I'm busy for a bit with family and fun, but the good news is, there are eight agents I have lined up for querying when I make time. I like finding a group to query, rather than just one or even two a little more out of the blue ...
Years ago, I started work on a short called "Airless" - a sci fi detective piece, not "very" SF, you should pardon the descriptor making it sound like I want to distance myself from the genre. It was set during an investigation in which breath-evidence was key to the murder at hand. The premise (the extent to which this was SF) was that breath absorbs into the walls of the rooms we spend time in; and that somehow this has become quantifiable and measurable. The writing was good, but I had no idea where to go with it.
I have some more work I want to find some way to incorporate. I didn't know it was related until walking my dog tonight; so it isn't in any shape to fit. But my wee brain cogitates. Maybe it will give me some direction. Right now, it goes as far as "there can't be evidence ... because of this problem" - but that is a completely unformed premise at the moment ...
I am just typing. I’ve been trying to quantify ... what it’s like. What this IS.
And ... I can’t. It isn’t something I can explain. It isn’t even something I can describe. And I never have. I’ve never sat with anyone, not even you, and been able to tell what it is has happened to me. Because it’s too many things - but also because I can’t grasp a single aspect of it. I don’t even have enough control over whatever is wrong with me to ... so much as be able to say what it is.
I can’t put it into words.
This is beyond even comprehension, never mind expression.
And THAT. Is what it is like.
That is what being unable to get a breath is like.
It’s like being an infant, physically powerless and verbally powerless, and blotted out by the terror of helplessness. And knowing: there IS no help. No control, and no overcoming. Just inability. Impotence. Obliterating frustration.
It happens, sometimes - that I *can't* breathe. Not that it's hard to. That I simply. Flatly. Can’t. It’s not "hard": it’s not possible. You may have heard the phrase, oxygen starvation. Trying to come up with a way to describe this, I thought it was more like thirst. Thirst has an immediacy which hunger, as powerful as it is, somehow doesn’t. Thirst carries with it a desperation, which begins at a far earlier point in the pain than hunger gains such depth of power. Thirst is harrowing. Thirst is terrifying.
But even thirst doesn’t capture the essence of drowning in thin air.
Blank defeat isn’t benign. It’s as black as ignorance, it’s as impenetrable as water *just* too deep to swim to the surface fast enough, it’s as hideous as the mouth of the tiger bearing down on your neck. No escape. No relief. No hope. No point in fighting it.
Not only do I experience what it is to be unable to breathe ... years ago now, I learned what it was to just capitulate. To GO without breath, because I know I’m not going to get one, and to function until my body, inattentive, can regulate to the diet it can get. I admit defeat multiple times every week. I quit. I lose.
Raheema. G-d. It is the most terrifying thing. There is nothing so stark as to expect *nothing at all*. When I am forced to face it, I give in in another way. The power is overwhelming.
Yesterday I was unable to breathe; so acutely distressed I know I had to be audible to somebody around me. I couldn't have that. And so, strangled even though I wasn’t moving, I simply sat, and stopped, and strangled. There was nothing else for it. Defeat was relief. Anything else only made it worse. Anything else only made it real - by witness - and that was unbearable.
I can FEEL how small the human passageway for air is. I can feel my soft palate constricting to my tongue, the back of my throat misshaping itself, but almost spastic, almost convulsed beyond my control. Sometimes, I can no more swallow than breathe.
They call it fighting for air. For the life of me, I don’t understand that: there is no battle - no weapon ... no blood you can draw, no opponent. Only oneself.
When I was younger, I used to have a dream: that I was wrestling a giant cat. Lion, panther, cheetah - just anything bigger than I was - just anything with inarguable strength, immobilizing paws, indomitable weight. At the time, the dream had to do with the lack of control we have over life when we’re young, and the fear that teases out of our depths and tries to ignite us to cinders with.
This is *like* that ... but even less romantic. Nothing so beautiful as an actual preditor coming against you. Only the slowness of dream struggle. Only the preternatural impotence.
This is simply like being pressed to death. The torture of weight, stone by stone. It’s like being underneath a bag filled with a thousand pounds of water, slowly but slowly sinking down on your bones.
