Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tumbling Down

Well, this afternoon sucked.

I got home after work to be told that Mom was going to the local urgent care clinic. She'd fallen down the stairs an hour or so before, and had finally decided she ought to be looked at. (I think the pain had something to do with it; she finally figured it wasn't going away on its own.)

In any event, to cut a long and tedious day short, she apparently didn't break anything, but she's very, very, very, very sore. Nailed her shoulder, strained a finger, banged her knee, and twisted her back and sides, in addition to knocking her nose, putting a tooth through her lip, and raising a lump on her forehead. (They did a chest X-ray and sent her for a CT scan to be sure she hadn't actually cracked her ribs or skull.) Oh, and she twisted her glasses terribly, so the lens wants to pop out. So the next several days will be Not Fun.

The moral of this story: Never take shortcuts when hauling stuff down a flight of stairs.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Last night, she was hit with nasty nausea and vertigo, but (in typical family fashion) wouldn't go to the ER until 10 this morning, after I'd gone to work. To condense another overlong story full of fretting and unreturned phone calls at break and more fretting, it turns out Mom did indeed get a nasty concussion from her fall, but it just didn't hit until later (which isn't uncommon.) The vertigo's from her inner ear being jumbled by said fall and possibly said concussion. Both should resolve themselves, but she got stuff to help with the nausea while they're in the resolution process. For now, she's pretty much stuck in bed.

SATURDAY UPDATE: For all none of you who care, Mom continues to progress slowly but surely. She's still fairly stiff and sore and she has a nice collection of bruises, but she's sleeping a little better. For the past day and a half she's been able to walk around without someone to lean on, and this evening she gave solid food a try for dinner. (She's been on soups and crackers mostly due to persistent dizziness and associated nausea/stomach issues.) So it's so far, so good on the recovery front.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Slowly Creeping Forward

Well, January's officially past the halfway mark. So far, the new year's been decidedly cruddy to many people on the periphery of my existence. Health issues, neighbor issues, money issues, computer/machinery issues... My sister commented that this feels like a year designed to shake people out of their comfort zones, and it sure seems to be doing so.

How has it shaken me? Well, there's the tricky part. It hasn't, at least not yet. In fact, I already hit one of my bonus resolution points, and am on track to keep the main one it was attached to. I've been devoting an hour nearly every day (only two exceptions thus far) to creativity. I started with my art, because it seemed like the easiest place to start - not to mention the fact that I haven't made much progress on my art skills since I last updated Skyhaven, which has lain dormant for so long I recently received a concerned e-mail wondering if I was okay. (And, no, it's not just been the planned switch to Dreamweaver 8 that's taken so long. A significant part of the problem was that my attempts to create new and improved templates failed so miserably I gave up on them.) So, I decided to go back to basics: anatomy studies and the like. I started an online sketchbook at ConceptArt to track my progress and give me some manner of accountability. Why ConceptArt? Because I've been lurking and drooling there for far too long. In that time of lurking and drooling, I've also been watching. These people range from rank amateur to veteran pro. These people aren't afraid to create. And furthermore, these people won't play games; it's a place where one can get honest critique and truly helpful guidance, not to mention a smack across the face if you start whining about "no talent" or being "misunderstood." I don't see anything like that on DeviantArt or other art sites - most of what I see there is internet high school, riddled with in-clubs and cliques and people who tear you apart if you dare suggest that maybe someone's art could use a bit more polish. (The rate of art theft's higher there, too, due to mods who don't always seem willing to take action.) Granted, there are exceptions to every rule, but on the whole I figured ConceptArt was the way to go, both in spite of and precisely because of the fact that it is not the Easy Way Out. I've been taking the Easy Way Out for too long.

How's it been going? Better than expected. I've even had a few people comment on my stuff; it's not as horrid as I sometimes think it is. Not only is this a confidence booster, but it helps keep me going and posting on an almost-daily basis. I'm even slowly working my way back into writing regularly, since the sketchbook's going reasonably well. I'm starting to wish I could find a writing equivalent of ConceptArt, though I suspect I'd have a much harder time sharing my writing scraps than my sketchbook pages. And this spawns other, possibly dangerous notions of what I can accomplish. I'm looking at online tutorial sites to update my Internet skills and overhaul my websites. I'm thinking about what I could most easily crank out for internet-based sales on Etsy or eBay.

So, sixteen days into 2009, I'm actually starting to feel almost accomplished. I'm starting to think maybe I can move forward in life. And that's why I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for Life's nail-riddled two-by-four to catch me upside the head.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


My brain's reverting to its natural state, the state of the night owl.

