inasmuch as it concerns Support Structures:
For friends and family, those we gush about on "Dedication and Acknowledgements" pages and gripe about on the phone to Mom, Great Gods and Goddesses we thank ye.
They Do Things Differently There
In fact, the historic mountain town that John and I ended up puttering around in for our fifteenth wedding anniversary was Central City. Central City began life as a mining town, and it has a long and storied history despite the gold rush that founded it fading out some 30-odd years after it started. Today it is the home of an opera house, a historical society, several museums, two art galleries, three houses of worship (Methodist, Catholic and Episcopal), an Elks lodge, a Masonic temple (Central Lodge #6), somewhere between 450 and 650 permanent residents depending on which sign you read, and one brewpub.
Also a stupid abundance of casinos. Well, eight casinos. But eight casinos in the same square mile. Even on the Las Vegas strip things seemed more spread out than that. Admittedly, each individual Las Vegas casino probably covers about a square mile on its own, so. Point is, that's a lot of casinos in such a small town.
And here's the thing I never quite got used to. In a casino town, the parting phrase of choice isn't "Have a good one" or "Be seeing you" or even, assuming one is talking to a tourist, "Enjoy your stay," but rather "Good luck."
It makes perfect sense. In a town with eight casinos, it's a good bet the person you're talking to will be spending some money at the tables and/or slots. Which, of course, we did; John likes playing the tables, and I like drinking the comp drinks. We put down our share of what we called "arcade play-money" on roulette at the Reserve Casino where we were staying. Because he has a good head for the odds and a relaxed attitude toward the results, John came out some $30 ahead after several hours of play. He mainly places outside bets--this dozen, that column--but he also placed a few small "what the heck" bets on the numbers. When a dollar on 7 got lucky, we pushed the resulting $35 to the side and considered it solid profit. Good luck is a desired outcome in a casino town, and everyone, customer and staff alike, wishes it to everyone else.
But "Good luck," however much sense it makes, plays hell with my polite society autopilot. It's not that I get flustered trying to return the good wishes. It's not that I get offended or off-balance. It's just that I take it in ways the speaker probably didn't intend.
Checking in at the hotel. The clerk hands us our keys, says, "Room 367. On the third floor, all the way at the end of the hall. Elevator's right behind you." I say, "Thank you," and the clerk says, "No problem. Good luck!" To which I respond, "Oh, I'm sure we'll find it just fine!" while internally wondering, with some trepidation, whether finding our room will involve running some sort of gauntlet. Will we have to bluff our way past dragons in the hallway and gremlins in the elevator?
Crossing the street. A guy in an open-topped jeep is hawking tours of the town, unless it was shuttles between casinos. We turn down his offer, with our thanks. "No problem. Good luck!" That's what he says. And I look nervously up and down the street, thinking, Do I need luck? There's hardly any traffic.
Getting directions to breakfast. The cafe we remembered from the night before doesn't open until noon, but we see signs throughout the Bonanza for a "Millie's". We ask the cashier for directions. We are directed across the street and half a block down to the E Z Street Casino, inside which we'll need only ascend the first stair we find, and we won't be able to miss it. "Thank you." "No problem. Good luck!" and I am automatically responding that, oh, I'm sure we'll find it just fine, you gave stellar directions, even while inside my skull I can feel my brain going all facepalm and That's not what he means! Casino town, remember?
We had a great time. A lot of walking, lots of things to look at, lots of good things to eat, and, of course, lots of casinos to play in. Lots of playing Go over dinner or breakfast, too, which John and I hadn't done for quite some time. (I am not as rusty as I feared.) For a last-minute anniversary vacation, it was very pleasant and stress-free. We'll definitely do it again.
And I'll probably embarrass myself responding improperly to that "Good luck" thing again. That's OK; it just makes me more entertaining to random strangers.
