Approaching transit

My laptop bag doesn’t quite fit my laptop, so there’ve been some relatively last-minute packing adjustments. There may be more tomorrow morning, although if there aren’t it will still be fine.

I’m waffling over what books to bring. I like magazines for airports – they’re very thin, and the length of articles and stories handle interruption well – but I’m not sure about the books, or about whether to bring physical ones rather than electronic ones.

I’ll sort it all out, I suppose. And my plane takes off in twelve hours and change. 🙂

Make it a pome. Real pomes rhyme.

I have rhymes in my head this morning; a little bit of Poe, a little bit of lyrics from the Traveling Wilburys[1], the perpetual stressed-silver-and-dust chime of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm”.

I didn’t get as much done as I’d like to have gotten done over the last few days, but on the flipside, it was actually really relaxing. The weekend felt like it was a weekend, not just a recovery period.

Possibly related to this: the light of my life has set up his controller in my office, and I got to play video games again for the first time in a while. There is a bit of a learning curve with the new controls, but it’s definitely a workable solution. At least for Fallout: New Vegas, which is what I have especially been craving lately.

(Also, I cleaned off everything which had slowly accumulated on my desk. Currently my desk is much neater, and I hope to finish sorting the accumulata by the end of the week.)

[1] I am constantly astounded that I never heard of them until this year. First, I am really fond of at least two of their songs, and second, their lineup is the kind of thing I would expect to have heard of.

London, travel, computer, flail.

…dammit, I wish that title weren’t so apt. Anyway.

I’m leaving for Loncon in ten days, and I am trying to decide whether or not to bring my laptop, and if I bring it whether to keep it in my (non-con-located) hotel room or take it with me to the con.

(Important note, for deciding: I can keep the con schedule on my phone.)

If I leave it at home:

  • pro: it will not get lost.
  • con: my laptop. Life without my laptop for eight days. In airports. (I will note that I have not had an international plane trip not take an extra half-day at least in years.)

If I take it to London and leave it in the hotel:

  • pro: I will have all my writing, my Skype, my bookmarks, my GDrive connection, my everything
  • pro: I can write while in transit. I find I actually really like doing this, and while it is technically possible to do on my phone, the smaller screen makes it much more of a PITA.
  • pro: I will not have to carry it around a con (I have a Lenovo Thinkpad; sturdy as all hell, but kind of bulky)
  • ???: I would need to get a laptop bag. My current laptop bag is actually a backpack. No-one who is at risk of standing behind me or in my blind spot wants me maneuvering in a crowded area with a moderately heavy backpack, even with padded corners.
  • con: I would need to leave it in the hotel, which would probably be perfectly fine but which would, for at least the first two days, distract me.

If I take it to London and to Loncon:

  • pro: will have all my writing, my Skype, my bookmarks, my GDrive connection, my everything.
  • pro: I can write while in transit.
  • pro: can sit in A Spot at the con and get stuff down. (At Anticipation–the Montreal 2009 WorldCon–I ended up posting eight times from the con itself. Admittedly at that point I was in the con hotel, which makes a slight difference… OTOH, judging by FarthingCon, I really do like having my laptop with me. The “back off, breathe, find a place to sit for late-night coffee or dessert, and type” is a nice way of processing events.)
  • con: carrying around a heavy thing, which means that if I pick up anything else (get thee behind me, dealer’s room) or am carrying anything else (such as books to get signed), the total weight will be that much greater.
  • con: will need to lug it along if/when I decide that I should go somewhere/do something else.

Ugh. I don’t know. But at least I have every pro and con I can think of down, so I may revisit this in a bit. Thoughts?

Disposal and decluttering

I have a fair number of books. (I’ve met people with more, so I don’t say I have a lot of books–I think it’s still under two thousand.) Occasionally, I go through my books and either garage-sale or give away ones I’ve decided I don’t care to keep. It took a fairly long time to come to terms with being someone who would get rid of books (a digression for another time), but it feels good to have the clutter gone, and to know that the books are not being kept in a place where they are not being read.

I can’t do this with ebooks. Rather, I have not yet figured out how to do this with ebooks.

Overwhelmingly, the way I get ebooks is through a service–Kobo, Smashwords, Weightless Books, emagazine subscription, DriveThruRPG, what-have-you–which requires me to create an account. The ebooks I own are associated with that account; if my computer explodes or if my ereader is run over by a stampeding moose, I can log in to my account from another computer and get fresh copies of said ebooks.

This makes it fairly hard to get rid of them.

I don’t want to give them away when I still own copies. I sometimes don’t have the option of not owning copies; it’s actually fairly frustrating to try and figure out how or if I can move something into a “yes I own this, stop reminding me” category and then duplicate that in Calibre, when I need to juggle scripting permissions to even log in (Kobo, I am looking at you), although a lot of the services are getting better about that.

