Archive for January, 2016

January 2016: an overview

A life is so-oft composed of numbers. Numbers that circumscribe. Numbers that set you free. Numbers that adulate. Numbers that undulate (mostly those pertaining to weight). Numbers that name and shame and circle like piranhas in the dark.

Don’t bleed. Never bleed. Not in the dark. You don’t know what’s hiding out there.

So, in that vein, that open vein,  let’s see how the numbers fall.

It’s only the 30th, yes, but I’m starting to embrace what it means to live with what I have and what I have access to. Tomorrow is my grandmother’s birthday, and so it will likely be an all-day whirlwind of social social social social interactions nibbles bites interlaced with vague urges to alternately throw myself out the closest window or to shut myself into the bathroom and quietly turn on the steam bath and wash away everything and step out and say fuck you all.

Ah, positivity. I do so well at it.

I slept all day today and it’s hard to breathe but I have enough brain cells to rub together for an overview now at 10:30pm, so let’s do this now rather than hoping I have the energy to do it tomorrow.

Excuses. I need to stop explaining, stop with the reasons, stop with all the little self-nibbles. No is a full sentence. So is a statement of intent.

Assuming no steps taken and no words written tomorrow, I will have an average of 1312 words and 9216 steps per day for January. Highest number of steps was 16000 and most words written in one day was 3287.

There was one day where I took 300 steps all day and three days with zero words written.

A month. In numbers.

The earlier part of this month came easily. Maybe I coasted on the high generated by the multitudes who were excited by the start of a new year. Maybe I glided on my own enthusiasm.

The numbers started tapering off on the 16th, with the first zero coming on the 24th and the other ones following closely.

Back to affirmations. Back to positive dreaming. Back to the drawing board to create a mirage to walk toward.

To be fair, the latter part of this month involved odd nights where insomnia hit hard and days where my brain felt like it was in pea-soup fog and my heart just wanted to rage like a too-tired toddler on crack. Tantrum and tantrum and tantrum until I’d broken everything and then maybe I could find myself in the shattered remnants of the world.

There were moments when I curled up on myself in bed and wondered if this was how 2016 was going to be, just another straggling knock-kneed nag unable to keep up with the herd.

But as Esme said:

But this bout of illness was a reminder, I believe, not of how stupid it is to be hopeful, but how moving through our lives, and through suffering, is a part of our hopefulness, and is a part of the most resilient aspects of ourselves. That I will keep looking forward to my better days and ride out the hard ones is a testament to the stubbornness and tenacity that has kept me going through difficult times so far. I haven’t given up–not yet–because I’m damn stubborn. Chin lifted. I am willing to present as a goddamn mule.

And so: being sick didn’t “ruin” my 2016. My 2016 is still wide open and ahead of me. I’m still going. I’m still doing great, according to my requirements of what it means to live a good life.

Hope. Because even though it is that cruel thing with razored feathers, it is all there is some days.

Jody speaks of when healthy isn’t an option and how to learn to love a chronically ill body:

I also see a body that is still standing. It is a body that is broken on a cellular level, and it struggles to provide for its basic needs, but it keeps on struggling. It hasn’t given up, and so I haven’t given up. I do not fight it anymore — it does its own fighting. Instead, I nurture it. I wrap it in love and compassion, and I recognize that my body is doing the best it can. And, while its best won’t win races or even qualify as “healthy,” it’s good enough for today.

In terms of learning to accept our bodies, there is no such thing as healthy or unhealthy. There is certainly no magical line that constitutes value and worth. Our bodies are our vessels, and loving them and ourselves means treating those vessels with care. I eat well and minimize harm today because I love my body, not because I expect to change it. Through time, I have learned to find beauty in my body’s refusal to give up, but I also recognize that eventually all of our bodies reach their limits. There is beauty and grace in acknowledging and accepting that, too.

Esme’s word for 2016 is alive. Mine might have to be grace.

The inherent grace of my life, where I am fed, clothed, sheltered in all sense of the word, and have access to medical care. Where I am loved and cared for, no matter how that love and care manifests.