I would love to have a fight - something to *engage* ...
I have no fight. I have only the sight of succumbing.
I got the house clean today, and vacation is coming up. Today I've done 4 loads of laundry, patched two pair of jeans, fixed three in the seams of a good work dress, and then got a beautiful job done on lining the lace of a really pretty work-and-probably-more dress, stitching in a piece of black acetate to mask the lace, and then stitch-witching it to reinforce and finish/trim the job.
Unfortunately, the beautiful job I did on this last piece was only the first half of a two-sided job ... and on side two, I almost immediately MELTED the lace ...
It's not a disaster; all I really need to do is get some similar lace from the fabric store, then I can reinforce it *before* even re-installing it into the dress. For my sanity, I might even be able to use something more like embroidery lace, which has the advantage of being more refined-looking than the thin poly stuff, but also offers the weight and substance to make it less than an utter and complete nightmare to sew - as the extremely thin, light, and gossamer stuff currently in place would be, either to stitch by hand (I'm a dab hand with a needle, actually, but with my glasses long since broken, and only so much patience for such incredibly fine work, there's a certain amount of commitment involved in thin-lace/acetate (or stretchy knit - augh) sewing) OR with a machine. I may be good, and even patient, with my current issues with close/fine vision - but the more snarling-up extremely thin, slippery, and/or spider-web-weight textiles I can avoid, the better.
So the dress, which I'd wanted to wear this week, is sitting in the sewing pile, one side looking fantastic, and the other quite literally irreparable with existing materials. Le Sigh.
But the real news isn't really my production of wearable clothing, from my own sewing and/or laundry piles. It's the fact that some of my clothing is going in a suitcase, and soon I will be seeing my family again.
My brother made bouef bourginon tonight.
I hate my brother. Because no way that's lasting long enough for me to get some.
(Confidential to him: have ya talked to the folks at that sandwich place about producing one of those unbelievable pot roast sandwiches, during my stay ... ??? Heh.)
Had a routine filling today, after cracking my very back molar ... and experienced a most un-routine aftermath. Holy smokes.
With the location of the damage, the novocaine shot was done at the back of my upper jaw. The back of my tongue went numb - but the rest did not - a terribly strange sensation alone. But the worst of it was that my soft palate was also numbed.
It felt like it collapsed, just falling onto the back of my tongue.
This caused a lot of trouble breathing. But I am well used to having a lot of trouble breathing; annoying, to be sure, but that wasn't what got my attention.
The problem lay in the fact that with my soft palate going saggy, my uvula went on HIGH gag alert ... and my gag reflex kept getting worse after the (relatively brief) procedure, as the drug seemed to strengthen slowly, or at least after I sat up and the effect became quite distinct. I had to hold back a retch just walking out of the building, and several times on the way home.
If you're the type to go for sunshine, low humidity, and mid-80s summer days when thinking of perfect weather, today was the day for you. Even late into the morning, it was only 75; a marvelously comfortable day.
Except from the neck up.
The problem with dazzling, beautiful weather - particularly dazzling, beautiful weather coming on the heels of either exceedingly cold and wet weather, or very hot, humid weather, is that the barometric change in pressure causes a similar radical shift inside one's head. I know of three people in my department alone who had migraines when the weather improved like this.
Obviously, I was one of them. Ah well.
I got little sleep last night, so did that thing where instead of resorting to a full on sick day, I call in late (well, email anyway), and then I rolled over for an hour or two.
Or, well, three and a half. I ended up sleeping from 6:10 to ten o'clock; I wasn't in the office until eleven.
One of the actual listed symptoms of migraine is that some sufferers may enjoy a post-migraine recovery relief so pronounced it almost equates to euphoria. I've had this with some of the worst headaches I've had; it hardly makes migraine worth suffering, but it is at least a pleasing payback once one does go away. Recompense.
Today, at least so far, no recompense. I downshifted from the full-on migraine just down to an ordinary, dull headache - and still a pretty bad one, at that.