It started with the new year, round about the time I decided I needed to get serious about developing my creativity by devoting at least an hour a day to it, in some form or another. So perhaps that was the trigger: assuming that a brain works best on its natural rhythm, by trying to increase the trickle of creative juices, maybe it's fighting its way back to its old schedule. Maybe it was the excessive holiday-induced time off work I've had lately that reset my inner clock. Or perhaps its just one of those cycle shifts that happens for no apparent reason. But I've been up past 2 AM on most nights since the New Year... which means my brain wants to sleep in until 9:30 or 10 AM.

This wouldn't be a big problem, except everyone else in the family tends to be morning larks. (Dad's an exception, but he tends to catnap all day, so he's often up early, too.) Sleep until 10, and you not only run a greater risk of being awakened by others, but you've missed a good chunk of active household time... plus it leaves you with very limited options round about 9 or 10 PM, when at least half of the human household has shut down for the night and your brain is still wired up and ready to go. I normally spend that time in my room, which is why I try to shut down by midnight; there's only so long one can take being stuck in one room while conscious, even with the World Wide Web at one's beck and call.

It's also a Very Bad Thing insofar as my job goes, where I have to be out of the house by 8 and slinging books with some degree of competence and accuracy by 9. Granted, it's hard to fall asleep when working around loud machinery, but I do have to operate a motor vehicle to get there.

So I really need to remind myself to at least feign sleep round about midnight, or 1 AM at the latest. Natural cycle or not, I can't keep doing this. It'll make Wendesday morning all the more troublesome.

What? It's already 13 past 2 AM? On Tuesday?

Dang it...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Eh, what the hey - I'll try a meme...

Yep, two days into the new year and I'm already finding ways to not do things. Some things never change...

Thus far, I haven't had a clear read on how 2009 is going to go. 2008 let me know pretty early on it was going to be lousy, but thus far 2009's playing its cards pretty close to its chest. At least nothing horrendous has happened yet (knock on laminate wood substitute here.)

Okay, on to the meme, from PPG's blog... (Questions in red.)

1: What is your ultimate goal in life? Are you working toward it? If so, how is your progress? If not, why not?
Hmm, that's a toughie. I don't know that I have an ultimate goal, which may explain why I'm having such a hard time working towards it. I'd like to be published as a fantasy author someday. I'd like to be a decent artist. Mostly, I'd like to figure out what it is I'd like to do.
As for how I'm progressing... I'm 33, I've only finished two stories in five or more years, and I haven't made measurable art progress in over two years. Does that answer your question?

What would you die for? Why (or why not)?
Well, I'd expect I'd die when my physical body could no longer sustain life. Beyond that, I can't rightly say what I'd voluntarily die for.

3: Is it more important to you to be right or to be liked? Why?
I'm used to not being liked, so I'd rather stick to what I believe is right. Of course, I'm fully willing to believe that whatever I believe is right isn't right, if for no more reason than a moron like me believes it's right, so it gets a bit tricky...

4: Who do you look up to most and what has he/she taught you? (This person does not need to be still living.)
Hmm... another toughie. I can't say I've ever had a specific idol or role model. Parents taught me stuff, of course, but that tends to fall under a different category.

5: What is the worst thing that ever happened to you in your life and how does it affect you today?
Well, the events of the tail end of 2005 were pretty nasty. Overall, though, the thing that most affected most of my life was when I learned that I had a speech impediment, and that people didn't understand half of what I was saying. Before that, I recall being rather talkative. To this day, you'd be hard-pressed to drag five words in a row out of me, even though the only letter I still have issues with is "r."

6: Ditto for the best thing.
Best thing... that would probably have to be discovering the internet. So many opportunities, so much information, so many ways to communicate without having to actually deal directly with human beings... an introvert's paradise.

7: What is your favorite book and why?
Varies by mood and season.

8: What would be your ideal day? What would you do? What would you eat? Would you be with people or by yourself?
An ideal day? I wouldn't be bugged by relatives when I'm trying to draw, write, or read, for one...

9: Do you need to do anything so badly that it makes you a bit crazy if you can't for some reason? What is it?
Time not being bugged by people, as implied in the previous answer. How I'd use this time - to create or read or goof off on the computer - would vary, but I need a little time each day when I know nobody's going to interrupt the internal train of pseudothought.

