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Media Consumption Writing Life

After-Capricon post

Yesterday morning Spouseman gave me a cheery “You’re up early!” for getting my ass out of bed before 10 AM.

For context, I usually wake up 7:30ish this time of year. I often go back to bed to snuggle for an hour or two, but I wake up within an hour of sunrise when I’m healthy. (Even with blackout curtains.)

Except after cons. Sometimes I’m in bed as late as 11AM for a day or two or three after getting home.

And I usually get 7+ hours of sleep per 24, but I am rarely in BED for more than 6 hours at a stretch because my joints hate me lying still.

Except after cons. I’m in bed as much as 10 hours the day after a con.

Two data points. It’s officially a trend, right?

My brain pretty much shuts down for a reset after leaving high-interaction events. Unless I crash a few hours before leaving. That’s a simmering hot stew of awkwardness when it happens, so I try VERY hard to avoid it. I was home, unpacked & washed up after Cap before I crashed hard with a cat purring on my lap. Good times.

I had a fabulous time at Capricon this year. It’s always a great convention, but this time was extra-special because, well <waves vaguely> YOU know. Things. I had the most panels I’ve done at a con ever, and I enjoyed every one of them, despite 3 of them being in a room with a CAMERA POINTED AT ME.

And I moderated three panels (two in the Camera Room Of Doom, one in a room without microphones because tech difficulties) and I only screwed up a few times in each panel, so big yay and confetti and buckets of self-congratulatory happiness right there.

The Dealer Room was like a bookstore smorgasbord, books were sold, things were bought, plans were made, and fun was had. Evenings included hallway chats, hotel room haircuts, and late night conversations.

New friends were made (I think, I hope) and I enjoyed getting to reconnect with old friends too! (although not NEARLY as much as I wanted. Sorry to alla y’all who only got bits & pieces of my time, my energy was low & I had roommates & I didn’t feel comfortable crossing the streams or mixing up groups and, well. Anyway.)

Some of us should get together soon, masked & safe indoors. That’s all I’m saying. Soon.

Now the con is somehow a week in the past, Thursday is over, (it’s technically Friday morning wee hours tbh) and my biggest accomplishments since getting home have been…hm. Unimpressive:

  • laundry! Yes, it deserves the exclamation mark
  • dusted my home desk
  • dusted my work desk & did sundry library tasks over 2 shifts
  • put away con stuff, updating inventory & sales records
  • brushed the cat two days in a row (he forgave me both times)
  • reread 2 romance novels, ignoring the stack of lovely new books I really do want to read
  • surfed on Twitter & Facebook more than I’d like
  • played a lot of Absurdle
  • filled out a Con Feedback survey, gushed about my fellow panelists & praised other moderators
  • watched episodes of 2 TV shows and 2 movies (finished Stranger Things rewatch, started Mythic Quest, big thumbs up, sat through Free Guy & Venom: Let There Be Carnage, meh x2)
  • booked 2 hotel rooms & 1 plane flight for 2 separate future events. This involved multiple conversations, negotiations, and consultations over a couple of days.
  • read one whole chapter in the nonfiction book I’m trying to chew through. Stolen Focus. There’s irony to be found in my inability to concentrate on a book about all the ways modern systems demolish our attention spans, but I’m not appreciating it.
  • cooked a spicy chicken casserole from scratch. Well. From a boxed rice dish plus leftover rice from Chinese takeout, and various other add-ins. So, kinda like Stone Casserole instead of Stone Soup?
  • sliced up a cucumber I’d forgotten was in the fridge & set it to soak w/onions & brine for fridge pickles.
  • and wrote this blog post

It looks good written down, but hey, I’m a writer. I’m expected to make things looks good in words.

When measured against my days of otherwise unemployed time, the accomplishment level is…meager doings. George Carlin had a bi about stuff filling the space available. Tasks fill the time available, I guess.

Has it been restful? Oh, yes. And have I enjoyed myself? Mostly, when I’m not ambiguously frazzled, or second-guessing every recent interaction (at the con & since, online & off) and/or draaaagggggggggging myself through daily routines in pursuit of basics like personal hygiene.

It’s silly, all this listing I do, but it’s also soothing. In one sense it’s a long, wordy version of, “Look at me, I can do the bare minimum to survive!” And in the world I grew up in, making much of nothing is tacky, selfish attention-seeking nonsense.

But in another sense, these lists are the vital opposite of making much of nothing. They’re making much of things overlooked and undervalued. They’re balancing the meaningfulness scales.

