There are things that turn your life upside down without being really major.  In the last two weeks it’s been an upper respiratory infection my husband and I keep sharing, and lately the fact that Greebo, editor-at-tuna at Baen has been under the weather with the same.  Now, it’s unlikely it’s the same virus (though it does happen viruses cross the species barrier, it’s very rare) but still.

The “we have a cold” is just annoying, honestly.  Both of us know we’re probably not going to die from this, though I need to keep up with the asthma meds, as already being clogged up make it harder to get through asthma attacks.

OTOH when Greebo stops eating and starts hiding in that pose cats do when when they think they’re very, very ill and possibly going to die (scrunched against the wall in a small space) I panic.

We were about ready to take him to the vet for hydration when last night he started acting more like himself (we did take him to vet for antibiotics on the off chance it was bacterial.)  He came up on the bed for about an hour of pets, and ended up falling asleep in the crook of my elbow.  (Very flattering and at 16.5 lbs of cat incredibly uncomfortable.)

But he’s still not fully himself, because he waited till nine thirty to herd me into the office.  For which I’m grateful because my upper respiratory issue, which was almost gone, came back with a vengeance, possibly due to stress/worry.

When I was a little girl and I asked grandma what she wanted for Christmas, she would answer something like “All I want is a year of good health.”

At some point, mom started giving the same answer combined with pious statements like “You don’t know what a value your health is till it’s gone.”

Now, my health sucks, as it’s always sucked.  I have spent most of my life “down with something.”

My older son says that and the depressive tendencies are how Himself keeps me from taking over the world.  I think he grossly overestimates me.

But here’s the thing: since turning fifty the health is markedly worse.  Not in the “main” part of when I’m ill, but the times between.  I.e. when I’m “okay” I’m not as okay.

I’m half convinced people who stop walking/stop going upstairs, etc just have low tolerance for pain.  Because at some point, after fifty, something is going to hurt all the time.  At some point, you just make a decision to carry on, forge on, live on, and not let it limit you (which is not the same as not taking care of yourself, though I do have some attacks of that too, when I get impatient.)

After fifty if you baby yourself too much, you’re going to end up cutting off capacities.

It’s sort of the same thing with my writing.  I don’t know when it was I realized I’d never make it “big” for a given definition of “big.”  And no, I don’t know if it’s the writing, the political opinions, or the fact that I simply am very odd.  It’s probably “yes” or “all three” so that even if I fix the other two, the politics will keep me out of the big time.

Also there’s the fact that the writing success “ladder” is melting away under me as I climb.  (I swear I didn’t break it.)  Mostly traditional publishing is dying from an inability to face reality.  Senescence, you could say, just like your body when it stops healing as well, as you get older.

Now, I can’t save the writing field (not my circus, not my monkeys) or even mainstream publishers (other than Baen, who sort of isn’t, they wouldn’t touch me with a tent foot pole anyway) but I can not give up.

It’s not easy.  Knowing that there’s a limit to what you can achieve, no matter how hard you try, is like those constant pains in my knees from the auto-immune arthritis.  It holds you back.  As my friend Dave Freer says so often “you get battle fatigue.  You lose the “get up and go””

But I figure it’s like the pains in the body as it ages.  If I give in to despondency and despair, all it means is that I’ll be limiting myself, making myself small and incapable.  Sure, there are things I probably can never do.  But you know, I do believe there’s something else hereafter, and if I get there I want to be able to say “Well, it didn’t work the way You wanted it, and yeah, it’s likely my fault for being mouthy and not having a good poker face, but damn it, I tried.  I gave it my best shot.”  I don’t want to say “I knew it wouldn’t get anywhere, so I gave up.”

Because I don’t know where the writing comes from, or why I’m compelled to do it, I’ll continue doing as much as I can, through turmoil, illness and various disappointments.  Because the thing isn’t entirely under my control, and maybe there’s a reason for that.

The world, on the other hand, is safe from my taking over it.  At least while I’m completely congested.  Afterwards, we’ll see.

171 thoughts on “Turmoil

  1. I have been forcibly reminded the past three-four months that, while my mind alternates between 13 and 35, my body is a moderately high-mileage 40+ that had marginal maintainance for several decades. And that Life has a habit of sneaking up and throwing a wrench into Grand Plans, or even moderately ambitious plans. I hear the Great Author giggling in the background. I don’t like this, but I think I’m going to have to accept it for the moment.

    Athena T Cat has also been a little down recently. I think rapidly and randomly changing schedules are upsetting her.

      1. I wake up in the morning, thinking I’m at least eighty (it ain’t the years, it’s the mileage, as I’m sure somebody has already said). However, when the job is done and it’s time to come home… suddenly I’m about five years old (with a bunch of aches and pains, but eh, I haven’t been pain free in about twenty five years).

    1. Standing can make me stiff now. When I was a teen, standing for hours was only a sore foot problem.

  2. since turning fifty the health is markedly worse.

    For almost fifteen years now I’ve been telling people that “After fifty the body stops repairing, it merely patches over damage.” Of course, your body’s idea of fifty and your chronological age may vary somewhat.

    As for pain tolerance, there’s more to it than that. I’ve a surgically rebuilt knee which sometimes simply says “I Quit!” two stairs before the top. It ain’t pain (although there is that there) so much as the muscles simply say, “So far and no farther.” As stopping isn’t really an option I push through, but this is not a pain issue, it is a reps matter.

    Other than that, of course, getting on in years is just peachy.

    1. “Other than that, of course, getting on in years is just peachy.”

      Getting older sucks, but it beats the alternative!

      1. It depends on what you believe happens once you pass, I suspect.

        OTOH, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die.”

