Going To A Punk Show In Your Thirties: A Guide

Step One: Get dressed. Be mad at the respectability of your clothing. Get dressed again. Realize you have forgotten how to put the scene uniform together. Give up. Wear jeans and a black shirt. Add a belt for fun. Realize that this was all you ever did when you were young, too.

Step Two: Arrive an hour late, because you know from experience that this shit never starts on time. Be faintly nervous that it won’t be like it used to be. Pull into the parking lot, look around, and realize that it’s exactly the same. People are drinking in their cars.

Step Three: Find a place to sit down while the opening bands play: not because you’re too cool to show the opening acts love, but because you are old and tired and the idea of pogo dancing for three goddamn hours makes you nauseous now.

Step Four: Check out the people. Compare their ages to yours. Realize that this is a reunion show for a favorite band from your old scene and most people are your contemporaries. Sigh with relief that you aren’t the old weirdo yet.

Step Five: Between sets, go outside like you used to, even though you have quit smoking. Find outside two people vaping and a horde of other people standing around wondering why they’re outside, because they have also quit smoking.

Step Six: Hear a song permanently engraved on your teenage heart. Join the stampede back inside. Realize that one of the original band members who you KNOW you saw tonight is not playing with the band but standing against the wall looking somber. Wonder what happened.

Step Seven: Let yourself explode with joy. Sing loudly. Be transported through time. Dance. Realize three songs in that you need to sit down again or you’re going to faint. Push to the back. Sit down. Keep singing.

Step Eight: Hear a song that grabs you by your nostalgic bones. Somehow manage to get up again. Pogo for five seconds before settling down and tapping your foot, feeling suddenly like the action doesn’t matter because the feeling is the same.

Step Nine: Watch the original bass player come away from the wall and politely request the bass from his replacement. Tear up a little when your heart expands seeing him put it on.

Step Ten: Pour everything you have into dancing, singing, and celebrating the last song with all these old friends, including the ones you’ve never met. Be emptied. Glow. Get a patch from the merch table even though you have nothing to put it on now. Go home.

Step Eleven: Go to bed sore as hell and smelling like other people’s sweat. Be disinclined to care. Listen to your ears ring. Know both that you are too old for this, and that you will do it again until you die.

***

Thanks for this post to the River City Rebels for their return, a strange and wonderful event. Dan, you’ve still got it. In fact, the only way we know you’ve aged at all is that your ink has faded. Here’s to many more shows.

Take A Quirk, Leave A Quirk

I recently started a Twitter thread that took off and makes a great resource for writers, so I wanted to share it here. Read the replies! Save a cardboard character from their fate!

In other writing news, Epitaph is very nearly finished (putting the last 5k words in the first draft) and Pharos is still at the publisher. Odds are good that you will see two new books from me in the next year. When the blog is quiet, please trust that I’m working my fluffy tail off to get more words out to you.

Patreon Is Live!

Seanan McGuire, Cat Valente, and a number of other authors I respect immensely were talking today about using Patreon to fund some of the things that keep authors alive and working, like health insurance and a cushion in case of expensive disaster. They make a lot of sense. So I’ve started a Patreon. Patrons will get access to exclusive content, and it can also be used to ‘hire’ me as an editor.

Become a Patron Here.

Every Day

Common advice tells you to write every day.

I never got the hang of it.

NaNoWriMo is coming soon, and then, I’ll write every day. I’ll live in one project (the last of the full Planetary Tarantella novels, An Epitaph For Everything Else) so completely that I’ll dream it and forget how to talk about anything else. But that’s for one month. The rest of the year, I tend to tinker with existing projects when I feel so moved. Occasionally a story idea hits and I write like lightning for a glorious moment in time. I think I’ve told you before that 99% of all writing advice is garbage, and I stand by that. You don’t have to write every day. I don’t feel like a failure for not writing every day.