I am proud of others when they do what I am doing, so it’s only fair I make note of the important basics too. Besides, even just thinking, LAUD ME, FOR I HAVE DONNED CLEAN CLOTHES & INGESTED SUSTENANCE! makes me smile, and smiles are always good.

So I shall feel proud of myself now that I’ve noted all I’ve done. I mean, I didn’t spend the WHOLE time surfing or reading articles about dairy cow milk production and teaching dogs to pull wagons. And I did get in a little good writing time. A teeny bit. But as the That Counts As Writing bot on Twitter points out out, it’s all progress.

So. Here we are, at the end of another meandering life post. That’s all there is to it. Except for a cat pic.

Until later!

Categories
Media Consumption Writing Life

And then this happened

That could be a title for every blog post, eh?

Sipping tea and sitting in sunshine with the cat on my office couch was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday morning. I spent a lot more time there than I originally intended.

My one brief peek at the internet was a mistake because along with the wildly irresponsible fear-mongering, scientifically-dubious, hand-wringing over the Omicron surge, I learned there are folks claiming that vaccinated people who minimize human contact and wear masks are doing it because we’re scared of getting sick. That we’re pathologically anxious. That we’re frightened out of our wits and suffering from a mass delusion, even.

OH FFS. That’ll teach me to open up my browser on the weekend. I MEAN. Beyond the WTAF aspect, there’s the projection part (accusing someone of having a trait you actually have.) It really torques me off that the assholes who spread disinformation to undermine public confidence in all information sources do so much better a job than the have reached a new record in Awfulness.

Keeping other people’s germs out of my face when infection rates of anything are skyrocketing is a sensible way to avoid getting sick. Always has been. I hope wearing masks during seasonal virus peaks becomes normalized tbh. And with a novel disease the reality is that eventually I will get sick, but the longer I stay uninfected and the more I can train my immune system beforehand, the better.

That isn’t delusional. That’s common sense — unless you also believe the disease itself is essentially harmless. And to believe that, you have to dismiss hundreds of sources in dozens of countries who have nothing invested in lying about its badness.

Liars who spread disinformation to erode public trust in all existing sources of information? REALLY TORQUE ME OFF. HARUMPH.

ANYway. End mini rant. That’s a big grump, but it’s my only one from today, so…yay? And it ties into the books I’m starting the new year with. One’s on reserve at the library and I’ve recommended purchase of the other. Cultish by Amanda Montell, about the language of extremism, and Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari, an examination of the many ways the modern environment demolishes our ability to concentrate and learn.

In other cheerful moments today, there was snow-shoveling in the sunshine. Spouseman and I even made a tiny little maze in the snow on the patio because, hey, we have a patio! We also took Pippin out for his first walk in snow. I wasn’t sure how he would react to the cold and wet.

He loved it. I shoud’ve known.

That adventure was followed by returning some movies to the library, then coming home for a victorious supper of soup, crusty garlic bread and baked apples.

Tonight’s viewing of Howl’s Moving Castle went very well. I’d seen it before and love it. Spouseman loved it. He also looked at me afterwards and said, “I am proud of myself for being very good about not asking questions.” It isn’t typical Chekov’s gun plotting with every surprise foreshadowed and every character perfectly pigeonholed in a type. It skips merrily along and

Which is a thing I love about Mizaki storytelling.

Then I made more cookies and watched Hawkeye. Good fun. The banter, the complications, THE BROADWAY SONGS AND POSTERS ZOMG. And the scenes with Yelena Belova/Black Widow were extra super fun.

Now I am caught up on the MCU except for the new Spiderman, which I will eventually see. And The Eternals. Is that MCU? I’m not sure. But I have its release noted so I can watch when it hits streaming.

We have one more day of “winter break.” On tap: more Studio Ghibli and a movie called Encanto, which is a Disney thing. And Boba Fett. That should be interesting.

And that is that. Have a sleepy cat photo. Until later.

PS: Pssssst. I almost forgot. Books! I write ’em. You can read em. There are links. I’m not putting one in here because no one ever clicks them anyway.

Categories
Media Consumption Writing Life

First Caturday Saturday

First day of the Gregorian calendar year. For me, a snow day, baking day, sleeping-in day, rest day.

New Year’s Day is not about productivity for me. Things usually get done, many things actually, usually enjoyable ones, but it’s rarely focused goal-targeted labor or anything society recognizes as Useful — not because I have a superstition about the day setting the tone for the rest of the year, no.

