Exposing my mental health

Thanks to this post, I want to write a blog post about my anxiety issues. On the other hand, I really don’t want to write a blog post about my anxiety issues. So, instead, I’m going to write a story about a party that may have involved quite a bit of anxiety. So there.

Yesterday, we hosted a graduation party for my brother-in-law. It wasn’t a large deal, maybe twenty or thirty people over.  Some of Nikki’s and the graduate’s family, some of his friends, some of our friends who are also his friends. There was good food, good company, nerdery, and crazy children.  No big deal.

I’d spent the morning, since the time I woke up, cleaning. I focused on the kitchen, but putting stuff where it goes can sometimes branch out to other bits of cleaning. I helped Nikki out when she needed help with what she was cleaning. My brother-in-law picked up one of the tasks that was on my list, and did a great job on getting the deck and outside furniture ready.

I had taken my medication, so my baseline anxiety level was improved. By the end of the cleaning, and before anyone showed up, I was exhausted. The kids were excited, and therefore insane. Maybe I spent too many spoons too early. In any case, when people started to arrive, I was able to keep myself calm, but I was changing rooms whenever too many people entered, and eying the exits of wherever I was (even though it was my own home, and I damn well knew where I could go if I needed). By the time food was served, I ducked out of the back deck, headed around the house, and ate on the front porch swing, alone.

I had felt the gradual build-up of that familiar suffocating panic, recognized it for what it was, and knew that Bad Things were imminent. I removed myself from the environment, and recharged as I wolfed down far too many delicious carbohydrates.

I’m feeling twitchy just remembering it.

I rejoined the party afterward, and I was able to enjoy myself, more or less. My brother-in-law had a graduation party, I didn’t have any meltdowns, and everyone seemed to leave happy and full. It was a successful gathering, without a doubt.

A gathering of people to celebrate a high school graduation seems like it should be such a small, easy thing. As far as I know, it is for most people. I’m at a loss to explain why it’s so difficult for me, why it seems to get worse as I get older, or why my brain is broken in this particular way. I keep coming back to a set of lyrics from Soul Coughing:

I don’t mind the worry following me like a dinosaur
I don’t fear I am descending into the molten core
So far, I have not found the science
But the numbers keep on circling me

To Trunk or Not To Trunk

There’s this thing that writers do, and the word for it is a bit old-timey. Way back when, where did you store your stuff that you put away for later? In a trunk, of course. What do writers do with works that need to be put away for a while (or longer)? We trunk them.

I’ve never felt a need to trunk a work. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’ve held onto my old works with a clawed fervor that would surprise… no one.

Like in some other aspects of my life, I’ve made some recent decisions that surprise me. I’ve decided to use my trunk for the first time. In it, I’m placing, with the utmost care, the following works:

  • The Remembrance (Dragon City, book 1)
  • The Glass Crown (Dragon City, book 2)
  • The Purple Heart (Dragon City, book 3)
  • Steven (both comic and prose)
  • Fight or Flight (http://davidmcrampton.com/fofcomic)

There’s nothing about trunking a work that prevents me from pulling it out and working on it in the future. To be fair, though, my understanding is that this is rare. Most commonly, stories in the trunk are mined for ideas and tweaks for newer works.

What will I focus on now? I’ve been participating in the Prompted Word, and that will likely continue. It’s been stoking my fictiony fires, and I’ve found a new world that intrigues me. I’ll be getting someone to do the cover for Too Dimensional, an urban fantasy novella that introduces us to the Adam’s Name universe. Then comes epub and mobi generation and tweaking, the release, and then posting bits of it in various and sundry digital hangouts. After that? I have the next Adam’s Name story, set in Chicago, as well as a paranormal romance idea that is teasing the hell out of me.

I should go to Chicago. For research, not for pizza and hot dogs. Okay, ALSO for pizza and hot dogs. But mostly for research.

Fitness Toys

I’ve been replaced by a pod person.  That’s the only explanation.  Wait, is 38 too young for a mid-life crisis?

I woke up one morning and re-installed MyFitnessPal on my phone.  I mean, sure, I’ve been doing morning walks, and enjoying the hell out of them.  But I have always maintained that tracking what I eat sucks the joy out of eating.  Worrying about numbers, worrying about whether or not I’m hitting some kind of goal, sends me into an obsessive depression cycle wherein all I can do is think about the numbers.  The amazing, awesome, yummy food ends up being nothing but math.  The joy of eating, of tasting, is gone.  That’s how I always reacted.

Always.

And then I didn’t.  I installed the app, tracked the food, and it still tasted just fine.  I didn’t obsess.  I added my weight, measured daily, to the list of tracked stuff.  Nikki advised against it, but I wanted to see my daily fluctuation.  I wanted to collate data, as they say.  I turned on the pedometer function of my phone, until I got birthday money from my parents.  Then I went out and bought a Fitbit Flex, adding my sleeping patterns to what I was tracking.

The momentum kept going (as momentum is wont to do).  After a week of looking at my sleep patterns – or lack thereof – I dug out my year and a half old prescription for a new CPAP mask, took it in to my doctor, and had it updated.  (I really want one of these.)

I get excited to use my new lawn mower, and to haul things around in the yard.  I’m taking the kids out on evening walks ON TOP OF my solitary morning ones.  They love it.  I love it.  Who am I?

Is it that I’m playing with toys?  Is it that I’m internalizing the big data component of work?  Am I having the healthiest mid-life crisis ever?  Pod person?

