mrissa: (Default)

After the debacle that has been several years of World Fantasy Con, Mary Robinette Kowal has posted a convention accessibility pledge. It’s worth a look; it’s worth thinking and talking about. I specifically want to highlight something that I know Mary and the other people who have been talking about this pledge agree with: that the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a starting point for convention accessibility, not the be-all and end-all. Not everyone will want to sign this pledge for a number of reasons, but taking part in the conversation and advocating for accessibility is important for all of us regardless of what form it takes.

Accessibility is an ongoing conversation in part because it never takes part on just one axis. Something that makes a convention more accessible for people with one kind of limited mobility won’t help people with another kind; mobility accessibility won’t help people with hearing limitations; and so on. We understand more about neurodiversity than we did twenty years ago, or even ten, but our understanding is still imperfect.

It’s been disheartening to watch people get defensive on these issues, to see comments that amount to “I’ve tried hard and been a good person and that should be enough”–especially since “trying hard” often applies to completely different fields of endeavor: you can try very hard to have an allergen-friendly green room, and that’s wonderful, and it doesn’t do anything for wheelchair access to panels.

The post I intended to write, before this came up, was about unhelpful reactions to other people’s medical situations–thankfully not mine, no one’s in my house. I have watched people play “guess the random diagnosis” for a friend who was having enough trouble without having their random friends with no medical expertise whatsoever pelt them with guesses for diagnosis and treatment. I have listened to stories of misrecorded personal details that could have serious impact on future care. I have heard reports of care costs that were supposed to be covered by insurance and were not, to the tune of four figures–or that were covered by insurance, and were still four figures. So the main thing I wanted to say was, “Never start talking about someone else’s medical care with, ‘you should just…’ because it’s almost never ‘just.'”

And this ties back in with convention accessibility, because if you’re dealing with health problems and/or disability. Even if they’re short-term–even if you’re “just” broken your leg and “only” have to get around on crutches for weeks. You are already wrestling with a labyrinthine system that is draining your time and energy in addition to the health problem that is draining your time and energy. And then you turn to your leisure activities to relax, and you’re the one who has to put in more and more time and energy to make them baseline functional. If the conrunners don’t do it in advance, it’s the people who are already having problems in the first place (this is a known pattern across other concerns) who have to put in more time and energy that they already have depleted.

I had a miniature hissy fit while doing some revisions on Itasca Peterson, Wendigo Hunter. I was adding supporting characters, and I noticed that everyone in the book was apparently able-bodied. And I had a miniature meltdown in the privacy of my office, going, “I have to deal with disability crap both first-hand and second-hand every day. Literally every. Day. Why can’t some able-bodied person who lives only with able-bodied people be the one to notice and deal with it in their children’s book?” I am not proud of this hissy fit, and when I had finished with my meltdown, I pulled up my socks and gave one of the kickass college students Itasca looks up to a kickass walker that is painted with cool designs. Which is not the ne plus ultra of disability in children’s books, so hey, any able-bodied person who lives only with able-bodied people who wants to notice and deal, feel free. But it circles back again: the people who have to deal with this stuff, statistically, will be the ones who deal with this stuff.

So if that’s not you, one way or another…think about changing the trend somehow? Thanks.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

There is a blog I like to read that tells funny stories, personal stories, about the blogger’s own life, but about every third entry the blogger does something that makes me wince on her behalf. Before the main subject of the post, she goes into Sad Godzilla Mode, stomping all over her own internal Tokyo with her mascara running, thrashing around destroying the buildings and roaring, “Not perfect! not perfect!” before she can start telling the story she wants to tell. She covers the blog post with disclaimers about how she doesn’t have a perfect life–quite often adding, “not like those bloggers you see” and then a list of the attributes of Perfect Life Bloggers.

