Monthly Archives: September 2017

September 25, 2017

On Good Medicine and Halloween

I’m finally, finally back to normal. I think. Trying not to jinx it by saying so. No more scans. No more needles. No more minor fixes and new medicines. No more puncturing my insides. For now.

I traded into more normal living just in time for my mom to go get large metal posts screwed into her jaw. Any dental surgery that requires a bone drill and more than 20 stitches should probably be classified as for-realsies surgery. So I’ve been managing THAT in a complete roll reversal where I’m now making her smoothies and mashed potatoes, as well as trying to introduce real food back into my own diet so that I can regain more higher brain function. I’m back up to about 60 oz of really strong tea per day just to keep functioning. Usually that amount of caffeine gives me the sweaty jitters. Now I can’t get it in me fast enough to avoid Afternoon Airhead Syndrome.

My days have been been as follows:

  • 0600 – Get up, make tea. Make morning smoothie. Curl around tea and internet until tea makes me a functional human.
  • 0730 – Last minute panic for work. What am I wearing? Where’s my bag and badge and lunch?
  • 0900 – Arrive at work.Check through email. Put out fires.
  • 1000 – Make second cup of tea using the tea bucket.

Behold the Tea Bucket, 20 oz deep

  • 1200 – Lunch at desk. Rejoice in real meat and veggies. This joy never gets old.
  • 1230 – Post-lunch coma threatens. Fight it off with walking swiftly around the building a few times.
  • 1400 – The walks are no longer working. Realize I’m seriously considering how comfortably I could nap in the cubby beneath my desk. Contemplate drastic measures. If it’s really bad, knock back an energy drink. If I’m still semi-functional, a third Tea Bucket.
  • 1700 – Fall asleep on the train home in spite of my best efforts. With luck, get startled awake by random loud train people before I miss my stop. If not, get poked by train security when they reach the end of the line. Realize that train security must have days where they poke the prone person in the back of the train and they don’t wake up. Feel sad for train security.
  • 1900 – Try to prod brain into creative functions in order to complete writing goals for the day. Is there a new paragraph? Huzzah, progress!
  • 2100 – Brain no longer functioning. Time for internet puppies, then bed.

The best solution in the fight against the sleepies has been more solid food. Especially meat and vegetables, and lots and lots of water. Salads and stir fries have been my panacea. I still have to keep the fats low, or my liver aches like a broken tooth all night, but overall my diet is pretty normal.

So, writing is creeeeeeeping along at a maddeningly slow but steady pace. I can’t dwell on how slow it’s going because my brain just can’t do any better right now, and if I do dwell I’ll start throwing things in a fit of pique. So when my brain is too tired to even, I distract myself with the fact that FALL IS HERE and that means all of my favorite things: Sweaters, Hot Cups of Tea, Wood Fires in the Fireplace, Apples, Family Gatherings (where we feast on homemade breads and stews and squashy things), and HALLOWEEN.

Which is on a Tuesday this year. As an adult with questionable energy capacity, enjoying a late night celebration on a weekday is somewhat problematic. More celebratory activity must therefore be packed into the workday. However, I’m not allowed to wear a costume to work. I’m debating whether this applies to the Wonder Woman dress I’ve worn several times to the office already with no one batting an eye…and whether or not I can get away with adding some big boots and a tiara without pushing the envelope too much. It might be asking too much to have them overlook the Six-Foot-Five Amazon in heeled boots with a sword.  I mean, I could maybe leave the shield at home and store the sword in the back of the dress? That’s totally Amazon-kosher, right? And maybe forgo the gauntlets…although those are like the most important bullet-blocking part.

Always Prepared! Like the Girl Scouts, but with better accessories.

I don’t know how likely the need to block bullets will happen in an office of engineers, but one must always be prepared for these things as a Amazon. With short purple hair.

…yeah, okay, maybe it doesn’t have to be entirely screen-accurate.


