Talk Like an Open Book: My Walker

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention Attendance, Health, Too Long For Twitter, Whining

I planned to post this two and a half months ago. I wanted to post it before Balticon for friends that would see it in our room, as warning of sorts. I know my haircut seemed rash for some reason, after years of talking about cutting it all off. Here’s some warning on this one for future visitors to #TheSeuss (our silly nickname for our home.)

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My General Practitioner prescribed something last winter(? Spring?) that I am only now finally coming to terms with enough to post publicly — a walker. Even after the daily struggles that I described for basic self-care, let alone toning and cardio and strengthening exercise, the determination somehow still felt like an accusation and led to a variety of ridiculous thoughts. I joke about living a #VealLife, but denied the need for a walker, in spite of:

  • Using a cane/sturdy parasol for years. They either compensate for dizziness; strength; pain management; removing cob webs from my sometimes slow moving brain; and hooking stuff to pull toward me when necessities are slightly out of reach.
  • Using braces and wraps for a decade. The trigger for their use was over a decade ago and, really, it took a particularly long time to recover from a sprained ankle while dizzy on stairs in December of 2012. I’m now also alternating compression gloves (also a gift from Heather, they help so much!) and various braces to help with hand joint pain (the pain is similar to broken bones, at its worst) and carpal tunnel. They are necessary for any keyboard work, chores or for holding our sweet Little Bear.
  • For years now, when traveling on public transportation, I have been using all the disabled services available. I feel I’m entitled to since I’m also traveling with my handicap placard. Whether it’s seating on a bus or a requesting a waiting wheelchair after getting off of a plane after hours of my joints stiffening at high altitude (a particularly nasty combo). I’ve literally gone from running in 5k’s and training for a half-marathon in 2011, to now simply hoping to survive the luxury of travel beyond a 3 hour radius. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post.)
  • My refusal of scooters as an option to the extent that I have long told loved ones that if they ever saw me in a scooter that they have to knock me out out of it and make me wrestle my way back onto it, to stay strong. Meaning, I could use it, but only when I HAD to. And I had to be ready to demonstrate that I hadn’t given up the fight, not yet. And if I had given up, it would remind me that there still is a fight to be had, every day.

But… a walker?

My heart sank, as it felt a bit like going backwards so many more steps than having to stop running and then regular cardio exercise. But she explained that it would make me more able to move around with the further stability for my continual dizziness as well as balanced support for my lower body. For years now, I am continually switching sides because of the flare up cause by stress on one side or the other, for using the cane. It would lead to more movement, knowing I was supported no matter which symptom had me debilitated, or chose to hit me while crossing a room.

Reminder: None of my illness/conditions are degenerative or terminal. And I only really remember telling a handful of trusted friends, venting fear of what it might be signalling – the next phase in body FAIL. I was already lost in the maze of options of which type would be perfect for me and was frustrated and venting to Heather, an extremely supportive friend, who literally jumped in at offering not only moral support but … a brand new walker. It was one of my first conversations and I was griping and whining, I don’t want to use one and I can’t afford one anyways and making all the excuses possible not to sink to that use.

Heather said that there was an unused walker, a basic one with the tags still on it and everything, back at her home for a family member that ended up not needing it and they’d just never gotten rid of it. Knowing that the lower end was $50+ after a previous Amazon session, I gratefully accepted the gift after the briefest of hesitations. It happened so fast and was so generous, that it made me accept the need and begin using it. In hindsight, I guess I was ready to use one before I knew it.

Boosters at the ready.

I set it up in our bedroom and then didn’t touch it for months. I had to stare it down and get used it, and to measure if I thought it would help move more.

Then, I spontaneously put it next to the bed one night last fall after laying in morning “stores” (breakfast, drink, pills, cane), in the hopes that maybe the first and most painful steps of the day would have me, at least, better supported than the cane gave with the joint pain I had. I just dove in and didn’t think about what it meant.

It was the difference between crawling to the bathroom and walking, granting much peace. Yup, crawling. It’s that bad and you should know that about me. This is me, now and I use it throughout the day in our bedroom.

