March? Already? And New Things!

Many many things about 2017 thus far have sucked royally. (Not the least of which was last week’s death of a good friend from back in Madison.) But I’m getting through it, in part, by noticing how it’s whipping by. I cannot believe February is almost over.

I’ve also been trying really hard (amid doing my part to #resist) to focus on positives. Positives like my last post about Gally. Positives like my new sous vide cooker. (If you have recipes, do send them my way!) Positives like constant reminders that I live with the best partner anyone could ask for, in a country that (while it does have its problems) has prioritized inclusiveness and care for its residents.

I’m also gathering additional happy things. I’ve started communicating more regularly with some distant friends. The simple act of staying in touch with good, kind, smart, creative, vibrant people has done wonders for my mental health and outlook.

Also, I’m working on an exciting new podcast project! I suspect it won’t appeal to many of the people who already follow my doings, but that’s kinda the point. I’m working on this because it’s something I love and am interested in. The act of working toward creating something new feels like a tiny act of resistance in and of itself. Especially since this will be aimed at a marginalized/under-served audience.

I’ll say no more for now, because I want to wait until things are a little closer to fruition before announcing anything. Consider this a tantalizing teaser. And a recommendation to get out and create something if you’re able. It truly can help.

Gallifrey One and Balancing Priorities

Gally was a GREAT time this year, as always!

Gally was a GREAT time this year, as always!

Much as I’d love to write a whole, long, in-depth post about what a wonderful, life-affirming time I had at this year’s Gallifrey One convention, I simply don’t have it in me. And that fact is what I’m here to write about.

I knew, going into the month before the convention, that I wasn’t going to be able to throw myself in as wholly as I have done many years. When possible, I like to speak on panels, attend meetups, and even do the occasional on-stage interview with a guest. This year it was not possible.

As I’ve alluded to recently, I’ve been working on getting my mental health under control. I haven’t reached a real crisis point, and I’m determined to do everything I can to make certain that I do not. Late last year I started on anti-anxiety/antidepressant medication for the first time in over a decade. If you’ve gone through this process, you know it’s not usually an easy thing. Finding the right medication is difficult and can require some trial and error. Finding the right dosage of the correct medication(s) is yet another wrinkle. It can be a long and drawn-out process, but if you need the chemical assistance to keep you going, it is well worth the time and effort. I know it has been for me.

Anyway, having just switched to a different med several weeks before Gally, I decided I’d kinda take a back-seat convention-wise, and that was absolutely the right thing to do. I was already committed to doing a Verity! meetup (it would have taken something truly serious to get me to back out on that!) and the live Verity! In Defense Of panel (something that requires very little effort on my part). So no problems there.

The one other item I decided was worth doing was being a guest on a live one-off episode of Paul Cornell’s Cornell Collective podcast. It was late on Friday night, and there was a moderate amount of booze involved (enough to have fun, not enough to adversely react with my meds). It went spendidly! This one was fairly easy to say yes to because there were few logistics involved–all I had to do was show up and answer questions into a microphone. I did those things and had a wonderful time doing them! (That podcast should drop in the Cornell Collective feed soon (if it’s not there already)!

And, of course, I spent lots and lots of time hanging out with friends and fans and catching up with many many people I care about and many people I now care about after meeting them last weekend. I love how my Gally family grows a bit each year.

I feel like this Gally was a huge success. Maybe not in the same flashy-in-the-spotlight way some previous ones have, but in a really fundamental, mental-health-supporting, I-had-a-great-time way.

I hope to take this lesson and build on it in real life. I have a tendency to say yes to everything and over-schedule myself. I’m going to work to do that less, and to be sure that the things I do schedule for myself are the things that will take less prep-work and will leave me feeling good about the time spent doing them. (And with enough mental “gas” in the tank so that I can devote myself to my day job–which I am genuinely passionate about.)

This might mean fewer podcast appearances talking about things that are new-to-me (or that require rewatching/re-reading), but for now, I think that’s for the best. This also might mean more hanging-out-in-person with friends to simply sit and absorb something fun. My friend Annette has taken me under her wing and is teaching me about the joys of regency romance and the world of televised/movieised Jane Austen. (She also has four cats, which provide a lovely stress-relief service when it comes to cuddling and petting.) Oh, and Steven is showing both Annette and me the British classic(?) show Robin of Sherwood. So yeah there are plenty of things I can do to keep myself on an even keel without expending too much effort.

