Weekly Update, 4/9/2018 to 4/15/2018

Brief Update

Not really feeling this sudden return to winter. I woke up this morning — APRIL SIXTEENTH — to a couple of inches of slush on the ground, and that was not okay.

Had a busy and productive week, followed by a mostly unproductive weekend. I am basically packed for Shadowvale next weekend, however, which is a lot of anxiety off my mind.

The video card in my desktop computer died suddenly this weekend (it was a GTX 970). I have a new GTX 1060 wending its way to me, only slightly ridiculously overpriced (thanks, Bitcoin miners), but paid for entirely with Amazon rewards points, so I can’t complain too much.

In the meantime Matt slotted in my old GTX 480. It’s a seven-year old video card, so I won’t be playing my heavily modded Skyrim game with it, but it runs WoW beautifully (thanks to the engine being old as dirt). Might be ready for another role reversal raid this evening…

It was a good week for finishing books, though! Crooked Kingdom ended in an A+++ satisfying way, and I hope to write a proper review of the Six of Crows duology soon. For now it’s enough to say that I think I liked this book better than the first one, and that I keep going back to the Goodreads quote page to remind myself of the sometimes silly, sometimes profound things my favorite fragile-yet-criminal-mastermind teenagers have said.

I also finished The Tombs of Atuan this week, which I’ve had on my shelves since I was a kid, but had never managed to finish until now. It’s kind of a jarring surprise, if you’re coming straight from A Wizard of Earthsea — our pal Ged doesn’t show up until halfway through the book, and otherwise we spend a lot of time doing ordinary dark priestess stuff with Arha/Tenar. Going in with that knowledge, I didn’t mind so much; in fact I was fascinated by how Le Guin manages to show intense emotions with a fairly distant POV (at least by today’s standards of YA narration).

I’ve moved on to The Farthest Shore as my print book of the moment, and The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe as my next audiobook. The latter is a real treat for someone like me, who’s read and re-read Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle stories, as almost every proper name is a reference to something. I’m also enjoying it as an exploration of aging, which is a facet I wasn’t expecting.

I watched some more Versailles this week, but I’ve reached the point I reach in a lot of trashy semi-historical dramatic series, where my ability to stop noticing all the ahistorical details is worn down. I really don’t like the entire plot about Clermont; she’s not a real historical figure, her motivations are shallow and pasted on, and I don’t believe she could outsmart the people she outsmarts.


Women Aren’t Nags — We’re Just Fed Up. I feel that Matt and I have a pretty good division of emotional as well as physical labor in our house, but there are still areas where I feel the frustration and decision fatigue the author talks about.

I’m not just doing it for the likes: does writing mean anything if no one sees it? Shared with me by Dave*, who understands I have some investment in this question! I liked this quote in particular, regarding why writers write:

In our faintly remaining hearts, though, we know it is because we are deeply emotionally wounded and want nothing more than to re-create a simulacrum of what it’s supposed to mean to have a successful life (i.e. one enriched by meaningful relationships), a normal interaction with those around us. And, to boot, we want to be acknowledged for the genius of our ability to so accurately present that simulacrum–one that we ourselves will never get to participate in as a result of some defunct emotional mechanism within our husk.

I’m not sure I agree with this assertion, that you have to be wounded to write, but I’m not sure I disagree, either.


– Read Frugal Living for Dummies by Deborah Taylor-Hough
– Read Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo
– Read The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. Le Guin

– Wrote 1875 words on new Lioness beginning
– Wrote blog post, “Quitting raiding and not quitting raiding”

Other Media
– Watched episodes 3-7 of Versailles
– Listened to Writing Excuses 13.5
– Listened to Happier with Gretchen Rubin #162

– Dinner and writing with Phoebe at Panera in Waltham

– ~30min walk x 2
– Freeform walk/run (1.5mi in 24:04; ZR app crashed on me)
– 10 x jackknives
– Zombies Run S2E12 (2.26mi in 36:46)
– Boffer sparring with Matt
– Had a therapy appointment
– Had a massage

Rejection Log

– Factor Four, 10-day form R for “Mirrors”

Weekly Update, 4/2/2018 to 4/8/2018

Brief Update

I celebrated my 38th birthday on Friday — mostly by remembering how much it sucks to get drunk after age 35. I still feel kind of awful after my happy hour tour of West Hartford, two days later — although “hungover” feels a lot like “ennui” at this age.