In the months since then, it’s been a great relief to have it, next to my bed, every morning. I haven’t left the top floor of our home with one, yet. I only recently have allowed myself to assess and decide I need to pass that milestone, too, which means getting a 2nd one for the main floor. It’s where much of my Daughter and Grandson spend the daytime hours and where I’m of my most use as a human baby monitor, when I’m able.

And as a few very kind people know, I had it at Balticon. There are some folks that kept its presence private and secret, after I voiced my embarrassment, or didn’t have to, and they have my thanks for their discretion. It did make the difference to me getting out of the room or having any productivity in our room when I wasn’t able to leave it.

The following week, I asked my Rheumatologist about the weight of it and differences, after she was so happy to hear my motion has indeed increased with the use of the walker in the bedroom. She agreed that I need something lighter because of my Fibromyalgia “hot spots” for the main level of the house making it more of a challenge to use. And because on days I’ll need it, I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to get the one I have downstairs without aid and I’m shopping for a wheeled option for downstairs. Sexy, I know, but better to know before you visit.

Our oldest son and wife are living with us, and they and my husband are kind to me and I haven’t had to make that move, yet. For that, I’m exceedingly grateful (although not nearly good enough at showing it), because it also allows me to “watch” Little Bear from the comfortable nest of my bed/desk/dining table/sofa in our bedroom. Chooch or Gal are always on the same floor with me, so if any needs arise that I can’t cover still have him safe, but they are free to roam.

I’m the baby monitor, when I’m able to be one, watching him while he sleeps if nothing else. Lifting him, now at 13.3 pounds and two months old, is a painful struggle, but the Baby Bjorn helps, although rarely after getting him in it with assistance. Otherwise, I only carry him a few feet at a time and never on the stairs. Ever. I’m terrible on the stairs now.

Now, as was offered by a dear friend for my cane when I first got it years ago, I could dress my walker(s) up and make it snazzy, but I’ve decided I like the medical/functional appearance of it. It’s a constant reminder that it’s not an accessory, it’s a tool to strengthen my body, and to be used only as needed, not to the extent of my tendency recently towards laziness from fatigue.

I use my current, hefty and solid gifted walker next to my bed, for stretching and light exercise, balance and strength boosting, as little as it is. It’s not as much as other friends have/are doing in the aftermath since brother-from-another-mother P.G. Holydfield’s passing last August. But I’m still fighting where I can, damn it. I have realistic goals that I aspire to so I can make them and feel empowered to aspire to more. That’s my process.

And with all the added stress of moving in difficult times, weight gain has hit this Future Fat Granny. I’m doing ok with little changes and minimizing calories and increasing nutrition in my sustenance (smoothies for TMJ relief). But motion is still so painful that my vascular is not as cardio as it once was. Or whatever.

I’ve got goals for this year, and I need to lose some of the grief and uber nesting weight gain and get as strong as many of my friends are getting, as my body allows. There won’t be a race, but there will be health improvement.

Okay, so, yes, I actually have challenged a few folks to a race to age 100, including my former M-i-L on my Son’s wedding day. She has a lead on me, which she pointed out, and I told her something along the lines of hoping I was there to celebrate it with her. Sincerely. She’s a wonderful grandmother to my sons and I’m so grateful for that.

April 7, 2015

Rushed hospital photos by professional photog. Epic cuteness, and here’s my fave with us.

The health goals are there, and post-Balticon 2015, with the last memorial we have promised to throw for our P.G. is done. So many planned things were not done, but that was because I aimed too high. Those things are stashed away in the hopes we (SpecFicMedia.com) get to throw next year’s New Media Party.

Lookit, with multiple setbacks, thanks to the chaos of our rental home and such, I didn’t go as strong into grand-parenting as I’d hoped. But I can get moving a lot easier with the walker, and once I’m in motion, I keep going until I can’t anymore. Which is, admittedly, not very far, but as satisfying as I can get for now, newly dedicated to enlarge my route beyond the bedroom, first floor and home.

The walker has improved my motion to be less of a burden, and so my new friend stays so that I can try and keep up with all the wonder and surprise that the future holds.

 

 

Dragon*Con 2014

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Friends, Too Long For Twitter

Note: There were so many tears, hugs and things happened that the trip is a haze, other than overwhelming and unending kindness, that I am literally relying on photos, as is true for all of August and most of September. I’m trying to make my way through it, so bear with me as I will be editing as I am better able to fill in my timeline.

