a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
fresh cuttings 
19 June 2018 00:02 - Upcoming stuff 'n' things
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27 July 2014 22:16 - "Get me off this crazy thing!"
Zoloft taper time! The plan:

Day 0 (today): 12.5 mg/day (the dosage I've been on for the last 18 months)
Days 1-14: 6.25 mg/day
Days 15-28: alternate 6.25 mg/day and 0 mg/day
Day 29: fully discontinue

The last time I went off Zoloft I dropped it cold turkey because I was at much too high a dose for me and it was making me suicidal, manic, and possibly psychotic. (As indicated above, my therapeutic dose is below most people's starting dose, and my psychiatrist at the time had no idea how to dose someone like me.) I don't recall experiencing any adverse effects from the abrupt stop, but I wasn't really paying much attention at the time, and I'm not sure I would have noticed anything unless it was worse than the effects of the Zoloft itself. That said, I don't expect to have any problems, especially since I'm tapering this gradually.

I wasn't expecting to be able to cut my half-pills in half again, but J keeps our kitchen knives nice and sharp, so that makes life easier. I could possibly cut them even smaller but I think that's probably unnecessary.

I cannot wait to be off this stuff. Cannot. Wait.

Usual rules for comments about medical stuff: no advice unless I specifically ask (which I'm not) or you think I'm about to inadvertently harm myself.

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25 July 2014 22:40 - "Go kitty go!"
hug-happy, cat
Kitty micturition TMI--all good newsCollapse )

Other than that, it's been a very lovely day. My mother came over for lunch and was thrilled by the new place and impressed by our kitchen layout and equipment. Always nice when an FCI-trained chef is happy to cook in your kitchen. :) After she left, X came home early from work and I sobbed all over them for about an hour--going to the vet's office is very hard on me, plus it's just generally been a rough week--and then wiped my face and declared myself done with crying. We spent the rest of the evening snuggling and knitting and attempting to make gluten-free bread in the bread machine (the dough was too wet, so it overflowed and scorched on the heating element; I'm letting it dry out overnight in hopes of that making it easier to clean up, since right now it's basically yeasty glue).

Pre-pregnancy things have shifted X's sleep schedule around a lot. We used to have tea five nights a week from ~10 to ~midnight, but now they're exhausted and ready for bed by 10 or 10:30. This is our first time trying a weeknight date, on the theory that one long date a week could replace shorter but more frequent teatimes. I had been very very reluctant to delete the "time for tea!" alarm from my phone because it felt like such a loss, but if all our dates are as good as this one was, I'll feel a lot better about the change.

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25 July 2014 01:43 - "A wide variety"
noisy brain, agitated, manic-bad
Good things:

The one (1) knee doctor in NYC who takes my insurance was great. He says I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which means "That pain you told me about, where your knee meets your shin bone? It's pain where your knee meets your shin bone". I love medicine. ℞ is physical therapy to stretch and strengthen my quads, biweekly for eight weeks. Conveniently, the one (1) physical therapist in NYC who takes my insurance is also 20 minutes from my house by a single very direct bus.

This particular variety of knee pain is like most back pain: the best day-to-day treatment is to pretend it's not there and keep doing what you'd usually do. So I've been doing that and my knees are doing better, though still really not fond of stairs.

X and J and I had a really really nice family date night last night. We made a tasty dinner and watched "Encounter at Farpoint", and then J went to bed and X and I stayed up for a bit and snuggled and watched Northern Kings metal covers of pop ballads and giggled together. It was just right, and sorely needed.

I bought new sandals: Naot Karenna, dark brown ("buffalo"). They're very comfortable, though it's taking me a little while to figure out how tightly to fasten the straps; I'm used to the shift-and-give of buckles, not the firmness of Velcro. I had the toe strap on the left one too tight today and it rubbed a bit. But they suit my gender perfectly and my knees feel great when I'm wearing them. And I already had a dark brown belt to wear with them, because this dandy is prepared.

Therapy today was of the wrenching emotional variety and also the being gently scolded challenged by my therp. "Be messy," he said, "and stop policing your emotions." New therp is very very good. I am very very full of feels and now very very aware of being full of feels and very very nervous about letting them out. Augh. Oh well, this is what therapy is for. It is still a good thing, though it's hard.

After therping I decided that what I really needed was a steak and a book where people are nice to each other, so I went out to Outback (not the best steak in the world, but in my price range and right across the street from work) and read a good chunk of a romance novel, and felt considerably better after that. Yay self-care.

Annoying things:

Rose, mid-May: "I'm going to cut back my FSA contributions a lot, since I'm finishing up with my therapist and generally in good health."
June 1: annual FSA contribution adjustment deadline passes
Rose, mid-July: "I'm seeing a new therapist who doesn't take my insurance and now I need 16 sessions of physical therapy. Um. Welp. Guess I use post-tax money for that."

Can't foresee everything, I suppose.

The Naot sandals are made in Israel. I struggle a lot with the whole boycott idea, which has some significant downsides, but it's still hard for me to buy Israeli goods right now. I can talk around and around the politics and morals and practicalities and it comes back to that point of pure emotion: it's hard for me. And I'm so sad that Israel is doing such terrible things. And I'm going to stop here because I can't even really bear to think about any of this right now. (So no comments on this topic, please.)

