The latest in thinks

I hear an author blog is s’posed to be an Authentic but Also Curated Internet Presence, topical, focused, even in tone and always showcasing the author’s brand.

I…uh…problem is, authentic me is a bit flaky on the outside, thick and juicy once I get going, sometimes salty, sometimes sweet, relentless and omnivorous in my research & reading interests but unfocused in same, opinionated and cranky. It’s impossible to tell whether I’ll feel like writing a until I dig into it. And some posts are both. Hm. I think my brand is “pie.”

2. True story: my brain is weird,

The weirdnesses run in my family, so because of that, I didn’t know I wasn’t “normal” until I went out & about in the world in my teens and later. Some examples:

From the time I could tell time & read, I was given a reading light, lots of books, and tacit permission to do whatever I wanted all night long as I stayed in my room and was quiet enough not to get caught. Quelle surprise to me that other people slept all night EVERY night, not just some nights.

It turns out most people’s parents did not read bedtime stories backwards as well as forwards. Or make games out of recognizing full words and phrase rather than alphabet letters. Or encourage little kids to memorize long passages of text. My dyslexic dad did all those things.

Things I learned from classmates: other people did not go outside and play (read: burn off energy running around) BEFORE doing homework. or again afterwards, after dinner, as a reward for sitting still. The concept of napping after a meal remains alien to me to this day.

I was taught from forever how to set up my personal spaces and daily routines to counteract an innate inability to find anything stored inside another thing. Dressers and desks are like magic disappearing devices. I have solid “put it where it goes” habits, EVERYTHING I OWN has a specific home, and all important items are stored in full view. Wall hooks, open shelves, and nothing layered inside shelves.

3. this week’s grouchy voting rant.

I do not care if you hate the system or hate Joe Biden because he’s a rapist or too moderate or too progressive OR you feel your vote doesn’t matter OR you want things to change some other way. I don’t care.

Look. I don’t do hyperbole here. I wrote a whole scifi series set in a United States that collapsed like a socio-political soufflé, deflating into death one crisis after another, and I did a LOT of research into trends and danger signs and what makes good countries go bad…

and I gotta say I am pretty pissed off to be watching it happen in real time. I keep hoping we will step back from the precipice, but we are already witnessing–and too many of us are enduring–civil warfare at the local & state level while our national leaders publicly flout the rule of law, gloat about it, and bring down the full force of those same laws on everyone they dislike, guilty or no. Oh, and then there’s the climate collapse & the virus disaster and-and-and UGH.

If you think not voting means you don’t have skin in the game, you are so, so very wrong. That isn’t how civics works. SOMEONE gets into every office. Not voting only guarantees that you’re stuck with someone else’s choice. And the fewer people who vote, the more likely an extremist will get in and do things you don’t like. At. Every. Level. This is how Home Owners Associations go bad. This is how bad people become mayors who give their buddies big pensions. This is how creeps voted up through the ranks into the Senate.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER/IT DOESN’T AFFECT ME” IS HOW WE GOT HERE, careening through history into a future I have really, really fought hard to prevent.

4. Once more thing.

Not to end on a brooding grouch, here’s a recipe for fresh pickling solution that works with a wide variety of veggies. I went to a lot of trouble to make sure if was reproducible using measuring tools I’ve been winging it for literal decades without any, basically doing it to taste to fit whatever size receptacle I had. The below proportions work.

  • 1 c vinegar
  • 1 c hot water
  • 1/2 c sugar or sweetener
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • dealers choice of aromatics. I like to slice in a yellow onion, maybe some fresh seeded jalapenos, a few peppercorns. Garlic clove & dill leaf or seed are a popular choices, but I don’t like it. YMMV, whatevs.

That’s it. Mix up until everything dissolvable has dissolved, then pour over sliced or small veggies in a container you can refrigerate. If you use plastic, be warned it will take on the scent of the vinegar & veggies inside.

And that is that all there is to read from me until later. Unless you want to go out & buy my books, insist all your friends buy them too so you can enthuse about them together, and then write reviews all over the internet. In which case, you have lots more fun ahead of you.

No? Okay, then. Until next blog!

Masks. Is yours comfy?

Early in the Age of Mask Mandates I noticed a puzzling thing: I had adapted MUCH more easily to wearing masks than others I knew.

Masks leaves a large percentage of my friends feeling breathless or dizzy, they give people headaches or leave them exhausted after a short time. They hurt. My friends are NOT using these problems as excuses to endanger themselves or others by going mask-free, mind you, but they do suffer major discomfort to be safe and save others.

But me? I’m not suffering. I find masks relatively comfy. This surprised and puzzled me, because as a rule, I have major problems adjusting to new physical demands. (Just ask my very, VERY patient optician.)

So why has mask-wearing been such a breeze? The answer came to me, after much pondering, while washing my face after a 3-hour mask-wearing shift at work.

I don’t mind masks because I was a competitive swimmer for six years, and I’ve spent countless hours swimming laps for exercise in the years since.

