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January 2017

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Jan. 4th, 2017

bear by san

sequence of events:


  1. Discover burned out microwave light

  2. Fuck around for two months

  3. Get screwdriver, remove light cover

  4. Remove burnt out light

  5. Discover no appropriate lightbulbs in house

  6. Order lightbulbs

  7. Leave light cover and screw on counter for four days

  8. Open package of ordered lights

  9. Install light

  10. Discover cover is greasy.

  11. Set screw down on gray and black granite counter

  12. Wash cover

  13. Put cover on light

  14. Cannot find screw

  15. Cannot find screw

  16. Cannot find screw

  17. Cannot find screw

  18. Go to toolshed, get thing of random screws

  19. Try similar size screws

  20. Find one that nearly fits

  21. Install light cover

  22. Take care of other household tasks

  23. Tell scott_lynch funny screw story when he gets up

  24. Sit down to tell internet funny screw story on laptop at kitchen counter

  25. Spot missing screw ten inches away on countertop



Yes, my counter needed cleaning. It was on the list. 

Jan. 2nd, 2017

criminal minds fate

don't don't don't let's start. i've got a weak heart.

Holy shit, how did I forget to listen to TMBG for so damned long? That was a terrible idea.

It's amazing how having kittens gives me something to blog about again. The giant ridiculous dog is wonderful and adorable and my best friend and walking buddy now that he's too old to run*, but he is a creature of steady habits, especially at the age of 11, and doesn't give me much to comment on: "Today we went for a walk and played kickball for ten minutes and pooped twice and had breakfast AND dinner AND cookies AND a piece of cheese, were teased by the cats, had a series of profoundly satisfying naps and were interested in a squirrel, briefly."

It's a dog's life. One day is pretty much like the next and they're not always noteworthy. Except when the ice hurts his poor feet, or I expect him to go outside and pee in the wet like some kind of barbarian, or he has the best day of his life and gets within six inches of actually catching that damned fat squirrel.

Six inches, Zack! I would have had him!

Kittens are still having adventures.

This morning's adventures started at 6:30 (roughly) with me getting up and realizing that there were no kitten noises in the usual places and no kittens on the bed, or in the guest bedroom where they sometimes hang out, depending on the availability of local sunbeams and the phase of the moon and other Important Kitten Reasons.

I walk down the hall to the bathroom. The bathroom is also where we feed kittens, and as soon as I entered its sacred precincts, I had two boy kittens on my heels. 6:30 am is not, however, the time of the feeding. We're not naive about what the result would be.

The boy kittens stayed in the bathroom. I walked back toward the bedroom, and saw that a door that should not be open was open. A door that leads to the downstairs, and several non-kitten-proofed rooms full of potentially hazardous and/or breakable objects and furniture that one could hide under indefinitely. Not to mention house plants, great for chewing on and excavating around and peeing in.

I saw that beyond that door, there was a stairs. And on that stairs was a Molly, looking freaked out as only a feral kitten that is outside her comfort zone can look.

I went back, and shut the bathroom door with the boy kittens inside. And said to Scott, who was in the office typing, which is, after all, what we do for a living, "Houston, we have a problem."

We found her under a futon in the front room, which was fine, and which has a door that opens onto the front hallway, which the kittens DO have access to generally speaking and which has a second stair to the upstairs, which is designated kitten territory. We opened the door to the front hall and closed the door to the rest of the downstairs, and Scott went upstairs to make sure the door that had been left open accidentally was closed so there wouldn't be a second escape.

I lay down on my stomach and stuck my head under the futon.

"Hello, Molly," says I. "Surely you want to go upstairs?"

The freaked out look intensifies.

I offer her a Magic Finger. You know the one.

She looks at it like it's a snake.

"THAT'S A SNEK!" says her.

I make sure I am physically between her and the hiding places it would be harder to retrieve her from. Slowly, I reach out, with the Molly Approved (occasionally, maybe) back-of-hand petting gesture. (Sometimes you're allowed to use the grabby side of the hand, but not always. Because Apes are horrible, and also Grabby.)

Molly says, "YOU WANT TO GRAB ME!" and skitters away. (Her primary form of movement is still skittering, though there has been a certain amount of sauntering and scampering recently. She really is coming around.)

Fortunately, she skitters through the open door into the front hall.

And freezes. And looks around, stunned. SHE IS NOT LOST FOREVER. THIS IS HER HALL. SHE BOUNCES GLITTER BALLS DOWN THE STAIRS. She relaxes. Her ears perk up. She looks around some more.

"I KNOW WHERE I AM!" says her.

And then Scott said, from upstairs, "The light is green," and I had to close the hall door really quick to keep her from running away back into the room I was in in a panic because a Horrible Ape said something in a moderately loud conversational tone three rooms away.

But now she's on the bed ignoring me, though there were no Morning Cuddles today. Horrible Ape. This Was All Your Fault Somehow.

Such is life with a semiferal.

Gurney, meanwhile, is a toddler. A very sweet toddler, not a tyranty one (that's Duncan), but a toddler nonetheless.

Gurney has a best toy, which is Mousie. Now, there are many mousies in this house. There are three different KINDS of sisal mousies. There are five other sisal mousies that are identical in every way to Mousie, except for being less battered and chewed on, and still having feather tails. Also Mousie is bright pink and hardly rattles anymore, and the other ones are yellow, green, blue, grey, etc.

Mousie is the toy Gurney plays fetch with. It is the toy he carries around and talks to in low tones and crouches over and won't let the other kittens play with. Mousie is his Friend.

He likes to take Mousie up to the broad, flat surface of the credenza in the bedroom, and bat Mousie around.

Today, Mousie fell behind the dresser. This was at 7:20, when I had just gotten back into bed after the Molly Experience, and was planning a little more rest before work started.

TRAGEDY! YODELING! PAWS FORLORNLY REACHING INTO THE GAP BEHIND THE DRESSER!

