Out at Night

I was at the Powell’s Authorfest last night, along with a host of other fantastic authors. There were a lot of people, and quite a few of them told me they liked Cormorant Run. Which was great to hear–it’s one of the books I like best, but it seems reviews have been mixed.

Not that I look at reviews often. You know how I feel about that.

Anyway, driving home in the dark, my brain in that strange liminal place of juggling time, speed, distance, and the current stories I’m working on, I felt my life loop over and catch on another peg. I’ve done a lot of driving or wandering at night with my head full of stories, trying to shake out pieces or fit them together. I got out of the habit when the kids were younger–you can’t leave your house empty except for sleeping children, not unless it’s an emergency. I realized how much I missed being out at night.

I suppose I could go out walking with my camera after dark again now, since the kids are well into their teens. Miss B, of course, would ache and pine to go along. At the same time…I love being out at night, it’s my preferred time, but I’ve just arrived at the point where I can sleep reliably. A small but significant proportion of my used-to-be-usual insomnia is the fact that I am a night owl; my internal rhythm is set to rise and resurrect about noon, get to work around 2pm, go until 11pm-midnight, wind down, and go to bed about 2am. Given my druthers, that’s how my entire life would be arranged.

But it’s a daywalker’s world, especially if you have children who are Day People. School means getting up when daywalkers do, consequently I’ve been doing it for years. Now the kids are largely capable of getting up on their own, but shifting the dogs’ schedule would entail a lot of moaning and groaning. And I am on call while the kids are out of the house–just because they’re not home doesn’t mean I’m allowed to sign off.

So, obeying the schedule my body wants would require shifting the dogs’ schedule, possibly being out of commission during a Grown(ish) Child’s emergency, and moving my meds schedule. That last is the least worrisome of the three. I can’t accept the thought of being out of commission while one of my spawn needs me, no matter if one of them is technically old enough to smoke and go to war. (Not that she’ll do either, she reminds me, thank you very much Mum.)

I guess I’ll impersonate a daywalker for a little while longer. Maybe until the Little Prince is out of school and settled on his trajectory. At least I can consciously decide to do so, instead of feeling trapped by circumstance.

Driving at night and feeling that internal catch, the sense of a life decision being reached or coming back to a particular angle on the spiral of one’s current incarnation, is precious. So is arriving home, pulling into the garage, and having Grown(ish) Children and dogs clustering at the door because they missed you and they’re glad you’re home. Hugs and the high-speed downloading of what happened at work or while I was gone, cold damp noses pressed against my knee and wiggling hind ends, grins and “I put the stuff for your dinner right next to the stove, Mum” all add up to another soft, beautiful realization.

Sometimes, I think, I long to go out at night just to come home, now that I have a safe warm nest to return to.

Vapor Lock

Busy week. Busy, busy, busy week. Patreon updates. Making sure In the Ruins is absolutely, positively, no-foolin’ ready for next week’s release. House-sitting and animal feeding. NaNo-ing. (Technically every month is a novel-writing month, but you know the drill.) Latin. French. Greek. Copyedits just landed. Kids both busy with their own lives, so arranging the clockwork of everyone’s schedules to run smoothly requires a bit of negotiation at the dinner table.

I just want to go back to bed.

But! I will be at the Powell’s Authorfest this Sunday, 3-7pm, signing books and blinking owlishly at people. Want your books signed? Come on out!

…I had a lot of other things planned for this blog post, but I just vapor-locked, sitting here staring at the screen while my fingers twitched uselessly. Which doesn’t bode well. Time to make a list and go down it, checking things off ruthlessly, and no knitting until I get at least half of it done.

I can’t promise everything will get done today, but by golly, I have caffeine and I’m going to damn well try. Except for the copyedits. Those can wait for next week.

Over and out.

Morpheus Skips Me

Some nights, not even warm socks or an extra blanket can keep insomnia at bay. About once a month, sleep decides it’s skipping me and heading for more congenial shores.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds, really. It used to be I couldn’t sleep at all–the anxiety lay in wait, a sharptooth creature with baleful eyes. Now, at least I can plan around that one day a month Morpheus decides to skip visiting. (Insert Matrix joke here.) And Miss B’s regular breathing, not to mention furry warmth, are far from the worst companions while I’m tossing and turning. Eventually I turned the light back on and wrote iterations of cover copy, then polished off The Vice-Consul.

