Bracing For Optimism

Boxnoggin has decided to go back to bed. Apparently a Monday is too much for even his spirit, and the leftover warmth is simply too enticing. Alas, I am forced to coffee and actual consciousness–or whatever approximation of the latter I can manage.

I spent the last of the weekend finishing Rebecca Suter’s The Japanization of Modernity, all about the work of Murakami Haruki. Consequently I think this week’s Reading with Lili will be about Murakami’s fabulous (in every sense) Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which I haven’t read in a hot minute. I was going to do Nancy Price’s Sleeping With the Enemy, but that can wait.

Price’s book got me through some rough times. I didn’t manage to see the movie until five or six years after I’d actually read it, so the two are only vaguely connected inside my head. And every time I water my African violets, certain bits of the book wander through my head.

It’s nice to have a plan–to have more things I want to share. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of cool books to talk about; it’s far more likely troll comments will make the entire project unsustainable, or the platforms I use for streaming etc. will burst into flame and sink into the swamps of corporate malfeasance.

I am also (apparently) a giant optimist this morning.

There’s work cut out for me today. Correspondence, figuring out the next step in Hell’s Acre, prepping for a big revision push–plus some copyedits–once December 1 hits, and a million other things I haven’t looked at the to-do list for. I know I’ll feel better after I get a run in, but at the moment my internal engines are catching and sputtering a bit. While I love the weather this time of year, I absolutely despise “the holidays”, and bracing myself for them is never pleasant.

The coffee has cooled, I feel like I’ve typed very little of real importance, and even though Boxnoggin loves the shelter of a warm bed he’ll be off-kilter all day if I don’t drag him out for walkies. You’d think a dog who protests so much over any deviation from routine and habit might be eager to get out the door no matter the state of the outside world. I can’t really blame him, though. I’d be back in bed if I didn’t have so much to get done today.

Or if not “done”, at least stabbed twice and left with a promise. I’d really rather be working on the bloody fanfic, but paying projects must when the devil drives, or something.

Yeah, I’ll definitely feel better after a run. Already this morning I’ve bandaged a minor injury that will make said run somewhat of a misery, but I need the sweat and endorphins too much to care. At least the laundry’s done, the plants are watered, and someone else is in charge of mopping the kitchen. Damn near a holiday, right?

Courage, my friends. I think I’m at the nadir of my detox from Twitter, and the next few days will see a marked change in both my mood and my productivity. All I have to do is stick today out; I hope your Monday will be similarly endurable.

Wish us both luck, my beloveds. Let’s get this bitch to Mount Doom.

Broken Giant

Shattered on the shoulder.

I’m late to the Friday photo post, my beloveds. Things are suboptimal right now–a series that was very much books of my heart has been killed, and I am mourning. We’ll see what happens once the dust settles–it may be that I just have to write the damn thing anyway in my copious spare time. (Yeah, go ahead, laugh. But where there’s a will there’s a mothafuggin way, and I am slopping over with willpower.)

Heartache or no, Boxnoggin needs his walkies. We were ambling uphill, and he stopped to sniff this scattering of concrete or rock–can’t tell which, I am no geologist. But I looked at the detritus and thought, even a pebble can bring down a giant.

It’s not quite as catchy as some phrases, but it’s giving me a lot of solace today. Also, the arrangement of stone and stem made me think of trees with stone leaves, and that’s an image going into a book someday, I can tell you.

The weekend is almost here. I’m so weary, friends. And yet as long as I can reach a pebble, I have a chance of bringing down whatever I need to.

It’s gonna have to be enough.

Fuss Minimum

The first coffee molecules have hit my epithelial cells, so I’m just waiting for the rest of me to get the sweet life-giving caffeine memo. Boxnoggin is a little perturbed that we’re up while it’s still dark outside, but he’ll adjust. Especially if there’s toast involved, which there will be as soon as my stomach settles and the morning mug is drained.