Sad things:

My poor little Sammycat has a UTI. I think this is the first time she's been ill in the nine years she's lived with us, so she is confused and perturbed. I had to put her in kitty jail overnight because she was leaving sad little pink-tinged puddles all around the house in hopes that maybe if she pees in this spot it won't hurt. I lined the entire thing with wee pads and gave her food and water and a cardboard box to sleep in. It's going to take her a while to figure out that kitty jail is a place she can't get out of, and then she's going to whine and wail for a bit, and then hopefully she'll be able to sleep.

Alex is completely freaked out by the sight of kitty jail--he spent several days in quarantine there when we first got him, and clearly has not forgotten--and really confused by being on the outside of it and another cat being on the inside of it. I hope he leaves Sam alone. I placed it as far from all our bedrooms as possible, and well away from the cat tree that's Alex's most likely perching spot. Usually he and Sam both sleep in my room, but I have my door shut so I can't hear her crying. My poor tiny cat. :( :( :( I just hate making her sad, but I can't stay up all night and follow her around with paper towels.

One of us will take her to the vet tomorrow and get her some tasty antibiotics. Good thing we've trained her to think of Pill Pockets as treats. Since she's never been sick, we've never had to pill her, but I can't imagine she'd handle it well.

Augh, even with the a/c and fan on "high" I can hear her agonized lonelyhowl, the sound she used to make at our old apartment every night because I couldn't let her sleep in my room. This is awful. At least I know from that experience that she'll give up once it's clear that I'm not coming out to free her.

I keep telling myself that this is character-building and will help me prepare for being a parent. Or something.

Time to sleep so I can be a good cat-parent in the morning.

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23 July 2014 00:36 - "Next!"
accomplishment, craft
The last piece of IKEA furniture is DONE. DONE DONE DONE DOOOOOONE.

(Well, we may put knobs on the drawers at some point. But whatever, that's minor and easy to do and we may decide not to bother. Everyone seems happy to open the drawers from the side right now.)

The very last remaining things to do:

* I put the base and lids for our old blender up on Craigslist Free Stuff, and someone is coming to get them tomorrow.
* The IKEA boxes go out with the recycling on Friday.
* On Saturday J and I will haul two huge bags of fabric recycling to the farmer's market.
* Possibly there will be some vacuuming.

And then I will take photos of the living room/dining room/kitchen/library and you can all see what a splendid apartment we have, now that it's populated by furniture and books and appliances rather than boxes and boxes and boxes.


My knees were feeling somewhat better today (yes, plural--I'm putting more weight than usual on the left to spare the right, so the left is complaining too), despite poor sleep. I've been trying to work from my very comfy office chair instead of in bed, and I think it's helping. After J and I met for dinner, we took a very small stroll in the park. I had the brace on my right knee and was careful not to overdo it, and my caution was rewarded by an almost pain-free climb up the subway stairs on our way home. I rested for a few hours and then got up and did a bit of tidying (no heavy lifting). So far so good.

I can feel my shin muscles aching now that I know what I'm looking for, and the heating pad helped a lot yesterday, so I'm increasingly certain that working from home in a one-flight walkup has simply made me too sedentary and my muscles have weakened to where they can't adequately support my joints. I also need new sandals, which I will hopefully get on the way home from the knee doc tomorrow. I don't like any of this season's Merrell or Timberland sandals, and I've been wanting something a bit more solid and butch, so I'm seriously considering my first Birkenstocks. Fortunately the knee doc is at 33rd Street, so I'll pop over to Eneslow and try on shoes there to get a sense of Birkenstock sizes and how they feel on my feet.


Yesterday was a pretty rotten day for me and X, and we were both staggering a bit today from the emotional hangover. But we managed to pull through it with a great deal of support from the always amazing J, and there was even a bit of cuddling and laughing later in the evening. Tomorrow we inaugurate our weekly family date night, which is probably going to be like a typical night except with more snuggles. I think that sounds excellent.


I didn't get to bed until 7 a.m. yesterday, so I've been groggy and fleh all day. Time to try the yoga nidra mp3 of [personal profile] norah's that [personal profile] rydra_wong pointed me to, and see if it can put me to sleep at something approximating my best bedtime.

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20 July 2014 02:00 - "Achy breaky"
depressed, cranky
My right knee has been cranky for the last couple of weeks. The pain feels like it's directly under my kneecap. I didn't twist it or fall or anything; it's just started complaining when I go up and down stairs or spend more than about 15 minutes on my feet. I've been PRICEing and NSAIDing to no avail. J says it's a sign that I'm getting old. In 11 months I'll be able to say "I'm 37, I'm not old!" at him; for now I just roll my eyes.

...okay, I admit, it's more like PICE. I don't know how to rest. I certainly didn't rest it much last weekend; Readercon = lots of walking around the hotel + lots of driving. And when I have a brace on it doesn't hurt, so then I run errands and do dishes and so on. I'm sure I should rest it more.

I just don't know how to treat joint things. I am a tendon injury treatment expert. Muscle aches are easy to work out or soak away or ignore until they get better. But joints... I feel like the ice isn't even really getting through to the part that's sore, because my patella is in the way. Advil doesn't touch it (though I may still have an Advil tolerance from back when I took 2400 mg/day for my arms) and more troublingly, Celebrex doesn't either. And I hesitate to wear the brace all the time because that's counter-indicated for tendon injuries and (like any pain relief) it encourages overuse rather than rest. So I'm kind of stuck on what to do, other than literally sitting around with my leg up on a couple of pillows.

I have an appointment with a sports medicine doctor for Wednesday. In the meantime, joint pain sufferers, any suggestions?