I’m sure reading Duras wasn’t helping my mood. Her books provoke something very close to depression, kind of like listening to Jandek. Also like Jandek, they scratch a particular itch, and every once in a while I find myself scrubbing said itch until it bleeds.

So today is for the last proofing pass on In the Ruins, season 2 of Roadtrip Z. I’m just cranky enough to snag on details, but not too fatigued to say “fuck it, I don’t care.” It’s a good sweet-spot to hit, and after I get everything done, dusted, and uploaded, there’s a gentle run to shake my fidgets (and Miss B’s) out, with the bonus exhaustion factor to make sure I sleep tonight. I should probably also get the makings for red sauce into the crock pot–I wonder if I should do a roux for a base? Choices, choices.

*sits and stares for a moment* A roux might be over-enthusiastic of me. We’ll see.

Over and out.

Most Glorious

It’s that most glorious of days. Crisp weather, bowls of candy on the dining-room table, acres of good food to be made, the beginning of a new witch-year to celebrate. The Little Prince is home from school–eacy year I am amused by the reactions when I call and inform them he won’t be in, it’s a religious holiday for us.

My joys are small, but they are mine.

Lately I’ve been touching the chunk of bloodstone on my desk whenever the light overhead flickers. I wasn’t sure why until I realized it’s the first anniversary of a passing. The body remembers, even if the conscious mind doesn’t. Of course, once you realize what you’re carrying, the load becomes lighter. Human beings need a reason, and if they can’t find one, they’ll make one.

This is, like everything else to do with humanity, both blessing and curse.

Time to smear some sunscreen on and get the morning’s run in, then begin the first round of prep. I want chicken soup, which means I need to roast the defrosted fowl. I’m also going to make these, something the kids are looking forward to with great anticipation. In between, there’s writing to be done and release day prep to finish. Now that I know what I’m about and the last day of the year is here, I can put a few things to bed.

I can’t wait.

Verticals

Walking with Miss B, I am always looking for the missed, the passed-over. Trash, forgotten spaces, detritus. I have a fondness for discarded things. I also have a fondness for things we take for granted. Like the sound-catching grooves on walls near freeways.

Look underfoot. Look in the forgotten spaces. Look at the ruined, the bent, the passed-by. Stories hide there, too.

Cough, Cover Copy

I don’t get ill very often anymore, so when I do, it’s somewhat aggravating. My body is valiantly fighting off what is turning out to be a mild flu, given the low-grade fever and joint aches. I had thought that with enough hydration and rest for the past few days, I’d be running again today.

BOY WAS I EVER WRONG.

*sigh*

So I’m twitchy, well enough to itch under my skin, but not well enough to go out for a few kilometers. Especially since the cough has moved into my chest. Of course, I’d feel great, flush with endorphins, just after the run, but by tomorrow morning the stress on the organism would have me wishing I’d stayed in bed. Not that I don’t normally wish that anyway, but…yeah. I think the expressive writing experiment dredged up some toxins, and my body is pushing them out with alacrity. Overall, it’s good for the health of my corpus, but in the short term, it’s near misery.

So it’s tea, knitting, and doing cover copy surgery. Cover copy is the stuff on the back of a book, or on the inside flap, that makes you want to buy it. I flat-out love writing cover copy, which, I gather, makes me somewhat of an oddity among writers. I suspect I’d also like writing catalog copy, especially if it was for Harriet Carter. Of all the catalogs I love paging through and snaking, the old HC has to be #1. I fancy I’m a bit of a dab hand at it, and I like it when friend-writers throw a cit of copy at me and say, “WORK YOUR MAGIC.”

I damn near chortle with glee.

It’s perfect for days when I’m physically not tiptop, too, because each project has a definite starting and ending point. Working in twenty-minute increments makes for appreciable progress on cover copy, where it might not for novel-writing. I might also get super crazy and do some yoga today. If I can breathe deeply without coughing this afternoon, that is.

So that’s the state of the Lili today. I’m sexing up descriptions of books from people I love to read and hang out with, which is pretty spiffy. Even though it’s not a perfect day, there is tea, rain on the roof, tea, dogs to snuggle on every work break, and I get to do something I love.

Not bad, my friends. Not bad at all.

