Full Time

ghandi01 Moving, shifting, creaking. Sometimes getting up a little early makes one think about possibilities. Morning t’ai chi. Stretching. Plenty of time instead of a rush all day.

Then, of course, I roll over and burrow back into warmth. Screw that noise, right? Except when I absolutely have to get up and drive someone somewhere.

Anyway. I was rousted early this morning and am still absorbing coffee that became stone-cold while I navigated morning traffic. Fortunately the way home was clear, and we all made it in one piece. The rest of today is for a short easy run and all sorts of wordcount. And piano practice. I have thrown Monday back onto the ropes, but I’m not sure it will ever surrender. The best we’ll achieve is an armed detente.

I spent the weekend playing hooky with a story that isn’t one of the Three Projects. It was nice to clear my head and work on something I didn’t have a clear idea for, just feeling my way from one edge to another. Never underestimate the ability of one story to make another jealous–it doesn’t even have to be a story one plans on finishing, really. I work on multiple projects at a time in order to shift between them when one gets stubborn. The key is to keep the pressure just steady enough to provide forward momentum, and reined in just enough to make it seem like one is stealing time to work on something forbidden. That feeling of illicit work, of thieving around the edges of something else, heart in mouth and skin alive with anticipation, brings all sorts of immediacy to the table.

Now that the week’s started, though, I go back to the projects on tap, and the pressure now comes from getting wordcount in so I can go play later. So much of living is finding ways to trick or game yourself into doing the unpleasant but necessary. Keeping one step ahead of my own desperate desire to just crawl in a hole and let the world go on without me is a full-time occupation most of the time. So much so that thinking about it is a bit disheartening, so it’s time to actually go do something instead of planning.

Over and out.

Still Here

spring

A ramble in the park woods with B is pretty much always a good idea, no matter the season. It’s February, and yet spring has already blown in, somewhat lionlike. I keep telling the crocuses and hyacinths and cherry trees to be careful, but they know better than me, it appears.

They almost always do.

The rains are a little bit warmer now, and the earth is no longer resting. It’s teeming, and that subtle scent of small things waking up is everywhere outside. Sweet daphne and some heather are blooming, too early, and the few cherry trees putting out flowers are humming happily. I hope the mason bees wait for the apple trees at least, or the favas.

I was not quite surprised to see these vine-bushes leafing out already–they’re generally the first to test the wind, so to speak. They told me nothing can be put back in the bottle, that spring has arrived whether I want it to be cautious or not, and that they appreciate my concern but they’d be just fine.

Mouthy little things. They get a little sullen in high summer, but other than that, they’re more than happy to give advice. The firs and cedars are grumbling in their sleep, rising toward wakefulness–they generally wait until the deciduous ones have made a showing before they start rolling over and peering at the alarm clock, so to speak.

It’s here. It’s begun. Another rainy spring, and I am surprised to find myself still here. These fellows, though, don’t seem surprised at all. They greet me like an old friend, and there’s few things as comforting.

Scar, Strong

109ram_icons004 Running, this morning. A poem hits right between the eyes, and as I sweat I put the lines together, shake them, see the edges. Look at how they fit.

Think about the absences. People I couldn’t save, who didn’t want to be saved. The times I had to walk away, the times I’ve shouted down a dark well hoping to help, pouring love and energy into black holes.

Run harder. The poem comes back on little cat feet.

Turn it over, shake it again. The edges come together, seamless.

Memories. Mistakes. Nothing to be done about it now, did the best I could then, made amends where I could. If it could have been fixed it would have been. All the things your friends tell you when you begin to let them in again after curling around your hurt. Their patience, repeating it until sometimes you hear it in your head because it’s sunk in, finally.

Run harder. Yes, the poem’s there. It shimmers. Not perfect, an irregular pearl, but still all mine. Grit and nacre.

It takes so much for me to give up on someone, and even when I do, I still hope. I can’t break myself of the habit. You can’t man the perimeter against the little chink in your own heart, the space where you just want people you care–or cared–for to be happy.

Glance down at B. She’s enjoying the pace, but she’s not the young dog she once was. She’ll run until her heart gives out for me, but I never ask it. For her, I slow, even though I want to run until I drop, until I pass out, until the world turns over.