You know what I do, though? I play with words every day. I read, I listen, I do crossword puzzles, I learn about the origins of phrases. I even talk to myself while I do other work to see if anything interesting comes out. These practices, I can recommend.

***

There’s a lot of life stuff going on for me right now, and someday soon I’ll tell you all about it, but I’m not ready. The short version is, I am in Vermont. New York City was wearing me thin. If you need me, I’ll be in the woods.

What It’s Like to Live With EDS (Because Clearly People Still Don’t Know)

Yesterday, I found out that a friend who shares my illness, a friend who was instrumental in my pursuit of diagnosis and proper treatment and who is a publicly visible advocate for disabled people, was being stalked by someone who accused them of “faking” and “has a friend who is writing an article about it.”

The “proof” that my friend is faking their illness? Sometimes they stand up to take selfies. Sometimes they go to see a band. They have tattoos even though EDS affects the skin.

In short, they do things that most people with EDS do, when they can. We can’t always, but when we can, we post about it online because this is the life we want people to see us living. Because we can’t tweet about our aches and dislocations and accessibility nightmares all day. No one would want to be friends if we did that, and we know it. So we cultivate carefully, and try to show as many “good days” as possible, even if a good day only lasts three minutes.

Sometimes I save pictures and stories instead of posting them right away. I wait for a day when I can’t leave my bed, so I’ll have something to talk about while I’m applying ice packs and heating pads and medications. The pressure to seem normal and fun is enormous. I am working with fewer materials than most.

If you go around trying to poke holes in people’s stories of medical journeys, thinking that you know what life is like for them and how it should look on the outside, I want you to imagine something for me.

Imagine you got a car for your eighteenth birthday.

The car looks good, but it has some problems. Sometimes the A/C quits. Sometimes it stalls. It pretty much always shudders and knocks, but you and your friends all get used to that. You hardly notice it anymore. Over time, though, you start to think that somebody rolled back the odometer on this beast; it seems to have more frequent and serious problems than your friends’ cars. When you take it into a mechanic, it’s never just the brake pads that need replacing, it’s always the discs. The mechanic seems a little baffled by your old-new car. They’re still happy to charge you, though.

You can’t afford a new car, and you can’t really afford to keep taking this one into the shop, either, so you go through a lot of duct tape and Bondo. You learn to do some work on it yourself, even though you don’t have all the tools. You spend a lot of time washing it and touching up paint to make it look presentable. Once in a while, someone compliments you on it, and you’re a little baffled because you know how it runs, but they don’t, so you smile and thank them.

At some point, you decide that even though your car is unreliable, you want to take a trip out of town. It breaks down in the driveway. You stay home and don’t mention your disappointment to anyone.

When you take it back to the mechanic, he says things are getting worse and will be even more expensive to fix now, but you don’t have a choice. You get the worst of it fixed. And still, it rattles and shakes and the driver’s side doors won’t lock and sometimes it breaks down for no reason.

Now imagine you can never get out of the car.

 

***

 

There is never a reason to interrogate a stranger about their disability.

Health Update

There’s a lot going on in this body.

It’s amazing to me that so many people get to go through the first thirty, forty, fifty years of their lives without thinking much about their meatsuit. It doesn’t interrupt them. It doesn’t stop them from going places. It doesn’t rebel when they eat perfectly normal things. Amazing. If you have that, please take a moment to appreciate it.

As for me, physical therapy has resulted in more injury than progress, I’m shedding weight again despite all efforts, and now it turns out I need fairly serious nose surgery.

(TW: Surgery, gross.)

My breathing has gotten worse over time, and recently I had a sinus infection so bad that it made my teeth ache. For most of my life, I have avoided going to a doctor about my nose. It’s a little damaged and a little funny-looking and a little dysfunctional, but I chalked it up to “has character” a long time ago and wasn’t interested in changing it. Unfortunately, it turns out it’s getting worse and needs changing.