Yesterday was unsatisfying, but then again, what did I expect of a Monday? I did get some work done, but multiple rounds of updates for the desktop meant plenty of perfectly good working time was spent doing things that weren’t writing. Sure, some administrivia and cleaning got handled, but what I wanted was to be creating. Just settling in my office chair, stretching my fingers, and slipping into other worlds is my preferred way to spend a rainy day. The more I work now, the easier November will be.

At least it is raining, the air is nice and clean, and I got a bit of a run in. I think part of the problem is being unable to really hit the pavement; I miss the endorphins. In any case, I hit a horrid mood halfway through the afternoon, and even cinnamon rolls didn’t help. Fortunately, dinner put paid to most of my nasty temper, and I could spend a little time afterward fiddling with a new video opener. I meant to do a bit of narrating too, but the smoke rasp is still lingering in my throat.

Today I get to run again. Not for long, and not quickly, but it will have to be enough. And Boxnoggin will get a long ramble to wear himself out with. While I’m occupied with both I can build the next few scenes in both Hell’s Acre and Fall of Waterstone so when I settle at my desk both will flow with a minimum of fuss. If all goes well and I treat my throat with gallons of tea today, I might even get the narration done. Of course that last is a completely self-chosen task, but I’d still like to get it handled. I think you guys’ll like what I’m planning.

Boxnoggin is draped across his office bed, not-quite-snoring. Of course, we just rolled out of my bed a little while ago, and he grumble-groused all through the visit to his grand outdoor loo. I think he’s put out that his morning nap schedule has been altered somewhat, and also very annoyed at the damp. Each winter it’s the same thing; he believes that naturally I am in charge of the weather and for some incomprehensible reason have decided to personally inflict rain on his poor delicate paws. “THIS NEVER HAPPENED IN TEXAS,” he moans, despite the fact that we all know it does, indeed, rain in the Lone Star State. (Sometimes quite heavily, too.)

He’ll adjust, but it’ll take a week or two of constant bitching. I can’t throw stones, I react in much the same way to the advent of summer. Between the two of us, nobody’s happy. Enduring relationships have been built on far less, and though I am a cruel goddess whose methods and means are inscrutable to his poor canine brain, I’m also the benevolent matron who dabs bacon grease in his bowl, brushes him, and provides treats on a daily basis. So he puts up with the rain, figuring I must have my reasons, and I put up with his bratty self during walkies, figuring the joy of his presence more than makes up for it. (And, to be fair, plenty of people see him strapped to my waist and decide to give us a wide berth, which is all to the good.)

The world is quiet. The east is greying. The coffee is cooling, and today I have to get Miss Dove home, plan the Rook’s next assassination attempt, and get a Viking elementalist into the throne hall of a particularly stiff-necked elvish king. Oh, and narrate a half-hour or so of something marvelous. All told, it’s nice work if you can get it, and hopefully most of the day will go to plan. I’m sure there will be a few misbehaving moments, but at least it’s not a Monday anymore.

Small mercies, and all that.

Twitching in the Right Direction

The algorithm did indeed find my Dracula, HO! reading session, and that led to exactly what I dreaded. Having to clean shitty, entitled comments out of a moderation queue is one of my least favorite things in the whole wide world, and it honestly makes me want to stop with the teas and readings. I just don’t have the time to deal with moderating a whole lot of selfish pisshats spreading their selfish pissy comments all over. I’m going to see if it calms down, and will be streaming Dracula, YO! on Friday. I mean, I’ve done all the prep so I might as well.

If the shitty entitled behavior keeps going I might nuke the entire YouTube affair except for the saucy narrations. Or I might completely shut comments off for the main channel. I don’t want to do either, but I guess some people are just determined to ruin everything for the rest of us. And after three years of pandemic I have neither the hours nor the patience to engage in such a battle; I’d rather escalate to solving the problem in definitive fashion right out the gate.

Of course, that’s always been a component of my personality, but it’s grown far more marked of late. I’m sure reaching my mid-forties is part of that, and the situation since 2016 (and after 2020 in particular) has just been icing on the top of that particular cake.