        1. Even there, you’ve got all of eternity to sample whatever the afterlife has to offer.

          The beauty and pleasure of this Earth is available for a limited time only.

          1. I suspect HE has plans for us that don’t include immediately going to party and sing Hosannas for the rest of eternity. The world as we live in it seems more like a training ground and we die when we’ve learned what’s required and it’s time for our next phase. Considering all the crude and horrible things that happen in this world, our next task is likely to be one hell of a doozey! But certainly not boring.

            1. Mark Twain CAPTAIN STORMFIELD’S VISIT TO HEAVEN: new arrivals are given a harp, a palm branch to wave, and shown to a remote couldbank where they can get the singing out of their systems without annoying the older residents…

              1. I had almost forgotten that story of Twain’s – used to be a favorite of mine in the HS and early college years.
                Mike: “The world as we live in it seems more like a training ground and we die when we’ve learned what’s required and it’s time for our next phase. ”

                I believe that is the plan.

      2. My father got a card for his sixtieth that read “Don’t worry, there are lots of things worse than turning 60.” The inside said “Get ready.”

    2. The pain I’ve lived with for years. It’s the “knee just folds without warning neener neener” that forced me to use a cane for getting about during the day.

      I wish I’d started using a cane years ago. I had no idea that just balancing put so much load on my knees, or that even a few fingers on the cane just to steady myself could make such a big difference. Of course, there are times I have both hand son it bearing my full weight while I hitch along like something that got run over by a car…

      1. About 15 or so years ago I went downstairs… and missed that last step, and landed hard. At the time, abit painful, but merely annoying, mainly. And then there was the seemingly random bits of “Knee: I just stop now. Try not to fall.” with ZERO warning. I could be walking along just fine and then “Uh, how about no?” only really fast. And thus, for a few days, I walked with a (very sturdy!) cane I’d bought as a prop… well, it worked very well as a cane, I will say. And 95 to 99 % of the time, it was just a prop… but those times it wasn’t.. it was sorely (except not sore that I felt) needed.

        I do suspect the current job, which requires a fair amount of activity, and the multi-level house which means a flight of stairs multiple times per day, is doing a lot to preserve health and ability. I do understand some folks reluctance or outright refusal to resort to a wheelchair: “If I sit down for that, I’ll be stuck there.”

        1. About 15 or so years ago I went downstairs… and missed that last step, and landed hard. At the time, abit painful, but merely annoying, mainly

          This is why, when people ask me what martial art is “good”, I say “something that teaches, and spends lots of time practicing breakfalls and rolling. Because you will probably never get in a fight but you WILL fall down.”

          The last three times I missed a step I instinctively relaxes my leading knee and tucked into a roll. Once I wound up against the book case upside down, but I didn’t get hurt.

          1. Best thing I learned from judo class in college was how to fall. Has saved my tuchus numerous times, most spectacularly when I fell off the roof of a Huey helicopter. Ended up with a skinned elbow and a bruised tuchus, but other than that fine. The QA inspector who witnessed the incident couldn’t believe his eyes. Still remarks on it 20 years later.

              1. Bouncing off the engine deck on the way down. If I’d *tried* to do it, I’da killed myself. Also, I ‘spect, if I did it now rather than two decades ago.

        2. I have a friend on the cusp of that. She’s “I need mobility sometime help but I’m afraid if I start using it even part time I’ll lose mobility faster but if I don’t use it I’ll hurt myself more often”.

          I am glad I’m on the back side of 50 and still able to wade into a mosh pit and be pretty good the next day. I don’t know how long I’ll keep going after the day I can’t.

          While not nearly the scale of “manly man” activities as he had I now understand a tiny bit Hemingway’s suicide.

        3. My aunt was in a wheel chair for around 50 years (just stopped to do the math on that.) She couldn’t avoid it… broken neck, bad enough for the wheel chair, not so bad she didn’t have some motion in her arms. There weren’t any motorized wheel chairs back then and the attitude of the therapists were ‘do as much as you can with what you have’. So she wheeled herself everywhere. Which she attributed to the fact she made it roughly 5 times as long as they thought she would, living independently for 2/3rds of it.

      2. When I was heavier, my hip did the “nope. Ain’t gonna work any more, and here is a stabbing pain just to punctuate your coming fall to the floor” bit. Hell, I was still in my thirties then. Glad that seems to have gone on an extended sabbatical.

        1. I’ve had those since pregnancy number 3. =( Pregnancy #4 gave me what seems to be permanent veinous insufficiency… in my arms, not the legs where apparently it’s more common. I have to stop every now and then to massage the veins in my wrists to get the blood back towards my heart, if I’ve been walking for a while.

      3. Another advantage of a cane is that the solid wood varieties can have a dual purpose, should the need arise. I have a couple old stockyard canes that are pretty good, and use not only when my knee is bothering me and I’ll be a way from a prop, but also to rest my back when that’s bothering me. Sometimes I can run the cane horizontally across the small of my back, lock it in the crook of my elbows, and use it as a support when standing for long periods.

        My favorite cane, though, is more of a walking stick. Actually, it’s an eye hoe handle about 5′ long. You can shift your hand along it as needed when walking, standing, or bending.

          1. Not less handy than sword AT ALL.

            Maybe (maybe) less deadly to large groups of assailants, but only if you’re *good* with a sword. Something a vanishing small number of people are these days.

            1. I suspect we can agree that a sword brings a psychological element which a cane lacks? And usually provides a better grip for combat purposes.

          2. “Cut to the hard, thrust to the soft.”

            The rubber foot on the end of the cane just keeps it from slipping away from the impact point…

        1. My cousin Ellen’s late husband was military, and they spent some of the ‘70’s stationed in San Diego. The gangs were pretty bad then, and made amhabit of mugging seniors for their ss checks, right outside the Post Office.