The Original Plan

Earlier this year, after Chooch, P.G. and I decided again against attending Dragon*Con this year and planned instead to spend a frugal and fun weekend together again, and planned for all (as possible) future Labor Day weekends, whether we could swing Dragon*Con or not. Same as Balticon would forever be our “home con(vention). Roomies for Life and all that.

We knew we could re-consider, same as he had the year before, possibly making the drive to Hotlanta if we made the coveted “Short List” of actual nominees for the Parsec Awards.

Then P.G. was feeling sick in July.

Somewhere around there we found out we made had indeed made the short list for both our P.G.-created podcasts, SpecFicMedia.com Presents: Beyond the Wall, A Game of Thrones Podcast, as well as SFM.com Presents: Consumption (discussing all entertainment media we were consuming).

Obviously, Dragon*Con was the last thing on our mind, so when doing our battle planning for his fight against cancer, which included physical and emotional support, we included in our plans a cathartic and community-building opportunity. Blogs, video podcasts, Kickstarter, books, music, games, everything was possible when you had so little to lose.

And then, before it could even sink in that he had cancer – OUR Patrick?!?! Are you fucking KIDDING me?!?! – and *poof* he was gone.

We were then asked by many friends and peers and members of P.G’s family to please go and honor him at Dragon*Con. And while not having any desire to be drenched in sadness, but in desperate need of seeing people that understood better what the Con Family loss actually was. People that understood how we were feeling, in the weird no-family-land of our Con Family, and they would be there. They said they had hugs awaiting us. If you know me, I can’t resist a hug. Especially in days like these.

The Revised Plan
So, we  plotted it out. Originally, Kim, Chooch and I were to drive there on Sunday, attend the Parsec Awards, possibly stay for dinner with friends and drive home the same night.

The Again Revised Plan
Learning of the fundraising tribute event Scott Sigler and AB Kovacs were planning for P.G. at Dragon Con in the Hilton Hotel bar on Saturday is what got Chooch and I to Atlanta and Dragon*Con a full day earlier than planned, with the tremendous kindnesses and free beds, thanks to the Cosmically Sainted folks at Cosmoquest, which is what gave us the ability to make the long trek on no sleep and adrenaline long run out. Pamela Gay and her esteemed peers and staff are the very best of people.

The Event
Mr. Sigler spoke of P.G. Holyfield in a way that would have had him gruffly mumbling a self-deprecating comment and pointing out someone else as being more deserving. Because that’s how P.G. rolled. Always humble about how awesome he was to oh, so very many of us. I have proof in my inbox of just how awesome that an impact he had on folks, so much so that I’m struggling to pull it all together in time for the memorial weekend, planned October 11th and 12th, right around the corner.

One of the best parts was the “surprise” that Ms. Kovacs planned for Sigler with — a surprise gathering inspired of costumed fans of his galactic football book series, “The Rookie,” which I know someone will correct if I got details wrong.

The Result
People came in lovingly hand made, full galactic football league costumes, and many faces I feared seeing grief on were wearing costumes that made the whole thing even more surreal. But it was immensely easier for me to see their pain and hold their hands until we both felt better.

Some that came for that portion, knew Patrick and some didn’t, but they lifted a drink anyways, as Scott Sigler commanded.

His challenge was to make an additional donation based on how many showed up to toast in tribute* to the Patrick G. Holyfield Children’s Trust. He donated $5 per Toaster (not Cylon, the people that lifted a glass.) and $6 if they wore a hat like PG’s, which was a signature look for Patrick in all the areas of his life, I have discovered.

And Sigler blew me away with the resulting donation amount, based on 69 people, gathered in person to pay tribute. Seriously, the trusted toast counter ( John Cmar) said it and I had to roll my eyes. I mean, really?! LOL, yes, really.

The resulting donation? I don’t even think there were that many people in the entire restaurant. But that’s how Sigler rolls.**

Pictures from the Saturday night event are available for purchase from Bruce Press Photography. I covet the one with my clinging and grieving with Nicole, wearing what in hindsight reveals spider-like aspects I didn’t even notice until now. 

(Here is a peek at that specific picture. It’s kinda embarrassing, but very honest, so I lurve it.)

