avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

Hello again!

It has been forever since I picked up lj, and ive decided I need to do this for my own sanity, lol. Every other form of social media has been taken over by the persona of my second career as a writer -- which is incredibly paradoxical, since I went into this naively thinking that I was finally just getting to write for myself, but of course not, because I am still writing for advocacy and I am as of a couple months ago writing for money again.

And then, this week, my success rather overwhelmed me, and I decided I needed a third place to hide my somewhat abraded introverted soul.

In September, I was fucking depressed.  In January 2015, Joseph and I agreed that my householding days were over, and he whisked me away from nine years living with Fish and 40 years of living as an independent adult, to living in a cedar closet, a tiny illegal room in his common house in Medford.  I had no income, very little mobility, my health care got totally bolluxed up due to the move, and the snow set in.  I have to say, it was a low point -- my physical and mental health condition was declining all through the year. 

I applied for SSDI in February, and was approved as 100% disabled in five months, which is something of a land speed record for Social Security, dealing with "invisible disabilities." However they also decided I had spent too long between leaving Tor taking care of my mom hoping to heal up, and applying -- so everything I paid into the system?  Bupkis. I'm ineligible. I'm appealing.  That will take years, if it produces anything.

They had me on two kinds of painkillers by the time we moved to larger (for me) quarters in September.  Room for more than a futon folded in half, a tiny desk, and an upright dresser, with no more than 18" clearances around. It was like living in a ship cabin for 9 months, under eaves.  I could breathe in the new room!  It has two windows!  It has a closet, rather than being a closet!  It has a lovely ceiling fan.  A prior tenant had left a desk armoir, and a desk, and a bedside table.  I got a cheap wire frame platform for my futon so it would be off the floor (Joseph had declared my wooden couch frame "not worth moving," and I believe thrown it off the second floor porch to shatter rather gleefully).

But the meds made me sleepy, stupid, and unmotivated.  I wasn't writing, I was sleeping often 18+ hours a day.  People talk about having no life.  This is the raw fact. 

I decided, and spoke with Joseph about it, that I would taper off the pain meds.  There's a very high pain threshold in our family -- Joseph has it too, and it both helped him and got him into trouble in the Army, but it will probably serve him well to learn it early.  For me, it was running and coaching cross country, and intensive yoga and modern dance.  But as my head cleared, I made it a discipline to write more and more daily, especially on Quora, which is a perfect hog-heaven of writing prompts, not to mention intellectual "someone is wrong on the internet" dopamine.

"In a year or so," I thought, "perhaps I could get Top Writer on Quora, you know, 2017, after I've been at it a while."  After all, I know a lot about a variety of topics, my writing is literally professional grade from a career of advocacy and sales and media work, and even accounting for downtime from illness, slow processing speed, and losing words and concepts and having to fall back on Google, I still have more time, net, than most.

Well, it was still early fall when several Top Writers took notice of my work, and this past week I was named one of the one hundred Top Writers on Quora, 2016.  This comes with an embroidered messenger bag, a year of NYTimes digital (nice!), and a lot of community attention.

We seem to be expected to answer dozens of questions regarding who we are, how we started writing, what our desks look like (?), who our favorite authors are.  It is nice, but it's not even like we published a book or are getting paid, guys… But I am trying to gently find excuses to plug my Patreon page (shameless plug: http://patreon.com/shava23) which so far has produced nothing out of this hubbub.

Still, Quora has been my workplace, my watercooler, and a reason to wake up for months, along with G+.  Quora syndicated a piece I wrote to Business Insider, where it attracted the attention of a young social media consultant and documentarian in South Africa, who's coming to Boston in July to film me, and wants to help promote my writing.  Not sure how good he is, but I can't fault his enthusiasm.  I keep having to convince him of what I can no longer do, because he wants to focus on past performance, it's tiring. 

I expect I will be at Arisia, but commuting.  I was going to be crashing optionally with Larry and Tasha, but Larry told me this morning they are not coming this year.  But I'm usually short on spoons by evenings anyway and my own bed is attractive and Prospect Hill is so much closer than Salem.

And my new years resolution this year is to try to be less of a hermit, despite spoons, health, and no budget.  So if you feel inclined, one of the things that means is to not be shy to invite yourself to tea.  Visiting shut ins used to be a thing; I declare myself qualified. 

