Shoe (Travel) Anxiety

**UPDATE** I didn’t get a chance to post this when I first drafted it (last week), so despite the opening sentence, I can affirm that I’m 100% Travel-Anxious at this time.

Ok, so I don’t actually have travel anxiety *yet*. Is there such a thing as travel-anxiety anxiety? Our big MN-WI vacation doesn’t start for another few days, but it’s been a few years since I’ve traveled for longer than about five days so the prospect of being away from home for two and a half weeks is daunting from a packing perspective.

Happily, we’ll be staying with friends and family for enough of the trip that we can do laundry partway through. But that’s not really why I struggle with packing. When I get dressed for the day, I do it largely based on whim and current emotional state. How am I supposed to know what my emotional state and whimsy will look like two weeks ahead of time??

This is how over-packing happens.

I did swing the other direction for a few trips. I was so dedicated to slimming down my suitcase that I didn’t pack *enough* to wear. And that happened on trips where I didn’t have the option of doing laundry. Oops. Thus my most recent trip swung back to overpackage. Oy.

And can we talk about shoes? This is the thing that stumps me every time. I don’t have a great pair of all-purpose shoes. So I end up packing the shoes that are super comfortable to walk in but are old and ugly and the shoes that are decent looking but only comfortable for moderate walking distances and the shoes that look nice (usually just in case) and maybe the boots because I might want them and they’re so cute and comfy and also the slip-ons because maybe I’ll want to be able to go outside and back in really quickly without having to deal with laces and such.

Shoes take up a dang lotta space.

The solution is probably to find a nice pair of all-purpose shoes. I welcome suggestions! (I have narrow feet, so I’ve always struggled to find shoes that fit.)

**UPDATE** I have decided on one pair of Converse (which I will wear to travel) and one pair of sandals. Here’s hoping that carries me through.

Converse Turquoise All Star Ox Glitter Trainers

I can’t resist a bit of shiny/sparkliness–I nabbed these shoes the moment I saw them. I also have a pair that’s silver, but they’re more worn so these are coming with me.

Spring Grasshoppers Chambray Velcro Sandals - light blue fabric

These are so comfy, and I’m sad Grasshoppers doesn’t make this kind of sandal anymore.

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HealthDay

I am currently sitting in bed, computer in my lap, surrounded by crackers and ginger ale and Pepto Bismol and a Booster Juice. Yep. That’s right. I’m home sick. But I’m not calling it a “sick day”. This, my friends, is a HealthDay.

I recently switched antidepressant medications, and the initial side effects are kicking my butt. I could probably handle a slow-paced day at work (with all these stomach-supports in tow), but I’m also feeling just…wrong in the head. If you’ve been through the delights* of getting-used-to-a-new-brain-medication, you may know what I’m talking about. There’s no good way to describe it—at least not that I’ve found anyhow. I just feel wrong.

The important thing is that all this current discomfort is in support of future, better health. There’s no guarantee the new drug will be effective. I’ve bounced between *many* over the last couple years, trying to find something that will work for me, and so far I’ve had little luck. But that’s not a surprise. Brains are complicated, and there’s a lot we don’t yet understand about the chemistry happening between our ears. I knew when I started this process that it could be long and would likely involve a lot of trial and error. (Boy howdy has it!)

Anyway, I post this random update in part to remind myself that it’s okay to take a HealthDay when I need it. (I still can’t shake a profound feeling of GUILT any time I miss a day of work.) I also hope that if you’re struggling with your own mental health that you remember you’re not alone. And even if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, stick it out. Take a HealthDay if you’re able to. We can do this. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. We’ll get there.

 

*Not at all delightful.

Recently Read

Recently Read

Hey all! If you haven’t heard the news, The Incomparable podcast network has a podcast feed all about books!

So poor is my sense of time that I was going to call Recently Read a “recent addition” to the network. Then I looked at the list of episodes and realized the first one came out in June of last year. How does time even work?

