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!

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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.

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!

Happy December!

…Or at least that’s what I’m striving for. At the beginning of the month, I considered pledging to do an advent calendar-style thing–a post about something happy every day. I decided to unofficially/internally aim for that, but not promise anything formally. I am very glad I didn’t promise it because I’d’ve already failed–I didn’t post anything yesterday.

The reason I didn’t is because I know myself, and I know if I’d’ve put that much pressure on, I’d’ve spent the entire month stressing about it. So instead, I’m just gonna do my best to pop something nice in here as often as I have time and brain-health to do it.

Today’s bit of happy is something my mom sent me, which made her very grumpy. It snowed in Wisconsin! This is my parents’ backyard as of this morning:

I admit to being a little homesick now. It's so beautiful!

I admit to being a little homesick now. It’s so beautiful!

We also got some proper snow last night in Edmonton (finally!) so I got to trudge through it on my way to work this morning through the -16 (but feels like -27) degree (Celsius) weather. Many people would not enjoy this (my mom, for one!), but at this time of year, it just feels right to me. I don’t know exactly when I became a winter-lover, but I’m glad it hit before I moved here to the frozen north. I’m really enjoying the season so far. (Check back with me about that in April…)

If you do want something that’s fun and advent-calendarey, I highly recommend Radio Free Skaro‘s Advent Calendar of Fluid Links. They answer one listener-submitted Doctor Who question every day. There are sleigh bells and it is delightful.

You may have noticed I’m posting more short posts rather than fewer longer ones. Giving myself permission to keep things short and fun has made me feel freer and better about writing. I’m hoping the flavor of this blog will change over the next few months so I can make it more accurately reflect me as a person (and keep me writing more often). Not that anything I’ve posted so far is a misrepresentation of who I am, but I’m not a person who only thinks deeply and carefully about things. Sometimes I just like to have fun. I think my Twitter feed illustrates that nicely, but sometimes 140 characters just isn’t enough.

I make no promises, but I’ll be doing my best to post about (mostly) happy things throughout December–little posts for the most part, working my way up to the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when I’m going to try to pump out several of the patron-inspired posts people have been waiting (so patiently!) on for so long.

So happy December everyone! (Even you, Mom. Embrace the snow!)