- Do you write? The answer is probably no, even (especially) if you consider yourself a writer. Why write when you could do your dishes or wash the floors? Well, it’s time to neglect your house because in our age, there are fewer excuses to ignore the blank page than ever before. Here are some of the best aids to the storytellers out there.A good pen. Start with the basics, right? You can go as simple or fancy as you want. Quill and ink is a classic for a reason, just as the evolved and less messy versions have appeared for their own reasons. Having a writing implement at hand is the easiest way to make sure you can get those ideas down when you have them. You can’t use the excuse that you don’t remember when you can scribble on whatever’s handy!A good notebook. And why use loose-leaf paper if you don’t have to? Bound books keep it all together in one place, both so you can travel with your notes and so you’ll have them all in one place! Just make sure not to get too many or the notebook you’re looking for will be buried under a pile of half-filled copies, and cleaning away from your workspace will look a whole lot more appealing than writing.A page marker. Save time by using a bit of ribbon or paper to show yourself where you left off. You can get creative with this, too; some leaves work for this really well and have fun differences in texture. Watch the passage of time as your bookmark goes from fresh and vital and green to brown and well-loved to crumbling to dust. Feel the passage of time as you hibernate in the winter and await a fresh crop of leaves. Try to avoid thinking about how you’ll be part of the ground you walk on before too long.A good carrying bag. Crafters can do wonders with a bit of fabric and imagination. Your pen and journal probably doesn’t need more than a pouch with a couple of straps, but you can go as big as you need. Bags of holding are very popular in the writing community for the portable workspace – very helpful when you’re traveling, as it can double as a bedchamber if you tuck it out of view just right – but make sure you don’t get one used and uncleansed. The whispers in your head will let you know if it’s new or not, and if you need to see someone to clear your dreams again.A reliable scrying tool. Sometimes, the ideas in your head aren’t enough. There are a variety of options to commune with the spiritual force of your choice. If you’re traveling light, a good set of cards or a coin might do the trick. If you need more complicated help, a ball or mirror, supplemented with the herbs and spells of choice, can bring a full advisor to bounce that difficult plot point off of. Just cast a circle if you don’t have a direct line to your god or spirit; you never know who else might be listening.A ritual knife. When you’re really in a tricky spot, blood must be spilt. Your own can do in a pinch – make sure to not drag the blade across one of your palms, or it’ll make writing harder – but small vermin is usually ideal for both its accessibility and utility, if your mouser isn’t keeping up. A big plot tangle might need more of a hunting trip, but use your knife to slit the buck’s throat before you take the antlers for your purpose.A flask. Sometimes, you can’t use the blood you’ve gathered right away. You don’t need a fancy tool to paint the blood on yourself – fingers always do – but a crystal vial or a forged tin is necessary to keep blood for later, especially if you’re on the move. Infused flasks can give the blood power to destroy your enemies…or make your manuscripts more visible to seeking editors.A good attitude. Whether you live in the bogs where the dead never rest, or the deserts where the wind will leach your soul at first opportunity, having a can-do mindset will get you far! (Just don’t go too far, especially at the turn of the day and night, or you might not come back.)
The neighborhood in which Sara and I reside takes decorating for Christmas very seriously. And it is Christmas; there is nary a menorah, or any other hint of another culture or tradition, in sight. Snowflakes and snowmen and Christmas trees and red and green projections abound. Having an inflatable decoration is what counts as quirky in a place like this. Our cul-de-sac is almost a perfect loop of lights and Christmas cheer.
The terrible next-door neighbors, who rev bikes and cackle loudly and have friends with visible pistols in our driveway in the middle of the night but complain about the noise of chickens, are a perfect example. They have fake candles in every window in the front of their house. They’ve crammed decorations in every bit of the small patch of grass that comprises their front yard. They even have wicker-looking reindeer decorations carefully placed in their backyard, near their soldier-kneeling-near-a-cross statue, which you can see from the path that runs behind.
Here is what’s in the front yard of our house:
Two white reindeer, one with its head detached from its body and lying on the ground. Both were lying on the ground in general for most of December, but someone who lives in the house had an enterprising moment and righted them again. (The head was not reattached.)
Strings of lights that normally hang on the front of the house but are currently lying in a pile on the grass. They’re connected to a timer, so the clump dutifully lights up and turns off at the same time every night. What time is that? I have no idea. I’d have to look at the time or ask my brother-in-law, and who has the energy for that?
I’m not sure if the Thomas the Tank Engine inflatable is still there. It was unhooked from its cables the other day, when we had a decent windstorm, and I stuck it in the little bit of porch we have to give it at least a little shelter. But I had a cold that day, and I still have a cold, and I just can’t make myself care if Thomas and Sir Topham Hatt are still here and didn’t soar away on the Nevada gusts.
