Support

If you are reading this blog, you probably know my husband. I don’t think I have a wide reach, and that’s okay. This is a small and quiet space, because large ones make me anxious.

You probably know him as a very handy guy, easy to be friends with, clever and always willing to learn a new skill.

There is no one in this world I’d rather be a parent with, and throughout this pregnancy, every day has proven it true. Honestly, I don’t know that I’d ever want to be a parent if it weren’t with him. I joked when my test first came back positive that having kids was basically getting double married, but now that we’re at week 36 I know it wasn’t a joke.

It is very difficult to be pregnant with twins. Everything in my core hurts, and when I shift positions my lungs compress from the weight of them. My balance is off, and standing requires a slow process of shifting weight until my legs steady underneath me. And he has helped me through the house, in and out of cars, rubbed my shoulders when they’re sore from overcompensating my inaccessible abdominal muscles.

My brain is foggy, and he writes down my questions so I don’t forget to ask them at the doctor’s office.

He’s been building and finishing so many projects, getting our house ready for the kids’ arrival, and all of this is so good, but it adds up to so much more.

I know that I can trust him with anything. I can be vulnerable with him. Actual, in person vulnerable, which is still hard, and he still has to remind me that I need to let him handle the things I’m currently unable to do.

He’s going to be in the operating room with me during the c-section. It’s the kind of thing I’d only ask of someone with 15 years of background in being my partner. Because I love him more than anything. Yes, more than the babies I’m scheduled to meet in about a week.

Right now, the kids are still a dream for the future. And we’re excited to see them, and learn who they are, and guide them as best we can. And they’ll be folded into the love Erik and I have for each other, and grow new branches that are entirely their own.

Because I really really love my husband. I’m glad we’re double married.

Surprises

I have been writing. Still. A lot actually. But I’ve also been preparing for a tremendous upheaval in my life. I’m pregnant with twins, and my husband and I are working to make our house ready for them.

We’ve painted their room in oranges and reds with a horizon of mesas and arches. We built new doors for the terrible storage access with real door frames and latches to keep curious children out of the crawl spaces. The work extends outside our nursery, to bright yellow paint in the hallway, a new blue swinging bench outside, a newly organized woodshop, and unneeded trinkets wrapped up and donated away. It has been a lot of work. It is in anticipation of a very different type of work that’s coming our way.

I was not surprised that this gestation period has turned to preparation. What has surprised me, while it really shouldn’t have, is the number of people who want to help us. It has been tremendously humbling. My husband and I are a lot alike; independent to the point where it can turn to oblivious. We love our friends, we love helping them, and sometimes we forget that our friends love us back.

We have had an outpouring of support, in diapers, in clothes, in helpful tips and devices that we’d never have thought of because we are in our thirties and I have never been a very motherly person. I can admit that. This is a new development and I think it is only fair that I am honest with myself about it. I want kids now. I am excited to teach them and care for them and watch them become their own people. And I am excited to raise them with Erik. He’s the only person in the world I’d do this with.

And I am so excited to know that I have a massive web of support around us. Much larger than I ever thought. Stronger, too. I know we’re not alone. The twins won’t be alone. Even when Erik and I get back to nesting and our quiet ways, I know we have friends. I am so grateful to all of you who have offered congratulations and encouragements and well wishes for the future. Those votes of confidence in my and Erik’s ability to parent have meant the world. This is a big adventure, and although we are both meticulous planners (him even more than me), there is so much that we will not be able to account for. And I’m not scared. Not really. Not as much as I feel I should be.

Twins! It’s crazy. Ten years ago, I might have said I’d never be a mother. And now I’m getting two in one go. The shock has worn down from that initial ultrasound, and now I’m just glad that I only have to do this once.

Because listen. Listen. Pregnancy suuuuuucks.

Expectations

I haven’t written a short story in a while. I don’t actually know how long, because I am terrible about keeping track of such things.

I’d like to have more. There are a couple I’m holding that haven’t found a market yet. And I’m coming ever closer to publishing them myself on Curious Fictions. I haven’t submitted anything in a while, because I couldn’t manage a rejection letter in 2020. I had two stories published last year, One Last Stand for the Cold Blooded Chaos Society over at Translunar Travelers Lounge and Moon Errata on the Toasted Cake Podcast, both of which were written in 2019. And I think, because it’s been some time since I’ve had a complete short story, I’ve been a bit rough on myself.