It should tell you how crappy I was feeling that I visited a famous used bookstore with acres full of books, and didn’t buy a single thing.

Also, the wildest thing I did in my old age drunkenness was read fanfic for a series I haven’t finished, and thus spoiled myself on the ending of Crooked Kingdom. Ah well. I’ve since listened some of the scenes that were spoiled for me, and they were still amazing.

Although, massive props to EB, who not only dealt with my drunk ass, but gave me an amazing birthday trip nonetheless — including books, Victorian death rooms (part of the That’s Weird exhibit we went to), goats, brunch, and rich people’s manors. Her big gift to me was a copy of Millay’s The Princess Marries the Page, a play she wrote at Vassar. I look forward to reading it, as I’ve never actually read any of her plays.


Matt Sachs brought this amazing thread about Buckingham and Charles I’s Excellent Adventure (in wooing the Spanish infanta) to my attention. I knew about some of this, but the DETAILS, man. Trying to pay a ferryman with a gold coin. Bribing small boys. Philosophical conversations about goats. Historical daddy kink. Pretty much the genesis for the diamond studs plot of The Three Musketeers.

All I have to say to this is MY SWEET BOYS.


– Wrote blog post: “The only person in the world who loves books”
– Wrote 411 words/worked ~1h on Lioness
– Entered a bunch of old poems on paper into a Word doc

Other Media
– Listened to By the Book “Season 2 Wrap-up”
– Listened to Writing Excuses 13.1-13.4
– Watched episodes 1-2 of Versailles

– Did a Zombies Run supply mission (1.44mi in 25:46)
– Did Zombies Run S2E11 (2.26mi in 38:19)
– Did Zombies Run S2E12 (1.85mi in 29:12)
– Decided on a therapist to see long-term

– Celebrated my birthday at the Melting Pot in Framingham, MA
– Visited EB in Hartford, CT, and:

  • Did a tour of the That’s Weird exhibit at the Connecticut Historical Society
  • Saw the tavern signs collection at CHS
  • Did happy hour in West Hartford
  • Visited the Book Barn in Niantic, CT
  • Had brunch at the White Horse Tavern in Newport, RI
  • Toured Chateau-sur-Mer in Newport
  • Visited the Common Burying Ground in Newport, and saw the graves of Ida Lewis (famous lighthouse keeper) and Ann Franklin Smith (early 19th century journalist)
  • Saw the grave of Mercy Brown, supposed vampire (not, as I kept saying to annoy EB, “Mercy Brown, vampire slayer.” Truly, history is written by the vampires slayers, not the vampires).

Picture of the Week

I didn’t take many pictures of my weekend adventures (see: ennui), but this one stands out.


Weekly Update, 3/19/2018 to 3/25/2018

Brief Update

I still exist! I have been keeping away from social media because, quite frankly, it’s depressing. If you want to find me, well, you know how.

I finished two books this week. Six of Crows ended on a far more unresolved note than I was expecting; thus I’ve gone straight on ahead to Crooked Kingdom. I had some minor quibbles with the first book — some things which did not make sense, or stretched credulity (for example, who are these random Shu who attacked Wylan and Jesper and were never mentioned before or after? Is climbing six stories up an incinerator shaft really the best time for Inej to decide to take up piracy?) But overall it was very, very good, and that last conversation on the boat between Inej and Kaz was basically perfect. Broken fictional teenagers, I guess, are my bailiwick.

As for Savage Beauty… well, I have complex feelings on it, which keep not resolving into a post. Suffice it to say, it was quite good, but did not satiate my (possibly insatiable) appetite for Millay trivia.