Our own pictures to follow, I have hundreds to sort, still. There are a few posted in my Flickr already, username Vivid Muse.

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* with that damned Tuaca, Patrick McLean

** In my heart forever, that Scott Sigler is. Even though most of his books scare me too much to read and the rest are sports-ball in space, somehow. The sports-ball part was a major hurdle, but it’s done. He’s in. Done deal.
And AB, aka A Real Girl, was already there. AND she told my way my fave story of Sigler’s will never be published.

 

Spoilers, Sweetie – Guardians of the Galaxy and My Communication FAIL

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Friends, Movies, Too Long For Twitter

I dunno if anyone else does this, but do you identify with anyone in Guardians of the Galaxy?

I see Naughty Bear as the Star Lord, partly because of facial similarity. (Yes, Star Lord is THAT handsome.)

That kind of thing. Do you do that? If so, who do you most identify with?

For brief reference, I tend to see movie team-ups broken down into the necessary gaming group requirements. Using City of Heroes MMORPG (RIP) as my examples:
a tank, a blaster, a controller, a healer, and a scrapper. (I may be missing a few and don’t know the City of Villains versions, but do you get what I mean?)

For myself, I am Groot. Because of his creaky body that could sometimes do cool stuff under extreme duress (and pay for it later, lol) , his limited speech (mine is self-limited due to neuro stuff) , his need to do other things that would cause him harm if it would save or help another to survive (oi, the bruises I came home with, lol.), my need to make circles around ones that I love and include sparklies was almost too much to bear at the theater, upon my second viewing. And so on, with my empath need to identify with an empathic character.

Also, after much self-examination, and what the last three weeks in August was, I find I was dropping my filter for brevity in urgent moments and then almost disappearing as I “translated” (as Pamela then called it).

I am having difficulty filtering now. It started over the summer. And in August it was ripped off my face. There was no choice. I have less tolerance for bullshit, and I don’t mean that in a judgmental way. I mean it in a physical condition impacting way.

Emotional stress triggers physical stress in my f***** up body.

When you add the lowered filtering, which LITERALLY only appears to be working on a fairly good level when I’m around kids, to the many many many many communication difficulties I was having at times, which many people can attest to (sadly), what I was putting in the public stream sounds to be gibberish and scared some friends, I may as well have been simply saying “I Am Groot.”

For that I am both sorry and humbly grateful for your concern.

#FuckCancer #BecausePGH

The State of The Muse Address

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Hauntings, Health, No Whining, Too Long For Twitter

Chooch and I have been at a marathon pace of giggles (and pain) the last few months, with a nice 2 week bout of illness in there. We are trying to regain balance in our lives after, essentially a three week uprooting of our schedules.

There will be many posts about Hawaii, if I haven’t said so already. I have many thoughts and house rules now, because of my love of the natural beauty they protect so well on the island of Kaua’i, if not all the islands of Hawai’i.

Our middle son T, now 17 years old, looking out over the beauty of Hawai'i as we drove through Waimea Canyon.

Our middle son T, now 17 years old, looking out over the beauty of Hawai’i as we drove through Waimea Canyon.

Until I can manage the mischief, I am doing a lot of picture posting (visuals are my best communication tool at the moment) at my Flickr site, and because I haven’t bothered my most wonderful husband to help me get this blog, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to update. And prolly G+ since I am resigned to our future Skynet overlords.

My handle at Flickr and most other sites is Vivid Muse (with or without spaces). I do filter pix of our kids and of the minor children of friends. You have to ask for me to not let a solo photo of your child be public, it truly is a big exception. If anyone finds that I’ve slipped, please message me and I’ll correct asap.

In case you haven’t seen elsewhere, I stopped all assistance to Ditched by Kate in April of last year. I finally admitted that I simply was not physically or mentally able to be representative of their image, so I resigned. Chooch also left the band, months later, for unrelated reasons. Our friendships with the band remain, which was a goal from the very beginning. I’m very grateful that’s happened. I will never forget my part of DBKhaos and wish them all the best, sincerely.

I have so many things to express, but am needing to organize them. The biggest thing I have to say is about the Charity Cancer Anthology, (title TBD) and my inability to publish it.

