truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (mfu: ik-geek)
Mateusz Skutnik has released Submachine 9. I am beside myself with glee.

(If you want more Submachine, the entire series is here.)

Gandalf checks his email. BEST PHOTO EVAR.

I believe Catzilla turned off the little Cthulhu machine this morning by walking on it. Proof (a) that the people who designed the damn thing have never lived with a cat and (b) that my cat is THE SPAWN OF THE DEVIL.

I had not known about EarlyWord until it was drawn to my attention that The Goblin Emperor got a nice shout-out on their GalleyChat summary for March 4.

There's also a very positive review from Justin Landon at Staffer's Book Review, who admits he went in prepared to hate the book and was won over anyway. I think that's the first time I've pulled that trick off.

(I know if you're reading this blog, you probably don't need to be persuaded to buy the book. Humor me.)

I finally have a day job that is both permanent and part-time (instead of working as a full-time temp, which is what I've been doing the past two and a half years). I am very happy with it; it has taught me that, oddly enough, I enjoy accounting, which is a piece of self-knowledge I wish I'd had in college. It satisfies the same part of my brain that likes Latin and calculus (and Submachine, come to think of it). And I totally get an endorphin cookie when my numbers balance.

Also, if anyone knows any good resources for DIY double-entry bookkeeping, please share! I took a Continuing Education Accounting Intro course, but the textbook, as it turned out, was not very reliable. And my employer is unlikely to be able to spring for accounting software any time soon, so it's just me and Excel.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (lionsmane)
What the respiratory therapist will neglect to mention about your little Cthulhu machine: Getting the mask to seal is not automatic. Or easy. Or sometimes even possible.

What the respiratory therapist will also neglect to mention: The straps of the mask have a tendency to self-adjust. This is not a hidden features. This is a STUNNINGLY POOR DESIGN CHOICE.

What you will learn the hard way: Even if you get the mask to seal initially, odds are still good you will wake up in the middle of the night to discover it has slipped. At which point, odds become almost catastrophically poor that you will be able to get it to reseal without coming all the way awake, and also thrashing about a good deal. Swapping one mask for another may actually help, but that's a delicate and complex operation which you cannot turn the light on for, because your poor spouse is trying to sleep. ALso, see above re: AWAKE.

What the respiratory therapist WILL tell you when you ask for help: A water-based lubricant makes it easier to achieve a seal.

What the respiratory therapist WON'T tell you: Water-based lubricant dries out after about two hours, and there you are back to square fucking one.

What the Internet will tell you: A + D Ointment is great for getting a mask to seal!

What the respiratory therapist will tell you when you ask: Yes, it is, but it also eats your mask. OIL-BASED, LOSER.

What the respiratory therapist will also tell you: You might as well give it a try. If it works, you can decide if you want to buy masks more often.

What you already know: Your insurance will only cover a new mask every six months. Because only slackers would need one more often.

What you will learn the hard way: A + D does indeed help with achieving a seal. However, IT dries out after about 4 hours, and after that it is just as useless as anything else. Also, it leaves you feeling kind of greasy.

What will make you mad enough to chew nails and spit bullets: Saying fuck it all and turning off the machine for the rest of the night is not the answer. It only results in feeling like death on fried styrofoam in the morning.

What will make you throw in the towel for the night : The realization that, instead of getting back to sleep, you're writing this blog post in your head.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (lionsmane)
1. Yesterday I posed with a giant inflatable colon to promote colorectal cancer awareness. Most surreal Thursday morning ever.

Yes, a colonoscopy is not the most fun you will ever have, but speaking as a friend of the awesome Jay Lake and as someone who has had a polyp removed from her colon and will be going back for another screening in a couple years, colon cancer needs to be beaten to death with a stick.

2. Liz Bourke has reviewed The Goblin Emperor for As an author, positive reviews are great, but what you really want are good reviews, reviews that understand the book you tried to write and convey it well. This is that kind of review.

3. I am currently undergoing all kinds of adjustments to my . . . I don't even know what to call it. The victory conditions for sleep? They're shipping me a different mask to try with the little Cthulhu machine. It will still look like a disastrous attempt at an elephant costume, but hopefully it will (a) be more comfortable and (b) seal to my face better. Yes, I have seen Aliens. Please don't remind me.