Given the recent passing of Ursula K. Le Guin, I decided to (re)read the Earthsea series. I first read A Wizard of Earthsea maaaaany years ago, when I was thirteen or so, but never was able to get into the second book. Mostly my memories of the first book are haunting — mental images of a wide sea and endless running from shadows. This time around I’m taking the time to enjoy the poetry of Le Guin’s writing — her use of consonance, or how she varies the length of sentences, for example.

(Also, I’m totally imagining Ged’s furry friend, the otak, as looking something like a porg).

This month in the habitat project is the kitchen. We attempted to DIY the leaky kitchen faucet and the broken over-the-range microwave, both of which have been issues since we moved in. It, uh, did not go well. We couldn’t get the water turned off to even start on the faucet; likely there’s too much sediment in the pipes to close fully. The microwave, we attempted to at least get off the wall to see what the venting situation was, but after taking out the three ginormous bolts holding it to the cabinet, we weren’t able to find the last place it was attached. At that point I decided our time was worth more than this, and found a local handyman to come in and fix both issues.

We also ordered a coffee table for our living room (which has been without one since forever), although we’ve decided to hold off on buying a sectional for a while. (The process of trying to select one was thoroughly exhausting!)

After reading this depressing article about what it’s like to live without retirement savings, I’ve become motivated anew to work on my finances and live more frugally. (Some of you may recall I used to have a blog on this topic). I’m finding it challenging to balance this new imperative with the goal of making my house more habitable. I try to remind myself that my spending is in line with my goals, and that having a more comfortable house will make me more eager to spend time here, reducing costs overall. (As well as adding to the value of the house itself).

(Also, don’t worry too much about me — I’ve been saving for retirement since day one of my working life, and I already have a fair amount socked away. But a recent trip through a retirement calculator left me short of where I would want to be, so improving my savings rate is on my mind. Right now the big change I am trying is bringing my lunch more often. Saving $7, 2-3 times a week, really adds up with time).

Finally, I’m getting off my duff and looking for a new therapist. I haven’t had one for three years, but it’s becoming clear that my alternative is just dumping my problems on my friends, which is really not good for anyone concerned. I have intakes coming up with a couple that I’m auditioning.


– Worked ~45m/wrote 790 words on new beginning for Lioness

– Read Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
– Read Savage Beauty, the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, by Nancy Milford

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “The Nuts and Bolts of Boltzmann Brains”
– Listened to By the Book, “The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck and Guidebook”
– Listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class, “The Easter Rising of 1916”, “The Daring Imposter Cassie Chadwick”, “The Minuscule Science of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek”, “The Luddites”, “Giorgio Vasari”
– Watched Take Your Pills, a Netflix original documentary about ADHD meds
– Finally was able to correctly identify all countries on a map! Yes, even you, Niue, you devious little island nation.

– Zombies Run supply run, 1.72mi in 31:06
– Zombies Run supply run, 1.75mi in 30:12
– 1.4mi walk
– 2.6mi walk
– Set up intakes with two separate therapists

– Acquired a new over-the-range microwave, and kitchen faucet
– Hired a handyman to replace microwave and faucet
– Purchased a new coffee table for the living room
– Vacuumed upstairs and down
– Washed sheets

(Bi-)Weekly Update 2/19/2018 to 3/4/2018

Brief Update

Intercon R has come and go — along with all the fuss that goes with it! Luckily it was a pretty low-stress Intercon, all told, and I made do with costuming I already had.

So really what I’m saying is I have no excuse for doing no writing or exercise that week 😉

All my games turned out to be successes, too, and it has filled me with floon, especially for theater-style games — there was definitely a moment of “oh right, larping doesn’t have to involve running around in the mud and sleeping in cabins.” I am considering getting back to some of my larp writing projects, and I’ve already asked the author of Bloody Slippers if I can run it at Consequences.