Tomorrow may bring the joyous improvement, but once a headache is long enough, even just 'better' is enough relief for the joy of gratitude - even without the symptomatic euphoria. However it goes - weather-wise, relief-wise - I have to say, I am looking forward to it.
I've negotiated with one remarkable artist regarding producing maps I can use with "The Ax and the Vase", and long dreamed of X creating a strong, graphic, arresting image I could look at (yes I know authors don't get to do covers; this would not have been a query gimmick - just for me). Ahh, but life ain't loaded with time, and the writing remains *writing* ...
So, for fun - here we have easily MY favorite image of Clovis I available outside my brainpan:
Being a bit lazy and obvious in my tastes, I sometimes forget that the breadth of my musical tastes is not merely an amusing oddity, but actually makes me a little smarter about music than I like to give myself credit for. My radio station at work this morning took hits at Cameo, Dre, TSOL, John Denver, and Anthrax right in a row, and for me it didn't really skip a beat, though I did hit skip on JD, not being in the mood for the country road just after TSOL's wildly indulgent vocal style. Probably the strongest songs for my mood today were Keep Their Heads Ringin', a fantastically seductive California gangsta track, and Anthrax's Joe Jackson cover, "Got the Time" - not exactly a similar pairing, but somehow harmonizing for my tastes.
Anthrax has always been an odd one for me. On the one hand, if I'm not listening, I always seem to dig their sound - but, sometimes, paying attention to what they have to say (and this is a metal band that indulges in Having Something to Say) can be detrimental, because I actually find myself a little embarrassed by the music, looked at for its component makeup. I have this problem OFTEN, which is interesting, considering how much I am able to enjoy some artists whose components I find downright silly - and yet, there's an awful lot I prefer not to look at critically, and just listen to without allowing myself consideration or a technical view.
This probably explains the fact that I can enjoy Type O Negative so much, and appreciate the satire more than I worry about the violence or misogyny.
It doesn't explain why I cannot hear a note of Toni Braxton's strange nasal-grunt-as-emotional and hollow head voice singing without being mortified - but so it goes. I guess having certain taste excuses us from maintaining too much integrity (it's not as if Peedah Steele was prone to naturalistic singing - and if you watch that clip, it's obvious I don't require "pretty" amongst my musical predilections as a baseline requirement ...).
The thing about all this is that I usually plead musical ignorance if the topic of any particular style ever comes up in conversation - and I make a lot of fun of myself for being a middle-aged suburban woman dancing in the office to g-funk ... but the fact is, as oddly composed as I seem to be, and as incongruous ... I'm no less valid a consumer than anybody else.
At the end of the day, though, I may fit in a more predictable-box than all this likes to defy. I married a hair metal musician once, and that wasn't an accident; I like it loud, I like hair, I like things that make me want to bang my middle-aged suburban head - and I like cranking it in my car.
It may not seem a lot less incongruous, from the outside, for a woman dressed for a drone-job, outside the 80s and significantly far past 30, to be as interested in thrash as in Ice T (and T had a metal band of his own, after all), but contextualizing the age and everything, it probably at least fits *better* anyway.
It wouldn't surprise anyone to admit that as self-effacting as I am about my musical taste and its weirdness - it is of course a source of self-appreciation, if not actual pride or vanity per se. My blog even says, "I contain multitudes" and it's no small part of my satisfaction in my own skin ... that I shed certain "skins" from time to time, wearing one or another - and that I can do that. The facets of my taste reflect the facets of my tendencies, and I am a bit insufferable on the point of my own multiplicity.
But really, at bottom, beyond all my egotism about being a nonconformist, or at least being weird, I genuinely enjoy variety. The limits we choose for ourselves seem in many ways so constricting, and I revel in creativity, surprise, and certainly in unpredictability in certain aspects. I'm not a mercurial, elusive, arresting archetype of the Strange, Unattainable/Maddening Ideal our culture has created - but it would be a job to pigeonhole me with any success. It would be too unspeakably boring to be ANY one thing all the time - the object of romance, the doting aunt, the competent professional, the silly girl, the hard working homeowner, the author, the six-ways-to-Sunday nerd, the devoted friend, the lazy, entitled, middle-aged, well-off American. I have to be all those things, and I have to try other things too, and sometimes I have to think about some of them and wonder even about myself.
