sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Friday was my dad's birthday. He would have been 78 this year. I thought I was dealing with it okay, I frequently think I'm doing okay. And then it sneaks up and hammers me, and I have a sucky day.

And that's the thing. I don't recognize that my day is sucky because I'm grieving. I just think I'm tired or in a bad mood. Which is true as far as it goes, but it's WHY I'm in a bad mood and feeling tired that's the point. I'm tired because repressing my feelings is hard work. Remember that Daffy Duck cartoon, where he discovers Ali Baba's cave full of treasure? Remember when he tried to stuff the genie back into the lamp, jumping up and down on him with every ounce of strength he has? Yeah, like that.

Saturday was one of those days. It wasn't until my lovely and talented wife asked me if I needed to lie down in the bedroom and cry that it occurred to me that maybe I wasn't just feeling bleak and tired and antisocial for no good reason. I did as she suggested, and it helped. Not enough, but it helped. I'd had plans to attend a party that evening, but I called to cancel because I just didn't have it in me. Just like the August Babies party last month, I wanted to want to go--but I didn't.

Instead, I spent the weekend at home, alone or with Snippy and Twoson. I didn't go to the party Saturday night. I didn't go to our bi-weekly D&D game today. I just couldn't face dealing with people for a while. It's frustrating and aggravating to feel this way; and doubly so because it might not happen if I wasn't so busy trying to repress my grief. Half a century of practice is hard to undo quickly. But I'm working on it.

In other news, I'm trying to figure out how to turn my ebooks into POD books. I'm using CreateSpace, and learning how to format the interiors, calculate the page counts, and create covers (front, back and spine) instead of just front-cover art. It's not rocket science, but it's not simple either. It's going to take some take. Fortunately, it's not a time-sensitive project.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
My father managed (and eventually owned and managed) a small radio station for many years. It was a small station, 1000 watts by day and 250 watts at night. It catered to the local community, consisting largely of farmers in southern Virginia. Unsurprisingly, the music of choice at WODI (1230 on your radio dial!) was country music. I worked there throughout my teens as a weekend DJ, every Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to sign-off at 7 p.m. (sometimes 10 p.m. in the evenings during the summer, or when they were broadcasting the local Little League baseball games).

I also filled in when other DJs took their vacations, or when someone was ill. More than once I got home from school only to have my mom hand me some food in a brown paper bag and send me off to the station to relieve the morning DJ, who had been on air all day because someone else had called in sick or otherwise failed to show.

A number of country music songs make me cry now. I pretty much only listen to them when I'm driving--and only when I'm alone in the car, since my lovely and talented wife hates country music. The songs don't have to be maudlin, but there are a handful that never fail to make me tear up (if not actually cry) because they remind me of my days in the station as a teenager...and of my father. I miss him.

I've been trying not to let the grief build up, but denial and repression aren't easy habits to break. Occasionally it catches up to me and all the repressed grief breaks through. Yesterday was one of those days.

Snippy, Twoson and I drove down to the state fair in Salem, which we do every year. We enjoy looking at the various displays of crafts, and wandering the huckster areas, and eating various tasty foods. And I enjoyed it this years as well, despite being a little "off" all day. We got there right as the fair opened at 10 a.m. and left about 2 or 2:30, when the worst of the heat (and the crowds) were just getting started. And we're going back next weekend to do it again.

We drove home, rested a little, and then Snippy and I drove up into Washington to attend a big communal birthday party/cookout some good friends hold every year. It's a fun party, and we look forward to it very much. We don't see enough of our hosts, plus there are friends of friends I like who I only ever see at this party.

But I just didn't have it in me to enjoy it this year. We didn't stay long. I tried, but I felt worn out. I felt old and weak and slow and a failure, and try as I might, while I wanted to want to be there...I didn't. I just wanted to hole up at home and let the grief (which I finally recognized as the source my black mood) wash over me.

So we left. We stopped along the way to let Snippy take over driving because I wasn't up to it. Came home and I did just what I'd needed: holed in the bedroom for a while and let the grief have me. It helped, but denial and repression are exhausting; I spent today recuperating, and it's a reminder to try not to let it happen again so often.

I really regret not being in a frame of mind to enjoy the party. It only comes around once a year. I wish I'd been able to spend more time with my friends, and that Snippy had gotten a chance to try some new liquors with our host, a pleasure she shares with him that I don't (it all tastes like paint thinner to me). I really wish I could have stayed and enjoyed it.

Well, there's always next year.

Also, it turns out that listening to Ed Bruce (particularly "My First Taste of Texas") while writing this entry is another good way to bring up tears.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Oh, I know. It isn't even Thanksgiving yet. It's not even Halloween yet. But Christmas is coming. And with it, the inevitability that many, many, (many, many, many) people will receive an ereader as a gift. And then those people will, naturally, want to buy things to read on their new toy. Or they'll be given gift cards to accompany said reader for the same purpose.

It happened last Christmas. There's every reason to think it'll happen again this Christmas. Last Christmas, I hadn't gotten into indie publishing my work. But now I have. And I want to have as much stuff as possible available for potential buyers.

So one of the things I'm doing this week is pulling apart my episodic "starship repo guy" novel. I'm going to break out the various parts--which range in length from about 4,000 words up to 33,000 words--as separate novellas, short story collections, or novels. A little rewriting is necessary on a couple of them to make sure background info is there, but there's less of that than I thought there would be. When I'm done hammering them out, I'll have four short novels (or novellas) and one collection of three shorts in about the same word range to publish.