I have been battling ever-worsening invisible (mostly) chronic pain for four years now. There are different aspects and associated issues, but basically, my body is hindered by pain, and my mind is hindered by fog and long periods of inability to focus, remember and/or communicate coherently. I am not the person to do this job the way it deserves to be done. However, it must happen. For my Mother’s piece and the other pieces that will be included have amazing messages to share. And because cancer will not stop, neither can those that fight it.

Because my Health Blahs, as I call them, are chronic and not alleviating, I must assume that I must find someone willing to take this on. Chooch is unable to do it for work schedule and personal reasons of his own. Cancer is a common word in our lives, suffice it to say. Too soon, doesn’t begin to cover it.

I will be reaching out and seeking advice on getting someone else to re-promote, take additional submissions, edit, publish and market the book along with Chooch. I have stipulations, because of the excruciating personal nature of this publication, but he will be the one in charge of those.

Please contact Chooch or I at Viv@VividMuseCreations.com if you have suggestions, criticisms, or services you’d like to donate, since this is a non-profit charity book, and also if you have services that you think will help us spread the word far and wide to raise the greatest funds possible to wish this evil disease into the cornfield.

My deepest and most sincere apologies to those that in some case have been waiting years for this anthology to be published. It is in your honor that I show my gratitude with this public apology and embarrassing level of detail of by failings. Please direct any response to Viv@VividMuseCreations.com with ideas, criticisms, requests to add more selections, alter/add to your current submission or any other matter.

Please know that I’ve let myself down more than I’ve let anyone else down. In moving out of cocoon-mode, things have to be completed this year. Nothing that lingers because of fear/embarrassment/pain will see the dawn of 2015. This is my goal. (Warning: As part of my typical foolishness, I will be channeling Mabel Pines from *cough*Disney’s*cough* animated series, “Gravity Falls,” by embracing awkward and embarrassing things and putting them in my rearview mirror. I’m human. I make mistakes. I’m moving on. Feel free to join me.)

As a result, I have something similar to Write or Die in mind for this blog. I have to schedule the post when I begin writing it. I have 1 to 4 hours to hone it, since I get lost in Fibromyalgia Fog frequently or migraines take me down. If necessary, that means posting before proofing. (I can’t wait to see if I screw that one up. Future half sentences ahead!)

And I’m tired of looking at super short thoughts that I’ve captured that I feel like I have to expand on into a more coherent post. I am rarely coherent. If you know me in real life, you know this already. So, my misfires are a part of my “voice” or POV. (We’ll see how long this lasts. I’m coming off a great weekend.)

I think this will help with the 70 or so pieces of thought and 4 journals full of thoughts. Lose all my baggage and keep our beloveds and keep our human and material treasures close.

Oh and we my do a new Into the Blender Podcast, soon-ish. We did a google hangout on Nov 1, 2013, our 10th and 11th anniversaries, but the audio isn’t up yet. We will hopefully be able to do an occasional episode the same as PG Holyfield and Chooch produce our SpecFicMedia.com shows. Record a live show in Google+, while broadcasting live to YouTube channel and then strip out the audio and post in our podcast feed.

And because of another kind nudge, this time from Dave Slusher, I’ll attempt to talk into a microphone soon for my stale, sporadic at best Girl’s Rules Podcast. I have little control over whether or not I’m physically able, but I will try.

Maybe something will come of it that others can relate to and also help with my successful-to-date fight against isolation.

Happy New Year, kittens.
*rooster crow*

Couple of Thoughts This Halloween

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Fibromyalgia, Games, Health, Too Long For Twitter

 

First thought:

I again surveyed my blog land, and I have about 60 draft pieces that I’m trying to edit to post. With my neurological and physical health issues, I struggle immensely to get the wording right before a migraine hits or dizziness/nausea forces me to leave the computer screen.

My goal will be to post at least one a week and CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED:

  • I am lowering my self-editing in order to get the thoughts out before I lose them. This blog has turned into more of an online journal than originally intended;
  • I need to keep posting to the outside world to stop feeling so isolated from it. Personal in nature and likely emo at times;
  • There will likely be multiple and unrelated topics within one post. I ache for brevity;
  • If you’ve not had a comment approved here before, I have to Allow it to be visible on my page. I don’t gather lists or info to sell or use either nefariously or for the Greater Good. (Morally and also, “Rawr!”);
  • My site, my rules.