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19 July 2014 14:59 - "Cash dollars"
long hidden
I just got my first royalty check.

It has... a lot more digits than I was expecting. Four of them. BEFORE the decimal point.

My first thought was "Eeeeee!". My second thought was "This means my book is helping to keep Crossed Genres afloat". I am really, really glad to be part of something that's doing so well for CG.

And now I'm going to scan it before I deposit it. :D

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18 July 2014 19:03 - "Pay a heavy price for it"
feminist-militant, activism-feminist
Shorter Wiscon: In recognition of the possibility that a harasser may eventually learn to behave himself like someone who graduated kindergarten, we will guarantee that a minimum of two people (the ones he harassed) will no longer feel comfortable at our convention.

Good job, folks. That is some solid community-minded thinking right there. When you have loads of people saying "As long as this dude is at your convention, I will not feel safe there" the OBVIOUS feminist position to take is that the dude's potential rehabilitation matters more than the feeeeeeelings of all those laaaaaadies. They're probably just being oversensitive. They'll come back. After all, there are no other soi-disant feminist conventions for them to go to!

All sarcasm aside, I suggest that any con that has ever permanently banned a harasser begin labeling itself a feminist convention, as the claim to the term is clearly pretty wide open at this point.

I wrote about redemption narratives and convention harassment in 2012. I could write about it again, but why bother? It's clear that the people who needed to read it the first time around either never did or forgot it as soon as they closed the tab. And we're right back where we started, following some guy through his sin-repentance-redemption story while ignoring all the women who will be going to other conventions or just staying home.

(Incidentally, if you want to help mitigate the financial costs to Elise for having to stop selling her gorgeous handmade jewelry at Wiscon, please consider buying some of her wares for yourself or someone else.)

Note that Frenkel can appeal the decision in case he thinks it's too harsh, but no one else can appeal it for being too lenient. That's a very clear sign as to which way the committee thinks it's erring. And it's dead wrong.

The subject line of this post is from Dan Harmon's plot embryo:

1. A character is in a zone of comfort
2. But they want something
3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
4. Adapt to it
5. Get what they wanted
6. Pay a heavy price for it
7. Then return to their familiar situation
8. Having changed

That's the Frenkel story. He's supposed to pay a price for getting what he wanted--the opportunity to harass a couple of women--but all he loses is four years of Wiscon. However, anyone who doesn't want to be around harassers loses Wiscon forever. And Elise and Lauren pay the highest price of all for having spoken up: the price of being told, almost in so many words, that their pain and sorrow don't matter as much as Jim Frenkel getting a second chance. They don't get to return to their familiar situation. They don't get what they wanted. They don't get the neat episodic story arc. They're left to make new stories for themselves, with so much less cultural and community support than they need and deserve.

This is really dispiriting.

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16 July 2014 03:00 - "Wet blanket"
For about the first year I was on Zoloft, it was basically perfect: fewer panic attacks, increased ease of controlling anxiety, minimal side effects. The worst of the latter was dry mouth, and once I switched to special toothpaste/mouthwash and started carrying around peppermint candies all the time, that was pretty bearable. I had to very strictly avoid caffeine and alcohol, but my consumption of those was already minimal, and the dry mouth exacerbated my oral allergy reactions, but I really can't object to having an additional reason to not eat things I'm allergic to.

Then a few months ago, as I really shook off the last of 2013's depression, I started to feel like my emotions were wrapped in a blanket. It's become particularly apparent since the vertigo went away and I stopped being a storm of vertigo-related frustration and misery. I can tell that my moods are being artificially leveled. I do not like this feeling. I do not like it at all.

X and J are bubbling with NRE and silliness, and I can't enjoy it the way I'd like to. I'm quietly terrified that X is going to get pregnant and I won't be able to really feel my reactions to that either; that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I want to be there for it. And not being able to access deep emotions is very inconvenient for being at the beginning of a course of therapy that's touching on a lot of deep, old stuff. Readercon was fun but not transcendent, and I suspect that's because I can't achieve transcendence right now. There are other things I can't achieve either--the famous SSRI anorgasmia has struck at last, with really terrible timing--but mostly I'm bothered by not being able to be giddy. I can float, but I can't fly.

Seven weeks until the vertigo treatment study is done and I can get the hell off this drug.

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Home from Readercon. It was an excellent con and I spent most of it feeling floaty and joyful. As usual, Friday night ended with "there's still so much of the convention left!" and by midday Saturday it was "how is the convention almost over?!". It remains my most favorite convention ever.

Highlights of this year, in no particular order:

* Peter Straub very sweetly asking me to autograph his copy of Long Hidden. "Teenage me just fainted," I told him. Afterwards I actually leaned on the wall in the hotel hallway and cried happy tears.

* Lots of driving. Every time I return a rental car, I'm a little sadder than the time before. Driving is tiring but so exhilarating, even when other cars rocket around hairpin turns and nearly hit me. (Fun times. The adrenaline rush from that might have contributed a bit to the tearfulness noted above.)

* Lots of wonderful time with some of my favorite people in the world, especially grahamsleight.

* Getting to dandle [twitter.com profile] dailyjuna on my knee as we sprawled on the grass on a sunny afternoon.

* Going to a really good panel on new models for masculinity.

* So much celebration of Long Hidden! Daniel and I gave a great talk, Crossed Genres threw us a great party, and our authors gave great readings. I lost count of how many books I signed, for friends and strangers.

