of the family in Sweden. ("Wall," he will say, "the soup was lovely, and she has family things around the house and the linen runner we sent on her piano, but the biggest relief is that the gutters were clean." Isn't that what you say after a visit? I thought so.)

Also yesterday the basement fella rescheduled because his kid was sick, but she's better today, so he's back making that patch of basement into a Real Live Bathroom. Which is good, because that's why we've given him sums of money and will give him more in a bit.

It's not a woe is me time. It's a whoa is me time, though. Whoa. Stuff. And other stuff.

Soon I will be excited about everything else I figured out needs to go in The True Tale of Carter Hall, and it will be fun to put it there, but right now it is making me eep in quiet little overwhelmed eeps. (Eep.)

Onwards.
mrissa: (mrischief)
It's autumn here: the light has shifted. The temperature has not, really: August was unseasonably cool, so we're getting a September that's within parameters but not particularly different from August. However, the light has shifted enough that I want to grab a coat every time I go somewhere. That's not yet necessary.

A lot of people think winter is my favorite season, but actually it's fall. I always love it here in Minnesota, but fall is when I most want to be here. This year I'm only missing one weekend of Minnesota fall, and for that I'm going to Michigan, which is at least climatically similar. I will be spending Convivial weekend sleeping in a hotel, eating meals away from home, and hanging out having low key conversations about fiction and life with geeky people, possibly while other geeky people play games in a nearby room. But this year I'm doing it as a Gritter family gathering rather than a convention: our new niece Lily Jane will be baptized that weekend, which in this family's religious tradition is only likely to happen once, or at least a very small number of times. So that's our priority this year, and I will hope there's a fallcon again next year. Other people in my immediate vicinity are making a bunch of other trips out of my immediate vicinity in October, and we're getting a visit from Our Favorite Swede (no offense, [livejournal.com profile] akirlu). Johan wanted to come for Grandpa's memorial service, but it was too soon for him to be able to get humane airfares, so he has settled for coming to spend a week with us now, not to play tourist, just to spend time and tell stories about Grandpa and be together. This will be good.

We often see and do things and notice how much Grandpa would like them. Grandma said he would have loved our new car, for example, because it is a nice car but mostly because it is blue. (How Grandpa Was Like [livejournal.com profile] papersky is a longer list than you might think, actually.) Sometimes we also provide What Grandpa Would Have Said To The Baseball Game or other Grandpa Soundtracks. Then we laugh together, or just smile, depending. We still miss him dreadfully. Of course we do. Always will.

In sort of celebration of the season, I'm making rye buns and beef stew for dinner. I didn't completely stop baking bread for the summer, but I did less of it, like ya do, and now it's not summer any more and everybody likes rye buns. I always think I could halve the batch, but then there would be fewer rye buns, so I never do. This time I called Grandma to see if she wants me to save some for Saturday's dinner (if I pop them in the freezer that long, they won't freezer burn but will be fresher). She does. There's a surprise, Scandosotans accepting an offer of rye bread.

I'm still in that mode where a lot of what I do socially is either with family (which by no means implies that I'm seeing enough of my family) or in the very small number of things I do that repeat pretty regularly. The other category that gets some play is "events that will happen with or without me": it's a lot easier for me to say, "We will sure try to make it to that if I'm feeling good enough," for a party where we're not the only invited guests than for a dinner plan where if we don't make it, there is no plan. And I'm still having great difficulty contacting people and saying, "Can we get together? How about you do all the work?", not because I think you lot wouldn't do it, just because it's hard. (Also because tacking on, "Oh, and I'm only potentially free two days in the next N, where N is a large number, and that had better be a fine time for you to do all the work, or else forget it," does not seem all that appealing.)

I'm not having any really thoroughly physically good days yet, but I'm getting a few good hours in a chunk once a week. I have been being careful about saying this because it is really, really frustrating when I'm trying to be happy with a few hours a week and people come crashing in and, out of caring for me and wanting me to do better, either assume that I'm doing far better than I am, or else commiserate with me about something I'm feeling pretty good about. But it's persisted for long enough that I feel like I can say it here: four hours of feeling decent, once every six days, for almost a month now. Tentative cheers encouraged.