The grace to bend, to submit, to acknowledge that which I cannot change, what I can, and what isn’t worth battling over.

The grace of knowing there is always that ultimate no and the grace in being able to say “thank you, not today” and mean it.

 

Submission and safewording to the universe

I was thinking the other night, about my vague and unrealized interests in BDSM and started wondering, as Thene once asked, how much of that was curiosity and how much of that was genuine interest.

In the end, does it matter? Maybe, maybe not. Because let’s go slightly past the flesh and think about what it means when taken to its logical conclusion.

The thing is, it’s a beautiful thought. Or can be.

The ideal is theoretically someone who both takes control of you and is yet in service to you. Someone who knows your hard limits, cares enough to push you just enough past the point to ecstasy without harming you, someone who has to pay close and careful attention to your every shudder, every whimper, every flinch, so that they may best gauge how to serve your needs and desires. Someone who knows what you like and is committed to giving it to you, perhaps giving just a little too much, to take you beyond the edge into sweet oblivion, but with a net to catch you and bring you safely home again.

And if you move into the other aspects of domination and submission, the idea of someone committed to helping you be a better, purer version of yourself. Discipline when needed, praised when warranted, and of course, above all, someone who is completely all about you and your journey into that sweet place where you can think of nothing at all, close your eyes and simply be.

It’s a beautiful thought.

The reality, of course, is questionable.

Extended to its logical (?) conclusion, I started thinking about the universe as the ultimate Dom.

Saturn, Lord of Time, Master of Karma. Pluto, Lord of Death, the Underworld, intuition itself, king of insight. The Destroyer. These forces in service to the Universe and to us.

Of course, all of this is by nature spoken from a position of privilege. Enough privilege that I’m not sure how far or how deep this analogy can go before I start twitching. Much like my discomfort with the privilege inherent in the notion of laws of attraction and the thought of people choosing every single thing that happens to them. The idea of Earth as a school is all fun and games until you really start taking a good hard look at what is happening in certain places of the globe. Yes, let’s carry everything to its logical extension, but by golly, I don’t need to be comfortable with it.

But let’s talk about the fantasy, shall we? Sometimes the only way to explore a concept is in isolation and in the best possible circumstances. Kind of like trying to pin down a quantum…?

Dare I say yes? (but I already have, because clearly I’m here and not dead)

And what is my safeword? (scene-ending. session-ending.  =Death?)

And what is happening as correction and therefore cannot be safe-worded out of versus something that is meant for the experience and can be? (do we see my intense discomfort with connecting non-safe-wordable-shit as “correction”? here is where the analogy goes to tatters for me.)

…wrenching the mind back to the perfect circumstances analogy schtick…

But, with that thought, there’s something liberating there. (snide voice: yes, there’s usually something liberating about privilege…)

If this entire thing is for my pleasure and my edification (theoretically) and everything goes only so far as I allow it to (still running up against that whole privilege thing…), then there is something supremely liberating about knowing there is a safeword there.

What is it anyway? Pondering.

Safeword out of the dysfunction part of my relationship with my parents.

Safeword out of the relationship that wasn’t working anymore.

The correction bit regarding my health that I haven’t been able to safeword out of yet.

….

The thing is, it’s a novel thought for the most part – the ability to say no.

Yes, you’re allowed to change. Yes, just because something was this way for a longest time doesn’t mean that it needs to be eternally that way. Yes, you’re allowed to move on. Yes, you’re allowed to tell someone that what they’re doing is hurting you.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

And the flip side of that, of course, is: no.

No to being put on the spot for extra emotional labor.

No to saying yes to authority just because.

No to staying in relationships where I’m not a priority.

No to people who just aren’t that into me.

No. No. No.

If I believe. If I allow myself to believe. (hard, really, again with the tattered analogy)

Then I can believe that most things happen for a reason. I can believe that I allowed most of the things in my life to happen to me. I can believe that these experiences were perhaps necessary, that perhaps I needed them to grow into myself.

Perhaps I could have learned an easier way. A better way.

Perhaps I can console myself that it would have been a slower way.

Perhaps I can console myself that I might not have learned anyway because I’m terribly stubborn.

