Five me things in no particular order

Some Twitter list things went around recently (I don’t know what to call a huge cluster of separate retweets-with-comments allowing people to add their takes on a particular theme w/o replying to the original tweet. It isn’t a meme. It isn’t a sub-tweet. I dunno.)

ANYway. The original post started with a New Year’s related appeal for writers to introduce themselves with “5 Things People May Not Know About You.”

I do love a good personal share (WORLD’S SHYEST EXHIBITIONIST HERE, HELLO)  and I loved reading the answers posted by people I follow ( see also: dragon-like data hoarding tendencies) but I didn’t join the fun because:

  1. Interest had died down long before I herded my thoughts into word order, and I am weary of being That Person who awkwardly chimes into a fun song two measures late and off the beat. Same thing happened with another flurry of data posts under the heading “Skills people think I have vs skills I actually have.”
  2. Twitter is ephemeral. If I’m going to the trouble of wordsing, I’d rather chisel them into the walls of this space, which is designed to last a bit longer.  (It isn’t that I imagine my prose is deathless, glorious perfection, just that making & organizing ANY sentences is haaaaard. I like to know they’ll stay where I’ve left them.)

So. Without further ado, more random facts about me you may not know:

  • I didn’t master tying my shoes until I was eight.
  • I can (successfully) bake muffins, breads and several kinds of cookies without consulting recipes or using measuring tools.
  • I first sat cross-legged at the age of fourteen, after lots of exercise to get my hips to loosen up far enough to make it possible.
  • Choosing History or Biology as a college major came down to a literal coin toss.
  • My ability to interpret facial expressions is minimal. Angry, fearful, excited, joyful…all I can say with confidence is “Strong emotion, prolly?” This has made me a highly-motivated student of kinesics & nonverbal communication in general.
  • If I don’t practice whistling daily, I lose all ability within a week & have to re-teach myself from scratch.
  • I can ID a dozen breeds of horse and cow on sight, and far more tropical fish species. Ditto for birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
  • My body is always healing stressed tendons or ligaments somewhere. Always. Evaluating & supporting multiple minor sprains & strains is a daily routine.
  • My favorite color is cobalt blue. But I think everyone knows that one.

Yes, I can count, I know that’s nine, not five, but I was on a roll, so you got them all.  Now I’m feeling self-conscious and figure I’m boring everyone, so I’ll say adieu, and get back to the fiction writing.

Until next time!

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Image by thom kunz from Pixabay

Fear is the mind-killer except when it isn’t.

I’ve taken some big behind-the-scenes authoring steps recently. I’m pretty nervous about them, but they’re not the point of this post. I’m also not writing about the news being full of atrocities, nor about my nation sliding into OVERT fascism. although those are infuriating, terrible, horrifying things.

Nope. This post is about my relationship with fear as a general thing.

It’s been a while since I talked about feeling frightened most of the time, most days. That’s been going on a lot longer than the current world events, but it’s on my mind lately because it’s tangentially related to my lack of activism and also to my writing.

Most of the things about life that make me happy also terrify me. And by terror I don’t mean I get nervous or worried or fretful about outcomes. I don’t even mean hollow-bellied imposter-cloaked fear-of-failure fear.

I mean the “heart pounding, can’t breathe, feel like vomiting, just-might-piss-myself” kind of fear. This anxious panic isn’t reserved for writing. Not by a long shot.

A lot of normal activities (f’rex simple one-on-one human interactions with friends, loud noises, scheduled appointments, necessary hygiene) you name it, it can leave me slogging through a swamp of of fight-or-flight overload.

I didn’t ask for the quirk. It came with the brain.

I’m also an adrenaline-seeker. Didn’t ask to be, but there it is. Brain. I live for living on the edge, I hunt for things that will raise my heart rate, brighten my vision, knot my guts,, and basically freak me out. This is done on an instinctive level. I can rationalize it all I want, but it isn’t rational.

The biochemical one-two punch has allowed me to function with an appearance of normalcy most of my life. One quirk goes a long way towards balancing the other. It also means I don’t often freak out when major things happen. My baseline is already up there. There’s almost a leveling sensation.

I mastered doing regular-life things on a regular basis before adolescence. All The Things scared me but I enjoyed the experience as long as I stuck to small, manageable doses, so I achieved a dysfunctional functionality. I thrive in a high-structure environment that goes through irregular major disruptions.

Along the way to my current advanced age, I learned  the hard way that hardly anyone recognizes when I’m terrified. Even when I’m standing dizzy and sweaty right next to someone, wondering if I’m about to die RIGHT THERE, most people don’t realize how freaked out I am.

I’d always known I don’t act frightened in a typical way (enough emergency situations where I got praised for calm handling got that message across) but I never connected it with people not realizing I daily dance on a cliff’s edge of coping.

I found out that it was atypical when my life got knocked off its moorings and the terror started erupting as actual anxiety/panic attacks a few years ago. I had to find a new balance, and part of that meant communicating more openly about my feelings.