And the thing about perfectionists–I know because I am one, and I used to be even more of one–is that telling her, hey, you don’t have to do that, it’s better when you don’t do that will just make her more self-conscious, not actually make her feel better about herself. There is no way to frame this as a far-outsider that will make her feel like she doesn’t have to be perfect. She has to come to that idea on her own, because anybody else introducing it–at least from as far outside her life as I am–will sound like “we have already realized that you suck, and here is another way that you suck: you write your blog posts badly,” not like, “hey, perfection is not a thing that exists in humans, so let’s move on without the disclaimers and hear about where your kid put the peanut butter; that’s what we’re all here for.” I would love to say, “No one reads a blog post and thinks, ‘that person is perfect, their life is perfect,'” but in fact this blogger’s comments are proof that some people do cherish that illusion about others, and flagellate themselves with it. It’s just…most of the rest of us don’t. Most of the rest of us get it. We’re all just doing the best we can, and hey, today the dog was cuddly because she got a haircut and the weather turned, woo. Or today something funny happened in the Ikea elevator when I was there to have lunch with my aunt and uncle. Or whatever. Onwards with today. That is what we’re all doing, glossy photos or not. We are all doing the onwards with today thing.

This is actually why I have started trying to avoid the opportunities to tell my favorite new college student How To College. She will college just fine. She will screw some things up, not because there is something wrong with her but because we all screw things up, and she is in a time in her life when everyone is telling her How To College, as a subset of everyone telling her How To Her. And so when she asks for my thoughts because I actually know something she wants to hear, okay, but otherwise, I am trying to mention thoughts like, hey, I love you and I believe in you, and otherwise thoughts like, I thought this picture Tim took was cool. Here is a video link I liked. Etc. In Hard to Change, Meg Hutchinson sings the line, “don’t wanna make the same mistakes that my parents did,” and once in concert she talked about how her father called her to say, don’t worry, honey, you’ll make your own mistakes. And I think that can be hard from the older side, thinking, well, I’ve made these mistakes, I should be able to stop my younger friends, my children or grandchildren or nieces or nephews or godchildren or whoever, from making them. But there’s a line between the sensible teaching and the overadvising, and the overadvising just feeds into the Sad Godzilla that lives inside many of us. I don’t want my favorite new college student to spend her first year at college feeding Sad Godzilla. I don’t want to be a force in her life pushing her towards thinking about what she’s doing that’s not perfect. I want to be a force in her life encouraging her to think about what she thinks is awesome.

This week I started a class in Scandinavian Woodcarving. I knew I would not be perfect at it. If I was aiming for perfect, I would never have taken it, because I was guaranteed to start out vastly, vastly imperfect. As it turned out, I started out even more imperfect than I had hoped, requiring five stitches, so we’ll see if the vertigo meds induce too much neuropathy for me to do this or if I can work around it. But it’s the sort of thing that can’t arise if the question is, “What would my life have in it to be more perfect?” The question has to be, “What might be awesome? Can we try that and see?” And then iterate. Get better or try something else, or both. Not perfect. Not perfect. Yes. Dreams don’t come in perfect. Let’s hear about what might find room for awesome after Sad Godzilla is done with the flattening.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (getting by)

I usually do a mid-month book post, but I have been so sick the last several days that I am just now sitting up in 15-20 minute increments instead of 5-10. (Let’s not talk about standing up. Whoever came up with this whole “standing up” idea is a jerk. And pointy food: why is all good food pointy? Argh.)

So! For June, I will do a whole-month book post at the end instead of two for halfway, and meanwhile I will go sprawl on the guest bed with good pillows and reread things and not infect anybody and drink water and continue trying to convalesce in time for Fourth Street.

I am usually crap at this convalescing wisely thing, but I am being handed a complete lack of choice here.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (getting by)

I have been trying to find a way to say this that will not make the wrong people–which is really pretty much anyone–feel like I am guilt-tripping them.

I am pretty short of social/chatty email these days except for a very small number of the most usual suspects. While things may have turned a corner in terms of getting adjusted to this med, I am still not to the point where things are what one might call “good” or more to the point “highly functional and able to do things like drive and arrange for social outings and stuff.” So if you are a friend of mine and find that you have the time/energy for social/chatty email, that would be a good and useful thing to do. I would appreciate it.

This is the sort of request that is very hard to phrase for two reasons. The first is that I really, really do not want to nag or guilt-trip. Really. The second is that when you ask something like this and then do not get it, that is not always easy. And I have had the “I would like to hear from you more”/”yes I could do that” conversation with a couple of friends in the past and then not heard from them more, like, at all, and that was with individuals who knew that I was talking to them specifically and personally; a more general request is deliberately not meant to be a burden on anyone (anyone! really!) and yet leaves open the possibility that everyone will be unable to do an email blathering about what they read or what they are thinking about ancient Greek wind instruments or what line of paint color names they have thought of next, and will hope that someone else will take their turn at being helpful.

