The Princess: “I… I had to buy them.” Me: “You’re GODDAMN RIGHT you did.” Also Me: “…what do they taste like?” Princess: “Food coloring? I dunno. Try one.” Me: “I’m good. I don’t need paparazzi.” Princess: “But you have such a good poker face!” Me: “I was born this way.” Princess: “It wasn’t the product of a bad romance?” Me: “I’m your mother. I can’t answer that.” Princess: “…that’s fair.” Me: “I gotta go.” Princess: “Why, is something wro–“ Me: “I don’t want to talk anymore.” Princess: “What hap–“ Me: “I lost my head and my heart on the dance floor.” Princess: *groans*
That’s right. I did a Gaga-flavored dad joke. And I regret NOTHING.
Anyway, there was also a discussion of “they’re not chocolate Oreos, the dogs could technically–” followed by “do you really want either of those beasts on a sugar high?” and ending in a “…that’s fair, too.”
In conclusion, while I will never be too old to try new things, I am also old enough to look at certain things and say, “Nah, I’m good, you go ahead and enjoy.” I have informed the kids this is a perk of adulthood in general and motherhood in particular.
Then I went and ordered some Girl Scout cookies. Because I’m a gat-damn adult.
Have a good weekend, beloveds. Stay warm, hydrate, wash your hands, and wear your masks.
Earlier this week a package arrived, bearing this wonderful thing. A single sock.
You read that right. One singular hand-knitted sock.
It’s part of a pair knitted by a dear friend, but she thought it would be hysterical to send me one at a time. I promptly, of course, took to Twitter to shout “MISTRESS HAS GIVEN LILI A SOCK; LILI IS NOW A FREE ELF!” Which is exactly what she wanted.
I am a free fuckin’ elf, mofos.
I also finished the zero draft of HOOD‘s final season yesterday. Which means this morning I am cross-eyed, absorbing coffee, and wearing a pair of beautifully hand-knitted slipper socks. They aren’t really socks, of course; they’re a friend saying “I love you.” Like little hugs for my feet.
The feeling is more than reciprocated, and very welcome. I hope you have a little (or a lot) of it in your life as well, my beloveds.
Between various bodily aches and canine upset tummies (Miss B is an Elderly Statesdog, and has Elderly Statesdog Problems) I was up and down all night. I really could have used some sleep after the weekend, but it wasn’t meant to be. Groundhog Day is, after all, here.
I suppose I could have gotten up and done some knitting, but instead I lay in the dark and thought about things. The mind is always a sack of squirrels; it never, ever shuts off. I suppose some part of it is the genetic predisposition to anxiety triggered and reinforced by my upbringing. Consequently my main strategy to gain some rest is pushing myself to exhausted collapse, which isn’t exactly optimal.
On the bright side, I got a character stabbed yesterday, and since there’s no run today (the body simply won’t have it, for once) I can work through the consequences for long uninterrupted hours. That’s the plan, anyway. Anticipating uninterrupted work hours is a sure way to ruin and disappointment, but I can’t help myself. I long for some time to simply roll around in a world of my own creation, escaping from this one.
It might not be healthy, but it’s my job, and I like it. If I were caught in a time-loop I’d probably spend the day doing the same thing, for at least a century or so.
At least Miss B appears to have no lingering ill effects from the night’s games. She is, in fact, her usual spiteful, jealous, stubborn, lovely self. I’ve rarely been so pleased to see her muscling Boxnoggin aside to get in on pets and treats, or patrolling the hall as she attempts, once more, to boss every human in the house into a single room where she can supervise us. We don’t listen, of course, but without something to herd she is at somewhat of a loss, and Boxnoggin has decided he wants to be curled upon his fancy memory-foam bed in the living room until it’s time for walkies.
Part of recovery is the spinning mental merry-go-round married to physical lethargy. The tension between the two is uncomfortable, to say the least. It’s just one of those things one has to get through. The body will not let go until it’s processed everything one pushed aside to survive an awful event, no matter how one ducks and dodges. Might as well sink into it, let it happen, deal, cry, scream, use the heavy bag, so forth, so on. Fighting the processing gets one nowhere.
I should say it’s never gotten me anywhere. The only way out, as I tell the kids, is through. Trying to avoid processing just burns energy I could use for other things, like getting this damn zero finished, getting through the epic fantasy revisions (third and last of a triptych, my gods), and figuring out the next serial–which I think will be Hell’s Acre, my alt-Victorian melding of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and The Da Vinci Code, with plenty of other things (the Roman Empire never fell, for example) added in. I’m going back and forth between that and Mandeville & Starke; we’ll see what I finally land on.
