Thursday, June 29, 2023

Shifting Normal

Tomato plant in our garden;
fighting off a leaf disease

I want to write something profound. It doesn't come. 

So I think that maybe I will write something personal, close to home, about this change of "normal." It floods in words and feelings and it doesn't look like what I mean and I think, that sounds like a pity party.


I have so much to say about the shift of "normal" but it is large and others have already commented, are commenting. What do I have to add to the discussion?

Except my experiences. My own shifted normal to a place where I never thought I'd be; to a place which is the same but my perspective has been forced to a new view by conditions and situations which are - actually - outside of my control. They were not caused by me, were not sought for by me, were not wanted. If anyone would have asked me in January or February 2020, "Hey how about we try this?" I would have scoffed and turned away and known that wasn't my path to walk.

I haven't had COVID-19. I am still actively avoiding getting it because I have a genetic disorder which makes me at increased risk for negative outcomes if I were to catch it. I reconfirmed with my medical team six weeks ago when I had to go in for something unrelated. 

"No, YOU don't want to get COVID," the usually conservative provider said. The one who would happily prescribe more pills, is cautious with too many tests, and has told my partner and others that - since they're up to date on vaccinations - it should be okay. But not me. Not with the genetic condition for which there is no cure, only a medicine to offset what it causes (an increased tendency to make blood clots). 

One of the things COVID-19 causes is making blood clots. Also, recent studies have shown that, at least for some people, tiny blood clots are a factor in causing Long Covid. The primary drug for us regular people for treating COVID-19 is Paxlovid. Some medications are contraindicated for Paxlovid use, and among them are anti-coagulants, which is (one part of) what is used to treat exactly what I have. One type of anti-coagulant reacts so badly that Paxlovid is listed to be used only when they are out of all options. In this, I am lucky, because the anti-coagulant I am taking is the best one in terms of Paxlovid. If necessary, with the particular medication I take, I could take Paxlovid, but I would need to be monitored for blood clots, for DVT (deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)). Taking Paxlovid would increase my risk of another pulmonary embolism; something I would rather not repeat.

So, this "shifting normal" for me is, that I have a genetic condition which means that many places are not safe for me. Without masks, with no social distancing, with oftentimes questionable air circulation - my answer has to be, "no, thank you." Creative spaces, both inspirational for me and expressive, personal and professional, are not currently safe.

I am now on the "expendable humans" list. This is new. Because of a genetic condition I was born with, but had no idea I had until I ended up in the ER in 2011 with blood clots in both lungs, I am now pushed aside. I used to not be afraid of a cold and I didn't get the flu - I'm still not. But COVID-19? Different story. 

I'm not ready to die, but I am not afraid of dying from COVID-19. I am completely up to date on my vaccinations and boosters. I always mask in public, when around other people even at my home. We don't go to parties and crowded events. Because the internal damage from COVID-19 can be months or years-long. Some people are developing problems caused or triggered by COVID months or a year after recovering from the infection. I know people who are surviving and struggling with Long Covid. 

I would rather have a healthier life, with my brain cells intact, and my internal organs functioning.

So I will continue to avoid COVID-19. Which means I am missing out, yes. Which means I am still breathing, yes. Which means I can continue to work as an interpreter and do my writing. 

This is not normal.

This is not what I used to call normal.

This is my shifted "normal" as other people continue to get reinfected and think they are fine. Some are; especially those with the financial resources. Some aren't. Some people are dying or have brain fog or develop heart problems or diabetes or several other negative health issues because of that. Some people don't even know they've had COVID because they haven't and don't test, assume it's a cold, the flu, allergies, or they're just tired.

And don't even get me started on the climate situation. North America is already on fire and it's not even officially "wildfire season." 

If you have any of those nasty N95 or KN95/94 masks lying around, you might want to get them out. They also help to reduce harm from wildfire smoke.

The normal we knew no longer exists. Sometimes the attempts to replicate the past are like eating carob to replace chocolate. Just not the same.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Creativity Comes in Many Forms

 After 2 1/2 years of never missing a Friday Night Comics, I was hit with a lot of coordinating and assignments for the marvelous Mavens of Mythmaking assignments and a few other things which came up. I mean, the Mythmaking assignments were not a surprise - I knew when I was signing up for the year-long certificate program that there would be intense times. 

So - life happened. I had to skip one Friday Night Comics, then again a couple of weeks later. Then it was several in a row and then. Where had they gone? 

Right where I left them: on Friday nights, same time, same sponsor. Oh, look, the haiku comics instructor was up last week. And, even better, I didn't have anything scheduled, no theatrical crises or dire needs, so I signed up.

It was awesome. David Lasky is an excellent graphic novelist and comics instructor and more. And his writing prompt which led into a comic without pictures was inspiring. Sure - there are a few things I'd need to clean up and make a little better (stronger) if I were to redo this "Float Tank" - which was inspired by the prompt of 'write about your first or an early experience in total darkness." Float tanks weren't my first, but they were my strongest memory last Friday.