Anyhoo. Let’s talk about something nicer. I was pleasantly surprised by revisions yesterday, having arrived at the first truly knotty problem and finding, to my relief, that all the work I’d done so far meant the knot was seriously eased. I did not have to slice it in half as I’d feared; part of the solution was cutting a few extraneous days spent knocking about the elven city. I’m sure plenty of Readers would like to know the history of every stone set in the roadway, but my editor will throttle me if I give it and besides, I can always keep those bits and use them for supplementary material.

I also deliberately provoked Hell’s Acre until the solution for another problem showed up ready for combat, at which point I bowed graciously and ushered said solution right into the story at high speed. So sure, the book’s probably angry at me, but at least it’s moving. It can be as mad as it wants as long as it twitches in the right direction.

We’ve had three lovely misty mornings in a row. By the time Boxnoggin and I return home from walkies, his undercarriage is damp and my hair dewed with fog-beads. I adore this weather. He is a bit disgruntled–he doesn’t like moisture, but at least he’s not getting overheated either. As soon as one discomfort is overcome another arises, and if that’s not a description of life I don’t know what is. It’s damn near a kenning.

Oh! I should tell you: The kids and I went to the local pop-up Spirit Halloween yesterday. One of the storefronts vacated during the pandemic must be a good deal for them; we were hoping the migratory orange-and-black would return. The dream is to almost completely decorate the house in that fashion, since this is the only time of year the wider world shares my aesthetic. I scored a new tea mug and a couple hanging plaques to match last year’s Welcome to Derry, We All Float Here and Beetlejuice signs. So now Camp Crystal Lake is honored in the foyer as well; maybe next year I’ll get a Haddonfield sign and/or an Overlook Hotel one. I have a Room 237 keychain, which pleases me to no end and hangs on the cork board in my office. (Right next to a Normandy quote from Bayerlein; I contain multitudes.)

I had to be somewhat restrained from getting a six-and-a-half foot automated monkey with cymbals. I had thoughts of bringing him home, naming him Steve, and perhaps using him to deter those who try to use our driveway as a turnaround, but the kids pointed out it was a lot of money for something that might get run over. I mutinously mumbled that getting run over would only make Steve more authentic, but allowed myself to be overruled since they were undoubtedly right.

Adulthood is full of delayed gratification. Maybe next year I’ll be able to justify a similar purchase.

In any case, it’s time to get some brekkie and usher a certain square-headed canine out the door. Thursday is for the subscription drop and telling everyone about October’s sales, so that’s on the list today. Might even do another saucy narration tonight–how is this my life, that reading Victorian erotica aloud is the fun keeping me afloat? Things have grown truly strange around the Chez of late.

…well, that’s incorrect. It’s always been strange around here, I’m just leaning into it more now. Excelsior, and all that.

See you around.

Who’s the (Sprained) Boss?

I don’t even know.

I should’ve known something was up when I woke with the Who’s the Boss opening theme stuck in my head. I managed to lever myself out of bed, took one look at how Boxnoggin was prancing around the house, and decided he needed to be in his harness for outside time just in case. It’s a good thing, too, because my ankle gave out on the deck stairs and down I went like a tonne of bricks.

It may have been a stealthed pinecone. (Well, technically fir cone, but who’s counting?) I was a bit too busy to look for proof.

The music stopped right before it happened, and didn’t come back until I hobbled to my desk chair. I’d’ve preferred it to stay away, of course–oh, the tune is unobjectionable, and at least it wasn’t Charles in Charge, but still. (I’ll take Tony Danza holding me closer over that Baio jerk anytime.) I’m probably not going to get a run today, and the jury is out on whether or not I’ll even be able to walk Boxnoggin. Who is moderately displeased that he had his jacket on for pee-time, but I couldn’t take the risk of him getting it in his fool head to chase something.

I suppose things work out as they’re meant to, but ouch. This is upsetting, and I was already feeling sideways because I haven’t been able to run as much as I need to this past week. And now it’ll be even longer before I can lace up and hit the pavement. Gods damn it.

