When you’ve had a rough week, and your no-longer-a-teenager-this-year child knows it and uses her day off to clean the kitchen and make a pesto braid, because she wanted to try the recipe and she knows you love pesto…
His day begins when I unzip his crate, where he is warm and secure. It is the place he loves most in the world, like the spot in front of a full bowl of kibble and The Big Hoomin’s Bed. he loves his crate so much that it takes a whole ritual to get him out of it, which includes me opening the curtains, making my bed, and finally, a couple renditions of his special Good Morning Song, which is modeled loosely on a Singing in the Rain number.
Sometimes it takes a full two renditions before he will consent to resurrect, all while Miss B takes turns trying to nose him out of the crate and trying to stick her nose in my mouth since I’m making strange monkey noises.
When he’s finally ready, he staggers down the hall after me, and has to be shown where the back door is. It’s the only time he’ll go down the stairs alone, because by then his bladder has awakened and is providing impetus.
Then there’s pointing him at his food bowl, and standing in my prescribed spot between the two dogs while they sniff the kibble offering. If I don’t stand there, Odd may decide to wander away and Miss B might try to stuff herself with both bowls and sick up undigested food which she’ll proceed to guard, since she just wants Odd not to have it. Once they’re both snout-down and busy, though, i am allowed to make myself some coffee and attempt my own brekkie. Then, when they’re done, he’ll sit by the back door and burp-bark, because he knows something comes next but has forgotten entirely what.
That “something” is his daily walkie, up to the top of the street or down to the bottom if he’s feeling frisky, which is about two days a week. Every other day it’s the shorter slog up to the top, and often, just getting the leashes on both of them is a chore in and of itself. Trundles insists on wrapping the leash around my legs to achieve a sort of required tension on it, so he knows I haven’t vanished. B, of course, divides her time between attempting to boss me and actually bossing him, with a soupçon of straining at the leash whenever there’s the prospect of another dog in the area.
And, of course, Odd stops every few steps, wondering what the hell he’s doing outside, and looks to me for guidance. Some days, like today, he requires constant verbal encouragement and direction. So, I’ve started singing–but I have to find the song he’ll move for.
Today, it was Sweet Georgia Brown.
Now, I am no chanteuse, despite being in choir all through high school and bellowing along with the radio at the slightest provocation. Passers-by often stop and watch, bemused, as I wrangle a bulldog and an Australian shepherd along with accompaniment, followed by the Mad Tortie, who goes along on Trundles’s walkies because she is of the opinion he won’t be able to find his way home alone. (I am certain she’s right.) “Is that your cat?” they ask, or “You walk them every day?”
Thankfully, none of them mention my singing.
Anyway, once I have dragged both dogs back through our gate, I can take off collar (for Odd) and harness (for Miss B) and retreat inside while both prance just inside the fence, discovering the backyard anew. Trundles takes the additional step of unburdening his colon, since the activity has aided his peristalsis wonderfully. Then, Miss B herds him up the stairs, and he trots inside, suddenly convinced that he needs another breakfast since he performed such difficult feats as making it to the stop sign.
I often make myself more coffee while Miss B tries to hip-check me in the direction of the hall, and Odd dances attendance, burp-barking again and eager to get to either another breakfast (if I can be persuaded) or to my office (which he dimly recognizes as the next step in the day’s many rituals). Finally, when I am settled in front of the glowing box that somehow produces the majority of my career (my desktop, thank you), Odd’s real morning work begins. He must settle, either in his Fancy Dog Bed or (less comfortably) up against my TBR, and embark upon the First Nap of the Day. He is settled on his fancy bed while I type this, blinking slowly, and next will come his snores, about as musical as my walk-prompting. That’s a busy morning for a bulldog, and we’re not even talking about the afternoon naps or the after-dinner romps, or what it takes to get him back in his crate at the end of the day.
No, not Beast of Wonder, which Createspace finally got off their collective bums about. (Though I am still annoyed at them fudging the release of the paperback for that novella, for Chrissake.) The book that’s trying to kill me is a different one, and the nausea each morning as I sit down and open up the file isn’t getting any better.
I mean, I’ll probably lose some weight just from sheer not-wanting-to-eat after fighting with this goddamn story, but that’s not healthy. I promised I’d try, even though I know this book is a corpse. It’s not going well, but I never did know when to quit. The promise is a chain dragging me along. Maybe I’ll wear the nausea down by stubbornly refusing to give into it.
At least, I can hope.
I’m trying to associate the book with pleasant things, but it’s an uphill battle at this point. I’m wishing I stuck to my guns and kept saying “nope, no, dead means dead, don’t ask me to do necromancy this year, not gonna do it.”
But I said it, I promised it, so…onward, I guess?
In other news, Odd Trundles had a day of horking over every surface in sight recently, but we managed to avoid outright seizures. The weather changed, I was feeling poorly, and there was a short spell with everyone out of the house, which isn’t at all usual. Those three things, with their powers combined, threw poor Odd off–and his response was retching.
So there was a lot of washing towels and bedding, and trying to point him towards a tiled surface or onto a towel when That Sound began making its way out of his capacious chest. Sadly, trying to point a bulldog in the direction you wish him to explode is a proposition akin to attempting planetary realignment. (In other words, human hands just ain’t enough.) So there are several scrubbed places on the carpeting, and the Princess is making noises about dragging the shampooer out.
I wish her luck.
A couple days of arranging Odd’s life for maximum tranquility (instead of just ordinary tranquility) have passed, and I’m beginning to relax a bit, since he hasn’t had a seizure. It’s the little victories that count, right?
