truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)

After two years of wandering disconsolately from specialist to specialist like the bird with no feet, I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

ON THE ONE HAND, this is a relief. It means I have a name for why I feel tired and achy and depressed all the time. (And, yes, it probably started cascading back in 2010, when I broke my ankle.)

ON THE OTHER HAND, I'm trapped in a good news/bad news joke. The good news is, I'm doing everything right. The bad news is . . . I'm doing everything right. Diet, exercise, sleep, biofeedback/mindfulness, etc. I already take the most commonly prescribed medications for fibromyalgia for the RLS. There wasn't very much the fibromyalgia specialist could recommend, and I appreciate that he was upfront about it.

(Additionally, because this is the internet, and I know how the internet works, please assume that I have already explored my options thoroughly. I am grateful for good wishes, but I do not need advice.)

So I find that I have to rethink a lot of things. This is not the person I wanted to be at 42, and I'm trying to figure out how to manage myself to get closer to that person, who writes stories and plays music and rides dressage and loves what she does. (And who answers email. Jesus Fucking Christ.) My principal focus is on my writing, because for most of my life if the writing goes well, everything else goes well, too, and hence this blog's new name (all the content from Notes from the Labyrinth is here; I deleted my LJ account, but I did not burn down my blog), because I am in fact experiencing more than a few technical difficulties. As I have the energy to spare, I'm going to try to blog about them, on the theory that other writers and creative persons may be experiencing some of those difficulties themselves, whether because of fibromyalgia or for some other reason.

(Book reviews will continue as they have been.)

We do the best we can with what we have, and this is what I have.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
[first published on Storytellers Unplugged, August 7, 2010]

click! )

sestina! )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (lionsmane)
1. This guy's art is AMAZING.

2. The thing I forgot to mention in my previous post is that I now have a little weather prediction center in my right ankle that FAITHFULLY lets me know when the weather is changing. You know, just like characters in books always do. I must tell you, however, that it is not actually as much fun as you might think.

3. I love this proof that cats have always been cats.

4. I have rubbed a raw spot inside my nose with my sleep apnea tentacles. DON'T ASK ME HOW I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

5. If you are in need of laughter today, this site made me laugh so hard I nearly ended up on the floor.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: hamlet)
This is most likely the last post I will make specifically about my ankle, unless something changes dramatically for better or worse, although I'll probably still bitch about it from time to time.

I'm making this post for closure on the series of posts I made about breaking my ankle and recovering therefrom, and because everything is a learning experience and everything is potentially story material, so that anyone thinking about breaking a character's ankle will have some idea of (at least some of) the possible repercussions and outcomes.

cut for the laundry list )

Overall--and I want to be clear about this--I am extremely lucky. I do have full range of motion, and the lingering problems don't prevent me from doing any of the things I love. The RLS is far, far worse, both in terms of day to day nuisance value and because it makes travel so very, very unpleasant. But my ankle is never going to be as good as it was before I broke it, and while I'm at peace with that (unlike with the sleep apnea, which still makes me want to punch things), it is a fact that requires some workarounds and hacks in order to be manageable. (Really, the cut-up old socks are damn near miraculous.)

And that's the new status quo.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: glass cat)
As the new year begins, my story "Blue Lace Agate" is live at Lightspeed. (Author interview here.) "Blue Lace Agate" is chronologically the first story about Mick and Jamie, the protagonists of "A Night in Electric Squidland" and "Impostors" (in Somewhere Beneath Those Waves), and I'm delighted that it has finally found a home.

ETA: Also, Mateusz Skutnik has a charming little New Year's game which I commend to your attention.

Although I don't usually write year-in-review posts, after the year I've just had, I really do feel the need to sit down and take stock (4,691 irradiated haggis, check).


2011 in bullet points )

As 2012 begins, I'm going to full-time as a database thrall, and we'll see what effect that has on my health and my writing.