News from the Slush Front
News the First: Bad news is, "The Seeds of Our Future" will not be appearing in Fearsome Symmetries. The not-so-bad news is, it was rejected while still at number 1011 in the queue on the day after World Horror 2013 ended. Which is to say: Having an existing relationship with an editor by no means ensures future sales (no surprises there, right?), but it can sometimes get a story read more quickly than otherwise, especially if the editor would like to append to the response a timely note along the lines of "Good to see you at the con!" Which sentiment I was happy to return. All in all, a pleasant story submission and con meet-up experience. Can't complain.
So there's that. News the Second: When I saw Jason V Brock at World Horror, I asked him, "So can I tell people?" and he was all, "Of course you can!" So now this is me telling people: "Lambing Season" is slated for publication in Issue #3 of [NaMeL3ss] Digest, which is tentatively estimated to go to print for a July release. Tentatively. I'll post updates as updates warrant posting.
(The purchase page for [NaMeL3ss] Issue #2 will probably give a better idea of what the publication is like than will its main website.)
And with that happy news, I shall disappear for the weekend. Chez LeBoeuf-Little is celebrating anniversary number fifteen, which will involve puttering around a historical Colorado mountain town and not doing pretty much anything that counts as "work". See y'all... oh, Tuesday evening sounds good. Let's do that.
Husband-Wife Comedy Act, Part 357
John and I were both a little high-energy and punchy last night. It was going on 2 AM and neither of us felt able to sleep, though granted neither of us were making much of an effort. The old Steven Wright gag about "go to the end of Tired, then hang a left" came up. We decided that we were heading to the end of Tired on an imaginary boat. "I don't feel like rowing," said John. "That's OK," said I, "we're drifting on the current toward Tired anyway."
We took turns telling each other about our boat, like kids playing at Let's Pretend or maybe two grown-up veteran role-playing gamers doing what we like to do best. It had a sail, but I sure as hell wasn't going to operate it because I didn't know how. John said, "It's easy, you just pull." I said, "You can pull. Me, I'll work the rudder."
"We ought to set up a trade route," John said. I babbled something about gem-running in Puzzle Pirates, but that wasn't what he meant. "No, like, when we get there, we'll trade them something for sleep. What will we trade them?"
"Oh, OK. Me, I'll trade in my stress and fidgetiness. For two big barrels of sleep."
"I have some socks," John said.
"Socks. In case they don't want your stress and whatnot. Maybe we can trade them my socks. Can't hurt to try."
I thought about this. "Like, all your single socks we've lost the mates to?"
"Are we trading with a one-legged person?"
"Yes." John was definite on this point. "We'll trade my socks to Peg-leg Pete, the Pirate of Sleep."
To which I made the only possible reply. "'Nice sock, matey. Be this an arrrrrrrgyle?'"
When we both finally stopped giggling after that, sleep came suspiciously easy. I think Peg-leg Pete slipped us something in our rum.
Uno LeBoeuf-Little, 1996-2013
I just finished rereading The Last Unicorn. It's my favorite comfort read when I'm grieving because I always cry at the end. The tears that come at the conclusion of a good book hurt less than those of personal grief. They don't leave me with puffy eyes, clogged sinuses, and a headache. They're safe tears, cried over something beautiful but very far away, something that isn't actually making a wreckage out of some very precious part of my own life.
But at the same time, the bit where I cry is sort of too much on the nose. It's the part where the titular character says,
"My people are in the world again. No sorrow will live in me as long as that joy--save one, and I thank you for that, too."
Exactly. You sorrow over the loss of someone dear to you, but that sorrow is only as deep as your joy in them was great. So in the end, even grief is something to be grateful for.
Which is to say: Thank you, Uno, for sixteen and a half wonderful, infuriating, stressful, lovely years. I'll be grieving your loss for a very long time, as befits how inseparable a part of my life you were.