* A splendid room party where people drank cocktails, ate chocolate, and played Slash.

* Squeezing emilytheslayer's hand as Ada Palmer sang about the importance of the people who make conventions happen. And [twitter.com profile] aahairsto and [twitter.com profile] djolder's performances at the Miscellany, which were glorious in entirely different ways.

* Reading my room poems aloud at the poetry open mic, and having people compliment both the poems and my reading all weekend. Also, having my mind blown by the amazingness of the open mic! Brilliant poems, brilliant reading. kythryne and [twitter.com profile] gabrielsquailia's readings especially took my breath away. tithenai was the perfect gracious welcoming emcee.

* A sleepy snuggly morning phone call with X that recalled all the best parts of our LDR days.

* Squealing and hugging with vschanoes after she won a Shirley Jackson Award.

* Kit Reed telling me that if we did a Long Hidden sequel she'd send me a story for it.

* Shoshana E. actually jumping up and down and squeeing when she realized she was talking with one of the editors of Long Hidden.

* hakamadare giving me an ice pack for my arm and beaming with the joy of being useful and helping someone feel better.

* Going to L.L. Bean with J and buying we-missed-you gifts for X.

* Watching the safety team work like a well-oiled machine. There were no major incidents, and the minor ones were quickly and smoothly handled.

* Having a friend tell me, "I ragequit the con scene several years ago because of all the harassment, but at this convention no one talked to my breasts. I'll be coming back."

* Talking with vschanoes for the entirety of the train ride home.

And now I am home, and J and I have clung to X and been clung to in return, and now I have Sam snuggled up against my arm and I am content.

As of today, I have resigned from the Readercon concom. I'll probably stay on staff in some capacity, but that's all; I'm done with that kind of exhausting volunteering for now. Of course the very first thing I did with my new civilian status was head to the registration desk to buy a membership for Readercon 26. I may be off the committee, but there are very few things that could keep me away from this convention. I was going to say that nothing could, but if X gets pregnant in October and is due in July... yeah, that would do it. Barring that sort of excitement, though, I am already very much looking forward to next year.

And seriously, I signed my book for Peter Straub. How amazing.

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10 July 2014 02:30 - "N O A P NOAP"
no., charts
Dear Boston friends: I'm sorry, but I won't be seeing you at those big annual parties anymore.

I do plan to make occasional trips to the Boston area, alone or with J and/or X, so if you'd like to get together one of those times (or suggest a particular weekend that would work well for you), let me know. I'll also see you at Readercon, and maybe one of these days I'll make it back to Arisia. And of course I'd love to hang out with you anytime you're in NYC.

This post is not a space for discussing recent events or the people involved with them. I'm leaving comments open solely for use in planning future travel.

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8 July 2014 18:06 - "Just around the corner"
Oh hey Readercon is THIS WEEK. Amazing how relaxed I feel now that I'm not program chair anymore.

Here's where I'll be, complete with absurd room names that all sound the same. (What was the Marriott thinking?)

3 p.m. Friday, Embrace: Long Hidden reading with seven of our amazing authors: Sofia Samatar, Claire Humphrey, Lisa Bolekaja, Sunny Moraine, Michael Janairo, Sarah Pinsker, and Sabrina Vourvoulias!

7 p.m. Friday, Salon G: Romance recs for spec fic fans! Come hear me talk about how Isabel Cooper wrote the best time travel novel that no one in SF has ever heard of.

3 p.m. Saturday, Enliven: Daniel and I talk about how we edited Long Hidden!

9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Envision: Long Hidden party, open to everyone!

You may detect a theme.

I think J and I may also be doing some sort of room party thing on Friday night, so if you feel like joining us, ping me anytime Thursday evening or Friday to get our room number.

I should be much less of a running-around blur this year, so feel free to stop me and say hello if you see me in the hall. I am easily identified by my shorn head, snazzy clothes, and wry smirk.

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8 July 2014 00:26 - "I'm just drawn that way"
contemplative, pensive, thoughtful
A friend with some experiences of OCD made some super helpful suggestions and comments that I'm noting here in hopes that other people will find them useful.

* It's very common to self-treat OCD with exhaustion. I know I do this a lot. Unfortunately it's also really bad for me. I need to be more aware of when I'm doing it, and try to use other coping mechanisms instead.

* Urges can't really be shut off, but they can be redirected/retrained in combination with being reduced. For example, I channel my judge-and-fix urges away from people and toward housework and editing. As I identify problematic behaviors as coming from OCD-urge-space, I'll try redirecting them as a first step in combination with dialing them down, rather than trying to battle them head-on.

My friend suggested redirection into strength training; my first reaction is to be really wary of that, since I already have a) a chronic overuse injury and b) gender-related body dysphoria. I don't want to treat my body as a thing that's wrong and needs to be fixed at all costs. On the other hand, I find the structure and orderliness of things like the 10-week You Are Your Own Gym program very appealing, and strength training is a thing I want to do once my arm recovers from this weekend's overexertion*. So maybe there is a way to do some channeling of OCD urges without it turning dysphoric or leading me to overwork my body.

* I let agitation get the best of meCollapse )

* Meditation is useful for calming the mind, but OCD brains are too noisy to handle traditional no-stimulus or single-stimulus meditation. Try two-stimulus instead, like doing visualization exercises while playing with sand, or listening to music while doing free-form drawing. I may try walking meditation with music.

