(Actually) Netflix and (Actually) Chill

I’ve been watching a lot (too much) of Netflix lately. I love documentaries, and they have a good number of things I want to see. And some of the “reality” shows… Here are some things distracting me from my brain of late.

Dino Hunt–two teams of paleontologists in different locations try to get an excavation done before the rains come, the tide rises, it’s time for the students to go back to school–some deadline, whatever they can come up with. It’s narrated like it’s a competition, but really it’s just interesting. Oh, and it’s all set in Canada. And Dan Aykroyd narrates it. The episode in the Bay of Fundy is especially cool. Site of (they said, I haven’t checked) the highest tides in the world, they had ten days to get their digging done. The one guy was collecting dinosaur tracks. Footprints, from a hundred million years ago…

Reno My Reno–people buy (mostly) cottages on lakes, start renovations and one way or another get in over their heads. Dave and his team come in and save the day. I like it because it’s reminiscent of my favorite home improvement show ever, In a Fix. They send off one part of the couple (in one show it was a friend of the single mom who had been trying to help with the fixes) and keep the other to teach them how to do the work that’s needed. I like it because they’re not doing fancy stuff like a lot of …

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Trigeminal Neuralgia: 26 years

So if you’re been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have been battling trigeminal neuralgia (an excruciatingly painful inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, which supplies sensation to the face) for about four years. It went undiagnosed for almost three. The medication I take to control it stopped working around May, and my dose was increased. It did not help at all. So I’m pretty much back to constant pain again which frankly sucks.

Four years.

Very recently, I made a startling discovery.  I have been battling it for longer.

Twenty-six years.

Let me explain.

I had major jaw surgery to correct severe TMJ when I was fifteen—a nine-hour surgery where my oral/maxillofacial surgeon broke my jaws apart and realigned them, rearranged my face the way it’s supposed to be, and wired my jaws together for two months. As I’ve learned, surgeries like this—as well as routine dental work—can cause TN.

I had 28 pieces of hardware after the surgery. They took a “if it doesn’t hurt, don’t do anything” policy because taking them out would be another big surgery. They didn’t bother me, for the most part, for eleven years. Then, I started getting infections and rejections. So out they came. Oddly enough, most of the right side is still intact while the left is almost completely gone.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I keep asking myself (and anyone else who would listen) why it stayed dormant for over twenty years and then popped up. Now I know …

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I Would Like to Be Neil Gaiman

My significant other recently brought me home a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats from the library, which is a collection of speeches he’s given or essays he’s written on various topics, because he was listening to the audiobook version and thought I would like it.

This book is massive. I am not getting through it terribly fast.

But what’s currently hitting me is that not only is Neil Gaiman asked to talk to people on a fairly regular basis, he can seemingly do so while being profound and not suffering from a nervous breakdown or imposter syndrome or crippling self doubt.

That sounds very lovely.

Of course, maybe once one has several decades of successful career behind them, it gets easier. Who knows?

Not me. I’m participating in my library’s local author showcase on Sunday (for City of Hope and Ruin) and 5 minutes in which to present myself and the book, and I’m a nervous wreck. 5 minutes! In front of probably not that many people, because I did one for Shards and, like, 10 people came. It’s not the end of the world if it goes badly.

But still…

It doesn’t help that my notes from Shards (which I was going to copy the formatting on) have disappeared into the nether.  Oh well. But a little confidence boost would be a huge help.

Done talks? Have suggestions?

 

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Coming Home

This week, I am home.

Sort of.

I grew up in a largish but sleepy city on the Canadian prairies. Suburbs, car culture, indoor shopping malls, long cold winters with plenty of snow and sunshine, lots of festivals and a tight-knit arts scene, large university.
But for the last 12 years I’ve lived in Toronto – one of the three biggest cities in Canada (Vancouver and Montreal are the others).