This was my first time actively ending a pet's life. Null took that decision out of our hands, spiraling down from tolerable to miserable to dying so quickly that we didn't quite realize he wasn't going to recover until it was over. The dog I grew up with, Padoo, took the decision out of everyone's hands by simply vanishing one day when she was old and tired. The parakeet I had most of my school years died very suddenly too, with no sign of sickness until the night she simply fell off her perch.
But for Uno, we had to schedule his death. Sunday night, we knew. He tried so hard to eat, but he couldn't--every two or three laps sent him off into a fit of fighting with his mouth. We examined his mouth and saw the new tumors wrecking his gums and teeth and tongue, and we realized how quickly they'd appeared and grown, and we knew there was no more good for him to be gotten out of life. John said to me later, "I cried so much that night because I knew he'd crossed that line."
It's funny. Monday morning, after scheduling the home euthanasia appointment, I hung up the phone and I felt like a monster. I felt like I'd just ordered Uno's execution. All Monday afternoon, waiting for the vet to arrive, I had doubts. Uno was so comfortable lying between us on the couch--purring, bumping John's foot with his head, snaking a paw out for my dangling computer cord as I wrapped it up--that I couldn't help but think, He's happy. Can't we let him go on being happy? But Monday evening, after it was all over, the doubts were gone.
It was partially because I took a closer look at him while he was sedated and after he was dead. For the first time, I could clearly see the horrifying number and size of growths in his mouth. And his left eye, which had watered pretty constantly throughout his sickness, had this strange mottled look to it that suggested the cancer was attacking him there, too. It was time. Things would only have gotten rapidly worse for him. Things were already far too bad to ask a cat to live through.
But it was also because now that the fight was over, now that I wasn't trying so hard to extend his future, I could look back and see how bad it really had been for him day-to-day. If anything, I felt guilty for having let it go on so long.
But there's nothing to be done about that, either. And that last afternoon was all anyone could have hoped for. John and I were together with Uno, and Uno was content. We cried a lot, but Uno was happy and comfortable. And then Dr. Mones and Jenny came over and performed that last rite in a more gentle and compassionate manner than I could have believed possible. They never hurried us, despite whatever their schedules held. They explained everything to us about what they would do and how Uno would react so that there would be no surprises. They waited for our go-ahead for each successive step in the process. Dr. Mones even asked our permission before shaving a small area of the inside of Uno's back leg, though I don't know how he'd have gotten the needle in the vein if I'd said no. And when it was all over--meaning not only that Uno was gone, but that John and I had taken all the time we felt we needed to pet him and kiss him and say goodbye--they bundled him up in blankets as though he were a kitten sleeping so quietly it would be a shame to wake him.
(Dr. Mones gave me the tuft of fur from that mini-shaving he performed, asking me if I'd like it as a keepsake. It's in a little bag now with some of Uno's sheddings I'd attempted to spin yesterday afternoon into thread. Neither was any good for spinning, alas, despite the shaved fur being the softer stuff from Uno's underside. The bag looks like it's got fur from two different cats, the back sheddings being brown-gray and the underside shavings being a very light reddish brown. That bag, and Uno's old collar, are on the altar now, near Null's collar and Beanie Baby tarantula.)
I remember the awful experience of rushing my parakeet to an emergency vet in Metairie--if only I could remember, I'd tell you which one it was, and which doctor, because I'd strongly recommend never putting yourself or your pets in his/their hands. Mom and I waited in the lobby for hours, living on miserly scraps of news, and finally receiving for our troubles only a small bundle of taped-up newspaper, my beloved White Wing dead and wrapped up like so much garbage. And the vet addressed my mother as though I weren't even in the room: "I'm sorry, Mrs. LeBoeuf." Meanwhile, I stood there, sobbing, probably no older than 14, holding my sad burden and receiving no comfort from anyone in the room. No one at that awful clinic treated me as though I were present and grieving, or her as though she meant anything to anyone.