Gurney is NOT a semiferal, and you can tell this because when something goes TERRIBLY WRONG, he looks around, finds the nearest monkey, and demands we fix it. Well, NOTHING would do except I go get a yardstick and a flashlight and retrieve Mousie. At 7:30 am.
And then, once retrieved, he had to take it and jump up on the credenza again and start playing with it right where he lost it before
Now, "But mousie wants to be here" is the excuse I'm getting for him and mousie being loud on the bookshelf that serves as my night stand.
Mousie is very inconsiderate.

Here, in the aftermath of the morning's great trauma, is a picture of Gurney and Mousie, and Molly and Duncan too:



Here, Duncan has liberated Mousie, and is teasing Gurney with it. The offending credenza is in the background:


Mousie is a very important member of our household, as you can probably imagine.




*(and I've had to quit, at least for a while, because of a really stubborn tendon problem in my right foot. So I'm giving it a year to fix itself and then I either decide I'm not a runner anymore, or I look into surgery. La.)

Jan. 1st, 2017

bear by san

there's a power in that division, in that hour of revision



How a professional do.

Except now I gotta write the damned thing.
writing gorey earbrass unspeakable horro

tell 'em that it's human nature.

It's Patrons only, but the rough draft of the first scene of Rook and Ruin is up at my Patreon here.

You guys, I'm so excited about this story.

Dec. 31st, 2016

bear by san

stories break like branches in the cold

Well, that's sort of a draft, ish, of Rook and Ruin.

If it keeps that title. Who knows?

32,000 words, and the denouement is a bunch of pieces on the floor, two of the characters need to grow a real relationship, and there's one scene left to write, but it's done enough for now.

Now I'm going to take a shower and put my pjs on.

Dec. 30th, 2016

comics invisibles king mob

torturous waves. whisper from the grave.

Usually, my post-kitten morning routine goes like this:

Sometime between 6:45 and 7:20 am, I start to make moaning noises and twitch under the covers, as sunlight intrudes on the bedroom and I start to assume consciousness.

At this time, Gurney realizes that I am awake, and jumps up onto my shoulder or chest for cuddles. His brother Duncan soon follows, and eventually Molly turns up as well.

Today, when I rolled over, Duncan was on the foot of the bed, but the only kitten who wasn't too musy doing Important Kitten Things to come be petted was... the semiferal, Molly, who we have been working on for two months now to get her to accept being touched.

She settled cheerfully into the warm spot between Scott and me and started purring like a mad thing, poking my fingers with her paws, headbutting, and generally demanding to be cuddled and fussed over.

She was getting a bit pushier about getting her share of time and petting when the boys were climbing all over me, but this is the first time I've really been independently Molly-cuddled.

The boys showed up eventually, and then I had to spend about twenty minutes playing fetch with them (the boys play fetch, but only with specific toys. Duncan likes the plastic springs. Gurney has a particular sisal mousie that is HIS. It is the Best Mousie. Other mousies are mere shadows of the One True Mousie.)

Photo evidence of the amount of kitten fetch my life contains now:











Molly is not amused:



Or maybe she is. She has resting WE ARE NOT AMUSED FACE, so it's hard to tell.

Here are some cuddly boys:



I weighed the kjittens yesterday. With the boys, this just meant putting new batteries in the scale (they had worn out the old ones playing with the pretty lights), weighing myself, and then weighing myself plus each kitten. Molly, being semiferal, was a little more challenging.

I put the scale next to the food bowls and rattled the cat food bag. Once everybody was safely in the bathroom where the cats get fed, I closed the...

Molly, seeing the door close, MADE A BREAK FOR IT and ESCAPED. (I am a vile and perfidous Ape!) She slid through like MacGyver diving under a closing blast door, and I was left with two already-weighed boy kittens and their chorous of demand for crunchies. (Because our cats are mostly fed wet food, crunchies are a hardcore treat and in high demand around here.)

So I opened the door again and put food IN THE BOWLS this time.

Molly came trotting back and settled down by her bowl. (She has chosen the one closest to the door, natch, for fastest escapes.) I SHUT THE DOOR.

She was busy enough with the crunchies that she only glanced over.

She will allow herself to be petted while eating at this point, after long practice, as long as you make yourself small and don't loom over her (VILE TIPPY APE). So I crouched down on the scale, reached over, petted her, and very carefully lifted her six inches off the floor. Before she started to squirm, I managed to read the scale!

WIJKTORY!

Molly is 8 months, one week old (roughly) and 6.9 lbs. The boys are 6 months, 3 weeks old, and both are exactly 8 pounds. This keeps surprising me, because Gurney looks bigger--but he's long and rangy and very skinny, whereas Duncan is more compact.

And now, I need to go work on my novella. 
Tags:

Dec. 29th, 2016

bear by san

what I need, I just don't have...

Well, today was supposed to be a hugely productive day, which was largely derailed by an absolutely killer and pointless anxiety attack that I finally managed to get the better of about an hour ago. So now I feel less like I'm harboring a chestburster, but much more like I want to collapse in an exhausted heap--but I have not written nearly as much as I wanted to, so I'm going to go back and try to get some more. Because I really, really want a draft of this story by the end of the year, because god damn it, 2016, I will beat you.

I've got almost 27,000 words of it, though, and I don't think it will go to much more than 35, so that's still doable if I really dig in.

I've been writing first thing in the morning, mostly, which is nice and involves co-authors, but does involve eventually having to get out of bed and let the dog attend to his biological needs. Here are my coauthors helping this morning, however:



I moved to the living room after that so I could watch it snow more conveniently. The snow, alas, was a bit of a disappointment on the nor'easter front--our predicted 8-12 inches turned into about a wet inch and a half overnight. Well, at least we probably won't have to shovel much.

And we did get a fuzzy-tailed visitor. (Scott saw rabbits last night.)


Dec. 25th, 2016

bear by san

Happy Hollydog!

writing karen memory

KAREN MEMORY Book Club group read!

Karen Memory is the January 2017 selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club, so if you've been waiting to read it with friends, here's your big chance!