But if I allow myself to believe.

Then I can believe in safewords, in the ultimate grace of a Universe that is watching and won’t give me more than I can stand, in my ability to take and stretch and bend and submit and finally break out of myself into something purer.

Maybe.

Maybe I believe in fairy tales.

 

 

 

So much easier this way. Almost like cheating, except…I deserve it

I was just thinking tonight, how much easier it is to love myself single.

One entire wall of my room is window and at night it turns into a massive mirror.

I see myself. Endless glimpses of myself. I can’t get away from me, in fact.

Getting ready for bed. Sitting at my tiny desk. Looking up while blow-drying my hair. A side-ways glance when thinking while reading.

And I don’t mind it.

I’ve always had an odd relationship with mirrors.

For the longest time, I startled when I looked into a mirror because I wasn’t expecting what I saw.

Never.

I don’t know what I expected.

It wasn’t as simple, as …dirty-clean as thinner, paler, differently colored hair or eyes or more delicate features or shit like that. It was this visceral jerking back of “wait, what’s that?”, this sense of seeing something that wasn’t expected, that the me in the mirror wasn’t truly myself at all.

Now, though, I’m settling into myself. I look up and the face looking back at me is expected, is pretty to me, the smile intimate and familiar.

It’s easier, now.

I like my body more now that I don’t have to worry about someone else liking it or wanting to sex it. I like it more now that it serves only me, that the only person who gets affected by my cycles of mood and menstruation and energy is me.  I like it more now that it doesn’t feel like a traitor to the cause of being a better example of femininity.  My body serves me and only me and that’s fine. I’m a kinder mistress than anyone else has ever been to me and it’s wonderful.

And no, it’s probably not fair to anyone, much less myself,  that I feel this way.

But I do. And I’m single. So I suppose I should revel in it while I do.

Or maybe it is fair.

Dante whispered in my ear today, “Test me, baby. Test me all you like. I won’t back down and I won’t flinch because it’s my privilege and my duty as yours to make you certain of me.”

And Thryn said softly, “It wouldn’t really be love if I could tell you why, would it? If I could parse it, if I could lay out exactly why you’re home to me and why I dream softer with you and why the only shelter I’ll ever need lies in your eyes and your arms… then it wouldn’t be love. It would be a transaction, a business merger.”

I’m falling in love with myself. With this body that tries so hard. With this heart that will not quit. With this mind that amuses and dazzles. With these senses that open up entire universes to me.

I’m falling in love with Love.

It feels almost like cheating. This effortless joy, untainted by sly glances hinting at inadequacy, unmarked by insidious “buts”, just mine.

Aedrian takes my hand in the dark and shushes my worries. He knows what it’s like to feel like your love isn’t enough, that you could love enough to shatter yourself and shred your heart and it wouldn’t take up even a dust mote’s space in the universe, but he’s willing to try.

Could I do any less?

Let’s play on easy mode for now. Hard mode will come along sooner rather than later.

 

Treading softly upon the self

I tweeted yesterday (with more txt speak, of course, since, Twitter):

That moment, twelve days into 2016, when you realize you’re beating yourself up for breaking your New Year’s Resolution… to stop beating yourself up for stressing out.

*laughs*

Oh my goodness. It really was funny when I realized what I was doing. Funny and sad, yes, but funny just the same.

I was going to do a “first week of 2016″ overview, but it was only day five when I thought of it and then I blinked and it was the ninth. So when I re-thought it and decided the first half-month of 2016 would do, except today is the 13th… I decided to just go ahead and write it anyway.

Thirteen is a nice, solid, much maligned number anyway.

So how’s 2016 treating you thus far, babe?

So far, the numbers are pretty positive. I’ve made my 10k steps on almost every day, except for one. I’ve written more than a thousand words every day, not including journaling. And I’ve been mostly getting to sleep and waking up at very reasonable hours.

There were a couple of nights of weird insomnia around the solar term Little Cold, but that’s hopefully behind me now.

If 2016 were a guy, I’d say that the first date was very promising and he seems like a gentleman, albeit one that keeps me up nights thinking about him. Definitely second date material, though I’m still observing.