This was to that like day to night, like summer to winter. I don't ever recommend the experience of having your pet put to sleep, but if you're in or near Boulder and that sad duty falls to you, Alpine Hospital for Animals will treat you right. Just about every member of their staff, doctor or tech or receptionist, has been the model of compassion and empathy. They helped us care for both Uno and Null through their final sicknesses, and I could not ask for more kindness or support from anyone.
Our friends have been nothing but supportive, as well. John kept to his Monday night plans of running a game of Becoming Heroes, saying he needed "a distraction, and for the good guys to win." I came along so I wouldn't be in the house all alone, and it was a comfort to play a bit of Puzzle Pirates in the presence of friends having loud, animated fun. I also drove off and met a couple other friends for dinner. They gave me hugs and sympathy and listening ears and permission to grieve--never underestimate the importance of that permission--and we all ate far too much food and it was glorious.
Today I've been gentle with myself, not pressuring myself to clean up or work or anything. I reread The Last Unicorn, like I said, drifting in and out of dreams in which I watched Uno sit under the wooden stool in the living room and groom himself. And, as when Null died, I'm feeling that huge weight lifted off my shoulders: no more making sure I'm up/home/still awake in time to give Uno his next subcutaneous injection, no more persuading him to eat, no more helplessness to do anything other than witness his pain and decided when to stop prolonging it. No more cats in the house at all--no furry dependents to care for and clean up after. I've been more tired than I realized, not just with the end-of-life care but simply with the job of having pets at all. I'm sort of reclaiming that energy for myself now.
(After Dr. Mones and Jenny left, I thought, I don't want to ever go through that again. But then I thought, The only way to ensure that I don't is to never have another pet.)
One day we'll take on that job again. The house feels empty without cats. Waking up feels lonely without Uno and Null bounding up onto the bed to remind us that it's breakfast time. But for now, we're not in a hurry. We're taking a break from pets. Besides, there can't possibly be another Uno. He was one of a kind. As John pointed out last night, the world couldn't handle two of him. It would just keel over, and Uno and his doppelganger would be all like, High fives! That was easy. What can I conquer next?
On Not Being God
Uno had unprecedented difficulty eating his dinner last night. He bled a lot, too, not just bloody drool but thick maroon gobs. This was worse than his "normal" bad days. John and I cleaned him up and took a closer look at his mouth. There's a new tumor in there. It's the size of a robin's egg, distorting the line of his gum just behind the left canine and unmooring one of his remaining molars. And it looks like there's a third significant growth under his tongue, and the lower gum on his right has a scab-like anomaly resembling something I'd noticed on the left side did last week. No wonder he flinches when we try to wipe his mouth.
Damn it. We'd hoped we could at least keep him stable for a few more months. We've left a message with his regular vet, but we think when she calls back the topic of conversation will be the logistics of saying goodbye.
Lately - well, not today. Today, he's just burrowing under the covers and trying to stay unconscious. But in recent days he's taken to wandering the house as though looking for something, then returning to call out to me with that half-whine, half-baa word that makes up the bulk of his vocabulary. (He's never meowed or mewed. I don't think he's built for it. He mutters instead.) I'll look, and he'll stare back into my eyes with direct intent. It's clear he wants something from me. He's asking, pleading, for something. But it's not clear what.
I'm beginning to suspect the request is, "Ma? Can't you make it stop?"
These little creatures, they trust us implicitly to hold up the sky for them. And when we inevitably let them down, they don't blame us. They don't get angry. I don't think they even realize they've been let down. They just endure, waiting for us to eventually get around to fixing it. They know we can fix anything.
It's up to us humans to know that we've utterly failed them. It's not like there's anything we could have done, but that doesn't stop me feeling like a failure. I also know it's stupid to feel this way. So on top of feeling like a failure, I feel stupid.
But for Uno, it's very simple. Physical pain is simple. So is the comfort he gets from being near us. The emotional anguish of our unrealistic expectations of ourselves, that's a burden for us, not for him.