No, I avoid being productive on NYD because it’s a day off. Luckily, having a cat means I have help remembering days off are for relaxing now. Pippin has been sleeping like a champ all day today.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions (pointless to give extra weight to an arbitrary annual calendar changeover date, resolutions should be meaningful and embraced whenever a need for one is identified, blahblahblah) but if I DID do them, I would resolve to pitch the word (indeed, the entire concept of productivity) into the trash bin of reality where I would burn it with the fiery destructive force of a thousand flaming suns.

Since I’ve been resolved on that point for years already, it doesn’t count against my “no New Year’s resolutions” resolution, right? (Is that a paradox, to have a resolution about not having resolutions? ANYway. It’s definitely a digression.)

After being awake until 3 AM, we rsolved to wake up whenever and successfully enticed Mister Pips into snoozing with us until nearly 11 AM. Fancy brunch was had here at home, courtesy of frozen foods purchased back when the world wasn’t so viciously contagious. There was lounging, and reading, and a long walk in the falling snow. Napping happened. Also a teeny little bit of writing, (in addition to this, I mean. Serena and Parker are walking puppies and not talking. It’s fun. And funny.)

In fits and starts between other activities I made split pea soup, no-rise bread, and baked apples. We’re now enjoying the feast with a split of Sauterne (yummy sweet French white wine) while watching Jungle Cruise. Which is much better than I expected. Perplexing and occasionally bizarre, but fun.

Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Paul Giamatti, and a bunch of other people who look vaguely familiar navigate a convoluted screenplay that has some major African Queen meets The Mummy vibes. Good actors chewing up scenery through a quip-heavy actionfest with some pleasnat surprises? Yes, thanks!

Along with everything else fun today, there is popcorn. Because this is a popcorn flick for SURE.

This one has some extra fun running gags and better than average dialogue, too. So I’m happy.

Back when my dad took my to Disneyland for my birthday, ( we lived in SoCal at the time) I would ask to go on the Jungle Cruise multiple times because I loved it. I also loved the Undersea adventure, the Pirate Island, and the Haunted Mansion. And yes, It’s A Small World.

BTW, a father who’s willing to go through It’s A Small World multiple times a visit multiple times a year is a parent who truly loves his daughters. (My younger sister used to alternate between IaSW and the Mad Hatter’s Teacups all day long on her birthday trip, or so the family story goes)

A second digression! And it’s only the first day of the year. Go, me.

My other not resolution for the year is to be Very Direct and Talkative about my projects and how proud I am of my existing books. So. Please buy my books, read my books, review my books, recommend my books if you love them–and I’ll keep writing books regardless.

That’s all for now, until later!

Categories
Media Consumption Writing Life

Today in random ranty observations

1. Overheard: “That isn’t an isolation bubble. That is foam. Foam is full of holes.” Evocative. Except for the part where it’s true for most people and thus an underestimated source of risk.

2. There is a difference between rationalizing denial and accepting mitigated risks. I’m having a hard time articulating that difference, but I’m certain it exists.

3. OMFG enough of accusing people who get covid of “letting down their guard.” Stop with the judgy moral superiority nonsense. JUST STOP. Look. Precautions are not magic. Exposure happens. All of us will eventually face down this virus armed only with our immune systems. It’s inevitable. No one likes to think about that, but it’s been true since the moment this virus escaped Wuhan. You can be careful and cautious and still catch Covid. Illness isn’t a mark of moral deficiency or personal failure. It can’t be overcome by having a pure heart or warded off by Doing All The Right Things. Sitting up on a high horse and sneering at the sick is pride headed for a fall.

4. BUT WAIT. I’m equally annoyed with the other type of magical thinking, the kind that makes people think they somehow earn a free pass from environmental dangers as a reward for good behavior. I’m really tired of actively risky behavior being excused because people are “tired of taking precautions.”

FFS, does no one ever engage in analysis by analogy anymore? Every winter I get hella tired of putting on a heavy fucking coat and other extra layers of outer protection to keep from freezing. But I rarely say, “I am so tired of wearing a coat, I’ll go without.” Rarely, but not never. I weigh the risk of freezing against the potential for frostbite or death and act accordingly. Short trip to the trashcan when the temp’s in the teens? I might run barefoot w/o a jacket. Hour walk outside when it’s -10 degrees? NOPE.

This is called risk evaluation and mitigation.

Here’s another one. Every time I drive a car and come to a red light, it’s an annoyance and an aggravation and I get VERY tired of the delays to my travel. BUT I NEVER GET TO SAY, “I’M TIRED OF STOPPING AT RED LIGHTS, I’LL JUST BUZZ THROUGH THIS ONE INTERSECTION.”