I’m not quite sure, but I’m going to keep going.  I’m enjoying this and I’m feeling good.

Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt #7 – If I looked into your fridge right now, what would I find?

Eve’s Sacrifice

The Steady Matron settled into high, geosynchronous orbit above the Arecibo Satellite Museum., or thereabouts. Earth stopped spinning inside its reinforced magnetic field. It shimmered as it contained the roiling battles between methane clouds and water hurricanes. Captain Morgan fought the urge to spit. Instead, she just scowled at the ruined planet.

“Captain, Grandmother has sent word. Forty minutes until rendezvous, and 10 more for orbit matching and docking.” She smiled, feeling warmth relax the knots in her shoulders. Gloria was so excited. She waved internal coms open.

“Any special needs that we can satisfy for Grandmother’s crew?” She unbuckled, checking over the ship-to-ship docking equipment for damage done by the Trade Commission.

“No, Captain. They run with Earth atmo, but insisted on wearing breathers. I offered to cycle our life support, but Captain Gyeong read me the riot act, and would have none of it.”

Captain Morgan’s eyes narrowed. “Gyeong is captain of the Grandmother? What happened to Captain Sullivan?”

“You didn’t hear? Arrested six planet months ago.”

“Thanks, Gloria.” She waved the channel closed and sighed. This hand-off would be both easier and harder than she’d expected. She wouldn’t have to deal with Gloria and Sullivan glaring daggers at each other over her. But Gyeong? She was perfect for the Grandmother. Just paranoid enough to keep her compatriots safe operating in the midst of the people they were leaving behind, but too paranoid to take the hand-off without lots of double-checking. They’d be docked for a while, but not long enough to arouse suspicion. It’d be tight. She brought up the system’s power distribution system and powered up the lab equipment in the garden. They’d have to stop and recharge on their way out of Earth space, but it’d be worth it to shave seconds off the transfer.

The air shifted in the room, and the scent of sandalwood beat Gloria into the cockpit. She knelt behind the chair, her clothes rustling. Her hands gripped the Captain’s shoulders, and kneaded tense, stressed muscles. She opened her mouth to ask Gloria if she would be prepping for the docking, and chuckled as she realized that was exactly what was happening. “That… is just what I need.”

“I’m sorry that you heard about Sullivan from me.” Gloria pushed into a knot next to the Captain’s shoulder blade, and smiled at the repressed scream. “Although, I’m sure you’re relieved that he and I won’t be at each other’s throats.” Another knot, this time met with a whimper. Gloria’s hands moved up, kneading mercilessly. “Gyeong is no dummy, though. She’ll see us through this.” Next the upper arms, muscles squeezed and released. The Captain noticed that her eyelids had slid shut without her permission. Mutinous bastards. “She’s got a botanist on board, who wants to adopt our greenhouse idea for the Grandmother.”

Her head lolled forward as Gloria’s hands moved to her neck. “In an Earth atmo ship? Won’t the plants clean out the crap that make it what it is?”

“Apparently, that’s the point. They figure that it’ll happen slow enough to condition the crew to non-Earth atmo in prep for a move. When the exodus happens, they want to use it for the colonists.”

“Huh.” Gloria draped her arms around Morgan’s neck, fingers brushing her collarbones. “That’s a fantastic idea.” Gloria’s breath was warm, tickling the back of her neck. “We’re going to have to recharge when we reach the Kuiper Belt. When we’re drifting, you and I are going to have some one-on-one time.”

“Is that an order, Captain?” Gloria had shifted, and her lips tickled Morgan in the most wonderful way.

“I’ll make it one if I have to.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Gloria gently kissed the back of her Captain’s neck, then sighed. “you’d better get to the galley, if you’re going to meet them in the lab.”

Morgan released the pilot’s harness and swung out of the chair. “Right, as always.” They stared at each other, smiling, and then Morgan left. Two hallway segments and a right turn took her to the refrigerator. She reached to the back of the top shelf and pulled the red and green apple out. It’d take a bit to calibrate the lab instruments to verify and decode hidden within the seeds’ DNA. She should have it ready just as Gyeong and her people boarded. Timing would be everything.

Ouya as a Set-Top Box

While I’ve been traveling for work, I’ve had two simultaneous disappointments.

  • Hotel television programming.  It’s not geared toward me; I’m not the target audience.  I watch by series, not by channel.  I use my DVR to watch, or stream with Netflix, or watch DVDs I’ve borrowed from my library.
  • Watching Netflix on my laptop for extended periods of time is taxing on my eyes.  Don’t get me wrong, the screen on my laptop is amazeballs, but it’s still a screen on my laptop.  My eyes get tired, my neck gets tired, and the relaxation at the end of the day turns into frustration and sore muscles.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a solvable problem.  My first idea has been to use the Ouya as a video and music streaming box.  I successfully loaded YouTube and Pandora.  I side-loaded a recent version of Netflix’s Android app without much difficulty.  So, the last time I was out California way, I brought the Ouya, attendant cords, and one controller with me.  I was ready to put it to the test!

Shockingly, some hotels still don’t want you to hook up your own devices to their televisions.  I did not call ahead, because I had no idea that this was still a thing.  Test #1 was a failure, but not from any technical shortcoming.

My next trip out has me staying at a hotel that specifically mentions the ability to hook up external devices to the television.  If you’re interested, keep an eye out for the details of Test #2 here.  Second try’s the charm!  (Wait, that’s not right…)