I remember being amazed by the number of pedestrians when I first moved there. You don’t nod and smile as you pass, you avert your eyes, because there are just too many people for it to make sense to nod and smile at everyone. The sheer number of restaurants, of full subway cars and buses, that Toronto can support still astounds me. And the diversity — half of all Torontonians were born outside Canada. It’s hectic and vibrant and wonderful.

When I come back to the place where I grew up, it feels like home and not home. Familiar and strange – and stranger every time. The infrastructure is always changing – big box stores and suburbs continue to sprout up, and other businesses I remember have closed. There’s now an LRT (surface-level rapid transit) running down the nearest major artery to the house where I grew up. The streets look wider than I remember, even though they mostly aren’t. The downtown core doesn’t shut down at 6 PM anymore — people actually live there now, and the whole …

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Diana Prince and the Thirteenth Doctor

If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you will probably have heard by now that the Thirteenth Doctor will be played by a woman, Jodie Whittaker (British, of course). You may also have Opinions about this.

Well, so do I. But first I need to tell you a story…

I didn’t grow up reading Marvel or DC comics, but I do enjoy superhero movies, and this decade has had lots of them to enjoy. I loved parts of the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy. I particularly loved Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. And at first I was quite excited about the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), especially once Joss Whedon got on board.

But…who are the women in these movies? The love interests. The sexed-up Russian super-spies (come on, I like Natasha, but she’s clearly written and dressed for the male gaze). The dead mothers. The side characters. Look, I have no problem identifying with male leads (see above), but I was really feeling the lack. (Though The Force Awakens and Rogue One helped. I tried Supergirl, too, but the tone of the series isn’t quite my thing.) I was drifting away from the superheroes, back to books, where I knew I could find as many female leads as I needed.

Then came Wonder Woman.

And the tone was pitch-perfect all the way through. The filmmakers took her seriously, as a character and as a woman. They put her in armour and that’s when I knew…this movie wasn’t about the male gaze. …

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Every Word is a Win

Since releasing Ever Touched, I’ve been at loose ends. Sure, I have a few books in the hopper, and editing jobs (shameless plug: anyone need an editor? My rates are reasonable and I am crazy meticulous!) and the day job but….my brain has been fried. Releasing a book takes so much out of me. It’s awesome, and fun, but it’s also a lot of work. And I learned that after releasing Fey Touched in 2012 – I had rewritten the entire second half in 2 weeks (~60k), my wrists were shot, and my brain was mush. I didn’t write a word of fiction for 2 months. Sure, I felt the urge, but that was it. I couldn’t contemplate it. My brain just did one of these every time I thought about it: huh? Whatcha talking about, Willis?

Yeah. So I accepted that I needed the break. That was…tough.

Now that I’ve done it three times, I know the pattern. I have actually been writing, but nothing fixed and definitely not thousands of words (well, fiction-wise. I have a nonfiction book I’m writing that’s 15k in. I guess my brain feels nonfiction isn’t so taxing?). It’s a miracle if I even write anything these days.

I have some stress going on. Some of it I can’t talk about yet, and some of it is the trigeminal neuralgia. And…other things. Not fun things. So I’m sure that enters into the equation.

But then Camp NaNoWriMo started July 1st, and a writer friend of mine in …

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Sometimes Life Does Eat Everything

I’ve always been one of those people who has believed that there’s always time for creativity, that no matter how much life throws at you you can always eke a little bit in, here or there, that as long as you schedule and try, you can reach your goals.

And now I know better.

I’m not really ready–nor am I sure I ever shall be–to talk about my current stressors, but let me say that now I understand what people mean when there’s just no more spoons left, when you physically, emotionally, mentally just have nothing left to give.

And on one hand, it’s agonizing, to have creative goals and not be able to make any headway on them, especially when I have managed to do so many times before. But on the other, I know that this happens sometimes, that it’s temporary, that life is everchanging and even if I’m only getting to write twice a week it’s still something. And it’s okay. It’s okay. I’m okay. Sometimes this happens, and you just have to roll with it.

