Quiet Island

Took yesterday completely off social media, and it was so nice I may simply crawl back into the cave today as well. I lack any desire to look at the news.

The weekend involved a lot of yard work. The grapes are trimmed, so is the Japanese maple. A whack was taken at the pampas, but that’s going to be an ongoing campaign, not a single battle. Some dahlias have proved they were not, in fact, murdered by squirrels, so there’s that. I’m moving laurel and lilac volunteers to along the back fence, for reasons best left unspoken, and I suppose today is the day I get back to actual work instead of floundering and almost-procrastination.

There was also a great deal of housecleaning going on. Entirely necessary, because I’ve let a few thing slip between the weight of grief, the line edits, and recovery from both. (Not to mention the bloody news cycle.)

Fireworks were outlawed within city limits a few years ago, and with the pandemic there were few places to buy them locally this year. As a result, our street was somewhat of an island of quiet surrounded by artillery last night. Boxnoggin huddled against me shaking for most of it; we fell asleep, both trembling with stress despite sedation. The Mad Tortie went into hiding at the first mid-afternoon boom, as is her usual practice on the Fourth and New Year’s.

I hate this time of year for pets; they get so scared. This morning’s ramble with Boxnoggin will be a matter of patiently coaxing him into the open, and probably being knocked down and dragged if some asshole lets off a morning M80. I don’t quite wish maiming on everyone who wants to blow up a piece of native soil to “prove” their “patriotism” or some bullshit…but it’s close.

In short, I am locked in a great glassy ball of calm that might simply be emotional exhaustion. Whatever it is, it’s a relief, and I would very much like it to stick around for a few days so I can get some work done. Line edits for Duty just landed, so I have to stick those on the schedule along with work on Hell’s Acre, the second Tolkien Viking Werewolves book, and Ymre #2, which has been languishing somewhere around 40k for a while. The heroine and her stray beast really do need to get to the Temple and start unraveling the big mystery.

Someone’s running a leaf blower; at least it’s not fireworks. I’ll take it. And I suppose I really should run my own weary corpse today as well. I’ll feel better after a few kilometers’ worth of sweat.

Happy Tuesday, beloveds. Survival is a gat-damn victory right now, so if you’re reading this, good job! Proud of you! Don’t let the barstids grind you down, and all that.

See you around.

Promised Better

Chop wood, carry water.

Yesterday was awful, from the meta (news cycle) to the micro (personal). Even space werewolves didn’t help; I finally threw up my hands and retreated to bed and unconsciousness.

It did me a load of good, even if I did wake up with a Sheryl Crow song playing at top volume inside my head. I made the mistake of looking at the news again, and now I’m at my desk, with coffee, and despairing. Pretty sure the space werewolves aren’t going to be able to help today, either. Crawling back between the covers and attempting some kind of escape sounds amazing, but I don’t have the luxury of stopping. There are things to do today, and work has to go on despite how I feel.

I wouldn’t be so upset if I hadn’t spent literal decades warning everyone I could, but you know that. I feel like a broken record, even more than usual.

So I’ve fed the dog, made coffee, cued up Tuesday Night Music Club, and thanked the stars we’re not suffering a heat wave at the moment. When I’m done with this post I’ll try to eat something, then walk Boxnoggin–he’s not yet attempting to nose me out the door, probably because I’m not even halfway through my caffeine yet and he knows better than to try any bullshit until I’ve at least gotten a few more molecules of go-juice into my bloodstream–and run, then clean up and start the day’s work.

Chop wood, carry water. It could be worse, Sheryl Crow sings. I could have missed my calling. At least there’s the writing. July is right around the corner, and that means I’ll have to shelve the silly space werewolves in favor of the second Tolkien Werewolves book, and use any leftover time to keep chipping at the second Sons of Ymre. I’m sure as soon as I get a good head of steam on any project some kind of edits will land, and then I’ll have to deal with that. Publishing is a giant frustrating merry-go-round of festina lente at the best of times, and this is certainly nowhere near the best.

I was promised a better apocalypse, dammit. I was promised a meteor, winged battle, a giant dragon and a Whore of Babylon. I was promised something more dramatic and satisfying than a bunch of rich, petty, hate-filled bigots killing the rest of us despite decades’ worth of warning, with a still-raging pandemic on top. I’d demand a refund, but of whom? I did everything I could, we’re still fucked, story of my life.

So here we are on the last day of June. I keep working while the ship sinks, waiting for the inevitable. I don’t know what else to say, my beloveds. It’s all I can do to keep breathing.

Chop wood. Carry water.

Keep writing.

Back Into the Cave

The heat finally broke late last night; I was up at 2am to open some windows and staggered back to bed. It will take time to shake off the lethargy from broken sleep and overheating, but at least I might be able to get a decent night’s rest soon.