And when I mention I’m on the edge of a freakout, I get looks of surprise and doubt. Imposter syndrome is brought on  by hearing over and over again, “Oh, but you’re doing great. You don’t look scared. You look fine.” Be aware: when you say that to someone who’s over-the-top anxious, it’s not as encouraging as you think. Anxiety twists that. Seeing is believing. When you say you can’t see the fear, you’re saying you don’t believe in it–even if you do.

Looking calm is a one part survival skill for me, and one part habituation. One, being seen as calm is important for a leader, and I get steered into leadership all the time for reasons I cannot explain.  Two, that adrenaline quirk means I crave fear. So I’m used to feeling it. On edge is my go-to. Basically I am having fun...

…right up to that certain point when the fun stops. That’s when I say something. At that point any tiny little thing will bring on total meltdown. Then I’m bolting for the door of a crowded restaurant, or sneaking out of a party early because…um…fear-induced wardrobe malfunction.

If I say I’m scared, I need protection, not a pep talk.

Here’s the other shoe to drop: even without meltdowns, adrenaline is exhausting. I guard against over-stimulation to protect my balance. I have hard limits. I push them constantly, (see: risk-seeker) but I have to conserve my energy. This means I’m really good at the whole “learn to say no” advice creators get. Not so good at ducking the guilt of doing it, but that’s a different problem. Until I started studying up on it, I never realized how many of my daily behaviors were rooted in emotional self-defense.

The TL;DR: this is my friendly every-so-often reminders that I am not brave. I only play brave on the outside, and it’s hard, tiring work. The crazier the world gets, the more rips in the social contract our government makes, the more I realize how scared I always am. All. The. Time.

I’m aggravating the problem with my creativity –fear lurks everywhere writing intersects with audience. Social media or reader outreach, even mentioning I have a thing to share or that I’m feeling excited about a new story…it’s all a big swamp of scariness.  Since it’s also my happy place I cannot resist diving into that slough, but…BUT.

It’s still like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane into the open sky. (which is one thing I haven’t done, by the way, because typical risk-seeking behavior loses a lot of its appeal when basic tasks like making phone calls provide a monstrous adrenaline rush.  Who needs roller coasters? I buy groceries!)

And again I digress. As usual.

Maybe the takeaway is this: I’m skipping along the scary edge a lot lately, in a world that’s getting progressively murkier by the hour. So if I seem more withdrawn than usual, it’s because I’m a lot more exhausted than ever. I wish I wasn’t, because there’s a lot worth doing right now.

Jesus fucking Christ, there’s a lot that needs doing. There’s been a lot for decades. The surface armor of suppression and willful ignorance has been scraped off the festering ugliness, so I suppose this could lead to healing. It could lead to bleeding out.

Get angry. Get registered. If you can, get out there and fight. I’ll keep doing what little I can. For sure I’ll keep writing stories that provide a little respite from the darkness.

That’s what I can do.

As usual, the picture is a fluffy addendum with no larger purpose.

 

Quick Cat Update

Before I get to the feline details, I am ecstatic to report good news about my very own superhero Spouseman.  He’s checked off one full year since surgery, and got a thumbs-up on the first checkup test since the radiation regimen. So we’re moving into the “Dealing With All the Side Issues ” phase of recovery after cancer treatment. Building up stamina, testing new physical limits, designing new workouts in the Danger Room…okay, I might be making up that last bit. Or not.

Let’s talk about the cat.

Our grumpy old fur-baby Scootercat has been struggling with “idiopathic digestive issues” for nearly a year. That’s a fancy way of saying  “the poor cat’s insides are wearing out.” It translates to ten months of watching the cat vomit up food, hair, and/o bloody phlegm on a daily basis–sometimes three or more times a day.

We still don’t know what caused the upset or what made it last so long, but we do know he didn’t have any bacterial infections, urinary crystals, tumors, esophageal strictures, or bowel obstructions. He just horked up whatever he ingested and then some.

Ruling out horrible conditions was all well and good, but knowledge didn’t keep food inside the cat or clean up the disastrous results of rejection. And anyone who says animals don’t understand cause and effect has never watched a sick pet contemplate his food dish with equal parts desperation and disgust. Poor Scooter started grumbling at his food while he ate, as if warning it to stay down this time.

I am relieved to report Le Petit Chat Noir is finally feeling better. He still has arthritis and gets anxious when he can’t find us because he’s too deaf to hear us moving and too blind to see us across the room, but he’s eating like a high school athlete and is back to yakking at birds from window sills and chasing his nemesis the iPad reflection along the walls.

What miracle cure did the trick? No idea. Various remedies were applied as suggested by Reliable Veterinary Experts.  After multiple unsuccessful attempts we landed on a boring sensitive-stomach food Scooter could keep down, then added tuna flakes to encourage extra feeding.

Indulging the little monster’s love of being scrubbed with a wire brush after meals seems to help too. I think it distracts him long enough for the food to get from his stomach into his short little carnivore’s gut.

In any case, here be more photos of our happy, elderly feline.

 



Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers. Handy link: https://books2read.com/ap/xqvlwR/K-M-Herkes