Four years spent in science labs working with various poisons and caustics left its mark on me. I cannot imagine saying, “I’ve worn goggles, aprons, and gloves every time all semester and it’s a hassle, so Imma go without today.” And despite diligently taking precautions every time I was in the lab, I went home more than once with acid-eaten holes in my sleeves or a yellow dot of nitric acid on my skin. And others had worse accidents. BECAUSE SHIT HAPPENS.

So I can have both annoyances at once without cognitive dissonance. If someone’s doing all they can, weighing risks, taking the ones they deem worthwhile, being responsible about accepting and mitigating the consequences of mistakes? I’m all over empathy and ready to support in any possible way.

5. Um. But my opinion of people who thoughtfully, deliberately refuse to take precautions against infection because they are misguided, distrust all expertise except their own, and are breathtakingly selfish? Yeah, don’t come at me with the sympathy pleas. I’ll save my energy for others.

6. Didn’t get much done today because I was here ranting (and elsewhere researching) but hey. At least I’m wordsing, not mutely doom-scrolling through Facebook & Twitter, right?

7. We’re watching Shang Chi at home tonight instead of Spiderman in a reserved theater because multiple people got exposed to Covid over the holiday weekend and that news boosted the risk of 3 hours in a public place w/people outside my bubble over my comfort threshold. I mean. I could’ve stayed double-masked through the movie and felt comfortable, but that would’ve diminished the experience below my enjoyment threshold. Risk evaluation. Risk mitigation. Choices.

So. It’s Christmas cookies and comfy jammy pants ftw tonight. And this second viewing of Shang Chi affirms my memory that I LOVED this movie bunches. Top 5 in the whole MCU for me.

ANYway. That’s all for now. Until later.

Categories
Media Consumption other things Whimsy Writing Life

Good Christmas

It was a good Christmas. I say that every year, even the year Mom died, even the year my best friend was dying, even the year Spouseman was waiting on cancer news, because every year–even the bad years when one or both of us was grieving or wrestling with illness or more–every year there’s been something good about the day to remember. This year there were far more goods than average despite it being Pandemic HellWorld Year Take 2.

We slept in, ate cinnamon rolls, opened presents, and then Spouseman went to game for a bit and I sat in the sunshine near the fireplace and wrote a thousand words about nitrile gloves & why I love them, which might be a boring way to spend Christmas afternoon, but it was comfy and cozy and I enjoyed it immensely. There was also a great deal of cat photography and some family texting, so I wasn’t a total hermit.

On the material side, I received an abundance of socks & can’t wait to wear them. Spouseman’s various Kickstarters and other online adventures brought me tarot cards and tea dragon plushies, plus a Practical Witch’s Almanac that I can’t wait to use all year long. He is loving his PS5 (no, I did not buy it scalped, I got it normal retail, plus accessories) and insists he is not disappointed even though it’s literally the only thing I got him. So I’m happy about that.

Santa didn’t bring me any sales or book reviews, (almost all authors love the gift of new readers, I’m pretty sure that’s a True Fact) but I forgot to send my letter to Santa about that, so the continued drought of sales was hardly a surprise. Maybe next year is the year I’ll suddenly and without explanation make enough money from a title to join SFWA. Or sell two short stories I haven’t written yet. Or maybe it won’t be. I’ll keep plugging away at projects either way.

ANYway. In case it isn’t clear, this is my way of recording thoughts I would usually scatter piecemeal across social media. Writing down what happens in my head and in my life helps things stick in my sievelike memory, so…here we are.

n with the day. Eventually we went out for a walk in the sunshine and the weather was so crisp, still, & clear that we impulsively decided to have a fire outside when we got back. The temp dropped hard as soon as the sun set, but was a good test for my new dragonship heat deflector. Success! It kept us toasty warm. Some next-block neighbors were having a yard party with much carousing and caroling, too, so that was a nice bonus.

The finale: we had leftovers from the Eve Feast in front of Iron Man 3. It’s kind of a Christmas movie, and it had been a while, and it didn’t require a lot of mental energy. I might be the only person in the world who likes it, but I do.

And that’s a wrap on this year’s official winterfest holiday. Spouseman is gaming, the cat is in the sink playing in the dirty dishes (I should go roust him out) and I’m writing this in front of Spiderman: Homecoming in prep for seeing the new movie on Monday.

Until later.

Oop. Some pics from the day.