* Treat the urges as entities that can be negotiated with, rather than as instructions that must be obeyed. I've already done some of this. It's definitely a useful tool to have in the toolbox, especially when combined with my techniques for negotiating with other people.

* My friend suggested cannabis to help dial down obsessive thoughts and compulsions, but I don't use it. However, I will add OCD thoughts/feelings to the list of things that I can probably mitigate with taurine when I need to.

* The OCD need for control is a response to obsessions and urges, which can make you feel very much out of control. Seeing that need for control as a thing that's induced, rather than a thing that's inherent to me, will be very helpful as I try to overcome my fear of unstructured, uncontrolled situations. Developing comfort with unstructured things is not in conflict with my entire personality, even though it feels that way sometimes. Rather, I've been programmed a certain way and am now trying to change my programming. Still scary and hard, but not so much terrifying and impossible.

Thank you very much, awesome helpful friend!

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OCD, order, untangling, connections, computer games
I appear to have OCD, not in the "ha ha all editors have OCD" sense but in the "hits all the diagnostic criteria" sense.

Mental illness diagnoses are so weird. Simultaneously, everything I do makes so much more sense and appears totally disordered.

New diagnosis + new therapist to help me with that diagnosis = expect this journal to be all OCD all the time for the next few months. I know I can have bouts of anxiety triggered by descriptions of other people's anxiety symptoms, and I figure this is likely to be similar for other folks with OCD and anxiety-spectrum things, so I will cut-tag any descriptions of agitation and similar things.

I know lots of people who talk in public about having depression or anxiety. I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk in public about having OCD. American culture treats it like a joke, a synonym for perfectionism or neatness; and the actual experience of it often involves disturbing thoughts that are deeply embarrassing to admit to. Since I'm me, I figure that means I should be public about it, and hopefully help other people directly as well as helping to fix our awful broken culture, which is so especially broken around matters of mental health.

Miscellaneous thingsCollapse )

Positive things: My coping mechanisms are top-notch given that I developed them without really knowing what I was coping with. The OCD is relatively mild and controllable. I'm not feeling any urge to self-harm. The condition doesn't interfere with work; quite the contrary. (I am certainly in the right profession.) My new therapist is awesome. J and X are being splendidly supportive.

General comment policy on this topic: I'm willing to take advice from other people who have direct experience with this type of mental illness, either their own or a loved one's. Everyone else, no advice, please.

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6 July 2014 01:31 - "Vast improvement"
laughing, joyous, frubbly
Yesterday was a pretty crap day. I was full of sadfeels pulled up out of the dusty depths by Thursday's therapy session, and then I didn't eat enough, so I got really cranky and then cried a lot. J and X were understandably unsettled by this, and there was a lot of eggshell-walking and nervousness all around. Despite all our best efforts, I was still fussy and anxious when they went to bed, and I ended up tidying for a couple of hours just to tire myself out. Before I went to bed, I emailed them to say, "All I want for Saturday is for it to be better than Friday."

Saturday was SO much better than Friday. As soon as I woke up, X let J know I was awake so he could wind up his gaming session, and then came in to give me snuggles. As I gradually acquired actual consciousness, I felt the last shreds of yesterday's bad mood blow away. It was such a relief to be able to feel happy and enjoy things again! I got up and showered and shaved and had a proper lunch with actual calories in it, and J finished gaming and he and X took their turns in the shower. Then we hauled out all the unwanted furniture that's been taking up physical and psychic space for weeks. The neighbors promptly scavenged the lot, hurray. Also X found someone on Craigslist who came and took away all our empty book boxes. And none of the cats got out or even tried to, despite there being a few minutes where the stairgate was down and the front door was open.

After that there was lots of snuggling and making out and happy good times. That wound up around 18:30 and we realized it was too late in the day for the big batch of cooking we'd planned to do. J suggested a quick stroganoff, I found a recipe, and we shopped and cooked while X did some room-tidying. And then! Then! We ate dinner at our new dining table!

Amazing how many things needed to come together for that to happen. We have a splendid new table that's pretty and comfortable, with no one's knees banging into awkwardly placed table legs. Thanks to new insulating curtains in the windows and some nice weather today, the living room wasn't a sauna the way it's been for the past couple of weeks. My tidying bout from the previous night meant there was actually space on the table for food. Everyone was at home and feeling well. Our lovely new restaurant-quality napkins had just come back from the laundry. And having all the old furniture gone meant the space was so much more pleasant to be in.

When the three of us first moved to Brooklyn together, we had some awkward and difficult negotiations around dinner because we all had different ideas of what Dinner At The Table is supposed to be like. We ended up mostly eating dinner in X's bedroom, picnic-style on the bed, to avoid all the confusion and stress. Tonight we realized that the confusion and stress were gone; a couple of years of picnics have helped us find our own shared family rhythm and understand one another's expectations, and it was delightfully easy to just settle in and enjoy a very tasty dinner.

Post-dinner, X cleaned up while J rested and I wrote up the recipe, and then we snuggled up on the couch and watched Kung Fu Hustle. After that X and J were wiped out and went to bed. I was all wired up from the movie, so I built the new microwave cart and put wheels on the butcher block cart. Now all we need is to make the drawers for the new hardware cabinet and we will be DONE DONE DONE with the living room. DONE.

I just managed to install the first set of drawer rails upside down while thinking admiringly "IKEA is so smart to make it impossible to install things the wrong way", and my arm is getting kind of sore, so I think I am done for the night.

