On Grieving

I wonder if we’ve lost the ability to grieve. Or maybe just me. Before August 2014, I’d lost only a few people, and those very spread apart. The last one was Joe Murphy in 2007.

The past two weeks, I lost three.

The first was Michael Swartz, last week. I didn’t know him well, but his wife, Emily, was one of my best friends through Stonecoast. She would talk about her Stonecoast friends to Michael, and he would call me her “creepy friend.” He loved creepy things and this was a high compliment, Emily assured me. I got to meet him at graduation last January, and he was so friendly and clearly a great husband and father. His family adored him. Emily texted me in July saying that he was in the hospital with abdominal pains. While I was in London, I heard that it was aggressive cancer, and that he had days to live. Then he was gone.

The GoFundMe campaign to help out with his medical costs and funeral costs is here. 

The second was my father-in-law on Tuesday. I wrote about him yesterday. He died a few hours after my husband Jim arrived to see him. He had a long battle with Parkinson’s and had been in the nursing home for a year or so. It wasn’t a surprise but we still grieve.

The third was my podcast author friend, PG Holyfield. Patrick was one of the first people to step forward to help out with the ISBW forums back in 2006, offering his moderation help. He then went on to write a compelling fantasy mystery called Murder at Avedon Hill, make several podcasts designed to help people (NanoMonkeys!) or talk pop-culture, created an SF website, and generally be a cool person to be around. I heard on Sunday that he, like Michael Swartz, had been suddenly diagnosed with very aggressive cancer, and had days to live. He died last night.

The GoFundMe campaign to support PG’s family is here. 

~~

Around 15 years ago I took a seminar on animal kung fu. I think we were studying crane, or perhaps mantis. I got into a grappling position with my partner, and we waited for further instructions. As Master Ward spoke, I noticed a specific pain shooting up my leg. My partner had been training in Iron Palm, a strict regimented program to toughen the hands and strengthen the grip. During training, you’re not allowed to touch injured people or babies, as you are unaware of the strength in your hands.

(By the way, this is not woo- you know how you can stand in a doorway and press your arms out for 30 seconds and then you step out and your arms rise up on their own? This is the same concept. Squeezing flesh is easier than squeezing sand, and when you squeeze or punch sand for days, it can mess with your perception about how much strength to use for things.)

So shooting pain. I looked down and my partner had my ankle in a very painful grip. We weren’t grappling at the moment, remember. We had gotten into position and were listening to our master talk. This was just him holding onto my leg, or so he thought. I pointed out what he was doing and he let go, horrified.

His thumb left a bruise on my ankle for over a week.

~

I’m not weeping. I’ve cried a little, but mostly I’m just walking around, numb, not sure what to do. Part of my brain says, “you’re not crying and you’re not mourning these people 100% of the day, so you’re obviously fine.” People ask me if I’m find and I say yes, clearly I’m not sobbing and I’m not dwelling on everything, so I must be fine, right?

I even feel weird writing this post. It wasn’t my husband, or my father, and while I liked and admired PG very much, others in our community were closer to him. Do I deserve to grieve?

I don’t know what one does while grieving. Sitting here feels wasteful. I don’t know what to do.

Instead of feeling punched, something that can definitely cause me to cry, I feel as though something has closed around me and left a thumbprint of a bruise.

~

A few months ago someone I know had a cancer scare, and we had a few tense days. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t weeping, I wasn’t sitting around fretting. I went about my day and tried to be logical and practical, what can we do if the bad news comes? When the news came in that it wasn’t cancer, I expressed congratulations, got off the phone and lay on the couch and fell asleep for two solid hours. I didn’t know I was that stressed, but my body did.

I tried to learn something from that, that even if I’m not going OMG ANGRY or OMG SAD or OMG TEARS or OMG STRESS in the conscious brain, the subconscious is probably boiling merrily in the background and I should be kind to myself regardless.

Strange to think of grief as boiling merrily. Bad metaphor. Right now it feels like concrete hardening.

