Tiny Graces

Yesterday was awful, and now I have plenty to catch up on. I’m happiest when I’m working, I guess, but all the same…I’d like to layabout for a few more days and stuff my head full of fun things. Alas, administrivia and wordcount beckon.

On the bright side, I pulled a beautiful four-shot this morning, and here it is for your delectation. It smelled great, and cut with a little cream, tasted even better. And one of the kids loaded the dishwasher already, so that’s one less thing I have to do. Such little things–a cup of coffee, a dog’s nosing at one’s hand, finding the dishwasher already loaded–make life bearable. When I look to find what makes life worth continuing, it’s the tiny graces that end up outweighing all else.

I wish you a day full of small, beautiful things, my friends.

Khan’s Daytime

Sometimes, Khan doesn’t want to be tucked in for his daily rest. Instead, he half-naps outside the covers, keeping a watchful eye and enjoying the air. I don’t mind, for I know a bear is a wild thing at heart, but sometimes he mutters about needing to be on guard during the daytime, and I get concerned.

He tells me not to worry, for he is a bear of much strength and canniness, as evidenced by his many mighty feats during the Nightmare Skirmishes. He is a bear of much tenderness, too, and doesn’t wish me to be concerned. Perhaps he does just want some air, but there’s a warning glint in his dark eyes.

So on days he wishes to be outside the covers, I take extra care. I check the street an extra time before crossing, I reread thrice before I hit “send”, I drink plenty of water and try to be as gentle with myself as I am with my loved ones. And when I crawl into bed at the end of the day and Miss B hops up to settle herself for the night journey, I hug Khan and thank him.

What for? his eyes say, and I settle him in his usual spot.

“For caring,” I say, and open the book I’m currently reading.

It’s good to care, and to be cared for.

Peace, Process

Maybe I’ve recovered from the zero draft of Maiden’s Blade, because I’m looking at the sheer amount of revision that book will need and feeling the need to wail and gnash my teeth. It won’t help, and a lot of the work is supplementary materials–character sheets, footnotes, etc.–because if I’m going to do a doorstop epic fantasy trilogy, I need to keep names and character arcs somewhere other than my aching skull. It used to be I’d simply stuff it in my cranial corners, but with going back to piano and all I need all the extra bandwidth I can get.

I also have a book on “the poetics of The Tale of Genji” that I want to dive into, dammit, and I can’t until I bloody well get the zero draft in at least reasonable first-draft shape and sent off to yon patient editor. I’m dangling litcrit in front of my face like a carrot before a donkey, which means I’m much more tired than I thought.

I’ve had a few moments lately where I simply stop and look at things in my house. When I catch myself thinking about old hurts, often my eye will light upon a framed print, a plant, a tchotchke I remember placing with care. The idea that I’m forty-two this year, I’d a dul-gurned adult, and that I have arranged my life mostly to suit myself is still shatteringly exotic. I am hideously, unabashedly lucky. From the Nighthawks over the piano to Rembrandt’s Athena in my office, from the glass apples to the half-burned candles on the mantel, from the glass fishing floats to the statues of goddesses watching over the domicile, from the bookshelves arranged exactly as I prefer them to the books gathered wherever I happened to be reading them, from the knitting on my desk to the Princess’s knitting on the coffee table, from the Little Prince’s playing cards (he practices throwing them, I don’t know) in random places to the rehabilitated plants everywhere there’s enough sunlight to fuel them, my refuge is beautiful.

I suppose every May I think about the price of surviving and the measure of success. I worry that having a place to rest will dull my edge, which is just the hypervigilance talking. I’ve gone from considering just-plain-enduring a single day a success to having larger goals than sheer brute survival. Having those larger goals feels like asking for too much. Don’t push it, all this could vanish.

I wonder what I could want, if I’d been raised by better-adjusted people who actually wanted me. I wonder what I’d consider natural and reasonable to ask for. I wonder who I’d be without the scar tissue. I suppose every survivor does.

Right now I am trying to teach myself that I am allowed some peace, that it is a good thing to have, that my sense of peace is a process so if it breaks I can figure out how to fix it, and that lasagna is not necessarily a hideous miscarriage of perfectly good pasta. (That last one is more of a personal preference than a Grand Life Goal, but I might as well tack it on.)

And Athena, hanging in my office, is neither smiling nor frowning, simply gazing pointedly at my desk. That’s all very well, the Maiden says. But get back to work.

Aye-aye, Captain. Back to work it is.

Stacked-Counter Disaster

Well. Last week ended without me having developed pyrokinesis and burning everything in sight, so that’s good, right? Between doctor’s appointments1 and loved ones having difficulties and the ongoing dishwasher saga (still not installed, don’t ask, maybe Tuesday will change all that) and being behind on this monster of an epic fantasy (that they’re going to title something WRONG IMO but oh well, they know what they’re doing) and the Princess needing an emergency trip or two and the Little Prince needing some tough love when it comes to his homework AND the dogs AND AND AND…

…you get the idea. Every once in a while a week comes along where the universe, not content to load one up with a single disaster, crams ever more into a short timeframe and lights a match, smirking.