– Took a ~2.5mi walk
– Did Zombies Run 5K Training week 4, workout 3 (no mileage/time because I was an idiot who forgot to stop the run when I was done)
– Did ZR5K week 5, workout 1 (2.86mi in 53:41)

Habitat – March is the month of kitchen tasks!
– Organized cat paperwork
– Cleaned out spice cabinet
– Glued foot back on cutting board

– Attended Intercon R in Warwick, RI
– Played in three games at Intercon: Bloody Slippers, A Winter’s Ball, and Owl’s Hollow
– Met EB for dinner and worked on the train game for ~2 hours

– Visited Revival Brewing Company in Cranston, RI with EB et al and sampled their beers
– Had dinner with Katie and Jerry

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class, “SYMHC Classics: Villisca Ax Murders”, “Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas”
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Anchor in the Mind”, “Animal Lies: Six Tales of Mimicry and Deceit”, “Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor”, “First Messenger from an Alien Star, ” “Baby Jesus and Homunculus”, “The Great Eyeball War”, parts 1 and 2, “From the Vault: Aphantasia,” “Talos: the Bronze Automaton”
– Listened to The Training Dummies #199

Rejection Log

– 44-day personal rejection from Beneath Ceaseless Skies for “Mirrors”

Picture of the Week

My bedazzled Winter’s Ball character, Yekaterina Alekseyevna, soon to be known as Catherine the Great. As someone told me, “You look extra. In all the best senses of the term.”

Weekly Update, 2/12/2018 to 2/18/2018

Brief Update

February can be a bleak month. It’s definitely been a roller coaster ride for me, emotionally.

I am reading some great books, though. In addition to the ones that have already come up in my Accomplishments, I’m working my way through Savage Beauty, Nancy Milford’s biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay. (Who happens to be one of my favorite poets. Yes, I’m the kind of person who has multiple favorite poets, not just one). I’m utterly fascinated by the similarities in the development of a writer — I identify strongly with some of her feelings and behavior.

I’m also reading (listening to) Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, which I have been posting about on Facebook. It’s so good. I’m a bit iffy on the seven narrators in the audiobook version, but it’s growing on me.

I’m re-reading Word Work, by Bruce Holland Rogers, a book about writing I bought and read many years ago — I have distinct memories of reading it while sitting in the spare bedroom of my Haverhill apartment. I remember precisely none of the actual content, however, so it’s been a great rediscovery. I especially have enjoyed his essays on dreams, which have inspired me to start keeping a dream journal.

In my habitat project, February is devoted to the living room and the downstairs bathroom. I haven’t had a lot of free weekends, but I’ve been tackling it when I can. I went shopping for some new living room furniture this past weekend, but didn’t end up selecting anything — it kind of turned into a decision paralysis situation.

Also, I’ve started logging habitat related stuff here, so get used to seeing boring entries like “washed the shower curtain.”

Finally, I managed to save the day at work this week — by catching an odd bug before it went into production, and ultimately fixing it — so that’s pretty neat.


Minimalism Is Just Another Boring Product Wealthy People Can Buy. I used to be heavily invested in minimalism, but I soured on it after a while. This is part of why.

(Also, as I discovered, there’s a flaw in the “buy fewer high quality things that last longer” logic. That “last longer” part, while implied, is frequently not delivered. A personal example for me is clothing. It does me no good to buy an expensive capsule wardrobe or “essentials” when I know my unnaturally-pointy elbows will destroy all the shirts, I’ll spill pasta sauce on the pants, and/or I’ll be too fat/too thin to wear it all a year from now. Might as well just buy cheaply…)


– 2h 40m work on Lioness
– Wrote a poem for my character in Bloody Slippers to perform
– Wrote blog post The Year of Habitat: the detailed plan

– Read Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
– Read “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™”, by Rebecca Roanhorse, in Apex #99

Other Media
– Listened to Happier with Gretchen Rubin, episodes #152 and 156
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “The Nine Dream Worlds of Frederik van Eeden”, “Conjoined Dreamers”, and “From the Vault: Dune Biology”
– Did Ulduar timewalking in WoW with Terbodhna

– 17m on exercise bike/15min ZR supply run
– 2 x Did Hacker’s Diet introductory fitness ladder, rung 1
– Did Zombies Run 5K training, week 4 workout 1 (2.93mi in 51:24)
– ZR5K, week 4 workout 2 (2.75mi in 48:33)

– Washed rags, towels, and shower curtain
– Cleaned out the downstairs bathroom cabinet under the sink
– Did a 45/15 on the living room
– Vacuumed upstairs
– Broke down cardboard for recycling
– Cleaned the shower
– Went shopping for new living room furniture

Picture of the Week

Some fabric samples for a sectional, on top of a coffee table we were considering.

