Fun things, Mar 11: EVERYTHING. It was warm and sunny! I got work done! My client was really happy and said lovely things! I sat out on the back deck for an hour in short sleeves and got very very slightly sunburned! I vacuumed the living room and hallway! J left work early so we could have a walk in the park while it was still daylight, and the walk was great! We made a kickass dinner! We had super hot sex! It was a day of win. :D :D :D
Mar 12: had a really good family conversation over dinner
Also good today, though I wouldn't call it fun: X and I spent most of two hours consulting with an excellent fertility specialist
. She was extremely smart and extremely thorough, and we now have a PLAN, which is what we didn't have and so desperately needed.
Less good: Alex got into something smelly, and while X and I were washing him he managed to scratch my chin. It's just a little scratch and I'm sure it'll heal up quickly, but it's annoying, not least because I have Liquid Skin on it and I keep wanting to pick at the edges. Bah. Stupid cats.
Ungood: It's 4:20 a.m. and I'm still awake. Must go fix that immediately.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
- thinking about:
behavior.planning, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.housework, experiences.joy, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.spring, people.cats, people.futurekid, people.josh, people.xtina
Hey, it's been a while since I did this:
Fun things, Mar 6: inadvertently launched the #SoWeary hashtag on Twitter
Mar 7: went to Dave and Danielle's new place, hung out with them for a bit, and acquired their empty book boxes (hooray for synchronous moving)
Mar 8: went out with X in the SUN SUN SUN and got haircuts
Mar 9: MORE SUN and good talking and happy fun snuggles with the spouses
Mar 10: felt totally on the ball at work and got lots done (work is fun when I'm in the groove!), opened this week's issue of PW
to find a review of MY BOOK
:D :D :D
I'm going to leave off doing the hour-by-hour logs because a) it's difficult to keep track of things while I'm at work and b) at this point I'm pretty comfortable with the steroids. I'm constantly thirsty (though not badly dehydrated) and peckish (though not starving) and beyond that I can't identify any side effects at all. That's pretty great.
All ear things have been great today. It's marvelous to be able to hear clearly with my right ear again! I hadn't realized just how much I'd gotten used to reduced hearing in that ear. If systemic steroids didn't have nasty side effects when used long-term I'd seriously consider seeing whether my doctor thought that might be a good way of keeping the Menière's in check.
Unfortunately, there's no way to tell whether the steroids are having an effect on the vertigo, because it was already trending in the direction of going away on its own. But the steroids are definitely doing something
for my ear, so I hope they're helping to make sure the vertigo goes away and stays away. I'll just have to wait and see.
Today I was full of energy and focus in a way I haven't been in weeks. I got SO MUCH done. And then I came home and did more, both household things and work things. And now I'm wiped out, because I haven't been sleeping quite enough, so I'm going to take my nighttime dose of meds and go get some good sleep.
Plan for tomorrow:
Finish the freelance gig that was supposed to be done last week
(I'm very grateful to my client for being flexible)
Evaluate a potential client's manuscript and write back to her
Vacuum the living room and hallway
Find some excuse to go out in the warmth and sun
(I sat on the back deck and worked for an hour!)
* Proofread Long Hidden
Have a really good date with Josh
* Keep proofreading Long Hidden
I have so much to catch up on. But it feels so good to be able to do it! I just have to be careful not to run myself into the ground, especially with the steroids depressing my immune system.
Bah, I'm in that state where I can't tell whether I'm starting to get a little vertigo or just wobbly from being tired. Probably just tired. Bedtime for sure.
EDIT: When I'm sitting in bed and I close my eyes, the room tilts a bit. When I'm standing and I close my eyes, it's perfectly steady. I'm going to firmly call that "just tired".You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.planning, body.ears, body.illness, body.tiredness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.work, experiences.work.freelance
It occurs to me that these logs should be tagged with a content note that I'm sodium-counting and being very careful about what I eat, so heads-up to anyone who might have stuff triggered by those things.
Today in numbers:
20 mg methylprednisolone
2.5 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
12.5 mg sertraline
1 g calcium carbonate
0 mg meclizine (yay!)
455 mg sodium
2 hours looking at apartments
0 feasible apartments
1 household meeting
2 rounds of talk-snuggle-smooch (yay!)
1 hour lost to DST (grrr)( LogCollapse )
I remain astonished by how well I tolerate the mpn. By all rights, given how ultra-sensitive I am both to stomach irritants and to mood agitators, I should be feeling wretched. Instead I feel great. This time around it's not even making me ravenous. And wow, it's so nice to be able to hear again!
Taking all that taurine is probably a big part of why I feel so mellow and cheerful. Maybe I should make it a daily thing (though not at these levels).You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.antacids, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.drugs.taurine, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.moving, food, food.cooking, food.nutrition, food.nutrition.salt
Embarking on my second biennial course of steroid treatment for Menière's symptoms (last time it was tinnitus, this time it's vertigo). No vertigo since evening of Sunday 3/2. Aggressively low-salt diet (under 700 mg/day) for the past week. Hearing in right ear has been reduced, but no ringing, just the quiet rushing/roaring sound that I associate more with "ear is blocked"; Menière's tinnitus for me is more like the extremely high noise of "someone left the television on and muted".
Today in numbers:
24 mg methylprednisolone
12.5 mg meclizine
12.5 mg sertraline
3 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
1 g calcium carbonate
580 mg sodium plus whatever's in the tap water I've been drinking steadily all day
5 hours of mild, non-nauseated vertigo
1 bout of tinnitus (ongoing, variable)
1 bout of frustrated tears (brief)
0 panic attacks( LogCollapse )
I had hoped for better, I admit. I'm just so glad I didn't need to take more meclizine. The hangover is usually about 12 hours per 12.5 mg, so I'm hoping that by the time I wake up my head will no longer feel like a balloon. Most importantly, I had very little of that staring-into-space can't-form-words thing, which is what I most despise about the stuff.