Consequently, I took yesterday off except for Regular Sunday Chores, but I’m still twitching. Normally I have the luxury of feeding my introvert nature, spending great chunks of each day alone.2 I also–because clearly I don’t have enough to do–broke down, got a domain, and put together the bare bones of a fan wiki.3 That part was fun; the problem with every other wiki or bulletin board install I’ve done in the past is trying to run it off my main site instead of just getting a domain and putting it there, which cratered EVERYTHING. I did it in fifteen-minute chunks in between washing up, hoovering, brushing and bathing the canids, and assorted other household maintenance items.

Consequently, today I’m kind of…staring and twitching, again. I have a chapter of Atlanta Bound to revise and wordcount on said giant epic fantasy to catch up on, a long run to get in, and all I want to do is go back to bed. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for emotional energy is beginning to feel hideously familiar, even though I’ve telescoped in a lot of other commitments. The only cure is getting some things off my plate, and that won’t happen without work.

It would also be nice to have the kitchen put back together. Everything in the cabinets that the installers will need taken out in order to do their job easily has been living on the counters for…a while, now. I would never have thought such a thing would irk me–one of the accusations leveled at me since childhood is that I’m a messy person and mess obviously doesn’t bother me the way it should. I could find anything on my bookshelf or in my room in seconds flat and never lost my school papers, though, so I guess I wasn’t so much messy as it was a convenient thing to yell at me about. When the kids came along, a certain amount of mess didn’t bother me because Tiny Chaos Machines are gonna Tiny Chaos Machine, and there’s nothing to be done about it. I am…surprised, and a little baffled, that the kitchen being a stacked-counter disaster bothers me as much as it does. I mean, the house is crammed with books and dust and fun things, but I want to put the goddamn waffle iron back in its home.

Go figure.

This is turning out to be yet another year of things I didn’t question about myself because I was told them over and over by toxic caregivers proving to be not quite true. It’s unsettling, but also pleasant. Maybe that’s also costing emotional energy.

Meh. Time to get back to work. The morning run won’t accomplish itself–more’s the pity–and neither will the bloody books.

Over and out.

Said Often

So Odd Trundles had a nightmare last night, and peed his bed. This doesn’t happen as frequently as you’d think, but it does mean I’m up early, his bedding is in the wash, and I have soaped a dog’s ass and undercarriage before 8am. It’s a good thing all my commitments for the day were suddenly changed to afternoon during the span of a half-hour yesterday.

If I can just get through this week without combusting from sheer tension, I’ll call it a win.

So. My office is full of the reek of just-washed Trundles, but at least the window is open. A plumber is coming by this afternoon to fix the shutoff valve and maybe, if he got authorization from the home warranty folks, to install the new dishwasher and take the old one away. I have each scenario planned for–just the valve fixed, the valve fixed but the dishwasher electrical somehow borked, the valve fixed and the new dishwasher installed but the old one not carted off, and the best of all possible worlds, the valve fixed, new dishwasher installed AND old one carted away. Anything will represent a step forward, so I’m pretty Zen about the whole deal. It’s arrived at the point of absurd hilarity, so I can relax now.

The other commitment this afternoon is offering moral support during a friend’s doctor visit. I can’t plan for any of the scenarios on that one. For one thing, nothing is inside my control there except showing up on time and being supportive. For another, there’s just too much we don’t know yet. Today should at least give us more information. Aggressive treatment options are already scheduled for the next few weeks, so we’ll see how it turns out.

I say that a lot. Just this past weekend, I was in the car with the Little Prince. I have this habit of prepping the kids when we’re in the car. When they were younger, everything went easier if they knew what to expect, and the car was the last-minute place for answering questions and taking them through processes. I guess I haven’t gotten out of the habit, because I started telling the Prince what we were looking for and as a bonus, answering his questions about the then-latest bits of the dishwasher saga.

“…we’ll see what happens,” I finished.

He laughed. “You say that every time we’re in the car.”

I said it again at dinner, and since then, I’ve noticed whenever it leaves my mouth. The kids are sixteen and twenty now; I suppose decades of parenting have left me with a few habits they might find a little annoying. Both of them tell me the prep sessions are comforting no matter how old they get. Plus, they’ve absorbed “plan for what we can and relax about the rest” as a Life Maxim, which is hardly the worst way to look at situations.

It’s busy, but so far I’m coping. Especially since work is going relatively smoothly, though I had to take some time off yesterday to think about ceremonial leather armor, mercury poisoning, and different diseases I can give this particular Emperor that will have the effects I want on him and the story. I need his decline to be fairly rapid since we’re in the last third of the book, and the coronation is the next-to-last thing that happens before number one of the trilogy reaches a natural resting place.

But…yeah. We’ll see what happens.