No, seriously. Here’s what I’ve learned from playing in the pool:

  1. Swim caps & goggle taught me how to endure the literal pain of straps and seals diging into my head. Anything that presses near the ears or nose, covers the sides of the head, or ties above the neck in back can lead to mysterious, horrendous headaches. You learn which precises spots on your head will tolerate intrusions by trial and error, and even then, tiny adjustments make a huge difference. I do all that without thinking.
  2. Wearing goggles also taught me how to tune out the sensation of things grinding against my cheeks and sinuses. Yes, that matters. We all have lots of nerves there. New experiences and sensations are exhausting even when they’re nice ones. Masks aren’t nice.
  3. Lap swimming taught me how to override my body’s interpretation of pressure. There’s nothing natural about putting your face into water and convincing your lungs it’s FINE, GO AHEAD AND WORK. Inhaling deeply when your senses tell you there’s resistance goes against instinct and sets off an unconscious stress response. Cloth doesn’t create that much resistance to inhaling, but it doesn’t take much to make the experience stressful. And stress = headaches, weariness, and anxiety. Me? I just…tune it out.
  4. Swimming taught me breathing discipline. Exertion in water ups the volume on that constant “not enough air getting through!” message the brain is sending. There is no way to compete without passing out from O2 deprivation unless you re-learn how to breathe in specific resistance-avoidance ways.
    Now that I’m looking for it, I catch myself breathing in through my mouth and giveing the breath a little deeper oomph than I “normally” would whenever my mask rides up against my nose. And then I exhale just that tiny bit more forcefully through the nose than I would without the mask on. Exactly as when I’m swimming.
  5. Competition taught me the importance of evaluating equipment. Comfort, looks, and performance all matter, but comfort has to be priority 1. If my cap gave me headaches, my goggles fogged, or my suit dragged, they weren’t right for ME, even if the whole Olympic swim team swore by them. Whichever one fits me best, meets the monimum specs and won’t get me disqualified.
    Same for masks. I don’t understand anyone who accepts the first mask type as the Only Type. I went through 5 styles and 3 different material combinations to find ones that I can wear all day.
    I am aware not everyone can afford that, but I think everyone should learn that they CAN find a different mask if the one they’re wearing is uncomfortable.
  6. Swimming also taught me how to accurately gauge a 6′ distance, to avoid touching my face, and to read people’s emotional state when half their features are obscured, but those skills aren’t quite as critical as the other ones.

Are masks the best thing ever? Ugh, no. I hear people better when I can see their lips move. I have a better chance of interpreting non-verbal cues correctly if I can see mouths as well as eyes and bodies. They fog my glasses. They make my face sweat. I constantly want to fidget with them.

But the kind of serious issues that make healthy people understandably unhappy about wearing them at all? Nope.

Last little point of interest: people masking up hasn’t significantly affected my ability to identify them. That isn’t a trick from swimming, though. That’s an unexpected silver lining to my faulty facial recognition software. I didn’t recognize people by faces before they wore masks!

So for me, a mask is just another head accessory, and I am thankful for that. I suspect I’ll be wearing one in public spaces for a quite some time yet. So it’s a good thing I love having the right accessories.

I am curious how all y’all are dealing with Mask Life. If you want to share which of your life experiences have helped you make your peace with wearing them, I’d love to read about it.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Until later!

gold carnival mask with red feathered headdress
This is not a protective mask, but it is pretty.

Sharing Random Thoughts

I’ve slid into a bad blogging habit, which is treating this space as a place for Bigger Ideas. It’s not an inherently bad idea, but most of my thoughts aren’t Big or Exciting or Happy. They’re small, ephemeral, personal ponderings.

Or rants.

The tally of my petty rants–drafted but not posted–is well into double digits. I rant on subjects like “How did I waste this whole day?” or “WTF shut UP about my NAME already!” and no one else needs to read the whininess I simply need to get out of my head.

Back to today’s meander. It feels even more petty and unimportant than usual to write about my little life when so many Large Important Events are happening and so many people have Much More Important Things to Say.

And yes, I could leave the blog to languish. The problem with that plan is that if I ignore this virtual space for too long it taps hard on my guilt button. Or rubs at the surface of my attention and leaves blisters. Or gnaws on my mental ankle like a hungry cat. Pick your favorite analogy.

(I’m in an analogy mood today. I love the days when metaphors are easy. And parentheses. It’s a parenthetical day too.)

ANYway. I feel bad if I don’t regularly use all the different spaces in my house, too, so it’s clearly something fundamental in my psychology.

This is my usual long way around to the point, which is that I don’t actually HAVE a point today

Attractive topics are not thick on the ground. I don’t want to bore anyone with another same-old writing update (progress is being made, but it’s glacial & hard to quantify) the house fancification is done, the garden is in an early summer “nothing to see here” phase, I haven’t baked anything interesting, and I haven’t found the right words for dealing with my feels on the Current World Situation.

Plus every time I check the internet I’m reminded all Karens are awful, which reinforces my already powerful belief that the world neither needs nor wants to hear from me. It also feels physically like someone has just kicked me hard in the gut, so that’s fun.

It’s a struggle to convince myself to share anything. And by struggle I mean the kind of struggling you do when you’re walking forward against hurricane-force winds while people beat on you with sticks.

(This has been a digression into a small sample of the rants I write when I’m crying offline. Sorrynotsorry. We now return to the regular program.)

In summary: I wanted to say, “Hello, world!” via blog because it’s been too long since I last posted. And now I have done that. Victory is mine! Check box checked!

I’ll try to prevent more large time gaps from developing, even if I only have more Small Thoughts or stray dream snippets.

Until later!