I think I really might have to keep my sodium intake under 500 mg a day for a few weeks, and spread it out more (no more having half my quota for breakfast!).
No words for how incredibly incredibly maddening this is. I sure hope the steroids help because I am ready to break things.
On the bright side, no panic attacks. I'm taking a bit less taurine than I did last time, and the Zoloft appears to be making up the difference. Yay drugs that work.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
- thinking about:
body.body clock, body.ears, body.hair, body.illness, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.antacids, experiences.drugs.meclizine, experiences.drugs.methylprednisolone, experiences.drugs.taurine, experiences.drugs.zoloft, food, food.nutrition, food.nutrition.salt
I saw a very nice otologist today who confirmed the Menière's diagnosis (not that anyone's really surprised) and suggested a course of steroids to treat the current flare-up. I took steroids for a flare two years ago, and I remembered that I'd made some notes about it in my journal, so I went back and looked.
a) I tagged all the posts so I could find them easily.* Yes, it took a bit of work to do the initial set-up of my meticulous tagging system. Yes, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.
b) My "notes" were hour-by-hour logs of my physical and emotional reactions and what I did, ranging from "this visualization technique helped with a wave of anxiety" to "a friend says I have to take the pills with food, but the literature disagrees, and I feel fine as long as I take antacids twice a day". For the full six days.
Now I feel completely prepared! Taking new meds really stresses me out, especially when they can exacerbate my chronic anxiety, and it's wonderful to be going into this course of treatment feeling so relaxed and ready. Thanks, past-me!
Also, today's tests show that the flare isn't any worse than past flares have been, which means the condition isn't progressing, which is VERY good news. The doctor was fabulous and didn't talk down to me. He told me about a pilot study for a new treatment that might be really helpful for me, and I won't disqualify myself from treatment by taking the steroids, so I can wait to see whether they work before trying a new thing. His office staff comfortably called me "Rose" (I don't always out myself as trans* to customer-facing folks, but I do ask them to use my first name because I hate having gendered titles applied to me), and they got me out of there quickly enough that I could get to work not too late and get a lot of work done. So for a day that could have been pretty awful, it's been pretty great.
* If anyone's curious, the posts are here
. My biochemistry and neurochemistry are a bit wacky, so my experiences may not be applicable to anyone else's.
Usual request: Please don't offer medical advice unless you think I'm about to do something that will significantly harm me.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Mar 4: made a delicious salt-free dinner with J for our date night: tilapia on a bed of mirepoix, sautéed fennel, white rice.
Mar 5: tea with Gail Carriger, who complimented my outfit
. (Those are lousy pictures but you get the gist. The knot is an Ellie knot
, which I love because it looks really impressive and I can tie it the night before so I don't have to rush in the morning.)
Also: felt human, thought coherent thoughts, typed without typos. For the first time in days.
Also: cried and raged and still felt stifled and choked no matter how much I cried and raged.
I told J--rather alarming him, I think--that I am always full of anger and pain. That's why I work so hard on being happy and productive. This is both true and not true; yes, I'm generally not all that good at expressing it when I'm angry or hurt, but I'm a lot better at it than I used to be, and I don't stifle it much. I'm just really angry and hurt right now. (Both in the sense of "WTF body, why are you doing this to me?!".)
The difference between vertigo and anxiety is that when I close my eyes and the room tilts and I say "No
" and it stops tilting, that's anxiety. And if it doesn't stop, that's vertigo.
Depression is exhausting. Hey, guess what happens when I'm depressed and/or exhausted? I start to feel a little loopy and disconnected, the room starts to tilt...
No idea how much worse I'd be feeling right now without Zoloft and taurine. Don't want to think about it.
I think I'm basically having a panic attack all the time right now. I'm so tense that my jaw aches. But if I unwound I wouldn't be able to function and I have to function. I'm behind on everything.
Boobs are sore, so I get PMS on top of everything else, YAY.
Hate this hate this hate this.
No comments. Can't deal.Comments are disabled on the Dreamwidth version of this entry.
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.illness, experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.anger, mind.feelings.hurt, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, mind.wiring.depression, stuff.clothes
Meclizine/vertigo dreams are... a thing. Lots of water and motion; no surprise there. Very vivid. These are the ones I remember from the past week:
I dreamed that I was in a tour airplane that was super comfortable. I lounged in a plush recliner. We flew low to the ground, swooping about, visiting wonders of the world: a prehistoric whale skeleton embedded in a mountain, that sort of thing. Unfortunately my racist subconscious populated the Amazon jungle with stereotypical spear-chucking natives who saved us from poisonous water snakes while mocking the clueless white tourists. Way to go, brain.
I dreamed that I was sailing in shallow waters and a great white shark rose up to attack us. (I think the water was so shallow that it had no choice but to swim near the surface.) I killed it with a harpoon. The older guy I was with wanted me to marry his son, and he hinted that the shark's testicles would make excellent wedding gifts, or perhaps presents for our future twin children. Alas, as I discovered when I woke up and went directly to Google, sharks have internal testes, not testicles.
I dreamed that I read a story in a book where the color of the text and the paper changed with the mood of the story. If you didn't like this, you could tilt the book at a certain angle and change it back to black text on a white page. The story was about someone who psychically bonded with a horse, and it was so beautiful and moving that the ending--where the horse disappears but lives on in the person's mind--reduced me to sobs. I put the book back in the library and went back into the other room, where I broke my glasses (maybe from crying so hard? not clear). Nisi Shawl very graciously offered me hers, even though we have totally different prescriptions.