I literally have left my front door perhaps twice this past month other than doctor appointments, and will have to do things to my medical regimen my doctors would disapprove of to get through however much of Arisia I manage -- after which I will pay for it for a week-ish.  It's not fishing for sympathy, it is what it is.  Consensus seems to be that it beats the alternatives, but I find this based on questionably verifiable data.  Still, Joseph insists he wants me around and I have work yet to do, so I am not off the hook. ;)

avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

My mother discovers Atlantis

So my mom is 90 and she lives with us.  She has Lewy body dementia, which to save you jumping through the link, means she has Parkinson nodules (Lewy bodies) in her forebrain, so instead of a tremor in her limbs she gets tremors in her imagination.  It's a damn good thing she has pretty good karma, because I can see how someone with a bad history in their younger years could be completely psychotically horrified with the lack of boundary between dream and reality that comes with this disorder.

Sometimes we talk about creating a show called "Shit my mom says" to counter the TV show.  My mom, who was in college in the sciences as a woman in the 1930s (inspired by M. Curie) is a reasonably curious and intelligent, cultured woman when in her right mind.  The dementia type is such that, sometimes, this shines through even on her bad days.  For example, one day she came into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and told me, "The most amazing thing was just on TV.  All the anchors on MS-NBC were talking in iambic pentameter for an entire half hour."  "Oh, *really*!" I responded.  "Yes!" she told me, "Well, of course, except for the commercials."

Now I'm *pretty* sure that was her losing the boundary between some amusing dozy dream and reality.

Another time, as Fish and I were working in the home office at 2am, she appeared (having originally gone to bed at 10pm) fully dressed, wig on, jewelry, best Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, and at the office door, in a very official sounding tone, announced, "Someone needs to give me a ride to church!  They need me to sub for the choir director."

Without missing a beat, I just asked, "Which church, mom?" 

She stopped for a moment, said, "The church in Montpelier.  I've been dreaming haven't I?"

I nodded, and just said, "Yes, probably.  But if you get back to bed, you've got a good deal of the night you can get in some good sleep still."

Add in to the obvious points:  We're in Boston.  My parents left Montpelier over two decades ago.  My mom can neither sing nor read music (in fact, I think among my sibs, me and my dad, she's the only one who doesn't read music; not sure I've ever heard my older brother sing...).

Admittedly, sometimes it's a bit like monsters under the bed (a recurring one is asking us to check if there are people outside the driveway-side window in her bedroom, which is odd because the *other* window is on the porch so there could be people at that one -- the driveway window is about 9-10' from the ground).

She also has some pretty mundane hallucinations, like when she thought a book I was reading was marked on the pages with diagonal blue lines throughout, and actually thought that Joseph, Fish, and I were being mean because we were telling her they weren't there to tease her about her illness (because, of course, they obviously really *were* there and we were lying for some irrational reason).  (and for those game folks out there, the book in question was Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun, which she thought was something like the New Yorker for the drawings).

All this to give you context for a small dinner conversation tonight.  We're sitting down at dinner, and mom tells me, "So, they've discovered Atlantis, did you hear?"  And I say, "Oh, really?" and think "omg, is she wonky?  did she mishear something on the news?..."

Mom just gets this little smile and doesn't say a word more.

And I think, "Should I ask her more about it?  Would she see that as persecutorial?  What's my motivation in this scene?"  My final conclusion, let her talk more about it if she wants to.

After dinner, we do the usual bits, she's off to bed, and I sit down at the computer and hit google.  Sure enough, some enterprising and publicity hungry archaeologists are opportunistically framing a find in Spain as the rediscovered Atlantis, destroyed utterly by a tsunami millenia ago. 

I imagine her going to bed with that same little smile on her face thinking, "Ha!  Made ya look!"

  • Current Mood
    amused bemused
avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

State of the Shava 3/6

So, between ictal events, I'm running at 100%.  Soon I have to decide how much I'm in love with the idea of treating the seizure symptoms rather than just living with the interictal (between seizure times, which are more than 99% - not sure how many sigmas...).  If I'm ok, 99%+ of the time, but the meds are very very very likely to make me non-optimal 100% of the time, it's a harder choice than you might think, to try to get rid of the seizures (remember, these are not grand mal, more like narsty migraines to make a sort of poor analogy).

Because I'm more or less running at former-Shava speed, I'm overcommitting in a big way. 

I'm in the middle to later stages of five job interview processes.  I have a job that isn't paying yet, organizing an online privacy/security consumer advocacy nonprofit based in NYC, which is just at the stage of applying for their 501[c][3], and as yet unfunded (contact me for more info if you know folks who are interested in consumer rights online, as well as provider practices regarding duty to users regarding data backup, data retention, privacy policies, releasing data only on proper law enforcement paperwork and notifying you when they do, and so on).  I'm a little sad that two of the processes may take me and my family to DC or SF, but I need a freakin' job, yo?  And the folks I'm interviewing either place are people who I could make a difference working for...

