Archive | April 2018

Living in a chemical world, plus dream sequences

Cat with head deep in coffee mug “iz not addicted to caffeine, i juz need it to function”

(click to embiggen)

Every time I have my annual wellness exam, my doctor gets a little carried away on the prescription renewals so that when I show up at the pharmacy to pick up the meds I expect, there is often extra things like the codeine cough syrup he’s prescribed when I last had bronchitis, or the inhaler he prescribed one time when I got bronchitis and it didn’t respond to the first antibiotic, or the corticosteroid nasal spray he keeps recommending for my allergies or when I get a sinus infection. So I wind up telling them I don’t actually need several of them, but I have kept one unopened bottle of the nasal spray, just in case. I don’t like using it because when I have done so in the past I got very vivid and disturbing dreams for several days after. And by disturbing I don’t mean that they are bloody or horrific (usually) it’s just that they are so vivid that it takes many minutes after waking up in a panic before I can convince myself they aren’t real.

So the other night, when I conked out after dinner unexpectedly, I woke up to find the apartment full of smoke and my Mom was standing at the door, calling to me to come help her open it because and we needed to get out and where is Michael? And I jumped up from the recliner, stumbled over a filebox on the floor trying to get to my mom and the door and just as I’m opening my mouth to yell for Michael the smoke had vanished. Also, Mom (who hasn’t visited us in over 20 years because travel is difficult for her for various health reasons) had vanished. There was no smoke. There was no fire. There had been no Mom.

And the dream was so vivid that I went to the bathroom and dug out the box with the unopened bottle of the nasal spray just to confirm that I hadn’t opened it and used it when the sinus headache had been real bad the night before. I didn’t remember using it, but the dream really felt like one of those, so I thought maybe in the middle of the night, when I was half asleep and had been tossing and turning because of the headache I had given in and added the spray to the mix of allergy pills and over the counter cold medications I’d already taken.

And that was only the first day of the fever.

I haven’t used the spray, but I keep having the weird dreams. The next morning my alarm watch went off a few hours after my husband left for work (he leaves much earlier than I even want to wake up). I often wake up briefly while he is getting ready for work. I may mumble, “I love you” or “Good morning” to him as I stumble to the bathroom and then back to bed. Sometimes I just try to wake up enough to say something to him and don’t succeed. Also I often wake up briefly once or twice before my alarm goes off, note that I still have more time to sleep, and roll over. But back to the alarm: The alarm was ringing and Michael is calling from the next room that I should turn off the alarm and asking if I’m going to try to go into the office or call in sick. And I get up and stumble out to the room where my Apple watch is on its charger to turn it off and I ask Michael, “What are you doing here? Did you get to work, decide you were too sick, and come back home?”

And Michael didn’t answer. But now that I’d spoken aloud, that was enough to completely wake me up, and I’m standing in front of the watch in its charger. Its face is lit up showing me that there are still two minutes until the alarm will actually go off.

There have also been two dreams where I was somewhere in the city trying to remember where I had parked the car because I either needed to pick up Michael somewhere or I was trying to get away from someone who was trying to hurt us. And both of those ended with me awake, standing in front of the phone charger, trying to find the app on the phone that will help me find the car. One of the mornings I wasn’t actually holding my phone, I was holding the TV remote (which is normally on the shelf above the phone charger), but I swear a few seconds before it had been my phone. And yes, it was as if I watched it morph from phone to remote as I finished waking up.

The fact that when I’m having a nightmare I will get up, walk around, talk (sometimes yell), and so forth is one of the reasons that normally I don’t watch scary movies, by the way.

So I still haven’t actually used the spray. I’m of two minds: since I seem to already be having the side effect I least like, maybe I should go ahead. On the other hand, the spray might just make the weird dreams even worse.

And this gets me to two reasons why I shy away from writing dream sequences in my fiction. When I have tried to write them like the dreams I remember, the reaction from readers (at least the ones I hear from) is that the dream was more confusing than enlightening. When I tried to write them to have a bit more narrative flow, readers say they went on too long. Having had these reactions, I am not enthused when someone suggests that a dream sequence would better explain a particular mystical thing happening in one of my stories.

Besides trying to get work done while juggling regular meds, symptoms of this cold thing, extra meds, it’s been a bit of a struggle to remember to keep hydrates and get enough caffeine in me so that I don’t wind up with a caffeine-deprivation headache on top of everything else. You would think that coffee, of all things, would be something I didn’t have to remind myself to drink, but you would be wrong.