I've decided on cover art for them--and learned that cover art for SF is harder to find online than cover art for romance or erotica. There's plenty to choose from when it comes to attractive men, women, men & women in suggestive poses for romance/erotica covers. There isn't so much when you're looking for images with the right tone for an action-adventure SF story. More compromises are necessary.

So there will soon be five books online employing the title template "Repo Book [Number]: [Starship Name]". And if they sell, I can always do more of them. In the mean time, I also want to continue writing and publishing other short stories, and possibly some longer works over the next three and a half months. The more I have up, the better. (Plus, writing is practice for writing better. So...the more, the better.)

In other news....

My father's birthday was yesterday. He's seventy-seven years old. In October of last year, he went into the hospital for a few days with congestive heart failure. He'd had open heart surgery three years earlier, and had never completely recovered. That last hospital visit was...the last hospital visit. He came home and began receiving hospice care. My mom said on the phone that he wouldn't be going to the hospital again. He has a living will and a DNR notice. Snippy and I flew back in November to visit him, fearing it would be my last chance.

But he's still alive and kicking. And showing no signs of that changing. I have mixed feelings about that. I know he never expected to live so long, and has said he's ready for it to be over. He's weak, always tired, and...ready for it to be over. But it's been almost a year now, and as far I can tell, he could live a long time this way. When I spoke to him on the phone yesterday, he mentioned that he remembered thinking his grandfather was ancient at 83, and said he thought he might make it that long. Seems unlikely, and I expect he knows that, but I also suspect he wouldn't consider it a blessing, even if it seems possible sometimes. I don't know what to wish for him, or my mom.

I think I'll probably talk about this in therapy today.

I'm in therapy, did I tell you? My lovely and talented wife suggested it. She thought I was depressed, and she was probably right. I've doing it for a couple of months now. It's been interesting. And helpful. It isn't easy. I'm a very private person. I write about things much more easily than I talk about them. So talking to the therapist has been a learning experience in actually, you know, expressing what I think or feel.

...there's a gyro cart downtown. They make THE best lamb gyros I've ever tasted. Alas, they close at 5 p.m. I'm never downtown anymore except to pick up my lovely wife after 5:30. Or for my therapy session at four. I can't get to the cart before it closes! Argh! But today--today I'm taking Twoson to the train station so he can travel down to visit with his dad for the weekend. So I'll be going downtown earlier than normal. And I will HAVE A GYRO or know the reason why!
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
...and in more ways than one.

I'm physically tired. Twoson and I just spent the last couple of hours helping someone move a 725 lb. gun safe. Why? Because he gave me money for it. It used to be MY gun safe. But what with the plan to move into an apartment, and a lack of firearms anymore to keep in it, we didn't need it any more. So I put an ad on Craigslist and on a firearms community forum.

Wow. I got a couple dozen replies. Three people looked at the safe today. The first decided he didn't want it; he wanted a more modern safe (mine was from 1999) with a higher fire protection rating and a non-recessed door.* The second guy seemed interested, but said he had to see if he could use his truck to pick it up. Maybe he intended to get back t me. Maybe not.

The third guy called to inquire before the second guy looked at the safe. I told him someone else was coming to look at it. He called back later in the day and asked about the safe. I said the other guy had looked but that as far as I was concerned, the first guy to offer me money and take it away could have it. Which is what he wanted to hear. He showed up this evening after dinner, looked the safe over, and agreed to buy it.

Which is how Twoson and I ended up helping him wrestle it out of a bedroom, through the living room, out the front door, down the concrete stairs and along hte sidewalk to the trailer he would use to carry it off. Just the three of us. It wasn't easy. The safe was bulky, heavy, and hard to maneuver with only us. Nonetheless we persevered. Even as I type this the safe is on its way to its new home. We have one less (huge, bulky, heavy) object to worry about moving.

So I'm tired from the effort involved there.

I'm also tired emotionally. My father is dying.

That's the first time I've written that.

He had open heart surgery two or three years ago, and he's never been in really good health since. He's been in and out of the hospital and seeing his doctor frequently since. He went to the hospital this past weekend and was there for a couple of days before coming home. He's suffering from congestive heart failure, and at this point he's getting home hospice care from a visiting nurse.

I called home and talked to my mom about flying back to see them soon. I wanted to make sure they were okay with that. She said he'd had a bad day yesterday but was feeling better today. She also made a point to tell me he was getting hospice care. She said, "He's not going back to the hospital, unless...he's not going back to the hospital."

I know he's got a living will. My sister told me he also signed some new form, something specific for the state of Virginia, that my mom keeps handy to present to the EMTs. A DNR order of some kind, I imagine. Or some other medical/legal document for when the end comes, something they'll recognize and respect.

This isn't unexpected. As I said, he's been in poor health for some time now. It's still a shock. Snippy lost her mother a few years ago, and she keeps telling me it's going to sneak up on me from time to time, and that feeling inexplicably exhausted occasionally is going to happen too. I really thought he wouldn't survive the surgery at the time; I flew back to be there the night before, and I remember driving down those winding, hilly Virginia highways like a bat out of hell to get from the airport to the hospital before it got too late that night to visit him.

He did survive, though. He's hung on this long, but I don't think it'll be a whole lot longer. I know he's told me a number of times over the years that he didn't expect to ever get as old as he is. I'm not sure if he didn't expect to live this long, or just didn't give it a lot of thought. His own father died when dad was ten years old, in a farming accident. So I know he didn't have a real role model for being a father to his kids, and probably felt like he was faking it a lot of the time.

He faked it pretty good.


sinanju: The Shadow (Default)

August 2017

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