Goals for 2012 (note to self: do not mistype as "gaols," please) include:
  • finish The Goblin Emperor
  • write An Apprentice to Elves [with [ profile] matociquala]
  • finish Thirdhop Scarp and write this backlog of Booth stories
  • write a bunch of other short stories
  • maybe start on this novel that is twining seductively around my ankles
  • blog more

Happy New Year! May 2012 be a better year for all of us than 2011!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
So, yes, I'm still here. Just not on the internets hardly at all.

the details, if you want 'em )

But while I'm here, I should mention that [ profile] matociquala and I will be doing a signing (which I just mistyped "singing," and honestly? that's not impossible) as part of Pandemonium Books' 22nd anniversary celebration on November 19th (their website says the 18th, but that's the Friday and the signing is on Saturday). If you happen to be in the Boston area, you should totally come out for it.


Aug. 7th, 2011 05:08 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
One year and one week ago today, I broke my ankle at--as it happens--a horse show.

The fact that it was a horse show was pure serendipity. I wasn't showing, and my injury was not in any way horse-related. But it lets me have one of those tidy pieces of ring composition that fiction does so often and real life so rarely. Today, at the same facility, Milo and I rode in our first schooling show. In the Intro-A test, we came in second in a field of three with a score of 54.38. In the Intro-B test, we came in third in a field of five, with a score of 59.38.

This is respectable for our very first show, and I am very happy.

5 things

Jun. 3rd, 2011 01:51 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (smaug)
1. Ten months and two days out, I have had my last orthopedist appointment. (This is the ten-month anniversary of my ankle surgery, which was two days after I broke it.) The orthopedist is very very pleased. There's no sign of the fracture, the joint is symmetrical, the talus is nicely contained by the tibia and fibula. (He pulled up the original ER X-rays, in which, yeah, the tibia has ceased to contain anything and the talus is kind of drifting off out of the joint in a way I find even more horrifying now than I did at the time. In some circumstances, opiates really ARE your friends.) Unless the metal in my ankle starts to cause me pain, they don't need to see me again. Three loud cheers.

2. [ profile] kate_nepveu pointed me to this lovely review by rushthatspeaks of The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow (written by Opal Whiteley, edited by Benjamin Hoff). Reading the review is its own reward, but I need to quote the first paragraph, which is what made Kate think of me:
The best way to describe the reading experience I had with this book is to say that it resembled what might happen to a perfectly innocent person who does not know much about history while looking up newspaper headlines from 1880s London. Which is to say, there you are researching away, doing nothing particularly ominous, and suddenly all of the scholarship on Jack the Ripper lurches out of its cabinet and starts gnawing on your leg. Up becomes down, dogs and cats start living together, the definitive works on the subject are written by people who do not have a personal interest so much as a personal ideological obsession, and otherwise perfectly rational researchers start yelling at one another "WHAT PART OF PH'NGLUI MGLW'NAFH WGAH'NAGHL CTHULHU FHTAGN DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?"

Of course, what it says about me that this paragraph evokes me to my friends is . . . perfectly deserved.

3. The Lindorm is still at the Saab place, but they promise I will be able to pick it up today.

4. Menstrual cramps continue to blow dead bears.

5. The Drabblecast has sent me an engraved brandy snifter and a murder weapon blunt instrument MASSIVE PLAQUE to commemorate "Mongoose" (written by [ profile] matociquala and me) being their Story of the Year for 2010. ([ profile] matociquala will be getting her own PLAQUE and snifter because The Drabblecast is a class act like that.) I love only slightly more than the fact that this plaque looks like it belongs in a Clue-for-Writers game (Miss Scarlet*, in the Conservatory, WITH THE PLAQUE!) the fact that both snifter and PLAQUE are engraved with a tentacle not unlike this one:

Honestly, I think sffh has the best awards: rocket ships, tentacles, H. P. Lovecrafts, the Jackson Awards' rocks . . .

*Did anyone else, as a child, suspect a secret affinity between Miss Scarlet and Scarlett O'Hara?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[I've posted about this before, but am posting again to boost the signal.]