I hope I’m well sooner rather than later.

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More adventures in managing light

“Somedays you just have to create your own sunshine.”

(click to embiggen)

I’m continuing to never quite having the time or energy to finish more serious posts. This week one complication is that what seemed to be several worse-than-usual hay fever days in a row turned into a full-blown cold with fever, body aches, sore throat, and significant loss of energy. One of those symptoms that can be either bad hay fever or signs of an actual viral infection is red, swollen eyes. They can be bad enough that it hurts to be in a well-lit room—let alone in a brightly lit room where I’m required to stare at a computer screen for hours. On such days, whether it turns out to be a cold or not, I’m grateful for the option to work from home. I can make progress toward my work deadlines while sitting in a dark room with the laptop screen brightness turned way down.

That’s not the only light management I do.

Work from home days have been different in that regard since moving to the new place. At our previous residence, because all the windows had heavy, lined curtains, and because almost every window was in a location where random passersby could see everything if the curtains were open, the curtains stayed closed in most of the rooms all the time. No matter how bright the sunlight was outside, the living room tended to be the same level of dimness.

The new place has an open floor plan, and more windows that shed light into the living room/kitchen/dining room space, And since all the windows are equipped with white vinyl blinds rather than the thick curtains, if the sun is out, a lot of light gets into the room. There’s a point some mornings when for about 15-20 minutes the sun lights up perfectly with a gap in the trees east of the house, and the closed blinds are almost like a bright spotlight. When those sunny days coincide with bad hay fever days, I have a considerably more difficult time avoiding pain in the eyes.

On overcast or rainy days the amount of light from outside is considerably less, making it easier to manage light.

When it is sunny outside, people often suggest that I should go out and enjoy the sunlight. When I explain that even if I’m not having a bad hay fever day that bright sunlight hurts my eyes1, people express skepticism. Plus a tendency to skin cancer also runs on one side of my family4, and since I have now had one small tumor that had to be removed from my forehead, I am under additional medical orders to never go outside without wearing a hat with a broad enough brim to fully shade my face and neck.

And it’s not just the doctor’s orders. That lack of pigment in the retinas? If I get more than brief bits of sunlight without UV sunglasses, my eyes start hurting because of the burnt retinas. And when the retina burns, it kicks off the release of mneurochemicals which make me drowsy, but it I need to stay wake, that means that I just get that “I should have gone to bed hours ago” headache along with the crankiness and decreased ability to concentrate.

Explaining this to someone who has never experienced it almost always turns into an adventure of, “but what about? And what about?” Not to mention the expressions of pity—it’s not sympathy about my medical issues, it is definitely pity that I don’t enjoy sunlight the same way they do. And there’s frequently a hint of disbelief. As if I could tolerate sunlight if only a wanted to.

Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy sunlight, I just have to have it filtered. I’m perfectly happy outside if I have my hat and my UV-blocking sunglasses that wrap around the sides, and can get into shade when I want. I just don’t look forward to it the same way that other people do. Think of it as the intense cold winter of places like Manitoba or north Wisconsin. As pretty as snow is to look it, needing to take all those precautions to avoid frostbite can dampen one’s enthusiasm for the weather.

Days like today when I have a fever, my eyes are red, and my sinuses are congested and sore, I like sitting in a dark room. I’m happy. It isn’t gloomy in here, it is pain-free.


Footnotes:

1. I have no pigment in my retinas2 and am actually under medical orders never to go out in the daytime, even on overcast days, without UV blocking sunglasses, because your retinas can get sunburnt3.

2. A not uncommon thing in blue-eyed people.

3. The first time an opthamologist told me that I was surprised as can be! “Your retinas are sunburnt right now,” she said, peering into my eyes during the exam.

4. Also not that uncommon in those of us whose most recent ancestors came from northern Europe and thus whose natural skin color is pasty pale5.

5. I have been known to point out that my skin isn’t actually white, it’s very pale pink with blue highlights6.

6. Unless I have been out in the sun at all lately, at which point my skin will be either bright pink or very red. After which it will fade back to the pale bluish pink but with more freckles. My skin appears to be utterly incapable of tanning.