I dreamed that a small press hired me to edit an anthology of aquatic horror stories. I was very firm about wanting NON-Lovecraftian work. We argued over whether the title should be From the Deep
or From the Deeps
. When I woke up I had a head full of submission guidelines and ideas. (I tweeted about it and a couple of people suggested I do a Kickstarter. HAHAHA no. Way too much work. I just want a publisher to pay me so I can focus on editing instead of relentless promo.)
I dreamed that I drove from California to Arizona to visit Miriam. On my mental map, Arizona was about where Kansas is, a straight shot east from San Francisco over a picturesque mountain range. On the way back, Miriam and I went to get haircuts and when I said "clipper cut" the barber--who looked like Cypher from The Matrix
and had a similar attitude--began to shave the back and sides of my head. Miriam was appalled, as was the owner of the barbershop, but I pointed out that my hair was long enough on top to cover the shaved parts and I actually kind of liked it.
And now I'm awake and my head is CLEAR and I can THINK and I am going to go do ALL THE WORK.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Mar 3: I took a shower. Okay, so it wasn't fun in the sense of "whee fun!", but it felt very good to a) be able to stand up for that long and b) get clean.
Also I ate real food, thanks to J making good use of our spice cabinet. Cumin thyme chicken is entirely tasty without salt.
This time the meclizine hangover only took 24 hours to wear off to the point where I could string three words together. On the bright side, I'm functional again! On the dim side, this bolsters my concern about it being less effective than it was. J suggested I just get a prescription for mild sedatives with a shorter half-life, to help me sleep through the mild vertigo bouts that the meclizine doesn't really help with. I have a specialist appointment on Friday--this is second-tier specialization, my fab ENT referring me to an otologist--and will ask about it then.
Maybe this will help me get over my fear of sedation. A few nights ago I was shaking with anxiety over going to sleep, because I'd had two bouts of vertigo wake me up. At some point last week I had a night where I woke up every two hours: "Vertigo yet? No? Good. Back to sleep, then." But when the room starts tilting and spinning, all I want is to not be there for it. Yes, sedate me, please. A panic attack over the loss of control and/or the tiny remote possibility of dying in my sleep would be far preferable to the hideous merry-go-round.
Today was a grimly cheerful day; I got the sobbing and shouting over with on Saturday, a storm that came out of nowhere and left me gasping and weeping and snarling with rage as X gently rubbed my back and made appropriate soothing noises. "I'm afraid of sleep, eating, and sex," I said bitterly. "What's next? Being afraid of breathing? No wait, I had that with the bronchitis. Fear of taking a shit? Fear of shelter? What else on Maslow's lowest tiers can I be afraid of?" Even when I'm a miserable mess, I'm an intellectual
I'd hoped to stop taking the Zoloft this month, since I was doing so much better with the anxiety and depression, and we're at least theoretically past the worst of the winter. (WINTER. GO AWAY.) But I think I need to stay on it until the vertigo stops being chronic. Bonus: both sertraline and meclizine dehydrate me. Bonus bonus: vertigo nausea makes it hard to drink water. And then dehydration makes me dizzy, woo! *punches everything*
The ENT thinks the vertigo is a response to some sort of precipitating event--though there are no obvious candidates for such an event--and the bouts are getting milder over time, so he predicts that it will go away and stay gone as long as I keep my salt intake low and don't do whatever I did that set it off. I hope he's right. Hope hope hope.
And now I sleep.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 28: another day eaten by vertigo :(
Mar 1: Skype date with Miriam and Alex, domesticity with X
Mar 2: snuggles with J and then with X before vertigo ate my face again
Friday morning's bout was less bad than Monday morning's bout: woke up spinny and queasy but not in deep distress, whacked it immediately with 25 mg of meclizine, went back to bed, even managed to get to work for a few hours.
Sunday evening's bout was less bad than Friday morning's bout: wasn't even sure it was vertigo for an hour or so. Unfortunately the meclizine also wasn't sure it was vertigo, so it didn't really help, but it did eventually sedate me to the point where I could sleep despite my bed rocking like a cradle whenever I closed my eyes. (Being rocked in a cradle is not as soothing as one might expect when one is fully aware that the "cradle" is an unmoving bed.) Unfortunately I needed 37.5 mg of it to do that, so I am not functional today.
Another day off from work. That's four of my five sick days for the year used up. Work people are being lovely, freelance client gladly gave me an extension, but I hate it, I hate being behind on everything, I hate my head feeling like a balloon (where is Peter Cook with a pin to help me with this
), I hate it.
I refuse to say "I need a vertigo userpic". REFUSE.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 26: that was only yesterday, why is it so hard to remember back that far? Oh right, I had tea with the VanderMeers, that was lovely.
Feb 27: an excellent chatty dinner with supertailz
, who took away some things from the infinitely huge pile of clothes I'm getting rid of, and I got to hang out with kythryne
for a bit after that.
Forecast.io says it's 9F outside. I would like to register a complaint. I bought Yaktrax for walking on ice and overboots for walking through puddles, but it's not icy or wet out, just cold
. We're supposed to get close to a foot of heavy snow on Monday, though, so I guess the new gear will get a workout then.