          Except for the PO that most of the Phillipino men used. Some of thee, had canes, the rest had rolled up newspapers, and a lot of them had served in the Phillipines resistance. The gangs tried it ONCE.

          1. I’m reminded of the thug who tried to pick the pocket of some old dude in Florida.
            Old Dude turned out to be a retired Noncom Marine.
            Twas a righteous thumping.

          2. I’ve told of an uncle, a WWII vet, who heard a gang outside his house planning to break in. He loaded his gun and called the cops, only to be told they would do nothing until they broke in. He told them to send around a pickup, then, and when the dispatcher asked why, he told them to pick up their bodies, because when they broke into his house, he was going to kill them.

            “Oh, sir; you can’t do that,” said the dispatcher.

            “:Sure I can. I did it with Japs and I can do it with them,” he said.

            The cops were at his house in just a few minutes.

              1. Each of the 50 states has its own laws. Most started with some variant of British Common Law or Napoleonic Code, where a homeowner or lawful resident was permitted to use deadly force to defend his home. This was greatly restricted as time passed, until in most places you were required to retreat and prohibited from defending yourself in any meaningful way.

                The law in most states has been changed once again, and now in most states you’re again allowed to use deadly force against an intruder. They’re commonly known as “Make My Day” or “Stand Your Ground” laws.

                The precise details, of course, vary in every state. And “the law” and “what will happen to you in court” aren’t always in agreement. But that’s law, politics, and sausage…

          3. “You don’t want to do this.” Last words heard by would-be-gangasta before the “old Jap guy” flipped him six feet into a parked car. He’d tried to mug a retired physics prof who happened to be a world-class Judo instructor who only stopped teaching when he got artificial hips.

              1. Always, always, ALWAYS be polite to old people in general.
                They didn’t get old by accident.

            1. I’ve long liked the story of the couple punks who thought to mug a seventy-year-old NY restaurateur as he was locking up late one night. They discovered that while Jack Dempsey probably could no longer go fifteen rounds with the heavyweight champion, they couldn’t go one-round with him.

  3. Of possible (cold) comfort, these quotes from Mark Helprin’s new novel, Paris in the Present Tense:

    “Once, I was animated by ambition. Not only have I failed, but part of the reason ambition has fled is that the people I had wanted to impress are dead. Though my own stature is in no way increased, their places have been taken by midgets, idiots, and mediocrities. Impressing such people, even if I could, would be worse than failure.”


    “When civilization turned a corner or two, I didn’t. So some people look back and pity me. But it isn’t that I couldn’t make the turn. I wouldn’t make the turn. I’d rather be a rock in the stream, even if submerged, than the glittering scum on the surface, desperately hurrying to be washed away.”

    1. Ambition certainly gets redefined when you realize that the folk you used to want to impress aren’t worth impressing. I’m not un-ambitious; I just know that the only people worth impressing are those I’m close to.

    2. Very nice thoughts, and although I somewhat agree with B. Durbin, because back in the day it was comforting to think about the “success stories” I could send to the Univ alumni paper, these days I want to write to encourage young people who are wondering why nobody is writing the kind of books they want to read (but some don’t know it’s what they want because they’ve never seen one..I learned this at a writing workshop where my “space opera” sample was the unanimous teen selection.)

  4. If I knew I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself in my youth. 🙂
    Of course I am not that old yet. Figure I am almost at the halfway marker. Things are getting harder to do and I have to start being more active so I don’t ossify or fossilize. Mind you the mental thinking is very fossilized in some aspects.

    1. I have a fair amount of that, but some of the eye stuff seems to be congenital. Fixable (mostly), and we’ll find out how much it helps. (They want to take a diamond burr to my cornea? Sure, after the needles and micro forceps in the other eye, why not?)

      1. I started needing glasses in my late 20’s. It’s shortening ip on both ends now, too. Well meaning, kind people have suggesed lasic, but I don’t much like risking what I have by shooting a laser into my eyes.

        1. Hubby had lasic done; he’s without glasses now. They do an assessment before recommending that you get it done, and he was told ‘if it doesn’t work, you’ll just need to keep wearing glasses, and your vision wouldn’t change.’ I miss the aesthetic, since I find men with glasses hot, but that’s the only drawback.

          1. They still haven’t gotten Lasik to the point where they can deal with my astigmatism and my nearsightedness. It’s been “in another five years” for about twenty years now.

            However, I now have 20/20 vision with my contacts (which is deeply weird), because my eyes are getting a little more farsighted with age, and that actually brings my eyes back into a skosh more normal range. And that’s good, because any more nearsighted and I would have been in legally blind territory. (Well, I probably was, but it’s not like I couldn’t get around with my glasses or contacts off, and it’s not like I was going to drive that way.)

            1. My astigmatism and my nearsightedness is why my eyes can’t been “fixed”.

              While I’ve had contacts in the past, I’ve so much “stuff” in my eyes that it bothers me when I wear contacts.

              1. I used to wear hard contacts for a while, but gave them up after I got a fleck of laundry detergent in my eye. That got my attention, and I noticed that none of the staff at the eye center wore contacts. Hmm.

                I have a condition in my corneas called (among other things) map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy. The top layer of the cornea doesn’t stay well-attached to the basement layers and it gets patchy. One of the fixes is to remove the gunky layer, reshape the cornea when necessary (I have some scarring from various accidents), and bandage with a soft, zero power contact lens. The top layer will grow back and it should be solid. With luck, my impossible-to-correct astigmatism will be gone or a lot better.

