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AHHHH

A sneak peek at my inner monologue right now, squiders.

You know, I suspect at one point in my life, I got a lot more done than I do regularly now.

Con starts tomorrow! How ready am I for it?

Eh, I’d say middling. The list from last week looks like this:

  • Sign up for author co-op table slot
  • File sales permits with the usual government agencies
  • Figure out what horse panel is supposed to be about (alas, no descriptions are available yet)
  • Research how far a horse can actually travel
  • Prepare moderator questions for editing panel
  • Costumes? (Probably too late, but ponder anyway)
  • Make Writers’ Motivation Series fliers to put out
  • Order fun masks?

Also, according to the schedule the con sent out very early this morning, I have autographs at 5 o’clock tomorrow? I don’t think I’ve ever had autographs before. I am unsure what this means, actually.

(The answer on the costumes was no, it was much too late to get on that. I could re-wear something but I’m not feeling anything.)

Panel information is out, so I just need to sit down and write things down (horse panel is about realistic travel in fantasy, which I generally know about, but it would be good to have some facts at hand about how long horses can generally go in a day, how fast a sailing ship can go, etc.) and think up some moderator questions for the editing panel (none provided this year, can probably steal/modify from my questions for last year’s panel).

Masks are unlikely to happen at this point. It moving weekends this year really did throw me off.

Actually, I didn’t really check book stock either. Uh. I hope I have enough with the added autograph session (whatever that is–I’m just going to ask when I get there).

Oh, no, I forgot about the laundry.

*kermit flails*

In non-con news, I started my new job outside the house this weekend, which is going fine. It’s weird, not going to lie, but it’s probably good for me, except I am definitely drinking too much coffee.

And I finally put together my revision plan for Book One! It only took me about 20-30 minutes. An example of one of those things that keeps getting put off that doesn’t actually take too long.

And now, alas, September is over. Or, yay, September is over? September always feels like a weird transition month to me, with no substance of its own. Part of me is sad, because my creative work took a back seat to other things I needed to do. The rest of me is like YAY OCTOBER, which is counterproductive, really.

I am excited for the con this weekend, even though I’m not as prepared as normal for it. It’s always nice to just get out of the house and hang out, and I normally get a lot of work done between panels and feel productive.

Well, wish me luck, squiders! I’ll see you next week for the wrap-up.

Butterflies, Part Deux

Apologies if I spelled Deux wrong. I don’t actually speak any French. My sister asked me to help her with a French dialogue once, back in high school, and after a few lines she said, “Never mind,” and took it away.

So, if you recall, squiders, last year we got the smaller, mobile one a butterfly kit for her birthday. And I got unnecessarily invested, and it was all very emotional.

Fast forward to her birthday this year. We get her a fish tank, with the promise of fish sometime in the future. (It is now the future and she has a Betta named Bubbles, who I am again unnecessarily invested in. Apparently I am a lover of all animals.) My sister, however, got her a butterfly kit. With caterpillars.

(The same sister who was disgusted by my French, yes.)

However, the caterpillars were essentially at the chrysalis phase (ginormous) and this was a problem, because we spent most of the next month out of town. So I had to foist the butterflies/caterpillars off on a friend, who dutifully took pictures and videos so smaller, mobile one could live vicariously.

My sister felt bad about the smaller, mobile one missing the butterflies, so she ordered replacement caterpillars with the idea that we would reuse the same butterfly kit otherwise.

About a week later, the caterpillars arrived–dead. And not even caterpillars. Chrysalises. But they were very obviously dead.

Apparently they’d taken three times as long to arrive as expected, and had probably been baked because, you know, summer.

But imagine, if you will, a small child, very excitedly opening the very obvious box of caterpillars–only to find death waiting for them.

Good times. Good times for all.

Anyway, I returned them (got to wonder what the UPS employee thought about that) and my sister ordered replacements, and shortly thereafter we received four alive caterpillars and all was well.

They all made it to the chrysalis phase without incident (perhaps having learned to not shake them around from last year). They all hatched! But, alas, one of our butterflies did not form correctly in their chrysalis. It was more obviously deformed than the one last year (I think it only had one wing, and it was shriveled and wrapped around its body) but much more mobile, so, while still sad, not overwhelmingly so.

Smaller, mobile one did not name them this year. Perhaps this helped. With the attachment issues.