Anyway, I suppose I’ve put off the morning’s heaving and typing for long enough. *puts on goggles* Cover me. I’m going in.
One of the worst things about anxiety–well, it’s all bad, but some things are more awful than others–is the persistent suspicion that you’re doing it to yourself.
This suspicion is not merely confined to strangers. Friends, loved ones, and even your own rat-tailed brain will hold that glimmer, far back and way down. Exquisitely sensitive to any breath of disapproval, your own brain chemistry will chase that glimmer into the swamp, and you’ll be a few feet deep and sinking fast in quicksand before you realize what the fuck’s going on, scratching the itches of why can’t you just be normal until your skin breaks.
Then the things living in the swamp–anxiety’s giant grey toothy brothers–will smell the blood.
It’s not your loved ones’ fault. It’s not even yours. It’s nobody’s fault, really, when you have brain chemistry that does its best to maim or kill you. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re bleeding in quicksand and carnivorous things are hunting you.
So you spread your weight carefully. You grab a rope, a vine, a stick, and start working for solid ground. You breathe deeply, you take your meds so the grey things are chained if not docile. Slow them down, and focus on one slow swim-stroke at a time. As soon as you make it out of the quicksand and your loved ones try to help you up, the internal bleeding sets in–the guilt about letting them help you, when you were the idiot who ran into quicksand in the first place. The swamp can turn into a sea at a moment’s notice, and it often does.
Deep breathing. Remind yourself that it’s okay to let other people care about–and care for–you. Check in with the people you know are worried. Wrap yourself in something soft, and keep taking your meds. Remind yourself, once again, that you’ve felt this bad before, and it passed like an ocean wave. When you get tired of swimming you can float for a while. The salt stings, and you’re tired, but there are things to cling to.
You’ve made it before. You will again.
Here. Share my raft. I know it’s small–it’s okay, we’ll make it work. Climb up. Or just cling to the side if you have to. I’m right here, I’ll hold on, and when you have the strength I’ll help you clamber up.
What? Me? Oh, yeah. I’ve been out here before too, lots of times. That’s right, I’ll steady you. The raft’s stronger than it looks…Huh? Oh, a little while ago I was drowning again, too. But then I saw you, and it’s kind of strange…yeah, there you go. It’s all right. We’ll pick up anyone else we can, and head for shore.
I was going to say, it’s kind of strange, isn’t it?
I’m alternating typing with warming my hands on a rather large cup of tea with honey. This is a welcome change from what I was doing a little bit ago, which was alternating typing with violent bouts of heaving.
I promised to try with this book, but resurrecting it may be beyond my powers.
Part of it is that there’s nobody outside the entrance to the dark cave I must enter in order to bring the story out. I know there are people who promised to stand watch there, but I’m not sure I can truly trust them. So, my body, trying to warn me away from what my brain recognizes as OH MY GOD LIONS GET BACK IN THE CAR, starts shaking, shuddering, and trying to empty my stomach all over my office.
Writing costs physical and emotional energy. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Writing is a physical act. The body remembers, the body knows.
At least now I know what the problem is. When this occurred with one other book, it took months attempting to work through the violent stomach upset, months of of castigating myself for being dramatic before I realized, this is a normal reaction to the violation you encountered, it’s valid, your body is trying to tell you something. Then, inch by painful inch, I could drag myself over the threshold, because I wanted to.
I don’t have those months now. I could take them, but I want this over with more than I want to wait, regardless of the damage. At the same time, I don’t want to go back in that dark cave, no matter what the people outside have promised. My body resists in every way it can.
I don’t know if I can do this. But I promised, so…there it is.
At least I’ve made it to the finish line of today’s work on that particular book. I get to write other things now. I’m exhausted, the tea is cooling, and the dogs are worried. But the nausea is receding, and I’m going to keep going.
There may be alternatives, but none I can take. We drive hardest when we drive ourselves.
So CreateSpace decided–after the paperback of Beast of Wonder was already on sale–to “suppress” the book for “copyright verification.” They didn’t bother to verify the copyright during the proofing phase, no, they decided to pull this bullshit after the week-and-a-half wait for me to get and approve the paper proof. If I’d been planning a huge marketing push instead of a pretty incidental one, it would have been wasted. As it is, I’ve lost critical release-announcement sales as well as had to spend valuable working time dealing with this issue.
Not a good look, CS. I’m asking where to send the invoice. (Quixotic of me, but I am irritated enough not to care.)
I’m pretty sure they’re going to be folded into KDP soon, especially since KDP’s made the announcement that proof and author’s copies are going to be a thing and the recent announcement that Createspace is shuttering their author services (cover help, editing, marketing, etc.) arm. Really, the writing was on the wall as soon as Amazon bought them, but many authors I know were holding out hope CS would continue to function independently because their print quality was reasonably high.
Anyway, that was the weekend’s nasty news. In better events, I got some more earth turned in the upper garden boxes, and though there’s a risk of another frost, I should get some tender things in the ground. Maybe I can hide the pumpkin seeds from the squirrels if I plant enough of them? I’m pretty sure they got all the peas. *sigh* And what they didn’t get Miss B probably rooted out, thinking she was Finding What Mum Lost and Won’t Mum Be Glad.
Also on the bright side, Pocalypse Road is up for preorder! Yes, it will be available for Kindle, Nook, iBook, and Kobo; yes, there will be a paperback version; and yes, serial subscribers (on Patreon or Gumroad) will get the unedited AND edited ebook for free, as usual.