*laughs*

To continue the dating analogy, I have also realized that in the end it really does circle around to myself. Something I was thinking about yesterday, at the tail end of my period, when I realized that I was being immensely grumpy for really no good reason at all…

Was it because the period was a physical symbol of yet another month without conventionally approved growth, because it was a sign of missed opportunities, because I was secretly hankering after baby-making?

Or was it because I was upset that I’ve only been doing a thousand or so words a day when I really wanted to be doing something spectacular like 3 or 5k?

Or was it because I was feeling sick again and it’s been seven freaking months and for fuck’s sake?

Or was it because mom and I had another reprise of the relationship talk and I was feeling uncertain and sore?

Or was it just the hormones balancing out and the slight fever getting me down?

I have no idea, but really, the why doesn’t actually matter, because none of those things were worth being grumpy over. I was comparing myself to others and that shit needed to stop. Stat. I was fretting over what would happen when/if my parents cut off the gravy train before I was ready. That shit needed to stop too. I’ve survived. I will survive. No sense in borrowing trouble.

I made word count. I made step count. My cycles are getting more regular. Anyone who’s complaining just needs to shut the fuck up.

I realized, too, that part of me was uncertain and wiffly-waffly because of the way things ended between me and some of the people in my past.

I realized that I thought that I, in a way, didn’t deserve love, or wouldn’t receive the love that I wanted, because I can be a judgmental, high maintenance bitch I have high standards. Standards that so many people have looked at and told me that I was delusional for holding to. Standards that people have told me will lead to me crying alone into my porridge when I’m shriveled and cold.

And then I realized that I was wrong. And everyone who told me that it’s better to settle than to be alone was wrong. And everyone who looks at me with pity because I’m alone is wrong. And every person who tells me that one of these days I’m going to regret everything is dead wrong.

Because I won’t let it happen. I won’t, because if I die trying, I’m going to have the most wonderful love affair with myself for the rest of my life.

Something I reminded myself of yesterday:

Life isn’t about the end. Not truly. It’s not about who you leave behind, what your legacy is, or what people whisper about you after you’re rotting/burning.

Because you won’t care when you’re dead.

Today exists. Am I happy today? Will I regret spending this day this way if I were to die tomorrow?

Today is a journey, a potentially amazing one from the moment I step out of bed to the moment I fall into dream, back in bed.

If Today were a journey, would you regret what you’ve seen and done or no? If no regrets, then why worry about what the sum of days will be at the end of your life?

I didn’t do all that much in Barcelona, even though I knew it was possibly a once in a lifetime trip. We visited the cathedral that looked like (from the outside) some kid had gone nutso with popsicle sticks and papier mache. We walked around some. We visited another cathedral. And we went to the beach.

That’s it. More than a week, and that’s all I remember.

Mostly, the beach. Lying on the sand. Swimming nude in the ocean. (oh god, tits are fucking buoyant in sea water) Learning to accept my body and not take shame in it. The deliciousness of Iberico ham on croissants with a fresh fried egg on top. Having mangos that actually tasted like mangos for the first time in years outside of Taiwan — in Europe. *big eyes*

I don’t regret any of it. Maybe I could have seen more. Maybe I could have tried out the nightlife in Barcelona. Maybe I could have pushed myself past my comfort zone.

But in the end, I would probably go back and just do the same thing because I’m me and my health was that way and the beach was amazing.

So it’s all good. All that money spent. That once in a lifetime chance.

No regrets.

I told my mother I wasn’t ready a couple of days ago. She was worried because I’m 29 and the clock is ticking, the fuse is burning, and soon I’ll be considered an old maid rather than an eligible maiden.

I told her that I was still in a tentative position. I still have to work on my boundaries, my ability to say no, my incessant need to please and soothe. I still have yet to recover fully from all the emotional labor I did for the past eleven years and the bitterness of how very futile it all turned out to be. I still don’t trust, not really.