Yesterday we released them (surprisingly difficult to get them up and out of the butterfly kit) and put the deformed one on our last remaining flower that survived the hailstorm on Friday (guess what! We need a new roof in addition to almost every plant in the yard being torn to ribbons. Glee). I’m not 100% sure what the butterflies are going to do, because everyone’s yards/flowers are decimated due to the hailstorm, but hopefully they’ll find food somewhere.

I also forgot to check on the other one to see if it had gotten eaten yet.

I actually feel a little bad about not being so invested this year. Godspeed, nameless butterflies, wherever you are.

I’ve Been Playing in an Among Us Tournament

Sorry to talk about Among Us YET AGAIN, but it continues to be fun. Well, my group is fun, and I like hanging out with them, so by extension, the game is fun.

Anyway, my Among Us discord has been hosting a tournament for the last three weeks. I signed up because it seemed like a safe environment to get some good practice. I mean, there’s games going on fairly regularly within the group, but they aren’t always serious affairs. Sometimes we play variations like Hide and Seek or Vent Tag, sometimes everyone is feeling silly and are more focused on being silly than finding the imposters, etc. It’s fun, but not always good practice.

They had 12 tournament sessions, and your first three were scored (I only did three, because that was all I could make). I ended up doing one on each map: Mira, Skeld, and Polus. Today all the points got added up, the top ten got announced, and the final is set for Saturday afternoon, my time.

(We have a lot of members from the UK, plus other European countries, so games are sometimes at weird times. For me.)

And I actually did really well. I was sick my first session, which was on my best map, Mira, but came in second for that session, which felt pretty good.

(I love Mira. I think it confuses a lot of people which means if you have any sort of semblance of an idea of how to use it, it’s really powerful.)

(Also all the vents are connected.)

My second session was on Skeld, which I am awful at. I can’t seem to figure out how to 1) kill without someone immediately walking in on me, or 2) not die immediately. I went into it dreading it, and it somehow went worse than I thought it would. I came in second to last.

Yesterday I did my final session, on Polus. And man, I crushed it. Everything went perfectly–I was voting right, I was staying alive, and the one game I got imposter, me and my partner won by the second round. I was only on the losing side one game.

I came in first for the session, which is madness.

So, for the tournament, I’m in 12th place. Way higher than I expected. I thought I’d be more, like, 18th-22nd. (There’s 35 people total.)

So I’m pretty proud of myself.

There’s also a chance I might play in the final. One of the top 10 people can’t play, so the 11th person has already been moved into the final, so if someone else can’t make it, I’m in the bullpen, so to speak.

I don’t really want to play in the final–that seems a little too exciting–but for my first video game tournament of any sort, it’s been pretty good. And it has been fun to really focus on the strategy of the game, though I don’t think I’d want to do it all the time.

(Also, perhaps I should never enter a tournament again. That way I can always think back to this time and remember how well I did this one time.)

Anyway.

Reading through the story continues. I’m deeper into the story, but finding it hard to focus on critiquing myself versus getting sucked into the story. But we persevere.

Hope you have a good weekend, squiders!

There is an Impostor…

So, squiders. I did it. I jumped on the Among Us bandwagon.

Among Us, for those who haven’t heard of it (unlike the bigger, mobile one, who apparently knows all about it from school, sigh), is an online computer game where you are one of up to 10 little astronaut guys trying to get things done on your spaceship/station/planet (depending on the map). But one (or two or three) person is an impostor, who runs around killing the other astronauts and sabotaging things.

(Here is more information, if interested.)

It’s essentially an online version of Werewolf or Mafia, if you’ve played those.

The game is about two years old, though I first became aware of it about a month ago when the memes started circulating on Tumblr. At the time I did just enough research to understand where the cute little astronaut things came from, and called it good.

But then it kept showing up.

And then there was the livestream AOC did of her playing it, which people kept talking about, so I went to check it out. And it looked fun. That’s when I began to consider maybe playing it myself.

And then my video game newsletter featured it. I went and looked–the game is only $5 (and apparently the mobile version is free, though I haven’t tried that version).

$5 for a game is not very much. That’s like, one less trip to the coffee shop for me.

So I left it open for a few days while I considered what I wanted to do. And Tuesday was, well, Tuesday, so I decided I deserved a little fun.

Good Lord is it addictive.

Like all online things, it depends on the other people there. If you can find a good group of people, you can happily play several games in a row, and it’s a great time. The game’s not complicated, though there is strategy to it, both as an impostor and a crewmate (such as figuring out how to do tasks in electrical without getting murdered).