I appreciate that ebooks don’t take up physical space. I do. But they’re still potential clutter, and if I am looking at a pile of badly sorted, unclearly organized, occasionally unwanted books, then my situation is not actually substantially better because the pile exists on a screen.


Arriving in a screech of dust.

Good god, that was a long break.

Spring has come, and then viciously run off again, and now come back grinning like a dog that wants you to understand they are really not a bad dog, they just saw this awesome squirrel and kinda had to leave you standing there with a snapped leash in your hand, yelling about how there’d been sun and things were melting and what the hell is this thirty-five degree drop from one day to the next!

(I think that’s a sixty-three degree drop, for people who use Farenheit.)

I’ve managed to do some serious cleaning out stuff that’s slowly accumulated and that I’m just not going to use anymore or that anyone’s not going to use anymore, so that’s nice. There’s a charity that schedules pick-ups of donations of clothes and household items, so having a deadline to work towards helped. All told, I’ve gotten five garbage bags[1] and a box of stuff out of the house, so I feel way better.

I’ve also managed to sort a lot of my knitting. I got rid of a couple of old finished pieces, and frogged a couple more. I put all my in-progress projects in one place, and all my yarn that I’ve decided on a specific use for in another (neatly bagged together with the pattern in question). It makes it feel a lot more manageable (and has drastically reduced my interest in buying more yarn for the foreseeable, so that’s nice).

It’s not exactly interesting progress, but I suppose it’s progress. And it’s nice to occasionally sit back and think about how much more air there is in the house, now that there’s more space for it.

[1] Garbage bags are what they ask you put old clothes in.

The word for year is library.

Early this year, I read a post on Captain Awkward[1], and one of the things she mentioned–cited from the Blogess, actually–was the idea of 2013 as a library. A safe quiet space where you can get ready for something.

Maybe you spend the year recuperating from last year. Maybe you burn the Thanksgiving turkey and forget an important birthday. It’s okay. It happened in The Library. It was just practice for next year. Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s just me, but somehow I think we all need a year in The Library. A year where it’s safe to make mistakes.

Probably the biggest thing for me was trying to actually commit to writing[2]. (Cat Rambo gives excellent classes, by the way, and I am not sure she self-promotes quite enough, and there’s a deal on her classes if you sign up before 2014. Just saying. I like the six-week course best.) I’ve gotten seven rejections so far and I think they’re getting easier to take, which is nice?

Other things this year: I tried to do Mary Robinette Kowal’s Month of Letters challenge, but that got interrupted by a pet health emergency. (Pet in question is fine, but leave us just say February got itself repurposed very hard.)

What else? Started staggering along to Zombies Run again after I’d stopped for longer than I’m happy with. Started reconnecting with someone I’d kind of lost touch with. Went to Farthing Party and CanCon (for the record, doing two cons in two weekends is not a great idea; that said, so glad I managed to get to a Farthing Party).

The house was cleared of about ten feet of bookshelf space and perhaps twenty-five bags-and-boxes of things that weren’t being used, or wouldn’t be used, or would be better used elsewhere, or just really needed to go. And I finished installing a cabinet. Admittedly in the bathroom we use least, but still, it’s installed.

I knit 0.76 of a mile of yarn into a sweater for my mother, and it worked. I mean, it fit and she liked it. I was terrified that I’d need to reknit half of it and the yarn store would be out of the dye lot, and…

Anyway, it worked.

And I cut my hair. Myself. (I haven’t dyed it again yet, but… maybe next year. The light of my life dug up an old picture, and I miss the purple.)

What did you do this year? What’ll you do the next?

[1] Lovely lady, very thoughtful, excellent advice, minimal Evil Bees.
[2] I had to work through a brief bout of “omigod I am admitting in public that I want to write things and care about whether I’m good at it!” to even type that. Oy, my issues.

Breathing room.

One particularly good thing happened this weekend. I’d cleared a block of time, and worked on clearing up my office. The light of my life stepped in to help when I hit the bad patch–you know the one, the “oh god, this is never going to work, there’s so much, I don’t know how I’m ever going to get it all under control.” And it’s not all done as well as I want it done, but there’s what feels like a huge difference.

The wall of my office furthest from the door is (obviously) the first thing I see when I walk in. It used to have a couple of things stacked up against it, and the edge of my desk that was up against that wall had clutter on it as well. And now neither of them do, and when I walk in through my office door, I see it looking better, and it’s just such a quiet relief.

I have been a fairly regular follower of UfYH (page title uses NSFW language) for a while now. I knew intellectually that the bit about “clutter makes it harder to think” is true. But it’s kind of awesome to actually notice it because I can feel things getting better.