Weekly Update, 1/22/2018 to 1/28/2018

This has been a week of ups and downs. I hit bottom on Wednesday, feeling overwhelmed with the stress of life, and in particular worries about writing. Thankfully I have amazing friends who helped to lift me out of that bad place, and by the end of the week I was back to work on Lioness, writing what is functionally a new beginning for the novel, to address some of the bigger structural and character concerns that were stymying me.

Also this week I visited Newport, RI with EB, which hit a sweet spot of gravestones and gilded age glory.

I have mostly closed out the month of January in my year of habitat, which was devoted to improving my master bedroom. I managed to finally put away Christmas decorations, clean out the loft, get rid of a lot of junk, hang curtains, and put down a rug. More remains to be done, but it is already way more comfortable and habitable than it was.


– Brainstormed a “mini-mission” for a new beginning to Lioness
– Worked 1h 30m on this mini-mission

Other Media
– Listened to The Training Dummies, episode 183
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “Meditation Lab: Empathy and Energy”

– Bought a new rug for the bedroom

– Had sushi with EB at Jasmine in Auburn
– Visited Newport, RI with EB, where I:

  • Had lunch at local chain Walt’s Roast Beef
  • Toured The Breakers, the famous Vanderbilt “cottage”
  • Visited the Irish lot, a private family graveyard with mysterious holes through the tombstones
  • Visited the Ragged Island Brewery and sampled their collection of beers
  • Looked in vain for the grave of Pookie, a dog that belonged to Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
  • Had dinner at Benjamin’s in downtown Newport

– Free run/walk (1.63mi in 30m; thanks, ZR5K, for crashing repeatedly and making this necessary)
– 10 min on stationary bike
– Did Zombies Run 5K Training week 2 workout 1 (1.75mi in 34:47)
– Did ZR5K week 2 workout 2 (1.87mi in 33:47)

Picture of the Week

New rug. Cat not included in the price.

Weekly Update, 1/8/2018 to 1/21/2018

Brief Update

I’m grouping two weeks together here. While I was pretty productive on the habitat project in the first week (I’m currently working on my master bedroom), in the second week I wanted to nothing more than sleep and play vidya games.

Hey Lise; stop pushing yourself to exhaustion and then wondering why you feel sluggish for a week.

Last week too I was struggling with distraction, so I did what I should always do when terminally distracted: deleted social media apps from my phone. It seems to have helped a bit.

I am starting to get a quorum of responses back on Lioness, so I’m going to have to stop vamping and get back to editing that soon.


– Entered some notes into my idea file about potential next novel projects
– Did a free write on one of my potential novel ideas
– Wrote blog post “My thoughts on the leveling changes in WoW 7.3.5”

Other Media
– Listened to Writing Excuses 12.40-12.41
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “From the Vault: The Forer Effect”, “Where’s my Eternal Youth?” parts 1 and 2
– Listened to By the Book, “The Miracle Morning”
– Listened to By the Book, “Why Good Things Happen to Good People”
– Played San-Ni-Ichi, Joking Hazard, and Channel A

– Met EB for dinner and LARP work at Panera in Framingham
– Dinner with Nat and the Oberons at Bistro781 in Waltham
– Attended Mel’s birthday party

– Cleaned out the bedroom loft
– Finally hung curtains in the master bedroom!
– Purged three big boxes full of stuff (mostly clothes and some stuffed animals)

– Zombies Run 5K training week 1 workout 1
– Zombies Run 5K training week 1 workout 2
– Had a massage

Rejection Log

– 9-day form for “Granny Hubbard” from Factor Four

Picture of the Week

An almost empty loft!