The overboots fit perfectly over my falling-apart hiking boots. Then I pulled the overboots off and the soles of the hiking boots came off with them. That was not what I expected. So now "I should get new hiking boots at some point" has been upgraded to "I need new hiking boots with very sturdily attached soles", and I wear the overboots over my loafers, which they fit a bit more loosely. It's odd getting used to my feet being two sizes bigger than usual. The overboots sure do keep my feet warm and dry, though, and they don't chafe my ankles like rubber rain boots do. I'll be very glad of them come summer thunderstorm season.
I like pretending that there will ever be summer. It's a fun game to distract me from the endless wind and clouds and snow.
26) Tina Essmaker's 2013 interview with Merlin Mann.
I kind of want to quote the whole thing because he's the first person I've ever heard talk about his life the way I talk about my life. Like this:
"I've never been very ambitious, especially as a kid."
"I wish I could be more helpful and say, 'You should find your dream path and paint a rainbow to your love cloud!' But, most of us are so stuck in this notion of how stuff should go that we want to find one of seven stories that matches our narrative. The fact is that most of us are wandering around, scared shitless, wondering what the fuck's going to happen next.... I understand that you’re asking me this because you’re trying to get the narrative, but my narrative is that I've never known what’s coming next—I still don't." (YES. YES. ALL OF THIS. YES.)
"I always felt like people who consider themselves to be successful, creative go-getters want to go out and win a contest, make a comic book, or write a rock opera in high school. I, on the other hand, gave up on stuff very easily. I had so little experience with a lot of the things I thought I wanted to do that when I started doing them and it didn’t come easily, or I didn't get great acclaim for it, I gave up very quickly."
"I think a lot about do-ability with whatever silly project I want to do next. I don’t think about whether something is easy or not: I think about what trade-offs I have to accept in order to do it well, on time, and on budget." (This is KEY to being both a very go-do-things person and functional/sane. The cost-benefit analysis is everything.)
"It's about doing something, even if it's stupid, and getting through it as far as you can. It's not about thinking that you’ll learn from your mistakes. It's a matter of saying, 'Here's what I learned that I'm capable of that surprised me,' or, 'Here’s what I learned I could do, but it takes a lot more time than I thought.' It's weird: the things that seem easy can be so hard, and the things that seem difficult can be surprisingly enjoyable."
And so on. He says some very smart stuff and makes reference to some smart people (and now I want to research Mihaly Csíkszentmihalyi's analysis of "flow"
), but mostly he says stuff that sounds like me
, and it's so marvelous to unexpectedly stumble across a kindred spirit.Verdict:
I want to print it out and put it up on my wall or something. Or turn the best quotes into embroidery.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. I think a lot of what Mann talks about is hard to learn or identify with except through experience, but it's certainly an excellent glimpse into my head.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Thanks for the kind words on the previous entry. I am feeling much better. Yay modern medicine (even if the meclizine hangover did last well into this evening, to the point where half of my date with Josh was dinner and the other half was a nap).
Fun things, Feb 25: swapped some entertaining emails with my father.
25) The Severed Streets
by Paul Cornell. (Book.) Sequel to London Falling
. The premise is that a spirit of some sort is horrifically murdering rich white men, in ways that recall Jack the Ripper, while London erupts in class-based riots. Our Heroes--three tolerably decent police officers and one extremely good data analyst, all afflicted with the Sight--have to figure out who or what the spirit is and how to stop it. This is made more difficult by the rioting, and the police going on strike, and two of the protagonists desperately pursuing some significant magic for their personal use.
I still have no idea how to write about this book, even though my head is clearer now. It's very gory, in ways that took me aback, and I've read and enjoyed some pretty gory horror in my time. There's nothing titillating about it whatsoever. These may look like urban fantasy novels, but they're really horror novels with a thin coating of urban fantasy to make the bitter pill a little easier to swallow. Neil Gaiman appears in the book not just as a cameo but as a character who does plot-moving and rather upsetting things, and that felt very weird to me. (An afterword says Gaiman approved the whole thing, so it's not like it was done without his consent or knowledge. It still felt weird, maybe partly because the setting is clearly one step removed from real-world London and it's jarring to see a real person in that not-real setting.) There's also a revelation that Cornell slips in rather late in the book that undermines a significant part of what the protagonists think they understand about the world they're in, in a way that's clearly deliberate, and I really wonder what the characters will do when they find out about it.
Two of the cops are black, and the scenes where they infiltrate the mostly white subculture of magic-users--who are themselves caught up in an old guard/new guard schism--are a sharp and spot-on indictment of recent events in fandom. I wonder how many people will see that. I don't think Cornell is trying to be subtle about it, but I also don't think the people who most need to be aware of the parallels will catch them.
The gender stuff, the transformation of the Ripper murderers targeting vulnerable women into supernatural murders targeting privileged men, is... I can't talk about this without massive spoilers and there's really no point until the book is out and more people have read it, because it's the sort of thing I want to discuss with others, to get reality checks and feedback on, to analyze in a way that's very difficult to do solo.
It's not a comfortable book. It's not meant to be comfortable, especially for relatively privileged people. I can deal with that, and admire the intent behind it. But I'm pretty sure at least part of my discomfort was not the sort of discomfort I was supposed to feel.
Augh, I can't talk
about it. Get back to me in the summer when it's out.Verdict:
I... don't know. I think I'm unlikely to reread it, but it won't stop me from reading the next book in the series.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate, I think? Discourage if the gore and violence are likely to really bother them.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 22: had a lovely time at a friend's birthday party.
Feb 23: read a book.
Feb 24: no fun :(
I woke up at 5 a.m. on the 24th with terrible terrible
vertigo. ( Gory detailsCollapse )
Once I woke up again mid-afternoon, I had the meclizine hangover to contend with--it makes me all balloon-headed and spacy--and that ate the rest of the day. So my nearly two-month streak of daily fun is broken. :( I mean, I did things that on other days would count as fun, like playing S&P2, but I wasn't really capable of enjoying them.