Here's a bonus photto of me and Ace, and a bonus kitten. Because I know what you guys are really here for.




And now I have to get up and put a goose in the oven and walk a dog, when I really want to stay in bed and write for a while longer.

Dec. 24th, 2016

ascii frog by Jean Seok

snow can wait. i forgot my mittens.

(Reposted from Patreon)

The caper in this caper story I'm writing kind of vanished.

I had too many genre savvy characters who went, oh it's a caper, and got on with their lives.  So now it's more of a character-driven adventure, without all the who's-zooming-who.

I got stuck three times writing the first thirty pages of it, went back and started over, and you know, it just didn't want to go into the shape I had planned. Eventually, I decided I would rather have a finished story than the story I had planned on it being, and got with the program. Now I'm averaging six pages a day and expect a draft before the New Year.

Stories are kind of like relationships. You can try to force them to be a thing, and break them, and make everybody wind up unhappy.

Or you can let them be what they are, and enjoy them, and realize that sometimes you have to let go of your control issues and let things just be.

Dec. 23rd, 2016

bear by san

the mouse police never sleeps

Time for more kitten pictures. It's a wonder I ever get anything done, what with kittens being so adorable.












This morning's wrestlewashing session pleased everyone.
Tags:

Dec. 21st, 2016

bear by san

i don't like hellfire and you get seasick

Current state of the work is: efforts to combat distractions. Because life is full of things that need doing, and it's easy to get distracted from the actual job of putting stories into pixels, I've been writing in the morning before I get out of bed. This involves a certain amount of typing around the kitten swarm, but has the double benefit of Actually Getting The Words Done, and also making me feel good about myself for the rest of the day.

So there's that. I did the first round of revisions on the short story yesterday, and I'm increasingly happy with it. It's called "What Someone Else Does Not Want Printed," which is, as you might know, the second half of an Orwell quote.

More on its disposition when I can.

Also, I just posted two links to podcast interviews (both of them with Scott Lynch as well as me) over on my Patreon.

Next project is seeing if I can get a few more words on Rook and Ruin, which is the possibly final title of the Karen Memory novella I'm working on. I think it's finally coming together--I have to figure out a bit of social engineering to make the caper work.

Capers are hard.

But with a little luck I'll get myself back into the discipline of working and creating every day.

When it feels like the world is burning, sing. 

Dec. 18th, 2016

bear by san

the holy and the broken hallelujah



Now, you may ask yourself, what exactly is this bottle of Devil's Tongue habanero-infused olive oil doing tucked beside the radiator?

Well, friends, it's cold enough in this ancient house that the olive oil had solidified, making it difficult to decant for holiday gifts.

Radiators, however, are warm.
Tags:

Dec. 17th, 2016

always winter

brown paper packages tied up with strings

Let's talk about cats, baby.

So scott_lynch and I have adopted three kittens: Molly, Duncan, and Gurney, variously known as The Swarm, the Breakfast Mafia, and Mayken, Inc. They've been with us for a little over a month now, and they're pretty great, frankly. They have a twitter feed at @kjittens if that's your sort of thing.

Duncan and Gurney are littermates, about six months now. They're cuddly purrbeasts who like to supervise everything. Duncan is black with some messy white splashes that make him look like he's been in his tuxedo on a long night out drinking with Cole Porter as played by Kevin Kline. He's a tidy little beast with an anime nose. Gurney is rangier and seems to be a solid gray until the light hits him and you realize that he's actually a broken-stripe mackerel tabby whose markings are in two almost similar shades of gray, except one is more silvery and one is more matte.

Molly is a stocky dilute tortie, and a semiferal. She's about a month older than the boys--seven months now--and we're working very hard to warm her up to humans. Slowly, slowly: she will occasionally allow petting now. If you are lying down under a blanket and don't make eye contact. Or if she's busy eating and you scrunch down and make yourself small.

This is a major victory, because she's basically a slightly less angry version of Shadow Unit's Angry Kitteh come to life. She's more of a Skittery Kitteh.

She came into rescue after being netted on a street in New Jersey, and somehow was lucky enough to make it from a city animal control shelter there to the cat rescue in Connecticut that we contacted when looking for kittens. They housed her with the two boys, and the three bonded firmly enough that it would have been kind of monstrous to break them up. So we have three cats.

The GRD is still not, and never will be, catsafe, so we have a divided house again. Containment protocols! Fortunately, it's an old house with a lot of doors.

So many doors.

Here are some pictures of kittens!Collapse )
bear by san

(no subject)

The adventure of a lifetime! ...now with squirrels.

(reposted from Patreon)



This is Ace. Ace is a dog, fondly known on the internets as the Giant Ridiculous Dog.

He's a Briard, which is a French shepherd breed.

Ace loves a few things in life: walks, cheese, car rides, carrying stuffies around the house, herding sheep, his soccer ball, and chasing squirrels. He's had a vendetta against all squirreldom since one bounced an acorn off his head back in 2009.

He has not forgotten.

Today, as we were going outside to play some kickball in the fresh snow, Ace ran over to the large lilac bush that dominates our dooryard. He had located a miscreant squirrel lurking in the bush--no doubt calculating how to get to the bird feeder on the porch roof, which is what squirrels spend 95% of their processing power on.

The squirrel, who was safely high in the rather large bush, made an extremely poor life choice. It decided to jump down and run for it.

The reason this was such a poor life choice is that, as you can see, there is approximately one squerrel's depth of snow on the ground currently.

The pursuit was on! My own little patch of BBC, with the David Attenborough replaced by me yelling at the dog to "Leave it!" at the top of my lungs while lunging after him, the squirrel floundering through five inch drifts, and the dog--soccer ball still in his mouth!--in hot if slidy pursuit.

Spoiler, the squirrel lived to pass its poor judgment on to its offspring.

The fluffy little rodent made it to the driveway that our semi-feral plow guy (more on him later) had plowed not five minutes before, and finally got some acceleration as it headed for the pine trees on the other side. The dog tripped on the berm the semi-feral plow guy had left at the edge of the asphalt, and tripped... soccer ball still in his mouth.

