Well, as you could expect, I didn’t get a lot of reading done in May, due to moving/homeschooling/etc. We did finish Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Your Five-Year-Old, which is something, but not much progress made on any other current reads. Oh! I did read all of the upcoming Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror, which was a lot of fun! That’s coming out likely June 19th, 2020, and includes my story, “Rhapsody in Flesh Minor,” a short SF tale about an artistic hermit under attack by a poly-bodied alien. Hopefully as we settle into this new phase of life, I’ll get a bit more time to read (something other than the news).

Currently Reading

Notes:

The Enchanted Castle – Picked this one up after we finished the fourth Harry Potter book, and I gotta say, as much as I love Nesbit, this…is not quite my favorite. The language, for some reason, is really clumpy to read aloud, unlike her other books, and the story is just…meh… And oh yeah! There’s some blackface in there, which is jarring though not entirely surprising as I’ve run into that issue several times in old children’s books. So THAT involves a conversation with a five-year-old (or, more often, shame-facedly skipping over it because you don’t WANT to have that battle when they’re tired, don’t want to really listen, and will probably only get about 20% of what you’re trying to explain to them). Ideal? No. Not at all. These are important conversations, but gauging how much a young child can understand/appreciate/won’t just confuse them is a complex dance. We’ve had many such conversations before, but I’m still not sure how much he’s really grasped it. And then the book just isn’t that engaging to me, but somehow he’s still intrigued by the magic ring and all that, so we press on for now.

Your Six-Year-Old – About halfway through this one–thank goodness for short books!–and as always, it’s an interesting survey of general six-year-old-ness.I’ve definitely found it helpful at least in identifying behavior that is common and normal at this age which helps calm the panic moments of “I’m a terrible mother! I’ve ruined my child’s life! Why is he so angry half the time then fine the rest of the time?!” Yeah, turns out those mood swings and a tendency to take out his frustrations on me are normal (and perhaps a little extra pronounced because of #pandemic), thank goodness. *phew*

Meander, Spiral, Explode – No progress, but I just need to pull it out of my moving box…

Dad is Fat – Periodically get a second to listen to this, but that’s usually during feedings, which isn’t particularly conducive to jolly laughter…

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman – This is the one book I’ve been reading lately, and I must say, I am loving it. Murakami is always high on my list of favorite authors, but I think all the more so recently in light of the pandemic. I was trying to put my finger on it, when I read an article by Miles Howard in the Boston Globe that kind of touched on it. In Murakami books, there’s no hectic sense of needing to be “productive”. His characters almost always seem to be on a stay-cation or a low key vacation, whiling away the hours without much to do. They make simple meals, drink a few beers, lay on the couch listening to jazz or classical records, or read for a few hours. It’s like they’re all living the pandemic socially-isolated life, where productivity is overrated and survival is good enough. And I absolutely love it. It was soothing before; it’s deeply resonant now.

Wild Swans – I forgot I was reading this book! I should put it where I can see it…

How to Write a Page Turner – I haven’t touched this one in a couple months, which means I really need to just power through it…

A Feast of Sorrows – I’m not that far from the end of this one, I’ve just hit the novelette-length stories at the end, and that’s slowed me down a bit. Just need to power through, because I really love Angela Slatter’s work!

Creativity for Life – Forgot about this one as the whole pandemic got started. Just need to power through…

The Power Broker – Hey, I liked this book BEFORE everybody on TV needed it for their bookshelf-backdrops to make them look smart! I haven’t made much progress but mostly because it’s a huge paperback (~2000 pages, I think) which makes it impossible to hold single-handed, which means I need to hold it on my lap or on an arm-rest to read (thankfully it does lay open), but adds just that little bit of extra challenge that keeps me from making it my go-to read. But I have enjoyed it so far, and look forward to continuing it soon.

Story Trumps Structure – Third entry in my “books about writing” list; this one I haven’t read recently, but I’ve enjoyed it so far as an alternative to the hyper-plotted writing books I’ve been reading in the past year or so.

Today in Mommyland…

We’re starting to settle into our “new place” (by which I mean, my folk’s place, which we’ll be buying from them and expanding with an in-law suite), and things are finally opening up a bit. The floors in the Great Room are done, which means we can expand back out there again, thank goodness! I love the rabbit-warren feel of the older part of the house, but it does start feeling crunched with four grown adults and two kids.

We’re also starting to develop something of a routine, though it’s still very much flexible at this time and involves entirely too much TV for B-Bug. Still, it’s looking like I can count on at least one (often brief) nap from Goldbug per day, sometimes two if he sleeps a bit after breakfast. There are no “guaranteed” amounts of time, yet, but he pretty much requires a nap every afternoon around 1-2pm, so that’s something at least!