Then again ... sometimes I have to walk the dog.
And from everything I am hearing: now is getting to be one of those times.
I'm still having problems leaving comments on another blog, the system goes into a Google account sign-in loop and simply won't resolve. Very irritating; if anyone has had this problem, tell me how you have solved it.
In other news, no new drama on my friends, and no actual defaults on their respective warranties. I've contacted another friend, far away, and my priest, and tried to take a couple positive steps, even if they are baby steps. I'm reminding myself I need to be like my friend-in-need's husband: he is the finest of men, and I'm grateful for him, profoundly grateful. I think I have said before that I love all my best friends' husbands: V and W, TEO and her husband, K and T, Zuba and ManlyMan. These men are genuinely wonderful. And I realize I need to take a page from W's book.
I need to be here for my friend in need, and for him too, and find the positives he has - and never stop praying ...
My family and friends have been so kind to me this weekend, almost as if something had happened to *me*. It makes me feel a little guilty; but I'm grateful, too, that there are those who care so much about me they circle wagons even though the only thing I have to suffer is the impotent frustration of fear for someone with an actual (potential) problem.
When I tell them tomorrow, I think my two New Best Friends at work will show the same concern for me. B and L are, of all the people I've been blessed to work with, among the ones I feel luckiest to be on a team with. L helped push me through the day last week, when I was worrying about TEO; and B at times reminds me of TEO, or of my aunt. Both of them are exceptionally generous and appealing, and we've all been bonding over the past few months. L is our communications goddess, and last week sent a doc to ME with "please approve" for a subject line - which, first of all: hee - and, second of all: what a compliment! (If only she were a literary agent ...)
This is to say, after randomly crying here and there through the weekend, I actually almost look forward to the work week at this point.
Last night, I worked a volunteer event; it was the perfect way for me to get out of the house. I found myself schmoozing up silent auction items with people who had come to the party. And the thing was held at the campus of my previous employer's executive location. Though few actual executives from that company appeared to bother being at the soiree on their own site, I did see security and one of the caterers I'd known there. It was a pleasure being able to say hello and tell them how much better suited I am to the new gig. It was a challenge mingling, socializing, and selling a bit, focusing on a clear task, and the people. It was a pleasure, afterward, breaking off with the volunteers and enjoying a nice bite to eat, late into the night. It was an excellent distraction.
First thing when I get up this morning, I receive the message above. As anyone who's read this blog more than once probably knows: That would be a definite "no."
I've spent my time online today changing passwords on multiple accounts, deactivating my FB yet again, and mentally composing the note to everyone in my address book to apologize for any spam they may be receiving. So let that be a lesson to ya: even if you don't USE Facebook, it can still compromise your security. Isn't that so charming?
Traffic seems to be down since I started actually posting things relevant to my genre. The only time I get multiple views seems to be when the bots go roving, and only one person ever comments anymore ...
This is not encouraging, people. Because I really can't just stop being relevant to my work.
The deal was that I would endure my mother's having surgery, one of my two best friends having a lung biopsy and pain pump installed, and my other best friend coming through the crisis of last week. Now, you understand: it is OVER.
There is nothing, nothing whatever, okay - about my best friend who just came through the biopsy, having a preliminary diagnosis ... of the disease that killed my father.
This morning a coworker said to me she had a bad feeling about today, and I was in such a happy place I couldn't make myself very empathetic. Last night, I talked to my best friend. Today, I was in a good mood. Getting a job I hadn't been looking forward to done turned out to be not bad at all.
Then we discovered that a job already done was not done properly - and: 100% my fault, that.