It’s the little things.

Yesterday was the first time in what felt like ages I could actually get some real work done, and it was lovely. I suppose it helped that I shut the house early and it became a dark, relatively cooler cave, and further helped that I turned on the social-media blocker. (I use Freedom at the moment.) I simply can’t handle the firehose of the world’s pain right now, and especially not after screaming my head off warning people for years and…being ignored.

I know there are some people who did not ignore, and am very grateful for them. I suspect they’re feeling much the same way I am at the moment; I’m hearing a lot of exhaustion. There’s only so many times one can be proven absolutely correct about the oncoming rocks before one lowers one’s expectations to personally and quietly preparing the life boat and saving whatever one can grab. I learned this lesson in my second marriage, which culminated in my second divorce, and you’d think by now I’d simply shrug and move on when my warnings are dismissed.

Largely, I do! But when I see a disaster coming for millions of people, I (perhaps stupidly) think I have some kind of duty to alert those at risk. And I end up getting ignored at best, or kicked in the teeth at worst. It’s profoundly disheartening, and leaves me wondering why the fuck one should bother.

Maybe it’s only temporary weariness, and once I administer some self-care I’ll be ready to re-enter the fray. But…I’m so tired, so drained, and my contributions appear to be regarded as valueless.

Anyway. I have deadlines. Hell’s Acre is going along, the second season is planned out, and come July I’ll be getting That Damn Werelion Book proofed, not to mention starting the second Tolkien Werewolves Book. I begin to sense that last will have a difficult birth, for various reasons, and now I’m behind on Sons of Ymre #2. So the pro-wrestling space werewolves, as healing as I find them, may have to go on the back burner, and I might have to simply shut off all social media and leave the world to its own devices for a while.

It feels like abrogating responsibility. Yet extreme responsibility without corresponding power to fix problems is a recipe for burnout at best. I did everything I could, I wrote a whole-ass book and screamed my head off for literal decades, and…crickets. Now the bitter fruit of that rancid tree is ripe and stinking, and a great many people have the temerity to act shocked, shocked that the whole thing reeks. The deliberate disingenuousness is maddening.

…I’m not saying anything I haven’t said before, but I suppose I’ll let the above paragraph stand. At least there’s a reasonably cool breeze through my office window, the coffee is warm and good, and Boxnoggin cares not a whit for any of this. His Majesty van der Sploot is focused on the upcoming ritual of toast crust in his bowl before setting out on walkies. And then he’ll snore on my bed while I am forced to drag my corpse through a run. No doubt I’ll feel better after exercise, now that the weather’s finally cooperating again.

Are you as tired as I am, my beloveds? I think it’s quite possible. Take a break if you need it and it’s at all possible; nothing will be served by us working ourselves to death. Survival, no matter how bare, is an unqualified victory under these circumstances. Dum spiro, spero, and all that.

Time to get the toast made and the dog walked. See you around.

Hollowbone Hope

A night of grim insomnia gave way to leaf blowers at 7am, and there’s this big yellow thing in the sky I’m hissing at and hiding from. I’ve been adulting hard lately, and with all the other stuff going on in the world, the cognitive load has me feeling a little loopy.

A little? No, a lot loopy, and last night’s staring into the darkness while brooding might not have helped.

On the other hand, it might have. Certainly I feel calmer now, though that could simply be exhaustion. Either way, I’ll take it.

This morning I’m thinking about little things. I read about someone finding a ladybug in their house during a cold spell, looking up on the internet to see if there was a way to keep it alive until it could be taken back outside. (There is!) The amazing thing is, there were pages of other people asking the same question, which is a hopeful sign for humanity.

I had forgotten what a revelation the internet is, and I’m on it every day. There are whole YouTube channels of therapists giving advice on how to deal with narcissists, breaking down the patterns of abuse and telling one how to protect oneself. Caveat emptor and all, yes, but it’s still a huge improvement over suffering daily abuse in my childhood and teen years, feeling so lonely and isolated self-harm seemed the only option for dealing with the pain. There are so many more choices today, so much more knowledge.

There is the usual caveat–the internet is not ubiquitous, it just feels like it when you’re on it. Accessing all the information presupposes that one has the hardware (and data plan) to do so. At the same time, a rising tide lifts many boats, and plenty of things are now much more common knowledge than they were when I was a teen, or even just a decade ago. Hope, like a weed, stubbornly takes advantage of every crack.

On some level I hate the last monster in Pandora’s box, since it seems merely an invitation to get kicked in the teeth again. (Especially for the past six years…) I know it’s necessary, and yet it hurts so badly I often wish I were immune to its blandishments.

