Baseline: No

I suck at turning things down. Things are fun! Especially when those fun things involve fun people. And most of the people I know are fun people. And they do many fun things. Sometimes they invite me to do fun things along with them. I often say yes!

I say yes too much.

I also plan my own fun things. Sometimes too much.

For example, this past weekend was a super-fun thing! Steven and I went to Calgary for a couple of nights and watched the Oilers play the Flames (ok, so the fact that we lost was less-than-fun, but it was fun overall), did some shopping, drove through Alberta’s badlands, and went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller to look at dinosaurs. We even took time to watch some Doctor Who and record a podcast. All fun!

But hoo boy, does fun take its toll. Stress is stress whether it’s because of good things or bad things. When I planned that trip, I had no idea how wrecked I’d be at the end of last week. (Answer: Very Wrecked) So my fun weekend was less fun than it would have been and pretty much depleted even my reserve tanks of coherence and energy.

If I do my usual thing over the next couple weeks, those tanks will never refill. I know this, but I rarely act on it. I’m trying to treat myself better these days, so:

Dear world full of fun and interesting people,

No.

No, I will not join you for your fun and interesting thing. (Not unless it can wait a couple of weeks.)

Love,

Me

***

The one exception I did make was to schedule a short recording session for Beginner’s Puck because A) that probably should have been on the calendar anyway, so it’s pseudo-grandfathered in, and B) I have So Much hockey stuff to talk about! I went to an Oilers Game Day Live! And the Oilers game (in Calgary)! And holy buttons, that recent EBUG story! EBUGs are our thing!

So yeah. That’s a reasonable excuse, but for all other items, I’m gonna heed Nancy Reagan and “just say no.”

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Change Is A-Comin’

whistles Scorpions’ “Wind of Change”

So I think it’s safe to say that over the last year or two, this space, in conjunction with my Patreon page, hasn’t exactly been a success. My original goal in launching a Patreon was (as I stated in a nifty video I am still rather proud of) to energize and motivate me to write more–to flex the mental muscles of my critical faculties. I think it worked for a while.

Lately, not so much.

I’ve written before about reasons why things have gone more radio silent here, and about some of the personal mental blocks I have about accepting money for blog posts. My life has changed a lot since I started here, so I think it’s okay that this space (and my Patreon) should change with it.

I’m still not sure exactly what form those changes will take, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I like having this as a creative space that’s all my own. I adore all my podcasts and the people I do them with, but they’re joint efforts. It’s neat to have a sandbox in which I can build whatever castles I want.

On the Patreon side, I still like the specific and direct connection that provides to the folks who are kind enough to help support me. And to be very real, after doing taxes this year, the extra dollars are and would be Very Welcome.

One thing I’m sure of is that the reward structure for my Patreon will be changing. I no longer feel the need to do so much critical writing. Those muscles get exercised an awful lot anyway: I spend a ton of time consuming and commenting on media–I just do it in audio form. I get plenty of practice creating polished writing in my day job. And to be frank, the requirement to deliver something specific that my patrons have requested in exchange for their dollars? That’s triggered my anxiety much more than I ever thought it would.

For the moment, I’ve removed the reward levels.* I’ll probably replace them with something that’s easier for me to fulfill–exclusive content most likely. Maybe I’ll think up some fun goals. Not sure yet. I might even move to a monthly donation model rather than charging per-post. If you have thoughts about this, don’t hesitate to let me know! (Comments here, on Patreon, Twitter, etc.)

I’ve become so comfortable and adept at capturing audio, I might start dropping brief ramblings here in mp3 format. Or doing little videos (probably ones that require MUCH less work than that one on my Patreon page). I want this to be a place where I can do a little bit of whatever I feel like, with fewer self-imposed rails.

So if that doesn’t sound like something you’re interested in, this is your notification to un-bookmark this site or cancel your Patreon pledge. I will hold exactly no ill will!

