Wednesday, July 4, 2018

It can be fall now, please (Q2 2018 Round-Up)

Long-time readers may be aware of my dislike of the summer, and the Fourth of July in particular. This year is more difficult than most, between the state of the nation we're supposed to be celebrating and the fact that it's the 20th anniversary of Dad's passing. So, naturally, I've decided to distract myself with a round-up post.

Q2 2018 round-up:

Words written YTD: 7,712 on one project (Novel Wars)

Writer-ly things accomplished: What I thought was a light-hearted fantasy novel turned into a mystery, so I'm trying to roll with it; I didn't quite make the 100 Day Challenge, but I've picked up again with Camp NaNoWriMo for July.

New books read: Some reading for the Hugos, among others. Highlights: Space Opera by Cat Valente (so good go read now now now!), All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Hugo nominee for best novella, and I need more from this world).

Old books re-read: Continuing the Discworld re-read, slowly but surely.

I also started a new job at the beginning of April, which is leading to a fair amount of self-reflection, questioning my own abilities and skills, and wondering just how rare it is to have some kind of consistent data management in a small organization because seriously, people. They seem to like me there, though, so that's always a plus.

And now, back to the writing and avoiding the sounds of the fireworks going off in the neighborhood. Happy summer, all in the northern hemisphere (and happy winter to our neighbors in the south).

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Fighting to breathe

The last few days have been ridiculously hard emotionally. There have been a couple of high-profile deaths by suicide, both of which felt like they came out of nowhere. It's led to a lot of discussion online about resources for people who may be fighting with depression, telling people to reach out when they are in trouble, etc. and so forth - the conversation that usually sprouts up when depression makes news.

The fact that a CDC report indicates that suicide rates have increased over the last fifteen years or so makes it seem like the normal conversation isn't doing the job. History has shown that after the initial few days of concern, things fade away until the next time. The problem, of course, is for those of us for whom the next time might be the last time.

I've made no secret of the fact that I've fought with depression in the past, and I've had to work through suicidal thoughts. I had thought before that I had battled the beast and because I was still standing, that meant I won. I had hope that it would be something I could say that I had defeated, that I would reach a point where, when those thoughts came back, it wouldn't be a long and draining fight. I could simply handle the issue calmly and rationally and go about my life.

Now? Now it's clear that this is a fight I don't get to win. It's a fight I'll have to battle every single day for the rest of my life, and at some point, I will most likely lose that fight. Someday, the idea that the world is better off without me, that I need to remove myself from the equation to make the universe make sense again, will come back with a vengeance, and I may not be strong enough to beat it back.

Something about this makes me extremely angry. My inner eight-year-old is throwing a temper tantrum, stomping and screaming about how it's not fair. It's not fair that I have to deal with this fight every day, just because...just because. Some accident of fate and brain chemistry and history and God knows what left me with a time bomb that I can't defuse - I can only delay the explosion.

It's bullshit, is what it is. I'd love to end this with some message of hope, of love, of wishing kindness upon the world, but I can't. All I can do is scream at the sky and look to tomorrow for a better game plan. There will be a tomorrow for me - my beast is, thankfully, beaten back for now. I need to take advantage of the break while I can.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

*taps mic* Is this thing still on? (Q1 2018 Round-Up)

I live! It's been a heck of a ride the last few months. Let me explain...

In sum: after being out of work since November, I started a new job at the beginning of April. I managed to avoid going completely off the deep end, but it was a near thing. New job is almost the polar opposite of the old job, but it's a nice change of pace. It's given me a chance to focus on writing again. I managed to win Camp Nano this April, and I'm doing pretty well with the 100 Day Project thus far. (My Instagram is primarily pictures of my writing and pictures of my cats, if you're interested.)

So! Q1 2018 round-up:

Words written YTD: 10,684 on two projects (Intermezzo (new project for Camp Nano) and Novel Wars)

Writer-ly things accomplished: Won Camp Nano for the first time in a couple of years, managed to write every day since the beginning of April; jumped back to an old project with fresh eyes

New books read: An assortment of non-fiction books and magazines, with a few graphic novels thrown in for fun.

Old books re-read: Continuing the Discworld re-read.