And I caught up with him a half-second later.

Then we had to play a game where he checked EVERY SINGLE BUSH on the property for rodents before he'd agree to come play kickball, which was the original purpose of the exercise.

So about that plow guy. He sort of came with the house, you see. The previous owners opined that he was somewhat erratic, but they weren't sure how to make him stop. Or even get him to reliably cash checks for his services.

Sometimes he does a great job. Sometimes he plows about half the driveway and wanders off. He's nice, though, and when you basically live in an episode of Newhart, you kind of have to roll with the punches and accept the hand you're dealt.

Dec. 5th, 2016

sf sapphire and steel winning

Happy Holly Dog!

Nov. 17th, 2016

bad girls firefighters

how can the angels get to sleep when the devil leaves his porch light on?

So let's talk a little bit about the long con, and about the career of Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump (tm). Let's talk about how he actually makes his money.

Hint: It's not by developing successful properties and making a long-term killing off rents, fees, and providing services.

It's not by creating wealth. It's not even by running successful casinos and getting suckers to forget that the house always wins.

Nope.

It's by getting other people to invest money in a project, slapping his name on it, making a huge fuss about how great it is using his (to me inexplicable) charisma and salesmanship, siphoning off as much cash as he quickly can, allowing the project to fail, writing it off at a loss, and allowing his creditors to take the bath on it--including small businesses that could ill-aford such a loss.

(Fun fact: the Mob put that hit out on Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel because he didn't prevent contractors from siphoning money and materials out of the Flamingo Hotel project, did you know that?)

Long story short: his business partners take a bath, and he walks away with his pockets jingling (though they don't jingle as much as he claims. That roll of hundreds is fluffed out with newspaper cut to size, metaphorically speaking.) There's a reason he can't get a loan from a U.S. bank anymore; as a result, there's pretty good reason to think a bunch of his projects are funded by members of the Russian kleptocracy.*

So some people can learn how to avoid a con artist after he's hit them once. But apparently, 46% of U.S. voters can't spot a scam even when the evidence is right there.

...well, it is really hard to break up with a gaslighting abuser. You really start not knowing what is real, and you start to feel like it's all your fault. And this is how con artists work, too. You need them! They're going to give you the break you really deserve, that you somehow never got before!

He's a great businessman, right? He's going to build the U.S. economy. It's going to be HUGE, because this time will be different or something?

Did you know that Trump has already charged U.S. taxpayers $1.6 million for his Secret Service detail to fly on his plane with him? Or that his campaign paid his own businesses close to ten million dollars?

Guess who the business partner is who's getting their pocket picked this time?

Based on the rule that whatever Trump claims his enemies are doing, it's what he's up to himself, I'd say his businesses were failing again ("failing New York Times") and this time he had nowhere left to turn, because he'd bilked his way around the globe. I'd say that the election was rigged--rigged in the sense that it was influenced by a Russian-backed hacking and disinformation campaign. And I'd say that this man who ran, laughably, against "insider corruption" is about to depose the Grant administration as the most corrupt in U.S. history.

My only question at this point is whether sometime between Dec 19th (when the electoral college confirms the vote) and Jan 20th (Inauguration day), the Russian intelligence apparatus releases information to delegitimize the election and with the goal of making the U.S. completely ineffectual in containing their adventurism due to internal strife, or if Putin tries to run Trump like a hand puppet for the next four years.

They must have something really juicy on him, too, because he's stuck by his oligarchic allies so far, and this is a man who has never once hesitated to throw an ally under the bus the instant it suited him.

Yep. This is gonna get ugly, and not just because we're staring down the barrel of a bunch of freshly empowered homophobic, misogynistic white supremacists.

Hold onto your hats. 
sf sapphire and steel winning

(no subject)

Here is the text of the letter I just sent to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, because I thought people might like to see it, in case they want to write their own.


17 November 2016

Governor Charlie Baker
Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133


Dear Governor Baker,

I am a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a registered voter therein. I am writing to inform you that I, along with many of your constituents, am extremely concerned about your call to wait and see, to give President-Elect Trump a chance to prove himself.

Meanwhile, the President-Elect's surrogates, such as Carl Higbie, begin the work of arguing the case that one of America's greatest modern shames, the detention of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II, constitutes a legal precedent for the forced registration of Muslims in the United States.

Sir, Massachusetts takes great pride in its history of being at the forefront in the struggle for liberty and civil rights. We were the second state in the Union to abolish slavery; we were the home of President John Quincy Adams, who argued for the freedom of the Amistad rebels before the Supreme Court; we were the home of his mother, Abigail Adams, who argued for the right of women to vote from the inception of the Union. We were the first state to offer the full protection of the law to same-sex marriage.

Boston is home to the Freedom Trail; it is here that the first shot of the American Revolution was fired. It is the city that responded to a gross act of terrorism, the Boston Marathon bombing, with strength, courage, and the rule of law.

Our Constitution, written chiefly by President John Adams (there's that family again) is the oldest functioning written constitution still in effect in the world. It served as a model for the United States Constitution, and the Declaration of Rights it contains serves as a model for the first ten Amendments to that United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, which most Americans hold sacred.

That Declaration of Rights contains the following words:

Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Article II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiments, provided he doth not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious worship.

Governor Baker, I call upon you to adhere to the founding principles of our Commonwealth. I call upon you to follow the basic dictates of human beings of good conscience. I call upon you for a display of character and valiance in keeping with the better history of Massachusetts, and the legacy we must strive to preserve.

I call upon you to join in leadership with the Legislature of the State of California and the Governor of the State of New York, and to publicly disavow any such attempt to shamefully and illegally detain American citizens and legal immigrants on the basis of their religion and culture alone.

That cowardice, sir, is beneath us. Do not shame us before the world. Let us again be a model for the nation, as we unequivocally say no to racism, to fascism, to bigotry, and to fear.

Nov. 14th, 2016

sf sapphire and steel winning

there is a crack in everything. that's how the light gets in.