I think it’s bad that we lost the concept of mourning clothes. I was thinking about them today; they were a signal to the outside world that even if I’m not weeping and I’m not screaming in rage, I’m grieving. Yes, I’m able to go to the grocery store or do my job or take the kids to the park, but this black outfit is the signal to you that my soul is bruised, that my concrete is hardening. This is my “baby on board” sign, only it’s grief, and it’s letting you know that I’m hurting and maybe you can be a bit more kind to me today.

Times like this I wish I were religious. Not to search for god, but because many religions have mourning practices and rituals.

I miss my friend PG. I ache for my friend Emily, miss the opportunity to get to know her husband. I grieve with my husband and his family for his beloved father.

It’s been a tough two weeks. Hug your loved ones. Remember those who are gone.

My dear Father-in-law is at peace

I mentioned the past few days have been stressful, and they have been. I hadn’t wanted to mention specifics, as it’s not my story to tell. But yesterday my father-in-law passed, and here at the words my sweet husband posted on Facebook.

My father died today, after a long bout with Parkinson’s. I got the news that he was failing on our way back from Europe, and managed to get a flight in time to be with him, along with my mom and sister. It was a peaceful death. I will think of him whenever I watch an old movie, listen to a flute, or explain the difference between a covalent or ionic bond.

I don’t have a lot to add- my father in law was a kind, welcoming, brilliant man. He is at rest now, but we miss him.

Brief post- I’m home

We are home from a lovely and yet tiring vacation in England and Ireland. We had an absolutely amazing time, worldcon was a lot of fun, and we’re (mostly) all home safe.

There are a lot of things I want to blog about, but they’re all very different. It’s been an avalanche of awesome stuff and shit all at the same time. I could write a very long blog post about it, but that would be over 10k words, likely, and the many different things would likely lose people. So I’m going to sum up and blog later about more details. In short, here are the many different things that I will be blogging about soon, in no particular order:

  • During the trip I found out two (unassociated) friends are dead or in the process of dying.
  • I had good meetings at LonCon3. Met amazing fans, and many people I’d only known online. Spent quality time with several authors I admire. Reconnected with old friends.
  • I’m thrilled about the Hugo/Campbell Awards Winners.
  • Hubby had to turn around the day after we got home and take an emergency trip.
  • School starts tomorrow; no time for jetlag, Dr. Jones.
  • I broke my magic spreadsheet streak at 621 days.

So, yeah, lot of different moods there for one blog post. Things are very stressful right now. Hug your loved ones. I’ll be updating and stuff this week.

Update on recording

I recorded a show this week, and discovered the audio file got corrupted. i have to record again, which is sad-making. I’ll try to get it done this weekend and struggle back into a regular schedule.

This week I went to Busch Gardens with the kiddo, where we discovered that people do not want to go to an amusement park when there is the threat of rain, even if it’s lovely and mild, but if it’s 40 degrees and sunny, they will go in droves. We preferred the sort of rainy day. That is, until it started raining really hard.

We stayed at a nice hotel in Colonial Williamsburg, but that part of the state is strange, with few restaurants that aren’t attached to the historical area (and therefore packed.) The hotel restaurant was in a separate building (not a big deal unless it’s raining like crazy and 40 degrees.) and didn’t do room service.

The amusement park was fun, but the unexpected fun we had was at Colonial Williamsburg where we heard about this spy game they had for kids. Codes and cyphers and secret meetings with actors in town! We got all the information and went on our merry way. The letter you get starts with how revolution is starting, only Williamsburg is full of British sympathizers and they need to find people who are loyal the the rebels’ cause.

We got a blue bandana to wear, which would let the other couriers and people know who we were. Excited to play, we started out. Then we realized that Williamsburg was packed, completely packed with people playing this game. How were we going to have a secret meeting with the courier when hundreds of people around us were waiting for the same thing?