(Alternately, there are some very immature people out there, who are probably literal twelve year olds. The good news is that it’s easy to find a new game.)

Anyway, I spent most of yesterday playing it, which was not the best use of my time, but I had fun and now it’s mostly out of my system. But I do feel like I’ve gotten my $5 out of it, and the replay-ability is high.

If you’ve been considering it, give it a try. Especially since the mobile version is free.

As for Nano, well, I’m a day behind due to election shenanigans/Among Us, but I’ll catch up by the end of the day. My MC found the dead body right before I headed this way, and so far so good.

See you next week, squiders!

Feeling Untethered

So, we’re temporarily not living in our house. Most people, when they’re very sick, will sleep and read and watch TV, but my husband decided this was a perfect time to have work done on the house.

Specifically, to remove the early 80s popcorn ceiling throughout. Which precipitated not only having to get almost everything we own out of the house, but also ourselves, since there is not usable furniture or anything of that ilk.

(It sucks to take everything you own out of your house. It’s like moving, but without the end result of hopefully having a nice, new place to live.)

So we’re living with my mother-in-law this week, which isn’t bad, but it does make me feel…listless. I don’t have anything to do–no real dishes, or chores, or cleaning. She’s around to help with the small, mobile ones so I don’t need to focus on them as much as usual. I should be able to do all the writing and drawing and whatnot that I could possibly want to.

But I’m not. Mostly I’ve been listening to the TANIS podcast and using a coloring app on my phone (one of those color by number apps).

I kind of hoped it was just yesterday–a recovery, if you will, from spending several days moving everything I owned. Today isn’t much better.

(And now it’s Wednesday, so apparently Tuesday was not better at all.

I have managed to read a book I owe a review on, so there’s something! But man, it is rough going here. Tomorrow, perhaps?

How are you doing, squiders? Tips for re-setting yourself when everything feels adrift?

I am Unnecessarily Invested in These Butterflies

So, for the smaller, mobile one’s birthday about a month ago, we got her a butterfly kit. You know, one of the ones where you put caterpillars in and eventually you have butterflies.

(She asked specifically for either an ant farm or tadpoles, but I didn’t want ants in the house when she invariably somehow let them out, and what do you do with tadpoles once they’re frogs? We do not live in a frog climate.)

Butterflies, though, we could do butterflies. They don’t live that long in the great scheme of pets, so they seemed a safe bet.

Now, the butterfly kits do not come with caterpillars. What they come with is a coupon to get caterpillars from Uncle Milton, who, as far as I can tell, is the purveyor for all caterpillars for all butterfly kits ever.

(And also ants for ant farms.)

So we give her the kit, we order the caterpillars, and they come in about 2 weeks. We’re supposed to get 4-5 caterpillars, but we have 3, with possibly one more dead on arrival that is soon either consumed by the other caterpillars or buried in caterpillar poop/food.

Smaller, mobile one is ecstatic. I try to decide if it’s worth contacting customer service over not getting our 4-5 caterpillars. (No, was the conclusion.)

We put the caterpillars in the kit, or, rather, a small, removable section at the top of the kit, where they have lots of “caterpillar food” (which looks like sand and smells like death) and a place to make their chrysalises. Smaller, mobile one takes them everywhere, even though I tell her it’s probably not a good idea to shake them around so much.

This proves unfortunately true when she takes them outside and the neighbor kids knock them over.

And then there were two caterpillars.

(Again, not sure if the now-dead one got eaten or buried.)

Smaller, mobile one is very upset about the dead caterpillar (she’d named them all) but got over it pretty quickly. I, on the other hand, am also very upset about the dead caterpillar. They’re not my caterpillars. I’m not terribly fond of caterpillars in general. But they’ve like, imprinted, or something.

I am much more upset for much longer than the smaller, mobile one, which is ridiculous.

(Actually, we originally thought they’d all died in the knocked over incident, because none of them moved for several hours, so I guess it’s good that we ended up with two.)

The remaining two, Lacey and Turner, got humongous (seriously, much larger than I expected based on their size when we got them) and made cocoons, hoorah. Success. But also kind of gross, because they left parts of themselves outside, which eventually separated and just kind of…hung off the top of their little ceiling. I am learning all sorts of things, and most of them are things I didn’t need to know.