It's been a while, livejournal, but I think I have something to say again, so I'm back.

On fear:

A lot of you are really scared right now.

I get that. I'm scared too. I'm scared in the way that tells me that there is no safe space in the world for somebody like me. That my civil rights, my freedom of speech, my very personal safety are under assault.

We feel homeless, hypervigilant, and downright panicky.

Some of you have never felt scared in this particular way before, and don't know how to manage it. It's new, because of the way the kyriarchal system we live under has previously insulated you from this kind of existential terror.

For some of us, though, it's old hat. We have coping strategies. We have the knowledge that we've been through this kind of existential terror before, and we made it, and the world got better after a while.

(This is how it works. Remember when you feel that despair that we are fighting from a foundation now. We have to defend the hill, for certain. Our forbears in the quest for civil rights for all had to build the damned hill, often out of their own bodies, and then fight their way up it.)

So here's what's important. We who know this feeling of terror and despair, who know how to live iwth it, work through it, dig in and hold the door--we need to be as kind as we can manage to our allies who have not experienced it before. We need to remember that in the long run that experience will increase their empathy. It will make them better allies for us as well.

We need to understand that it's going to take them a little longer to process their despair and grief and fear than those of us who feel the anxiety spike and go "Well, this again."

We need to, because we need them right now. We need all hands on deck, every last one from ship's cook to cabin girl.

We need compassion for each other, and we need to set aside our differences and work together against a greater threat--to our civil liberties, our freedom of speech, our very personal safety. We cannot afford to be cut out of the herd group by group, set against one another on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion, skin color, ethnic affiliation, moral purity, or anything else.

These guys have been feeling that same existential fear, you know, and they're not used to it either: the fear that their way of life is vanishing, that they are losing power and influence and control. It's an existential battle to them, and they think they have to destroy us or drive us underground again in order to continue to exist.

These guys hate us all. And if we do not hang together, we shall surely all hang separately.

Apr. 5th, 2016

superhuman

i got a pocket full of can't-be-wrong...

I am in the weird situation of being pleased to have been awakened by the phone this morning, because it popped me out in the middle of a really awesome superhero dream (a rare one, with narrative and a through line) and I'm so happy that I remember it now.

In the dream, I'm Jennifer Walters (otherwise known as the Savage/Sensational She-Hulk, esq.), and I'm standing in a big open room in a government office type building with Wonder Woman and another female super hero. (I don't remember who the other one was. Yes, it must be a Marvel/DC crossover) It must be the '80s, because I'm complaining about how NATO gets all the good superheroes (Captain America, Superman) and the Eastern Bloc nations are stuck with losers like The Red Scare. (Who was a very tongue-in-cheek Tick villain, so it must be a Marvel/DC/NEC crossover, come to think of it.)

A ruckus starts up outside. Sounds of combat, car alarms. I Hulk out, and try to run and jump through the window to get down to the fight. (We're several stories up, but hey, that's just an opportunity in the dream for an iconic superhero action crouch landing!) But for some reason, when I hit the window, instead of shattering, it stretches around me elastically and sort of snaps me back. Wonder Woman grouses about the "goddamn superhero-proof glass" on these new government buildings. (NB, I don't think Diana would actually say "goddamn.")

I say, "No problem," and run through the cement support instead. It's like running through thick yogurt: it just kind of pushes out of the way. It's good being a Hulk.

I jump and land. As I look up, I see a sprawling superhero battle. I also see workers engaged in wrapping the building I just exited in another layer of superhero-proof glass, which looks like a giant roll of that shipping cling film they use to palletize stuff.

That's when the phone woke me, alas.

When I related this dream to Scott, he said, "I am picturing the building after this fight is done as an enormous pile of concrete rubble held together by 'goddamn superhero-proof glass.'"  

Apr. 3rd, 2016

twain & tesla

let's talk about stress, baby

First, I'd like to mention that I'm starting a new newsletter, powered by Tinyletter. You can subscribe to it here.

In other news, Scott Lynch and I will be appearing at the KGB Bar in New York City (that's in the East Village) at 7 pm on April 20th. I hope to see many of you there!

Also, I'm working on sorting out new webhosting and a site design for elizabethbear.com. Yes, I know it's down. I've had some hosting issues, and in the process decided the whole thing had gotten unwieldy and needed a revamp. In the meantime, you can find me here, at my patreon, and on twitter.

Now on to the meat of the thing. Imma show you something!



This is my Fitbit's resting heart rate data for part of February through today. So what you've probably noticed is a steep decline from a high of 87 (which was February 18th, the day we actually got the final, formal mortgage approval... five days before our closing) to a low of 59, which was the day after I got my stuff moved, March 22nd. So that's a drop of 28 beats per minute over the course of a month, roughly.

Also I had pneumonia. Did I mention that? It's much better now, and I'm trying to get some cardio conditioning back, since the terrible foot is also behaving better. Let's hear it for cortisone shots. What a difference.

Anyway, it turns out that that level of stress plays havoc with your ability to get anything else done. I've barely written a word so far this year--one short story and a nonfiction piece on Frankenstein for a new ASU edition--and then there's the recovery period. And the recovery period from the con I was at last weekend.

Anyway, I'm starting to get myself untangled from myself, as it were. I have been thinking about how to open a short story and a novella, both of which I started in the wrong place while I was too stressed out to do my job to the best of my ability, and now I have to go back and unpick a lot of stitches. Still, there are no wasted words.

Sometimes I think that one of the things that separates a professional from an amateur is the willingness to just pitch something that isn't working out and start over from scratch. I throw out so many things. Some of them I'm sad to see go, but what I replace them with is almost always better.

Hope all of you out there in radioland are keeping well.

Mar. 30th, 2016

criminal minds prentiss facepalm

one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer

I come to bring you a frequent-traveler rant.

As a point of travel etiquette, I think it would behoove just about everybody to adopt the following checked-luggage protocol:

For the love of Mike, people, stand back from the luggage carousels. (Unless you are disabled in some way, in which case do what you gotta do.)