But ALSO, my sleep doctor and I are trying to rejigger my RLS medications, because I'd gotten to the point where it was requiring way too much narcotics to club the damn thing into unconsciousness. The new medication is definitely working, so that's a plus, and I am re-weaning myself off the narcotics. Yes, there has been just a tiny bit of withdrawal. I haven't gone off them entirely yet, but I am working on it because I hate the damn drugs. I am hoping that when I can finally stop taking them, I will be less tired and also that my creativity will come back again.

It did come back in December and January before drying up again in February, and the creepy thing is that I can actually articulate the difference. When everything is working correctly (i.e., what I thought of as "normal" until the clusterfuck began in 2010), there are words in my head. Well, there are always words in my head. I am like Hector Puncheon, who "usually thought articulately, and often, indeed, conversed quite sensibly aloud with his own soul." So maybe it's more accurate to say that the staus quo ante, to which I desire ardently to return, is that there are stories forming, word by word. Because there are words, separate from my internal narration/dialogue. They form themselves into sentences, and the sentences form narratives. When it was working right, I would frequently "get" sentences from Booth out of nowhere.

Now, I can force prose. There are always days when you have to. But it's not the same, at least from my side of the proscenium, and I really didn't realize what I'd lost until I had it back. I didn't realize that there was a wellspring, that I wasn't imagining that writing used to involve joy instead of just grim desperation.

I had it back, and then the RLS went bad, and it was gone again. I knew that bad RLS nights correlated with low or nonexistent creativity, and now I know what it's attacking. I know that there's a thing that should be there that isn't. And I can only hope that it can grow back. Again.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (lionsmane)
Thus far I have woken up:
  • once dreaming of vaccuum cleaners only to discover the seal on the damn mask had slipped
  • once with the tubing wrapped around my torso like a pageant sash
  • somewhere between "several" and "countless" times with the tubing wrapped around my neck like a squamous or possibly batrachian version of "Porphyria's Lover"

Things are getting better. I'm not yet noticing any improvement in my general level of fatigue, but I no longer feel like my little Cthulhu machine is actively sabotaging me. So that's something.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (lionsmane)
We consulted the manuals, we examined all the plugs and connectors, we tried everything we could think of to try, which between the two of us was pretty much everything except sacrificing a goat, and we didn't try that only because we didn't happen to have a goat handy.

The machine sat there and blinked. Sometimes it blinked slowly, sometimes it blinked quickly, sometimes it did double-blinks. It would not turn on, it would not turn off. It. Just. Fucking. Blinked.

Tomorrow, obviously, I will be calling the home health people, and inquiring if, perhaps, my Cthulhu machine is defective.

You may imagine my excitement.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: hamlet)
I didn't go to any costume parties, and I haven't been trick-or-treating in almost thirty years, but I can truthfully say that this year I was the Bride of Frankenstein for Halloween.

in which my Halloween was weirder than yours )

5 things

Dec. 18th, 2011 08:57 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. I'm seeing a sleep therapist now, because I would like to get off the potentially addictive hypnotic that is currently holding my insomnia down. She told me what I really already knew, that I need to get on a fixed schedule of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. Which means getting up at 6:30 on weekends. I HATE THIS. I have always been a night owl, and mornings are my favorite time to sleep. But I am determined to give this fixed schedule a fair shot, so here I am, awake and fed and medicated and dressed at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. (Nobody says I have to move fast on weekends, just that I have to get up.)

The fixed schedule idea also means that I have to go to bed--as in, in bed, lights out, eyes shut, at 10:15. And ideally I need to try to decrease my computer usage in the late evenings, because of light issues (photosensitivity plus glow of monitor equals confused circadian rhythms). Which means I have even less time to get computer things done, and I am still trying to finish this goddamn book. Ergo, as little as I have been an online presence in recent months, I'm going to be even less of one, at least for a while. Which is Teh Suck, but I have to find a way to keep the insomnia chained in the basement, and long-term drug usage is just not the way I want to go.

2. So, when I was making my whirlwind trip to Boston, I discovered that O'Hare has a Field Museum store. This is a brilliantly terrible idea on the Field Museum's part, but it did mean I could take [ profile] matociquala meerkat socks as a hostess gift (because seriously--meerkat socks). And I bought for myself a pair of tiny Sue earrings. They have become my favorite earrings--for the one set of holes I don't just leave rings in all the time--for days I don't have to dress like an adult.