                FWIW, the non-optical symptoms of the dystrophy include watery eyes and a feeling of a foreigh object. Also, you can get adhesion between the cornea and the eyelids, making for an interesting few seconds upon awakening. (The latter is helped with a lubricant ointment. Mild cases of the dystrophy will clear up with that. No such luck for me.)

                1. Once my old boss (summer jobs in construction) asked his optometrist about contacts. His glasses tended to slide and get dusty. His optometrist told him he wouldn’t prescribe them for him because the dust would eventually work behind the contact, scaring the cornea. Some of us wore glasses and he was passing that along.

                  1. Back in the 80’s I once was helping a fellow with a race car and one day, as a friend and I walked into the shop he handed us a warning about contacts and electrical sparks (and we were going to be doing a lot of welding).
                    Seems, hard or soft, a big enough or often enough spark flash has enough energy to “microwave” the moisture out from between the eye and contact lens, welding it to the eyeball. then, when you remove the lens, it removes the cornea attached to the lens. Now, surgery will somewhat fix that for the most part, but then it was not an option.
                    He’d gotten the warning from his UPS driver, as UPS had a driver catch a large spark while out on delivery (iirc it was a high voltage line arcing when the knife switch was opened by an electrician, just as he walked past), and when he got ready for bed that night, blinded one of his eyes. That morning the drivers were given a memo about it, and that was what he copied and gave to us.

                    1. No, it was soft as well, this’d be late 80’s. I knew people who had soft at the time, but they were the newest and latest thing. iirc it was softs the driver was wearing

                    2. Oh, and I’ve gotten it in “‘elf an safe T” crap at work as both up here, and where I was in Texas has welding. But newer soft contacts have more porosity, and do it less, but in Texas the original owner didn’t allow the welders to use contacts.
                      as a side note, the worst “sunburn” I have had was actually from welding about 5 hours in a race car with only a t-shirt on.

              2. I have pigment cells embedded in my lens, and am severely nearsighted, which is why I’m not a good candidate for lasik. They’d have to take off too much material, and they’d get spot heating or ablation from the pigment cells.

            2. That’s interesting, because when I had cataract surgery last year, the implants they put in both eyes corrected for my nearsightedness and my astigmatism. I need reading glasses now, but they were even able to optimize the implants for computer work. cost 3000 more per eye (which insurance wouldn’t cover; they covered the procedure and basic implants 100%), but worth it.

            3. I’m now to the point where my range of focus is unable to deal with rifle sights. So I’m slowly adding scopes to my favorite rifles.

              Another pound or more to lug around, I could write that off as “I probably need the exercise anyway.” But I hadn’t realized that a decent scope could cost more than the rifle it was attached to.

              Excuse me, I just felt a sharp twinge from the wallet area…

              1. The downside to cataract surgery is the fact that (so far, circa 2012) the lenses are fixed focus. I’ve been wearing bifocals for years, and we optimized the right lens for distance (astigmatism correction only at distance), while the left eye is optimized for close up work. Riught eye is dominant. Haven’t used a rifle scope in a long time; need to mount a couple and give them a try.

                1. Pete, when I had mine done in Sept 2016, they offered me a choice: basic, which had one focal length; better, which for $3000 per lens would offer essentially bifocal, which allowed normal distance plus either “reading” at about a foot, or “computer” between 2 and 4 feet and reading glasses otherwise; and best, which would have mean full vision with no need for reading glasses, at somewhere north of $10 grand per lens.

                  The astigmatism correction was just part of removing the cataracts.

                  The dollar amounts were above and beyond what my insurance would cover; since I’ve always picked “platinum Maserati” (Cadillac? PFUI) level health insurance when I could get it, that meant the basic surgery was a copay of $100 per eye.

                  1. I was uninsured at the time, but the doctors and surgery center offered cash discounts. I ended up paying $5400 for basic lenses in both eyes.

                    Until Medicare kicked in, I was getting a 25% discount from the clinic/hospital for tests and treatments by paying cash. My Medicare/Medigap combination is taking care of all the copays, though travel and lodging can be an issue on eye procedures (200 mile round trip, plus hotel if necessary.)

                    My astigmatism is due to messed up corneas. We’ll see what happens.

        2. I’m not sure when I started needing glasses, but I got them in 4th grade and discovered a whole new world existed out further then my hands could reach. My mom said to dad “Maybe he can’t catch because he can’t see the ball and needs glasses.” I’m still leery of playing baseball….

          But I have a very quick reaction time if something is headed for my face.

          1. The eye-checkers at the school didn’t believe me when I said I couldn’t see the chart. They wrote me up as “wouldn’t cooperate” and back to class I went. A few months later I had an eye exam and got glasses. 5th grade. Bifocals 15 years ago, because “you are reading too much.” Said to a history grad student. Reading less was not, I repeat not, an option.

            1. I passed the early eye charts and everybody thought I didn’t need glasses until somebody noticed that I shut one eye to see the blackboard and shut the other eye to read.

              IE One eye was good for “long-distance sight” and the other eye was good for “close-distance sight”.

              At the time, I thought everybody did that. 😀

              Now, I’m very near-sighted in both eyes.

              1. I was nearsighted – practically as blind as a bat, which was the first thing that all my elementary school teachers knew about me, and so I was generally parked in the front or second row. Either the family doctor or the consulting eye-doctor advised not having me given glasses until my eyesight had totally bottomed out. Which it did, around the 7th grade. Oh, hey- glasses! There were individual leaves on all those trees! Cool!
                And so was that happy condition continued until about ten years ago.Now I need reading glasses for the close-up stuff, but can see well enough at a distance to drive without glasses,

              1. when I did my first eye test I was asked to read the smallest line I could and did almost that. I read the bottom one. Doc had to lean in to ensure I was actually right.
                Now, not happening, and I need readers. Still do better than most folks.