For most of 2020 and the first bits of ’21 I’ve been writing a novel. According to my inner demons, and based on absolutely nothing, I’m not writing it fast enough. It may be the fact that my outline keeps changing to move the goal of ending this thing always over the next horizon. Idk, it’s hard to know why it feels so slow.

But I like it. Not surprising, I know. It takes a lot of effort to write a full novel and you’ve got to like what your doing to keep going. But I like it enough that I can’t think of other stories, and I have got to get to the end of this thing before I can build up a list of shorts and get back to collecting rejection letters.

I was going to go to Kij Johnson’s and Barbara J. Webb’s novel writing workshop last year, but 2020 happened, and new developments in 2021 mean I won’t be able to attend the online workshop this year. (The online workshop looks really amazing and if you are all interested, do audition for it!) I wanted to work on this novel with them, but I know I can’t wait until I manage to take their class. But I’m not doing it alone.

I wrote alone for a really really long time, and as a shut in, I thought it was for me. Nope. Get yourself a community, friends. The novel I’m writing now looks so different from my first few pages. The pieces are still there, but having friends to read (friends who write and know how a story goes together) and highlight things I’ve missed are invaluable. And I’d be completely lost in the dreadful middles if I didn’t have their insights early on. It’s a slow process, yes, but progress is possible. I’m not abandoning things.

Well, I’m abandoning short stories. But only for the time being. And my demons are going to have to get used to it. Who has the energy to argue with demons, anyway?

Here’s a bit from what I’m working on.

Across the field of brambles, high enough in a pine tree that the top bent to her weight, a small woman in a brilliant blue coat waved cheerfully to Tuulikki. Her face split into a wide smile, and she lifted her spidery hands from the branches. Her toes were wrapped around the tree as tightly as fingers and kept her balance steady as the tree swayed. She cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted across to Tuulikki’s window.

“Hello! You are under siege!”

Tuulikki set down the vial and opened the window. There was no sign of anyone below her window. The woman in blue was alone.

“I know,” she shouted back.

The Twelve Things of Christmas (continued)

I’m back with another four! These are not in any order of preference; they are simply written down as I can remember them. As someone with exceptionally poor memory, remembering twelve things is quite impressive, and if you would like to shower me with accolades, my office hours are 9-5, Monday to Blurnsday.

NADDpod is an actual play D&D podcast which just started on their second campaign in October. If listening to a group of people play dungeons and dragons does not sound exciting to you, please know that the antics of this group has improved so many days throughout 2020. The DM Murph has a wonderful sense of story, and he is so willing to go weird when his chaotic comedian players have a wild idea. Because I can’t condense an entire podcast down to something for you to sample quickly, I’ll put up an animatic that an amazing fan made of the darkest and silliest Star Wars inspired moment in the game. https://youtu.be/_U8Jme5e6Ps

Sometimes it’s very cathartic to watch someone else vocally lose their mind the way I’ve felt on the inside for some time! Brennan Lee Mulligan has a series of sketches which highlight his skills as an unhinged man, so tired and disappointed in the world around him that his unraveling has become poetry. My favorite, and the one I’ve watched many times this year, is “Tide CEO pleas with the American public to not drink bleach.” You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/Z36OznHFIt4

John Allison has been making my favorite webcomics forever, and 2020 brought a new series called Steeple about a former Church of England Curate named Billie and a former satanic priestess named Maggie who are best friends in a small English village. It’s great. His dialogue writing is effortlessly hilarious, supernatural hijinks lurk around every corner, and the issue I’m linking here is the Christmas special! Maggie and Billie attempt to bring some holiday cheer to the village’s most hostile woman, and must exorcise a ‘sesh gremlin’ while extremely hungover before they become forever slightly inebriated. CHRISTMAS WITH CLOVIS

The eighth good thing is miniatures. I love miniature anythings. Model ships, train layouts, sets and props made for stop motion movies. When I was very young, I lived on a cul-da-sac near a man who had a massive dollhouse in his garage. He’d been building it for some time, and he made a new piece of furniture for it every year. The dressers all had tiny drawers that could pull in and out, the dining chairs were upholstered, bookshelves had trinkets and books. I don’t remember the overall look of the house he’d built, but I do remember how intricate everything was that he built. I probably would have fallen in love with tiny things even without this early memory, but it does stand out to me. And I am married to a man who also loves building things on very small scales.