Change can be good and is often necessary. This is definitely the latter, and I hope it’ll be the former as well. Whatever comes, I’m happy to have you along for the ride.

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*I still have some more patron-posts to write, and I am absolutely gonna deliver those. I’ve already started writing notes! Graeme and Donald, yours are on the way! If you’re one of my patrons who never requested anything particular (or I wasn’t able to source what you asked for and let you know that), it’s not too late! Just drop me a line on Patreon and let me know what you’d like!

I’m Still Here…Trying to Help

I’ve been exceedingly quiet here lately for a variety of reasons including busy-ness (in work-life and “real” life) and exhaustion of both the physical kind and the emotional/mental kind. Day-Job work really kicked up a lot a few months back, and at the same time, I’ve been working on finding a medication solution that works for my mental health issues. (I do plan to talk about that more later, but perhaps not until I’ve gotten a bit closer to finding a solution.)

So yeah. Call them reasons or excuses, that’s what’s been up. (And I swear I’m gonna finish off the last few paid posts I have on my to-do list.)

The world is a scary, sad, infuriating, exhausting place these days. It doesn’t seem to be getting better. I’ve been doing what little things I can to push back against the darkness. So I’m here to point out a few things you could do if you have a few dollars/pounds/etc. to spare for some good causes. Some are large, some are small, some are things I’ve given money to, some are causes I wish I had more to spare for.

This is NOT an exhaustive list. This is the drippiest drop in an ocean-sized bucket. Feel free to share more options in the comments.

Call Your Senators!

First of all, I’ve been emailing and/or faxing my Wisconsin senators and representative pretty much every day. I occasionally call when I think I’ll get through to voicemail quickly (international long distance rates are no joke). It’s so easy to speak your mind, and there’s a lot to speak about right now. (Healthcare, anyone?) You can easily be connected with your senator by calling the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Save the Dogs of Chernobyl!

Did you know the wild pups near Chernobyl may have radioactive particles in their fur? They can’t even get head-pats! Help those pups here.

Help the Victims of Hurricane María and Irma in Puerto Rico!

The non-profit ConPRmetidos is running this fundraiser. This is one I threw some money at because wow. The catastrophic destruction is simply heartbreaking. There are lots more places you can donate to help with this, just make sure they’re legit before you give them your money or info.

Support Andrew: He’s Running!

My pal Andrew Smith is currently super-close to his fundraising goal. He’s doing a 10k run to support The Lily Foundation, which funds research & raises awareness to support the families affected by mitochondrial disease.

Support Beatrix: She’s Jogging!

In other perambulation news, Trixie (daughter of my Incomparable pals Lisa and Phil) is doing her second jog-a-thon! You can support her and help fund her school’s enrichment programs by making an online donation here. This fam is one of my podcast clan that I’ve met in real life. So I can confirm they exist and are excellent people. And Trixie is the kind of kid who gives me hope for the future. Helping her learn is an investment in the world.

Buy a Book!

Did you know Fireside Fiction has a Hurricane Relief Bookstore? 100% of profits go to hurricane relief and recovery. And you get some amazing fiction to read! What could be better? I will biasedly recommend the issues of Uncanny Magazine, but there’s lots of other great stuff there too. Take a look!

Support Great Fiction!

Book Smugglers is in the midst of a Kickstarter! Want to support great articles, reviews, and fiction for all ages? Sure you do!

More Great Fiction!

Strange Horizons is also having a fundraiser! Supporting art and beauty is always important. Even more so at times like this.

Even More Great Fiction!

We’re closing in on another essay per issue for Uncanny Magazine! We recently featured a series of essays on resistance, which is timely as hell. And then, of course, there’s the fiction and poetry — and a first-rate podcast if-I-do-say-so-myself. #shamelessselfplug


I know there were more I meant to mention, but this has taken pretty much all I’ve got in me today. (I’m home sick, so I’m not even at my usual baseline.) Like I said, this is the tippiest tip of the massive iceberg. Do share more in the comments!

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.

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.