        3. I read last night that people who have cataract surgery live longer, if that’s any consolation. I was amazed when I had it because I had been severely near sighted all my life. People in my life got a little put out over my exclamations of glee on how far I could see clearly without glasses after the surgery.

  5. For the pedants and other ants:

    Tent Foot Pole: The pole emplaced in sandy soil to which the foot of the tent pole is secured, usually by lashing. Often ten feet long, for reasons lost to history.

    This definition brought to you by the That’s-Not-A-Typo-That’s-Just-Obscure department.

    Carry on.

  6. At 79 I quite agree with your pains after 50 points, & have rethought the old saw; Pain is natures way of telling you you hadn’t otta do that, to pain is natures way of telling us we ain’t dead yet!

    The writing compulsion; I think we all need to create one way or another, if we can make a living at it that’s really great, if not, that grates, but the creating is still necessary.

    Other than that hope you feel better and Merry Christmas!

    1. I have, at times, cracked that life (aside from anesthesia, etc.) could be define as “the ability to sense pain.”

      But then, Eddie Cantor’s character in one of his films cracked that “A wedding is funeral where you can still smell the flowers.”

  7. The world, on the other hand, is safe from my taking over it. At least while I’m completely congested.
    When I’ve got the sinus migraine (like a needle into the back of the eye), I’m less likely to take over the world than to simply write off most of its occupants in a flash of fire and wind.

    Don’t worry, I will warn everyone here before that happens. If I can see to type, of course.

      1. Just such an attempted write-off, though likely of smaller intended scope that the entire planet, is what this is for – and about bloody time if you ask me.

    1. 1. “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” “If there’s not a place to put it, it’s not really everything.”

      2. Run the world? Who wants that headache?

      3. Moo. What, you expect content?

      4. See 3.

      5. C4 *BOOM*

    2. As a joke one day in class I picked one of my quieter students as my “So when [name] takes over the world, don’t do like [historical figure] and …” [Name] latched onto the joke with both hands and now acts as if he’s really planning on taking over the world. (Everyone in the grade knows that it’s really [girl] who will take over, or try to.)

      1. I have fond/terrified moments of watching Animaniacs with Kid at the age of four. More specifically, Pinky and the Brain:

        “Mommy, what’s takeovertheworld?”

        “Being in charge of everything.”

        The gears clicked audibly. “*I* wanna takeovertheworld!!”

  8. So much of what you say here makes sense to me except my body started it’s process much earlier (41). I have walked on a broken ankle… so my pain levels are now pretty high. Also I sat down yesterday and had that epiphany that I wasn’t going to make the best-seller list for any of my writings. Apparently, stopping is not an option though.

    I had a conversation with myself (yep– I do that…) and if I stop writing, then I’ll be tormented by my nightmares because these stories need to come out somehow. Apparently writing poetry is not enough anymore. Also it gives me a purpose. If I don’t write, then I will fade away eventually. Damn… I so wanted to make my mark on the world. I didn’t realize that my permanent marker wasn’t permanent.

  9. And the important thing is.. believe in yourself.
    Nobody is apt to do that for you.
    Or only precious few.
    Even you Real folks.
    When you’re mythical, you meet a LOT of {non-, dis-} belief.

    A matter of perspective…
    “Sheer, cussed stubbornness” sounds bad.
    But give it a PR makeover and it’s “perseverance” which sounds good.

    Tradition: Rut with P.R.
    Rut: Tradition without P.R.
    Or maybe it’s just… sheer cussed stubbornness.

  10. I’m torn on whether or not I should move my sleeping to the upstairs bedroom, and not just because it means finishing the room. Some days the four steps down to get out of the house seem five too many.
    On the other hand, I aught should get more exercise, and those extra steps would be some. Then again it means getting the queen-size bed up there.

  11. y older son says that and the depressive tendencies are how Himself keeps me from taking over the world. I think he grossly overestimates me.

    I initially read that as “underestimates me” and was in complete agreement.

    Don’t sell yourself short.

  12. Not truly related, but might amuse (or horrify) with a window into my …nonstandard, shall we say?… mind.

    The word ‘turmoil’ often (less often now, but… geezerhood encroacheth or approacheth) has/has me pondering, “termite oil?!” I’ve no desire to encounter such, let alone attempt – or even contemplate – manufacture.


    “$16 for a tiny bottle of truffle oil?! I think I’ll just put up with squeaky truffles.” – heard at work.

    “Truffles still squeaky? I see truffle oil is on sale.. for.. ooh, a whole penny off.”
    “Doesn’t matter. My truffles seized up ages ago.” – Also heard at work.

  13. That said, if I had listened to my body with this latest bout of plantar facittus, it wouldn’t have taken so #$%^*& long to have gotten over it. You can push yourself further than is good. And while I have a somewhat high pain tolerance, I don’t usually claim it because there is always a pain that will stop you in your track. Always. It’s like the Old West where there’s always a faster gun. And yes, I have, on occasion, encountered that level of pain.

    What we get into is pain evaluation. What is this and what is going on and can we safely ignore it and is what we need to do worth more potential damage? And we hope we’re right.

      1. It turned out to be my shoes causing this bout of plantar faciitis. I’d only had them a couple of years, and I have inserts, but the pain hit quickly and worsened. I ended up buying a cheap work shoe and putting an insert in it. They turned out to be well made, and I bought another pair to alternate back and forth. It got better, then I put on my old shoes for some yard work. By the end of the day, I was back where I started.