Still. Things have gotten enough better that I can say that this is a thing that might help make this next bit a little less rough. So I am saying.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (writing everywhere)

I’m still working on revisions. I have two kinds of writing process. This kind is cooking. The other kind is gardening.

When I’m cooking, I have one project that I am working on, and I will work on it until it is done, and most of the work (vast majority) I am doing goes towards it. I will still sometimes open a file and write notes or even sometimes complete scenes on another project, so that I don’t lose those ideas (/complete scenes). Sometimes when I’m working on a novel, I write short stories in the middle of it. The longer it takes to write a novel, the more likely it is that I’ll write short stories in the middle of it. The longer it takes to write a particular short story, the more likely it is that I’ll write another short story in the middle of it. Or a novel. Things happen. But when I’m cooking, I might do bits of side project–I might finish chopping the rest of the broccoli that I’m not using in this particular stir-fry, so that it’s ready next time I want broccoli–but I’m not going to start cutting things up for stir-fry and suddenly find that I have chopped everything in the kitchen. Cooking is about knowing the task and working steadily towards the end of the task, which is the meal. Yum.

When I’m gardening, I’m not writing any less, but it’s less focused. I will write a thousand words on one idea and a thousand words on another. Sometimes less–sometimes it’ll be 500 words on a project, or 200. For some people this is a really bad sign. It means that you’re completely unfocused, that you will never get stuff done, that you’re just noodling around with things and enjoying the idea of being a writer without ever finishing anything. At this point I think I can stop worrying about that. I have the assurance from long experience that while some stories never reach the point where they get finished, many to most of the stories that I work on this way do. Most of the stuff I work on in “gardening” mode gets to the point where it’s ready to be “cooked”–it reaches a critical mass where I’m ready to just work on it until it’s done. So it’s not actually something I should feel bad about. It’s not pointless, it’s practice. It’s weeding, tending the soil, picking off aphids. Keeping the whole garden growing.

The weird thing about how I’ve been writing lately–other than the fact that it’s been a lot for months now–is that I haven’t been having to tell myself not to stress about what comes next. That’s…totally unlike me. It’s totally unlike me in general, and it’s not like I am going through a period of less stressing/fussing just now in particular. (Hahahaha no. Seriously, um, no. Nearly everyone who has vertigo ends up with at least some degree of anxiety, and I’ll tell you why. Because it is somewhere on the spectrum from stressful to producing of clinical anxiety to not have a reliable sense of the vertical and to fall over and stuff. Seriously, just on a physical level: your body wants a vertical. And to not fall over, and to not throw up, and stuff. Your body has opinions on that stuff. If you haven’t had vertigo problems, your body might not have made them known. But trust me, they’re there.)

So anyway: it’s not like I’ve generally become a more laid-back, chill person. I’m just…feeling like, yep, there will be a thing that I write next, and nope, I don’t have to be absolutely certain whether it’s Wielding the Stars or King of Flowers, King of the Sea or The Winter Wars or something else on the list or something I think up tomorrow in the shower. A few years back I was asking people to remind me that I didn’t have to figure out what book to write next, and apparently that’s become an automatic function for the time being. Which: cool, okay, plenty else to worry about, thanks, brain. The part of me that can’t resist poking things with a stick is kind of going, “But…why are we…?” But never mind, that part! We’re fine. We will write something else next. It’ll be fun. So okay then.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (helpful nudge)

I have a very short to-do list this week, because nearly everything on my to-do list is large. I’ve handled the birthday present shopping and the letter writing and most of the errands and calls to get things fixed and thises and thats, or else I’ve put them off to next week.

So basically there is a flowchart with two questions on it, each with two outcomes. 1. Do I have a glass of water readily to hand? If not, get one. (This is not about some nonsense someone came up with about an abstract number of glasses of water everybody should supposedly drink every day. This is about the med I personally am on, which turns people into raisins. Seriously, this stuff makes you turn your head around and drink from the shower, because the length of time to wash and condition long hair is too long to go without water really.)