I have sentinels in front of that crack in my heart. Friends. It’s a good thing to have people who give a damn, it’s a good thing when caring isn’t a one-way street with all the giving at my end. Most days I am completely baffled by it, but on the good days I know I matter as a human being to a couple people. The good days are getting more frequent. Healing is difficult, but it can be done.

Workout over. Poem still in head, a reassuring glow. B glad to stop, though she’d run more if I asked. We walk, she basks as I tell her she’s a good girl. She noses a couple lamp-posts on the way home, reading the day’s news. Still an aching in my chest, but it’s just the scar tissue.

I can live with it.

Home. B on her bed in my office, Odd Trundles still napping on my bed–he woke briefly when we returned, greeting us before he went back to his ever-important late-morning nap. My hair is wet from the shower and I’m in the clothes I wore yesterday, the poem allowed to drift free into the world. Tea steeping, other words crowding my brain.

I feel around the scars, probing, taking stock.

They’re strong. Supple. They will hold for one more precious day.

So I write.

Growing Early

crocus

They’re coming up, gold and purple, everywhere I put bulbs in. I keep trying to tell them we may still have a cold snap, but they are optimistic. So are the daffodils; they are green swords ankle-high and stretching. Some favas have come up where the squirrels hid leftover beans from last year–I can almost forgive the fuzzy little bastards.

Almost.

The now there is rain on the roof, the street is a river, and I am certain every bulb below the surface is drinking deep and preparing to risk everything by growing early.

Seems like a dangerous spring has sprung.

Empathy Drawback

psychoanalysed Rolled out of bed this morning feeling I could cheerfully hex the face off anyone I did not give birth to. The kids are now safely at school, and I (and my bad humor) are safely locked in the office, tapping at a keyboard. Of course, I have to go for a run later, but if I time it right (and since the clouds have returned) I may not have to interact with anyone. A mercy to all involved, I suspect.

It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s that I get so much overwhelming information from them, even strangers. Being hyperaware of tone, expression, body language, bracing myself against drowning in other people’s feelings or being constantly on guard in case they suddenly explode…it’s exhausting. Years of the habit of observation from being a writer have only sharpened childhood’s leftover vigilance, and a healthy dose (maybe an overdose) of empathy only adds to the problem. I spend a lot of energy in crowds or public places just keeping the wall between me and other people’s feelings strong enough to keep me from going under.

Sometimes I wish I could shut it off. The wish never lasts very long, because I’ve seen people devoid of empathy and I never want to risk that. I know there’s a middle way, but when I get tired, it’s hard to keep my balance. The anti-anxiety meds help, too.

Characters can be just as difficult, just as draining. I feel them just as strongly, even the villains. Getting so far inside their heads I understand each tic and tiny action takes a toll. I am not my characters, I just…feel them. Ache for them. Understand them, and try to translate that understanding.

The mornings when I wake up and feel like hexing, or clawing, or practicing my resting bitchface so strangers don’t try talking to me (it rarely works, they seem to find me irresistible, especially in grocery store queues) aren’t because I dislike people. They’re because I don’t have the time or energy to respond to an ambush of my empathy. The internet is a godsend, really, because I can limit interactions and hold the entire field at arm’s length. I don’t risk going under the waves of someone else’s feelings quite so much.

I should add that social media is only easier for me because of tools like the GGAutoblocker and a very tight curating of my FB friends. Muting, blocking, and being able to just not respond to certain things has managed to keep the regular harassment from being a Woman on the Internet (especially with Opinions) to a minimum, which is an outright boon for anyone with any sensitivity at all.

So I’m about to take myself and my face-hexing mood out for a run, and then settle into a long day of harnessing my weird brain chemistry to pull the writing plow. It makes me feel far less stabby and hex-y to realize this is probably the only job I’m fit for, and I’m definitely very lucky to be able to shut my office door and do it.

Over and out.

Old Bones

diningmonster Another day of the big yellow thing in the sky glaring at us all. Yesterday was oddly warm, so the kids and I went out back and did some general garden cleanup, planning, putting some more bulbs in, all that type of springlike stuff. It’s only February but the crocuses are up, the daffodils are already a hand’s-length tall, and the trees cannot be restrained from swelling their buds. I just keep wincing and telling them all, don’t get too comfortable, it’s only February, we could still get some ice, oh, my dears, do be careful.