        I can only assume wear in the sole or inside is the cause. I typically wear work shoes as long as I can, but not these.

        I’m required to wear steel toe work shoes. Just the other night I told my wife that I’ve worn steel toes for so long that I don’t know if I’ll be able to do without them when I eventually retire.

        1. Like the commercial says, most pairs of shoes are only good for 500 miles. (Unless you replace the soles entirely.) The good news is that you can keep the insoles!

          Also massaging your feet, and running your feet over a little ball or a tennis ball, really can help.

          1. There’s a mild stretching exercise I use. It’s actually lower impact than running my foot over a rounded object. OTOH, I tend to bear down, too, and that may have something to do with it.

            1. Wore out a pair of athletic shoes in 300 miles when I was really heavy once. Tried a resole, and it was medium horrible. When I got to a better weight, I gut orthotics (in 1991) and started to ride bike a lot.

              I was shocked by how well my feet responded to the stretching exercise. Started doing them 5 years ago when I was fitted for new orthotics. The old ones actually are still good, but slightly off in shape. After 4 to 6 weeks, the PF pain was gone entirely. I can get it to flare if I step in a squirrel hole (not much of a problem this year, but the badgers make really big holes…), but it doesn’t last. Actually, I can still use the old orthotics now, too. Makes it easier when I change footwear a lot.

              When I get the round tuit, I’ll go to the local Red Wing store and see what they have in Sasquatch sizes (14 to 15 really wide). I have a pair of their steel toed 8″ boots, but safety shoes would be nice when I don’t need ankle support. I need a lot of room in the toe box (bunions and arthritis), and I suspect RW will fit the best.

        2. I have way too many shoes and that is the reason why. I cannot find a shoe that is comfortable. I have lost the fat pads on my feet, per some docs, and I need foam inserts. I also have one artificial knee in constant pain, but some shoes make it much worse. I also have to wear a lift in the left shoe. Some shoes make both knees hurt and I am determined I will never have knee surgery again. The first one has never been free of pain. I even ordered special orthopedic shoes for my feet at one time. I absolutely could not wear them, my hip started feeling it. I give up on shoes ever being exactly right. Almost will have to do.

  14. 50? My experience and observation has been that the warranty runs out the day you turn 30, and from then on your body starts presenting you with the bill for all the stupid stuff you did in your 20’s.

    Yes, it accelerates when you hit 50.

    Pain is an old companion (not major pain, mind, nothing compared to people with real troubles). The way I see it, waking up stiff and sore is a sign that you’re,still alive.

  15. I know there were some SF writers who hoped they’d live long enough to see human colonization of space, or at the very least, a permanent moon base.

    Many of us are trying to stay in as good a shape as possible to hope that medical science and technology (rejuvenation, regeneration, and life extension technologies) can keep us going for the decades necessary for the next big jump in life span. Who knows? Too bad my name isn’t Woodrow Wilson Smith.

    Pain is our bodies telling us we’re still alive, and that something isn’t working quite the way it’s supposed to. For me, either I’ve bruised, burned, or cut myself and just have to wait for it to heal; or the aches and pains are requiring me to do warm up and stretching exercises. While I may be groaning, moaning, complaining, and sounding like a 120 db bowl of Rice Krispies when exercising, I do feel much better afterwards.

    Who’s good writer? How about someone who you will buy and read a second book they’ve written? Sarah Hoyt? Check! Who’s a great writer? Someone who you’ll go out an buy entire series or most of their bibliography to read. Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, McCaffrey, etc. all take up significant portions of my book shelves. Sarah’s would be on the shelves too, but all of hers that I have are e-books. (Is there a market for small, book-sized cardboard boxes with cover art on them to grace book shelves for those you got electronically?)

    You know, 99.999999% of humanity will never be the tops in their fields, the world renown movers and shakers. I certainly wasn’t going to be a General Patton or Marshall in the military, not the next Gates or Hopper of computer science, not a famous ethicist like Kant or Rawls. Heck, I wasn’t even going to be the most famous stone wall builder in all of New England for that matter. Yeah, and some don’t become recognized as great until after they’re dead and gone. (And no, we don’t need to subsidize writers and artists via government taxes. I read the post of MGC, let the marketplace decide who’s great or not.)

    I can’t hold millions in my head except in the abstract. I can hold individuals, and small groups where I can remember faces and names. I count my “greatness” on a daily basis of how many people I’ve been able to bring a smile to, or helped them forget their troubles for a few minutes. It’s not much, but it is what I can do.

    You’ve brought smiles to my face. Wonder at where the story and the characters are going to go. Rolled eyeballs when I could see the hole in the ground just before they step in it. Surprise when you have them do the unexpected. (Am I supposed to find mysteries to be humorous, or am I just weird?) Apprehension over whether you’re going to get them killed after I’ve been able to identify with them. Relief when they make it through the climax/crisis of the story. And a hunger for the next story you care to tell.

    Hope you and Greebo-san are feeling better soon.

    1. (Is there a market for small, book-sized cardboard boxes with cover art on them to grace book shelves for those you got electronically?)
      Yes, I think there actually is. A product, I mean. Maybe I had seen it on the Ace of Spades book thread some time past, or maybe it was here.

      1. In my youthful years of living alone, I had decorated my living room with the covers of my favorite albums. (the discs were stored in generic sleeves) There was some spectacular album art back in the day.

        That’s something we lost with the CD and jewel case. Tiny pictures, the foldouts, the extra stuff. And now people just buy MP3s and never see any art othe than maybe a thumbnail.