This particular crab has withdrawn into the sea, into the deep, and is working on building that shell. Maybe that’s going to be a problem because crabs can only mate when they molt and this might be the wrong time to be growing a hard shell, but if it’s so then it’s so.

As I said to myself:

It’s all right if I’m single for the rest of my life, because it might take me a lifetime to fully understand myself and to court myself the way I deserve to be courted. Might as well get on it, stay on it, and perfect it. And I can’t do that as easily if I’m distracted by a guy.

Better to figure things out this lifetime, work on polishing that self-esteem, build and maintain proper curtain walls, and fully realize and implement the art of loving the self first. Because I don’t want to do this again.

If being single this lifetime is the price to pay, then so be it.

Maybe I can let my next lifetime off the hook.

Song for this moment: Galileo from Indigo Girls

The affirmations continue.

I am worthy of love.

I am worthy of being loved the way I need to be loved.

I am worthy of being loved the way I want to be loved.

I can do this.

I can realize my dreams.

I can heal.

I can move on from the past.

I can forgive. I can even, gasp, forgive myself.

I will not say no to love. I will not say no to bounty. I will not say no to joy. I will not say no to all the good things in life that the Universe grants me. I will not close my eyes to Love.

I will say yes to hope. Yes to Love. Yes to forgiveness. Yes to myself. Yes to sleeping in when I need it. Yes to that extra snack. Yes to the nap in the middle of the day. Yes to being a cat in human skin if that’s what it takes.

Yes? Yes. Yes!

It’s day 13 of 2016 and I’m just fine.

Touch yourself with gentle joy. Speak to yourself with tender love. Step softly upon the self that carries you. Listen to the small voice within you. See yourself with sweet clarity. Hear the comfort that comes from deep within, the voice that says just one more step, one more, to the light.

 

 

 

More nitty gritty. Also, thoughts on KU.

I put the books back on KU today.

As I’ve mentioned before, there were many months where KU was the sole source of income and it seems silly to spit in the face of that. I have a theory that it’s easier to gain traction if you have more books to pave your way. This may or may not be accurate, but it makes sense, so I’m running with it for now.

Asides from the theory of having a sufficient library of works making it easier to build up interest and therefore make going wide make sense, there’s also a whole slew of things that I need to be doing before I can go wide. Other than writing more books, I need to:

1. update the back matter of my current books to reflect things like newsletter sign up, links to other books, etc. This requires learning some other things like updating my site, installing plug-ins, and some code.

2. learn how to format my own books (this might …take me a long time)

3. learn macros and etc for my word processors

4. …and edit Phoenix Chosen for the typos that were missed the first 20 rounds of edits. There’s apparently at least two instances of Aedrian being surnamed MacKenna rather than McKenna. *sigh* As I said, brain-fatigue is a killer. Do not die.

5. put a contact form on the website and in fact, update the website

A couple of things therefore complicate the matter.

I’m currently living with my parents while we try a variety of different things to address the health issues. I am getting better day by day. Right now 2016 is treating me very well. I’m about 13k in on the rewrite of Phoenix Awoken over the past 6 days and I have high hopes that I might be able to finish a rough draft before the end of the month. That’s huge for me.

I cannot expect to live off my parents indefinitely. I have issues with how things as it is, because believe me, there is little more uncomfortable for an outwardly abled person to tell everyone in their family who asks that their current day job is “healing”. Even if it is absolutely fair and true.

Once I get sufficiently well to hold down a normal day job and be self-sufficient, I will be doing my best to do so. Therefore my gravy train does have an end station and it is (hopefully) in sight. I hear back from the grad schools I applied to for my masters in interpretation and translation around March or April. I then go back to the US to pack up my remaining stuff in preparation for my parents selling their home. I return to Taiwan at the end of July and from there I will either go to school or find a job.

To be honest, I don’t know if I will be able to write with any amount of clarity or speed when I’m doing other full time things with my life, even if my health does improve at its current speed. Right now I have about 2.5 to 3 hours of brain / activity time before my energy and focus start sliding sideways. That’s after more than six months of whatever I’m doing to try and fix things. If the trajectory holds, I will have 6 or 8 hours by July next year, which might cover me for school/job but maybe not quite. There’s a lot less spoons associated with writing in your jammies than navigating Real Life ™ with things like rush hour traffic, bosses, and so forth.