So I apologize for a lack of my usual in-depth convention travelogue, but this is me setting priorities too. It was more important for me to share a bit about where I’m at than to crow about where I was last weekend. But just to give you a bit of a taste of my Gally afterglow, here are a few post-con tweets. (And don’t forget to check out the #gally1 hashtag for more of the shenanigans that happened all weekend long!)

 

Go Oilers!

Hello from Rogers Place!

Hello from Rogers Place!

With all the awfulness going on in the world these days (and boy oh boy is there a lot of it), I’m trying to remind myself that it’s still ok to experience joy. In fact, it’s probably more crucial than ever.

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy lately on following the news of the world and doing my part to be heard and make sure my home country doesn’t continue down the road to fascism. (Though we’ve already hit every item on the list at the US Holocaust museum. Sigh.) This has been exhausting, both physically and mentally.

So I’m trying to reserve time for things I love. Things that just make me happy. Hockey is one of those things. Specifically, my now-home team, the Edmonton Oilers. And that’s what tonight is all about. Steven and I are taking in a game at the swanky new rink.

We even got here early and sat in the lower bowl to watch the warmup.

We even got here early and sat in the lower bowl to watch the warmup.

Sadly, we’re down by 2 going into the first intermission, but there are 40 minutes of hockey left, and that’s an eternity in hockey-time. Anything can happen. And the most important thing is to be out and having fun. Because it’s ok to have fun. It’s ok to recharge. I need it. I deserve it.

The view from our seats.

The view from our seats.

So if you’ve been working hard to defend the republic (or anything else), don’t forget to take some time for yourself. If you don’t care for yourself, you’ll run out of steam to care for others. The world needs you, so treat yourself well.

#LoveTrumpsHate #resist

Phases

I’m going through a weird phase, podcast-wise. Podcast-listening-wise, to be specific.  It’s one that comes and goes, and is rather annoying while it’s in progress.

I currently don’t want to listen to my own podcasts.

Under normal circumstances, I try to listen to most every podcast I do.* I think it’s a valuable step towards improving–both as a producer/editor and as an on-mic panelist/host. Sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable to hear myself at places where I stumble, but for the most part, I enjoy listening. I even sometimes feel proud of my contributions. And that pride comes more and more often now that I’ve been podcasting for years.

Not so, these last couple weeks. I find myself bumping shows with lots of me down the playlist repeatedly. I still listen to eps of The Incomparable or Game Show when there are large panels, but my desire to listen to an episode has an inverse ratio to how Erika-heavy it is. Lazy Doctor Who is currently excruciating.

I’m honestly not sure why that is. I just get itchy inside when I hear myself talk–nervous and anxious in a way I certainly wasn’t when I recorded the episodes. Luckily, this has happened before, and I’m sure it’ll pass eventually. It’s just a weird thing that I thought I’d observe here.

Please note that I’m emphatically not posting this as a way of fishing for compliments. (Seriously, please don’t.) Cerebrally, I still think I’m good at what I do, so I’m not looking for reassurance. I just figured that if other people feel this way from time to time, it might be nice to know they’re not alone.

 

 

 

 

*This may be changing soon. My time to listen to ‘casts has dwindled dramatically. I’m considering a transition to something more like spot-checking my own appearances so that I can still listen to other people’s podcasts!

Permission to Do Nothing

Today is my first day back at work after more than a week off. I had such grand plans for that week — a whole list of tasks which I’d use all that free time to accomplish.

Oh foolish me.

I got one of those tasks done. One. (And that was rearranging my sock drawer. Possibly the most immediately helpful thing on the list, but certainly not the most important!)

This is just the drawer. There are also four boxes of nicely sorted tights and pantyhose in the closet that used to live in this drawer. Such an improvement!

This is just the drawer. There are also four boxes of nicely sorted tights and pantyhose in the closet that used to live in this drawer. Such an improvement!

It’s amazing how your time can fill up with random bits of nothingness and long chunks of relaxation. I can’t believe how fast the time went by. And I spent all of it with a vague sense of unease because I knew I wasn’t doing all the things I should have been doing. I kinda half-decided that I felt more like lounging around or cooking or going out to eat or … whatever, than I felt like Getting Things Done. (And unfortunate mental health issues didn’t help with that at all.) But I didn’t fully give myself permission to treat those days like a proper vacation.