3. Two really nice capsule reviews of The Bone Key: (1) and (2). And Somewhere Beneath Those Waves got a starred review from Library Journal (here if you're interested) and a very kind mention from Lesley Hall over at Aqueduct Press's blog.

4. These fossa pups, Ingrid, Heidi, and Gretchen, show that Madagascar really knows how to work the charismatic predator* angle.

5. Have a picture of Milo and me:

(Stepping Stones Studio 2011)
*[ profile] ursulav came up with that useful designation.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (smaug)
So, in case anybody was wondering, the RLS isn't beaten yet. It's definitely improved--it's mostly just the right leg now, except on really bad nights, and it's not as miserablely awful. But it's still bad enough that I can't sleep until it lets go. I've started thinking of it as a very small dragon flexing its claws in my right quadriceps; when the dragon goes to sleep, so can I.

But this lack of sleep is interfering with basically everything, including my writing, and most specifically the revisions to The Goblin Emperor which I need to have done by September first. Mostly what's been happening lately is that I open the file and then just stare at it sadly, kind of like this:

(Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half: Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving)

This is not a good state of affairs.

So I let my doctor at the sleep clinic prescribe temazepam (brand name Restoril), even though I do not like sleeping pills, and I tried it last night.

It was an interesting experience.

It did work (Ambien didn't), but it seemed to send my body to sleep well before my mind, so I lay there for I don't know how long, being aware that my body had become this great inert LUMP. On the other hand, it worked on the dragon, too, so there was a certain amount of pleasure simply in being aware that my right thigh wasn't doing the latent-twitch thing that it does almost all the time these days. (It's not that I'm actually twitching; it's that my right quadriceps feels like it's about to twitch. CONSTANTLY.) And I know I did sleep, because I had weird dreams (that part, at least, is comfortingly familiar), and I slept for what must be about twelve hours.

On the other other hand, I feel disassociated and unsteady and not particularly well rested--although that last may be attributable to chronic lack of sleep rather than the temazepam. So I'll keep taking it, at least for another couple days (yes, I am hyper-vigilant about that whole chemical-dependency thing, thank you), but I'm in no danger of coming to like it.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
I am back safely from Arizona.

LepreCon was excellent--thank you to everybody involved!--and Arizona was beautiful. I deeply appreciated that fifty-degree temperature differential.

Traveling was kind of dreadful, although mercifully everything was on time and nothing exciting happened. But American Airlines squashes its coach passengers into tiny seats and, having charged $25 to check a bag, does not feel it can spring for so much as a packet of peanuts. The positive side is that the plate and nine screws in my ankle did not set off the metal detectors either in Madison or Phoenix.

And traveling with RLS is like traveling with a demon toddler. It WON'T go to sleep, WON'T WON'T WON'T, and that means I can't sleep either. Making me a charming roommate, as [ profile] matociquala and [ profile] klages can attest.

But I got to see many people I am very fond of, and don't get to see very often, and I met new people whom I liked very much, and aside from my stupid health issues, had a wonderful time.

And I came home to discover that spring, which has been on back-order for two months, has finally arrived.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. My story "Fiddleback Ferns" is part of Drabblecast 201: Trifecta XV, along with stories by Jens Rushing and Karen Heuler.

2. Thank you, [ profile] heresluck, for introducing me properly to Mumford and Sons. Sigh No More is about to go in the stereo for the third time in three days.

3. The Ambien only sort of works. >:\ I'll be trying something else starting tomorrow.

4. Guy riding a Harley Friday afternoon in small-town southeastern Wisconsin? Probably not actually [ profile] jaylake. But I sure was excited for the split-second I thought maybe it was.

5. A question! I have to give Guest of Honor speeches this year, which is a new experience for me. So tell me, O internets, if you go to a Guest of Honor speech, what do you expect to get? What do you hope for? What would make you tell all your friends they should have come, too?
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. Today is the launch day for Whedonistas.

2. Today is practically spring-like! All the doors were open at the barn and I was riding in a T-shirt. We pay, of course, in mud, but it's worth it.

3. Today is the day I'm starting a prescription of sleeping pills. You see, the thing about Pramipexole, the RLS medication I'm on, is that at a dose high enough to deal with the RLS, it makes it hard to get to sleep and impossible to stay asleep. Waking up every two to four hours is not actually much better than just staying awake. So we try the Ambien.