Words, Pictures, and Thoughts

Once again, I’ve gathered a lot more images as possible illustrations of blog posts than I have managed to use. Here’s a few that need to be shared:

“When you boss's income has risen 937% since 1978 and yours has increased by only 5.7%, it's time to stop blaming minorities for your woes.” —David Yankovich

“When your boss’s income has risen 937% since 1978 and yours has increased by only 5.7%, it’s time to stop blaming minorities for your woes.” —David Yankovich

“Quick note: your brutal honesty? Ain't nobody asking for that. “Where is you clever honesty? Your compassionate honesty? Your insightful honesty? Uplifting? Poetic? Empowering? “Take your brutal honesty and go sit in the back with all the devil's advocates.” —Quinn Murphy

“Quick note: your brutal honesty? Ain’t nobody asking for that.
“Where is you clever honesty? Your compassionate honesty? Your insightful honesty? Uplifting? Poetic? Empowering?
“Take your brutal honesty and go sit in the back with all the devil’s advocates.”
—Quinn Murphy

As one friend likes to point out, everyone who claims to be brutally honesty seems much more interested in the brutality than the honesty.

“Trump Evangelicals: 'The President's sex life is between him and God. It's not our business.' “Thenwhis is the sex, marriage, or poopy-time of LGBTQ folks your business? Why are you so fanatically engrossed in the whereabouts and goings on of other people's pants parts?” —Silence Dugud

“Trump Evangelicals: ‘The President’s sex life is between him and God. It’s not our business.’
“Then why is the sex, marriage, or poopy-time of LGBTQ folks your business? Why are you so fanatically engrossed in the whereabouts and goings on of other people’s pants parts?” —Silence Dugud

I become more and more convinced that no one who claims to be advocating for morality understands what morals actually are.

“Trump in West Virginia: 'In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to so 'oh, that's a conspiracy theory.' Not a conspiracy theory folks. Millions and millions of people.' This is an insidiuous lie. Tens of millions of people now incorrectly believe voter fraud is a widespread problem. It's not. George W. Bush's Department of Justice studied it and found it occurs on 0.00000013% of ballots. Another recent study found 31 cases across a billion ballots from 2000 to 2014.”

“Trump in West Virginia: ‘In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to so ‘oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory folks. Millions and millions of people.’
This is an insidiuous lie. Tens of millions of people now incorrectly believe voter fraud is a widespread problem. It’s not. George W. Bush’s Department of Justice studied it and found it occurs on 0.00000013% of ballots. Another recent study found 31 cases across a billion ballots from 2000 to 2014.” —Brian Klaas

“My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which on is the President.” A news still of Trump on the balcony of the White House with a person in an Easter Bunny costume while the President was shooting off his mouth with more nonsense. “My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which on is the President.”

“My favorite part of this is they felt the need to specify which one is the President.”

I saw another person sharing the video to the President’s weird Easter comments and they noted, “My new hero is the cameraman who kept the bunny in the shot the entire time.”

Friday Five (that explains a lot edition)

“Studies found that at least 40% of police officer's families, including Chief Charles Herford's, experience domestic violence, compared to 10% of the general public.”

This is the real reason why lawmakers won’t make it illegal for domestic abusers to have guns. IF they did that, they’d have to fire nearly half the cops in the country! (click to embiggen)

It’s already April. When did that happen?

Last weekend we were at NorWesCon and it was the first time I’d taken vacation since Christmas. I had a great time at the convention. When I got back to work this week and went to log into the company network it took me a while to remember my password. I take that as a sign that the vacation fulfilled its purpose. Unfortunately the insane deadlins are still lined up ahead of my and it’s a constant scramble to hit the next one. But my boss paid me a great compliment this week—she mentioned that I was one of the members of the department who don’t actually need supervision, and specifically said that I always meet the customer deadlines no matter how impossible they look. But enough about that…

It’s Friday, and so I bring you the Friday Five: This week you get the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, plus the top five stories of interest to queer people, and top five videos (plus notable obituaries and a recap of my blog posts).

Stories of the Week:

Dinosaur tracks on Skye ‘globally important’.

The Whitewashing of King’s Assassination: The death of Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t a galvanizing event, but the premature end of a movement that had only just begun.

Little Free Libraries Are Turning Into Ground Zero for Religious Proselytizing. “It’s not censorship, it’s curating.”

Police domestic violence nearly twice average rate.

How ableism affects a book review.

For Queers and Allies:

Anti-LGBTQ activist angry at ‘Love, Simon’ for showing a positive image of gays.

Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong: And another, smaller injustice was obscured: the sadistic prosecution of Noor Salman.

Maryland Lawmakers Ban Gay Conversion Therapy.

Anti-transgender discrimination loses in Alaska vote.