2. Do I feel good enough to work on book revisions? If so, do so. If not, go curl up on the couch with someone else’s book.

Seriously, that’s…pretty much the list. I have a couple of stories to work on also. But I have the revision letter from my insightful agent, and I don’t have a lot else on the list for the week, and (possibly not coincidentally) I’m not up for a lot either, so…it’s sort of a pure feeling, when it comes right down to it. Everything is very straightforward. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. No, that’s something else. Drink the water, pet the dog, revise the book. Yes. That’s the one.

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: (ohhh.)
So yesterday I went and had my first glassblowing experience.

It had initially come with this immensely complicated plan, wherein [ profile] timprov would come with me and take pictures if he saw opportunities for good ones, and [ profile] markgritter would drive up and meet us when he was done with work, and we would all meet up with some other friends for dinner. None of that happened. It would not have worked in the slightest. [ profile] timprov taking pictures would have been okay if he saw opportunities--I never know, part of the reason I enjoy his photography is that I don't try to dictate his eye--but the bits that involved trying to coordinate stuff after or me going places or eating things after--that would totally not have worked, so I'm glad it all fell through. Because I had basically enough Mris left to get home and decompress and...yeah. Focus adrenaline wow. Stuff. Stuff.

There is all kinds of stuff about glassblowing that is so not clear from observing it. The form of this thing was that the guy teaching me did a paperweight while telling me what he was doing at each step, and then I did one with him assisting me, reminding me if I'd forgotten anything, there to jump in and smack me if I started to do anything abjectly stupid, etc. (No smacking needed. But y'know.) And there were things that seemed like they would be clear from being four inches away that were not.

One of the things--he estimated that the furnace with the molten glass in it was at 2400 F (about 1300 for those of you playing along in the Celsius version of the home game) and the one we used to heat up the glass when it was cooling down was at 2000 F (more like 1100 C). And if you had asked me, I would have told you that those temperatures had differences in physical effects, in which things annealed or etc., but that in terms of human experience, they were roughly the same temperature, that is to say, Really Damn Hot.

And no. Seriously no. The one was Really Damn Hot But Copable. The other was Seriously Frightening Hot. Brace Yourself And Give Yourself A Pep Talk Hot. The difference between standing four inches away from the person who is dipping the metal rod into glass that is that kind of hot and being the person who is doing it really matters quite a bit, it turns out. My instructor, when he was doing the stage where he was doing stuff and telling me what, was overtly and vocally quite relieved to be dealing with a former physicist, so that he knew he could just say things like "angular momentum" and be fine, he didn't have to gauge my knowledge there. And I said, "Well, we'll see if I can actually put that into action," and he said, "But everybody has that problem. So now there's just one problem instead of two problems." Fair enough.

Do you know what tool you use to shape a glass paperweight into the pleasant roundness that it has? Folded over wet newspaper. And your hand. Without gloves. Just your hand. That part? That was my favorite part. That part was seriously awesome. I also liked the bit where I got to use shears and jacks and things to just mess with the glass I'd just colored, to make the swirly bit that would soon go in the middle. But the bit where you say, okay, now I will do this with my hand and a pad of newspaper, oop, better wet down the newspaper. And there are sparks flying onto your shirt because you are shaping molten glass with your hand and some wet newspaper. That was pretty cool.

One of the really hard things is that all of my safety instincts from years of vertigo say that anything even remotely dangerous should be pointed downwards. Molten glass flows. Molten glass is not any safer pointed downwards, and it's not good for the shape of it. So that's a thing I will have to see if I can cope with, or else...not, I guess. But it was a thing the instructor helped me with yesterday, and my paperweight--we'll see when I pick it up--it was still annealing when I left, had to anneal for many hours. But I think it turned out all right for a beginner piece.

I will not be doing this again soon. It took a lot out of me. I have stuff on the calendar for tomorrow, but if it was stuff for which I needed to do much other than sit under a blanket on the couch, it would be getting canceled. Last night when I was still letting the adrenaline wear off, I wrote that I thought it was mostly adrenaline really, not really energy use. And that was wildly optimistic. I am whumped. But. It was a thing I did, and I liked it, and I think I will do it again. Just not soon or often. It was never going to be soon or often. The question was whether it was going to be at all. I think maybe it will be at all. I think yes.

