The Writing

15 January, 2017

blood in the eye

I woke up today to a burst blood vessel in my right eye. I thought at first, oh shit! Conjunctivitis! But then no, upon examination, that redness had a definite origin-point.

I am not a huge fan of baring personal weakness. (I was going to say in public. But really: at all.) But I'm gonna cop to this one, right now: blood in eyeballs. Bloody eyeballs. EYEBALL BLOOD.

So first thing, no coffee, barely any sentience, and I'm looking at blood in my own eye. I try to look closer, because I'm curious, and I know the eye is not bleeding, not really, and I am not going to die, and I can see fine, and there's no reason to freak.

Reason, however, has little place in my physiological reactions. Almost immediately, I feel nauseous. Two deep breaths later, and I realize the whole breathing thing's getting tough, and also the balance thing, and also there's a freight train in my head.

I am the person who can look at open heart surgery, at my own wounds, at Peter Watts' photo-chronicle of his flesh eating fucking bacteria, no problem. I can gut myself through damn near anything that happens to me, too.

But it's becoming rapidly clear to me that I'm losing this round. All the steady breathing in the galaxy isn't helping. My vision's going all tunnely. I weigh the wisdom of fainting in the bathroom and cracking my skull open on the sink or the toilet  (and scaring my husband to death), or trying to get somewhere softer. I know I should sit down. But on the off-chance this is an actual stroke or a heartattack or something lethal, damned if I'd die sitting on the toilet. Besides. The spouse won't wake up for a while. If I collapse on or near him, he would. So.

I'm sitting there on the edge of the bed next to a snoring husband, all over cold sweat, like soaked, with two hungry and thus very attentive cats circling, head between my knees, hands on the ground, breathing as deep and slow as I can, thinking, what the actual fuck, body! Stop it!

I am also thinking: remember how this feels. This is writing material. 

And so: I have made little flirtatious passes at the mirror all morning. Is it getting better? Is it spreading? Is it worse? Each time, I am forced to retreat and breathe. Now that the spouse IS awake, I can't take refuge where he is. I must slink out here, put my head down, and breathe. (Because while he has sympathy, having experienced vasovagal shock himself once before, he'll say 'why are you doing a thing that makes you want to fall down? Stop it.) He is probably right.

Sometimes I need to remember: however formidable my will, however much control I can exert over my body, I am still a big bag of chemicals, and there are some things I don't get to control. Sometimes the body wins.

Look for all of this in a future novel.

07 January, 2017

achievements unlocked

Skugga, temporarily earthbound
Skugga has discovered the top of the kitchen cabinet. He was eyeing it this morning, mrping under his breath, which is never a good sign. It means he's thinking.

And then--thump, I hear, from my vain attempt to chase wordcount this morning.

What is that? I inquire, and the spouse says, It came from the kitchen.

And lo! Perched 7 feet above the floor, beside the cat carrier (kept high and out of sight, to spare delicate Louhi the horror of seeing it), is Skugga, looking down at me anxiously. Like, I shouldn't be up here, should I? This is like not being on the counters squared, isn't it? Are you going to yell?

I did not yell. I stared at him until, still mrping under his breath, he jumped back down and found somewhere else to be.

The athleticism of cats, man. The counter's already 3 feet off the ground. Then from there, another 4 to the top. I'm impressed. I'm also hoping he doesn't knock anything over up there. The cat carrier is soft-sided, fine if it falls. The extra beer growlers, not so much.

Another achievement unlocked: my SFWA membership was approved. If that seems odd, me writing that under the bit about my cat's jumping adventures, it's because I don't know what to say. I mean, it's a big deal to me. A huge deal. It marks in my mind that I'm actually here, now, a professional in the field that matters most to me. And yet--I am no more, or less, of a writer today than I was yesterday. (Less, actually. Yesterday I managed to get shit written. Today, I am posting pictures of cats. So.) I don't know if I should feel more legitimate or not, but... I do. I also feel like I've gotten myself somewhere totally cool and that someone's going to notice me up there any minute and come stare me back down.

23 December, 2016

flashing back

Skugga and Louhi are havin' none of your toadshit

Leggings. Half-shirts. Shiny spandex worn in public. I mean, it's so totally the 80s, like, omg! I'm just waiting for the Aquanet hair sculptures to return.Except wait, that's right! Climate change. No more Aquanet.

I understand that folks sometimes get nostalgic for their high school years, and I say that in the same way I'd say 'I understand that some people like brussels sprouts.' I don't get it. It's a phenomena that just doesn't grab me. I occasionally substitute teach at a high school. They're great kids. Artsy and smart and engaged and all that. And I remember, being around them, what high school was like.

(No way in hell would I want to go back to that. No, no. Nonononono.)

I think part of the reason people feel nostalgic for those teenage years is everything seemed, oh, so new. Fresh. First love! First sex! No taxes! No mortgage! It's that teetering point of adulthood without all the adult responsibility (and I recognize here the privilege I assume, but I also don't think people pine for high school who weren't privileged). I met my best friend in high school. Played my first D&D. Still play with that same best friend every other week or so, 1200 miles from where we started. High school kinda marks out who we're going to become. Maybe who we don't want to be. I think there's comfort to be had in going back to that place: with music, with movies, whatever. (With clothes, too, evidently, but never mind that.)

And okay, fine. Look backwards, if that's your thing, and walk butt-first into the future.

But. (Butt! Okay, stop.) Here's the thing about high school. We can't be that person again. We can't go back there, and recreate who we were, and relive all that newness or whatever the hell it was. We can only remember, with all of the imperfection inherent in memories.

The people I do judge are the ones who try to recreate who they were. Like, jesus, just stop already. You can't roll back 25 years of living and reset How Things Were. You don't get a second chance to win the championship or ace the test or be popular or make everyone love you. Whatever anxiety you think being young again's going to solve--well, it's not. Listen to your Def Leppard and put the hair spray down and do not, repeat, not, start singing the school fight song.

I went to high school during Cold War. My dad was military. I spent chunks of my childhood on nuclear missile bases. My dad took my brownie troop on a tour of, among other things, a B-52 bomber. I knew that, should there be a launch, we'd die early. The bases were targets. My mother told me once that dying immediately would be better than surviving a nuclear winter. She meant, I think, to be comforting. She and my father also assured me, as I got old enough to start figuring out what was actually at stake in this nuclear stand-off between NATO and the USSR, that WWIII would be conventional. No way, they said, that the Soviets want to destroy the world. The US doesn't either.

That, too, was meant to be a comfort. It wasn't. I imagined international politics like a pair of cats circling each other, arched and fluffed and stiff-tailed and snarling. Mostly noise. Mostly posturing. But maybe not. There could be blood and fur left in swaths on the carpet. Upended furniture. Because who knows, with cats?

This morning, I got out Dream of the Blue Turtles and played "Russians" and "We Work the Black Seam." I felt that old anxiety again. I wondered what jacked-up memory someone must have to want to go back to that. Or what massive, gaping hole of anxiety would be filled by rebuilding a nuclear arsenal.

I watched my cats posture and fluff and circle each other.

And then something happened--some twitch, some signal to which I was not privy--and Louhi bolted. Skugga charged after her. Landed on her. There was rolling, and flying fur, and some snarling on Louhi's part. No blood. Skugga let her go, responding again to some cue or whim invisible to me.

Because who knows, with cats?