September 10, 2017

On Dinosaurs and Classical Fantasy

It’s funny in a sad way that while a writer might be furiously working on writerly things often in the their life, the measure of what a writer accomplishes is gauged solely by what the public sees completed. In that vein, UPDATES ON CURRENT PROJECTS:

I have a few things I’m working on write now (inner editor: no, leave it, it’s punny). First off is the Zombies Need Brains Anthologies of the Year: Guilds & Glaives, Insurgency, and Ur-Bar. I submitted to two of their three anthologies from last year’s project: Robots, Water, and Death!  Specifically, I had a lovely tale of escape from dystopian Atlantis, and death-in-training gets stuck on the mortal plane stories. Sadly, neither of my stories was selected from the open call, but the way I figure it, if I keep writing these for submission, I’ll have enough for my own anthology pretty soon. So, everybody wins? Thus far I’m working on a guild of spies tale and something something overthrow the gubment tale, but they’re very much in story infancy.

Novel: Novel is currently trapped in an editing hell of my own creation, and my illustrator is very, very ill. I don’t know if we’ll ever get the finished chapter drawings for this one. What she has finished is stunning stuff, and I don’t want to abandon those drawings at all, so I’m in wait and see mode. They say when you’re stuck on one novel, set it aside to come back to it later, so I’ve started another very different book. We’ll see if I can bounce between them successfully, or if we’ve got two more shoebox gems.

Children’s Book: The adventures of my tiny engineer/geologist and her Tyastrosaurus is in process. My illustrator and colorist are both super busy people, but we are slowly hammering out the details to get this one done. I’m thinking this one will be Kickstarted to get the printing done. I’m in charge of that part of it, and it’ll be my first project, which is both elating and terrifying. We’re going to do it right, though. Finish the book before we go for funding, and have all the possible stretch goals/budgets/fulfillment processes hammered out in advance. This takes more time than anyone would like, but better that than delay and not deliver on time.

On the crafty front: I have a table at KumoriCon in October where I’ll be selling my kanzashi. I’m also signing up for the Gallifrey One art show again next year, though I don’t know what I’m making for that yet.

In health news: Still don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I haven’t had another attack! Also, slowly introducing real food back into the diet. Two thumbs way, way up for real food. Now if I could just get my brain to solidly reboot so I could run on less than three cups of tea so strong you could dissolve corpses in it, that would be super. Surprise naps are fun for nobody, body. Not me…not my coworkers who think I’ve died at my desk…not my Mom who found me wedged into the sofa cushions at an impossible angle. More healing, let ambulances. I’m more than a little bummed that the health stuff has made me miss my local Rose City Comic Con, and all the joyous graphic novels therein. I missed Peter Capaldi AND Weird Al, you guys. A moment of silence for my inner nerd, please.


September 6, 2017

On Esoteric Internal Organs and Earth-Bending

Man, life sometimes does not quibble about screwing you up and then leaving you to sort out the pieces. Some people get hurricanes, some people get forest fires. I get my insides suddenly deciding that they are utterly done with my shenanigans and shutting down.

Way back in May, I got on a scale and was pretty mad at the number it blared at me, somewhere between “Maybe lay off the hamburgers” and “Help! You’re squishing me to death!”. I’ve never been that heavy before; it made me feel sick both physically and mentally. Made a snap decision to go on a diet just by counting calories. Two months later, I was about 12 lbs lighter and happy and going to Comic-Con. Comic-Con equals a vacation to me, and vacations, as a rule, are not a diet-controlled environment. Why this is relevant will become clear in a second.

So many burgers and fancy desserts were happily ingested, and I returned to work the next week determined to jump back on my low-calorie bandwagon to continue the happy downward trend. The day of my last post, I had an attack of excruciating pain in my upper abdomen that felt like every part of my insides was cramping simultaneously. I simply gutted it out (literally, as my body tried really hard to vomit when I am sadly incapable of such), alternating between a corner of the sofa and my bathroom floor, hoping it would pass. When it did end after an hour or two, I called it good and went to bed. The next day, I started feeling more and more sick at work, and went straight from work to the ER as another attack hit. The pain was so bad it radiated through my jaw, head, and arm. There was general panic about a heart attack (it was not a heart attack). Then they thought I had an obstructed bowel (it wasn’t that either).

Here’s a fun fact about your gall bladder and liver: They don’t like sudden radical change. When you go months with very little fat and suddenly pile it on, it’ll adjust. It will be a little cranky about it, but it’ll shift into high bile production. If you then shift BACK to almost no fat, your gall bladder will go directly into “what in the BALLS” mode and just freak out trying to hold all that extra bile you suddenly don’t need.