The mobility disability stuff my aunt mentioned is not a thing they apparently do often. I am now on their mailing list, so if they decide to do it again, I will jump at that chance. Otherwise I will have to figure out times when I can block out time and, more to the point, want to block out time, for just a little. And as I said: maybe not soon or often, but I think yes. They teach you to do amphorae, you see. Cones and bowls and cylinders and paperweights, all early on, but also in the early on things: amphorae. Hee. They would. If I was having not too much of dizzy days and gave them money and found enough energy and showed up. They would help me learn to make a glass amphora, and it would be mine that I made. Not this year. But some year. It would maybe be clear or maybe have some blue in it, I am not sure. But it would be my amphora that I dipped into the fiery furnace and made, like this ball will be my ball. And I cannot fully explain why that is a thing. Cones and cylinders are fine. But bowls and amphorae. Um. Well, we all have things we can't explain.

So take that, universe.
mrissa: (japanese garden with amber)
I remember being a tiny kid and being fascinated with glassblowing. My parents and grands did "normal American" vacations like Disneyland and Mt. Rushmore (I had to stop and think and edit that to make it actually normal, honestly), but we also did all kinds of total nerd vacations that were, frankly, way better. And this had results like me sitting in the back seat of a Buick cutting out paper doll replicas of Colonial American fashions when I was 5 (I still love that dark green overdress) and watching glassblowing demonstrations and going, "Oooh...I want to do that." I don't know how old I was when I fixated on the glassblowing. I definitely remember being pretty thoroughly caught by 8 or 9, but it might well have been before that.

And when I was 8 or 9, my dad told me not to worry--and it might still have been true at the time, and it was certainly true when my dad was in college--that when I got to college and took chem courses, I would automatically get taught glassblowing, at least the lab basics, and then I could figure out if I liked it and wanted to do the art part more as a hobby. It would be part of the lab sequence pretty early on, so I wouldn't even have to be a chem major, I'd just have to take some chem classes, which was a pretty safe assumption, we agreed. This course description was true for him. By the time I got to college, it was not at all true. Not only was it not early in the lab sequence, it wasn't available at all. Not to senior majors. Not to anybody. No glassblowing. Nor was my college atypical in this.

Fie, I said, but I had a lot going on, so I kept yearning silently and petting glass when it was not socially unacceptable to do so. And then I got out of college and still had a lot going on.

And then when we were no longer graduate students and maybe started to get ourselves together and could start to think of it, the vertigo struck. And I said all sorts of other words than fie. Because: hot molten glass, vertigo, what could possibly go wrong with that? So I thought, yah, I had better get this vertigo thing under control before I think about even looking for where I might start doing a beginner class in this glassblowing thing! Because really! I mean! What kind of a fool! Etc.! And so I didn't even talk about it much really. Because again: really! I mean! What kind of a fool! Etc.! The other night I was out for coffee with a friend who was talking about someone doing something implausible, and I blurted out, "Yes, and I'm going to dance with the Ballet Russe," and it felt about like that. After the Ballet Russe I'll take up glassblowing.

Except I actually wanted the glassblowing. Not as a career. Just, y'know. People are allowed to have hobbies. (Seriously, fellow writers! Sometimes this comes as news to us because writing starts kind of like that for a lot of people with day jobs and then is so not like that. But hobbies. People are.)

Fast forward to the present. Where: this vertigo thing. Is it under control? Ha ha ha, she laughed hollowly, like fun it is. ("Ohhhh," say several of you sadly, who were hoping that this was that triumphant post. No. It is not that triumphant post. It is a different triumphant post.)

Except...I don't really like that mode where there's a thing you want and you just sit and want it. I don't like that mode at all. So I was looking online. And there are these people up in the city. And they do this thing, where for not very many of my American dollars, I can go do a session with a master glassblowing type artist person, one-on-one, and this person can have my limitations explained and will be there and can answer my ten million questions. So I can be there and feel the feels and smell the smells. And see what I can do safely and what I can't do safely. And then ask the ten million more questions I didn't know to ask before I was smelling the smells. And we can see if there's a way for me to make it safe to take it farther than this one-on-one session, either with more sessions or with classes.