    2. Yeah, and some don’t become recognized as great until after they’re dead and gone. (And no, we don’t need to subsidize writers and artists via government taxes. I read the post of MGC, let the marketplace decide who’s great or not.)
      Hmmmmmm, a thought…. Maybe, the gov’t could find those suffering artists who won’t be great until they’re dead and gone, and subsidize *that*? The “dead and gone” part, that is. Maybe?

      Along these lines, which would you choose, Sarah?

  16. The last couple of months my writing has been nearly at a standstill, since the 🌳 tree fell on our house, and took out my writing space. Hopefully things will be back to normal(ish) soon.

    1. Trees are evil. I cut all of ours down and rooted out the stumps.

      The neighbors’ trees work overtime dropping leaves and sweetgum balls on my side of the fence. And I walked out once and found a huge branch had smashed the nose of my RX-7…

      1. I like trees. Firewood. Building supplies. Tool handles. Craft supplies. Nuts, fruits; bark and roots for birch beer and sarsaparilla. Maple syrup! Shade. But I manage my trees. Close enough to shade the house in the summer, not so close the roots grow into the foundation or the septic lines. A decently large chainsaw is a Godsend. The small ones have a distressing tendency to burnout quickly, and have to be replaced so often they’re actually more expensive.

  17. I did have one completely pain-free day in July of 1993 (honestly). I remember thinking/realizing at the end of the day, “this is how normal people feel all the time…” Now that I am 78, I just do what I can, smile at every stranger I meet, read as many books as I can and ignore pain as long as possible before taking the usual stuff. I can’t drink anymore (cardiac drugs would interact) but I remember alcohol was a good analgesic.

    I’m so grateful you all keep writing things for me to read to take my mind off pain (works well). Grateful for NOT having to read best sellers but keep looking for Sarah to make that list in which I case I will happily read from it. Grateful sometimes for 15 stairs which are not always welcome exercise, but probably good for me. Grateful for loving family and that husband and I are still happily together after 56 years. Early Merry Christmas to everyone.

    1. What are your favorite types of read? I come from a long line of bookworms, and have been exposed to a wide and weird variety of good stuff, dating back to the 1920’s…sometimes further. Maybe I can put you onto some primo printed analgesics.

    2. I’ve hurt every day for around thirty years now, courtesy of an accident that broke several bones, including several ribs. It’s the cartilage. Sometimes it’s bad enough that I’ll do that flexing of the chest wall thing to make sure that’s what’s going on, but usually at that stage they swell up like I’ve been stung by yellow jackets. I only take an OTC anti-inflammatory if it gets really bad. Shrug. Moderate heat seems to help, especially sunshine. When I was still recovering, I sat on a stoop in the sun and it felt so good.

      1. Chest wall. Yuck. I have ribs that are a bit loose in their sockets and frequently misalign. Chest aches, I pop the ribs back in place and the pain goes away. Drives my nursing co-workers in the hospital nuts.

  18. Sigh – I am on the far side of sixty, have a high pain threshold, and was never tempted into dangerous amusements, save perhaps doing AF aerobics runs wearing cheap Keds, which all my peers swore would eventually give me hell in the knee department … but yes, some days, I do wake up aching all over. A better mattress solved some of that. But yeah, the day that the toll of years stops me from doing stuff … that is the beginning of the slow totter to the grave.

    1. I generally wake up after four or five hours, not because I’ve had enough sleep, but because I hurt too much to lay down any more.

      I could swear that long ago, laying down was *comfortable*…

      1. Yeah, that — but usually because I have to pee. Or the dogs have to pee. Once that is done, usually good for another three or four hours. Until Larry-Bird tunes up. When I really want a good nights’ – earplugs. The soft foam kind.

        1. The only time I could sleep on my back was after the hysterectomy, when it hurt too much to sleep on my side. I was back on my side before it stopped hurting altogether.

  19. Sarah, if you stopped writing we could get a pool going on how long until you exploded from the pent-up energy. I’d put the over/under around 90 days.

    And yes, old age and decrepitude sucks. I’m a month out from cataract surgery on my left eye…and I’m 54. Right eye probably by the end of 2018. And my left knee hurts (possibly from fencing). Back hurts occasionally. Good thing I never smoked…Heaven knows what would go wrong.

    On the other hand, it beats at least one alternative.

    1. Cataract surgery is no big deal now. My wife had it done last year, outpatient. Less than an hour after we got there, we were back in the truck and headed home.

      She was 3/4 freaked out for the first eye, second eye was no problemo. I’m looking at cataract surgery sometime too.

      1. When I was a young boy, a grandmother had cataract surgery. She had stay in the hospital with a big patch on her eye and had to remain as immobile as possible.

        Decades later, my father had cataract surgery. It was done as an outpatient, with an eye patch, and a follow-up with his optometrist the next day.

        This year, my mother-in-law had cataract surgery. It was outpatient, and they put a clear plastic bubble over the eye. The optometrist inspected it the next day, and she had to wear the bubble at night for about a week, IIRC. Cataract surgery is almost minor these days.

        Something that happens after surgery is that a thin layer of skin will grow over the implant. They treat this with a quick application of a laser.

        1. A really common issue is the membrane behind the lens will cloud up. You need some of it to hold the lens in place, but not much. My left eye was done when the retina guy was working there, while the right eye has an appointment with Mr Y.A.G. Laser on Monday. It’ll take about 5 minutes to get set up, 30 seconds with the laser, and a few hours for the dilation drops to wear off. A followup in a few days (more fun planned for that, but that’s not cataract stuff).

          I did both eyes in 2012. No issues with the first eye, though I was diagnosed with AFIB for the second, 2 weeks later. (Looks like I had AFIB a long time before, but it didn’t show the first time. Go figure.) Surgery on Day 0, followup on day 1, then day 8, then a few weeks.