...and 40 minutes later I have finished doing the dishes and tidying the kitchen, and I am REALLY done for the night. Ice pack on arm. Dishwasher running. Soon: snack, Advil, sleep.

...and then Graham introduced me to Euclid: The Game and suddenly it's 6 a.m. Augh. BED.

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3 July 2014 15:15 - "They really like me!"
long hidden
Aaaaa The Cascadia Subduction Zone (a really respected feminist literary journal with an SF/F focus) has the MOST AMAZING review of my book!

I think it’s important to highlight how deliberate the editorial, authorial, archival, and genealogical politics framing the publication of Long Hidden are.

This is not just an anthology about history and magic. It’s an anthology emergent from ongoing histories of oppression, collaboration, and resistance, one that orients itself towards a radical future featuring multiple storytellers while simultaneously connecting itself to a shared past filled with secret histories of survival, hope, and grief.

...Its publication now reflects the growing power of fen of color, LGBTQA fans, and other marginalized voices. The quality of its stories reflect the power of these voices and the passion behind their craft.

*faints again*

To be honest, I figured Long Hidden would sink without a trace, the way most small-press books do. I'm beyond thrilled to see it still getting traction and attention two months after publication.

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2 July 2014 02:51 - "What am I, just a blur?"
awkward, dismayed, what did i just do
Sometimes when I'm about to go to sleep, fragments of the previous night's dreams creep into my head, like waking up just paused them and they're ready to start playing again.

Last night I dreamed a) that I had lung cancer and was about to be operated on by one of the most incompetent people I know, and b) that we had to pack up all the books we'd just unpacked because we needed to move again. Both halves of the dream were equally horrifying. And equally implausible, fortunately.

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wistful, longing, seeking
J went upstate this weekend to spend time with his mother and grandmother, and X and I got a weekend all to ourselves. It was pretty excellent. We talked and snuggled and giggled and made out and accidentally fell asleep on each other. We went shopping and I cooked tasty food and X did all the dishes. We built the last bookcase and shelved all the trade-size novels (SINGLE-STACKED AT LAST) and hung heat-blocking curtains, so the living room is less of a sweatbox and X's poor little air conditioner doesn't have to work so hard. We played video games. We were kind and loving and patient. We spoke up about our needs and desires. We were satisfied with our accomplishments. We had fun.

I wish I felt satiated and glow-basking; instead I just want more more more. I want more weekends like this. I want this weekend to keep going. I want the things we thought about doing but didn't do: going to a museum, watching a movie, knitting. I want more of the things we did. I want things we didn't even think about doing, like going to the beach and playing cards. More. More. More love, more togetherness, more getting things done, more of making our home a better place to live, more silliness, more sweetness, more.

Every time I think I've finally settled into believing that X and I live in the same house instead of three thousand miles apart, I find another pocket of starvation mentality. There will be next weekend, and the weekend after that! But this felt like a holiday, somehow, a special occasion, and now all I can think is that it's over too soon and the next big dose of time together is unfathomably far in the future. And that there is really never any such thing as getting enough of my beloved spousebot.

I'll feel better tomorrow, when they come home from work and we have our evening tea-date and I'm reminded that we really do get as much time together as any two working adults can. J comes home tomorrow and that will help too; I'm sure some of the loneliness I'm feeling right now is from him being away, and family time always cheers me up. It's just hard right now, with Sunday night winding slowly down and feeling so much like an ending.

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27 June 2014 16:43 - "Stop, pause, play"
The last panel of this comic is something I'm striving toward pretty hard right now.

I started seeing a new therapist yesterday. We talked a lot about how uncomfortable I am with things that aren't structured or controlled: playfulness, improvisation, creativity, spontaneity, physicality, intoxication, ecstatic experiences. He asked what my goal is for therapy and I said, "I want to stop being afraid of myself. And I'd like to learn how to be playful and have fun."

It's going to be really, really hard.

Here goes.

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22 June 2014 18:13 - "Flames on the side of my face"
dice games, skating, multitasking
Media log:

42) Clue. (Movie.) Rewatch. I could swear I'd watched this since the start of the year but maybe not, since I can't find it in the log. Anyway, it remains brilliant. Everything Madeline Kahn does is worth rewinding and rewatching several times. Such a genius. The whole cast is great--the world needs more smart movies with ensemble casts of character actors--but she outshines them all without even trying.

There isn't even a shred of plot, but who cares?

Verdict: Splendid.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, as an interesting bit of quasi-history ("She had friends who were... socialists") as well as an entertaining whodunit.

43) Strictly Ballroom. (Movie.) Rewatch for X, first time for me. We wanted something to watch on our enormous new television*, and it has an internet connection and Netflix app**, and Strictly Ballroom was in my "watch instantly" queue because X had recommended it to me, so we settled onto the couch in front of the television*** and enjoyed the spectacle. It's one of those movies where you have to turn off social awareness if you're going to enjoy it; it's difficult to appreciate the movie as much once you see Scott and Fran's relationship as a metaphor for the wholesale appropriation and whitewashing of Latin dance. This is supposedly a film about how creativity and uniqueness matter more than conformity, but the creativity and uniqueness are all supplied by or channeled through the white guy. If Fran and her father entered the competition and just danced the way they grew up dancing, they'd be kicked out for doing it wrong. But once Scott is taught rhythm and passion by those clever ethnic people with their clever ethnic ways, he can win competitions with it.

I may have a little extra bitterness about this from the small amount of time I've spent around competitive ballroom dancers, and the much larger amount of time I've spent in a community of folk dancers who care at least slightly more about historical authenticity and acknowledging the progenitors of dance styles.