I am overdue with a paper for New Directions in Folklore on the relationship between myth/folklore structures, subcreative fiction, and transmedia.  (Yes, it's that interesting -- like taking light, breaking it into a zillion colors during the renaissance through the age of reason, turning it all pink during the late 18th and into the 19th C,, putting it through a lens at Tolkien, and then lasing the stuff into a narrowing beam...)

The research I did for the paper has brought me to an entirely disruptive theory regarding media studies, which makes me want to write speculative fiction to illustrate the theory, first time I've felt I wanted to (rather than should be) writing fiction in a long time.  I've got a growing outline, I have characters, and I'm waiting for the characters to tell me plot, while I watch them create scenes with each other.

My prior gaming habit (i.e. spend lots of time with LOTRO becuase I wasn't well enough to do crap) is falling by the wayside, and I am in a position of gaming less than ten hours a week, which I think may be the first time that's true in this century.  Before I got sick, I'd play MMOs or futz around in Second Life in the evenings with Fish.  Now I work a few hours a week in SL, and hardly play LOTRO more than a few hours a week.  I'm probably gaming more on my iphone on the T going from place to place (or waking up in the a.m. before my brain can approach twitter...).

So, I am busy and happy except for the occasional "spell" as the Brits say, and except for the money situation.  This nonprofit gig -- if I don't raise enough money soon enough to avoid taking another job, I'm going to be on their board.  Cool stuff.  I'm having coffee with Lessig soon to get advice and see if we can get him on board/advisory. 

I love saving the world..

Also in this past monthish, my Klout score (twitter influence) topped 50 and is continuing to creep upwards.  Oddly, this is an asset  in some of the job interviews I've had.

I'm also gestating a few blog articles, one of which has to do with how society may change as the minority "I" folks (introverts) start having more cultural reach through the net.

Way too much to think about, way too much to do.  I must be just better, because in general, for the last few years, I couldn't even imagine getting back to this level of brain-play.  Yay!

I need to chase more of you down (at least the local folks) and see you in person.  I said that before, but it's *so* easy for me to come out for things like Arisia, engage in provocative lovely conversations with folks, and then never follow up because, you know, I just tend to stay home... It's like going to work out, I know it's good for me...I like it when I do... 

  • Current Mood
    satisfied satisfied
avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

The word for today is: Hypergraphia

Those of you who've known me for a while, know I write a lot, typically, since the early 80s, 2000-5000 words a day.  Most of those words are emails, postings to groups, often blog articles.  For the last three years or so, that output was probably cut to 2-5K words a week.  It's  been something I've missed terribly.

Historically I haven't gotten writer's block, I've merely gotten writer's ooo-shiny!  I can spend a lot of time writing things that aren't the thing I should be writing.  But I *always* have written, facilely, to order, on inspiration, branching things to say until I have partial bits of a dozen publishable essays in the course of a day.  When I got stale on one, I'd return to another.  Or I'd go back to a thread and add even more to it.

Today is the first day since the new meds kicked in that I've felt like that again.  I don't know, but I hope it sticks.  I wrote a reasonable ream of stuff on twitter, and in email to a half dozen people on some pretty intense topics.  I started work on a journal article due at the end of the month for New Directions in Folklore on transmedia's roots in early religious material culture and myth cycles, hitting the lens of JRRT's idea of sub-creation somewhere in the middle.

It's 11pm and I expect I've written enough for the day.  An old-Shava level of output.  But hey, let me check my email one more time...
  • Current Mood
    content content
avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

Vocabulary of the Day: Interictal

I suspect from how I feel today that I was seizing in my sleep last night.  The period between seizures (which for me is probably well over 99% of the time) is called the interictal period.  As long as I'm on the dopaminergics I can deal with the feeling of my brain being full of cotton wool and sludge is something I can muscle through, whereas without the dopaminergics, regardless of the seizures, I tend to stop moving.  Meh, cotton wool is too pedestrian.  My brain:  the image of a moldy pink and white sponge sitting on the sink of an abandoned cabin, with the sink having gone drip drip drip for years without anyone there to turn it off.  For most of a year.  And then you walk in and it's the only thing you have to work with -- it ain't going to clean much.