Anyway, if you’re a book-lover like I am, you may want to check this out. Each episode is short (usually well under 10 minutes!) and consists of someone talking about a book they just read. I’ve done several, and it’s honestly encouraged me to read more. Turns out I like having a place I can talk about a book I just read, even if it’s a one-sided conversation.

I’ve got a couple more drafted — yes, I write the script out before I record — and I’ll be posting them soonish. It recently occurred to me that those scripts (with a little bit of polishing) would make for good blog posts. I know not everyone can (or wants to) listen to podcasts, so I plan to start posting those book reviews here. Also soonish.

I really do encourage you to check out the podcast though. There are many more people than just lil ol’ me on the network, and quite a few of us have been Recently Reading. It’s fun!

Talking About Mental Health

I’ve talked about mental health on this blog quite a lot over the years. I haven’t done it as much over the last couple years, but then again, I haven’t talked about *much* on this blog over that time. The reason for that is, ironically, mental health. (Or the lack thereof, honestly.)

Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat it’s #BellLetsTalk day. I’ve mentioned this before because it’s important to me. I chose to move to Canada almost five years ago, and finding there’s a very public day devoted to mental health awareness surprised and pleased me. (Every tweet/RT/post/etc. including “#BellLetsTalk” means another 5 cents donated to mental health initiatives in Canada.)

I will give my usual caveat that EVERY DAY should be a day for talking about mental health. Ending the stigma around mental illness is a job for more than one day, but the more money we can tweet into this effort, the more resources organizations will have to put toward this all year round, so I hope you’ll all get out there and use the hashtag–you don’t even have to be in Canada! (I think there’s a way to participate via text messages and calling too.)

So once again, I’m here to do my little part and tell my own story. I hope hearing me talk about my own struggle will help others know they’re not alone. Because you’re not. I suffer from mental illness, and I am not ashamed. (Or at least I try really hard not to be. It’s still difficult to get past the stigma sometimes, but I think I’ve come a long way.) So on with the show…


A couple years ago I realized I really needed some help. It had been many years since I’d been on medication, but I was struggling mightily—missing work, lacking joy in even the things I love the most (podcasting, of course), so I did what I always tell other people to do—talk to someone. For me, that someone was my doctor. (I am so lucky and pleased to have a doctor I like and trust and who trusts *me* to know my own mind and body and make decisions for myself.) We tried a variety of different medications to help address my depression and anxiety. I think over the course of one year I tried five or six different meds. Some of them didn’t work. Some of them worked but had debilitating side effects. I got discouraged and kinda gave up.

So for a while I stepped away from regular medication, in part to let my body and brain re-set after all that bouncing around from med to med. (Though I still had [and have] some as-needed meds for anxiety.) I managed to get by for about a year this way, but it was really just “getting by”. And then eventually that “getting by” started to slip to not-quite-getting-by.

I went back to my doctor.

Now I’m on some new meds that seem to be working (and without super-awful side effects! yay!). It’s early yet, but I’m hopeful.

[Note: The writing of this blog post was literally just interrupted by my reminder to take my Cipralex. LOL at timing!]

Anyway, my mental health is the number one factor in determining when I have the energy to write outside of my day job. I would love to promise more regular content here, but I don’t know how my mental health will hold up. But as I said, I’m hopeful, and I have a few things I wrote for podcasts that I might be able to re-purpose for blog posts, just to keep things moving while I work up to fulfilling the last of my Patreon reward posts.

So once again, I’ll just say to anyone out there that’s struggling: you are not alone. I hope you’ll reach out and find some help.

And to everyone, whether you’re struggling or not, please take a moment today to use the #BellLetsTalk hashtag. Each time I see it come through my feed, my heart lifts a little bit. I have to imagine it’s doing the same for others. Seems like a pretty easy way to spread joy while raising money for a worthy cause.

Finally, mega-thanks to my spouse Steven and all my friends, family, and internet pals who have stuck with me through all this and provided constant understanding and support. I love you all so very very much.