10: Is there any part (physical, mental, spiritual, etc.) of you that, if you lost it, it might not be worth going on?
I've always thought that losing one's mental facilities - not just middle age forgetfulness but brain damage or degenerative disease type of loss - would be the ultimate Hell.

11: What do you believe in - the sort of belief that goes to your very soul?
Since I tend to believe that most everything I believe is likely flawed, I don't tend to think about my beliefs so deeply. I suppose my primary belief is that we humans don't know a fraction of what we think we do, nor do we have the power we think we do over this world or this existence.

12: Do you have a creed/code/quote that you live by (or try to live by)? What is it?
One that I always liked, and which I came to rely on when things looked nasty, was a bit from Hatchet (Gary Paulsen): Self pity doesn't work. Brian considered this the first lesson in survival, that self pity doesn't solve or accomplish anything but wearing you out. I find that this lesson applies to pretty much any life situation you can think of.

13: If you had to sum yourself up for someone in 10 words or less, what would you say?
Sorry, but I cannot seem to summarize myself so succinctly.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

So Long, 2008...

Don't let the door hit you on the way out...

Well, at last it's over. Despite the occasional high point (two vacations, a historic election that restored my faith in humanity in general and my country in particular, if temporarily), I can't say it was a great year - cut my foot, fought with my car, and came closer to losing my father than I care to admit, among other issues - and I'd be lying if I said I was sorry to see the back of it.

As for how I did on my 2008 Resolutions... let's not go there, shall we? If I were rating myself with exceptional generosity, I hit nearly two out of 12 goals. That's a failing grade no matter how you slice it. The most irritating part, naturally, is that, for all the difficulties of the year, I can't ignore the fact that the primary reason for my own failure is something very much in my control: me.

So, given my failure rate, what should I resolve for 2009? I could resolve not to do any more resolutions. Not only is that a cop-out, it's the most overused and least clever cop-out in the book. I could resolve not to be such a miserably hopeless loser, but I have so little experience (read: no experience whatsoever) being anything else that I'd be doomed to failure on that front, too. Maybe I should just resolve to find new ways in which to fail, since at least then I'd be moving into fresh territory; my failures over the past years tend to be the same ones, repeated with depressing frequency.

Or maybe I should just buck up and post another lame Resolution list. Who knows? A year from now, the future me could use a nice little chuckle.

2009 Resolutions

1: Develop more income sources. (Bonus: Obtain business license.)
I deliberately left this open to some leeway - including, but not limited to selling things online or finally getting some investments going. I hope to keep my existing job, of course, but if I could get by without getting a major second job I'd be happier. I also have a theory that most downsized people will be snapping up the full-time jobs and larger part-time jobs, so I'm better off hunting for one/two-day-a-week deals or other minor supplemental income bits anyways.

2: Spend at least one hour total daily creating. (Bonus: Start and maintain an online sketchbook.)
Once again, I try to commit to furthering my artistic and literary interests. It's tough to manage when, any time I'm approaching "the zone," a relative is liable to blunder by and break my concentration by asking what I'm doing or demanding help with this or that computer program or the seemingly eternal hunt for "the thing - you know, that one."

3: Follow through on at least creative instruction book, course, or website. (Bonus: Work on 2d, 3D, and/or animation computer skills.)
Because I didn't pull it off last year. Again.

4: Finish at least one marketworthy story. (Bonus: Actually submit said story(-ies) for publication.)
Yep, terrible timing, as usual, but I'm approaching it with the philosophy that I can't exactly fail worse than I already have, so I might as well give it a shot. And who knows? Even if the publishers are cutting back and struggling, maybe e-books or Print-On-Demand publishing will take off as hungry readers search for new fixes.

5: Overhaul web presence, including (but not limited to) my existing websites. (Bonus: Relearn and update "basic" web skills - XML, CSS, etc.)
Poor, poor websites... Skyhaven's buried under internet dust and cobwebs, and Brightdreamer Books has been essentially the same, give or take some content, for most of its existence. And if I am going to add online sales via eBay or Etsy as part of Resolution 1, I ought to make myself a web presence worth linking to.

6: Organize, clean, and weed out my stuff and my spaces. (Bonus: Rearrange shelving/storage in my room and/or at my workbench.)
Because it needs doing more desperately than I care to admit...

7: Walk/exercise at least 3x weekly. (Bonus: Walk even on work days.)
Because 5 hours of slinging books tends to make one a bit lazy, though I should be able to manage even half an hour of walking afterwards. And because nearly every book on the matter directly links exercise to mental acuity and creativity.

Yep, only seven this year. If I only pull off almost two again, it'll look much better...