Judge Dismisses Homophobe’s Lawsuit Claiming Rainbow Flags Are Religious Symbols.

In Memoriam:

Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli Co-Founder and ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ Director, Dies at 82 — Report.

Remembering the Life of the Hilarious, Hardworking Seattle Comedian, Peggy Platt.

Things I wrote:

No one likes a bully.

Happy Easter!

Camp NaNoWriMo and the continuing adventure of resetting.

NorWesCon 41 Report — Professor Plum in the hall with the selfie stick.

Videos!

Dr. Evil Gets Fired from Trump’s Cabinet:

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Trump Sends National Guard to the Border, Attacks Amazon: A Closer Look:

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Bravo, Edna – Incredibles 2:

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Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Official Trailer ft. Michael B. Jordan & Michael Shannon | HBO:

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Natti Vogel – BROWN RICE feat. Matthew Wilkas:

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NorWesCon 41 Report — Professor Plum in the hall with the selfie stick

(click to embiggen)

The very first NorWesCon I attended wasn’t actually a NorWesCon—it was called Alternacon in 1987 because some really weird things had happened at the now notorious NorWesCon 9 the year before. The convention hotel canceled the subsequent contract and the committee scrambled to put together a convention at a smaller hotel the next year and chose to temporarily rename the convention. In any case, from 1987 through 2012 I never missed a NorWesCon. For a few of those conventions (1993, 1994, and 1995) I only attended for a single day, but I managed to make at least an appearance at every one up until NorWesCon 35. For a variety of reasons (some of which will be mentioned below) my husband and I chose to skip NorWesCon 36 and 37 before resuming for 38 and 39. We had planned to attend last year, but that was before our old apartment building was sold—between needing to find a new place to live, dealing with my husband’s surgery, packing, and actually moving, we wound up cancelling our plans to attend NorWesCon 40 at the last minute.

This year my husband was on convention staff. I didn’t have any obligations—no fan table to run, no panels that I was on (it’s been years since I was an attending pro at NorWesCon), and I wasn’t on staff. Read More…

Camp NaNoWriMo and the continuing adventure of resetting

Reset buttonCamp NaNoWriMo is underway, sponsored by the same people who do National Novel Writing Month. Camp happens in April and July each year with far more nebulously defined goals that NaNoWriMo’s big word count target. For camp, you set your own goals. Often people use camp to edit something already written, or to write something shorter than a novel, or to get out of a rut of non-productivity. Because of the camp metaphor, participants are encouraged to join a cabin, which is really just a small on-line chat. You can let yourself be randomly assigned to a cabin, or you can set up a private cabin and invite your friends, or you can join someone else’s private cabin.

I like having the expectation that I’ll publish my word-count (or number of words revised, or what ever) regularly and having at least a few people to kibbitz and commiserate with. My attempts at Camp have had a varying degree of success.

Anyway, part of my Camp NaNoWriMo project for this month is to implement some of the new things and changes that I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been revising my goals. I wrote earlier about why I hadn’t posted a list of goals for the year, nor posted monthly updates. The summary is that I’ve been writing private checklists each month, and so far each of those checklists has included at least one item about better defining my long terms goals. The list of long term goals is shaping up, though there are some details I haven’t quite finalized.

I am still using the model of attempting to replace a bad habit with a better habit. I’m also trying to redirect where I’m expending my energy and attention. I’ve been cutting back a bit on my Twitter activity, for instance. Another more obvious change is that I’ve replaced the labor-intensive Friday Links weekly post with a much easier to assemble Friday Five post.

When I start posting monthly updates on my goals, the posts are likely to be put up on Patreon, rather than here. I’m still figuring out how much and where other things I post a lot (such as my Writing Advice posts or my Why I Love SF/F posts) should be posted/cross-posted and how to manage that without it eating up more time than I’m freeing elsewhere.

I hope to finish a longish NorWesCon Convention report to post here this week. There is at least one movie review and one book review about half finished that should go up soon, too.

So that’s what is happening here. If you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo, especially if you’re interested in joining my Cabin, leave a comment here, or send me a message on twitter, or send me an email with the Contact Me page here—or if you already have another way to ping me use that.

Let’s get writing!

Happy Easter!

Some bunnies!

More bunnies!

Easter is for everyone!

Whether you’re celebrating this as a holy day, or a holiday to eat chocolate, or a fertility rite to welcome spring, or if you just like bunnies, I hope you have a wonderful Easter!

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