Christmas ornaments are a reliable source of very small, and Erik has been making a new one for our tree almost every year. This year he built tiny doorframes for our tree and for a few of his friends from work, complete with door catches drilled with the smallest bit I’ve ever seen. I painted on the glitter.

So here’s our 2020 ornament.

It’s not a dumpster fire. While I do understand the catharsis of wrapping up this year in a commemorative dumpster fire, Erik and I agreed that we are perfectly capable of summoning our depressions and frustrations over 2020 without giving them physical form. I like our little door. When Erik started work at Frontier Cabinets and Doors, he also started bringing home lots of wood that he salvaged from the chipper.

2020 has been a year of building. We put in garden beds and a deck between them, we made an end table for the library and a bar for the window upstairs. Almost all of it built from salvage, because lumber is scarce and expensive right now. But also, salvage feels good. Building something from what has been discarded is an act of hope.

The Twelve Things of Christmas (belated)

Hello friends. It has been a rough year, hasn’t it? My first response to minor and imagined threats is a total retreat into the shadows, so in this year of very real terror, it’s been difficult to even post the bit of art I’ve made. However, we just passed Christmas, which is a time I like to use to reflect on the simple pleasures I’ve found throughout the year, and pass on some recommendations to you. I’m a little late on my 12 days, so I’m going to give you them in groups of four.

Hovergirls is a great comic about two girls who gain superpowers, and neither of them are the best candidates for superpowers. The art is beautiful, and the story spends a lot of time making the characters very real people, plus it starts with giant jellyfish attacking a city and who doesn’t love that? The artist and writer is also very worth following on Instagram @GDBee because her portraits are so soothing. I want to have a GDBee painted pocket dimension to chill out in, but I can’t have that because I haven’t mastered dimension hopping, and her Insta is the next best thing.

There’s always some fiasco in the writing world involving some person trying to copywrite a thing that doesn’t belong to them, but none are funnier and better dramatized than Lindsey Ellis’s video on the author who tried to copywrite Omegaverse. Watch it here! https://youtu.be/zhWWcWtAUoY BIG CONTENT WARNING: it starts with two and a half minutes of explicit content taken from the books in question, including rape and sexual violence. You can skip past that and there’s still an hour of video explaining the background of fanfiction tropes, and the difficulty of proving that a trope could be owned.

True Facts combines jokes and animals (two of my favorite things) into a surprisingly informative educational program (a third favorite thing!) Most focus on a single animal, usually weird ones like cuttlefish or mantis shrimp, and deliver about 8 minutes of things you’ve never heard about these animals. With jokes. However, the video I’m linking here is 12 minutes about cat’s senses. Because I do love cats very much, and there’s a really cool reason your house cat has snakey little slit eyes but their larger and deadlier cousins have big round people-y eyes. https://youtu.be/zfBJmytIegs

Lastly, I just want to tell you something about my life. Erik and I adopted a cat almost two years ago, and I took him to the vet for the very first time last month. We knew of one vet trip previous to this: before he was taken to the humane society, a previous family found him stealing food from their cats’ dishes, and tried to take him to a vet where he was so scared and fighty that the vet couldn’t even determine his gender. At the humane society he was assumed feral and they marked his ear as such, but someone there was able to calm him down enough that they realized he does like people, he’s just really nervous.

With this background, I was really worried about taking him to a vet and betraying the trust we’ve built over the past two years. But, when I got him there, our vet was able to go through the full exam with him, and she stopped to talk to me when they were about to go into the blood draw and vaccines. She could tell he was getting really scared, and asked to hold him for a few hours while a sedative worked through his system, so he’d be asleep for the really scary parts of his visit. I was grateful for the consideration, and gladly picked him up a few hours later and brought him back home where he slept off the sedative. He didn’t hold the vet trip against me, and he still follows me around the block when we take walks together.

So this fourth good thing is actually a person: Dr. Linda at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital and a cat: Crater Lake Hosenpeals

hosenpeals is a mashup of erik and my last names, misspelled on both accounts

I hope the new year finds you well. And if not, perhaps some of these finds will improve it.