2018 Awards Eligibility Post

First of all I just noticed how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything here, and I’m fighting hard not to feel great guilt or at least chagrin. 2018 brought some huge personal challenges that included mental and physical health issues — both of which have gotten worse and not better. (I’m working with several doctors to turn that around, but so far it’s not really happening.)

Anyway, despite all that, I managed to have a pretty productive year in the world of podcasting, and I’ve got a bunch of stuff that is technically eligible for awards. I don’t actually think most of these warrant nominations, and some of the ones I *do* think are worthy are exceedingly unlikely to be recognized, but that is not really the point of this. I encourage you all to go read Melissa F. Olson’s Awards Eligibility Post and take special note of the bit where she talks about why these kinds of posts are important. Those thoughts are as applicable to podcasters as they are to writers.

So without further ado, here’s the list!


Uncanny Magazine is eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine.


Everything else I do (unsurprisingly) falls into the Hugo Award category for Best Fancast:

Verity! – My first podcast, in which 6 women, in 5 time zones, from 4 countries, on 3 continents, in 2 hemispheres, talk about 1 thing: Doctor Who. (We’ve been nominated twice before, and it was a huge honour.)

Lazy Doctor Who – My spouse, Steven, and I are making our way through “the pilgrimage” — watching every episode of Doctor Who in order. And we’re podcasting about it. It’s “lazy” because we do it from our couch and only do it when we have time and feel like it.

The Audio Guide to Babylon 5 – I am so proud of this podcast, which Chip and Shannon Sudderth and I completed in 2018. We watched the whole five-year arc of Babylon 5 and did a podcast episode about each episode. It makes me feel all fuzzy to look back and see what we accomplished together.

In The Village – This is another “completed” podcast effort. Steven and I watched all 17 episodes of The Prisoner to celebrate its 50th anniversary. We did not agree on many things, but we had a grand time doing it. I have never fallen in love with a tv show harder and faster than I did with The Prisoner so it was sheer delight to do a podcast about it.

Earp Chirp – in 2018, my Albertan pals Annette and Kirsten and I launched this podcast devoted to Wynonna Earp, a show that is both shot and set in our home province. It’s a loose, instant-reaction-style podcast recorded on the same couch used for Lazy Doctor Who. In addition to our general observations, we comment on the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the Albertanisms on the show. It’s important to note that Steven is our Crackerjack Producer.


I also contribute frequently to a couple of podcasts that are also eligible in other(?) Hugo categories:

The Incomparable Jason Snell has brought together a fabulous crew of geeks to talk about many geekalicious topics, from books to tv to movies to comics to video games to music to board games to…Thanksgiving dinner? I’m one of the most frequent panelists on the show, so it would be cool to see it get a nod. I’m pretty sure this would fall under Best Related Work, as I think it’s not eligible for fancast due to financial restrictions.

Total Party Kill – This D&D podcast on The Incomparable Podcast Network sees some of the panelists play a variety of tabletop roleplaying games. I’m on nearly all the episodes, and I edit lots and lots of them, so I spend a lot of time and effort and love on this one. I’m not totally sure if it’s a “fancast” or if it would qualify under Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form. (If anyone has expertise in this area, feel free to clarify in the comments.)

And that, as they say, is that! Unless I’ve forgotten something, which is entirely possible.

Just Work Through It

Okay, so that’s not always good advice. It’s often impossible to just work through it—whatever “it” may be. But occasionally, for me, it not only keeps life on track—it actually helps.

These last *mumble mumble* months (years?) have been pretty rough in the brain chemistry department. And as I work with doctors and lifestyle changes to try to sort things out, it can be quite a roller-coaster of non-productivity and keeping-afloat and oh-my-god-I-let-everything-slide-now-I’m-screwed.

I’m trying to get better at remembering that there’s a weird limbo-area where I am most certainly not feeling well, but I can still Get Things Done. And when I lean into that (instead of leaning into the couch, as is my wont), my mental health actually improves. (Marginally, but I’ll take any little bit of improvement.)

It’s not easy to remember that, so this is a very public reminder to myself. At the risk of going all corporate:

Just do it.

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.”