I haven't read nearly as many books as I normally have by this point in the year, but I'm hoping to change that. It's taken some time to get myself back in the habit of being active every day. More importantly, I'm feeling more like myself, finally.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye 2017, and good riddance

I think most everyone is in agreement that 2017 has gone on for entirely too long, no? It's more than past time for this year to be dead and buried.

Normally, this is where I'd sum up the year, talk about hits and misses, make grand plans for the year to come. It feels different, this time. It's not a celebration, but rather a recognition of survival.

I know not everyone made it out of 2017. Far too many lost their lives for little more than being themselves. Words will never be enough to make up for the loss, but perhaps they can direct us away from any more loss.

To quote nudityandnerdery on Tumblr, there are three things to remember for the coming year: Be brave, be kind, be careful.

Take care of yourselves, my friends, and remember when we move into the next year - 2017 will be over, and you're still here. That means you win.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Catching up (again)

It's been a little over a month, and yet again, there's been a lot of movement in the world. On the personal side, I lost my job at the beginning of November, and I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting. I've never been unemployed and out of school for an extended period of time before, and the fact that I haven't been contacted for so much as an interview yet is troubling. At the same time, being on the other side of the interview table, I know it can take weeks, even months, between the time a candidate submits an application and when they start the interview cycle, so I simply need to wait.

As for the rest of the world, well...the US has somehow managed to survive the first year of the Trump presidency, and there has been a rash of people (mostly men) who have been accused of sexual harassment and assault actually facing consequences for those actions. That, to me, is worth a lot. It means that all light in the world has not died.

Hope remains, my friends. And remember, optimism is not the same as blindness or naiveté. It simply means that one believes tomorrow can be better than today. I believe that - do you?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rebellions are built on hope

Once again, we in the US are getting an up-close and personal object lesson in hatred. The attack in Las Vegas is leaving a lot of us speechless, and those of us who can speak can only talk about anger and fear. There's nothing wrong with that - there's fear and anger aplenty to go around, and expressing it, sharing your concerns with the people you're close to, prevents it from festering.

However, we need more. Fear and anger alone aren't enough to make the changes we need to see happen - if they were, every oppressive regime and reign of terror would end almost as soon as it began. No, we need conviction, and hope, and optimism. Those are what will drive us to make things happen.

Optimism and hope are words that tend to be very brightly colored in our society. They're the sparkly unicorn birthday cakes of words - hearing them makes one think of Care Bears and pretty, slightly dopey sidekicks who are always looking on the bright side. We tend to underestimate the power of those words. But optimism isn't Pollyanna-style thinking; optimism is the simple belief that tomorrow can be better than today. Big or small, for everyone or just for one person, forever or for just a moment, tomorrow can be better than today.

Hope and conviction are how you move from "tomorrow can be better" to "watch me make tomorrow better than today." And again, you don't have to solve all of the problems for everyone forever. Most of you are only human, after all.* But helping one person feel better for just a minute, even if (especially if) it doesn't take any extra effort on your part - that's progress. That's not to be denied. It adds up.

It's a marathon, and we all need to take breaks. I'm returning from a leave of absence at work, because I didn't take the breaks I needed until they were forced upon me. For the record, I don't recommend going that route. Be careful, be safe, ask for help when you need it, and remember that anything that improves another person's day, even just for a second, is moving us forward. So send the silly text to your folks, share the adorable animal pictures, tell that random stranger that they are really rocking their look today. It's all a Katamari of change, and it'll all roll together until it destroys the specters of hate.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Putting the call out

It's been a really scary few days here in the US. Make no mistake, the US has always had problems with racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, and other hatred of many varieties. We just don't have daily violent demonstrations on the level of what we saw in Charlottesville this weekend.

I want to make sure, those of you who read this, that I'm here, and I'm offering any help I can give. I have a roof and food to share if you need them. I have an ear (either in person or virtually) if you need to talk, vent, cry, scream, or just be distracted from the awfulness of the world. If you need an escape, I will do everything I can to help you escape.

Please remember, you are loved. Reach out if you need anything - ANYTHING. Be safe, be careful, and keep the faith. This kind of hatred and violence only flourishes if people remain silent. As we've already seen, people aren't taking this betrayal of human rights lying down.