Then I brought this up on the phone with my best-aunt. (I have a lot of great-aunts. Some of them are really quite good. This one is the greatest-aunt. Therefore she is my best-aunt.) She also loves glass. It's the Smålander in her maybe. Anyway. I knew she would understand and be excited for me, so I called to tell her. And it turns out she knows these people at this glass studio that do this thing I am doing. And she says they sometimes have done classes for people with mobility disabilities. And maybe they will be doing a class like that in the future, or maybe they will just know enough from past classes to be able to adjust stuff for me and be able to tell me what to do and how to do it so that I can do the actual learning, not just the single one-on-one hand-holding session and be safe.

So at least once. And maybe several times. But definitely at least once. Molten glass and me. Without everything having to be fixed with the vertigo. Without everything having to be okay. Just--this thing that I want. I get to actually do it. It isn't the Ballet Russe, it's actually paid for and it's just down to calling and getting it on the actual calendar, right next to friends' birthdays and dentist appointments. Because it's a real thing.

I am kind of overwhelmed about this. I am really pretty excited. I had gotten pretty used to the concept of no. And yes is a pretty big door to open, even though I'm not planning to rearrange my life around spending hours every week in the glass studio. Something is so much more than nothing. Yes is so much more than no.

I'll let you know how it goes.
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. [ profile] markgritter gets home tomorrow and should be done with the every-other-week-out schedule, he thinks; [ 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 [ 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: (tiredy)
Today I was feeling utterly physically miserable again*, and it was bleeding over into the rest of my outlook, as it will tend to do. I characterized it in e-mail to a friend as the "YOU RUIN EVERYTHING, PUKERELLA!" mindset. And in the midst of this, a friend took the time to tell me that she appreciated a thing I had put effort into.

It was not, like, the hugest deal ever. She did not make me a giant wall-sized cardboard card with glitter to say thank you, and my effort was not Augean Stables-level either. But I did a thing that took effort when I don't have a lot to spare, and she took the time to not only appreciate it when she didn't have a lot of effort to spare either but to use her words to say so, and you know what? That ended up mattering quite a lot in the fight to keep the physical stuff from dragging down everything else.

So if you can, tell me about something in your life with good timing lately. We like the good timing. Yay good timing.

*Seriously one of the worst weeks I've had for awhile, in physical terms. There is a queue of stuff I am totally capable of doing that is taking forEVAR because of the amount of time body-wrangling. Whee. We'll get there. But it takes awhile.
mrissa: (tiredy)
So here is what is going on with me:

1. I have vertigo. You knew that part. It's gotten worse again lately, so all of you who had the glad cries about how much better it was: not any more. (This is expected.) Among the side effects of this is nausea.
2. I have gone back on the med to deal with the vertigo. I don't stay on for long long times for various reasons dictated by my neurologist. The med sucks. It works in some ways and sucks in others, and no, I don't want to talk about the details. There are some key side effects that suck. Also I don't get the desired effects until full dosage, and I am still ramping up and am at 3/4 dosage. But among the non-desired effects that will begin to seem relevant to this post is nausea.
3. Last week I got an ear infection. This increases guess what? vertigo. and guess what? vertigo-related nausea.
4. I also got strep throat. This makes it hurt to swallow. And yawn. I announced this afternoon that my new goal was to never yawn again. This was deemed infeasible by a committee of experts. It was a two-person committee unless you count the dog, who merely looked startled and alarmed unless she was thinking there was a rabbit outside. Still.
5. For strep and the ear infection I am on an antibiotic. Antibiotics are fun. Do you know what they cause? Nausea. Do you know what the new doctor said? She said, "If it makes you nauseated, you should take it with some food...oh...." YES OH.
6. One of my main modes of coping with nausea is to work out intensely for about an hour and a half a day. Today [ profile] markgritter was on a phone meeting and [ profile] timprov was having neck spasms of some spasmy spasmingness, so I put away 1/3 to 1/4 of a load of groceries. Then I went up the stairs. From this activity, my fever went up again. Not back to 103, and not for long. Just to "hi you have a fever remember that isn't it grand?" Also I am frankly kind of weak. So guess what I am currently not doing to cope with the nausea.