At least he's spared something.
Happy Solstice, Crappy New Year
Or, "Among the Things 2013 Will Bring, One of Them Almost Undoubtedly Will Suck."
Right. So. The turning of the year here at Chez LeBoeuf-Little has had its ups and downs. On the up side, we had a terrific Winter Solstice Eve with a fantastic mix of friends, fun, food, fruitcake, and fire. (This would be one of those rare times when "F-ing it up" is a positive phrase. So long as the fire remains in the grate where it belongs, of course. Which it did.) Also many equally lovely things that don't start with the letter F, like "non-F'ed-up egg-nog" (I will never live down the year I mistook the salt for sugar) and "too much pie" and "Avedan playing Skyrim until she must have got hoarse from shrieking at unexpected draugr" (draugr are always unexpected) and "I actually stayed up all night AND went to Drumming Up The Sun the next morning AND I didn't go alone, either, which was awesome because sleeping until 2 PM in Julie-and-Joe's guest room and then waking up to watch them play Legoland LOTR totally beats the stuffing out of falling asleep in rush hour traffic."
Those are some great up-sides, there. I ain't gonna lie.
The biggest down-side, though, was knowing that this would probably be our last Solstice with Uno, our beloved, first, oldest and last surviving cat.
Uno turned 16 this past summer but remained remarkably healthy to all appearances. But towards the end of November, Uno began eating less and less of his dry cat food. Offering him the wet stuff or even returning to the home-made mix (he'd switched to a prescription food when Null did) didn't seem to help. We suspected chronic nausea. Then, when he evinced pain at our attempts to look in his mouth, we brought him to the vet for what we suspected to be an abscessed tooth. And the vet took one look in his mouth (the one look Uno would allow) and said, "That's not a dental problem. That's a mass."
Mass. As in tumor. As in fucking cancer. Because he was too damn healthy, so something had to get him, right? Gods damn it.
We scheduled the biopsy for the next day, and then we cleared our schedules of everything else for the near future because we couldn't fucking think. I dropped a thousand-dollar freelance gig because there was no way I could bring enough brain to bear on it anymore. John and I canceled our plans to attend the Boulder County Bombers End-Of-Year Ball--that was a real bummer, but, as it turned out, a wise decision; the vet called us with the biopsy results that very night. So either we'd have missed the call or we'd have spent the rest of the Ball crying in our hotel room. Either outcome would have been non-ideal.
The average prognosis is 60 to 120 days, but it could be longer or shorter. We just don't know. For now, we're keeping Uno comfortable and enjoying what time remains. He's on a small army of medications--steroids and pain meds--and he's eating, with a little persuasion and a healthy appetite, two liquid meals a day (and twice a day I bless fellow roller derby skater Coletteral Damage for the blender I took home from her Take Our Stuff Because We're Moving Out Of State And Only Have So Much Room In Our Car party). He's still pretty damn bony from his brief experiment in starvation, but he's using the bathroom regularly so he must be getting enough solids and liquids. And despite his mouth giving him trouble--his tongue's perpetually out, he drools bloody drool, and he sometimes reacts violently to some sensation in there-- he cleans his face after each meal, comfy and casual like anything.
We worry every time he has a bad day that this is it, this is the downward spiral, are we selfish in keeping him alive? Is it time to take that last trip to the vet? But each bad day has been followed by a good day, one in which he sticks his nose pointedly into my food or hops up on the balcony rail to be king of all he surveys. And every day, good day or bad, ends with him purring himself to sleep in our arms, which is totally worth the bloody drool-stains on our shirts in the morning. As long as he seems to be expressing a fervent desire to stick around, we're going to enable it to the best of our ability.
So that's where we're at, right now.
I was going to write about writing, about how with a new year comes a brand new resolution to do it regularly and in quantity. But I've sort of used up my brain for blogging now, so... more tomorrow, I guess? It'll be happier stuff, I promise.