Stand back. Make a wide ring. If everyone did this, then you would have adequate space for everybody to stand, and adequate visibility to spot your luggage coming down the conveyor.

When you see your luggage, I promise you you will then be able to step forward at your leisure, check the tag, and retrieve your bag without having to fight through a scrum. And then leave.

Crowding the carousel down not actually make the guys in the back load your luggage onto the belt faster. And you cannot actually get your luggage until it is on the belt, did you know that? 

Crowding the belt also slows down your ability to get your damn bag, because you can't see it coming. You have literally nothing to lose by being polite and taking three steps back.

Also, do not step in front of other people waiting for their luggage unless you actually see your luggage on the belt. Seriously, it's rude. It's probably even ruder than reclining your chair on non-overnight flights.

If everybody were to work together on this, and adopt it as a standard of behavior applicable to all, it would lower checked luggage irritation by a median of 45%.

Mar. 8th, 2016

genuine risk

everybody's scared of things that they don't understand and all the living they don't do.

Here is thing I learned when I was 29, which I now give away for free:

If you want to do a thing, do it now, or as soon as feasible. Because there might not be a later.

If it is a complicated or expensive or hard thing that takes many stages or has a steep learning curve, start working on the parts you can work on while you can work on them, then move on to the next thing. Accept that there will be a lot of failures along the way, and that you can come back from nearly any mistake that doesn't involve making a left turn in front of an oncoming semi. Concentrate on yourself and what you can do, and don't rely on other people to fix things for you, even though you might love them or they you. (This doesn't mean you can't love friends or family or partners. Friends and family and partners, in the long run, are the thing other than Useful Work and Adventures that make life worthwhile. Well, all that, and a really nice coffee and tea kit in the kitchen and the skill to use it. But that last thing isn't terribly expensive unless you make it be.)

But to succeed at a thing--a job, a relationship--in the long term, the thing is: You Must Commit, even though commitment is scary. And commitment is scary because once you're in you're in. It's not bobbing around close to the shore, paddling with your feet. It's both feet and swimming as hard as you can out where the rip currents and the sharks are, where the water turns blue.

You can't hold back because you're afraid of getting hurt: you have to accept that you are going to get hurt, and put your hand in the fire of your own free will.

It's like climbing. You can make sure you've got good ropes and a belayer you trust (you SHOULD make sure you have good ropes and a belayer you trust!), but there's moves you can't make unless you're willing to risk falling. I'm not saying follow your bliss off a cliff, in other words: part of being prepared and committed is having the right kit, whether it's money in the bank for the lean times when starting off as a freelancer, or a partner who supports your work, or being young enough that starving in a cold room for a few years with pneumonia is romantic (I have the T-shirt!).

That's why it's scary. It's scary because you are taking an actual chance.

But: things don't work out the way you want them to if you just kind of drift along seeing what will happen. Nice things might happen! ...but they didn't, for me.

Basically, what I figured out was that I had to be a protagonist if I wanted anything to happen, and part of being a protagonist was accepting that I might fail. And then have to deal with that failure. And that if I didn't do it I would more or less inevitably fail, but I could pretend to myself that it wasn't because I wasn't good enough and that I didn't know why.

Seeking success, in other words, meant letting go of a layer of ego defense.

This realization directly led to me having the career I always wanted, and doing pretty well at it.

It also led to me having the best relationship of my life. I wish I'd learned it when I was sixteen, rather than twenty-nine, but I had some things I had to work through first.

So that thing you want to do? Assuming it’s not illegal or immediately fatal? Do it now.

Feb. 22nd, 2016

criminal minds garcia plan b

We provide... Leverage.

What suricattus says here: cosigned.

If I am a guest at a convention you are attending, or simply a fellow attendee, and you feel that you have been harassed, intimidated, or that your boundaries have been trampled or ignored, please feel free to ask me for support, help, intervention, or just an escort to a safer area or backup on the way to talk to convention or hotel security.

If you do not feel that you can stick up for yourself, I will help. I will be a buffer or a bulwark if necessary or requested.

Just walk up to me and ask for Leverage, and I promise that I will take you seriously and I'll try to make things better.

Feb. 19th, 2016

jarts: internet lawn defense league

is my malfunction so surprising 'cause I always seem so stable and bright?

So I want to talk about diversity, and representation, and why I think these things are so damned important. And it's really, really simple, but I think some people don't get it simply because they don't have the personal context to get it.

Representation is important because everybody needs to see themselves reflected in art. It's validating. It tells us we have a right to exist. And more than that, it tells other people we have a right to exist. And the important thing is not that any one artistic version of a member of an under-represented or habitually erased group is perfect, because it's impossible for any single character to adequately reflect the experiences of an entire group of people.

See, the funny thing is, it turns out that people of color and queer people and women and genderqueer people and disabled people... we're not types. We're not categories. We're individuals with certain characteristics and we may have very different attitudes and philosophies and relationships with those characteristics.

So, saturation matters. We need a lot of stories with different kinds of people in them, and not just a token stereotype, one per book or movie or TV show.

And actually, finally seeing yourself as a protagonist or a significant character in art is a tremendously empowering experience. Seeing yourself reflected makes you feel real and noticed, and it's important.

Finding yourself in a story for the first time is like looking into a mirror and seeing that, at last, you exist. You take up space and you are real. It's incredibly exhilarating just to know you're not alone. Not the only one. And that other people see you and acknowledge that you are real.

I think a lot of straight white guys don't understand this because they have never not seen themselves. They have no experience with being marginalized, pushed out of the frame, unpersoned. There's five or ten white guys to every black guy or woman, and let's not even talk about the representation of queer, trans, Asian, Latino, or disabled characters... or any other even more vanished groups.

And if you haven't never seen yourself, it's very hard to understand how disempowering it is for other people not to see themselves in art.

