Respite

rail fence Nasty stuff, going on in the world lately. It’s enough to make one want to go back to bed and pull the covers up.

Unfortunately, that never got any work done, so…yeah.

I’ve spent the last two days out of the house, ending both days in “meetings.” The very notion of meetings makes my soul shrivel a little bit. I’ve grown accustomed to a dearth of small talk, having arranged my life so as to cut that insidious destroyer out. “Meetings” and “conferences” where small talk is necessary are slow torture for me, very much like working retail. I just don’t know how people do meetings all day. At least in retail you can find something new or at least memorable about each day. Meetings, on the other hand, are generally all the same people, and observing the forms of the extrovert dance is akin to being forced to tarantella until one’s legs fall off.

*shudder*

I’m not talking about long looping conversations you can have with close friends, or the ritual of “how was your day” observed with kids at the dinner table. Those seem, to me, to have more “meat” to them–to be actual food instead of the empty junk calories of small talk. I am interested in people–a writer can hardly be otherwise–but I long to smash the confines of polite meaningless talk and get to what they want, what they really think, and how to solve the problem if a problem is why the damn meeting has been called.

Anyway. I didn’t realize I’d grown so out of practice until I came home from Tuesday’s final meeting and found out I was physically twitching.

Now, of course, the kids are in school, the house is empty, I have Sigur Ros playing, and I can feel everything inside me untwisting and unclenching. It won’t make the world any less chaotic and brutal, but I’m grateful for the respite.

photo by: mamnaimie

Out of Trouble

piano The weekend was spent in an orgy of housecleaning (frankly the only manner of orgy I have any patience for nowadays) and errand-running, since I’ve been scrambling to catch up with a bunch of stuff and have let both slip. The furious activity means that things are relatively clean and the Yule tree is up–the kids put the ornaments not his year, without me even needing to hand the delicate ones over. Not a single fight, eyeroll, pinch, or flutter of sarcasm was had.

I have marvelous children.

The dogs are also jingling festively–Odd is freshly washed–but not because I’m tormenting them. They have new ID tags on their collars, nice ones, just in case. Both are microchipped as well, but belt and suspenders (plus a third means of pants-holding) are always good. The old tags were getting a bit difficult to read.

Today I mail off proof pages, make a list of stuff to do next, record some pronunciations for an audiobook, squeeze a short run in between everything, maybe even get my hair trimmed. It irks me to trim it when it’s still so short, but I do want it to grow in nicely, and since C is in remission (oh, heavens, thank you) I can let it. I have AMAZING bedhead, even though I have nowhere to stick spare pencils when I’m proofing. This means I don’t go to bed with pencils and pens festooning my head–a bright lining to every dark cloud, I guess?

Piano practice proceeds apace. I’m working through a Junior Hanon book–the regular Hanon was too frustrating for my skill level, and the Princess talked me into using the Junior one like she does. She’s discovered she likes playing ragtime best, her teacher is surprised and pleased. I’m still chugging away at a Bach polonaise, and have finished my review of the first lesson-book, which means I’m back in the second lesson-book and plonking ahead with grim determination. There are things I want to get good enough to play, but that won’t happen without a lot of consistent practice. I suppose it keeps me out of trouble.

And, incidentally, out of video games. I got bored with the latest WoW extension–not precisely bored, I guess, but when you’re in-garrison trade chat is on, and it’s wearying to have that unmoderated sewer sitting on your screen while you’re trying to upgrade your barn, for God’s sake. So I deleted the whole thing off my hard drive and have turned off any subscription. I just don’t have the patience for some aspects of multiplayer anymore, though I loved the idea of customizing one’s own garrison and fighting off invasions, and I like the auction functions. I did try Guild Wars, but since I can’t window it and it takes forever to get anything crafted, I lost interest.

I’m hoping this is just a phase, because I do like gaming, but all the stuff that comes with multiplayer is just too toxic, and the dopamine hits just aren’t enough to justify the time sink, the expenditure, or the putting up with trade chat. It’s like all Barrens all the time, with a healthy dose of GG dudebro, and none of that is appealing. It makes me wonder how much money game companies are missing out on by not moderating chat a little more. Of course, given how awful chat is and how much they’d have to pay someone to mod it, they probably break even.

So instead of gaming, it’s practicing piano and reading. I’m working my way through stuff in my collection I don’t remember reading, and planning on making a dent in the towering TBR pile. It might end up giving my brain more to chew on in the long run, but I miss rep grinding or dungeon clearing with a good group.

Oh well.

That Lovely Sound

swac Good morning, chickadees. I hope your Thanksgiving was low-stress and full of good food. For those who were on the barricades and protesting on that day (all through the weekend in some places, I’m told), I hope all went well and someone at least organized coffee.

