July 15, 2019
I took time off over the last few days, the first in a long while. I wasn’t able to clear full days - too many deadlines to make that work - but I carved out spaces where I turned off the phone and disconnected from everything work related and allowed myself to do whatever I felt like doing. There was sleep and leisurely breakfast and coffee time. There was reading, more than one walk around the neighborhood, and plenty of attention to the cat and the garden. I also took in an excellent narrative.
As a writer, it’s important to partake of other people’s writing. Something in reading and listening to others’ narratives helps you continue to generate your own. There’s a famous quote about how a writer who doesn’t read is no writer at all, but I can’t retrieve it out of my head at the moment and the great Google oracle is unhelpful. Nevertheless, it’s important to read, to watch narrative films, to listen to storytellers, to absorb stories as well as to tell them. Storytelling is a multifaceted, communal experience. So my weekend narrative exploration was mostly spent with the Castlevania animated series on Netflix, written masterfully by Warren Ellis.
Castlevania was a highlight of my late childhood. I’ve always had an interest in vampire stories, and I’d heard good things about this series, so it seemed like something fun to explore during downtime. I was not disappointed. It’s been some time since I’ve taken in a narrative of that depth. I may have to watch it all again to pick up on different things, since in typical Ellis style, there are several levels of narrative and not all of them are on the surface at any given time. The experience (and what an absolutely appropriate ending!) makes me want to write fiction again, and when something makes me want to write, I know it is doing what it’s supposed to do.
July 8, 2019
Now July, and preparing to be 50. No idea when that happened, but it must have, as “50th anniversary of the moon landing” news is everywhere. It’s nice to have been born on a day that tied to a specific historical event sometimes. It means you never get to forget how old you are. Age is, of course, a number, but it’s also a feeling. The last few months I am definitely noticing feelings - and most have to do with pain. Bifocals, arthritis, feeling those muscles a bit more than I used to, lines where there weren’t lines before… aging has a bit more to do with pain than we think about on a daily basis, I suspect. Or is it that youth provides enough distraction that one doesn’t think about the various pains, physical and otherwise, that contour our lives? My youth had a fair amount of pain in it, so I don’t know that that is any different. Taking the notice of some changes in my reflection simply as more experience and not judging it.
Three potentially large projects in sight right now. Interviewed for one of them last week; should take a call on the second this week. The third got very interesting at the beginning of June, then suddenly went quiet. Not sure if I need to poke it or be patient. Wrestling with suspense in all three cases. There are things I’d love to speak about but can’t yet (or possibly ever), and it’s hard to contain my excitement.
June 26, 2019
“No matter how exotic human civilization becomes, no matter the developments of life and society nor the complexity of the machine/ human interface, there always come interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, the very future of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals.” -from the Tleilaxu Godbuk, quoted in Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
June 18, 2019
(testing a new post)
Speaking of broken systems: I went to the pharmacy to pick up a tube of Voltaren, a painkiller for arthritis and other conditions delivered in gel form in a tube the size of a standard tube of toothpaste. Initially I was told my health insurance would not pay for the prescription. I told the pharmacist I would be happy to pay for it out of pocket as I had used it in the past and I know it is effective for managing my arthritis. (This past week, the pain in my hand became so unbearable that I honestly thought I had a fracture and went to have x-rays. Even the doctor wasn’t sure.)
The pharmacist insisted I did not want to pay a retail price, and suggested I pay $36 for a “prescription buyers club” membership to earn a discount. After purchase, I received the following in an emailed receipt:
A prescription costs 6,000USD, yet magically becomes available for only 27USD with a mandatory club membership paid to the pharmacy?
Incidentally, Voltaren gel is sold without a prescription in both Canada and the UK, where it costs around the same amount as my 27USD “discounted club pricing.”
In other news, I want to thank David Merfield, the creator of Blot, for reaching out to me after my last post and teaching me how to embed a photo in a post like this. I was very tickled to get his email, and am grateful for the personal instruction. How often do you get personal assistance from a website on how to use it? Many thanks.
June 17, 2019
I need to learn how to give my photo posts some commentary in Blot. I would’ve labeled my June 9 entry about how absurd the entire student loan system in the USA is, and the absolute failure of UX design in that website. No one who put that site together realized there would be users whose information would spit out gigantic terrifying numbers, and either thought “maybe we should add something to keep them from a heart attack” or “maybe we should move up the part that explains you’re not expected to pay that if you can’t” when it comes to a number that would, as in my case, require your salary to be more than most CEOs make after years of employment in fields we didn’t spend that much to work in?
In any case, no, I will not make $626,700 this year, and thus the student loan highwaymen will not be reaping from me. Instead I will make what I make and they get 8% of it, which is all this website needs to say. For perspective: my debt total is AVERAGE for someone with a doctorate who had some financial assistance but was at least partially responsible for their own costs. There are people whose exit interview screens have considerably larger numbers than this one.
That’s the part that keeps me up at night. It should also keep the oligarchs who run the country I live in up at night, but I suspect since they never have to take out loans, this system is working exactly as intended.