Melissa Mia Hall, 1956-2011

[ profile] suricattus writes:
There is a move afoot in the nation -driven by the GOP - to repeal the new health care laws, to protect corporate interests, to defend against fear-mongering (and stupid) cries of "socialism!", and to ensure that people are forced to choose between keeping a roof over their heads or getting necessary health care.

This movement is killing people.

Think I'm overstating the fact?

Ask the friends and family of writer/reviewer Melissa Mia Hall, who died of a heart attack last week because she was so terrified of medical bills, she didn't go see a doctor who could have saved her life.

One person. Not the only one. That could have been me. Yeah, I have access to insurance -- I live in New York City, which is freelancer-friendly, and have access to freelancer advocacy groups. Through them, I can pay over $400/month ($5,760/year) as a single, healthy woman, so that if I go to the hospital I'm not driven to bankruptcy. But a doctor's appointment - a routine physical - can still cost me several hundred dollars each visit. So unless something's terribly wrong? I won't go.

Someone who lives in a state where there is no Freelancer's Guild or MediaBistro to put together an insurance plan for freelancers? Someone who has been laid off or downsized, and can barely make ends meet? SoL.

That could be you. That could be your best friend. That could be someone you've never met. That could be any of us - because there are people out there who think that taking care their neighbor is someone else's problem.

No. It's our responsibility. All of us, together. As a nation.

EtA: Nobody is trying to put insurance companies out of business. They will always be able to offer a better plan for a premium. We simply want to ensure that every citizen - from infant to senior citizen - doesn't have to choose between medical care, and keeping a roof over their heads, or having enough to eat.

We're trying to get this to go viral. Pass it along:

I won't watch another friend die because they can't afford healthcare. Save the Affordable Care Act! #ForMMHall #HCR

I linked to the the original post about Melissa Mia Hall's death. [ profile] suricattus links to The Daily Kos' post, which itself provides links to many other posts.

I am lucky: [ profile] mirrorthaw has excellent health insurance benefits. Otherwise, frankly, the Ben Jonson Memorial Fundraiser might very well have been a fundraiser to try to cover my medical bills. Consider that broken ankle. We've got (1) ambulance, (2) ER, (3) overnight hospital stay, (4) orthopedic surgery, (5) follow-up visits to the orthopedic clinic, (6) physical therapy, (7) prescription painkillers. I haven't done the math, but ouch, baby, as Austin Powers would say. Very ouch.

And then there are the medications that I am on, and probably will be on for the rest of my life, for (1) chronic stomach problems, (2) chronic brain chemistry problems, (3) chronic high cholesterol. And then there's the RLS, which has had me on four different medications to date (two relatively ineffective ones to treat the RLS itself, and two relatively ineffective ones to treat the side effects of the less ineffective of the two), with two doctor's appointments, and that appointment with the sleep clinic coming up on Thursday. And no guarantee that the problem will be resolved then, either, if it ever is.

But I'm lucky. I'm married to a man who does have health insurance. I don't have to worry about how much my health care costs. And my point here is it shouldn't be a matter of luck. No one should have to worry about whether they can afford to go to the doctor.

No one should die the way Melissa Mia Hall did.

ETA: [ profile] mevennen talks about her experiences with health care in the UK and how different is from the way the right-wing American propaganda paints it.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (valkyries)
60 minutes, 38 laps.
292 miles, 25 laps.

Swimming doesn't give me the charge that my dressage lessons do, but I certainly do feel better afterwards. And my aching ankle tells me it's good PT.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (valkyries)
Half an hour, nineteen laps, mostly with the pull buoy. And then the pool was so crowded I nearly got run over, and I was exhausted and brittle and out of cope. Just out.

As a corollary, however, I can report that I am driving again, and life has become approximately 5,398 times easier.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (horse: fd-milo)
The take-home lesson from 2010 is: don't break your ankle.

Other than that, I'n not doing any kind of Year in Review post. Instead:

my horse in a nutshell )

and some pictures of four-cat bed detente )

Happy New Year! Here's to 2011!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Geraldine Hoff Doyle, a.k.a. Rosie the Riveter, died Sunday, age 86.

In her honor, [ profile] matociquala has started a meme.