News! I have news. Issue 18 of Fireside, with chapter three of my ongoing cyborg-Western-vampire serial She Wolf and Cub, is now live! If the serial ends up being a success, there might even be a book of the collected chapters, so if you’re wanting to read a monthly chapter of something from me while you’re waiting for, say, Trailer Park Fae or Kin, that’s an option.

There are upcoming details about Rose & Thunder, one of my retellings of Beauty & the Beast–still my favorite fairytale–and there is movement on the Steelflower 2 front, though I can’t announce anything just yet. (Publishing: moves at the speed of glaciers during the Ice Age!)

And in still more news, NaNoWriMo is done. I finished both Rattlesnake Wind and the second Gallow & Robin book, which was my collective goal for November. In honor of finishing NaNo, some editing services are back in stock! First come, first serve, and all regular disclaimers apply. Please read the FAQs and Guidelines before you decide to purchase editing services, though. Some packages require a down payment.

It’s hovering at freezing here. Yesterday’s run took me past several crystallised puddles, and I could tell the ones kids had seen by the shattered ice. It made me wonder at what age my first instinct became to admire and leave well enough alone instead of breaking a solid sheet of ice just to see it fracture and hear that lovely sound. I never was a fan of breaking things the way some kids seem to be, but I did do my share of splashing in puddles when I reasonably sure I wouldn’t get caught and beaten for getting dirty. Sometimes the thrill of transgression is worth it.

I think it’s simply that now I could step through the ice if I wanted to, it’s up to me. When given a choice, I lose the desire to break. It makes me wonder how much breaking and burning is done by those who have no alternative. That’s as close to a comment on current events as I’ll get today.

And now, back to work on sample chapters, and revising Agent Zero

Already Am

So the (mostly white) grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson for the murder of an unarmed child half a football field away. Transcript is here. Predictably, the prosecutor (who comes from a family of police officers and people who work for them) released the news of no indictment at 9pm instead of 9am, probably to avoid questions from the press, and the people who are being killed for the color of their skin are furious. The President’s speech was a marvel of mealymouth, while on at least one split screen showing said speech and the situation in Ferguson, police “proactively” tear-gassed protestors. The racists and police apologists are out in force, I had to close my social media feeds this morning. I just can’t even.

I’m sickened, saddened, and I feel like crying, but I’m not surprised.

The Ferguson Public Library is open this morning, for teachers and kids who can’t get to school for one reason or the other. I donated to them through their website (the PayPal link is in the top right corner); it feels like the only goddamn thing I can do.

My son’s father isn’t Caucasian. How long before I’m afraid to let my own child go outside, too?

Too late. I already am.

ETA: Comments heavily moderated. Behave.

Tossing Branches

Winter Tree The wind’s up today, the cedars along the back fence dancing. The deep drilling pain in my sinuses has gone down somewhat, and the crick in my neck from sleeping all tangled up (B does not like the sound of branches hitting the roof, and tries to crawl into me when that happens) is easing with stretches and ibuprofen.

It’s funny how the world can begin to seem a brighter place when you make the decision to not care about toxic people, or to direct everything from them into the jaws of the spamblocker. It’s so intensely liberating. By “not caring” I simply mean letting go of any idea that they can be reasonable, or that their opinion should have any impact on how one lives one’s life. Letting go of any idea that one is required to interact in any way, or give any credence, even internally, to their views.

It takes a lot for me to get to that point, but once I do, it’s liberating. To just drop the baggage and walk away.

My ex-husband used to say “in every problem, there’s a gift. What’s the gift here?” Once, as I was panicked over something a particularly toxic relative of mine had sent to the house, I called him. He listened patiently, as always. (There were reasons we lasted a decade or so.)

“Well,” he said, “in every problem, there’s a gift. What…wait. Hang on.”

A long pause. I thought he was checking on something at work, but when he spoke again, it was with some surprise and no little amusement.

“You know what, babe? There’s no fucking gift in that. That’s bazonko-nuts. Just get rid of it. Throw it in the trash.” Another short pause. “I’m sorry. I keep forgetting how crazy [that certain relative] is.”

I can barely describe the deep, intense consolation I felt at hearing that, or at tipping said box of emotional bombs into the rubbish bin. So often, toxic people play divide-and-conquer, engage in gaslighting, and isolate their targets. The salutary application of a friend’s sense of proportion and perspective is galvanizing. It can make one break down weeping in sheer relief, and give one all sorts of strength.

So today is for letting the wind sweep all the detritus out, one way or another. Also, to give thanks for spamblockers.

photo by: fdtate