So they don't get why people get excited to find a character they identify with, and might like a book or a movie just for that reason. It's not political correctness; it's not pushing an agenda; it's not judging a story by whether it reflects one's politics. It's being happy to find a place where you feel welcome and understood.

And that's part of what everybody looks for in art. It's just harder for some of us to find it, so when we do, we get even more excited.

Black people are not used to seeing futures on TV where they just exist. Women are not used to seeing worlds where we make up 51% of the fictional population. (We make up 51% of the real world population, so why is there exactly one woman with speaking role in some entire galaxies?)

And those men who are very used to not just seeing themselves, but dominating entire narratives--well, some of them are really great about it, once they notice what's going on. Some try to fix it and make room for everybody.

But some react defensively, angrily: some see it as chipping away at their space when other people get some too. Rather than realizing, "Hey, this feeling of there not being a place for me hurts. Maybe I shouldn't do it to others!" or thinking, "Hmmm, maybe this thing isn't for me, but there's stuff over here that is for me!" they angrily oppose the existence of the thing that challenges what they perceive as their right to exist.

It's just that for the rest of us, it feels like they are insisting on their right to dominate the conversation. Even in corners where nobody asked for their opinion. because we were making our own fun.

The thing is, art is a big tent, and it expands to include everybody. It's not a zero-sum game, especially in the current era of easy content flow around the traditional gatekeepers. The existence and success of Karen Memory does not mean fewer sales for Pat Rothfuss (and Pat knows this: he's enormously supportive of other writers.) It means, rather, that fantasy appeals to a wider range of readers--and a lot of them will like both.

It's also an unfair burden on the marginalized to expect them (us) to carry all the water of representation. I believe in reading widely, challenging my own default narratives, and reading stories by writers who are not necessarily speaking to or from my comfort zone. I believe in supporting writers who have come to science fiction through nontraditional routes or from nontraditional backgrounds. But I also believe in presenting diversity in my own writing. Because the world is diverse, and in writing that I am just writing the world I experience.

The true world.

So if you're feeling nervous that you might never get to be in the spotlight because somebody else is, don't be. At the very worst, you'll have to share it, perhaps. Or we can set up a lot of spotlights and shine them around.

I believe the future has a lot of different kinds of people in it, and it will expand to make room for us all.
criminal minds elle lucky

(no subject)

I got a draft of a critical essay about Frankenstein done today, and I'm pretty happy with the argument. It's rough yet, but I'll get to work on organizing it better when I'm not traveling and can print it out and scribble on it.

In other news, hey, closing on the house on Tuesday. Other productivity today included getting all the utilities set up. This was a long road, and I'm really glad we're coming to the end of this portion of it. There's still moving two people to handle, of course, but that's a problem for a different day. As is a quantity of rather elderly beige carpeting and some wallpaper and paint...

Feb. 18th, 2016

rengeek will and tilda

if you live for something, you're not alone.

One of the things I've realized that I need to work on in order to develop a healthier relationship with my job involves certain toxic aspects of the professional writing/publishing culture that I've done an overly good job of internalizing. And I'm trying to scrape it out of my soul, because in the long term it winds up being the opposite of productive when dealing with a creative career.

Some of that is a competition thing: "Writer X turns in three books a year and I'm a slacker if I don't, too!" And that's not great, honestly, and the sheer pressure to produce isn't great, either, and doesn't necessarily lead to good work. One has to think up new things to say between books, after all, or one ends up writing the same book over and over again. No use in that.

I think there's a certain bravado of culture among may writers that is actively toxic in a lot of ways. And it's tied to the NaNoWriMo kind of mode of "produce a bunch of stuff really fast, lather rinse repeat" pressure, and also the "THIS JOB SUCKS AND WE'RE WARRIORS FOR DOING IT" thing. It's this weird Puritan machismo in suffering.
 

I mean, you don't learn to write well by turning out 50K in a month once a year. It's the two pages a day or whatever that get you there. Constant practice, as with any art. And mammals don't respond well to punishment for performance. If we do a thing and the result is horrible, we generally avoid doing that thing again.

So when we punish ourself for performing by setting ourselves unreasonable goals and having impossible expectations and never acknowledging our successes? Cue anxiety and avoidance behavior.

Seriously. From now on, if I get some writing done, I'm not going to bemoan how insufficient my effort was. I'm going to have a piece of chocolate instead.

If you work for yourself and your job sucks, it might be because you have a shitty boss. Or it might be because you are suited to different work than what you're doing.

I have literally dig ditches for a living (and mucked out stalls, and done several other extremely physical and occasionally nasty jobs), and I suspect most of the people who are like "hur hur sure writing isn't hard, try digging ditches," probably have not done both. The thing is, they're both hard. Digging ditches is physically exhausting and can be quite painful, especially in hot or cold weather. But while it's meticulous work (This surprises people who haven't done it, but ditches are dug for reasons, and those reasons affect the way they slope, or how the sides are shaped, and digging ditches does in fact involve a certain amount of work with a plumb line and a level. These days they probably use lasers.) it doesn't necessarily use a lot of executive and creative function the way writing does.

Writing requires mental rest.

Digging ditches requires physical rest.

And I'm totally talking about myself here, because I absolutely have fallen into the anxiety-driven must-produce thing.

And you don't build a career by SUFFERING THROUGH THE AWFULNESS. That's different than having the discipline to get your work done.

(Comments are turned off because I am traveling and don't have time to moderate.)

Feb. 6th, 2016

hustle mickey worrying

they ask the world, and the world says no

I was asked what I published last year. And of course I'm having server/host issues, so I can't go check my trusty website, which is what I would normally do.

...which is probably why I am being asked, come to think of it.

So! A list, a veritable list! A list, I say!