Second thought, which I also posted in Twitter and Facebook:

Dunno where, but I may do an chat as a movie/game lover w/limiting health issues. Do Creators even realize when they deny their loyal fans?

I’m planning on something super short and solo, since I can’t wrangle moderating the discussion and/or Google+ Hangout, which is where I’d do it.

On this subject, please direct responses to me at VivMuse@gmail.com, as my hope is to maintain privacy and no spoilers for what the episode may contain. I’ll likely include your suggestions/thoughts/experiences.

I’m really just wanting to get the word out there, since I’ve only seen one Creator in my social media circles offer up something with folks with vision and other accessibility limitations in mind. I find myself bringing it up (likely too often) on SpecFicMedia.com Presents: Consumption ‘Cast, which is a weekly attempt to join hubby Chooch and friends P.G. Holyfield and Christiana Ellis. Last night it occurred to me that Creators, especially of visual mediums, might like a few experiences to help widen their audience of prospective future fans.

(If I get my IT guy in to help with the running of the show, I’ll consider guests, too and other than those in my dream cast, responses VIA EMAIL will be first considered, if and when I do this project.)

Related thought:

The Creator thinking outside of the box by designing a game with Accessibility in mind is the very talented musician and game designer, Russell Collins. His successful Kickstarter for his game, “Tears of a Machine.

I backed it and I’m hoping to do a review after I play with some friends (possibly recorded for posting). I’m so very excited to try it, as J.R. Blackwell and Jennifer Rogers are also a part of the project and I’ve LONG been fans of theirs. Check it out!

Third thought:

 Happy Halloween!

May your fun be safe but skurrrry! Our Housies are all sick/just getting better, so healing vibes, prayers, or sacrificial meatballs to the SMitS would be greatly appreciated. It’s a super fun night in our home, and I’d hate  for our Wee Housies to miss out on any planned fun.

Wee Housies' Halloween excitement = each of my departures via garage until it comes down, since it is now the perfect hiding spot for real spiders.
Related Thought:

I’m linking to a segment on The Daily Show with a fave new comedic actress of mine Kristen Schaal. I loved her on Wilfred and 30 Rock, AND she does/did voice work for many of my fave animated movies/TV shows, like Gravity Falls (voice of Mabel, my spirit animal) and Adventure Time.

In the segment I link to (WARNING: NSFW or with kids in the room unless you want to spend some time explaining the whats and whys of a vagina costume.), she chimes in on the annual sexy-female Halloween costume debate and presents THE best sexual female costume EVAR. It went up for auction later to benefit a charity, so if you just want to see the picture and skip the interview you can do so by clicky THIS linky.

Yes, I wanted to own it. No, I wouldn’t have ever worn it out in public, tempting as it would be…

Fourth thought: 

If I am able to type coherently tomorrow, you’ll learn one of the reasons why 2013 is Lucky ’13 for me.

 

Dragon*Con 2012, Part 1

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Convention, Friends, No Whining

I’ve decided the 20+ draft blog posts are going to be posted with some regularity, even if unfinished. Since our family podcast, Into the Blender is having drastic changes discussed, I’ve decided to brain dump family journal stuff here. Some will require what seems like unattainable bravery, so they may not ever see the light of day. But I have two memory journals that I’ve filled in the last year or so, maybe there will be something worth sharing there if I run out of things to post about.

Rather than grabbing a stale post I thought I’d do a (To The Best of My Memory)Dragon*Con Timeline in bits and pieces. I can’t work on my photos until my craptop is rebuilt anyways. I will work on the drafts as I come to them and as my mood strikes. Some may seem out of date, but that’s how I roll now, apparently.

Of note: No matter who you are or how I feel about you, I will likely have forgotten some of our time together. Part of the high cost of having a multiple health issues requiring loopy making meds? You don’t get to choose what or who you forget. That’s why photos are so important to me. I rarely drink alcohol because of the risks of interaction with some of my medications, yet I still have a faulty memory, far more faulty than ever before. If I don’t type it here, it doesn’t make the time any less special. And the photos I’ve seen so far from hubby and friends: Bruce Press, P.G. Holyfield, Tony Miller, Timothy LeGower and many others, have been both laughter and horror inducing (sometimes I have so much fun I forget to think about camera ninjas).