The Princess trimmed her lavender, and Emphysema Joe thanked her kindly for it. Norbert the gargoyle has come through the winter somewhat physically cracked, but there is a new twinkle in his eye and his smile is much more pleased than it has been in recent years. “I’M GLAD YOU’RE LETTING ME STAY HERE, EVEN IF I’M A BIT OLDER,” he said yesterday, while I basked on one of the large rocks near the garden for a few minutes. “THAT’S THE TROUBLE THESE DAYS, YOU CAN’T FIND A PLACE FOR OLD BONES TO REST.”

“You can stay there until you’re shards and dust, my friend.” That was my promise, and he grinned even more widely. It’s a change to see him so happy, but maybe he’s just drunk on early spring. He’ll be cantankerous again in no time, I’m sure.

I’m a little worried the mason bees will hatch too early, as well. I have beans and winter peas in the ground and a few favas have decided to come up from last year, but I’m not sure they’ll be flowering in time. I suppose I should just hope for the best, as usual, and trust that they know what they’re doing.

The only fly in the ointment was the people up the street, who started lighting off fireworks during the big American football game. Screaming and booms, and Miss B startled almost out of her skin. I had to dose her with her anxiety meds, she didn’t stop trembling until they kicked in. It was awful. Fireworks are illegal around here except on the Fourth–and that may change soon, being illegal all year ’round. This, in my opinion, cannot happen soon enough. Not only is the noise physically stressful for both me and B, but the mess afterward that doesn’t get cleaned up, the accidents flooding the emergency rooms, the fires, dear God, just make it stop. I have never liked fireworks, ever. Watching them in a crowd just makes me want to hit the ground every time the artillery goes off and each year I am deathly afraid our roof will catch on fire, or one of the trees around our house.

Anyway. Time to head out into the yellow glare for a run. Miss B will be much easier after all the stress is run off, and I daresay I will be too.

Then it’s back to the projects on boil now, and catching up with some of the chores I played hooky on yesterday. As per usual, I probably need a weekend to recover from the weekend.

Over and out.

Wishing Hijinks

sixstringsamuraiicon This morning’s run was six kilometers, in the rain. Miss B about expired of satisfaction, since the rest of this week is tempo runs. She’s been aching to get all her fidgets worked out, and is currently sleepy-eyed and loose across the door to my office, enjoying well-earned exhaustion. A tired dog is a mannerly dog, after all.

I have revamped my Patreon tiers! If you’re interested, go on and take a look. The major new thing is recorded readings from some of my published works. If you’ve wondered what certain things sound like in my head, sign on up! I do reserve the right of choice, but I will entertain suggestions.

Right now I have three different projects on the boil. There’s a rather sweet (but a little bloody) romance about a smartmouth genie and the depressingly organized, rational, and very stick-in-the-mud woman (who loves spreadsheets, I believe she works in insurance) who just happened to get the ring he’s bound to. Secret societies and wishing hijinks abound!

Then there’s another, much darker story about a woman who makes amulets, and people who want them. This particular story had its genesis in a very vivid, unsettling dream I had not too long ago, and I’m pursuing it to see where it ends up. Purely for my own amusement, it will probably never see publication.

The third is, of course, the book I really want to work on, my homage to Stalker and Roadside Picnic. I am always curious about repercussions of large events at the local level, so I’m having to dig into this world one layer at a time, thinking out why certain things are certain ways. I am also staving off the inevitable request for a glossary with footnotes. I’m not sure anyone will buy this book, but if they do, dammit, I won’t have to make a glossary of neologisms. I have Personal Feelings about such things, and while they are strong I realize they are not exactly shared.

Odd Trundles has just risen from his midmorning nap and is sleepily blinking in my direction, smacking his lips to remind me it is almost lunchtime and hence, time for him to Do Some Business Outside before he settles in my office for his early afternoon, mid-afternoon, and late afternoon naps. It’s hard, living the Trundle life.

So, today is full of a barfight, two ambushes, and a little exposition. Not so much of the last, however–I really do love throwing the reader straight into the action and letting them swim, I love reading a book that assumes I can follow what the hell it’s talking about. But first, Trundles is right. A little lunch is in order.

Over and out.