I just kind of...yeah. This is where I am right now. I have worked my way up to porridge and scrambled eggs. Not at once, too much swallowing. Honestly I don't really know what the timetable is here. No one can really tell me. I am coming up with awesome ideas like "David Simon produces Westmark!" and "they should sell basil like they sell kale, because you always want way more basil than they sell in the wee tiny herb packages, and people should eat basil like a fresh green anyway, so in conclusion more basil" and also things that actually qualify as story ideas. Like the one where a thinly veiled version of my Gran takes the piss out of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Harry Dresden. Yeah. But mostly I am trying to stay warm but not too warm and sometimes swallow things with calories in them and hope that I can someday again have pointy foods not just as a daydream but as a reality.

It's not that I don't want to talk. I just mostly want to talk on e-mail, is all. So if you want to talk, e-mail away.


Feb. 11th, 2012 10:39 pm
mrissa: (thinking)
I was going to start out with something random and vague, but honestly I will tell you what it is: I am back on the med with the nasty side effects, and it is making me morose. (Indirectly, I believe. I don't think moroseness is itself a side effect. I just don't enjoy the other stuff.)

And one of the things I'm feeling is some disconnect. I've done the "tell me something good" posts, and those are good in their place. But tonight I'm screening responses, and I'm asking: tell me something that's important to you right now. Easy or difficult, positive or negative: tell me something important.
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 [ 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: (nowreally)
I have begun to feel that makers of filmed fiction--TV or movies--believe that Kate Chopin's The Awakening is like The Ring somehow, or the literary version of the Monty Python Killer Joke. If I see a character in a movie or on TV reading The Awakening, I feel sure that they are toast, and usually they are, but this is not actually a good thing. Books are not nearly that directly causal. Books' effects are complicated. Look into it!

In other news, I am not quite a week into the Official Rest Period, and it's being interesting mentally if not yet physically. So we'll see.
mrissa: (intense)
So the State of the Mris post and the State of the Writing post are kind of intertwined. Any of you who are only interested in how I'm doing healthwise or only how I'm doing as a writer: sorry. This is what I've got, and it's kind of long.

Last year--by which I mean 2010--was a year that more or less completely sucked for writing for me. I only had one story published, and I only wrote three. I didn't finish any new novels. So when the editor who published that one story noted that hey, end of year, maybe might want to link to the story I'd had published...I didn't have anything else to put it with. There was nothing to talk about. I hate self-promotion. I find it boring, and it goes against my Scandosotan nature. But on the other hand I also hate going to people and saying, "Look, this year I kind of sucked at my work by all objective metrics, look at the suckage!" I felt stuck.

Last year--again, 2010--I was also on a med for the vertigo. It mostly worked, sort of. It had unpleasant side effects, but at the time I did not think that any effect on my writing was one of them. I'm not entirely sure now that I have numbers in front of me, but...I guess we'll see when I go back on it in 2012. Because odds are pretty good I will have to in 2012, and I think it was just where I was with particular projects and levels of cope? and also a couple of other things were not in place that now are? but I can't swear to it. So we'll be keeping an eye out.

In 2011, I finished a major, major rewrite of The True Tale of Carter Hall, and also some smaller-scale revisions so that it was ready to send out. I also wrote twelve short stories or novelettes, and I sold a bunch of things, and a bunch of things came into print. I'm not good at keeping track, but there was:

"Some of Them Closer," Analog Jan/Feb 2011
"The Witch's Second Daughter," Andromeda Spaceways Issue 49 and PodCastle version
Entanglement, Nature 18 March 2011
"Tusk and Skin," Bewere the Night--this was a first for me, a print anthology that wasn't a best-of type reprint
"The Witch's Second," Beneath Ceaseless Skies 25 August 2011
"Modification or Mutation: 8 Ways a Parent Can Be Sure," Daily SF September 7, 2011

And a reprint of "The Six Skills of Madame Lumiere" in BCS's Best Of anthology.