(I probably should have brought it inside the house. Oh well.)
A line of plastic candy canes stuck in the ground with stakes and illuminated from the inside by lights. This should be the straightforward decoration—it doesn’t take the setup that every other decoration takes, after all—but what was a neat border is now haphazard, tilted, knocked askew by either children or weather or both.
A holiday Schnauzer decoration, purchased to represent the actual Miniature Schnauzer residing in the house, lying on its back in the grass and dead leaves that we, of course, didn’t rake up.
Now, I should say that this is not every year for us. Our decorations are sparing or slightly askew on busier years, of which we’ve had plenty as of late, but if we put decorations outside, we usually have them up in a manner somewhat acceptable to the neighborhood. But I have never been happier with our nod to the holiday than I am this year. You see them, and you think, Well, it looks like they’re going through something.
Decorations don’t convey specifics. Our yard doesn’t say “Our eldest cat is recovering through a chain mastectomy she received to treat cancer, the youngest human in the house brought home head lice and swallowed a coin that earned him two hospital visits, Sara puked up blood twice and spent an entire week in the hospital while we waited for the doctors to take her internal bleeding seriously”, but you look at it, and you know something that reflects our reality. Our yard is a mess, a cry for help.
I smile every single time I see it.
But really, I’m not giving the other houses credit. I have no idea what their lives are like, and maybe that’s the point. Maybe they’re keeping their circumstances to themselves by fitting in. Maybe it’s a perfect expression of who they are as a family.
Maybe they want a little light and normality while things are completely and utterly terrible.
Our indoor decorations, by the way, are delightful. The fake tree is beautiful, there are strings of lights that keep the interior aglow even after the main lights are turned off for the night, and Sara’s eldest put ornaments on the drawer pulls (which, yes, are now scattering everywhere, but in that delightful child-chaos that the holiday season should be about). Don’t tell the kids, but I’m serving as their Elf on the Shelf, moving the toy around nightly in ways that I try to make more about fun and silliness and less about the surveillance state and holding children to an unrealistic standard of behavior. I even put a terrible joke on a board last night:
What do you call a annoying reindeer? Rude-olph.
(I had to put “a” annoying reindeer because I ran out of the letter n.)
We have our competent bits, is what I’m trying to say. And there’s nothing wrong with making those bits the parts the world sees. But there’s also nothing wrong with keeping those parts to yourself, and showing the world that not everything is curated and perfect. That the lack of light outside can exacerbate the mental illness that was already exacerbated by a traumatic autumn.
That, oddly, some of the brightest cheer can come from the biggest messes.
Happy holidays, from someone who doesn’t want to celebrate the holidays but somehow ends up doing so anyway.
I was assigned female at birth. One of the side effects of that in my particular situation is that I was raised not to listen to my body or my needs. I’ve been doing meditation and mindfulness practices in an attempt to learn more about myself, and I’m picking up on some interesting things.
For instance: on December 12th, at 5:30 am, I realized my uterus uses he pronouns.
I didn’t know uteruses—uteri?—could be cis men, but mine is. I keep thinking of him as “Chad”, even though that’s the name of the guy who screams in my brain about how worthless I am when my depression kicks up. Whatever, my uterus can borrow Chad for now.
Chad the uterus kicked me low with cramps last night. I took a bunch of painkillers to get him to shut up, and he quieted down enough to let my as-yet-unnamed stomach slide into my DMs in an attempt to get the bacon it knew was in the fridge. My stomach doesn’t seem to have gender or pronoun preferences, but if it was a cis male, it would 100 percent send me unsolicited dick pics.
But Chad, on the other hand, is a cis male feminist. He’s the kind of guy who says crap like “women are people too” and “equal pay” so you’ll have sex with him while you’re ovulating and too frisky to think better about it. And then, a couple weeks later, he punches you in the gut for a couple days straight and laughs while you accidentally bleed on your bedsheets.
The metaphor breaks down a little at the end there, but you get it.
By the way, Chad the uterus is also the ovaries. Maybe Chad the uterus is especially the ovaries. I’m not one of the ovary-havers that feels pain during ovulation—some people feel it when the egg moves around in there, which is yet another joy in the joys that is the menstrual cycle—but I do spend a week with the sex drive that remains after my antidepressants try to crush it into dust, and I spend nearly two full weeks with increased depression and general upset (one the week before and one the week of my period).
How much can Chad the uterus mansplain to me about my emotions? Enough that I wish I could have noise-cancelling headphones for my brain.