A Fitting Memento
So apparently I do have a physical object to remember Null by after all. In cleaning out the cats' supply cabinet this morning, I encountered his old collar, and Uno's. I stored the collars away when the boys became indoor-exclusive cats.
And of course there's the Beanie Baby tarantula, the first toy Null began transporting around the house late at night. Thing is, Null would never chase it or play with it when I was watching, at least not at first. But I began to notice that in the morning the toy was not where it had been left the night before. And when the toy in question is a big furry spider, that can be startling. It was some time before we realized Null's howling was connected to the movement of the toys, and not just your basic "Help I'm lost in the house where is everyone it's darrrrrrk."
So. Here's the spider wearing Null's collar and name-tag.
I'll put up some more pictures soon. Just got finished emailing myself all the Null pictures from my phone. There's also a few on my computer that are just priceless. Not as many as I'd like -- John and I just don't take them all that often. But there were a handful of moments across our cats' lives that just screamed "TAKE-A-PIKCHER, QUICK!" I should share them here, or at least pop them onto Flickr with a link from here.
And then it's back to blogging about writing. And roller derby. Stay tuned.
Love and appreciation to all my friends, near and far, who have been so kind to John and me these past few days. You keep our world turning.
What's Mine Is Yours
So, of course, when I want to blog things like the foregoing, I feel compelled to double-check things.
Says me: You're OK with me putting this on my blog?
Says he: It's OK. Honestly. I don't care.
Says me: I just wanna make sure. You own half the copyright, after all.
Says he: The better half.
So there you have it.
Overheard. In My Own Damn Car.
What the hell -- half of it came out of my own mouth.
Says he: New plan. We're just not stopping for any more red lights.
Says me: But if you don't stop for the red lights, eventually you have to stop for the blue and red and white flashy lights.
Says he: ...you mean, the America lights?
Says me: No, no, no, the--
Says he: But you said they were red white and blue!
Says me: But so many things are. Including the lights on top of a police car.
Says he: So, the opposite of a Liberty Wagon.
Says me: We don't have a Liberty Wagon. We have--
Says he: (And that's what's wrong with this country.)
Says me: We have a Liberty Bell. But you're not allowed to ring it.
Says he: And no wonder. Last time someone did that, it got cracked!
Says me: ...and that's why we can't have nice things.
...There are many reasons I married this man. For one thing, I need him in order to have a comedy act.
Days Ten through Twelve: Put Something In
- 21,391 wds. long
It's been a good few days on the novel. I've been slacking off with the blogging of it, but not with the actual writing. I've discovered that if I spend two hours alternating 15-minute word sprints and 15-minute rests, I generate between 3,000 and 3,200 words. So that's what I did on Thursday. I did it again today. And since @NaNoWordSprints challenged everyone to have a #5Kday, I kept going. In pure word count terms, I am all caught up.
In story terms, things keep happening unexpectedly. Which is kind of fun and kind of nervous-making.
Driving to the airport the other night, I saw what looked like the tattered remains of a garbage bag rise up on the wind, whip around a bit, then sink down again. And I thought, "Ah, ghosts on the side of the road." And I continued thinking, "Imagine if that were a normal sight. Ghosts on the side of the road. Just part of the acknowledged world. You'd have to learn about it in driver's ed, along with other unexpected things you have to be able to handle as a driver. Wildlife, inclement weather, ghosts. And are the ghosts going somewhere or are they waiting to get picked up?"
So I had my next chapter. It was about time I set a chapter in a world whose reality wasn't quite like ours. In this chapter, a little girl acquires a costume ring from a gumball machine in that shop, and it lets her interact with a very particular ghost.
