Thursday, April 24, 2014

Staying in touch

Everybody is fine, at least by defining "fine" as a wide range of conditions between "terrible" and "amazing". In brief:

- The baby was diagnosed on Tuesday with his first-ever ear infection. He dodged the bullet for quite a while, aided immeasurably by having an at-home sitter rather than being exposed to the biohazard incubator that is the daycare center, but give the dubious otological genetic legacy my wife and I have apparently founded, it really was inevitable. The good news is he likes the antibiotics just fine and doesn't engage in any physically violent protests when we make the twice-daily ministrations. He's going to be all right. He's also basically an official toddler now, stomping around on two feet at will, although he still crawls a fair amount (and also walks on his knees sometimes, though I can't imagine that lasting too much longer).
- The little girl is in good health and has proven to be exactly as stubborn and willful at three years old as she was at almost-three (and every other stage of her life). My wife and I were kind of hoping that, post-birthday, we could use some well-deployed you're-a-big-girl-now's to bring her around to our way of thinking on a few of our quotidian power struggles, but ... not so much. That's just life with a pre-schooler (and an Aries, at that) and I know that, but still, ask me in person how my daughter is these days and I will likely respond with a bit of a drawn out sigh, "She's fiiiine."
- The little guy, also hale and hearty, just went back to school this Tuesday after a week and a day of official Spring Break. We're in the final two months of the school year now, and our expectations are pretty low. The transition to a real, fulltime classroom was difficult for the little guy, in ways that caught us all of guard, and getting off on the wrong foot by having his initial teacher reassigned a few weeks into the year and shunting him into a different established set of kids, most of whom are older than him anyway at ages when small chronological gaps can contain huge developmental differences ... the long and the short of it is that we basically wrote kindergarten off, and now we're running out the clock. First grade will be a clean slate, and better in many ways, because it just has to be. Meanwhile, I anticipate that the little guy will throw himself into full-throated enjoyment of his first ever summer vacation in equal and opposite proportion to his ambivalence about Grade Zero. So that at least will be fun.
- And just to bring things full-circle, my wife is hanging in there despite the most severe seasonal allergies I've ever seen her have to endure. Today she expressed suspicion that, in addition to the pollen-induced respiratory freakout she's been saddled with 24/7 for the past two weeks, she might also have a touch of the same ear infection the baby is harboring. I deemed that suspicion valid and worth investigating, so hopefully she'll be able to get in to see a doctor sooner than later.

Me? I am also fine. My allergies are present and accounted for, as usual, but I've been living with them so long I hardly notice unless directly questioned about them. The job landscape has not changed in any direction along any axis; if it does, I will announce it immediately. I feel like the month between the baby's first birthday celebration in mid-March and the little girl's third in mid-April was a bit of a gauntlet, and it may have left me feeling a touch burnt out. Not in an awful ashes-in-my-mouht kind of way, just in an exhausted please-don't-expect-much-effort fashion. I haven't had the mental energy to gather up the portable dvd player and its peripherals in the morning, ergo no movies watched lately. I read a mildly interesting non-fiction book about the persistence of modern conspiracy theories (from the protocols of the Elders of Zion to birthers and 9/11 truthers) and a Batman compilation, but there were numerous days lately where the only things I did on the train were surf the web on my smartphone and take catnaps. I've established previously that little to no pop culture consumption = little to no subject matter for blog posts, and that remains true enough.

And although I have a weird reflexive self-directed-eyerolling reaction to the following, I'll go ahead and put it out there: I've been writing a lot lately, just not here on the blog. There was a time, in the murky primordial epochs of this weblog, when I told myself (truthfully) that I was starting the project not only as an outlet for talking about the things that only I want to talk about, but as an outlet for the act of writing itself, something which I have always claimed is fairly important to me but which I have not always faithfully practiced. At the very least, I told myself, the blog would be good for discipline, a way to force myself to write every day, to keep the creative muscles from atrophying. And then there was a time, somewhere in the mid-to-well-established phase, when I realized that all of the effort I was expending on the blog was almost certainly diverting energy from other potential projects. All well and good to embark on a practice regimen, but what's the point of constant practice of a skill that never gets put to its intended use? I chose to avoid that rhetorical question for as long as possible. But lately it's been impossible to ignore.

I mentioned a couple months ago that I had written a story for How the West Was Weird volume 3, and in fact last night I was e-mailed a galley copy of the book for proofreading. Hopefully pretty soon the cover art for the anthology will be finalized and I'll be allowed to display and promote it. But since turning in that tale I've found myself itching to crank out more and more fiction. Coincidentally, early last month friend o' the blog Harvey Jerkwater approached me with a proposition in which we'd both write some original, marketable fiction and keep each other honest about actually finishing on a set timetable instead of letting it slide into a nebulous maybe-someday state of unbeing. I agreed, and I've been working on that project pretty steadily ever since, but during the brainstorming days of said project I found myself coming up with more ideas than I expected, for a multitude of stories, and I figured rather than let them go to waste I might start fleshing them out as well.

A nifty non-problem to have, obviously, but there are only so many hours in the day, and whereas my days used to consist of showing up for work, doing the relatively few things that were asked of me there, and spending a lot of the rest of my cubicle-bound day blogging, now I find myself coming to work, staying on top of my tasks, and spending a lot of the rest of my time writing or revising some crazy sci-fi or fantasy story or another. It's been gratifying, there's no denying that, but it has pushed the blogging right off the to-do list. And it's not as though I have thousands of followers, or throngs of worried readers posting comments on my last post inquiring after my whereabouts and/or well-being, but I still manage to feel a little guilty for neglecting the blog all the same. Hence this explanation, which I hasten to point out does not include any "but things should get back to normal soon!" bromides. Maybe this is the new normal, maybe I'll only post a couple times a week or a few times a month, for as long as I can keep riding the momentum for fiction-writing that I've been accumulating of late. As I've said towards the end of many a post, more times than I can count, only time will tell!

Seriously, though, if nothing else whenever if ever I manage to get any of this new crop of stories published anywhere, of course I'll crow about here. So there's that!

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