And a certain character in Hell’s Acre is giving me trouble. He insisted on showing up and making cryptic pronouncements, now he’s hanging out on a rooftop and moping. The urge to chuck a story-boulder onto his head to solve the problem is overwhelming, but instead I have to patiently bother and tease until he tells me what his goddamn deal is.

Ah well. As long as I’m frustrated over the imaginary people inside my head, I suppose I’m doing all right.

Oh, and the cordless weed whacker (not euphemism, thank you) works like a charm. I got most of the patio mostly excavated yesterday evening. I can rake the dried stuff away this afternoon and take another pass. It’s much easier than the other trimmer, which had to have an extension cord I was deathly afraid of getting tangled or cut. Technology, my stars and garters. We could do such wonderful things, us humans, if a malignant minority of us wasn’t given so much power and petting.

I’m contemplating another quad shot of espresso with brekkie, just to get some of the cottonwool out of my poor benighted skull. No run today, since going out after a terrible insomniac night is simply asking for injury, but I can fire up the yoga app and have it take me through a few sun salutations. (Another marvelous innovation.) Boxnoggin is slowly settling into being the only dog in the house; he doesn’t seem to be grieving so hard he needs a companion. Some dogs don’t; we may be a single-canine house for a while.

And whoever was running the leaf blowers seems to have finished their project, so there’s that. I’m sure someone else will start up with blowers elsewhere in the neighborhood soon, and if they don’t the pressure-washer brigade will be out. (I’m amazed some people have any driveways left, the way they blast them.) But for the moment there is a bit of peace, and I can shuffle for the toaster at a slow but steady pace.

The little things. I stalk them, pounce, hold the few moments’ worth of good feeling to my chest, treasure its gilded hide and hollow bones before opening my claws, one by one, to let them flutter elsewhere.

Here’s to the chance that can get me (all of us, really) through the day.

Validation, Knowing Why

This morning the algorithm served up a video about “When the narcissist knows YOU know” and honestly…it was incredibly validating. It explained and articulated some things I’ve wondered about for a long, long while.

It’s no secret that I went no-contact with my childhood abusers many years ago. (And I have never for a moment been sorry, either. It was the best life choice I ever made.) One of them died last year, and though the loss of any human being is sad, I felt (and still feel) nothing but relief and liberation. Being able to live without the constant defensive worry of that particular toxic person taking it into their head to show up and attempt mistreating me is extremely freeing. I wonder what I’ll feel when the other one passes. I have already mourned the relationship I wish I had with either of them–thank you, therapy–so at this point, the whole thing is merely a, “huh, guess I’ll find out when it happens.”

It’s a cool grey morning, though the weather app says we’ll have sunshine and high temperatures this week. The world continues to stagger on under a load of greed and brutality. I have very little hope swilling about in my veins, though sometimes I think it’s always been like this and current technology just means we can see the pale squirming things under the lifted rock.

…no wonder I am so tempted to remain in bed.

But there’s work to be done, the dog to walk, my own silly corpse to run, and various other bits of the business of living to deal with, since I am not released from such yet. Boxnoggin has turned his nose up at breakfast once more today, though he’ll probably consent to eat a bit once I’m at the table with my toast. (Don’t worry, he’s in zero danger of any malnutrition, between dinners and training treats.) He is a very social eater; if the pack isn’t wolfing down chow, he tends to refrain. Since I can’t handle solid food on any blessed morn until the coffee settles, we’re sort of at cross purposes for a couple hours after waking up, but it doesn’t seem to do either of us any harm.

And to be fair, I’m the sucker who drops a toast crust into his bowl most mornings, so he can be forgiven for holding out.

Tuesday promises to be relatively quiet, and I’m actually looking forward to picking at Hell’s Acre some more. Stepping back into what I love about this story is going to be the way through. Funny how I have to relearn that every time the Chihuahua of Real Life starts humping ankles again.

And with that cheerful mental image, I’m off to start the day. If the amount of work I achieve isn’t what I hope for, at least I have indications that there’s emotional processing (and plenty of it) going on under the surface to explain why. Sometimes, all one needs is an explanation. The surge of validation from knowing why is liberating in and of itself.

See you around.

Up to Us, Drop by Drop

Well, it’s Monday again. My nerves are somewhat re-wrapped, due to a weekend’s worth of reading Anaïs Nin and just generally being a bump on a log otherwise. I have rarely in my life been this low-energy; normally, while I’m awake I’m working, and that’s that.

But several years of ongoing, relentless crisis will wear on anyone, I think. I keep saying “I am full of the world’s pain”; my empathy is battered daily, even when I don’t doomscroll. It’s at the point where I’m numb, which is a great relief from the tearing pain of loss but interferes with work. Having to press through the layers of emotional scar tissue keeping me sane at this point is…suboptimal.

