Driven Me To

Yes, my darlings, this is what lockdown and fascist coup have driven me to: sobbing into Keep Calm and Carry On tissues while drinking my emergency can of wine. (This was last Friday, if I’m being strictly honest.)

This week, we do have a D&D game. I have a murder himbo to hire, a date between our ranger and a dwarf named Gracie to cheer on, and a party to attend. My cleric has a new dress, the rogue’s gnoll toddler has a babysitter, our half-orc barbarian has a new zoot suit, and our paladin has no idea what she’s gotten herself into.

So instead of sobbing I’ll be laughing maniacally, chewing on a burrito, and maybe downing an edible or two while being the in-game equivalent of a chaos generator. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you have a nice Friday evening planned too, my beloveds. But first I’ve got to get through the work day. Dogs need walking, there’s a run in the pouring rain to get done, and if I work myself to the bone today I will feel absolutely no guilt about knocking off early to play with my friends.

Take what joy you can. We’ve survived another week. I think we all deserve a pat on the back and something fun.

Fellini Dreams

I dreamed I was in a restaurant with very large fishtanks full of jellyfish, arguing/discussing/critiquing Fellini with Henry Cavill. I have no clue why my subconscious picked that particular actor, maybe because his nose reminds me of Marcello Mastroianni’s. But I do know I was drinking whiskey while discussing La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, and now I have the urge to take the day off and watch Fellini and Antonioni films. The two directors are somewhat indissolubly linked inside my head, more because I discovered their work in the same timeframe than for any other reason.

Anyway, I have coffee, and have had the morning French lesson. I was trying French, German, and Turkish at the same time, but then… lockdown happened, and the fascist coup is accelerating. At this point I’m thinking we’re due for twenty years or so of authoritarian rule unless the military removes that orange blivet from the Oval Office after the election, which will cause problems of its own.

Staring at what feels like the approaching end of the world (but is only the fall of a colonialist empire, I suppose) is playing havoc with my productivity. I’m trying not to read the news before a certain point in the day so I have at least a chance of some uninterrupted working time, but it filters in anyway.

Yesterday’s rains have washed sky and earth clean, at least. The air smells wonderful, cleansed of all smoke, though I still have a drilling pain in my lungs during extraordinarily deep breaths.

I know we got off lightly with just a few days of smoke; I’m grateful and yet feel guilty at the same time.

There’s the coffee to finish and the dogs to walk, a run to get in, and the day’s work is laid out before me. I keep chipping away at The Bloody Throne, expecting it to break loose and slide for the finish any… day… now. I’m in the phase where scenes I had planned fall by the wayside because they don’t fit the shape and momentum of what’s already been done, or I realize I already solved the problem approached by said scenes earlier in the book and just didn’t realize it. There’s also a lot of Clannad and Kpop on the writing playlist now, which goes together better than you’d think. Not quite PB&J, more like PB and banana on really tangy sourdough bread, which happens to be a particular favorite of mine.

The weekend is early enough for Fellini, despite me wanting to kick everything over and settle in for a mini film-fest today. Plus I’ve got to work enough that I can justify knocking off a tad early tomorrow for D&D–there’s a certain murder himbo my cleric is planning to hire as a meat shield, and I’ve been looking forward to that for a solid month now. I’ve got to get the paladin a date, and our ranger has a rendezvous with a dude who looks a little like Aidan Turner, so it’s going to be a really awesome session that will probably end in murder when we bust up an owlbear-fighting ring on an offshore rig.

…look, this is what happens when you have writers in your group. We start arguing over owlbear relocation projects and end up searching for himbos and catfish to seduce with a side of murder.

Or maybe that’s just D&D in general. In any case, I’d better get underway. The book isn’t going to write itself, more’s the pity. Although it’s nice to be needed to transmit said book, and fun to have a brain that serves up film critique and whiskey while I’m safe in bed.

It almost–almost–gives one hope.

A JoCo Day, Calloo, Callay

A half-pony, half-monkey monster would be a distinct improvement over a lot of what’s happening right now.

…maybe I should back up. I’m listening to Skullcrusher Mountain this morning, since I woke up with Code Monkey playing inside my head. (Long story.) Pretty sure the day’s going to be all right, especially with that soundtrack.

It’d getting more and more difficult to crawl out of bed in the morning. The dogs need brekkie and loo breaks, of course, and that’s pretty much the only thing that dragged me forth this morn. It just doesn’t seem worth it to resurrect on my own account; suffocating myself with my pillows has rarely seemed so enticing.

