ritaxis: (hat)
I am writing this month, but I can't do Nanowrimo for reasons. One: I don't seem able to focus on very large projects at this time. I'm just grateful I can write at all! Anything longer than a short tends to get lost in the underbrush of a no-longer-chemo-brain. So I'm writing shorts, cleaning up old stuff, submitting a bit. I decided that since it's really unlikely for me to make enough money to be thrown off of Medi-Cal in the near future, it's dumb not to submit. Actually--did I explain this?--being thrown off Medi-Cal is not the thing I fear. What I'm afraid of is getting put into the grey category where they don't throw you off Medi-Cal but they require you to pay several hundred dollars (for some people, thousands!) before they will pay for anything. It would be better to get thrown all the way off and pay the (newly) normal subsidized premiums and copays, but that doesn't happen immediately. Worse, I have no idea what would trigger which alternative. So, just as in the case of facing up to cancer, etc., I just have to live my life.

I already submitted two things--one at the end of last month, but I'm counting it in this month. That was a near-future sort-of fantasy about a woman who is being moved out of her inundated neighborhood to find that her new neighborhood is pretty watery itself. And also pretty strange. The other is "John Brown's Body," which is ten years old and looks it, but it's going to a reprint market and its datedness might be interesting in the light of how things are working out, politically, these days. I mean it's sort of the opposite to everything!

I wrote a flash piece but my first reader (you know who you are) said what I was feeling--that the story felt like the unshot gun on the mantle. So now it's turning into a novella. I think it's kind of a time paradox story, but maybe not: some mysteries are not to be understood by the author. An old lady returns to the mysterious coastal village she spent a summer in during her childhood, and finds things to be somewhat different from how she remembered them, but some things are entirely too similar. The best part is the setting, of course. I think, despite what I said about my brain not being able to handle longer projects, that this is not too much for me to handle. Again, there are parts of the story that can't decide whether they are near-future sf or fantasy.

During the summer I was working on two short novels, but due to chemotherapy I could only move them forward a bit. One was about girls who save the world by means of their special relationship with crows and pigeons respectively. Honestly, the hardest part of that one is working out a believable mechanism for them to save even a shred of the world. And yet, parts of the world do get saved on a regular basis.

The other is low-fantasy in that it is set in the same fantasy world--but a different corner of it--and it is unlikely that much of the fantasy elements will come to bear on the story. It's an enemies-to-lovers story happening in the interstices of a larger drama of bandit freedom fighters and also referencing the earliest days of the motion picture industry as experienced by eager innovators in other corners of the world. But not our world. Informed by the last years of the Ottoman empire but in no way an analog for it.

On other fronts: I am a third of the way through radiation therapy. The only bothersome effect is my own body's ridiculous response to any postural demand, which is to spasm painfully somewhere. I have to lie in a comfortable position on a well-constructed individualized support for less than half an hour a day, and my body's response to this is to develop stiff painful areas in my neck, back, and arm. Not the side being radiated. The other side. My radiated breast is a little red, and maybe a bit sensitive, but not so as I'd care, especially with this other crap going on.

Continuing with the health care theme, I've restarted physical therapy. I'd gotten de-conditioned and I'd gained weight during chemo, because I spent a lot of the day sleeping or lying in bed reading. Now my energy level is back to its normal (kind of low) levels, and I'm getting more exercise, but there's some damage to undo. Also, I've been using the BiPAP machine for two months and it is not creating as dramatic a difference as one might expect. However, the doctor has some suspicions about my oxygen uptake which we're going to measure next week & discuss next month.

AND last but not least in this theme, today I got cortisone shots in both thumbs to fight severe trigger finger. It's the second round. The first wore off two months ago but the PA's not willing to give me shots more often than every six months. So if this happens again we're looking at surgery. I'm not afraid of surgery. I'm afraid of being the little old lady who collects all the surgeries, and also the fact that I've been enjoying my surgical experiences feels a little perverse to me, so I drag my feet for that reason too.

It's time to go to radiation or I'd expound about Zluta and the state of my house, but that will have to wait for another day, because after radiation Zluta and I will take a walk and after that I will want to clean house a bit before time for dancing.
ritaxis: (Default)
Okay, some folks spent the first part of the last week packing away all their regular dishes, getting rid of their leavened stuff, and generally working very hard.

I bought five pounds of matzah and started cooking.

We don't have a first-night or second-night or last-night seder: we have a Friday-night seder. It's complicated and even longer than the traditional one, largely joking but entirely and deeply serious as well, and including almost everything anyone has ever done in a seder, and most of it done collectively, and not by the single seder leader (we decided that the second hand washing could be done by a representative). Our Haggadah is a many-generations Xerox of a cut-and-paste job with many sources originally compiled in the mid seventies. It has chunks of dated feminist haggadahs, recolutionary haggadahs, Orthodox haggadahs. Every year Israel (that's the guy who originally did it) and I plan to make a new, reworked, edited one with all the mistakes and repetitions removed. Years ago, when we first started doing this, we offered to skip parts to make it shorter for the non Jews in attendance but nobody wanted to skimp on anything. So it gets longer every year and the kids (unfortunately the youngest is about to turn sixteen. Has the entire concept of grandchildren been lost to posterity? Don't answer that. The one that's really old enough to produce them shouldn't until he's at least settled at med school, don't you think?) insist on the repetition of every story. Which is how it's supposed to be, but some of these stories are pretty idionsyncratic (the "next year in San Francisco" story, for example: did I see that one young man's eyes light up when Ty said "refusenik is a much nicer word than commie fag" and Israel said the person in the story was a commie fag but that was not the point?).

One reason this is like this is that we break the food rules. There's matzah and stuff available from the beginning and the matzah ball soup is served just before seder starts. Nobody's starving and cranky. The only limit on how long we go is stamina, and since nobody has to go to work in the morning we can all stay and help clean.

So I'm wasting time I should be spending cleaning my house and getting ready for the next observance: today's ritual quarterly wine tasting, to which the nice fellow invited everybody he could get his hands on and Moher and Rosemary are actually coming. After that it's tomorrow's Easter something in Oakland with the Jenkinses and Moher and a bunch of people I don't know, probably classical-music oriented East Bay liberal Christians, which is either really really fun or really really awkward.

Then, I'm not sure, but I think I return to being a hermit.

I got seven hundred words done on the rewrite of the John Brown terrorism story, and it's going much better now -- I decided, again, not to start in medias res. I don't know why people so often give that advice -- it almost never works for me.

Today's earworm: the bridging theme from "Everything is Illuminated" -- the sort of slow staccato accordion and brass tune that plays when the car is moving and when the potato is brought and stuff like that.

Also the cat, who has apparently decided he's in heat, because he's rubbing himself against the printer in a really suggestive way . . .
ritaxis: (Default)
You know how whenever you're among a mixed group of writers someone will lament the fact that they have an "inner critic" who regards everything they write with a cold and disrespectful eye?

Sometimes, you know, it's right, and what you've written is junk.

(now I take a deep breath, change the POV and start over)

On another front, Zak and the nice fellow only owe me half the time refunded from having forced me to attend an organ recital at Grace Cathedral. That's because, while the very skillful and famous German organ player nonetheless persisted in playing organ music on an organ, Grace Cathedral itself is a trip, and we arrived during evensong, and I walked the inside labrynth while evensong was going on and after the recital I made them wait while I walked the outside labrynth.

Maybe there's tolerable pipe organ music. I haven't heard it (this was Bach and Reger, and even the Bach was annoying and tedious)

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