My contribution demonstrates the single upside I can find to breaking one's ankle: six weeks on crutches gives a person awesome arms and shoulders.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: fennec)
Today I have revised "To Die for Moonlight," adding 1,400 words and a plot complication. 7,700 words total now and back it goes to [ profile] mirrorthaw to see if the improvements have improved things.

(My Samsung printer totally just made a noise like a jet engine powering down. Dude. I knew it was mighty, but not that mighty.)

I have also paid bills and dealt with some house stuff, plus feeding the cats, medicating the Elder Saucepan, and putting food and water out for the feralistas. (If you run the water hot and put it out in a plastic bowl instead of metal, they have a fighting chance of getting a drink before it freezes solid.) Oh, and feeding and medicating me.

I know I'm finally coming out of the ankle-related slump, because my to do lists for the word mines are getting too complicated to keep in my head again. The current one looks more or less like this:

1. Query Apex re: "Learning to See Dragons."
2. Revise "To Die for Moonlight."

2a. Read-aloud pass through "TDfM."
3. One more pass through "Hollywood and Vine," mostly for clean up.
3a. Read-aloud pass through "H&V."
4. Editing pass through "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek."

4a. Read-aloud pass through "TDiGC."
5. Submit "TDfM," "H&V," and "TDiGC."
6. Implement fix for the broken bit of "The Witch of Arvien" and inflict on [ profile] mirrorthaw and [ profile] matociquala to see if the story runs now.
7. Revise the nameless story about the knight, the wizard, and the giant mutant telepathic bear. (Also, find a title!)
8. Finish "Hope is Stronger than Love" for Shadow Unit.
9. Finish Thirdhop Scarp, kicking and screaming all the way.
10. Write the missing scenes for The Goblin Emperor and hope for edit letter soon.
11. Essay for Projekt that I think is still Sekrit.
12. Next EQ essay for tor-dot-com.
13. Read and review Brave New Worlds ditto.
14. New werewolf story? (First line: The werewolf had hooked his iPod up to the stereo and put it on shuffle.)

And from there, the To Do list merges indistinguishably into the first lines meme.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. Yesterday, the CEM of The Tempering of Men started its journey back to New York. If it doesn't get there by Tuesday, it's because of UPS, not me and the $74 I shelled out.

2. Yesterday, also, I had my first full-length dressage lesson since July 31st. (I'd had a couple of lessons previously, but they'd been much shorter, as my dressage instructor has been very careful and cautious about overtaxing my ankle.) This morning, my thighs are telling me ALL ABOUT IT. I have never been so happy about sore muscles in my life.

3. The orthopedic appointment on Friday went very well. My orthopedist was amazed at the range of motion my ankle has achieved; it was much more than he'd expected. (The word "awesome" may have been used. *g*) I have the green light to start weaning myself from the lace-up brace, and I don't have to go back to the orthopedic clinic until June.

4. These three things need listing because, otherwise, I've had a crappy week--due mostly, it seems, to PMS (depressed, clumsy, exhausted, retaining water like a camel, plus the random menstrual cramps like being stabbed in the kidney.) The Mirena has certainly reduced menstrual flow (which was not something I was ever actually particularly concerned about), but other than that, all it seems to accomplish is making everything as irregular as fuck. Gynecologist appointment in January, and we will most certainly be discussing the matter.

5. I haven't done this for a while, so: if you are a reader of this blog, and you would like to introduce yourself, please feel free to do so in the comments to this post. This offer is 100% obligation free; there is no pressure here of any kind.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (porpentine: stick)
This is the four month anniversary of me breaking my ankle, so I thought I'd do one more post about it and then let it subside into the background unless something particular happens.

So, four months out, where are we?

verisimilitude notes )

Essentially, what I'm dealing with now is less the break per se and more the accompanying sprain, plus the six weeks of immobility. Progress is discernible, but frustratingly slow. I still don't feel like I'm safe to drive, which is probably the worst of it.