Therefore, I can only conclude that it would make more sense for me to try and write as much as I can while the support net is still in place and then worry about learning things like coding and formatting later, since theoretically all that is something that will be more amenable to being done on lower brain power and piecemeal.

It will be good if I’m doing something that feels productive towards my writing even if the learning curve is super steep while I’m doing other adulting things.
.
.
.

… so for now it’s going to be KU. I’m really sorry for whoever wants to buy my book but is thwarted by Amazon either not being in your area or a very reasonable hatred for all things Amazon, but right now it looks like KU is what’s best for me.

If you are unable to get a copy of my book, drop me a line and I’ll send you a copy. No strings. Just let me know.

 

Let’s talk financials

Because why not? I like to think that I’m a scientist at heart, except, you know, without all that rigorous attention to detail and obsession over statistics and sample sizes. Also, this is a set up post to discuss KU and writerly plans and suggestions.

Joking aside, I do think financial transparency* is a great thing and it puts things into perspective. (all separate links to various authors talking money) Like how someone can be a famous enough YouTuber to be mobbed at the Starbucks at which they work, yet be working at said Starbucks. Or how many entertainers can have a zillion (made up number) followers and yet still be eating instant noodles.

We consistently hear about the outliers, the E.L Jameses, Amanda Hockings, J. K. Rowlings of the publishing world and we also hear of their counterparts, the starving artists who make less than $1000 a year. But what about the rest of the authorial world? The silently toiling masses who (maybe?) neither starve nor feast?

Spoiler: for now, count me amongst the ones who would be starving if we were talking writing income alone

But I figure if enough authors came out with numbers, then we would have a better idea of what’s going on. Not a clear idea, oh no, because then we get into variables like luck, time spent, words written, books published, award nominations, sheer crazy, people known, money/effort spent on promotion, hours on your knees in front of your patron deity of choice, etc.

But a better idea.

And that’s all science really is, isn’t it? More pieces to the puzzle.

So, as Jim Hines said, sample size of one and all that. Shall we?

I published Phoenix Chosen in 2014. My first deposit from Amazon was on 11/28 for 20.68. If I only count digital sales, then I made 38.06 in 2014. If I count print-on-demand as well, which I’m disinclined to do because I’m fairly certain all the POD sales were to my parents, then I made 52.82 for 2014.

Considering the initial outlay was in the thousands, count me very deeply in the hole.

Ariagne was published March 29th 2015.

As I’ve said before, it did pretty well. Much better overall in terms of paid downloads and pages read than Phoenix Chosen did. Again, I’m not sure if it was because of pricing, genre, better/more accessible writing, amount of incense burned, etc. However, that doing well didn’t spill over into PC buys that I could see.

There’s this beautiful $78 dollar deposit at the end of June, but I’m not sure what’s going on there because the release was near two months ago, etc. That was the highest single month income ever, btw.

If I only count digital income, then I made 168.99 in 2015. If I count POD as well, then the number goes up to 221.52. I’d say at least 50 to 60% of that is KU income. There were some months where it was KU only and some months where there was no income at all. Hence, btw, my putting the books back in KU. More on that later.

I didn’t keep proper notes on KU versus buys in 2015, which I will be remedying in 2016 so as to give a clearer picture of the going wide versus going KU route. Keeping in mind, of course, KU right now seems to favor longer works, assuming you keep your audience’s interest. Ariagne is estimated to be about 169 pages and Phoenix Chosen is about 350 or something  thereabouts.

If I don’t count the immense hole I dug for myself with Phoenix Chosen, then technically I’m about $20 in the black for 2015. I think I spent around $200 for formatting, the ebook cover, and website costs. I spent other money that I should probably be counting as well, like the 5 pack of covers from GoOnWrite.com, but I’m not for the purposes of making myself feel good about myself. *grin*

I like the thought of being in the black. Well, insofar as the art paid for itself to be put out there. In terms of anything else? Naaaaah.