So, yesterday, we awoke to one of the butterflies (smaller, mobile one says it’s Turner) hatching out of its cocoon. Hooray! Except…it got about halfway out and then stopped moving. Seriously did not move for over twelve hours. I was convinced it had somehow died halfway out. Its wings stopped unrolling, it stopped moving its legs. Nothing.

And I was really upset. Again. It’s ridiculous.

This morning, said butterfly was all the way out, down in the pool of sugar water at the bottom of the habitat, and I assumed it had just fallen down, since its wings were still messed up and now it was hanging out in the water. Its head was out of the water, though, and when I moved the net (with the thought that I would pull it out if it were dead) it moved. So, still alive, I guess?

I don’t know what’s going on anymore. Maybe this is normal.

But I’m exhausted from the emotional roller coaster of what this poor butterfly is doing.

Maybe tomorrow its wings will have untwisted and it will be out of the water and everything will be great. Maybe tomorrow the other one (Lacey, according to the smaller, mobile one) will hatch and come out in a much more dignified manner, or maybe it too will get halfway out and then pretend to be dead for half a day.

I can’t quite fathom why I’m so invested. Maybe it’s because I am one with the animal kingdom and invested in the welfare of its inhabitants. Maybe it’s just more suffering on top of everything else going on ’round these parts.

Who knows?

Maybe I should have gotten her the ants.

butterfly habitat

Do you know anything about butterflies? Have you done one of these yourself, squider? Is this normal butterfly behavior? Should I put this poor butterfly out of his misery?

Augh!

Small Hiatus

Hey, squiders. Interesting times, eh?

I try to stay mostly on topic here at the blog, but at the same time, it almost feels…unseemly…to pretend like everything’s fine.

So I’m not going to.

I firmly believe that people have the right to not be judged or treated differently based on the color of their skin. I hope some positive action comes out of this.

No posts this week. And I won’t make guarantees for next week either, both because of this, and because my husband’s medical issues will be moving into a new phase as of Monday.

Stay safe out there, squiders.

What Day is It?

Sorry, squiders! I don’t mean to only be posting once a week at the moment, I just honestly never remember it’s Tuesday until it’s, like, dinner time.

(Also, it’s Wednesday–obviously–which is a school day for the smaller, mobile one, yet I got no instructions from her teacher for today. I think there may not be school due to conferences but who knows anymore?)

(She’s making evil Easter eggs next to me, which is an interesting choice, but hey, whatever floats her boat.)

I read something this morning that says that, psychologically, it’s okay that we’re all still in panic mode, it’s normal when something traumatic upends your life, and how it’s important to take care of yourself and not beat yourself up for being mostly useless.

(Although I did finally update the books and short stories on my website! I made new sections for anthologies and nonfiction, which are accessible under the “Stories” header in the menu. It was a long time coming, I’m very proud.)

So, if you too are not getting much done, I wanted to give you some feel good things to do in your non-productive time, so at least you feel a little better.

First off, I’ve got Some Good News, featuring John Krasinski of Office and Jack Ryan fame. He very obviously got bored and decided to make a half-ass news show, and it’s amazing. Also it may make you cry. Good cry, though.

My favorite Ghoul Boys of Buzzfeed Unsolved recently started their own channel, and since the shelter-in-place orders went into place, they’ve stared a D&D campaign with their friends. It’s worth it just for Shane’s accents.

And then there’s this, which is…well, just watch it.

You have anything interesting and uplifting you’ve found?

Thoughts from Home

So, my blog posts from last week were scheduled a few weeks ahead of time (since we were supposed to be on a cruise last week), and while we did end up sneaking off to Moab before everything shut down, I still feel like, as time went on, they felt more and more disconnected.

Disconnected from reality, I mean.

A St. Patty’s post when St. Patty’s was all but cancelled. And then a post about editing and revision when everyone I know’s productivity has tanked.

Cuz, I mean, the whole thing’s inescapable, really. It’s everywhere you look. Schools closed, work changed or gone completely. Worries about paying bills or whether or not there will be enough food at the grocery store to feed your family. Fears about leaving the house, and nowhere really to go if you do leave.

(I did go out a little while ago. I ordered some toy dinosaurs from a local craft store for science experiment purposes to entertain the small, mobile ones and had received a notification that my order was ready, but by the time I got there they’d already closed for the day. And I went to my favorite coffee shop, because I want to make sure my favorite small businesses are doing okay, but it was empty and quiet and sad–they aren’t allowing more than five people in the store at one time–so now I am also sad.)