4. Today is also the launch day for [ profile] jimhines' Goblin Tales.

5. Today is the Ides of March.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
The good news is: the pramipexole, on first contact, works approximately a million times better than the ropinirole and does not make me queasy also too as well. I was able to go to sleep at 10 last night, instead of four this morning.

The bad part of the good news is: I still slept badly. Although I feel a lot better rested this morning, despite being awake from two to three-thirty. And I may have found a new wetware hack: at least for me, at least last night, BenGay worked to alleviate the RLS symptoms. My best guess is that it gave the nerves in my right thigh some REAL INPUT to work with, so they could quit manufacturing sundogs. And the good part of the bad part of the good news is: as I get accustomed to it, I can increase the dose of pramipexole. The doctor started me out with one 0.125 mg tablet. I can eventually go up to as much as four. So if one tablet helps this much, two tablets may actually let me sleep like a (semi-)normal human being again.

The bad news is: dealing with all of this seems to have used up my supply of coping skills for today.

ETA: the sleep clinic called with my bloodwork. Everything's fine except my ferritin. It's at something-teen, and they'd like to see it at fifty or over. So up with the iron supplement! (And the Vitamin C and the fiber and ...)

ETA (2): Okay, the well-rested thing was only temporary. Drat.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Appointment at the Wisconsin Sleep Clinic this afternoon. Upshot: a new drug to try: pramipexole instead of ropinirole. It's supposed to be easier to tolerate than ropinirole, so hopefully it will not make me queasy. (Fingers crossed.) I got to play Stump the Doctor (which actually is not so much my favorite game)--I asked if my albinism and associated photosensitivity issues might be screwing around with my circadian rhythms (a theory first propounded by my gastroenterologist), and he said, "Well, I don't think that . . . I don't know. . . . I'll have to do some research this evening." Also, blood drawn for lab work, and the doctor wants me to stop donating blood for a while, since iron deficiency is associated with RLS, and my ferritin is low.

That part sucks, especially since the Red Cross needs donors this winter, but I do reluctantly recognize that I have to take care of myself first.

I am amused/discomfited by the medicine information sheet for pramipexole, which tells me, "This medicine is a dopamine agonist. Exactly how this medicine works is not known."

Unless the pramipexole turns out to work miracles here over the weekend, I will be starting my search for an acupuncturist again on Monday. Anyone in the Madison area who has a recommendation, please feel free to share!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: napping)

So here's the thing. Due to the RLS being a complete monster for the past week, I haven't been getting to sleep before about four in the morning--and therefore, haven't been able to drag myself out of bed before noon. Or one. (I hate this, btw, but that's not the point here.) Also, Wednesday, I have a dressage lesson at three, and I know for a fact that if I'm setting up sale posts to go live at two, I will be late. Which is bad.

So I'm making a change. The Ben Jonson Memorial Fundraiser will start at midnight CST, February 2nd, and run 'til midnight CST, February 3rd. This is much more realistic vis-à-vis my actual life right now.

How we're gonna work it:

Except for the production costs of Unnatural Creatures, all the money goes to the Companion Animal Fund.

I will pay shipping costs, and I will ship anywhere in the world. Depending on what the total ends up being, that may mean a lot of things get shipped Media Mail.

After the sale, I will set up a post with screened comments so that if you want things personalized (e.g., To Gawain, with best wishes, Sarah Monette), you can tell me what name or names. If you don't want an inscription, that's cool, too. I'll also ask that everyone who bought something comment, so that I don't make any mistakes in the shipping.

There will be three sale posts, one for the Doctrine of Labyrinths auction, one for the Unnatural Creatures subscription, and one for all the items that I'm simply selling.

1. The auction will run from midnight to midnight. Starting bid is $100.

2. Unnatural Creatures will be on sale from midnight to midnight. You can buy as many copies as you like. I won't place the order with Lulu until after the sale ends (and possibly a little after that, depending on when [ profile] hominysnark gets the cover finished), so there's no need to worry about running out. I will order as many copies as have been paid for at the end of the sale. Please be advised that, since I will have to sign all of them once Lulu has shipped them to me, it may take me a while to get them shipped out to y'all.

3. Everything else. How this part of the sale is going to work goes like this: (1) You make a comment to the post indicating that you want to buy an item. (2) I reply to the comment, letting you know that the item is yours. (3) Then you PayPal me. I don't want anybody paying me when they are, for instance, the sixth person to comment for the five Companion to Wolves hardbacks. Also, if you are having cash-flow issues (as I know at least one interested party is), you may stake your claim during the sale and pay me later. I will not ship anything until the money has transferred, and I won't hold items indefinitely, but you can have a couple days' grace if you need it.