I am not a failure just because other things in my life have taken precedence.

And even the smallest burst of creativity feels so good now. Last week I patched some holes on the smaller, mobile one’s sock monkey (he now has matching bracelets) and it felt amazing even though it took me 15 minutes and is not the cleanest sewing job I’ve ever done.

(In related news, I cannot find …

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Spending My Inheritance

Surprise! It’s me again. Siri Paulson is taking a well-deserved wrist break, so we’re switching spots.

Last week, I posted about my wonderful grandfather. I would talk about him more, but I don’t need another cry right now. So I’ll talk about the fun he and Grammy (they plotted the inheritance together) gave me.

Friends, for the first time since I lived in a studio apartment where my bedroom was my living room, I have a TV in my bedroom. I bought a TV and a blu-ray player, a new keyboard (because my other new one is driving me up the wall and round the corner) and a new set of PC speakers because only the right one works of the current pair.

I also bought my daughter a TV for her room. She can now play videogames in her room and stop rearranging the furniture in the living room which she never then puts back so no one else can use it! I mean seriously, when you walk into the living room and the couch is a foot from the entertainment center…!

Ahem. TV in my room. It sits on top of the hutch of my desk, so I won’t be terribly tempted to watch it when I am trying to work. My neck would start hurting pretty quickly, I imagine. It sits perfectly for me to watch it from my comfy, awesome new bed, though. Last night I snuggled up with my eighteen-year-old cranky teenager and watched Moana.

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Still Fixing My Car

My grandfather gave me my first car. It was 1990, and the car was a 1970 Ford Custom 500 Galaxie. It was seventeen feet long, and it had fins. It had over 200,000 miles on it. It was in pretty much perfect condition.

That was my grandfather. When you spend money on things, he believed, you take care of them. He had a truck that was older than my car. His car, the one he preferred to drive, was their “last new car” when my grandparents bought it in the eighties. It still looked in great shape when I parked in his driveway last month, paying what would be my last visit to a 94-year-old man.

My grandfather stormed the beach at Normandy. I can’t tell you much about that–I am learning now, as I knew I would one day but I was always meaning to do something about it “soon,” that I did not pay enough attention.

Grandpa worked at the Joy manufacturing plant in my hometown, building huge orange mining machines until he retired. He and Grammy ran a farm too, and raised four kids. Grammy worked sometimes, when it was convenient, so she would be able to get Social Security too. Then they moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona, and ran a four-trailer mobile home park in their retirement.

Historians call them “the Greatest Generation.” For my family at least, I know they certainly rose to the challenges of their lives.

I was there when my grandparents celebrated …

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Trigeminal Neuralgia: Two-Year Update

This is eerie, you guys. I posted my one-year update on June 21st of last year. And, like I said in that post, it was technically my eleven-month update, but one-year update sounded better. And kind of final. So this one is technically my one year, eleven month update. Close enough, right?

When I posted that glorious post, I had every reason to believe that while things may get bumpy here and there, I would remain pretty much pain free. I guess it was naive, and a lack of dealing in realism. I’ve always known that TN is a progressive condition and it gets worse over time. Most people end up having some sort of brain surgery done. Scary thing is, it’s not always successful. And that is scary in itself.

I guess I never wanted to truly believe that that would be me someday.

Today I have some crappy news.

My pain has returned to almost constant levels. I hit level 10 several times last week, and took four loopy pills (not all at once. One each day). I’ve been tracking everything since May 15th, in the hopes that I can figure out a pattern of some sort, and if my neurologist wants details. The problem with tracking is that you become so aware of the pain, more than ever.

Here’s a sample of one of my pain journal entries:

Eye pain level 5 at 2:14pm Duration: 2 hrs 45 mins
Left forehead pain level 4 at 4:55pm Duration: …

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