My brain is doing bits and pieces of short fiction and gathering itself for the final push through The True Tale of Carter Hall. The puck drops on the Wild season October 3. I have hopes that it will do so in my brain as well, because I feel almost ready to work on something large again. We'll see.
mrissa: (grandpa)
I have had opportunity to notice, in the last several months, that grief comes in different layers, sort of strata if you will, and that as [livejournal.com profile] dhole can tell you from a different perspective, the layers don't really settle into flat, perfectly even planes that can be lifted out neat and whole.

On one front: I find that we are much more comfortable speaking of what Grandpa would have liked, what would please him, what would honor his memory. We did so all along, but now it can be casual, conversational, unfraught. And that seems like a really good step to me, that good things that remind us of Grandpa aren't making us swallow hard every time.

And I'm feeling like I can deal with the world a bit more again after Uncle Rudy's death, so that's good. Useful like. I am nowhere near done with this. That should be obvious to anyone who has ever lost anyone. But the idea of calling the plumber, for example, does not seem like more than I can handle. I am no longer in one foot in front of the other mode for the time being, and that's good.

On the other hand, there was a photo on the front page of the Strib today where a protester was holding up a sign reading, "I will not discuss my end-of-life options with anyone." And I looked at it and had this wave of rage, and I said aloud, "You selfish, worthless piece of shit." Which is maybe not the most proportional response a person has ever had to the newspaper.

See, one of the gifts my grandpa gave us on his way out was that we knew his wishes. We knew his priorities, we knew what he wanted and under what circumstances. We had all the pain of losing him. He made sure we didn't have to add the pain of uncertainty about his wishes to that. Because he discussed all that with us. And the idea that this is a matter for aligning oneself with one political party or another is just such filthy garbage, and so likely to bring pain to people just when they can't deal with more pain.

You don't have to like the President's health care ideas; you don't have to prefer them to what we have now. Heaven knows my grandfather probably wouldn't have. But to try to convince people that discussing end-of-life care is the same thing as suicide or euthanasia is WRONG. When you discuss your end-of-life options with your loved ones and your doctors, one of the things you can tell them is, "I want you to keep me twitching for as long as possible. If you can force air in and out of my lungs, do it. By any means necessary, up until the very end. Absolutely to the limits of medical science." And then, if that's what you want, the people who love you will know. And you can talk about how important it is to you to be clear-headed vs. pain-free, if that's a tradeoff you find yourself having to make, and you can go through all of the other very personal, no-single-right-answer sort of questions.

Look. Many people want to check the box reading, "No end for me, thanks, I'll just keep going robust and healthy indefinitely," on the end-of-life checklist. It turns out that is not an option you can responsibly expect to have, and it is not an option you can responsibly expect your friends and family to have on your behalf. President Obama didn't make you mortal. You came that way. And one of the many gifts my grandfather gave us was facing that with peace and dignity and love and humor. Argue about how things should be funded and by whom and under what circumstance; that's fine. But don't try to act as though there are only hard decisions to make at the end of a person's life if one political side in one debate in one country wins out, because that is not the world we live in.

I would believe all that even if the grief wasn't fresh. I just wouldn't necessarily want to track down that one particular person from the Strib photo and take them by the shoulders and shake them until their teeth rattled. (Oh, Ms. Alcott, you have so much to answer for regarding rattling teeth.)

The other thing--now that I have brought up one of the most controversial political issues of the day, wheee--is that I am feeling extremely conflict-averse. Even invited levels of discussion that have remained totally civil are making me nervous right now. I recognize that this is irrational, and I don't want to refrain from conversation or only converse as long as everyone sings the Gilbert and Sullivan song about how I am right and you are right and all is right as right can be. But for a variety of reasons most of which are not mine to go into and most of which are not about me directly, I'm feeling pretty shaky about it right now.

Another thing is that I have decided that there are limits to my reading of my grandpa's books. Specifically, if I read several books in a series and am not finding anything to like in that series, I don't have to read all the rest. I don't have to do this at all--I didn't promise Grandpa or anyone else. But I want to, bit by bit, and some of the books are good, and others are interesting in different ways. I just need to set some limits for myself on this, and that's one of them, and I think that's okay.

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