On the bright side, the film itself doesn't treat women badly, which I thought it did at first; it just depicts a culture of men who treat women badly. Literally every man in the film is terrible to women, and every woman's visible personality is limited to her own unique response to being treated terribly by men. I'd like to see it remade as Fran's story rather than Scott's.

Visually it's quite glorious. The costumes and makeup are amazing. The set is clearly a stage set, and a Baz Luhrmann stage set at that. (It makes me want to rewatch Moulin Rouge, and then go back in time to see the Luhrmann La Bohème onstage again.) The dancing is great, though it's a bit odd to see it through 1990s film camerawork instead of in the style of present-day televised competitive dance. And the acting's good, if one-note--which is appropriate to the flat characters, I suppose.

Verdict: Pretty and shallow, which is fine if that's what you want.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate, I think. Maybe share if they share X's fondness for watching dancing.

* I haven't owned a television... uh... well, ever, now that I think about it. And I haven't lived in a house with a television since 2005. They've changed a lot. I had not had occasion to say "reboot the TV" before today. o.O Now I sort of know how my mother feels about her new smartphone.

** My television has APPS. This is SO WEIRD.

*** In the guest room of our giant house in the ~suburbs****. This is really not the life I expected to have.

**** Eastern Crown Heights isn't quite as suburban as, say, Flushing, but we're in a detached house with a garage out back and flowers out front, and that's suburban enough for me.

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21 June 2014 03:26 - "We're all magic friends"
loved, happy, satisfied
I had a most excellent birthday. There was perfect weather: it drizzled in the morning and was sunny in the afternoon, and the air was just warm enough and deliciously breezy. I had to work, but it was enjoyable work, and then I got my Starbucks birthday drink and strolled down to Union Square for dinner at Peacefood with my fabulous spouses and my mother and her fella. X and J were ridiculously adorable at each other. We all had food that made us happy and I stuffed myself with strawberry shortcake.

J's birthday present to me was acquiring and installing my new air conditioner. X's birthday present to me was coming to dinner and being focused and present and happy even though they were feeling very unwell. My mother's birthday present to me was greeting me with a big hug and "Hooray, it's the birthday person!", and providing a charming clay vase full of paper roses in my favorite colors because real ones would make me sneeze. I feel tremendously loved.

As a bonus, Miriam and Alex are visiting this weekend, and Alex went to IKEA with me tonight to return incorrect things and get correct things. I got to drive, which was fun, and we have acquired everything on our acquisition list (plus store credit for the returned things, on the assumption that one is never really done with shopping at IKEA). By the time we got home it was 22:30; J had dinner waiting (a lovely pasta primavera with almond cream) and X and Miriam showed no signs of starvation, so we still got to have a group dinner despite the hour. I love having houseguests who say things like "How early in the morning is too early to start building furniture?". They are such splendidly good friends--the perfect people to be our first overnight guests in our new home.

After everyone went to bed I tackled the heaps of cardboard boxes, and now there are many bags of cardboard out by the curb for the weekly recycling pickup. Also the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean. (X did the first round of dishes, but the second round is my job, since I'm the only one awake when the dishwasher finishes running.) Slowly, slowly, the house comes together. I am desperately impatient to be done with building and unpacking, but I'm told it's rude to rip open boxes and use power tools at 4 a.m., so I will make myself sleep instead.

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candle, birthday
It's my 36th birthday! If you feel like celebrating it with me, here are some things that would make me very happy:

* If you've read Long Hidden, post an honest review of it on Goodreads and/or Amazon.

* Ask your local library or independent bookstore to carry Long Hidden (print ISBN 9780991392100).

* Buy the Loncon memberships that J and I can't use. $300 for the pair (well below current prices), voting rights intact. Feel free to pass the word along to anyone you know who might be interested.

* Come to Readercon! It's just four weeks away!

* Buy something shiny from Wyrding Studios for yourself or someone else. (Not for me, please. I have a ton of jewelry that I almost never wear, including some lovely Wyrding pieces; I don't need more.)

* Back this Kickstarter for a really gorgeous-looking cooperative puzzle game, and help them reach the Mac stretch goal so I can get to play it. :)

* It's been oppressively hot the last couple of days, so if you have a lovely cool photo of shady woods or deep blue oceans or penguins frolicking on icebergs or similar, post it in the comments (maximum 600 pixels in either dimension, please!).

* Donate money or time or signal-boosting to any good cause. Support any crowdfunding project. Patronize any local independent business. Buy a self-published or small-press book.

* If you're in a position of power or authority in any respect, do something to help your industry or community or family or self be more welcoming and safe for marginalized people.

* Teach someone how to do something.

* Tell someone you love that you love them.

* Eat or drink something delicious.

* Do something kind.

No obligation to tell me if you do any of these things, though I'd be happy to hear about it. I just want to spread the birthday joy around.