          As I recall, they’d like you to not drive for a couple of weeks after the procedure. OTOH, when I did the retina, I drove home the next day. Slowly, had to decompress a bubble that was placed in the eye. (4000′ elevation gain to the summit, then 800′ down.)

      2. My optomowhateverist has cautioned I will be looking at such surgery in another year or two. I told him, “just let me catch up on my reading first, doc.”

    2. Fencing. Yeah. I swap sides to exercise and drill both sides evenly. It’s supposed to drastically cut down on orthopedic problems from asymmetric development. I still can’t do a decent left-handed ballestra though. I look more like an orangutan trying to flap like a stork.

      1. Inigo Montoya: You are wonderful.
        Man in Black: Thank you; I’ve worked hard to become so.
        Inigo Montoya: I admit it, you are better than I am.
        Man in Black: Then why are you smiling?
        Inigo Montoya: Because I know something you don’t know.
        Man in Black: And what is that?
        Inigo Montoya: I am not left-handed.
        [switches sword to his other hand, and begins to fight far more successfully]
        Man in Black: You are amazing.
        Inigo Montoya: I ought to be, after 20 years.
        Man in Black: Oh, there’s something I ought to tell you.
        Inigo Montoya: Tell me.
        Man in Black: I’m not left-handed either.
        [switches his own sword to his other hand, suddenly driving Inigo back]

  20. “Now, my health sucks, as it’s always sucked. I have spent most of my life “down with something.”
    “My older son says that and the depressive tendencies are how Himself keeps me from taking over the world. I think he grossly overestimates me.”

    Here’s where I start musing (always a dangerous prospect): Would you be as tenacious as you are now, if your early life had been easier/healthier/wealthier? Or do you think you formed habits of determination and never-give-up because you HAD to?

    (The idea resonates with me because I’m convinced I’d be a total sissy if I hadn’t spent a large part of my formative years being thrown off, stomped on, and otherwise mauled by recalcitrant horses. Among other adventures.)

    1. Personally, I think if it wasn’t for my life experiences in my youth, I wouldn’t be so mentally tough. I know some other folks my age and wonder how they could be so soft and fret about the petty crap as if they were the most important things in the world, and dismiss the really important things ‘because it’s too hard.’

    2. It’s impossible to say. I know if I were healthier as a kid, I’d probably never have become a reader and then a writer. Because I liked DOING things. Being confined to bed and often prevented from having visitors on the chance I was contagious made me read. And tell myself stories.

      1. Thank goodness you were bored, weird as it sounds. A lot of people’s lives would look very different if you weren’t willing or able to tell stories to us.

  21. So, i’ve been in constant knee and leg pain since 1990, its only been a grade of ‘how much’. Pushing it and doing things like a normal person for a couple days, like going to con or trade show, usually rewards me with extra pain and swollen knees for several days. I was prescribed to walk with a cane 10 days before i turned 21 and still only use it when i really really need it. I avoid stairs whenever possible. ( and had to repeatedly explain to other students at my film school that they couldn’t just block access to the elevator while filming, they had to let people through, and that violating that in the real world would get their production fined around $25,000)

    That said, we’ve got a whole generation of seniors now, who were joggers in the 80s, and now have really really bad knees to show for it. Don’t jog, folks… walk, power walk, or run.

  22. I’m noticing arthritis in several finger joints, rather like my mother’s. This is not good for a writer.

    Yeah, I’ve gotten the picture I’m never going to be a bestseller either. But I just remind myself of Raganathan’s second and third laws of librarianship: “every book its reader” and “every reader his book.”

    So I’ll just write the best d*mn book I know how to and hope that somewhere, somehow, it’ll be someone’s golden book that changes everything.

    1. They just did a study that said broccoli, cauliflower, and so forth (cruciferous vegetables) are good for joint pain. Personally I think you should hold out for cherries preserved in vodka, but….

      1. It is my understanding that the best solution to the problem of joint pain is to switch to a bong, although some recommend a hookah.

          1. My understanding is, it’s only really a problem if you’re next to Big Ben. Big Ben has Big Bongs. (Entering my subterranean shelter now…)

    2. Arthritis has a habit of showing up where you’ve had a bone injury. In the aforementioned accident, I had a shattered/crushed thumb (didn’t think it was broken and tried it, and it bent between the knuckles and hurt like the dickens). Now I have arthritis in the joint in the base of that thumb. It doesn’t bother me much – yet.

      For a time, one of those grip exercisers seemed to help. Need to try it again.

      1. My doctor thought I had gout in the big toes. Came up dry in the search for uric acid crystals, so we did the Xray. Oops, osteoarthritis. Not sure which foolish things I did triggered it in the toes, but the hands came by it honestly. I built a potters wheel shortly before figuring out it was a Really Bad Idea. The owner of the pottery supply store I went to had crippling arthritis in his hands…

        1. I…really hope that is not the issue in my right big toe, though I suspect it is. Often painful, downright debilitating sometimes when i’m driving.

  23. I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement ; battered by the winds and broken in on by the storms, and, from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair.
    John Quincy Adams

  24. When my mom was about your age she went through a several years straight when she was in daily physical pain. But she got past it. I hope the same will be true for you. The yard ape and I are praying for you.

  25. I turned 81 in October. I have been in pain since I was about 36. At that time I was told by my doctor to not stop moving or I would freeze up. I’m sure he was right. I have now slowed down, but my husband keeps telling me I’m doing too much. I probably am, but that is the only way I can live. I know I cannot garden, but I can have pot plants. I know if I want my house clean, I may have to be the one to do it. Small parts at a time.
    My message is don’t stop moving. Don’t hurt a joint by doing too much, but keep it moving.

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