So, Day 1 of our trip, to be told in a rambling fashion as things occur:
Chooch and I left NoVA on Wednesday morning and after a DMV FAIL on our part (solely our fault for procrastinating), we arrived in Charlotte, NC that evening. We stayed at our BFF PG Holyfield’s lovely home, and he cooked dinner for us and some dear and local friends, Shawn and Jess Murphy, and also a new friend. We had lots of fun and laughter, and I always love seeing them. We got to share some extra wicked giggles, and even coined the phrase that would remain with us for the whole of the weekend and beyond.

Wonderful, clever people, but after they left I’m drawing a blank on the rest of the night. I think the boys did played Gloom while I tried to stay awake? I do know there were giggles, but that is nothing new when the three of us get together. Chooch had “night before” jitters for the long drive and couldn’t sleep on Tuesday night, but slept well on Wednesday night.

Thursday morning had us out the door for the drive to Atlanta (after doing the dinner dishes from the night before, fearing the repercussions would make it impossible to reenter the house upon our return. I think after two separate years, we can include Bojangle’s as an official tradition on our D*C road trip. (BoRounds, people!) After much enjoyment on my part on the long, but too short trip road trip, we got to the hotel and headed to the parking garage to prepare to unload.

I did have a moment of lamentation over having seen no costumers yet, chalked it up to being only Thursday and then heard an engine revving in the parking garage. We turned to find the Speed Racer car pulling around a corner. Yes, we were in the right place! *sigh* Dragon*Con!

We got checked in and got settled and headed off for con registration. At PG’s suggestion, we did onsite registration this year instead of pre-registration, and only invested about 10 minutes total as opposed to the over 2 hours we spent in 2009. (It was in the company of Patrick McLean, so don’t feel too bad for us.) Yay for Thursday arrivals! The line for the store was longer than registration, so we skipped getting lanyards and such.

We kicked off our arrival by splitting up – PG off to get prepped for the Star Party and us to meander and find food off property. I was greatly disappointed that someone I had planned on spending the rest of the day with had something come up, but we girded our loins and decided to  have a magical time regardless. First stop: Subway! Don’t laugh, it was the closest thing to real food that was packed full of people. Then to the room before heading to the bar.

Our permanent reset point was the Hilton hotel bar, which turned out to be where we ran into most of the folks we now. As we were being seated, the waiter excitedly told us that Lieutenant Uhura was at the bar and it was the most exciting person he’d ever seen in person. Working at the hotel that hosts Dragon*Con, that’s really saying something. Sure enough, there sat Nichelle Nichols, the original bridge hottie. She was there with another woman, but that beautiful face was impossible not to recognize. She had silver hair and this low-cut blouse on, fully rocking the ensemble and we were agog. Seeing THE LIEUTENANT UHURA within hours of our arrival? Toasts all around our table for our sighting, which she quickly beat out of there when she realized people were recognizing her.

We saw many friends. We made new ones. We laughed and giggled and told stories. We ended up in our room with hubby setting up the PS3 for gaming breaks between panels, etc., and we settled back and stayed up too late, as per usual.

There are hundreds of photos that document the weekend and I’d have to go through them to identify all we saw and when. I’m too impatient and will add another post linking to my photos in Flickr, with some going in to Facebook as well. I’ll also correct any faulty memory bits. But Nichelle Nichols? That was pretty bad ass. No pictures, because we respected her clear desire not to interact at that moment, but the memory remains.

Part 2 will be coming along soon, where I will likely be documenting what I call Magical Friday. Travel tip: I never stay away from home without the gorgeous and travel tested bottle set I bought from my beloved friend’s Nineteen O’Three Etsy store. Over more than a year of hard travel use, with no peeling, fading or bubbling of the labels. They are wonderful quality and the unique designs make the exact bottle I need easy to spot even if the text is out of sight.

I have a brand new set of these bottles to give away, even though I want to keep them for always. Watch future posts for info on how to enter.