I’m sure you guys have run into this too. How…everything is different, and how routines you didn’t even know you had have been completely upended.

It’s really been hitting home the last few days. Especially now that I’ve got the small, mobile ones all the time, and I’ve somehow got to educate them enough that they’re prepared to move on to the next grade if school doesn’t actually happen again this semester.

(I mean, yes, I’m getting virtual lesson plans from their teachers, but it’s nowhere like what they’d be getting if they were actually at school. And that’s to say nothing of the missed socialization. I’m a super introvert, and even I am feeling the isolation.)

(I wrote physical letters yesterday.)

(I think the room I wrote my grandma might be a little punchy.)

I’m also not getting as much done as I would like, though I’ve quit checking the news a million times a day, at least. But it’s not all bad. I finished my drawing class for the month. The watercolors I’ve been doing in the trip journal are pretty dang good. And I finished the draft of my scifi horror novella.

Focus on the good, right?

I hope you all are doing okay, all things considered, squiders. Let’s keep our heads up as best we can.

See you on Thursday.

I’m Not Ignoring You, I’m Just Digging Through My Past


Yes, yes, I know I said one week off for the holidays, and it’s been two.

I blame my computer.

Well, more specifically, I blame a number of things that have made it so I couldn’t get at my computer.

It started the weekend before Christmas, when my spouse decided he didn’t want mess visible when friends came over and so buried my desk and chair in it instead (it was behind a wall, so out of sight). And blocked my access to desk/chair by putting the filing cabinet in the way.

And then, you know, Christmas.

And then the spouse decided the office was a place where things went to clutter and had a bit of breakdown, which resulted in me trying to re-arrange things to make the clutter less obvious.

Which did not work.

(Meanwhile, my desk/chair are still buried/blocked.)

So I did some research on storage solutions, made several layouts with different desks/bookcases, and eventually we picked one and went to get furniture.

Which was an unmitigated disaster.

While I had picked furniture from a specific place (IKEA), we agreed it wouldn’t hurt to try a few other places as well, which turned into us going into every furniture store between here and IKEA (surprisingly a lot) even though most of them were too expensive/the wrong style/didn’t even sell office furniture.

By the time we finally got to IKEA, we were exhausted, so we went home.

And the next morning, we went back. We examined all the color options, made storage bin decisions, and came away with a plan for at least the storage part, if not the desk part. But by the time we made it to the warehouse to pick up the bookcases, the color we wanted sold out.

So we went home again. But later that night, my spouse had come up with a new plan, so we went back and bought bookcases in a different color, and came home again.

At which point spouse decided he hated everything and wanted to return it all and, I dunno, wallow in the clutter.

So, long story short (too late), I have been to IKEA six times in fives days. I have changed out colors of various things, sizes of bookcases for other sizes, returned a number of bins (we can’t count, apparently) and also returned a number of impulse buys (IKEA is dangerous that way).

But I do now have storage shelves bought and built, and a desk (smaller, so it’s harder to let clutter build up on it), and also coincidentally have a new monitor, keyboard, and mouse, because it’s hard to stop the spouse once he gets going.

Right now, my set-up looks like this.

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Looks pretty nice, right?

But what you don’t see is this:

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This is my dining room right now, which currently has everything from the office that has not been put back in the office. It looks so bad because I’ve been going through bins and drawers and whatnot to see what’s in there.

And, good Lord, it’s my entire adult life. Sticky notes with random story ideas that are no longer connected to any context. Letters from people I lost contact with years ago. Presentations and homework from college. My first Myers-Briggs test from my first job after school. Old drafts of stories that have since been rewritten. Workouts cut out of magazines a decade ago that I’ve never done once. Newspapers of various things (including an article about Nano from 2006 featuring a picture of me, and a different one of just my hands typing). So much stuff, just shoved in a bin or a drawer or wherever, and then forgotten.

And it’s hard slogging. Do I throw this stuff away, knowing I haven’t touched it in years? Do I keep some, to remember again next time I go through my stuff? How many mementos of your life can you keep before it overwhelms your present?

So, anyway, I’m digging through that. And through everything that built up while I didn’t have computer access. But I am moving, and by Tuesday I should be back on our normal schedule, fingers crossed.

How were your holidays, squiders?