When the kiddo spotted a dog with the blue bandana on, that was it. We knew we were done. So, dejected, we wandered Williamsburg and tried to decide what to do. That’s when I came up with the idea that the town was fine, I couldn’t find any British sympathizers at all. The rebellion was downright healthy here. It seems what was needed was British double agents. So we walked around secretly collecting information for the British in order to report back about these Colonials who were getting uppity. It was amusing to us at least.

At night I tried to do work, but then I discovered my audio was corrupted. So, no editing for me. :( But I’ll get some work done this weekend, and will have all sorts of awesome stuff for you next week!

2013 – Not a bad year

2013 was a weird year for me. Personally and professionally, it was amazing. To many people around me, and close to me, it could have been a hell of a lot better. 2013 brought me the launch of my first book (call it traditionally published, or professionally published, or whatever) in May, which was a huge thrill (The Shambling Guide to NYC). I got asked to be part of a large video game project that was crowdfunded over $1 million (Torment). I became part of another storytelling project (Storium) that should take off next year. And even though graduation will be in January, I still feel as though I’ve ended my MFA program at Stonecoast this year, as my thesis is turned in and my presentation nearly done.

One of the biggest thrills of 2013, and, indeed, my life, was winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author, which I completely didn’t expect. Last year I learned how to lose an award, and I was fully prepared this year. I still feel somewhat stunned when I think about that night.

Another unexpected thing was getting nominated for the RT Best Urban Fantasy award, which cemented my decision to attend the RT conference next year in New Orleans, where the award will be given. (Also, Ghost Train to New Orleans was completed this year, and will launch next year. I may be hosting a party in NOLA. Stay tuned.)

I had my first Guest of Honor gig at VCon, which was, well, an honor. (Also I was GoH alongside Dan Wells, who is a delightful man and a disturbing writer, and John Kovalic, who I managed to spend time and only squee and fangirl at once.) It’s a great con, and I highly recommend attending if you’re in that area of the country.

I got a new agent this year, Jen Udden with the Donald Maass Literary Agency, and I’m excited to be working with her. She’s already giving me tons of feedback to make my WiP better.

Personally, the family is doing great, the kiddo is loving middle school and the husband just celebrated his first year at Google, and is loving working there. Jim made it to San Antonio with me so he could hold my hand at the Hugo Awards, and we also had a few other family trips.

The year had its downsides too. We had several family health problems, including Jim getting hit by a car in May, and some other family issues that it’s not my place to put in public. Most of our issues are resolved, or healing, now, and right now I feel lucky, because things could have gone so much worse.

What does 2014 look like? Well, I certainly hope there will be fewer vehicular accidents. I have the book coming out in March, and I will be doing Torment work early in the year. My convention schedule includes, for sure, RT in May and WorldCon (LonCon!) in August. I’m graduating from Stonecoast in January. I’m teaching at the Shared Worlds camp for teens in July.

And in the middle of it all, I’ll be writing and podcasting like always. This month marks 9 years podcasting for me. NINE. Per tradition, I forgot the actual anniversary. But at least I hit the month, right?

My new year, I hope, will contain more creation and less fear. (I will be blogging about fear later on this week.) More fun and less nursing loved ones back to health. (Of course if they need it, I’ll be there. I more hope they will not need the nursing.) Exercise, running, perhaps even a return to kung fu. But as we all do, I’d just want to take it one day at a time.

Ronin Scientist’s Advent Calendar Day 20-22

So we are now without our computer that does that magic video thing. Scientist is on the run, and all we got is an iphone and a web browser. And it didn’t work! So the video is lost for the season. BUT we got pictures for Day 21. Only those failed too. it’s a Christmas curse. I think we need the Ronin to come home.

But our housesitter is in place and we’re in Buffalo NYC, and the Ronin Scientist is discovering something scary upon arrival. The ornaments on the tree are gone!

Despite our technical difficulties, we did manage to do a live hangout today with Grant and many other advent calendar openers, and that video DID get saved. Mainly because we weren’t involved. Check it out below!

Tomorrow we use Vine.