Radio Silence

As I was writing up today's post about Nitride, I realized it has been almost three months since I last posted. My goal was to post at least once a month, mainly because some years ago, I realized I didn't have a single post for almost two years (2009-2011) and it upset me. But, when things get overwhelming, something has to give and writing about my life seems to be one of those things that gets triaged.

There were some good things and studies found that ending on a high note is better, so I'll start with the bad.

The Bad

This has a lot to do about my entanglement, which I decided means this:

A series of apparently unrelated crises resulting in cascading failure across my entire life.

In many ways, “unrelated” seems to be the key frustration. COVID and isolation was one thing, but adding the derecho on top of that made it worse. Having my office flooded was one thing, but then having a second flood when I ended up having a cracked pipe in my slab just added to the mix. In the last three months, I had two additional floods: our refrigerator decided to break a seal and dribble water through the walls and into the basement was nothing compared to waking up Mother's Day morning to an inch of water in the laundry room because a toilet decided to crack its seal between the tank and the bottom. The last one (flood four) resulting in water pouring into the basement in one of the few rooms untouched by the previous three which also contained everything I had to move frantically out of way of the previous ones.

Individually, I could have handled each one, but in aggregate, it is very difficult. Work has been remarkably stressful in the last six months and isn't going to get better until the end of the year. Earlier last month, I ended up doing a two week “death march” of 10-15 hour days trying to get something done only to have it kicked into the next release (e.g., this month).

The refrigerator going bad was unexpected, but I happened to get a bonus less than a week later, so that money went into buying a replacement refrigerator and dishwasher instead of trying to get out of the hole that having Iowa Metal Roofs stealing $10k left me in. I may have relatively poor money management skills, but losing $10k is going to make everything worse for almost everyone. I suspect it is going to take a few years to recover from this.

The dishwasher was included because over our nation's pseudo-isolation, it had been failing more and more. Somehow, chunky food particles had gotten into the pipes and I was unable to flush it out with water and a wet/dry vac. I even replaced the spinning blades, but they promptly got jammed in a matter of days. Since the bonus could cover it, we decided to replace that after nine months of seriously trying to fix it.

That ended up being an entirely new crisis. The refrigerator worked beautifully, the dishwasher ran once for the installer, then beeped, then never turned on again. I called Home Depot who promptly kicked me over to Samsung who promised a technician would get to me in 48 hours. Three days later, I had to call back to find out that service company one ghosted me. Service company two was called in and I had to wait a week for them to show up. The nice gentleman who showed up told me it needed a new part that would show up in two weeks and left. A week later, the service company said they needed another week, so my second service call ended up being a month after I got the new dishwasher installed. They took almost a half hour to say the first guy ordered the wrong part and they would order a new one… see me again in ten days.

Right now, Samsung home appliances suck. Their service sucks and I'm really frustrated because I just wanted something to be handled. Instead, its just one more tally of things that I cannot do anything about but needs to be done.

The Triaged

I don't let things go well. I'm very good at my job, but those skills also comes with a rather impressive set of obsessive tendencies. I remember lots of little details and usually keep them in my head so I can do my job. I have a very detailed oriented job with a good-sized code base that is reasonably close to the limits of what I can “grok.”

When there are things wrong, though, they keep poking me. Every time I sat down to try writing to relax, I start thinking about how the carpet needs to be removed, the shower stall has to be gutted, the trampoline has to be put up. Individual tasks for work, to keep the household running, to handle my obligations, all poking me.

The problem is, I can't just let something go. Dishes don't clean themselves. The weeds don't pluck themselves. Tasks don't get done. In my experience, if you ignore them, they get worse. But at the same time, I cannot do all the things at once. I try but only end up running myself ragged: remove carpet here, program here, play Satisfactory with Child.0, put in tiles, watch videos with Child.1, try to spend time with Partner, try not to break down at night.

Forcing something out of my head requires a significant effort. Just letting it go doesn't seem to work. I spent a year writing a year-long Exalted epic, ended right before a major fight, and couldn't finish. Then, year after year after year, I kept wanting to go back and finish it. It took almost twenty years before I could finally accept, I'm not going to finish it.

To get around that, I have to put it behind some other task. In situations like this, where I'm overwhelmed, the ones that seem less critical are the ones that get kicked off first. Sadly, “writing for joy” is one of them. I tucked it behind finishing up Nitride because I'm having trouble with not rendering and I don't have the spoons to figure out that fix when I realize there is a bigger, systemic problem with the website that Nitride should address; so to avoid spending days on a problem twice, I pushed Fedran behind Nitride and working on Allegro behind that. Since I'm mostly sticking with a single setting, that means no “fun writing” until I get the website working again which won't happen until I get Nitride finished otherwise I will try to do that while doing everything else.

Sometimes that works. I got the worst of the water-logged carpet out so it isn't moldy, but I still haven't done the edges of the room. It needs to get done but I'm hoping to push it further back until I get my in-laws bathroom tiled or finished the story someone commissioned me to write.

The Fun

Thankfully, in the last few weeks, I'm starting to relax a little. I have Child.0 to blame for that since they will come up, “I think you should take a break down and play a game with me” and I have established they are one of my big three priorities.

Now that the kids are out of school, they have more time to game and I've tied their screen time to finishing chores to relieve the pressure. I also set up a dedicated server for Satisfactory on our home network and just play a mod-free game. It has been an experience because I'm very structured in my building and I'm trying to learn how to relax about rules. For me, playing the game has a lot in common with Cueball's actions in XKCD: Wisdom Teeth, I structure and rebuild everything just to make it “neat.”

At the same time, Child.0 likes to stab me with a cattle prod and build spaghetti factories while Child.1 just paints everything random colors, deletes hunks of the world, and then stabs me while I'm AFK.

Good times.

I don't have the bandwidth to sit down and do “fun writing” but I'm working on the “obligatory writing” and coding projects like Nitride, which are blocks for solving some of those little pricks that have been plaguing me.

The Writing

Relatively speaking, despite not writing, there is a lot of writing related events going on.

I sent Flight of the Scions to a sensitivity reader as one of the last two major tasks left on that book. There has been a series of crises at that end, so it's taking a few months longer than planned, but I'm hoping to have it in a month or two. I also want to redo the cover but then I should be ready to have it actually published.

There was a fund-raiser for some writers going to Clarion. While I'm having money troubles, I still try to help others, so I kicked in some money and ended up getting an edit for a novel which will be Allegro. Naturally that means, I have to actually finish Allegro before September but I think that's doable. I just need to get through the current writer's block which is highly related to the entanglement. Also, Child.1 was watching Lindsey Sterling's Roundtable Rival which is the inspiration for Allegro so that made me want to write it even more.

I also put money down to show up at ICON. Assuming Flight of the Scions gets done, plus Shannon Ryan has a new book out, Merger of Evil, I won't feel guilty about showing up with the “same old stuff” for years in a row.

I may also throw up some books I had done for the erotic readings on the table for sale. Not sure, just toying with the idea to have “new things” after so many years of not having new things.

The Inspiration

In the end, there is only one thing I can do:

Just keep swimming.

Dory, Finding Nemo