But let’s drill down further.

I adored Phoenix Chosen’s cover. I also loved the work the formatter did, especially on the print version. And let’s not forget the editing.

However, none of that came particularly cheaply.

When I hit publish in 2014, I had a day job. So it was easy to make the decision to pay for a $600 dollar cover and $835 for ebook and print formatting (most of that for print, IIRC). I also paid $250 for content editing and proofreading. Btw, I made 67.29 total for both years for the POD books, making the decision to go print somewhat fiscally irresponsible. **

It is nice to have a nice solid thing to chunk at someone when they ask “so what have you accomplished with this writing thing?”, however. Might be worth it just for ….nah. It’s not. It’s sweet and all to have a hard cover copy of your book and all, but….

I’m generously not counting all the incidentals like cost of website hosting, banner graphic art, wordpress theme to help me set up the site, etc, that I paid for that year. Yes, it’s on my list for “how much am I in the hole?” but not as salient for our purposes right now.

However, in 2015 I knew I was heading into no-income land due to health issues. And PC, much as I loved the end product, hadn’t come within the solar system of paying for itself much less earning profit.

Therefore, with Ariagne, I made very different decisions. IIRC, the cover cost me around $80, the formatting I got someone to do for $20 off Fiverr***, and I relied on non-paid editing services****.  Website hosting was about $100 or so.

Which, in passing, one has to wonder, all things considered, if I shouldn’t go back to a free site…?

So. Decisions. The nitty gritty. My pride and foibles, etc.

Anyway, that’s 2015. We’ll see how 2016 goes.

 

 

 

* I find it vastly amusing that in the comments there was the ubiquitous person who goes “self-publishing is the way to go! there, shall you find salvation and toilets of pure gold!” More on this later, but suffice to say, no, SP is great and all, but it is not the way to salvation or being able to shit on gold.

** Yes, yes, the clear take home message here is to either find cheaper people to outsource things to, or to do it all myself. Like I said, variables. YMMV. I happen to be a complete novice at graphic art, don’t seem to have sculptable amounts of talent, and little spoons.

*** Yes, yes, digital sweatshops, outsourcing work that drives down the price of what people in the US can get paid for, etc. I feel terrible. I do. But needs must. And speaking as someone living in a country where $20 is a hella lot of money, hey, I’d work for a fiver too.

**** The thing is, this was only really possible because Ariagne was 1. a much shorter book 2. a much less complicated book. I do not think that I can safely do this for Phoenix Awoken without either A. imposing too much on my friends, even with barter and B. having a lot things slip through the cracks that later end up making me cry. As it is, despite PC going through multiple rounds of eyes, some of whom were paid to look at it, things still slipped through. I’m convinced that a novel needs at least three professional editors at this point because brain-fatigue is a real and scary thing.

 

Navigating the shoals of productivity

Or. How to benefit from a farm share without going mad whilst coping with low energy/appetite.
Or. Redefinition of a “normal” life when circumscribed by suboptimal health.

There were many things I released in 2015, and one of the biggest ones was the drama of food and what constituted a meal.

This one was huge because of the intersection of nutrition, finances, time constraints, energy, appetite, and cravings.

I realized that I spent a lot of time circling around meals. Either I was thinking about food, making food, cleaning up after making food, shopping for food, prepping food to be cooked, or staring into the refrigerator in dismay at things I’d bought that were going off.

Some days I’d fall into bed and think, welp, I didn’t do anything else, but I ate today.

The first thing I let go of was the notion of meal creation as women’s work. Of course, the logical brain had long ago tossed aside the notion that it was the female half’s job to make sure meals got onto the table, people got well fed, and the kitchen cleaned up after. Unfortunately, the feels didn’t quite catch up until fairly recently, and only then because there genuinely weren’t enough spoons to go around.

I had to release the idea that “love means you feed the ones you love and if you don’t make sure the ones you love are well-fed, then you’re doing it wrong“. That one was all intertwined with “but I need to eat anyway…soo…”.

Which leads me to the release of what constituted a meal.