Oh foolish me.

Sometimes a vacation needs to be a vacation. However, for me to get full rejuvenation from such a break, I need to commit to it. I didn’t do that, so I’m not back at work feeling as refreshed as I should. Not only is there a lot of day-job work ahead of me, but I’ve also decided to work on getting back to my “clean living” lifestyle that seems to have degraded over that last few months. (Note: This is not a New Year’s resolution. It’s simply an attempt to return to what I consider my baseline lifestyle.)

Some of the items I’ll be working toward are exercise (on my elliptical trainer while watching Arrow and The Flash), diet (not a weight-loss diet, but a healthy one with no gluten or dairy and FAR less sugar), and general productivity (using the two hours after I get home from work to Get Things Done before I run out of steam — leaving things until later in the evening never seems to work).

But…

I’m not ready to start that today. (See? It’s not a New Year’s resolution!) One mistake I often make is trying to start too many things at once. This always backfires. So today is simply about getting back into the routine of getting up early and walking to and from work. I was much more sedentary during my time off, and holy buttons, did I sleep in late! (11am or noon wasn’t terribly unusual, so 6:30 felt mighty painful this morning.)

Thus, today, I am officially giving myself permission to Do Nothing.

When I get home, I’ll plop down on the couch with my spouse and some reheated leftovers. We will watch the Oilers game. After that, I will do whatever the heck I feel like, even if that is nothing but play Candy Crush while the TV plays in front of me. In addition, the plan for tomorrow won’t be decided until I see how I feel tonight. If I’m totally wrecked, I’ll give myself another couple of days to ease back into the general grind before I add anything to the routine. (It’ll be two days minimum because there’s another early Oilers game on Thursday. #priorities)

This is me, trying to avoid the pitfalls I’ve dived into before. I’m taking it slowly and hoping that being thoughtful and methodical will result in more success than my sudden headlong rushes have in the past. I’d appreciate it if you’d wish me luck.

Last Christmas

Nope, not the Doctor Who episode. The song! And yes, I blogged about that tune already. But what I didn’t tell you was that the original Wham! version is not the only one! (Though it’s still my fave.) I’ve run across a couple other versions that I quite like.

I adore Jimmy Eat World. They do some of my favorite songs ever ever. (Oh GOD, the HARMONIES.) They also do a passable version of “Last Christmas”. It’s not my favorite because it’s too mellow-emo for my taste, but it is pretty, I’ll give them that.

The best cover version of this tune I’ve come across is the one by Taylor Swift. I’m not the biggest fan of her as a celebrity/media-personality, but damn, that girl’s good at makin’ good tunes. This version has just the right amount of energy, pathos, and pretty guitars.

The final “Last Christmas” I have for you is not a cover of the Wham! song at all. It’s another punk tune to follow off the couple I posted earlier this week. It’s about the last Christmas we get because we’ve screwed everything up so bad it’s all over, and humanity isn’t getting another. Call me morose, but I feel like 2016 is the perfect year to break out this tune.

Sorry to end on such a downer. Hmm. What else can I toss in to lighten the mood? How about a 36-second punk song about a kitty knocking down a Christmas tree?

Perfect.

I Love My Secret Santa

At work I’m participating in a Secret Santa week. I’ve been giving and getting gifts every day since Monday, and it’s been great! The organizer had everyone fill out little questionnaires about their likes, dislikes, and Christmas wishes. I got some great snacks yesterday, a pine-scented candle (yay!) Monday, and today, I go these!!!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

In the “I could use more…” section, I put “yarn (Oilers colors preferred)”. And boy did my Secret Santa come through. This yarn is delightfully soft! And that is important and perfect because I have been meaning to make hand warmers (gloves with just one big hole for all the fingers and a small one for the thumb) for use at work. (It gets pretty cold at my desk.) I’ve had hand warmers before that were kinda scratchy, and that’s just no darn fun.

So today’s bit of December glee is brought to you by…well, I don’t know who yet. But one of my coworkers is pretty great. (They all are, really.) Also, it’s been ages since I posted anything about knitting, so I figured it was high time! If I get my booty in gear, there may be future updates as I work on my sporty-crafty-fangirl project.

Go Oilers!