I like this one!

And, look, it led me back to here. 

I'm still wondering what I want this to be. What I want it to look like. How I will use this website-blog etcetera. 

For now, another post. Three months after the last one when I thought I would try once a month, at least. 

I'm working on a plan.

I'm in final stages of edits for a manuscript ("final" = I hope!).

I may have some more things to write about soon, but that depends on a couple of factors. Right now, I want to keep this light and not get into those other things. *smile*

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

2023: What's Ahead

Portal Cards by Corporeal Writing

First, I have continued to write every day since the end of NaNoWriMo. Which is kind of amazing for
me. I don't usually do that - or not outside of November. Even during NaNovember, I often don't make the personal goal of writing every day of the month.

I am writing story starts, ideas for stories, and have made a little bit of progress on The Project (hybrid/memoir). I have also started journal writing, again. With everything happening, that seems like a good idea for me. It has been beneficial, so my intent is to keep up that practice.

I had a boost toward the writing everyday, because I participated in the Literary Kitchen Winter Break Intensive, again. This is a fast-paced, daily assignment class/workshop where we are given 12 assignments in 14 days. (The two days "off" are up to the individual participants.) In addition to our own daily writing, we also provide feedback to three other people's writing for each assignment. Think of it as a writing marathon. It is. And it is a great activity for the last two weeks of December. It's a great way - at least for me - to keep present in my life and keep connected to my writing. The world goes kind of haywire with expectations and holiday gatherings (or not, if you're being COVID cautious or don't like the holidays, or whatever - but even if you avoid the holidays the pressures and expectations from others are still there). This clipping-along writing commitment is fun and gives a nice, creative focus in a time which can "try one's nerves."

I did get all of the assignments done and all of the feedback done. I fell behind on the feedback, so I didn't get it completed until January 2nd. But I did get it done. I do have a few things from that workshop which seem like keepers to develop and edit further; and a few germs of ideas, even though the particular thing I wrote is "not it."

So. On to 2023. In terms of writing, this is going to be a spectacular year. 

On January 1, 2023, the first meeting of the Maven of Mythmaking Certificate Program was held via Zoom. The participants are from all over. Armed with our required and recommended book list and the textbook for the program, The Wayward Writer: Summon Your Power to Take Back Your Story, Liberate Yourself from Capitalism, and Publish Like a Superstar, we met for two hours, did a writing exercise about our goals/intentions For The Year!! We did not do introductions, because we had already begun posting our introductions on the class online Boards. 

That's right: the Maven of Mythmaking is a full-year program, led by Ariel Gore. There are weekly assignments: readings, actions, writing, and of course, feedback. Most months we will have two Zoom meetings, as well. Ariel will have Office Hours. 

The Mythmaking Authors are an eclectic group. We are writing everything from memoir to essays, fantasy to short stories, horror to novels; so much more. We are writers with many publications, writers who have written primarily for themselves; writers who want mainstream publication and writers who want to self-publish or do a hybrid; writers with MFAs and writers who have barely started taking any writing workshops; the age range is large and joyous. 

This is day four of the year-long program and I know it was the right decision.

On some days, when the news is bad and politicians are using citizens as collateral, when my primary work is creating havoc with scheduling which impacts my income and my "safety net" (it is no longer that) - I wonder. Did I do the right thing? This big of a time and financial commitment?

Those moments of doubt are tied to old patterns and old beliefs which still live under my skin. Even though their impact has shrunk, they still exist. Those moments of second guessing myself and toying with self-regret or remorse are truly fractions of a second and rare. But they do still seep through the excitement and creative energy, poking through the surface very briefly. I've learned to give that negativity a nod and a "thanks for trying to keep me safe; but I'm good." It isn't able to get a hold any longer.

So. One thing I am going to try to do is be more present here. I don't have a plan for what that looks like. I'm hesitant to set up a strict schedule, which would put more pressure to perform on me, and potentially set me up for failure. Or, at least, fear of failure - which I am trying to avoid. With the continuing high numbers of COVID-19 cases and my personal additional risks, I still have to avoid prolonged indoor events, especially with large crowds; and if masks are not required, it could be deadly for me. Which means that theatre - another passion of mine, and an important creative outlet, is minimal and mostly virtual for me, until COVID is truly under control - which is not now. (I have a genetic mutation which increases the likelihood of blood clots. It was discovered in 2011 after a bilateral pulmonary embolism incident and don't want to experience it again. This puts me at higher risk of hospitalization and more severe complications from COVID-19. Therefore, I must avoid infection.)

I don't know where this year of Mythmaking and a kind of "alternative MFA" is going to lead. I do not have a specific project I am working on. I am showing up for writing. I will write every day - sometimes that will be journal writing, sometimes it will be generating new material, sometimes it will be reading about writing, writing about writing; sometimes it will be working through edits on The Project; sometimes showing up for writing means loafing and relaxing and going for a walk, where I will be thinking about my writing.

2023 is going to be a good writing year.