We met briefly this morning with one of the architects we’re considering to help design the addition, which upended our usual morning routine a bit, but it was rather exciting. I think my mom’s right, though: it feels a little like the beginning of a big edit, which is both exciting, but also kind of terrifying since you don’t want to ruin what it is you love about the original. Still, we’re bubbling over with ideas of what to do, so it’ll be an interesting process, no doubt.

Today in Writerland…

Last couple days have been pretty sparse, writing-wise. I did get a brief moment today to write exactly two sentences, but it’s something, so I’m trying not to be disappointed…

Edit – 2:54pm – FIVE. I got five sentences. #writermom

We’re officially moved! Boy, I hope we won’t need to do that again soon! Trying to pack up everything with a four month old in tow and spare help due to the pandemic is not fun. But it’s over! Andy wrapped up the last bit of cleaning yesterday, so it’s officially done. *Phew!*

It’s so nice to be a bit more rural again. Both Andy and I grew up in a small town, so just having space to breathe and move about without anybody else nearby is delightful, though we hadn’t realized when we were making plans to move that there’d be a pandemic that would require social distancing, which is much easier here, too! I think we took three walks the day we moved up, just ‘cuz. We also managed to get sunburnt. Touché, Mother Nature, touché.

Needless to say, I haven’t been writing much these past few days. With all the packing, and the heat, and the fact that my folks we’re getting the great room floor redone (this necessitating all six of us to cluster into the smaller part of the house with all our stuff), my focus has been on just getting us settled towards a new routine. We’re getting there. Goldbug appears to like a mid afternoon nap most days, which gives me a bit of time during which I can write at least a few paragraphs, so that’s something. Today I wound up writing about 550 new words, which surprisingly came very easily. Now I just need to get B-Bug to finish some more homework for the week, since I’ve had to reconfigure my computer-printer set-up, which took far longer than it should have.

It’s too hot today. Muggy and blech. But I’ve heard there’s a minor chance of thunderstorms this afternoon, so fingers crossed for a nice storm to break the heat? Please? Pretty please?

*runs down street flailing arms* APEX MAGAZINE IS COMING BACK! *grabs virtual stranger by the shirt collar #socialdistance* APEX MAGAZINE-! COMING BACK! IT’S COMING! *whirls in circles, arms spread wide, howling into the cloudless sky* APEX-! APEX MAGAZINE! IT WILL RETURN! IT IS COMING! PREPRE YOUR SOULS AND SUBMISSIONS FOR IT IS NEARLY HERE! *tears streaming down cheeks* OW! DIRT- DIRT IN MY EYE…IT’S OKAY, FOLKS, IT’S JUST DIRT…

#noyourecrying

Today in Mommyland…

Still in the pre-moving/packing mode, and managed yesterday to pack up most of my sewing/knitting/crocheting supplies. It’s been wearying, for some reason, the past few days. Some is probably the rapidly shifting temperatures and clouds, but some I think is because we’re hitting the front-end of  what we can get away with packing ahead of moving day, and the amount of work we have yet to do is overwhelming. That, and Andy’s stressed with exams and his new job coming up, wanting to do well, feeling a lot of pressure not to let anybody down, and his stress may be rubbing off on me. Back during residency, I had to get really good at turning off my empathy for his suffering (not lack of sympathy, but actually feeling myself the stress he was under) because if I hadn’t, neither if us would have been functional people. In the past two years, as residency lightened up, I’ve been able to phase back–unconsciously–into letting myself feel his stressors again. It’s been fine until this past week or so, but as the stay-at-home orders persist (as needed) and his usual methods of de-stressing have been stymied (hiking/biking local trails, all of which are currently closed or choked with less-distancing hikers), his stress level has been escalating, and subsequently so has mine.

Years ago I discovered that I have a tendency when really stressed to silently hyperventilate. It’s not the huffing most people think of; most of the time I don’t even know I’m doing it until I find myself 1) tight-chested, and 2) sighing a lot. (You can tell if you’ve been silently hyperventilating if you hold your breath–usually, when I’m doing it, I can hold my breath for up to a minute and a half, and even then not feel like I’m starving for air. Holding your breath is actually how you loosen up your chest, too: it basically does the same thing as breathing into a paper bag by letting your lungs build up a healthy level of CO2 again, which hyperventilating has flushed from your lungs (#laymenexplains). So I’ve noticed myself doing that more lately, which means it’s time to start anxiety mitigation. How, exactly, I’m going to do that with the boys (all of them) underfoot, I haven’t yet figured out, but moving up to my folks’ place will be a start, if only to have more outdoor space to get out into, and more adults around to spread the kiddos’ understandable attention needs (and my own need, as an introvert, to get a little much needed privacy and quiet now and then).