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17 June 2014 17:01 - "ABZs"
love, family, community
A typical afternoon in our family IRC channel:

(5:00:33) Josh: Hey
(5:00:36) Xtina: bee
(5:00:39) Rose: sea
(5:00:49) Josh: :P
(5:00:56) Rose: no no, P comes much later
(5:01:03) Josh: #
(5:01:05) Xtina: you don't get to teach kit the alphabet

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loved, happy, satisfied
Miscellaneous things:

1) We made chicken and vegetable stir-fry tonight and it tasted just like it came from a restaurant, only better! Recipe here. It's adapted from a recipe for cashew chicken in Easy Chinese Recipes by Bee Yin Low, and it's delicious. Since I'm on a low-sodium diet and X can't have gluten, Chinese restaurants are mostly off-limits to us, and we were both SO HAPPY to be able to have Chinese food again. I can't wait to try more from that cookbook, which in addition to having lots of interesting recipes is full of hilarious snarking at nasty greasy over-sauced American Chinese restaurant food (so of course we tripled the amount of sauce because we are uncultured Americans).

2) Yesterday I built a cabinet for my room, a new china cabinet, a new hardware cabinet, and a new liquor cabinet. My palm is bruised from pressing against the butt of the screwdriver, and I still want a version of [twitter.com profile] crimershow where it's @IKEAshow and every episode ends with people shouting "IKEAAAAAA" and shaking their fists in rage, but the furniture looks really nice. I'm especially pleased with the cabinet door knobs, which I had to place and drill; they are exactly even.

3) It's been ages since I did a cat update. Short version: the new place is perfectly suited to cats, and all is well.

Sophie is still entirely X's cat, but she's getting more tolerant of other people and other cats; these days, when I go into X's room, more often than not they have both Sophie and Sam on the bed, and earlier today I was in X's room alone and Sophie came over to curl up near me. Alex is slowly learning that when Sophie corners him she's not going to attack him--she just wants to gaze adoringly at him--and so he can just walk past her. When he does, she follows him around like a lovesick stalker. It is utterly ridiculous.

Alex mostly hangs out on the enormous cat condo or the window behind it. He also likes the window in X's room (where he watches cars go by like he wants to chase one down and drag him home) and the window in my room (where he watches birds and the stray cats that like to run across the garage roof). He's not really a people-cat, but he's willing to indulge us when we pet him and pick him up. He trusts me the most, probably because X doesn't have much patience for him and J likes to tease him, whereas the worst I do is drag him onto my lap and hug him. Whenever we cook he hangs out in the kitchen hoping for scraps. I call him "the dog I never wanted". At some point we gave up on any notion of rehoming him; he's here to stay.

Sam is still my kitten, but she's very fond of all of us. When I'm asleep she'll go hang out with X or J, and if they're not home, she'll hang out on the suitcase in my room. She's thrilled that I've started working from home most of the time, since it means more time near an awake person. When I go to bed she curls up next to my head for a bit, but she always leaves before I fall asleep. She also naps on the book boxes in the living room. She and Sophie get into spats occasionally, but they're mostly of the "aaa you startled me! *batbatbat*" sort, and she's stopped growling at Alex when he goes past her to get to the window. Her life is mostly placid and uninteresting and she seems to like it that way.

(Right now she's lying comma-style next to me, purring and looking hopefully at my hands. I pet her after every sentence.)

4) It recently emerged that both X and J had harbored a few quiet "what if we...?" thoughts about each other. And now, catalyzed by the baby-planning and baby-making, they're all smoochy and giggly and cuddly and flirting and roughhousing and affectionate and hilarious and adorable. I am about 98% "eeeeeee! they are SO CUTE" and 2% "ngh insecure", which as I recall is pretty typical when one of my partners hits NRE with someone else. We're all dealing fine with the 2% as it comes up, and the rest of the time I melt with delight.

I never expected this in a million years, or hoped for it. They so obviously weren't interested in dating or being lovers. They'd only just gotten to be friends! (I told J that if this were a book I'd have instructed the author to go back and put in more foreshadowing, because it came out of nowhere and that makes it hard to suspend disbelief.) But all my well-honed poly mechanisms are kicking into gear like they hadn't been lying dormant for years. It feels like relief, like the first warm breeze of spring after a long, long winter.

I can't express how marvelous it is to watch them making each other happy. I thrive on the joy of the people I love. To see it doubled, and doubled again--my heart overflows.

Our family already felt like a family, and it was already a good solid family. It's just a differently configured family now, and full of squee. :)

I am also reminded that I can tolerate being someone's only partner, but I always relax more when I'm not; it helps me step down from thinking I have to be available 24/7, and I worry less because I know they're in good hands when I'm not around.

(Now Sam is kneading the blanket over my leg, and Alex has come up onto the bed and thence to the windowsill.)

5) I don't quite know how much is too much to say in public about babystuff, both because I don't want to reveal more than X is comfortable with and because I know it's triggering/upsetting for some folks. I will just say that we're at a stage where all we can do is wait, and it's daunting and terrifying and frustrating and I hate waiting so much. Also, everything important happens much earlier in the morning than I would usually be awake for. I really ought to go to sleep because I have to get up in about four hours, but it's hard to sleep because I'm so nervous.

(Now Sam is asleep on the pillow to my right, and Alex is asleep on the pillow to my left. Earlier he was purring and licking my hand. What good kitties.)

6) I reached level 72 in Swords & Potions 2, and "beat" Gemcraft Chasing Shadows in the sense of completing the level that it thinks of as final. There are some other levels I haven't even unlocked yet, but I'm carefully staying away for now. My arm needs to recover from the cabinet-building.

(I patted Alex and woke him up. He's purring like gangbusters and kicking my hand away whenever I try to pet him. He gets like that sometimes. Silly cat.

(Ah, he's rotated so I can reach his back without threatening his tender belly. Everyone's happier now.)

7) No but really I should go sleep as much as I can. I hope I can sleep at all.

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