Life goes on, of course. It could hardly do otherwise. There are books to write and a box of author copies arrived yesterday; I should open it today and see what lurks within. The dogs have had breakfast and a loo break, but they need their walkies like I need a daily run. The children need their mother, no matter that they’re adults now–and isn’t that strange?

I thought motherhood as a job–not an emotional state, which is constant–would be over once the kids reached a certain age. It’s somewhat of a relief to find out they still need their mum, albeit in different ways, as they embark upon adulthood. More relief springs from the fact that they actually seem to like their mother, and are not frantically attempting to escape me by chewing their own limbs off as I did at my son’s age.

Finding out I’ve raised a brace of adults who actually like their parental figure and actively want to spend time with me is a deep gift, one I’m absolutely grateful for. I suppose there really are things to get out of bed in the morning for.

Go figure.

Maybe it’s time for a rousing rendition of Re: Your Brains to get the day truly started. Boxnoggin has interrupted the typing of this post at least four times now, excitedly informing me of such things as a leaf blowing down the street or someone walking a trio of dogs near our mailbox. Both events send poor ol’ Lord van der Sploot right over the damn edge.

He needs a walk; I suppose one wouldn’t do me any harm either. At least the smoke has cleared out again, and we’re looking at enough rain to extinguish the local forest fires. Small mercies; eventually, the rain always comes.

Exeunt, humming Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write goddamn login page himself“, pursued by politics…

Rested Monday

I’ve surfaced blinking into Monday, wondering what the hell happened. I actually slept last night, I have caffeine standing ready as I type, and the birds are going mad in the back yard. The smoke is gone, and weather-heads are using words like “fire-season-ending rain” for later in the week.

It can’t happen soon enough according to yours truly. I’ve missed falling water with a passion, as I do every summer, but the smoke just put a capper on the longing. Also, the dogs were exhausted from being on high alert for basically an entire week, nervously waiting for the fire they could smell to engulf us, so they barely moved all night too.

Consequently I’m starting Monday rather late but feeling somewhat rested, which is not at all a usual thing lately. And an idea for a new romantic suspense (Romancing the Stone meets Treasure of the Sierra Madre) crawled inside my head and doubled this weekend, too, though I didn’t write any of it–just dropped a sentence or two into a throwaway Scrivener file and let it go. If it wants its time at centre stage, it’s going to have to wait until the paid projects grind through.

I did spend some time with Seeker, Slinger, though. It was nice to poke at something solely for home consumption.

My email tells me a box of author copies will arrive today. I’m just not sure which book. Normally this would mean putting together a giveaway, but lockdown being what it is the less time I spend in public places (like the post office) the better. I do have some audiobook codes; maybe that will do for a giveaway. Or maybe I might skip this month.

Six months into a pandemic we could be dealing with effectively if there were non-fascist adults running the federal government, I am beginning to run out of both hope and energy. I’m told this is unavoidable, a sign of adjusting to a new normal. It makes sense, I just still don’t like it.

So today is for serious wordcount on The Bloody Throne and a new chapter in HOOD, which has just entered its final phase of its final season. Maid Marian, Little John, and Friar Tuck are off in a spaceship to find King Richard and bring him home, while those left planetoid are fending off Prince John’s advances, and poor Guy of Gisbourne is stuck in the middle. I do love a good villain redemption, as long-time readers will know.

I’ve been watching quite a few Donnie Yen movies lately. It’s extraordinarily healing to watch that man land a punch or two. Every time he kicks the shit out of someone on-screen, my heart gets glued a fraction or two back together.

Small pleasures, yes. But they’re mine, and on a Monday I shall cherish them. I wish you likewise joys, my friends.

Magnolia, Centre

The Pacific Northwest is a bit strange. Magnolias do very well here. (So do rose bushes and figs, but that’s a different story.) I was be-bopping along, walking the dogs in the heavy, apocalyptic smoke (the world is burning, natch, ah well, had to happen sometime) when we were forced to pause under a big magnolia for something that apparently smelled AMAZING to two canines.

It struck me, looking at the branch hanging over my head, that the tree doesn’t give a good goddamn about anything. It just… grows. And for a moment my own burden of anxiety lightened, looking at the new buds.

Take where you can get it in this year of our disaster 2020, my friends. There are new leaves on at least one magnolia in the world.

The dogs finally had huffed all they wanted, and we moved on. But that moment of calm was a treasure, and I keep thinking about it. We’ve all been knocked ass over teakettle, but even in the spinning there are moments to be found at the centre.

