It’s been a heck of a while

Long time no post. Over a month, I think, since I’ve shared anything but book-focused or fluffy photo posts. I’m not even going to try to catch up on all The Other Things. Spring was a season of mostly lowlights with some big highs that were delightful but also made the dark parts feel darker. It’s a huge effort to share now, but I need to crawl out of my protective shell and  stretch my word muscles.

Here be the major doings.

Firstly, my much-loved and amazing mother-in-law died in February. Not a surprise, she was 95 and suffered a bad injury leading to a sharp decline before Christmas, but it was a hard blow all the same. She was a powerful, complicated, wonderful woman who told the worst best jokes and was a shining example of how good a human being can be.

Logistics put the memorial in April. Spouseman comes from a large family. Gathering together the three  children’s households + eight grandchild households, including assorted lifemates, 2 great-grand-children & other loved ones from all the round earth’s imagined corners = some heroic scheduling.

My sister-in-law is a goddess. That is all.  While still steeped in the first raw pain of grief, she organized a huge multi-family celebration of poignant joy with grace and strength.

It was a hard trip for Spouseman and me, but also a good one  filled with bright moments of laughter & hours of shared stories, with interludes of desolation and tears.

Secondly, a week after returning, late in the month, our Scootercat went overnight from being a dear, cranky cat with a failing digestive tract & horrible arthritis who  still enjoyed sunny naps, treats, and petting to a pain-wracked, incontinent old kitty who couldn’t walk more than a few steps and  had no more happy waking moments.

He was our very good boy, the bestest of the best, but he was ready to go. With help from friends w we found our way to a very good emergency vet who got us in after hours the day we realized it was past time to say good-bye. I couldn’t rest the next day until I cleaned the house from top to bottom, and while I did that and randomly leaked tears, I also struggled with guilt over being relieved that I wouldn’t have to clean up after random puddles & poops any more. Grief is weird.

Weeks later, I still glance at Scooter’s usual sit-spots whenever I pass them and feel that aching hole inside because there’s no one there.  All of his good, favorite beds and toys that a new kitty might like are set aside to await the day we’re ready to embrace another fuzzball or two. Or three.  It’s going to be a while before I’m ready. And even longer for Spouseman, I think.

Thirdly, on the professional front, I did Indy PopCon with Bard’s Tower, which was an interesting and entertaining con that took place on Pride Weekend, wherein the number of people in all kinds of cosplay boosted my hope for the future of humanity.  On the same weekend, good friends in Chicago took my books & bling to Printers Row LitFest, whereupon I learned people like book-bling even if they haven’t read the books. (Go, Mercury Battalion!) So…that was a grand good thing.

Same week, I found out a good and wonderful, talented friend was in the hospital, and another is facing the return of a deadly cancer. SO.  THERE’S THAT. Anger and helplessness just simmering away in the daily mix.

And lastly, we expect to be moving in a couple of months. I’ll post more about that shocking development when it’s all finalized.  The whole thing came together super-fast, but it should be perfect and delightful…once it’s a done deal. I have a deep, abiding fear of jinxing the whole thing by getting too talkative about it until All The Papers are signed.

It’s long overdue. It’s a thrill to consider having enough living space for a guest bed and a dining table and a cushy bean bag chair AND a Spouseman’s office plus mine. It’s also going to be All New and Unknown, and thus I am scared 24/7 right now.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, I do NOT uproot well or enjoy environmental change. Yes, I do change my surroundings regularly, (okay, obsessively) but it’s a defensive strategy–if I don’t push that particular limit hard and often, I will calcify, emotionally, into a fragile barnacle who would shatter if pushed to move or change at all.

And I don’t want that. So I seek change stress, and I’m all in on this move. All the same, getting used to a new space is going to be uncomfortable, stressful, and terrifying even though it’s chosen and wanted.  There’s no getting around it. Gotta just push through.

So. That’s what’s happening in my world. We’re all caught up.

A lot of media has been consumed since the last Other Things post, but it was mostly brainless visual re-watches and comfort re-reading to offset the heavier topics trending in reality. I’ve also struggled against a blast of creative apathy that has yet to abate.

Next up in my life, preparing for Gen Con, plus a whole lot of panic over ohmygerdIhavetofinishthesefershlugginerrevisions for Sharp Edge of Yesterday, and also SOMEHOW finishing the last 25% of my cozy ghost mystery.

But that’s all for now.

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk routine.

I have a lot of routines. When it comes to life, I’m a calm weather and flat roads kind of woman. I like my time to be thoroughly-scheduled, predictable, and straightforward.

No, that isn’t right. That’s a wicked lie.  I loathe schedules.  I abhor (SUCH A GOOD WORD) pre-planned, calendared-to-the-minute activities, and I hate having to be any given place at exactly any given time. Time Management is right up there on my list of Least Favorite Things.

There’s nothing I love more than a long stretch of unstructured time to enjoy without obligations or commitments hanging over my head. Being able to dive into whatever I feel like doing (WRITING, mostly) for long, unmeasured periods, secure in the knowledge I’m not shirking any responsibility or failing any expectations–that is the purest of pure blisses.

The clock is my enemy.  I am that person who is always late (except when I am ridiculously early because I don’t dare miss out on whatever reason I have to be punctual. Think airline flights, bus & train departures, events that close their doors at the start of shows, etc. Yeah.)