Drowning in information

The last couple of days, I have not kept on top of my e-mail inbox as much as I otherwise might, in an ideal world.  And I have a fair amount of e-mail coming in, what with one thing and another and follows and notifications and updates and this and that, not to mention a small spike coordinating with a couple of people for splitting shipping on an absolutely lovely jewelry sale.

I had 431 e-mails in my inbox.  303 of them were unread.

(In a fit of composure of which I am rather proud, I did not actually flee screaming from the keyboard.  Go me.)

I now have only 335 in my inbox, and 210 of them are unread.  Am hoping I can get the unreads down to double digits by the end of the night weekend.

There has got to be a better way to handle my e-mails.  However, I am pretty sure that actually having the metaphorical space to implement that better way involves a through unf*cking of my inbox, and that currently feels more than a little daunting.  (Plus I am running low on junk TV to put on while I work on this, so my options seem to be “get distracted by interesting entertainment” or “get bored because there’s nothing in the background”.)

(…wow, talk about a first-world problem.  I will stop complaining now.)

Books, again.

I’ve been culling our bookshelves for a couple of weeks now.  While I’ve collected a fair number to get rid of, perhaps fifty, it hasn’t made a huge difference.  I have a lot of books. Most of them still aren’t in Goodreads (and I get that funny guilty twinge whenever it recommends a book I’ve already read and have on the shelves to me). And given that Goodreads lists about six hundred books on my “owned” shelf, and yes, I really did mean most of them still aren’t in the system…

…I have a lot of books.

It’s easier to cull them this time than it was in times before, and it’s nothing to do with not wanting to read. On top of the books, I have a particular attitude: I don’t want to be the kind of person who gets rid of a book. I have had this attitude for a long time.

  • I’ve had it since before we bought our house.
  • I’ve had it since before I rented my own place.
  • I’ve had it since before I moved out and went to university.
  • I’ve had it since before I went to boarding school in Switzerland[1], and that was for ninth grade.
  • Like some of the books I still own, I’ve had it since I lived in London as a kid.

I think it’s very easy to embrace absolutes when you’re a kid. And it’s easy not to question those absolutes, especially when they’re not overtly harmful. I don’t want to be the kind of person who lets go of a book. Because books are awesome, dammit. I mean, that hasn’t changed for me–books are amazing, books make me happy, new ones can be a wonder and old ones are a comfort and I don’t see this changing. I love (the best of) my books, and I love the idea of books, and I have a respect for the physical integrity of books (even ones I don’t like) that’s… quite hard to override.

When I developed this attitude, I didn’t understand certain things that I understand now.

  • The fact of limited space in housing, and how sheddy long-haired cats can be, and how books can pile up and collect dust.
  • Shared space, really shared space, and the importance of not having someone you live with made uncomfortable by your housekeeping.
  • The low-level cringe that a cluttered room induces.
  • The embarrassment of finding you already own a book you just got[2]–fortunately I’ve never bought one and had that happen, but there’ve been friend loans and library loans and… yeah, it’s not a good feeling.

I’m still not the kind of person who gets rid of books casually. But I don’t want to look at myself and say I’m the kind of person who won’t get a book out of her house if it’s making her unhappy to have it there. There’s nothing noble or devoted about that.

That’s damaging, albeit in a low-level constant-background what-weight-do-you-mean-oh-this-weight-I’ve-been-carrying-this-weight-so-long-I-don’t-hardly-notice-it-no-more, and I am, finally, too old for that shit.

[1] In a former tuberculosis sanitarium.
[2] This is totally different from buying a replacement for a battered copy, or deliberately picking up a second copy for love or loaning purposes. On this note, you should all read Days by James Lovegrove, Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, and Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. Seriously.

Juggling duties.

Looking forward to the long weekend.  I wouldn’t say my time’s already booked, but I expect I know how most of it is going to go.  Hoping I can get a couple of hours in to sit down and write, and a chance to goof off and relax so I actually feel up to same.

(Running around an alien mothership without your faithful canine companion: totally relaxing.)

I need to reorganize my office again.  My London-and-Mythos shelf needs to become just a Mythos shelf; with the latest anthology, there’s no more room for them both.  Even if I relocate the London stuff, there’s only about another foot of space, but it’ll last for a bit.

Have work for at least a few months, which is nice, since I just found out that Pelgrane is putting out another sourcebook in the vein of The Dead White World. Mind, I’m not sure I would ever actually get to run anything; all the gamers I know aren’t local or wouldn’t be interested.  I wish gaming books were something you could get at the library; it seems like a waste to buy one and then not do anything with it.  They’re not like most books; they’re not just for reading.  More like recipe collections or knitting books.  Buying them and not doing anything with them is sad, and rather cluttered.