Consequently I’ve retracted, a bruised anemone. I am, after all, only human, possessed of finite time and energy.

I’m on Volume 6 of Nin’s Diary, and while it’s been an awesome ride, I’m glad there’s only about a volume and a half left. (It was surprisingly hard to get my hot little hands on #7, but I triumphed.) Some of her homophobia is jarring, and the terminology of anti-bigotry has changed out of all recognition since her time as well. Her constant willingness to let others, like Henry Miller, take advantage of her also jolts me. I already didn’t like him (despite reading Henry & June several times since my early 20s and still enjoying it thoroughly) but now my distaste for him (not to mention some others) is at white-hot intensity. Naturally my dislike is a matter of seeing myself revealed; I am somewhat known for being a bit of a doormat if I like someone. For me, it’s a holdover from mu boundaries being repeatedly and regularly violated as a child; I had to learn, painstakingly and in therapy, how to enforce them and how to let toxic, abusive people go.

Thankfully, in my mid-forties, I have learned to take a little more care of myself, and have scrawled many an “ANAÏS HONEY NO” in the margins. Getting to this age as a woman is wonderful; learning to give zero fucks and protect one’s space is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s also why our society prizes malleable teenage girls so much and works so hard to make older women feel invisible and unwanted.

But there’s power in invisibility, my friends. Superpower.

One of the interesting things about reading Nin’s diaries is seeing how little publishing has changed. The things she bemoans in dealing with publishers are the things we’re struggling with now, just with jet fuel poured on the bonfire. Even some of the names are the same. They still treat writers as disposable serfs; I think Nin would have bemoaned several parts of the internet but absolutely loved the explosion of self-publishing made possible by its technological advance.

…I could write a whole article about that, but who has the time?

I was also able to settle and watch a movie or two, including 1956’s Forbidden Planet. Seeing a very young Leslie Nielsen was a trip and a half, and the misogyny in the movie was…not a treat, let’s put it that way. It is fully an heir to Shakespeare in woman-hating, especially as a retelling of The Tempest. On the bright side, it makes me want to rewrite the whole thing and do it right, which is a sign that I’m taking in creative nourishment. Filling the well, drop by drop.

Which is good, because I’m parched.

In any case, I should get my brekkie–so Boxnoggin will consume his; he is a very social eater–and take said Boxnoggin on his walkies so I can run. The rest of the day is for a top to bottom reread of Hell’s Acre; that has moved to first on my docket. I’m in the second season now, and as usual, by this point I have an idea of what the next serial will be but have to get this one sorted beforehand. I had such dreams for this serial, but the pandemic really made working on it into acid-test conditions. It’s sad; I wanted to do so much more.

In any case, there’s my marching orders. Oh, and happy Juneteenth Observed! It’s high time for this holiday to be given attention; it should be even bigger than Fourth of July. (And if you have a problem with me saying that, tough. It’s still true.)

Happy First Weekday, my beloveds; be gentle with yourselves and each other. The rest of the world will not, so it’s up to us.

Gin, Saviour?

Of course it brings forth juniper berries, it’s a juniper bush!

I really do have to watch Life of Brian again sometime soon. (Follow the gourd, the Holy Gourd!) Every time I see a juniper, I have to at least smile. And since I’m turning my attention to Hell’s Acre next, and that’s in an alt-Victorian setting, I’m thinking about gin. A lot.

I could also be thinking about gin because a little intoxication might be nice on my shattered nerves. It’s a bloody joke on the universe’s part that I’ve started breaking out in hives whenever I drink. Of course, edibles are legal in my state, so at least there’s that–a door closes and a window opens, so to speak.

I finished the line edits for The Dead God’s Heart yesterday, sent them off, and spent the rest of the day doing other work here and there, not to mention hopping out for bread and milk. At least some people are still wearing masks; the proportion seems to be ticking up a bit. I will admit I was unprepared to see how many of my fellow humans are selfish gits who won’t cover up their disease-holes to help keep others alive and safe. It is a great shock, and I’m still–still–reeling from it.

But the junipers are fruiting, my peonies are still blooming, the foxglove is still lovely, and I’ve a run today after I walk Boxnoggin, who has found out he somewhat enjoys being the only canine in the house but is still unnerved because to a dog, Even a Good Change is Change, and Any Change is Bad, Bad, Bad. There’s also Tea with Lili to consider today before I can turn to the task of rewrapping my nerves and maybe getting a little rest.

Maybe.

We’re almost to the weekend, my beloveds. I hope it’s pleasant and calm for you, in whatever proportion of both you desire. And now I’ve got to finish absorbing this coffee…