Novels, 2015:

Karen Memory
An Apprentice to Elves
(with truepenny)


Novelettes, 2015:

"The Heart's Filthy Lesson," Old Venus, Dozois and Martin eds
"And the Balance in Blood," Uncanny


Short Stories, 2015

"In Libres," Uncanny
"Margin of Survival" The End Has Come, Adams and Howey, eds
"The Bone War," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
"Skin in the Game," Future Visions


Feb. 3rd, 2016

comics invisibles king mob

meet me where the sky bleeds

So I haven't been running since last summer, really, because I fucked up my foot. It started hurting when I ran, and then I rested it and got better, and did a trail half, and it started hurting more, and then I did a book tour and walked a lot in dressy shoes, and it hurt even more, and after Worldcon I tried to run 5K with some intervals and as a result was laid up on the couch for two weeks in agony. I saw my doctor and she thought it was Achilles tendinitis: "Rest it and stretch it."

Well, it seemed to be getting better slowly. And then I danced on New Year's Eve and the next day I couldn't walk. I'm a pretty tough girl, and I was in so much pain I had to hop to the bathroom.

So, to make a long story short, I saw an orthopedic surgeon yesterday, and there's very good news: the x-rays are fine, and there's no tendon or bone damage requiring surgery. What I do have is very, very tight calf muscles, which is probably half the fact that I live and run in a really hilly goddamned place, and half that I got slack about my yoga practice starting last year.

The calf muscles pull on the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia, causing... excruciating pain in my foot!

So I got a cortisone shot (Jiminy Christmas, that hurt. I had one in my bum shoulder before and it was no big deal: this one was fucking agony) and a PT routine, and permission to resume exercise and activity as my pain levels permit.

Er. Once I'm over the pneumonia. You know.

If the PT doesn't work, he says, they can surgically lengthen my calf muscle. So... I think I'm going to try to pick up the pace with my yoga practice.
bad girls miss fisher

all the broken hearts in the world still beat. let's not make it harder than it has to be.

I pause this livejournal for a moment of appreciation of that which is FINE:





Phew. Okay, now that I have your attention, I actually have something important to talk about, which is this:


FEBRUARY IS INTERNATIONAL STOP HITTING YOURSELF MONTH


I know this is true because I just declared it to be so. It's the shortest month, anyway, and it's already four days old, so you're getting a deal even if it is a leap year.

See, here's the thing. A lot of us, women especially, are really well-socialized to put ourselves down, denigrate ourselves, steep ourselves in self-loathing.**

This does triple duty in preventing us from fixing our own lives and also from changing the world for the better. Because it is exhausting for us, and it's exhausting for our friends, and it's a bad model for others.

Think of all the emotional energy you've devoted, over the years, to self-loathing. Think of all the emotional energy you've devoted to supporting beloved friends who are perfect in every way except they keep slashing themselves to ribbons. Think of everything you could have accomplished if you hadn't told yourself that you weren't good enough, that you didn't deserve anything, that you'd better play Paul Atreides and destroy the thing you really wanted because it was the only way you had any control over it at all.

And the thing is, that self-abnegation shit is all lies. Really it is. 90% of women are not nearly as awful as they think they are, which is a statistic that I made up on the spot. 
 
(05% of all people are actually horrible people, but the horrible people never think they're horrible, which enables them to be as awful as they are. I'm not talking to those people here. They're already not kicking themselves.)

So I'm speaking specifically to the non-horrible-person cis-female self-kickers when I say: the thing is, when we kick ourselves, when we marginalize ourselves, when we erase ourselves, when we look for evidence everywhere of failure and ignore the evidence of success, when we reinforce those toxic opinions of ourselves... we're not just hurting ourselves.

We're totally hurting ourselves, because we believe the horrible things we say about ourselves, and internalize them, and we feel like we have no right to have desires or take up space or want things, especially if they are things other people want too. And the thing is, yes, sometimes life is a competition. And sometimes you lose.

You don't accomplish more by holding yourself to an impossible, inhuman standard. You don't have to slash yourself to ribbons over it. That's actually not healthy.

And when we do it, we're hurting other women too. (All other women, not just cis women.) Because we're reinforcing the cultural expectation that women will be self-effacing and self-denigrating. That we'll step out of the way and make room. That our only value is in how useful we are to others, and that we'll go meekly to the ice floe when we're not immediately useful anymore.

And often when we try to quit kicking ourselves, our friends seem to kick themselves even harder. Which reasserts the social norm that kicking yourself is the way it's done, and also models self-kicking as a behavior pattern for younger women. (I also think there's a whole complex of toxic behaviors that tie in here, such as guilt-tripping and manipulation, because basically what we're doing is institutionalizing ourselves, and robbing ourselves of agency, and there are well-documented toxic ways that institutionalized people behave when they feel like they have no control over their lives.)

So obviously, we all need to quit hitting ourselves AT THE SAME TIME for this to work!

I'm not saying there's no room for self-improvement in anybody, mind you. I know I sure as hell have room in my life for personal growth. It's why I have a nice therapist I talk to on Monday mornings, after all. But I am saying that savaging yourself over it doesn't actually produce that growth.

Anybody who has ever had a dog will tell you that you don't actually get results out of any given organism by beating it silly. You get them by rewarding the behavior you want. Positive reinforcement works. Abuse just makes a creature neurotic and less capable, not more.

And since we're adults here, we are responsible for our own training. Quit hitting yourself.

A major watershed in my adult life was the moment when coffeeem, with the sort of profound wisdom a big sister occasionally hands down, said to me, "You wouldn't let anybody talk to me the way you talk to yourself." It literally changed my life, because she was right. So why do we regularly talk to ourselves in ways we wouldn't ever talk to our friends?*

So here's my challenge for February of 2016. I'm going to quit kicking myself. If I screw up I'm going to figure out why it happened and try to fix it. If I do something positive I'm going to give myself a sticker. In fact, I'm going to give myself a sticker every time I'm tempted to cut myself and don't.

So there. No kicking yourself.

And no autocannibalism either.



**(I fully acknowledge that I'm not equipped to speak directly to the experience of transwomen, and I don't wish to be exclusionary. Also, I know that some men also experience these feelings, but they seem less prevalent. Men are more often socialized to believe they deserve to exist and want things.)

*And if you do talk to your friends that way, you're one of the horrible people, and this post is not for you.

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