It’s nippy out there.

The air temp was up to a balmy -15 °F when I took my walk today. That’s before wind chill. The wind chill has been at “OH HELL NO” since last night. -15 marked the high point between -24 last night, and -23 projected for tonight. -50 wind chill anyone?

Yes, I went outside in that kind of cold. Yes, on purpose. Yes, without a job location I had to travel to reach, or a pet who needs walking, or any other external justification.

Why? Why not? Being able to do things like stroll around in the killing cold by choice remind me how lucky and rich I am, relatively speaking, and how grateful I am for so much in my life.

Also, if I don’t get my body moving and keep moving at a steady pace for at least 30 min a day, I hurt, but I could do enough walking indoors to cope. Not easily, and going around and around inside the house is boring as hell, but hey. I have done it.

But given the choice between boring laps and going out into the deep freeze? No contest.

It was a fantastic hike and meditative too. I spent the time focusing on my breathing rhythm, maintaining awareness of my body’s position, location, and surroundings (the whole world changes in incredible, beautiful ways when it’s super-cold)

..at least, that’s what I was doing when I wasn’t concentrating on ways to keep my glasses from frosting over.

I’d been out about a half-mile when I realized why I was enjoying myself so much. Dealing with weather like this is a lot like swimming. You’re deliberately exposing your body to a medium that will kill you if you’re immersed in it too long, but with the right gear, training, and effort, the experience can bring you a satisfying thrill.

When it comes to gear, I have tons. Decades worth. I ruthlessly toss or donate clothes that wear out/don’t get worn, but cold weather kit keeps well. And scarves? Well. Textiles are my dragon hoard.

My winter coat is literally designed for Antarctica– it came from someone who went on a cruise trip with a company that uses old Russian icebreakers. It has a patch on it and everything.

My closet is packed with thick, plushy hoodies & warm socks and so on. I am spoiled for choice.  I not only have sleek, soft long underwear comfort-rated to sub-zero, I have fleecy versions I can layer over it and under my outerwear.

Hats? Ear protection? insulated gloves with mitten covers? Scarves and ear bands to keep everything but the eyes safe from wind chill? YUP.

And boots with thick soles to keep my toesies in a dry, temperature-controlled environment are my year-round standard.

Basically, I was all set for today.  Note, please, none of my stuff is new. A purple wool scarf my friend Jody found for me and the sparkly red scarf gifted to me by my other friend Tess are the  youngest pieces in the ensemble. Some of the long underwear is old enough to drive, and I think the coat is old enough to vote.

But it’s all good gear, so when I wrap up to go out in the killing cold, I am covered top to toe in cuddlesome coziness and feel super-rich and thankful for every protective piece.

I’ve had training too. Nothing rigorous, just enough to make me comfortable navigating a populated neighborhood.  There were many lessons in cold weather survival in my youth, plus I’ve done a lot of independent study since then. (hello, I’m a writer)  Knowing when to stop is a key skill, and listening to my body saying “enough!” is a thing I have learned well.

Once I find some goggles (frosty eyeglasses are a real PITA) I will be able to easily handle hikes on days far colder than this one. Goggles have been on a vague quest list for years now. Since Polar Vortexes are likely to be a recurring issue, I think I will make a point of hunting some down before next winter.

Because it really was a lovely walk today, and I want to do more.

By the way, if anyone is wondering, no,  I wasn’t the only one out there. I wasn’t even the only person out here without a dog on a leash. I spotted one hardy soul out running, and no one was even chasing them.

Was there a point to this post? I don’t know. But we’ve reached the end of it.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

Hello, it’s me.

(No, I don’t have a new kitten. I just like cat pictures.)

As soon as I got home from Dragon Con, I put my Facebook & Twitter passwords into the hands of my trusted Spouseman. If anyone noticed a drop in activity on Twitter or my near-total absence on Facebook (I doubt it, but I want to be thorough) that’s what’s up.  I’m getting a lot done offline these days. TONS. It feels great.

I’ve also been thinking a bit about my social media presence.

Fair warning to recent followers: I’m not good at “Maintaining a Social Media Presence” in the ways most book marketing gurus still recommend.

My feeds are not well-curated.  I put online whatever filters through the unreliable sieve of my impulses. I take loads of unmodified food, yard, and cat pictures, post moody observations about my writing fails and flails, log in whatever I’ve collected from pop culture, and indulge in random outbursts of joy, frustration, and/or existential angst.

My Personal Brand, such as it is, might best be described as Flaky Eclectic.

Yes, I have been asked the question, “Why spend time on social media at all, then, especially on a blog, if not to aid in your authorial endeavors?”

Simple answer: it’s what I do. I am a diarist. Not a regular nor a diligent one, perhaps, but the shoe fits. I think things, and I record them. I was blogging for years before I tackled the wacky task of publishing a novel.  This website blog is still more of a life record than a promotional tool.

I’ve been writing random notes to an invisible, possibly imaginary audience a lot longer than that–ever since the day I was living independently and nothing I wrote could be used against me (The potential for judgment horrified me–the idea of my ideas or my emotions being corrected was unbearable.)

ANYway. I’ve been over that fear for a long time. Pretty sure my dad reads my blog, even. (HI, DAD! LOVE YOU!)  My me-ness is well settled in ways that it wasn’t when I was younger. The field in which my fucks are sown is barren, etc, etc, and all that.

BUT I DIGRESS. As I do. Short form: I post stuff online because it’s my way of affirming my existence. No more, no less. I write, so a lot of my posts are about writing, but this is not and never will be a writing blog, nor will it be a pretty one full of promotional perkiness.

My life is not interesting. I rarely have vibrant insights. I won’t solicit much interaction online–too much social contact, even at a distance, even online, wears me out & leaves me paranoid even though I crave attention as much as any other creator. So I will come and go, flit and hermit, all quite unpredictably. (Contradictions-R-Us, hello.)

In short, and belatedly, you’ll be disappointed if you expect me to be entertaining. My books  are entertaining. They’re full of really cool people having exciting, amazing, occasionally painful adventures. Me? Not so much.

This brings us to the end of another mostly meandering post.  Next one will be all about media consumption. I’ve gotten loads of reading done!

 

 

 

 

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.