Today in Writerland…

Didn’t get anything written today. Goldbug only napped long enough for me to get my lunch together and to eat half of it. Yesterday I got twenty minutes or so, but spent most of it putzing around with the last few paragraphs to get it moving again, and then Goldbug woke up. Ah well, that’s how it goes sometimes. I wasn’t really planning on getting anything done this week, leading up to the move, but a little added word count might have been nice…

Today in Mommyland…

Buh, how are Mondays still challenging, even when weeks no longer have any meaning? I’m not even sure where today went. I did get me and Andy’s laundry done (thank goodness–finally caught up with kiddo laundry, as pooped-in/peed-in/barfed-on clothes take precedence here–so the adults should have some fresh clothes to wear at last!), and I made Three Ingredient Lentil Tortillas (which are surprisingly filling and tasty, actually, especially with salted butter and honey), and got B-Bug to do some school work. Otherwise, though, it’s been a dark/rainy/drowsy kind of day, during which I’ve felt wretchedly unproductive…

(Oh! But you guys, I made these INSANE BAGELS OF AWESOMENESS this weekend, and they’re just chewy, delicious, and crazy easy to make if you don’t mind a little kneading. Just WOW.)

(Just sub in “bagels” for “potatoes”…)

Today in Writerland…

BUT-! I sold another story! WOOHOO!!! Since the contract is already signed, I can officially announced that my SF story “Deadhead” will be coming out in Abyss & Apex Magazine sometime in 2021! I’m so thrilled. I’ve always enjoyed A&A‘s work, and it’s a market I’ve been wanting to crack for years, so this feels just… AH. Happy.

That said, I am not worrying in the least about writing new words this week (or probably next week), given that we’re swinging into full-fledged moving madness, which won’t really die down until after the 27th. That said, I might get some work done during this time, but I’m really letting myself off the hook for the most part.

But, do keep a look out as I’ll be posting some interviews with the good folks featured in Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror (ed. Aric Sundquist)–which also contains my short SF survival horror story, “Rhapsody in Flesh Minor”–as that collection is coming out in June 2020! Woohoo!

Today in Mommyland…

Made breaded buffalo tofu sticks (with homemade panko!) for lunch today to use up some leftover tofu before it passed its best-by date. They weren’t bad! Normally, when we want crispy buffalo tofu, it involves lots of corn starch and oil to fry it in (it does turn out lovely crisp, and it works great in sauces like General Tso’s, but it’s pretty hands-on intensive), so this was relatively easy and less greasy, as it’s baked instead. The breadcrumbs were decidedly too large, but probably only needed to be a smidge smaller to get a decent full crusting, and to get them really crispy on the outside, I had to cook them post-saucing for easily 20+ extra minutes. But if you keep an eye on them, it does turn out rather well, and they hold their crispiness better than the cornstarch ones do.

Also, Goldbug is going to be one hell of a poker player someday, because he’s tricked me into thinking he’s poopy like…five times today, and then the one time I was pretty sure he WASN’T…he was… Tricksy baby!

Today in Writerland…

Got a brief chunk of time this AM when Goldbug fell asleep after breakfast and actually stayed asleep after I moved him from me to his chair. (I know I’ve heard that now apparently you’re not supposed to let them sleep in a reclining position, a.k.a. a chair or a carseat because HAHAHAHA, parents are screwed, but I literally sit next to him and watch him #creepy #neuroticmomma to make sure he’s breathing.) Managed to nail down another 1,200 words of actually decent draft, which officially catches me up to what I removed the day before yesterday, so feeling good about finally moving in a forward direction again, rather than retracing steps.

I also got to check off sending a stalled submission back out again, which feels great. I’ve got four at various venues waiting on decisions/shortlisted, but in lieu of any of those moving, having something out again feels good. Though can I just say, I am JONESING to get cracking on some new short fiction? Before all this lockdown stuff (and, you know, infant), I had a list going of things I both wanted to finish writing and that needed editing, and I haven’t had any chance at all to tackle any of those, which is frustrating (though given the current circumstances, I’m not beating myself up about it). Still, with the novel starting to take shape, at least I’m working on SOMETHING. I believe it was Ursula K. LeGuin (possibly in A Question of Balance by Judith Pierce Rosenberg, which if you’re an artist and a mom (or a full-time dad) I highly recommend in regards to art and parenting) who said she worked better on novels when her children were young, because longer works can be better interrupted and not lose your forward momentum, compared to short stories, which are so concise and focused you have to kind of nail them down swiftly. Anyway, that’s seemingly proving true with Goldbug around, these days.