On the evening of the 23rd I got a wave of what was either really bad PMS or a mild mixed episode. (Everything is relative.) All my feels were Very Big Feels and I went through a few oscillations of giddy and upset. I wonder whether there's some link between that and the vertigo. I also haven't been watching my salt intake, which apparently I need to do for the rest of my life because this is yet another chronic condition that I can manage but no one can cure. (I get so upset and angry when I think about this. I try not to think about it.) And the virus that gave me bronchitis might also have inflamed my eustachian tubes. So who knows, really.
Book report coming when I can think more clearly. I'm still a bit muddled. Meclizine is a wonder drug but the lingering effects are lousy.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 21: read another book. I appear to be thoroughly over my reader's block.
24) California Bones
by Greg Van Eekhout. (Book.) This is Ocean's Eleven
(the remake) as written by Tim Powers. That was probably the actual official pitch for the book and it doesn't matter because the influences are so
obvious. (The protagonist's name is Daniel! There's strange magic in the canals of Venice!) It's pure coincidence that I just watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
, but I wouldn't be surprised if that movie also influenced California Bones
, particularly its transmutation of Los Angeles politics. I caught a whiff of Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures
, too. Fortunately Van Eekhout knows how to use his borrowed tools, and the result feels like homage, not rip-off.
I love that the secondary protagonist is a bureaucrat of the earnest, cautious, skeptical school. He feels like a minor noble from an epic fantasy novel: someone who understands the system inside and out, and doesn't like it much, and gradually realizes that he doesn't get enough out of it to want to continue supporting it. I don't recall the last time I saw a character like that in a book like this, and his presence adds a very nice depth to the story.
There's something about the language that feels very YA--or maybe not the language? Maybe it's the focus on relationships: family, friends, bosses, exes. Anyway, it's not a bad thing, just a particular flavor that I suspect is left over from Van Eekhout's middle grade books. The focus on relationships also made it much easier for me to tolerate the protagonists and antagonists all being men. Daniel's gang of thieves is gender-balanced, but they don't really get developed, and the only other notable women in the book are Daniel's absent mother and a human plot point. If there's a conversation that passes the Bechdel test, I missed it.
This is a book with a very, very solid sense of place, which I always appreciate. It's also quite sensory, and it's particularly all about smells, which I thought was a totally fascinating choice. Smell is frequently overlooked, culturally and in literature, but it can be a powerful trigger for memories and emotions and other things that are difficult to put into words. I suspect this aspect of the book will make mrissa
I will be very interested to see how people compare California Bones
to Jamie Schultz's Premonitions
, which is another supernatural heist book set in Los Angeles and coming out this summer. Zeitgeists are fun.
I'm deliberately not saying anything about the plot because it's difficult to describe without getting spoilers everywhere. I'll just say that it held together pretty well for me, though I have one burning question about a thing at the end that didn't make sense to me. I might resort to asking the author directly (which I try not to do because it feels like cheating, but augh must know). Anyway, despite the heist and all, it's mostly not a plot-driven book. It's about oppression, and what oppression does to people down through generations; and about resource management, because non-Hollywood Los Angeles books are always about resource management no matter what else they try to be about and this one is very forthright about it; and, as noted above, about relationships. I liked it a lot.Verdict:
Good stuff.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share. The only question is whether to share it before or after Dinner at Deviant's Palace
, at whose feet this book worships.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 20: read a book because I wanted to, and loved it.
23) Romancing the Duke
by Tessa Dare. (Book.) Quite improbably, this is a Regency romance about fandom. It has at least one Reddit in-joke. It takes a lot for a book to make me either really cry or really laugh, but this one had me chortling on the subway.
I've loved Dare's work since she stormed onto the scene a few years ago, because her women are so real
. More than that, they insist
on being real. Izzy, the heroine of Romancing the Duke
, has a particularly desperate need for realness, and she gets it from Ransom, perhaps the only man in England who's never read any of the extremely popular stories that Izzy's father published about "Little Izzy Goodnight". Since Ransom doesn't know the Izzy canon, he's free to take her as she is. (Which he does, deliciously.) Meanwhile, Ransom is dealing with an injury that left him blind and frequently in pain, on top of a lifetime of being unloved and a childhood in which there were no bedtime stories of any kind. All he wants is to be left alone, because that's all he knows. But as the book's conceit forces him to contend with Izzy's company, he comes to appreciate her charming blend of pragmatism, imagination, and sincere kindness, and she slowly draws him out of his shell.
And then her fans show up, in costume, with banners... and they demand that Ransom prove he's a real Izzy fan and not just some fake geek boy.
The book is a love letter to fandom, both fervently supportive of it and affectionately aware of its flaws and foibles, and a love letter to love, as the best romance novels are. I have no idea whether it will work at all for historical romance readers who don't know much about present-day fannishness, but it sure worked for me.
I still can't believe she put in the Reddit joke.Verdict:
I want to hug this book. It goes straight onto the keeper shelf, where all of Dare's other books will keep it company.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, absolutely! Ideally once they've found at least one fandom of their own so they can laugh at it in a knowledgeable way rather than in a "people don't actually behave this way, do they?" way.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 17: had the day off and spent it playing Swords & Potions 2. Yes, the whole day.
Feb 18: ramen-date with Josh.