Add to that the fact that I have a whole bunch more things coming out early this year, and I'm feeling a lot better about work than I was this time last year. A whole lot, actually. I know what book I'm going to write next, and it's pretty much ready to start when I decide I am; I have a lot of short story projects I'm excited about, but I've also finished some of the ones that were hanging over my head. When it comes to work, 2011 was a pretty good year, and it puts me in a good position for 2012.

The other thing I should mention here, because it's important to this topic, is that in the middle of 2010 I started sending everything new I write to [ profile] alecaustin for critique/discussion. (He is doing the same with me.) Alec and I have known each other for more than a decade and critiqued each other's stuff for the entirety of that time, but not nearly this comprehensively. Nor had we tried to co-write anything until this year. This year we wrote three stories together, and we have an idea for a fourth pretty well figured out for next time we have the chance, and also vaguer ideas for further work, including possibly longer stuff. I cannot overstate how good this has been for my work, and it looks like it's doing pretty well for Alec's, too. Win all around.

As for the health stuff...well. I started 2011 doing pretty well and have gradually gotten worse and worse all year. We tried some things that didn't work. It has not been awesome. I'm feeling gloomy because I have a bad cold right now, but even without the cold, I'm falling again, I'm having a lot more times when I am not safe to drive, and...vertigo bad, is what I'm saying here. Objectively non-good. And even when I'm not in the middle of a dizzy spell, I'm feeling a lot more worn down by the combination of the vertigo and trying to cope with the vertigo. This means that something like a cold is catching me in a weakened state and knocking me on my butt.

So. At the moment, the best idea on the table is an attempted rest cure. I'm going to take most of the middle-to-end of January and--just--rest. I won't be writing. (E-mail still welcome.) I won't be cooking. I won't be doing laundry. I won't be running errands. I won't be going out with friends. I will just be resting. This is not magic. But exhaustion and stress can contribute to the condition that causes the vertigo, so we're going to see if we can knock those out a bit and hope the vertigo will get better.

If it doesn't, back on the meds with me sooner rather than later. Nobody--not the doctors, not me, not various concerned parties who know more than I put on the internet--wants me on the med permanently; it's just not a good option for several reasons. But I can do another six-month-or-so course of the stuff to try to get things more manageable again.

I'm hoping very much that this will not slow my writing to a crawl again. But you know what else would slow my writing? Falling wrong and breaking my arm. Etc. So this is what we're going to try here, and I will be hoping to still work well on the projects that are exciting me. But I also hope that I will be kind to myself if that work turns out slower than what I might want. Sometimes that's the hardest part.

dark days

Dec. 19th, 2011 05:45 pm
mrissa: (tiredy)
This is the worst vertigo day I've had all year.

Tell me something good, please?


Nov. 21st, 2011 08:51 pm
mrissa: (Default)
Today I gave up on a thing I was trying to make the vertigo go away or be easier to deal with. It did not do that. It had been two months of trying. It was making me tired and taking up time and money and had no discernible positive effect. So I quit.

I am not at all thrilled that this didn't work. But it didn't. So we're dealing with that.

I'm perfectly happy to talk to people, but not so much publicly on this one. My gmail account is marissalingen, if you feel like talking about this or something else. It doesn't even have to be something more cheerful.


Nov. 21st, 2011 08:50 pm
mrissa: (tiredy)
Today I gave up on a thing I was trying to make the vertigo go away or be easier to deal with. It did not do that. It had been two months of trying. It was making me tired and taking up time and money and had no discernible positive effect. So I quit.

I am not at all thrilled that this didn't work. But it didn't. So we're dealing with that.

I'm perfectly happy to talk to people, but not so much publicly on this one. My gmail account is marissalingen, if you feel like talking about this or something else. It doesn't even have to be something more cheerful.
mrissa: (Oh *hell* no!)
I really don't like to complain about personal stuff. I think part of it is that my parents aimed for raising me with a sense of how fortunate I've been, and since they had a very literal small child I wound up with a sense that everyone everywhere has it harder than me. Which is not generally a bad thing in a lot of ways, but it comes with a few drawbacks in terms of my sense of proportion.

Anyway, I just want to say:

Chinese medicinal herbs. They can be really pretty nasty. Especially when you have a very sensitive nose and palate.

That's all.

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