Bitsy was bad. She went where she oughtn't. But it's not her fault! She just forgot. She forgets things sometimes. Momma tells her, Don't you go in that store. Don't you go in there. Bad things for sale in there. Bad things a little girl shouldn't see. Bitsy is a very little girl -- she's eight and three quarters precisely. Any littler and she'd be a baby. Bitsy's too little to see the bad things on the shelves, because they're way up high where Momma would have to lift her. Pa used to lift her up high, way too high, and Bitsy would scream and scream, but Momma knows how to lift Bitsy up safe and sound so she can take down her ghoulie-bear or see the family picture of herself and Momma and Pa and her old big sister Camerie who lives on the side of the road. Bitsy wants to go visit her. Pa took her once, but it was so long ago Bitsy's forgot. Pa says Bitsy was very brave and didn't cry or try to run away, that Bitsy tried to hug Camerie, and Camerie, who was singing and singing Oooooo ah oooo, stopped singing and got so startled she shrank down to the size of a mouse and blew away. Bitsy knows that's how it happened because Pa only tells true stories, but Bitsy's forgot it all. That's why she wants to see Camerie now. She forgot what her old big sister was like.
Bitsy forgot about the store, too, about Momma saying no no no, she was so set on visiting Camerie all by herself. Since she's so little, it took her about two times forever to get halfway there, following the sidewalk and then turning left because Bitsy isn't supposed to cross the street by herself, then following the sidewalk under the great big highway. Bitsy isn't sure if that's crossing the street or not. Is crossing under the same as crossing, period? Camerie crossed under, long before Bitsy was born -- a whole year, Momma said.
The store's another forever along the sidewalk, right about when Bitsy's getting confused about where Camerie lives. The store's got dirty windows Bitsy couldn't've seen inside even if she weren't so little, and when she runs her hand along the reddy brown wood its walls are made of, she gets a splinter. It's not the kind of splinter that hurts. It just sticks out like a little tree that got blown over in the wind. Bitsy's still staring at it inside the store, because there isn't much other than that for a little girl to see in the store, what with all the shelves being way up high, and the splinter is interesting the way it sticks out of her hand.
And the chapter just kept going. I've been writing on it for three days, and the chapter's word count is 9,549. I think I may have stumbled across an entire novel here.
NaNoWriMo feels very self-indulgent. This year especially. It's not the first time I've started the month with no clue where I was going, but it's the first time that the shape of a novel hasn't arisen quickly and naturally. I mean, the year I drafted Like a Bad Penny, all I had to go on were two men coming out of a bagel shop, but before two days were out I knew what the novel would look like. This? I continue to explore. And constantly working day after day on something that doesn't guarantee to become potentially publishable, that's what feels so self-indulgent. Like, I can't really justify it to myself. It feels like writing, but is it productive? I don't know.
So I keep reminding myself, "It's NaNoWriMo. It's supposed to be self-indulgent. It's your chance to make unexpected things happen."
John and I were talking finances the other day. As is often the case, I mentioned feeling a bit like a slacker because I wasn't working as hard as I felt I should, producing as many stories as I knew I could, or doing as much "day job writing" as I felt I ought. And John said something that kind of blew my mind. He said, "Well, I often feel like I'm not the force for good in this world that I ought to be. But by supporting you, giving you time to not only write but volunteer and stuff like that, I feel like I am making the world a better place after all."
And that sort of hit me right in the teary-eyed spot. I'm sure if I thought too hard about what John said, I could convince myself to feel terribly pressured about it, like I needed to produce enough positive change in the world to justify two people's existence instead of just one, so work HARDER work MORE stop SLACKING... but right now, what I mostly feel is affirmed. Like a great big permission slip just got handed to me, and I can believe in it.
So noodling around in November, following this or that clue through my imagination in search of a story with no guarantee of what I'll find -- that's OK. It's part of the process. It does, eventually, lead to story. And it's true to that good old Shel Silverstein motto of Put Something In: "Put something silly in the world / That ain't been there before." I think as long as, whatever I do with my days, I take Put Something In as my guide beacon, I'm headed in the right direction.