…oh my god Chad the rambling voice is Chad the uterus.
Cue the X-Files theme music.
It is currently 5:52 am on December 12th, and the painkillers I took shut Chad up for now. I’m going back to sleep until Chad starts blaring Hotline Bling on his giant set of speakers again.
November 4th, 2018
Hey, I actually deleted Tweetbot off my phone! I’ve never done that before!
oh god I actually deleted Tweetbot off my phone what am I going to mindlessly click now
menstrual cw // I’m spotting between periods! I’ve only ever done this once before: October 2016. I wonder what the pattern is?
What do people who don’t use Twitter do with their days? Sleep more? (Actually, it is bedtime. Heh.)
November 5th, 2018
I’m drunk with power. I just deleted a bunch of the apps I don’t use off my phone. If I can take my connection to Twitter away from myself, what can’t I do? FEAR ME, APP DEVELOPERS
If it wasn’t for Instagram, I probably would have reinstalled Tweetbot already. Come to me, beautiful bullet journal creators and bookstagrams.
vomit cw // Nibling is home sick today. It’s not terrible timing, as such things go; he has tomorrow off because his school is a polling location, so two days off for the price of one. Hope this doesn’t mean I’ll be barfing in the next couple days.
I’m going back to sleep.
Oh crap, I slept until 2 pm. And I still feel like death.
Walked Ichabod the miniature Schnauzer. He was kind enough to poop on our walk, and as I bent to pick it up, a van driving by honked at me. Nothing like a good bit of street harassment to round out your day.
Bee Swarm Simulator, you’re my only friend.
I take that back. Crackers are also my friend.
Posted my first Egregious essay. Maybe I should have waited to do that until I wasn’t taking a Twitter sabbatical?
I want to write three-thousand words today for #nano. This does not count the five-hundred words written this morning when I was barely awake. It’s almost six pm. No way this could go badly.
Sunset was way too early. As much as I’d like to believe I’m a vampire, I’m not.
Still haven’t started the 3k words for #nano.
Okay okay I snuck onto Twitter and I vaguely regret it I’m sorry I know better
Got the 3k done, and now I’m just…done for the day. What on earth am I supposed to do with all this free time, besides fret?
November 6th, 2018
Woke up from a dream where I was on Beto O’Rourke’s campaign bus and I was asking to go home. Must be Election Day.
Went back to sleep and woke up from a dream where I had a really great girlfriend. Can I go to that reality?
Today is a great day to rewatch To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
.@smreine is playing Christmas songs on the Echo again. YES AFRICA KNOWS IT’S CHRISTMAS, MAYBE IF WHITE COLONIALISM HADN’T STOLEN EVERYTHING THEY WOULD HAVE FOOD
Nibling is home! He wore a charming plaid shirt today and went to work with Bro-in-Law. He showed me the pen that he put in his shirt pocket. CHARMING.
How is today the first day this season I’ve heard All I Want For Christmas is You?
It feels like someone is stabbing me in the eye. In other news, I have a sinus headache.
I put off my #nano writing until later, when election returns are coming in. The theory is that I’ll get into my NaNo and not constantly refresh the news.
7:30 pm, and guess who’s written just a couple hundred #nano words. (At least I’m not refreshing the news.)
It’s a little on the nose to develop a cough while watching Moulin Rouge.
Finally wrote, and it’s time for bed. It’s excruciating not checking the news, but I’ll feel better if I don’t until most things are solid.
I’m in bed, on my phone. I can’t stop playing app games, not because they’re app games, but because they’re what I have access to instead of Tweetbot.
This is why I deleted Tweetbot.
November 7th, 2018
Moment of truth. I’m pulling up the local newspaper’s results page. Breathe.
Wait. Really? This is…good news?
Before I say this next bit, I want to be clear. I did very little this election. I made sure to vote, I filled out some “I’m voting because” postcards for the ACLU, and then I went into hardcore bunker mode for my mental health.
Pretty much anyone who spent even an hour organizing or canvassing did more work than I did.
Having said that.
I TOLD YOU SO, @deanheller. I TOLD YOU I WOULD LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOUR LOSS THIS YEAR. YOU STABBED US IN THE BACK AND I GOT MY RETRIBUTION.
I HOPE YOU FEEL EVEN A FRACTION OF THE LOSS AND PAIN I FELT IN 2017, WHEN I WAS CALLING YOU CONSTANTLY ABOUT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. I HOPE YOU *KNOW*.
Gosh, I’m looking forward to deleting my Google Alerts about him on New Year’s.
Back to Tweetbot.