Weekly Update, 1/1/2018 to 1/7/2018


I’ve decided to relabel these thingers as a “weekly update,” since they have expanded from just links and accomplishments to include my short story rejection log, sometimes a picture of the week, and sometimes a brief update. If nothing else it gives me an excuse to post something regularly, which I’m not always good about doing.

Also we’re doing these things Monday – Sunday now, since weekend-long larp events made the Sat/Sun divide tricky.

Brief Update

Mental health seems to be holding steady, despite the winter doldrums.

I have Lioness out to a few beta readers at the moment, and a few stories on submission. I need to figure out what writing project to work on next.

I’m still planning out my Year of Habitat. This weekend I spent a lot of time cleaning the bedroom, putting aside a bunch of stuff to get rid of.

I got so out of shape over the holidays — mostly just from being away from the office gym — that I decided to redo the Zombies Run 5k training program from the beginning. Of course then we got 8-10 inches of snow and my plans were foiled by being stuck indoors Thurs-Fri. So if your question is “Are you still running?” (hi, Dad), the answer is: yes, intermittently.

I highly recommend the book I just read (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee) if you have any interest in queer YA historical romance (with a bi protagonist!) I had some quibbles with the plot and pacing, but the emotional arc was heart-rending and lovely.

I’ve been playing with tarot as narrative therapy again, and I just ordered the least woo-woo book about tarot I could find on Amazon. Looking forward to reading it…


“Why Am I So Lazy?”, on Ask Polly. This resonated SO MUCH with me, both in the letter writer’s description (“When I finally do get down to business, I consider myself to be fairly hardworking, if only for the shortest amount of time possible”), and Polly/Havrilesky’s response (“But I do want you to notice how deeply and profoundly you’ve made messiness and procrastination part of your identity”, or “You are a fearful, avoidant person because you’re a little bit anxious about the world and the other people in it”).


– Wrote blog post, “2017 Retrospective/2018 Resolutions”
– Submitted “The Mirrors of Her Eyes” to Fantasy & Science Fiction
– Submitted “Mirrors” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies
– Submitted “Granny Hubbard vs. the Giant Slime” to Factor Four
– Made some notes on further edits I want to make to Lioness
– Edited “Pinions,” the last of my FSOTU stories. I’m still not sure it’s doing what I need it to do, but I’ll let it breathe for a while before deciding that.

– Read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee

Other Media
– Listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class, “Edward Gorey” and “SYMHC Classics: A Conspiracy Starring Aaron Burr”
– Listened to Stuff to Blow Your Mind, “The Winter People,” parts 1 and 2
– Watched Dark and Stormy Night, a spoof of Dark House-type movies from the creators of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

– (Weds) ZR 5K training week 0
– (Weds) 10 x alternate heel touchers, 10 x dead bugs, 10 x jackknives

Rejection Log

– 1-day personal for “Mirrors” from F&SF

Accomplishments, 12/25/2017 to 12/31/2017

– Did oodles of hours of editing on Lioness, and finally completed structural edits!
– Sent Lioness to my beta readers

– Read “Fade to White,” by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld Year Six)
– Read “Astrophilia,” by Carrie Vaughn (Clarkesworld Year Six)
– Read “If the Mountain Comes,” by An Owomoyela (Clarkesworld Year Six)

Other Media
– Got my druid Wodehouse to 110 in WoW! *confetti*
– Listened to The Training Dummies, episodes 174, 182, 189, and 190

– Visited my mom in Plattsburgh, NY
– Attended the Mangios’ New Year’s Eve party

Accomplishments, 12/18/2017 to 12/24/2017

– Worked on Lioness edits ~30m

– Read Life in a Medieval Village, by Frances Gies
– Read “All the Things the Moon is Not,” by Alexander Lumans (Clarkesworld Year Six)

Other Media
– Listened to Happier with Gretchen Rubin, episodes 146-148
– Listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class, “Esther Cox and the Great Amherst Mystery”

– Did Zombies Run! S2E7 (2.12mi in 39:36)