I gave the manager "a moment" as she put it, but the good news was that the mistake was more in the way of overdoing a generality than actually causing a catastrophe, so she picked herself up from the reaction, and ended up being able to deliver the snafu almost as an aside in a brief update reporting to managers on project status. I thought her doing that was (a) very kind to me, particularly as The Error was not attributed, and (b) probably smart, too, as there's nothing like a good wigging to cause wigging contagion in others. She even called to apologize for her "grumpiness" - which, no, she wasn't at all grumpy with me, and two, I had made a very clear error, one I should not have made at all. The instructions had been clear, and I squiffed them on being distracted by a detail. We're very lucky the job itself wasn't a more substantial one, information-wise.
Then, on the way home, at that STEEP curve from one major road onto another, the woman in front of me accelerated, so I took my look at traffic behind me, began to take off - and discovered she had stopped again. Damn it. And she was on the phone, but - I was the following car, so of course there's the sick feeling I'm going to be the responsible party.
The officer who came to the scene provided no charges, so that's nice, and no court date. But the way things took their turn today, I just feel queasy, and alone, and simply unable to breathe at all right now.
Then the dog contorted her way out of her harness - but that was a short escape. She's not as headstrong as she was when she was four, AND she also knows I'm no fun when it comes to trying to get me to chase her, so the worst of that deal was having to carry her (yelping as if I were breaking her legs, so that didn't last but a few yards) and then just become a human leash/harness/collar to her across the backyard and back inside. There was a time she would have fought me bloody, AND worked her butt off to escape and run like the very-dumb-about-four-lane-highways-and-rush-hour-traffic wind, but today it's still well over 90, and being put inside wasn't entirely to her disliking.
I'm left with that hideous, acidic backwash after the adrenaline subsides, and I feel every scintilla of the worst of what I hate about Being Alone in this world right now. I already bugged my best friend last night, and she just came through a crisis, so I cannot call her and whine to make me feel better. X is out of pocket, and I just can't think of anyone I'd be happy to dump any self-indulgence on at this point in my day.
I haven't called my insurance agent, and don't want to, and I haven't even picked up whatever the message is in my voicemail, though in all likelihood it's just my neighbor reminding me I have a haircut with her tomorrow.
I feel *bleah* and there's nowhere to pour that out.
Oh, hey look - a blog. Perfect container. *Glub-blub-glub*
I've talked about teledons and my love of PBS - for Nova, or history, "Secrets of the Dead", archaeology, whatever. I actually Netflick up History Channel specials and other things - most recently backing up a recent Terry Jones, and a History Channnel pairing of bits of "Barbarian" ... erm, history.
Of course I just love Terry, and he's looking fit and well in his take, but for my money, as little as I like whig historianism, it doesn't follow that ax-grinding (hee) is necessarily my thing moreso just because someone flips to the other side of the blade. Questioning conentional wisdom, I feel is necessary; but nanny-nanny-boo-boo-ing it I don't see. Yes, the juggernaut reputation of "Roman civilization" needs to be considered, and explored. But entirely contradicting it is no more enlightened than traditional dismissals of "Barbarian" cultures. And repeatedly complaining that Romans exposed their babies and watched death-for-entertainment ... rather misses the fact that, actually, people throughout the world - and throughout history - have done the same things, unfortunately.
Barbarian law NEEDS to become a part of historic scholarship. It needs to be acknowledged, the accomplishments and attainments of Barbarian culture deserve a place in general understanding, and the wall built around them by millennia of propaganda DOES need to come down.
But standing on the wall taunting with an outrageous French accent, as popularly effective as it probably is, shortchanges a depth of consideration ...
And this brings me to Clancy, narrating an American take on the subject.
Clancy Brown, Clancy Brown: I love you, I always have, I watched that show you did with Billy Zane (and I am weird enough, I watched for YOU - and that magnificent head of hair of yours - not for him, even though he slightly resembles Mr. X). And I don't hold you responsible for your script.
But ohhhh. This script.
Oh, History Channel. Seriously. With the declamatory, and the ... well, defamatory. The Romans would have loved it, even the bit where they starved the Goths and bought their childrend for slaves with payment-by-dog-meat. Ehm.
I like clustering my themes in my Netflix qeue, but am glad my new copies of DS9 Season 4 are on the way momentarily - and that after The True Story of Hannibal (see also: Ben Kane), it'll be time for a stretch of actual movies again ...