I finally got it examined. I have a significantly deviated septum and also need something called a turbinectomy. As this will change the structure of my nose, I discussed it with two different doctors and the best plan is to have rhinoplasty done at the same time, effectively to reconstruct a nose that isn’t all caved in from scar tissue removal. That part won’t be covered by insurance. I won’t be able to take my usual regimen of painkillers in the weeks before surgery. Insurance won’t cover some of this.

So some time this year, I’ll be out of commission for a month for a very expensive surgery that will leave me with a mystery nose. Maybe I’ll breathe and sleep better. Maybe it will look “normal.” Maybe my body will repair itself well enough that this will actually be fixed.

Cross your fingers for me.

Title

As you can probably tell from the title of this blog being “Title,” my composition skills are failing me. The brain is tired. In a better place than the last few months, but tired.

Still, the gap between blogs was bordering on too wide to jump, so here’s a wobbly platform to stand on between now and when we next catch up.

I have been working hard. And when I say “working hard,” I want to give you some idea of what I mean: I have been editing one book of my own before it goes off to the publisher, editing a book of someone else’s before it goes to press, serving on the Organizing Committee of an NYC-DSA Branch, and going through physical therapy. This is a lot for someone whose physical energy maxes out at about 30% of an able-bodied person.

So you can see how writing blogs hasn’t been my strong suit lately.

The good news is, there is likely a new book coming within the year.

New Year, Very Similar Me

There’s only so much a girl can change. Perhaps I am growing old. Except that college kids keep mistaking me for their people, so possible I am not growing old correctly. All the same, I refuse to give up my purple hair or my gratuitous cursing.

Anyway.

Each year, I look around at the flurry of resolutions, leave-it-in-the-last-year lists, and ambitious new goals, and I think, how much of this can apply to me? What can I do better? It seems like the kind of thing you’re supposed to write a blog about. But the answer this year is not much. I am already going full tilt.

I am in physical therapy, trying to build strength. I am still learning a new musical instrument to the best of my dexterity. I’m as politically active as I can get. I wrote a new book last year, and I’ll write a new book this year. I’ve made all the dietary adjustments one can make in the pursuit of good health.

I think, generally, the idea is to look at the ways in which you kind of suck and improve upon them. I’ve hit a wall there. The things that would improve meโ€”more energy, more time, less cyclical Flowers for Algernon-ing due to medications and vitamin deficienciesโ€”are outside my power.

I don’t think any of this is so bad. I can’t fly, either. Everyone lives with their limitations. I’ve tried busting mine, and mostly I just get my havoc wrecked when I do that, so I’ve learned to knock it off.

And I’ve already got a lot of things to work on. Concrete things I can do. Things I will do, slowly, over the course of the year. This is the list:

  • Finish one new novel
  • Walk all the way around Central Park without fainting or falling
  • Run for an office within NYC DSA

And that’s it. Everything else is ongoing, or incidental, or allowed to fall by the wayside.

Happy 2018, everyone.

Updates from NaNoLand

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, no, but seriously.

It’s National Novel Writing Month again, that time when novelists and novelist hopefuls set out to write 50,000 new words in one month. This year, I’m a NaNo Rebel (as defined by the NaNo show-runners) because I’m working on an existing project that already had ~30k words on November 1st. This works out well, because it needs about 40k more in order to be finished…not the full 50k, so I can give myself a few days off without failing, but still a pretty serious number that means I need to buckle down.

So far, NaNo is going more or less as usual for me. Week one was full of thrilling, overachieving, victorious days. Week two is a disaster in which I came down with the plague (read: severe cold) and dyed my hair a color about which I have mixed feelings. Still aiming for 1,667 words per day. Yesterday I only got 1000, but otherwise I’m on track.

Not gonna lie to those eyeballing NaNo and thinking of giving it a shot; it’s hard. By week two, your brain turns into a sort of husk. By week three, everything else in life has lost all meaning. At the end of the month, you’ve forgotten how to be a normal person entirely.

But hey. 50,000 new words.

See you on the other side.