But I digress. Routine is the topic, and the reality is that my life has to be very, very, VERY rigidly structured, because holding fast to processes is the only way I can carve out those huge, juicy blocks of time. I do what I must to get treats I chew up like big wedges of watermelon or a personal fruit pie.

(Me, a full 9-inch cherry pie, a spoon: that is also a real thing)

ANYway. If I don’t cling to all my hated-but-necessary routines, my ability to create…goes *PAF* like a soap bubble. Being interrupted in the middle of my get-up routine can derail my whole day, for example. It LOOKS like I’m aimlessly puttering around the house, but the aimlessness has an aim–it’s settling my synapses and getting clutter out of my space and thus out of my mind. Ditto for coming-home routines, and even the global routine of having daily routines. It’s why I loved regular-schedule retail work: infinite variation & constant novelty bounded within a rigidly structured routine.

I read a lot of Erynn Brook’s blogging and tweeting about ADHD because she gets into the nitty-gritty of living with a brain that works its own way, norms be damned, and I see my life in the stories she tells.

No, seriously. She had a thread about arranging living space to compensate for distraction and sensory overload, and it was like she was walking through my house. Eerie. But also fun. That kind of affirmation is a fleecy blanket of comfort. It reassures me that my many weird quirks about the maintenance of my physical and temporal environment arise from deep places and serve a purpose.

(Purpose: keeping me functional in a world that demands Things Get Done Just So and Right Now, which is NOT how my brain is set up, on top of all the compromises I make to keep my pesky body from breaking down faster. That’s a whole ‘nother post.)

Some folk consider my has-to-be-done-this-way quirks as petty, tyrannical neat-freak tendencies. Others think I’m a judgmental perfectionist who measures their spaces and systems by my own. FULL DISCLAIMER: I neither expect nor want anyone else to live the way I do. Hell, I wouldn’t live this way, given, y’know, a different brain & body. But I work with what I have.

So.  Why am I writing about this? Because blog.

Okay, seriously. It came to mind, and thus is flowing onto the page because I keep getting knocked out of my routine, and that has Consequences. I have a whole set of compensations regarding travel and socializing, two things I love to do, but can only do to certain limits. And since I just got home from travel, those things are on my mind.

When life crashes hard into my routines, like say, when I go on a trip or go out to dinner with friends, my life routines are thrown off not only for the Time Of Upheaval itself but potentially for days afterward. And I didn’t realize that was what was happening for most of my life.

So I’m developing better processes and routines to compensate for getting back to normal. Travel itself is all routine now. 15+ years of business trips. For the other situations, I’m learning it’s easier when people come into my space than when I go out, and the less organized the occasion, the less it winds me up (“let’s hang out for no real reason” is infinitely less stressful than planned dinners, f’rex)

But in every case I am still learning to compensate for just how ridiculously much creative time & emotional stability I have to pay for experiences.

I used to think the brain fog after business trips came from pure physical exhaustion, but the last two years have taught me it’s my brain that needs a variable amount of rebound time and relief from all responsibility.  If I go through my coming-home routines without upheaval and let myself meander without pressure to produce anything, I will predictably get back to normal writing routine in 1 to 5 days.

If I don’t let that process happen naturally, if I push onward attempting all normal routines until the next weekend, I end up physically ill.  Talk about incentive to take it easy, right?

Scheduling, time management and task organization are like living things.  I know from the outside it often looks like they’re my besties, but look closer.

I have harnessed them to my will,  and they serve me well, but they are a troika of wolves, not a team of fast horses. They need more than cooling down after every run.  I have to unharness them and let them go off hunting, or they will turn on me and chew me up.

That’s what I came to write, and there it is.

 

 


Image by reyesdf on Pixabay

 

Winter checklist 4

1. I got out of bed. I’m honestly proud of that. The way I felt when I woke up, I really, really, REALLY wanted to pull up the covers, burrow under the pillows, and hide in bed all day. Instead, I got up and did some things. Slowly. Stiffly. Painfully. In a haze.

But I got up. Yay.

2. I made more words in Ghost Town. Not as many as I would’ve liked, but lots more than I expected given how slow my brain and body were moving.

3. Got my revision ideas for Sharp Edge all organized & answered some emails.

5. Went to a library meeting and didn’t feel entirely useless. Mostly, but not entirely.

6. Organized a bunch of DVDs (Part of the larger ‘putting DVD into binders’ project) I’m so comfortable with the breakdown structure of alphabetizing it’s now a soothing, meditative activity. Reminded me of the best workdays at Borders.

7. Did searches on dyspraxia, ADHD, epoxy resin chemistry, eagles of Asia, and sage propagation. Because internet.

8. Reworked yet another page of the brain-bending present-tense short story. Only a few pages left now.

9. Did some reading and jotted notes for reviews. I love the idea floating on Twitter right now of doing 30 reviews in a month, but I don’t read that fast, and don’t have a backlog of already-read-books I want to review.  I keep forgetting to mention it anywhere, but I do post a fair number of reviews. I dunno why putting “I REVIEWED THIS” on social media feels like bragging, but it does. I mean, I say I liked things here on the blog and so forth, but I don’t specifically mention that I also said I liked the thing on its selling site.  ANYway. Enough about that.

10. And I wrote down my doings here. It’s always meta fun to put the list as an item on the list.