Yet, life goes on.  I applied for some jobs, got a new social media all-but-contract (this is to say, it's at the handshake stage now), wrote some here and also on a fiction project that will probably never see the light of day, cooked a new year's dinner that was...well, passable but not my best.  I took care of the kid, who pinched a nerve last night, Fish has been feeling awful so I've been doing bits of both of their stuff, and my mom is being particularly...mom...today.

I am about to fire up Lord of the Rings Online, and pretend I don't have more stuff to do.

I told my kinship (what would be a guild if Turbine were more conventional and less preciousssss) that I wasn't going to accept an officer position until my health was better.  And at the time I told them, that might not happen.  Well, last week I was "installed" as an officer.  I guess I believe I'm better.

I mean, if you can work but it just pisses you off having to deal, trust me, that's better than it's been.

Still, I am going to spend the rest of the evening killing things.
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  • Current Mood
    grumpy orcicidal
avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

You can put anything in a wonton wrapper.  Back in the late 70s or very early 80s, out in Sunderland, we had a couple wonton wrapping parties where we'd make a cup or a pint of different kinds of fillings, boil some, eat some, put some in the freezer for each flavor, and have them for months from the freezer.  I loved it.

Today, I made wontons with minced scallion, ginger, garlic, sichuan shredded vegetable (hot pickle), sesame seeds, minced fried tofu, maitake mushrooms, egg, shredded then minced napa, and grated daikon, along with a bit of soy, wine, sesame oil.  I forgot, but meant to put in, sichuan pepper.

They were a little bland.  I'd normally make them with pork, but Joseph's food allergy doesn't deal with supermarket pork (I have to get the spendy stuff at Whole Foods), and I honestly really missed the meat.  If I do them again this way, there will be more rich bits and more umami (savory) so there's something like the fat juicy savory bundles you get with the pork.

You wrap them kind of like a burrito.  If you have round wrappers, it's almost exactly like, but if square, you start by setting the wrapper like a diamond, putting the filling (no more than a teaspoon or so) near that bit, roll the wrapper toward the center about a third of the way, fold the sides (points in this case in toward the center, and roll it tight -- then you either smush or glue it shut with a little egg white.

If you want to be more authentic, you can put the filling in the center, roll over double just once (which should leave about 1/3 of the wrapper free) and take the two points to the sides and glue them to one another.  But for a beginner, that leaves less engineering tolerances for sloppy work. 

If they don't fall apart in the boiling water, you did it right!

The water should start out in a big pot no more than 1/2 full.  This is because you cook them by dropping them singly into lightly boiling water, then stir so they don't stick perhaps a dozen at a time -- then wait for them to float.  (roll more wontons while you wait!) When they float, put another cup of cold water in the pot, and wait until it comes to a boil again.  (rolling more wontons) Scoop the cooked wontons out with a mesh or slotted spoon, and then repeat with another dozen wontons. 

Eventually if you cook a lot at once, you'll have to scoop some water out, but generally, that's more than you're going to be able to eat with a small crowd!

We made little dishes of dipping sauce with about 3 parts soy, 1 part sesame oil, and hot sauce to taste.

The way I learned was to make a rich chicken broth, put fresh spinach leaves in the broth to wilt, pile in freshly cooked wontons (NEVER cook them in the broth!) and then garnish with a bit of minced scallion and a dribble of sesame oil.

Happy year of the bunny!
  • Current Mood
    sleepy food coma
avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

Pesto Polpo

About 3C of baby octopi -- and yes, I feel a little guilty eating baby genius mollusks
a pint of water

Blanche the baby octopi, leave them in the hot water to finish cooking

When cool enough to handle, cut them up, reserve liquid to boil gnocci

Cut up 1.5 bunches of scallions, small across the length

Wilt scallions in 3-5T of good olive oil

Add chopped octopi

Add a quarter cup of pesto

Boil a pack of potato gnocci in reserved liquid, add compatible stock or just water (I used water, a bit of wine, and leftover 1/2 C of chowder)
Don't boil in as much water as they recommend -- you want them to absorb the water and make a little sauce

When gnocci are well past al dente and into the gooey stage, drain a bit, and dump into the pan with all the rest


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    SomaFM Space Station
avatar, shava suntzu, secondlife

friends of friends who are friends

So, someone pointed out to me, there are people here who y'all know I know, who I don't know are here, and I should know (and friend) so let me know if you know someone I know so I can friend them and they can know I know they're here.

(imagine something about bitter batter here...)

Wonder how much local LJ traffic goes up when the snows come?
  • Current Music
    Listening to the dog lick ice from between his toes