Also, of course, I'm still fighting with the RLS. Sunday and Monday nights were rendered hellish thereby; I don't know about last night, because I just avoided going to bed until two. The ropinirole seems to be sometimes helping and sometimes not so much; it's much more reliable about making me queasy. This is not exactly what you call win conditions here.

So, things are much better than they were at 3:52 p.m. four months ago (much better), but I'm not all the way back yet.

And there you have it.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (mfu: ik-stet)
It's the last day of November, it's snowing, and the CEM of The Tempering of Men has showed up on my doorstep like a foundling child. Since we turned in the final manuscript sometime in August--late August? Early September?

. . .

Since we turned in the final manuscript sometime in the part of my timeline that is now nothing but narcotic sludge, I rather expect this pass through to be a voyage of discovery. Imagine what wonders I will find!

It's due back in New York on December 7. So if you need me, you know where I'll be.

Day 101

Nov. 9th, 2010 02:44 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
So my little cloth lace-up brace is my new best friend. Not only can I wear TWO shoes again, I can wear pants. (Pants! I have a whole new appreciation for pants, let me tell you.) And on Saturday I was actually able to ride Milo. It was for fifteen minutes, and it was the most boring lesson ever, and it was AWESOME.

However, some verisimilitude notes for writers. I still can't go downstairs normally; it's bad foot down one, then good foot to join it, then bad foot down one, then good foot to join it. Although I can walk relatively normally, and even fairly fast (although not without pain), there is a point beyond which I simply cannot go faster. There is, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, no there there. Also, I cannot run. (As we discovered on Saturday night, I cannot even jog to cross the street ahead of oncoming traffic, and [ profile] rarelylynne, I'm sorry for scaring you.) Uneven surfaces are hell. And this is with the brace. Without the brace, I can sort of limp/shuffle around on the nice flat floors of my house.

The RLS continues to be bratty and abysmal, and now that I'm off the narcotics entirely, it's harder to sleep. Sunday night I was up every two or three hours; last night, I was up at least once. (The difference between RLS and insomnia: with insomnia, I'm just not sleepy; with RLS, I'm desperately sleepy, but I've got the invisible goblins poking me and I can't sleep. I'll take good old-fashioned insomnia any day.) I'm starting magnesium supplements ("it might help," said the doctor's office), and on Thursday I have an appointment with an acupuncturist. I will of course report back.

Day 95

Nov. 3rd, 2010 11:14 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (smaug)
Around the interwebs:

Short version of last night: the legs were fine, but the respiratory system was awful. Curse you, con crud.

Today I need to run--well, walk--errands, including paying the cat sitter and picking up a couple of prescriptions. This has the added advantage of providing at least some of the daily exercise I need. Since one of my goals, aside from staying off the narcotics, is to decrease the amount of Requip I'm taking (and hopefully escape its unpleasant side-effects--nothing like a little nausea just before bed), daily exercise is transitioning from a should to a must. Which, on the one hand, does provide motivation to stay fit, which is a plus. On the other, I hate being told what to do, even by my own body.

Still not able to drive, which is frustrating (cats need to go to various vets, I need to get back to riding, etc. etc. etc.), but I flinch just thinking about having to stomp on the brakes, so it's clearly not time yet.

On the career side, I can tell you that The Goblin Emperor is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2012, although obviously this is still mostly vaporware, and I'll have a short story collection coming out from Prime in November 2011, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves. (Don't worry, I'll be posting about that again--and probably again and again--closer to the publication date.)

Also, at WFC I got my contributor's copies of The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010, edited by Paula Guran, which includes the Booth story, "White Charles." (I would offer you a link, but Prime's website is currently not cooperating.)

So, taken all and all and despite the con crud, I'm doing okay.

Day 94

Nov. 2nd, 2010 10:23 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Tonight, I am going to try sleeping without narcotics for the first time since July 31st, having been steadily decreasing my doses of Vicodin over the past week or so. I'm cautiously optimistic, because in that week, the only night my RLS has given me trouble was the night after I'd spent all day in the car without taking sufficient leg-stretching breaks. We corrected for that on the way home, and I didn't have any trouble. So here's hoping.


truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)

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