So if your brain feels like a bag of methed-out cyborg squirrels and your body feels like it’s been beaten with a club, you might be simply processing the last few years’ worth of constant trauma. I keep saying you’re not alone because if I can help even one person through the woods, I consider it time and effort well spent. We must save each other; goodness knows nobody else is coming to.
Now Miss B is nudging at my knee, knowing from the way I’m breathing and shifting that I’m almost done typing, which means it’s almost time for walkies. (Dogs, as well as human toddlers, are great believers in habit and ritual.) When I stand, the creak of my chair will alert Boxnoggin, and despite my aching body and exploding brain, I will smile because he will thunder down the hall full of excitement.
It’s not a time loop, but it’s a nice reminder nonetheless. It’s Groundhog Day, again. I don’t know how many more I’ll have with Miss B, but I plan to use each one to the full.
The Princess baked a cake for the inauguration. She wanted to write “The horse has left the hospital” on it, but decided sprinkles would get the point across just as well.
So we spent most of Wednesday eating cake and expressing our relief in various ways. There’s a lot of work to be done, and (not but, and) we needed a moment to just take a breath.
There might even be weekend cake, if I have the energy. Or maybe just a lot of napping. I’m finally feeling just how exhausted I truly am, and I suspect you are too. Be as gentle as you can with yourselves, my beloveds. We’re not out of the woods yet, but I think we can see the meadow.
A little while ago, I was in the office, and my phone pinged. It was the Princess, texting me from the dining room, where the sliding glass doors to the deck are.
“GOOD LORD,” I yelled down the hall. “DID YOU JUST TEXT ME FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE?”
“I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO MISS THIS!” she yelled back.
That was reasonable enough. “IS IT STILL THERE?”
“YEAH. I… MUM, I THINK HE’S LOOKING AT ME.”
Well, there was only one thing I could say. “ARE YOU WEARING SHOES?”
“THE DOOR’S LOCKED.”
“THAT’S NO INDICATION OF SAFETY,” I yelled.
“YES, I’M WEARING SHOES… WAIT. OH WOW.”
I was out of my chair in a shot, pelting down the hall. By the gods, if that chonky motherfucker was coming for my baby, we were going to have words. Even if I was only in socks.
So I skidded into the dining room, finding my eldest child staring out the sliding glass doors with a bemused expression. “He almost couldn’t fit between the verticals,” she said, in tones of surpassing wonder. “That is the very definition of a big boi.”
“Almost a big chungus?” My heartrate began to drop below ‘imminent combat’, but I was still breathing a wee bit heavily. Then I looked down. “You’re not wearing shoes. Those are slippers.”
“I’m your kid,” she pointed out, practically enough. “I can kick ass in these too.”
I have rarely been so relieved, proud, and adrenaline-soaked at once.
Anyway, the squirrels are beginning to slim down from their immense autumnal roundness. They were preparing for a hard winter, I suppose, and it’s nowhere near over yet. I’m pretty sure this fellow’s going to survive, though. (Just look at those beady little eyes and those hefty hips.)
I’ve hit burnout pretty hard, beloveds. Normally I’d find some comfort in the fact that squirrels and cockroaches will survive humanity as a whole–life always finds a way, and all that. But I’ve hit the end of my ability to deal with all this bullshit, so my thoughts are tending in an entirely different direction. I’m hearing a lot of you are here with me, so at least we’re not alone.
May we find the strength to endure, as this round fuzzy bastard apparently has. It’s all I can hope for today.
I’ll, um, probably be taking a few days off social media (or simply not looking at replies) since a particular thread went quasi-viral. (Don’t worry, it was reply-locked; I have been a woman on the internet for long enough to practice some basic self-protection.) But it’s Friday, which means two things: a Friday Photo post, and there’s D&D tonight.1
Anyway, way back on New Year’s Eve2 I decided to make my first-ever lemon pig, a blurry photo of which I now offer for your amusement. Behind him (his name is Punkin, don’t ask) is the Rocket figurine the Princess brought back from Hawaii for me.
“Of all the Guardians,” she said, “I think you’re most like him.”
I mean, I’d prefer to be Gamora, but we all know I’m a filthy-mouthed raccoon with a love of firepower, penchant for mayhem, and a million self-defensive reflexes instead. No shame in admitting what one is.
It is, after all, the first step in trying to be better.
So. Punkin and Rocket bid you a happy New Year, and beg you to wash your hands, wear your mask, hydrate, take a deep breath, and look after yourself (and each other) as best you can.