*winks, vanishes in a cloud of smoke*

Bundle of Cheer

Barn Owl
© Donfink | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Got the wind knocked out of me on Monday evening, and I suspect it won’t come back any time soon. I am beginning to hate April; it’s just one thing after another this month. Not to me–I’m doing well–but people I care about are having somewhat of a rough go, and all I can do is support. I long to take a katana to the problems, but that would require enemies one could simply dispatch with a blade.

Life is full of those, but also full of ones you can’t. Plus, swinging an edge often leads to paperwork, and nobody has time for that.

So instead it’s budgeting my energy and retracting somewhat into a social shell so I can reserve enough to be an effective support and get my writing done. It’s a good thing I deactivated Facebook; one could so easily sink into a morass there.

Today marks the beginning of Atlanta Bound, Season 4 of Roadtrip Z. There’s a lot planned for this final season, it’s a real stunner. Once the road trip is over, I’m really thinking the next serial will be Robin Hood in Space, so I’d best get that underway.

The trouble is, Hostage to Empire wants to chew up all my bandwidth. Book 1 now wants to be called The Maiden’s Blade, which should make the editor happier. It’s also hit 80K and shows no sign of stopping or even slowing down. I have to write the kidnapping, the assassination attempts, and an emperor’s death. Hopefully I can get it in at least rough zero form by July; the timeline is compressed because it’s taking the place of the dead book. *sigh*

So. It’s time to get the first two chapters of Atlanta Bound prepped for subscribers, revise another two chapters of the same for next week’s offering, and get in daily wordcount on Maiden’s Blade. Also, some yoga needs to be done, because I am pushing myself hard while running and as a result, my entire body feels like one big bruise. Oh, and I should probably leave the house to fetch milk, right?

I’ve had eight shots of espresso this morning, the therapy lamp is on, and all I want to do is go back to bed. My eyelids need toothpicks to prop them open. If I’m a very good girl and get all the things on my list accomplished today, maybe I’ll plant some beans in the garden boxes.

It’s not much, but at least it’s one small unstressful something I know how to do.

Hug the people you care about today for me, please. Tell someone you’re there for them, and do something nice for yourself, too. We’re all stuck on this rock hurtling through space, and caring for each other is the only way we’re gonna get through it. I mean, life is inevitably fatal, but at least we can do some good before going to sleep.

Yeah, I’m just a bundle of cheer and optimism today. Over and out.

Bulwark Against Eternity

Well, I’m awake. The house is quiet, especially since Odd Trundles, worn out after all his napping yesterday and a night spent snoring, is on his Fancy-Dancy Office Bed. Miss B, twitchy since I didn’t take her out yesterday, is busy supervising both his schnorgling snores and my listening to affirmations. This supervision mostly takes the form of nosing him and begging me for pets.

I’m back at work, thank the gods. Not fully recovered, I suspect, but the itch under my skin has mounted to such a pitch that scratching it outweighs the need to rest. It’s time for me to shift most of my engines to Khir’s Honor, which is….a complex book. It’s hit 60K and is just getting started. Apparently the next thing the Muse wants is doorstop epic fantasy. Conspiracies! Poisoning! An unsteady empire transitioning from expansion to maintenance, but under external threat! ROMANCE!

This is going to be fun.

The other thing on my list is revising Jozzie & Sugar Belle. This will probably be a weekend project, since I’ll need a block of dedicated time to get back into the lighthearted swing of that story. Plus, there are details I want to layer in, like Jozzie’s jockstrap (look, when your nuts get excised, you might feel a little self-conscious and want to pad things out a bit) and Sugar Belle’s wardrobe, which frankly is a character all its own. I guess when you’re a stripper/tattoo artist/witch, you have no fucks to give about sartorial conventions. I might be wanting to channel a little of that myself, lately.

I never thought I’d attempt epic fantasy, despite Steelflower. Apparently the Muse thinks now is a good time to attempt it. Last time she got an idea into her pretty head was Afterwar, and that book terrified me in terms of complexity and subject matter. She keeps pushing and prodding, forcing me to stretch. Let’s see if you can do this, she purrs, and I sigh.

Like a shark–the only way to breathe is to keep swimming. It’s actually comforting. The idea that the gods can’t take me until I finish my TBR and all the books I want to write is no doubt erroneous, but it helps me get through the day and move forward. Work and books as a bulwark against eternity. There are worse ways to cope.

I am pondering–only pondering, mind you–starting to give writing and editing advice over on Haggard Feathers. (That’s where you can get on my editing/cover copy/ebook formatting waitlist, too.) Running two blogs at once seems a thankless task, but maybe consolidating and putting all my writing advice in one place (that isn’t Quill & Crow) might be a good idea.

In any case, it’s time to get to it for the day. Miss B requires a ramble today, I think, which means I have wordcount to get in before I’m free to stick my feet in shoes and grab her leash. It’s sunny, which means there will be a million people out, probably with their own dogs offleash, but maybe it won’t be so bad.

Maybe.

Over and out.