May you have at least one, if not many, today.

Today, Comic Relief

There was some clearing last night, and I was ecstatic at the prospect of maybe, just maybe, being able to run this morning. Alas, I woke up to more dense smoke and the air quality advisory extends until noon. Pretty sure we’ll get to noon and said advisory will shift to “lol u thought we were done? nope.”

I have coffee, so my mood will almost certainly improve… but not soon. At least the caffeine will make me a little less cranky. And tomorrow there’s rain in the forecast, which will be a boon and a blessing–if it actually happens, of course, meteorology being what it is. Weather is a highly complex system, and the tiniest invisible thing can throw a forecast wide of the mark.

I’m pretty sure my role today is “comic relief”, and that’s best performed with an edge under one’s humor–well hidden, like a straight razor tucked in a pile of folded silk. The important thing is that edge must never, under any circumstances, punch down–you must always employ it at least laterally (at your own privilege) or ideally upwards (at those more privileged).

The dogs are unhappy with only a block’s worth of walkies each day instead of a proper ramble. I start coughing as soon as I step outside–another reason why I’ll probably climb onto the treadmill even though I’m absolutely aching to pound some pavement–and it can’t be good for their lungs either. But they don’t understand things like air quality, climate change, or elections. To them, I am the sole goddess of the world, and though my ways are strange they do not question, merely complain.

Loudly, in some cases.

In any case, I’ve drained my coffee cup, and yesterday’s work in The Bloody Throne was late but satisfying. I’m at the point where planned scenes can be thrown merrily out the window because the final shape of the book is now visible, and all that’s necessary is to fill in the blocks left over. The book isn’t quite ready to break free and gallop for the finish, but it’s only a matter of time.

I’m ready. I wish I was back at my pre-lockdown productivity rate, but I’m having difficulty switching between projects for the first time in my life. Something in my innards has broken, and I’m not quite sure how to keep us all fed (not to mention the lights on) if I can’t work at least at 75% of my norm. At least I can sit cross-legged while writing now, and that is making my back ever so much happier.

So today I walk the dogs, climb begrudgingly on the treadmill, and find some humor amid the pile of wreckage. The last bit will save me, I suspect; if I can laugh, I’m some version of all right. My sense of humor tends to be pretty mordant and bleak anyway; today, however, there’s going to have to be some slapstick amid the smoke.

We’re on the downhill slide, almost done with the week; soon we’ll stagger past Friday and be able to celebrate another small victory.

I can’t wait.

Small Signs

After a morning spent chasing the sound of squirrels on the roof and attempting to break down the sliding glass door because one of the little fuzzy bastards was on the deck, the dogs demanded walkies. I was forced to comply, with the hope that said walkies would wear them the fuck out and halt the sonic assault, not to mention the bowling-me-over thing.

There are small signs the smoke is thinning–things have shadows now, the sky is dingy white instead of nicotine yellow, and (amazingly!) I saw the sun behind a shifting veil of smoke and vapor. Not to mention the birds are screaming in every tree they can find, and the squirrels are out in force looking for snacks. It’s warmer, too–the eerie chill of the past few days is breaking in bits and pieces.

Back home now. The walkies were too short, just barely scratching the canine itches for movement, but it was getting hard to breathe. The deep drilling pain in my lungs is matched by the eye-watering, my nose filling up, and even my ears aching. I’m so ready for this to be over.

Today is for avocado toast (I have one ripe avocado left and plenty of good sourdough) and an epic battle scene, not to mention a villain-motivation scene. If I can just get those two done I can call it a day. I suspect it’ll be easier now that the smoke is thinking somewhat, though not nearly quick enough to suit.

At least Boxnoggin hasn’t attempted to fling himself through the sliding glass door more than once this morning. Small mercies. The light is strengthening outside my window; I never thought I’d miss blue sky. I’m generally more comfortable with the grey of a rainy Pacific Northwest winter, but I find myself longing for a clear day. Being able to run will do me no end of good; the smoke has worked its way into the garage so even the treadmill is off. I haven’t quite collapsed in a breathless puddle yet, but my lungs are telling me it’s close.

And now, breakfast. Tuesday is looking to be as quiet as can be expected. Maybe I can even curl up for a nap sometime this afternoon. Frankly the prospect of crawling back into bed is the only thing getting me through today, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

Onward to a morass of blood, swords, cavalry, and trumpeted charges–no, in the book, not out here in meatspace, although the way things are going I wouldn’t be surprised. 2020’s looking to fill everyone’s bingo card.

See you around.