Interesting times certainly are… interesting, aren’t they.
Yesterday was… an experience. I was already exhausted, unable to sleep Tuesday night; I finally got up, let the dogs out and fed them, and grabbed my phone on the way back to bed, thinking I could at least have a bit of a lie-in.
Boy, was I wrong.
I found out white supremacist terrorists were rioting in federal and state capitols, egged on by their Dear Orange Leader. It was unsurprising–I did, after all, write a whole book about this back in 2015–but still terrifying.
I’ve read history. I know what could happen, what’s likely to happen. I don’t mind telling you I’m not sanguine about any of this. Most of all, I’m pretty sure none of the racist fuckwads attempting a coup for their Tangerine Twitler will suffer any real consequences.
The Princess was home from work, too, and had glanced at the news early in the morning–then remained fixed to it, horrified. Every time some-damn-thing else happened, one of us would call down the hallway. The Prince, busy with distance-learning, spent the entire day holed up in his room with schoolwork, and consequently had only faint intimations of trouble until we all convened for dinner. I was glad both of my children were safe and home where I could see them. Probably irrational, but powerfully comforting nonetheless.
What I really want to talk about, though, is chocolate chip cookies.
The day ended, for me, with hugging my children–though both of them are much taller than I am now, they still find comfort in Mum’s closeness–and reassuring them. Reminding each other to breathe, reminding them that we have plans in case things go haywire, reminding ourselves that we’re in fact extremely privileged and lucky. I retreated to bed hoping against hope for some sleep.
Helped by exhaustion (and, let’s face it, a dose of Tylenol PM) I did manage to pass out. My dreams were feverish, ending with some guy in a flying lawn chair swooping through neighborhood backyards. (I don’t know, don’t ask me.) And when I resurrected in the clear light of dawn to take the dogs out once more, there were chocolate chip cookies on the dining-room table.
“Yeah,” the Princess muttered, when she shuffled out of her bedroom for breakfast. “World’s on fire. Figured I’d bake.”
“The cookies,” I said, through a thick fog of pre-caffeination, “didn’t exist before, now they do. We’ll eat them and they’ll be part of us forever. You made something out of other things. That’s just so cool, and it doesn’t have to be monetized although we’re trapped in late-stage capitalism.”
My daughter grinned, in the particular way that means she understands but can’t resist poking me. “Get some coffee, Mum.” She paused. “I love you.”
Really, they weren’t just cookies. They were a cry in the face of destruction, a hope for something better, a way to say I love you not just to me but to her brother as well, a soothing reminder that we can build and make and do things that weren’t there before.
Creativity–making things–is powerful and healing at the same time. Making something that wasn’t there before is an old, old human magic, and so innate we overlook it. Magic is changing consciousness at will (thank you, Aleister, you were a jerk but you did have a way with words sometimes) but it’s also willing something into existence. The human capacity to create is natural as breathing; we take it for granted. And it’s also therapeutic when some assholes seem determined to be as hateful and murderous as possible.
Creating doesn’t have to be monetized, it doesn’t have to be a side gig. It’s a natural human function performed in a hundred little ways each day. It’s also a powerful way to say fuck you to those murderous, treasonous assnuts who like to poison themselves, not to mention the rest of us, with racism and violence.
I have a whole rant about how choosing that poison means throwing away their humanity, but now’s not the time.
If you’re utterly exhausted by all this, if you can’t look away, if you can’t seem to focus on much else, well, welcome to the club. Don’t beat yourself up over it! It is an utterly reasonable response to this fuckery. And this is not a call for you to drag yourself forth and have to deal with one more thing. You don’t have to make something right now. It’s okay if you don’t have the energy.
I’m just saying there are more cookies in the world than there were yesterday, because the Princess made them. People are making things, people are sticking together, lots of people are staying home to protect others during a pandemic and lots of people are trying like hell to do something, anything, whatever they can to make the world a little better.
We outnumber the racist, destructive, poisonous assnuts. We always have. The news is dire and the situation is bad, and (not but, AND) the human capacity to care and to create is so innate, so reflexive, that we’re still making and doing and caring for each other despite that. It’s natural and sane to feel overwhelmed right now. It’s also natural and sane to make something if you’ve the urge and the energy. Both are okay.
That’s what I’m clinging to, this first Thursday of 2021. There are more cookies in the world than there were yesterday, and once consumed they’ll be part of us forever. It doesn’t feel like a lot when I stare at the news, I’ll admit.