I did not think it would go on this long.

Six months ago today I called in sick to work. I had been trying to focus all day the day before, and I had been failing more miserably than I can tell. The plan was to go over to a friend’s for dinner, and we all got in touch with each other and agreed that it was probably a good idea to cancel.

And that was Friday (the 13th, hah), and the weekend was weird and tense, and by the time Monday rolled around lockdown was in full effect. There was still snow on the ground.

And really, I don’t quite feel like summer happened (a very common sentiment, from what I hear), and now we’re sliding down into fall again. I love fall, but I wish I could have a chance to enjoy it without all the worry.

So many questionable choices.

I am playing Wasteland 3, as one does, and I just really want to say I appreciate the richly textured setting and all the opportunities you have for terrible, terrible decisions.

Want to have your armory run by the local crime cartel? Want to then upset that local cartel by shooting one of the lieutenants? You can do that! (In my defense, I mean, the lieutenant wanted me to pick on the movie monsters. There are limits, I tell you.)

Want to invite a fourth-generation clone of the great scientific villain who tried to wipe out humanity and invite him to work in your medical lab? Also possible! It’s probably okay, he says the genocidal impulses were nurture rather than nature, and he’s a scientist! He would know.

Want to help the robot figure out how to defend other robots by removing his empathy for humanity? You can do that too! I am sure this will have no negative consequences down the line whatsoever. >beams<

I’m having fun, all told. Now, having mortally offended the religious order of the wives of Reagan, I just need to go pick which character gets to use the self-inserting spinal implant from the robot doctor whose assistant we convinced to run away to freedom.

Odd little memory from the middle of March

I got to go in to the office yesterday. (I say “got to” because when I found out about it, my reaction was similar to the reaction of the dog if you ask her if she wants to go for a walk. I like where I work.)

So I went in and said hello to reception from a safe distance and through the plexiglas shield, and then went up to the fourth floor where I was the only person, and turned on the lights, and filed stuff and restarted my computer and packed up some things from my hutch that didn’t come home in the first emergency wave. And I left after 45 minutes.

(The sign-in sheet said that there was one other person in the building, but they were on the second floor so I didn’t see them.)

I have missed work. I like everyone there, and I love being part of what we do. I’m working from home, so I’m still doing something, but I really miss seeing people and saying hello and listening to conversations in the kitchen while I knit and… just people.

I called in sick on Friday the 13th, so my desk was very “this is the middle of the work-week”. The calendar pages for March and April (because of course I put current-month and next-month there for tracking at a glance) were still taped up to my hutch.

It was very much a reminder of what-was-normal-before that I wasn’t expecting, and it’s left me a bit melancholy.

Of emptiness and salvage.

My story “The Draw of Empty Spaces” is out now in issue 3 of Cossmass Infinities, which you can get here (although if you subscribe it should already be in your inbox, which is very nice). It is a story of someone doing salvage work in a ruined city, alone and then not alone.

This is my second time appearing in the magazine and I am honestly very pleased to be there again, and to be in the company of those other stories. I hope you enjoy them all.

Pencil points and nail polish.

In what is probably not the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind upon reading that title, I have been cleaning and repairing window screens today. (You use the pencil points to poke the broken screen wires back into place, and the nail polish to seal the hole.) It’s not the only thing I’ve done, but it’s definitely what I can point to as a concrete accomplishment.

I have definitely hit that point of the pandemic where decluttering has turned into a Thing. That said, I have also hit the point of decluttering where I’ve run out of boxes to put stuff into, so it’s a little harder to measure how the progress has been going lately.

I’m reading again, which is nice, and I started writing an odd little thing today. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going, but I don’t think it’ll be long to finish a first draft.

And in other news, I am seriously starting to wonder what Hallowe’en is going to look like this year. I don’t think trick-or-treating is going to be at all recognizable.

August. How did *that* happen?

I have to say I am very glad that today is the start of a long weekend.

I got some edits in last week, I decluttered a bit yesterday, and today I appear to actually be getting my browser windows under some kind of control. I’ve nearly reknitted the part of the sweater I had to frog. And also I’ve gotten the first submission of the month out!

Fixing the quiet.

I keep trying to draft this, and I keep coming back to what other people have said that I admire. “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” “Not caring about politics is a privilege.” “Silence is a message.”

This feels like the kind of thing where I should be owning my own words, and not bouncing off those of others. Also it feels like the kind of thing where I should really stop delaying until I have near-perfect words. It’s fine to do that for my fiction when no-one’s waiting on it; it’s not fine to do that now.

Racism is a real and living thing. I am white, and was raised with that privilege; I have been trying to undo some of the things I’ve learned, and it’s pretty clear that I need to both try harder and make more of an effort to fix systemic issues. I’m going to try harder, because the current state of things is just not tenable and needs to get better. I am sorry I didn’t do more already.

Slogging onwards

As opposed to this time last month, I am not exactly catching up on my reading. Focussing on written words has been feeling a lot more demanding lately. I have been able to do a couple of critiques, which is good, but when it comes to reading for personal interest…

I finished a magazine article last week. It was a photo essay with very minimal text; slightly less than a page’s worth. Aside from that, I don’t think I’ve picked up anything to read since last Monday, when I reached the end of a book that I wasn’t really internalizing.

Eh. This too will pass, I suppose.

On the plus side, the cats are extremely cuddly (and even softer than usual since an entire spare cat was brushed out of them), spring is approaching, and it’s raining. I’m looking into a couple of things that should help, as well.

Progressing, by words

I am finding that I have been picking up a lot of podcasts lately. I’ve been somewhat interested in them for a while – I started listening to The Bright Sessions in late 2018, and progressed to The Magnus Archives – but lately I have just dived in. I’m listening to Unwell and Old Gods of Appalachia, I’m going to try Hitchhiker Horror and The Far Meridian, and the non-fiction This Podcast Will Kill You is weirdly relaxing. (There are a few other on my radar, but they’re not quite at the top of my to-listen pile. It is a growing pile.)

(I think it might be because I am not getting out a lot, so I am a bit restless, and they are easy to listen to while I am moving around the house. Plus they require a fairly constant minimal level of attention, which helps keep my mind from wandering. And unlike reading, they just pour into my ears and I don’t need to focus enough to read. Despite the fact that it helps to have something to hold my attention, I’ve been having trouble making myself focus lately, and these help.)

Aside from that, I have been deeply resenting the return of the snow (we were up to 20’C before it started snowing again!), and trying to make sure I keep moving. It mostly seems to be working, I suppose.

Dynamic

Sometimes I take minutes. My raw notes are inevitably a bit unpolished, but they’re pretty fast. And I clean them up before I send out the draft for people’s comments, because “a bit unpolished” includes my editorializing about some situations. (I write swears. Not that anyone else swears. Just sometimes things are stressful.)

In recent minutes, I referred to the current situation as “extremely dynamic” and that’s about the politest way I can put it.

I’m still submitting. I’m writing a little. I’m having real trouble revising my own stuff, though, so that’s going to be something I’m going to be trying to focus on next month. Aside from writing, I suspect I’m dealing about the same way many other people are, and a lot of them are being more eloquent about it, so moving on.

I am catching up on my reading, though.