At least I have coffee, and I don’t need my ankle in order to fire up the webcam and tell you guys all about Dracula. But Christ on a cracker with a side of pimento, I didn’t need a sprained–or strained–ankle. I never need one, but I particularly don’t now.

I should get some breakfast and a moderately large amount of ibuprofen down the hatch. Be gentle with yourselves today, my beloveds. Yes, it’s Friday, but that is apparently no insurance…

Resting Time

Not sure whether it’s a promise or a threat…

It’s been a busy month and I am frayed down to the bone. I’ll be taking now until Monday off to re-wrap the insulation on my nerves, not to mention get some serious work done on revisions. Consequently, there will not be a Tea with Lili today, though you can find old teas on YouTube.

I might also do some more narration of saucy Victorian stories for the new channel, just because. Yes, it’s blank right now because the first episode drops this very evening; I’m excited and nervous. It could all go terribly wrong…but at least I’ll learn a lot.

Have a lovely weekend, my dears.

Tilting and Horrifying

It’s Tuesday. The earth is tilting toward equinox so the sun has moved to a different portion of the cedars for its morning path upward. Two more days until summer is officially over–I also saw the first Canadian geese of the season yesterday, winging south in two sharp V’s over a nearby park. Boxnoggin was oblivious, snoot-down in wet grass, but I watched the birds and felt a sharp swell of relief. No more 90F days until next year, thank you.

Lately, a particular line from a Batman movie has been stuck in my head–Heath Ledger’s Joker, calm and reasonable. “Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if that plan is horrifying.” It’s lived in my head rent-free for a while now, and lately it occurs to me at least twice per day, mostly while reading the news. Normally when a line gets stuck like this it means a story’s about to hatch from it and attach to my face before eventually bursting out of my chest with a splattering vengeance, but I hope that’s not the case this time.

I don’t want the book that would result from such a realization. I suppose I already wrote versions of it (Cormorant Run, Afterwar) and…been ignored, so why bother? The world is under no obligation to listen to me, but that works both ways. I’m under no obligation to keep setting myself on fire keeping the selfish or oblivious warm. Of course my therapist was always saying that–and so were my better friends–but it didn’t sink in for most of my life (so far). Probably because of the caretaking I was raised to do.

It’s not that I’m glorifying the Joker. The character is terrifying, especially in Ledger’s interpretation. I’ve been in the room with bugfuck crazy before, and he nailed it right down to the strange flat shine in the eyes, not to mention the physical movements. I can’t watch that performance without an atavistic shiver, because I remember being in close proximity with someone in that state (however temporary or permanent) and how it felt.

But that line…that line sticks with me, especially the quaver in Ledger’s voice when he says “horrifying”, all but smacking his lips while shuddering with mixed revulsion, excitement, and the burning knowledge that he’s using truth for his own purposes. I don’t deny there’s a certain seduction in that form of chaotic nihilism, a relief from the pain of caring. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take that path wholesale instead of just peering down it a little bit for a book or character, or vicariously by watching a movie.

I suppose enduring a pandemic in a failing state during the dissolution of an empire amid rising fascism will make anyone philosophical. And naturally, my optimism tells me that eventually humanity will figure it out, will collectively make a right choice or two. It’s just that immediately afterward my realism replies, “Sure, after exhausting every other possible strategy and tactic. And what will the body count be in the meantime?”

So I wait, I watch, I write, I take care of those I can. I think a lot about the assumptions we’re all operating under and how those assumptions might be changing. I think a lot about how humanity behaves when we think there’s some semblance of a plan, no matter how horrifying it turns out to be. I suppose that’s the downside of our cooperative nature as a species–it is the thing that could save us if we could just get our fucking acts together, but it’s also the thing that keeps us quietly queueing up for our own destruction.

And now that I’ve said this, it’s time to get some toast and walk Boxnoggin, who is gloriously unburdened by both intelligence and planning.

It must be nice.