Also, if you don't want to buy anything (or can't afford to buy the thing you want), but would like to make a donation in Ben's memory (for whatever amount--if you can only spare a dollar but want to contribute, that is perfectly okay with me), I will figure out how to set up a PayPal button on the catch-all post so that that can be easy.

If there's anything I've forgotten to address, or anything that's unclear, or heck, just anything you want to ask about, please comment.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. Beowulf socks FTW!

2. [ profile] yuki_onna has an excellent rant about the portrayal of the USSR by Western authors, which has some common ground with my rant yesterday about the portrayal of pre-Enlightenment cultures by post-Enlightenment authors.

3. Cake Wrecks' Sunday Sweets this week include this impossibly adorable Baby Cthulhu cake.

4. [ profile] jaylake wants pictures of what you're doing today. As he says, "Not exactly a contest. More like group art."

ETA: My contribution, feeding feral cats:

(Link, and other pics: 1 (without zoom, so that's the actual distance between him and me), 2, 3.)

5. I was hoping to go spectate at a horse show this weekend, but the RLS and associated dyshypnia (is that even a word? sleep dysfunctionality is what I mean--I suppose dyssomnia would be the other option) mean that I have not been able to drag myself out of bed before noon, and the show is two hours away. So no ponies for me, which makes me sad. (The RLS makes me tired and frustrated and stressed, which doesn't help, either.) You are welcome to post things that might help me be more cheerful, although please note that that is posed as an invitation, not a demand.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: napping)
My afternoon got derailed by an unexpected trip to the vet, as the Elder Saucepan vomited up some blood. The answer is most likely the pain medication he's on, so we're switching for a couple of weeks, plus giving him Pepcid. (Yes, the OTC stuff, only he gets a quarter of the 10 mg pill.)

Because we were at the vet, I couldn't make my dressage lesson today, which makes me almost ridiculously glum. Hopefully, my instructor can fit me in this weekend. And I am quite certain I made the right decision.

When I got home, I checked the mail and found a packet from the sleep clinic waiting, with a twelve (count 'em, 12) page questionnaire. I filled it out while the cats ate, and stuck it in my purse, so that I cannot forget it when I have my appointment on February 10. It may be a little battered by then, but at least it won't be sitting innocently and uselessly on the dining room table.

From filling out the questionnaire, I can report, with the kind of relief you get when it's not a surprise but you're relieved all the same, that I have no symptoms of narcolepsy. Those questions were scary. But the RLS was a definite "yes."

Speaking of same, [ profile] heresluck pointed me at this article on RLS; I'm pleased that everyone agrees it's real, but can we talk about how comforting it ISN'T to be in a 3% minority?

I am very much hoping the sleep clinic can help me.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (smaug)
1. My Storytellers Unplugged post for January, "Taking Another Tilt at the Windmill," is up. It's about fantasy, science fiction, and genre theory.

2. I was woken up this morning by a call from the sleep clinic. While the irony is bright and shiny and very pointed, I am glad to know my GP went ahead and made the referral, because I was going to have to call him today to tell him to do so. RLS is evil.

3. Gynecologist appointment also today, in which we agreed to try taking the Mirena out, and see what happens. (Taking it out was about 5 MILLION TIMES less painful than putting it in, so that was good.) The Mirena lessened my menstrual flow, but it made my periods MUCH too frequent, and it also randomized my menstrual cramps so that they became like drive-by stabbings. Double-plus ungood, thank you.

This is a new-to-me gynecologist, and I like her. She asked if I wanted to keep the Mirena. (I did.)

4. RT @pnh Elise, about to be Discharged, manifests as a Figure of Allegory and asserts Control over Time.

5. It is snowing. Nevertheless, I plan to go to the pool in another hour or so.

6. [ profile] ursulav is right on the money.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. On the meat front:
health stuff: interesting if you're fighting similar issues; otherwise, probably not )

My GP agreed with me that the next logical step may be a referral to the UW Sleep Clinic. If so, I will blog that for posterity, too.

2. I promised a report on Noodler's Old Dutch Sepia, ergo:
ink geeks click through )

5. The awesome Simon Tofield has a new and seasonal Simon's Cat short: "Santa Claws."


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

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