Feb 19: went to KGB for the first time in a while, ran into old friends there, and enjoyed the readings.Swords & Potions 2
is basically the perfect game for me. I haven't been this hooked on something since Gemcraft. It's inverse D&D: you're a merchant outfitting adventurers, and you have to stock your shop with the things they want, which means hiring people to make items. The more items the workers make, the more they level up and learn how to make niftier items, which in turn are sought after by higher-level adventurers, who pay more money for them. You send adventurers on individual quests and help them form parties for bigger gigs, and they bring back gold and precious rare ingredients that can be turned into high-ticket items. As a bonus for interior design nerds like me, you have to figure out how to fit all your stuff (bins of materials, workbenches, displays and decorative items to draw in more customers--all of it different shapes and sizes) into your shop. As a bonus for urban planning nerds like me, your shop is in a town with other shops, and you balance investing in your own shop with joining the other townspeople in tithing to boost shared resources. Want your iron ore bin to refill faster so you can make more armor? Get everyone to pay a few thousand gold to upgrade the mine. And so on.
Gameplay is fast enough that I have to pay attention but slow enough that it's very easy on my arm and I can play left-handed with little difficulty. Think a slightly more relaxed Diner Dash or Airport Mania. Both the workers and the adventurers are splendidly diverse in race, gender, and body shape. (The wiki has pictures of workers
. I love the completely androgynous armorer
and the extremely cute engineer
.) I generally like the design sensibility a lot. Just when I was getting frustrated by the customers wanting more items than I could make, I hit level 40 and unlocked a third worker slot, and now I'm back to rapid-fire manufacturing for 20 minutes at a time and then taking a break so my resource bins can refill; this is also very good for my arm. There's just enough strategy in deciding which resource to fund next, how to balance tithes and shop improvement and keeping cash on hand to buy things from customers, who to hire so you deplete your resources equally, which customers to send on quests, and what to offer a customer when you don't have the thing they want. There's just enough luck in which customers come by and what they want or offer. It's a very good balance.
When I was perhaps 6 years old, I had a tiny little Casio VLT-1 keyboard with a calculator function
. (I have no idea why anyone thought this was a good combination.) Whenever I went to the grocery store with my mother, I would pick up free recipe pamphlets and coupons, take them home, and carefully cut out the pictures of food. I made a wobbly little cardboard shopping cart from the backs of notepaper pads, and filled it with the paper food, and rang up my "purchases" using the VLT-1 as a cash register. This was my idea of a good time. And apparently it still is.
(THERE IS A VIDEO OF SOMEONE USING A VLT-1
AAAAA that demo music is giving me FLASHBACKS
imagine this thing in the hands of a small child and feel pity for my parents)
When I was slightly older, my brother and I would play Dragon Warrior constantly for weeks on end. My mother got sick of the 8-bit music and would turn it off and put a record on instead. We were all quite fond of Keith Jarrett's Köln concert, and that became the Dragon Warrior soundtrack. On Monday I was playing S&P2, and on a whim I turned off the game music and put on the Jarrett album. Instant nostalgia! Except I was playing the wrong game! Except it was sort of the right game, only inside out! That was a fun bit of cognitive dissonance.
Media log:( It's kinky poly erotica, so if you don't want to read my thoughts on that, don't clickCollapse )You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 13: had dinner at my mom's place and watched Desk Set
with her and her inamorato.
Feb 14: wore a tie; treated myself to ice cream.
Feb 15: cooked an excellent dinner with J.
Feb 16: brunch with karnythia
and Tea and Nora; lovely family dinner; watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
with X because we both have tomorrow off work and can stay up late.
Cookery: We made braised chicken by following the French chicken inna pot
recipe (a.k.a. "self-carving chicken") from the ever-reliable Cook's Illustrated
, increasing the amount of vegetables (one sizeable onion, two carrots, a few stalks of celery), and pouring in .5 c white wine and 1.5 c chicken broth before putting the chicken atop the veg and sticking the pot in the oven. When the chicken was done, we pureed the veg with the defatted jus and an additional cup of broth to make a lovely thick gravy. The gravy was surprisingly orange from the carrots, but it tasted chickeny and delicious. The chicken wasn't fall-apart tender, but it was very juicy and flavorful. Sides were pan-roasted broccoli (fry stalks for 2 min, add florets and fry for 2 min, steam with salted water for 2 min, sauté for 2 min, serve) and crispy potatoes. Tonight I threw the leftover chicken into some almond cream, added microwave-steamed mixed veg, and poured it all over pasta for a quick tasty one-dish meal.
18) Desk Set.
(Movie.) Rewatch. I could swear my mother showed me this ages ago, but she says she doesn't remember having seen it. It remains terrific. It passes the Bechdel Test without even trying, Tracy and Hepburn have splendid chemistry, everyone sympathetic is an unabashed nerd, and the topic is so timely that it's really hard to believe it was made in 1957.
The character of Richard serves as an excellent reminder that the "nerd with no social skills" portrayal has not always come with a heaping helping of faux-Asperger's. He's not at all incapable of interacting with people; he just considers it low-priority. I love when his sly wit comes out, and when he says flirtatious things almost without realizing he's doing it. And let us note that he was played by an extremely handsome leading man with no thick glasses or nasal voice or physical clumsiness. Sometimes nerds are handsome and kempt (other than mismatched socks)! Who knew?
I want a remake where Emmy the computer is a robot, Richard is a woman, the Emmy/Richard/Bunny polyness is explicitly poly, and everything else remains exactly the same--except I wouldn't trust today's Hollywood with it. You just know someone would put more men in it to make it "more appealing to male viewers". Bah. It's a geeky movie about libraries and computers, a romantic comedy, and a movie about women's professional and emotional needs, and there is no contradiction there at all
Now I want to watch it again.Verdict:
Thumbs way up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
19) "The Public Voice of Women"
by Mary Beard. (Essay.) This is long enough to include here, and short enough for me to just say: go read this, right now. If you have time to be reading LJ you have time to read this essay. It pulls together vast amounts of history into a narrative of men telling women to be quiet. It's smart and thoughtful and painfully true. Share it around.Verdict:
Thumbs up.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, for sure.
20) Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
(Movie.) Rewatch. I've seen this movie approximately a billion times, and every time I catch something I'd missed before. The melding of animation and live-action remains incredibly well done. Of course when I was a kid I missed all the bitter humor about Los Angeles transit and traffic; now it's what makes the movie really work for me. I still can't believe that someone said, "Hm, let's make a movie about how shady businessmen killed L.A.'s streetcars and built the freeway. I think the right way to do this is to have the main plot be about murder, adultery, and a cartoon rabbit." Hollywood is amazing.
This is the second movie in a month where I've said "Wait, that's Christopher Lloyd?!" (the first being The Addams Family
). What a genius that man is. Judge Doom would be ridiculous in lesser hands, but Lloyd turns him into one of the most genuinely creepy villains I've ever seen on the screen. His final scene is riveting, as is his soliloquy on his wondrous vision of on-ramps and gas stations and billboards. Everyone remembers Jessica Rabbit saying "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way" but right now all I can hear is Judge Doom breathing "My God, it will be beautiful"
The best.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share share share. I loved this movie when I was young--my brother had a tape of it and we practically wore it down--and I love it now.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, experiences.2014.media log, experiences.movies, experiences.socializing, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.broccoli, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.pasta, ideas.feminism
Fun things, Feb 12: had a marvelous lunch with Joe Monti, watched Ocean's Eleven
16) Ocean's Eleven.
(Movie.) Rewatch. X showed this to me for the first time last year, I think, and we've watched it at least twice since then. I had a craving for it because kate_nepveu
mentioned Danny and Rusty as the perfect drift-compatible couple. Other than the Tess subplot, in which two men treat a woman like an object until one of them says he cares more about money and she decides the other one is suddenly awesome, it's basically perfect. The con is complex and just enough things go wrong to make the outcome uncertain. The complete lack of chemistry between Danny and Tess is more than made up for by the Danny/Rusty friendship. Carl Reiner is so wonderful that I even forgive him for his involvement in The Adventures of Captain Cross Dresser
. And unlike the original Ocean's 11
, the pacing is great, the acting is terrific, the dialogue is hilarious, and I can tell all the actors apart.Verdict:
A++++++ will watch again and again.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Share, probably until they're sick of it.
17) Ancillary Justice.
(Book.) DNF. I could pretend that I'm going to pick this up again, but I put it down weeks ago and feel no urge to go back to it, so it's time to DNF it and move on. My hopes were raised by everyone squeeing about how adventurous and radical its treatment of gender is, but while that might be true compared to other SF, it's pretty bland compared to the conversations I see among trans* folks on Twitter and Tumblr every day. It also goes ON and ON about gender in a way I find tremendously grating. A lot of SF forgets that technology is a tool, and gets caught up in technical jargon that no one would actually use in real life. I don't remove a pressurized can of carbonated sugary beverage from the home refrigeration unit; I take a soda out of the fridge. The way Ancillary Justice
's protagonist talks about gender is precisely equivalent to the worst sort of jargony space opera. Actual quotes from page 3 (3!) of the ARC:
She was probably male, to judge from the angular mazelike patterns quilting her shirt.
I am already bored. This is boring. I would rather put down the book and call my egg-producing parent, whom I refer to as my mother because blah blah blah. Oh, and in this totally radical far future, clothing is apparently a very reliable indicator of gender identity. How... convenient.
It didn't help that cues meant to distinguish gender changed from place to place, sometimes radically, and rarely made much sense to me.
CRY MOAR. This whining is pure cis privilege, the gender equivalent of "I don't see race, so stop talking about it like it matters!". I realize the protagonist is supposed to be non-gendered, so I guess as a genderqueer person I'm supposed to identify with them? But since they come from a culture that "doesn't mark gender in any way"*, their approach to gendered cultures is sneering and disdainful, which is incredibly rude as well as being completely foreign to my experiences as a member of an actual minority who has always lived in an aggressively gendered culture.* When translating that culture's language, Leckie has made the peculiar choice to use female pronouns, words like "sister" and "grandmother", etc. for everyone. This is how you get constructions like "She was probably male": "she" just means "this person", and "male" is a foreign gender-concept being applied to a foreigner. Since English has perfectly good gender-neutral words like "they" and "sibling" and "grandparent" that could have been used instead, I assume Leckie's intent was to mess with the reader's head. I find this annoying. I also think it would have been genuinely more effective to use gender-neutral terms for and among the Radch, for the sharp contrast to the gendered terms used in gendered cultures. But then the reader would be much less confused, and much more sympathetic to Breq's struggles with gendered language, and that would be... bad?
I do not like tourists. Breq is not only a tourist but the former AI of a military ship that engaged in some very unpleasant culture-suppressing invasion and colonization. Oh, and they're basically emotionless, as far as I can tell from the 70 pages I read before giving up, and also a caricature of the bored (and therefore boring) hypersmart nerd forced to do menial work for less intelligent bureaucrats, and also insane. This isn't a character I have any interest in identifying with, or reading about. Is it supposed to be some sort of trans* revenge fantasy, where agender entities now have all the power and privilege and get to throw their weight around? Blech. Not my thing, at all.