Monday, Running

It’s been a while since I talked about running here, other than just noting mileage. Like any practice, it changes over time. When I go back and look at old posts about running, it’s both amusing and terrifying. I pushed myself pretty hard, initially. Of course, you guys know I have two speeds, and two only: full ahead and complete collapse.

This is perhaps not healthy, but oh well. Here’s a list of things about running, to start off this autumnal week.

Runkeeper. I used to log my mileage in paper running diaries like this one. Shifting to outside running with a smartphone drew me away and towards apps, and I tried a couple before settling on Runkeeper. One of the most recent updates included graduated training plans, which was a particular boon to me. When the infrastructure goes down, I’ll probably have to return to analog logging (try saying that a few times fast) but honestly, by then there will be so many other problems I won’t have time to miss my phone.

Shoes. I’m funny about my feet. I can’t stand to have anyone touch them, and I obsess over the fit and feel of my hooves with the fierceness of anyone who’s ever strapped on a pair of pointe shoes. Every brand of running shoes has slightly different sizing, and even in a single brand yearly designs can change to the point of unusability. The quest for running shoes is eternal. Shop for them late in the day when your feet are swollen, and don’t overlook your socks. It only takes one session without padded socks to rub right through foot-skin and bench you for days. Once you find a brand/size that fits, buy two pairs, and alternate wearing them. This gives the shoe interiors time to dry out and bounce back after each session, and lengthens the life of the cushioning.

Pants. It is a fact universally known that once you find a good pair of running pants, they will be discontinued, and this shall be true lo unto the breaking of the world or at least the demise of capitalism. I don’t like running shorts, so even in the dead heat of summer I’ll be out in full-length togs–your preferences will no doubt vary. Buy cheap until you know what you like–there’s not much as awful as investing in expensive gear that chafes in all the wrong spots. I loved a particular kind of Prana pants until they went out of stock, and I’ve had good luck with Title Nine bottoms. Once you start reliably breaking 5km, it’s time to invest in good pants. Especially if you’re chubby like me, which brings us to a related issue…

Chafing. There’s just no way around it. A lot of people swear by paper-backed medical tape; I manage to avoid a lot of blisters with really tough pant material and padded socks. When you’re buying running pants, look at the inside of the thighs. Rubbing there can get particularly painful, and when pants wear out there, well, sewing thigh-patches is not how I want to spend a Saturday morning. (YMMV.) Once you’ve got a raw spot, the problem becomes ameliorating discomfort and keeping it protected enough to heal. I like cocoanut oil for mild rawness, but when I’ve pushed myself and worn away more layers of skin, Aquaphor is my go-to. I’ve found that flexible fabric sticking-plasters stand up the best to repeated rubbing. Again, find what works for you.

Mental Tricks. “Eh, I’ll just run for twenty minutes, and if I REALLY feel like stopping, then I can.” Or, “It’s going to feel so good when I finally hit my goal…and stop.” And the ever-popular, “[X fictional character] wouldn’t stop now, so I won’t.” Figuring out how to game yourself is probably the most useful life skill possible, right after learning how to not give very many fucks about random internet opinions.

Safety. It can be something as simple as taping one earbud to your jacket while you wear the other–that way you can listen to music and still be aware of your surroundings. I run to be alone, despite knowing that I’m safer in a group. Nevertheless, if something happens to you while running, you are not to blame. The onus is on the asshole driver who wasn’t watching where they were going, or the asshole attacker/harasser who thinks they’re entitled to your attention/body/whatever. Take appropriate cautions, and know that you’re not responsible for all the jackasses in the world.

Tiny Increments. When I first started, I couldn’t even run for thirty seconds without my heart feeling like it was going to explode. I’ve had injuries, and had to take weeks off at a time. Playing the long game, in running as well as writing, is all about increments. Two hundred words on a bad writing day is still two hundred more than you had before, and being able to run for ninety seconds was more that you had before. Walk-run-walk intervals are okay, and if you never graduate past them, you’re still a runner. If you need someone to validate that you can do it, that you’re a runner, I’m validating. Small, tiny, concrete gains build on each other, and one day you might find yourself running for some ungodly length of time, finishing an ungodly number of kilometers or miles, and thinking, wow, that wasn’t so bad. That, my friends, is a fucking great feeling, and one I love to share.

I’m off for a run. See you around.

photo by: fabbio