Growing up, meals always involved at least one platter of stir-fried veg, one meat dish, a soup of some sort, and probably an egg dish or another meat dish to round things out. So the idea of what a “proper” meal consisted of was very much ingrained in me. Not just in terms of propriety, it was also how I’d gotten used to eating. I didn’t like meals that were nothing but rice and meat and I didn’t feel fully satiated if it was just rice and veg. (the year of vegetarianism was a fun trip…)

When spoons really came at a premium, I discovered the lifesaver that is the Vitamix. It was mostly by accident, actually. I had a chicken pot pie that really wasn’t doing it for me, and chewing was such a chore, so I ended up tossing it into the blender with some stock and just chugged the result. Cue the eureka moment of — wait, what can’t I blend?

Now, I blend everything. I’ll toss all sorts of veg, meat, oatmeal, rice, and sometimes nuts into the blender, smoothify it to the consistency of a thick soup, and just drink that for as many meals as I need to.

This is why the Vitamix instead of my stick blender or a normal blender, by the way. The end result from the Vitamix is smooth and creamy, even if you dilute it. Sometimes a thick soup that looks okay when blended with a normal blender ends up …snaggly when you add water to thin it out to drinkable consistency. As in no-chewing whatsoever, just drink it like juice dilution.

Note: I wish I knew this back when I was drowning in vegetable matter from my farm share.

I blanch all the veg, which means I can fit an entire head of cabbage into the container if I want to, go to town in terms of additions, and hit the magic button. I’ve tossed remainders of beef stir-fry in with cups of spinach before – the bits of ginger and garlic and soy sauce was a nice touch. I’ve also made chicken stock with an entire chicken, shredded off all the chicken, and liquefied all the stock veg and the chicken into a thick soup.

If I could only own three electric things ever, it’d be my laptop, my Vitamix, and my cellphone. Best money I ever spent. Ever.

It’s completely possible to make three pots of soup at the start of the week, puree everything, and just alternate all week. Very little mess, no waste,  little clean up on a day to day level, and best of all – no thought required.

Poor appetite? Doesn’t matter since there’s no chewing and therefore little effort. Just chug it.

My mom’s gotten fairly on board with this notion and it’s great. Dad’s not a fan, but in which case, we just direct back to release #1: care and feeding of other humans isn’t my god-given responsibility. (babies are different, okay?)

And the last thing that I learned to release was the idea of “normal” productivity.

It’s inevitable. You see what other people do, what they get done, and how they seemingly juggle work, family, social activities, fun, and themselves effortlessly and it’s hard not to go pea-green with envy.

Something else that I learned to do is to pay attention.

Most things hinge on whether or not I sleep well the night before.

If not, well, then it might have to be a low-load day. I aim for 6k steps on the fitbit, try for 250 words, and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. Sometimes it’s a no-load day and …well, I’ve since learned that there’s no forcing it. Some things you can push through. Chronic illness, depending on what’s going on, not so much.

If I do sleep okay, then I have a short window (2 hrs?) in the morning where I can brain. So this is when I try to write.

Around 10:30am my focus often gets drifty, again completely dependent on the sleep quality the night before. At this point I either move onto reading articles and blogging, or it’s time to eat.

Around 2pm, I start to get sleepy again and at this point about all my brain wants to do is read. This is a good time to do social-y things where being completely online isn’t necessary.

And then it’s all downhill from there.

I do sometimes get a second wind sometime in the evening, but it’s erratic and I haven’t really pinpointed what causes it yet. It’s entirely possible that it’s due to dinner often being the biggest meal of the day in our family, but big meals are just as likely to make me groggy as not…

For 2016, I’m aiming to turn the lights off at 9pm, maybe read a bit, do my positive projections, and then hopefully sleep before 10pm.

And I know myself, which means no excitement  whatsoever starting at about 8pm.

We eat around 6pm, which means cleanup will end around 7:30 or so and then it’s showertime and then wind down time.

I used to hate the idea of non-spontaneity and regulating my schedule like this, but it doesn’t bother me now. In fact, there might be benefits to having a severely curtailed night life. We’ll see if it’s true that nothing amazing happens after 9pm anyway.