But if you thought 2312
did shocking things with gender (a man who's given birth OMG WOW *eyeroll*), and you found the protagonist of The Magicians
extremely compelling and sympathetic, then you'll like this, I guess. I'm just tired of supposedly speculative fiction that's less interesting and complicated than the actual people I know in actual real life in the actual present day. And as someone who cares a great deal about gender, I am not the slightest bit interested in this portrayal of the superior agender culture and the constant snubbing of all gendered everything.Verdict:
Didn't throw it at the wall; just never got hooked.For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage?
Tolerate, I suppose, though any child raised in this household will probably not find the conceit terribly interesting.
To end on a happier note, here is what love looks like in my family:
J has had a hard day. I want to do something good for him. On my way out of work, I spot an ARC of the new Dresden Files novel, which I know both X and J want to read. Usually I'd leave it up to them to decide who gets it first, but I make the executive decision to give it to J because he could use cheering up. (I've also spotted Changes
on the shelf where X usually leaves in-progress books, and I'm pretty sure X will want to finish reading it before moving on to the new one, which gives J time to read it first.)
X and I spend at least half an hour affectionately teasing each other over this decision while J is buried in the book. Reading and teasing are briefly paused for dinner.
As usual, I say goodnight to J at 10, which is his bedtime, and go into X's room for tea. We snuggle up to watch a movie. Just past midnight, J--who's usually quite scrupulous about going to bed on time--comes in and hands X the book, which he has finished reading.
Reader, I melted. :) I love them both so much, and all the more when they're sweet to each other. My spouses are so great.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 10: X and I worked out for the first time in a while.
Feb 11: I wrote an extremely thorough crit for a freelance client. He is definitely getting his money's worth from me.
I suppose it doesn't make sense to note client manuscripts in the media log.
The workout was great. I just did a 10-minute strength-focused session (10 reps each of 5 exercises, focus on form, nothing too taxing) because my lungs are still recovering from the bronchitis, but it felt very good to get back to it, and I was able to breathe properly through the exercises without coughing at all. X and I are considering getting free weights and/or some sort of home workout machine thingy, since we're starting to run up against the limitations of bodyweight exercises braced on living room furniture; any recommendations?
Yesterday and today were very productive work-wise. I like that. It feels good. Of course it correlates with getting more sleep and sleeping at the proper time, so I'm going to stop writing this entry and go to bed.You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
Fun things, Feb 9: cooked a whopping great dinner and invited Tea over to share it. We had pot roast for the omnis and pan-fried chicken thighs for the pollotarian, plus mashed potatoes and maple thyme carrots. Dessert was a splendid vegan GF apple crumble with various ice creams.( Pot roastCollapse )
Pan-fried chicken thighs: salt and pepper skinless boneless thigh filets, heat oil in pan, fry chicken a few minutes on each side until cooked through.
Mashed potatoes: cook potatoes, mash with lots of Earth Balance and unsweetened almond milk.
Maple thyme carrot recipe here
.( Apple crumbleCollapse )You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, food, food.baking, food.baking.apples, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, food.cooking.beef.pot roast, food.cooking.carrots, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.potatoes, food.recipes
I woke up to incredibly sad news: wcg
's younger daughter, Amanda (ladyalafair
), died very unexpectedly on Saturday morning
. I've known Bill going on twenty years, and Amanda for most of that, though I didn't know her well. She'd seen some very hard times in her 33 years, and come through them with grit and grace. She leaves behind a young daughter, a sister, and a recently widowed father. Poor Bill. :( I wish I were close enough to go keep him company; his house must feel very empty right now. I hope he's got lots of good friends around him.
I was pretty shaken up for the early part of the day. X and J were very understanding and let me cling to them a lot, and eventually J distracted me with shopping and cooking and socializing. But in the quiet moments, when I let myself think about it again, I'm just... bewildered. People my age aren't supposed to die in their sleep. Parents aren't supposed to have to mourn their children. No one should have to suffer the loss of his wife and his daughter in less than two years. It's outrageous and wrong and terrible and it doesn't make any sense at all.
I'm pretty sure I will always react to death this way. Sad, yes, because loss is sad, but mostly outraged and confused, because the concept of permanent loss is simply unfathomable.
Comments off. I'm not up for talking about this right now.Comments are disabled on the Dreamwidth version of this entry.
Fun things, Feb 7: dinner at my mom's place.
Feb 8: went erranding with X, went out with J to visit Daniel and trade soup for nine ARCs of Long Hidden
(!!!), cooked dinner with J, had a delightful family dinner full of joking around, helped X build furniture, snuggled with J, snuggled with X, played a bunch of Swords & Potions 2. A very good day.
Dinner was turkey meatballs, based on this recipe
, which came out very well: moist, flavorful, and containing only ingredients that all of us actively like and aren't allergic to. J was skeptical when I suggested meatballs, since we haven't made them in ages and for some reason he thought of them as a lot of work, but I pointed out that they're basically tiny hamburgers and how hard can it be? Turned out it wasn't hard at all. Recipe for my reference:
1.3 lb (one package) ground turkey*
2 Tbsp GF "breadcrumbs"
1 Tbsp mixed dried herbs (your standard Italian seasoning mix will do nicely), or 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs
2/3 cup grated carrot*
1 egg, whisked
A few grinds each of salt and pepper* If your package of turkey is only 1 pound, reduce the carrot to 1/2 cup.
Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients, mix thoroughly, and shape into 24 meatballs. Bake 20 minutes or until thermometer in the center of the largest meatball registers 170F.
We had them on a bed of rice and mixed veg, which worked very nicely. They'd be great in pasta, too. Now that we have a successful recipe, next time I'll get a three-pound "family pack" of turkey, make extras, freeze them raw, and label them "bake 30 minutes at 350F".You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is .