It might not be that dramatic for most people, but I have about 20 years of experience with the fact that my digestive system is a portal to a dimension-hopping elder god that makes periodic visits to fill me full of hot pokers and sadness. I’ve had three different surgeries to address three separate issues in my abdomen; I am a cornucopia of interesting belly scars.

So once they confirmed the liver numbers were going “DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!” and scanned me three different ways they confirmed that yes, gall bladder was a pulsating sack of hatred, broken glass, and spite. They shot me full of anti-nausea meds and scheduled the surgery to have the little bastard removed. I had to wait a month for the surgery because socialized healthcare is affordable but not timely, during which time I ate almost nothing and had a painfully intimate relationship with anti-nausea medications.

On a scale of ouchiness, gall bladder removal actually isn’t that serious a surgery. The stomach surgery I had three years ago was much more heinous; I got a button I could push whenever the hurt got to be too much – that button saw a lot of use over the five days I was in hospital. This surgery sent me home from the hospital that day and I immediately tossed the oxycodone in favor of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

I was feeling good, slept a bunch and decided to return to work five days later. I did a half day, being pretty tired and overall just bleh, but it didn’t seem that serious. Went home, took a three hour nap, and woke feeling much better. Got up and went downstairs to see about something dinnerish. Aaaaaaaand immediately had another attack. A full hour of excruciating pain, the works. I didn’t even have the organ this was supposed to be stemming from anymore. Whaaaaat the what, right? Just…how?

That was last week. Since then, I’ve had all the scans. Like, shot full of radio isotopes and held under a giant camera for hours sort of scenario. They can’t find what’s wrong. I’m still on the bland foods and liquids only diet. I’ve lost 30 lbs.  I had another attack over the weekend. This thing is not going down easily or quietly.

In spite of that, the surgery site itself seems to be healing well…although I have to say my belly button looks like the aftermath of a a lost fight with a angry knitting club. I’ve reached an impasse with treatment where we’re kind of in wait and see mode. So what do we do when we’re stuck waiting?  WE READ ALL THE THINGS.

Allow me to pimp one of my favorite authors: N. K. Jemisin and her fabulous series The Broken Earth. The last book in the trilogy just came out, which makes me happy because I hate waiting for new books in a series, so you won’t have to!

Start with the Hugo award winning The Fifth Season, a book about the end of the world. To be clear, the world ends in chapter one, and there is a whole lotta death right out of the gate, but only one death is really important to the narrative. This is a story about prejudice, family, love, survival, and what happens when we don’t buckle to what the world expects of us. Also, geothermal magic, which is metal as hell. Our protagonist Essun is a middle-aged woman, which is something you don’t often see, but her story, and her quest to rescue her daughter, are the driving force behind everything. The world ending? Just the beginning.

Jump to the also Hugo winner (double trouble!) The Obelisk Gate, where the earth-warping magic gets more bitchin’ yet hinky, and the weirdness of the world starts coming into a sharp scientific focus. Nassun, the daughter of our protagonist starts to come into her own here while surrounded by enemies and monsters, and Essun continues all the ass-kicking awesomeness that we enjoyed in The Fifth Season. The depth of her history with the destroyer of the world and the scale of the problem to overcome becomes shockingly large, and so too the sacrifices needed to maaaaaaybe solve it…a little…or destroy things worse.

I just finished the last book, The Stone Sky, this week. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say this: we go back to move forward, and all the threads are woven into a satisfying whole come the last page. Solid, solid read. Worth the time, worth the sadness. And yes, you will be sad, yet fulfilled.

Once you’ve wallowed sufficiently in the glow of a series well-finished, look back at some of her older stuff. The Killing Moon and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms are both bizarrely awesome worlds and characters. I love her mental left turns and deeply-rooted cultures. She populates every story with a rich background of traditions and history. Nothing is ever one-dimensional or trite, it all carries depth and meaning.

Having finished all of that greatness, I’m now in a lull. What should I read next? I’ve got time to burn while I wait to see if my pancreas explodes or something.