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I can’t even

This is… surreal.

Velocikittenraptors

Critter posts properly go on Stringpage, but that apparently isn’t as fixed as I thought it was, so.

The velocikittenraptors are three today, and thus properly and thoroughly velocicatraptors.

pair of sleeping sister-cats

They still attain a decent velocity, especially at 3am, but not as often as they once did, and they no longer squeak at exactly the Jurassic World velociraptor pitch, but being velocicatraptors suits them.

snuggling Cawti cat

May they have many more years of sunbeams and tummy rubs.

Norathar cat in a sunbeam

Every so often

Let me quote my oncologist:

I reviewed your CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis done on 3/28/2016, it shows no new suspicious findings, no evidence of recurrence of cancer noted and it is quite encouraging good result.

I’m starting to think I might actually pull this off. I’ve had no evidence of disease for 18 months, and have made it to 26 months after diagnosis. The magic number is 60 months: at that point the doctors shrug and admit they have no idea what happens next. I’m well on my way there!

Whatever else happens, I get to do all the things I’m planning for this spring and summer. Can anyone say Hamilton?

Kingfisher

Guess what?!? The March issue of Fireside Fiction is out early, and you can read “The Kingfisher Manifesto” right now!

Fireside is a good outfit, and I’d like it if you subscribed, joined their Patreon, or whatever, so they can keep paying writers and artists.

Fungus!

This SMBC nearly illustrates a story of mine.

SMBC

If you haven’t read Two Kilograms (my least-favorite title but most popular story), it’s available here, or as a podcast, or in Polish.

Sorry I don’t have much else in the way of news, unless you want to hear the gory details of rectangular and non-rectangular hyperbolas with temperature correct. And trust me, you don’t.

My life right now is clearly illustrated by my intent to leave early today to take full advantage of the long weekend. Instead, it’s 7:21 and I’m still at work, waiting on the last bit of computer code to finish running so I can look at my hyperbolas.

Whew!

I have so many essays half-finished (or, really, rather less than half), but this is too important to wait for me to find my motivation.

As of yesterday, my CEA was 1.8.

That is, NORMAL.

No blood marker for cancer here!!!!

Wha-hoooooooo!

Blizzard

Snow fell in rainbows, braided swirls of red and orange, indigo and violet, tiny colored crystals glinting in the wind. Where each flake hit the street, it drilled a smoking pinprick hole through the pavement. The trees were tattered, branches ragged and splintering. Miniature geysers marked the path of an unshielded water main. Anika had spotted a squirrel outside as the blizzard began, scampering toward safety. She’d watched it dissolve from behind a double thickness of glass; she wasn’t going outside any time soon. She’d never realized squirrels could scream like that.

Anika wrapped her hands around a mug of cocoa, its heat doing little to relieve her chill. A memory of catching snowflakes on her tongue rose in her mind, a relic of times when snow was white and fluffy, and melted only into water. Sledding, forts, snowmen.

Anika clutched her mug and watched the rainbow snow endlessly falling.


It’s been a long time since I’ve written any word-count flash. This one is exactly 150 words according to Scrivener. Maybe it will make you all feel better about the snow you are getting, if you are.

Starman

I started this for twitter, but it turned out to be too long. I kept the format, though.

Two years ago this week I was in the midst of all sorts of invasive and terrifying tests, resulting in a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer.
I was 43. I didn’t think I would have two years.
After chemo, radiation, surgery, and more chemo, I appear to be healthy.
Last spring, my mother died of cancer after a 15-year respite. The last time I saw her was when she helped me post-surgery.
She died while I was hooked to the chemo pump. Her memorial was a week and a half later, when I was recovered enough to manage it.
I drove home on Sunday, and started the next chemo session on Monday.
I already knew this week was going to be complicated. I’m thrilled I got two years, and probably more.
I’m sad my mother can’t celebrate with me, and I with her. “Sad” seems such a short and inadequate word.
I’m angry that I had to endure this at all.
I started the day by checking twitter at 4am and discovering David Bowie had died. He knew he was dying, he’d known for 18 months.
David Bowie chose to spend that time making his last album. He knew what he was doing, and he did it the way he wanted to.
I’ve had six more months than he did.
I don’t know whether to go back to bed, or to work my ass off.

Sale to Fireside Magazine

I am delighted to announce that my totally true fantasy story, “The Kingfisher Manifesto,” has been sold to Fireside Magazine.

The editor commented on Twitter that, “…we’ve accepted 15 stories from our October submissions, out of 1,133. They’ll fill about 6 months at our current funding.”

This implies that sometime in the next six months you will all get to read it.

Edit: I completely forgot to link to Fireside so you could all go and subscribe.

#SFWApro

Pay attention

It’s been six months since I finished chemo, and a year since I got out of the hospital post-surgery. I’m doing very well physically: walking, doing yoga, no longer exhausted all the time. I had two fairly demanding vacations back-to-back, Viable Paradise and World Fantasy, and enjoyed them both, and worked and played hard. I have long-term and possibly permanent consequences from some of the treatments, but overall, not too bad.

As my endurance and abilities recover, though, the mental side effects become ever more frustrating. I should be better, dammit! I was looking at my to-read pile, and bemoaning the little writing I’m getting done, and the trouble I’m having doing science… and all the time I’ve spent in the last year doing online jigsaw puzzles rather than anything more fulfilling.

And then I figured it out: whether from stress or chemo brain, or most likely a combination of the two, I’ve spent my time doing things that don’t require a through-line. The number of long novels I’ve put down rather than keep track of complex plots. The time at work spent processing GIS data, which is useful but not mentally demanding. The not-writing. The jigsaw puzzles, which don’t require keeping track of things. I’m not doing things that need sustained attention or complex memory.

I’m using notebooks and online calendars to manage most of the daily business of life and work, and that’s been largely effective. I forget what I got up for, or fumble for words, or can’t spell them when I know what they are, but those are slowly improving. But the sustained attention/through-line capability hasn’t been improving as quickly as the physical capability has, and it’s much harder to compensate for.

That capability is incredibly important to my understanding of who I am. I’m the person who reads a lot of books, does insightful science, engages with the world in complex and extended ways. That’s not what I’m doing right now, and it is deeply frustrating. It terrifies me that those abilities may not entirely come back, though I imagine I will develop further coping skills.

I have a really hard time distinguishing between being patient with myself and being lazy, or not pushing myself hard enough. That line has never been clear to me, and even less so now. Productivity is also an essential component of my self-image, and I’ve become someone who starts a million things but doesn’t finish any of them. My idea-generating ability came back pretty quickly (and losing that was incredibly traumatic, especially the first time; less so the second time I started chemo because I knew it would come back), but my ability to follow through on those ideas is just not there.

I want to write this novel, and read a bunch of complex, delightful books, and get a bunch of science done, and make beautiful things. Instead I’m spending a lot of time on twitter and doing those bloody jigsaw puzzles. I don’t know what the solution is, and fear there may not be one. Better and more thorough note-taking, to make up for the things my brain can’t do? Breaking things into ever-smaller chunks? Cutting back, and thinning my schedule so I can use what focus I do have on the most important things? Or is my focus rejuvenated by switching to a different project? I need to try a bunch more things and see.

And then there’s the fear of everyone who’s been treated for cancer: am I even going to live long enough for any of this to matter? Or am I just going to leave a bunch of unfinished projects? I’m healthy right now, and want to make the most of that, but the fear is always there.