Favor: PLEASE make comments here on the site instead of in Facebook or Twitter or G+. I may never see them and will certainly never see them when reviewing posts in the future. I would love pictures linked to, stories I’ve left out, anything that could make the memories come back or the ones I do have linger longer. To feel safe to do this, some of you may need to know that…

Of Important Note: I not only don’t capture email addresses to use, I wouldn’t know how even if I wanted to sell you out, which is not my style. Even if so, I would have to get Chooch to help me, and he would refuse. So, don’t worry about US using your email address, ever. They don’t go into my email address book or anything like that. Feel free to comment. Or not. Whatevs!

2012 Conventions

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Too Long For Twitter, Uncategorized

Two things I want to announce on the subject of conventions:

My planned conventions:

Chooch and I will attend Balticon, only one week away, at the Hunt Valley Marriott in Maryland. I am shocked and gratified that this will be my 5th in attendance and 4th as a panelist!

At this point, I’ve not received my official schedule, but as of now I know that I am scheduled to be at:

  • Friday’s Meet and Greet
  • Saturday at 8 pm (I believe) in the Derby A Live Recording of SpecFicMedia.com Presents – Beyond the Wall: A Game of Thrones podcast. Come join our entire ‘cast cast as we explore the HBO series “Game of Thrones” as well as the book series. We vigilantly try to avoid spoilers, but either the cast or the audience may drop one or two. Based on our recordings to date, expect more F-bombs being dropped than spoilers. *It is known.*
  • Sunday at 10 pm in the Chase, I will be joining authors Barbara Friend Ish and P.G. Holyfield as we do readings from our works. Nothing makes me more nervous than a reading, but I hope to do it up right for my breast cancer anthology, with a tentative July release date.
  • When feeling up to it, my standard meeting points are the foyer, the bar, the courtyard or the Dealer’s Room.  Is it true there is no

I will be attending Philly Comic-Con, June 2 and will remain in Philly until the 4th for a private celebration. At this point, it appears that work obligations make keep Chooch away for this one.

We hope to make the trek to Dragon*Con for Labor Day weekend, but we will not know until closer to September if we will be able to attend or not.

TuacaCon, hosted by P.G. Holyfield and presented by SpecFicMedia.com is a virtual convention with writers, artists, musicians and performers giving their all with no travel costs! The date has yet to be determined, but the last two years was great fun and free! It is rumored that it may occur in Northern Virginia this year, and have even more folks in the live audience than ever before!

Also, if we meet at Balticon, Philly Comic-Con, Dragon*Con and/or TuacaCon, please know that for many possible reasons that I am sometimes easily confused or overwhelmed, hopefully due to one or all of my Health Blahs** or treatments. Please do not take offense if you get a negative vibe from me, in nearly all cases I can assure you that it is not you. It’s me. I am posting this here in case I have trouble verbalizing or am unaware of the issue. I don’t want a fuss made, I just want to avoid causing any misunderstandings.

Otherwise, I’m shy but say hi if you recognize me. Or leave a comment, @ me on Twitter (@VividMuse) or whatevs to let me know if you will be at any of these and maybe we can meet up!

~~~~~~~~

**Health Blahs – my term for my small collection of non-life threatening, yet problematic maladies.

My Good Thing Today? It Was Only A Dream.

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Too Long For Twitter

Dragon*Con on a Disney cruise ship. That’s the best way my sleepy brain can describe it.

Friends Tee Morris, Pip Ballantine and P.G. Holyfield took over a ride to film a promo for P.G.’s upcoming book release. They didn’t tell us and used our reactions, and those of others, as part of the promo. Bastards.

Ditched by Kate played a concert in an onboard theatre. They rocked the anus off of everyone in attendance. (Don’t be scared, that’s a good thing.)

Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit nearly shat when he met Shatner in line for some damn ride I can’t remember and Shatner knew of his impression of him. PRS doing Shatner for Shatner. That’s a lotta Shatner, yo.

We were 8 to a room (big room) instead of 4. My “Mommy Check” after everyone was packed and gone captured 2 handfuls of steampunk/gear earrings, pins, gauges, necklaces, hair clips, etc.,. (I remember sharing with my 3 permanent Con roomies, and Rich and Susan Z., but not the other 2 people.)

Daniel Dae Kim, the actor that played Jin from Lost, has a very strong accent. He pretends not to for acceptance in America. Also, he’s the utmost gentleman and saved this lady from extreme distress. I <3 him.

Natalie Portman is far more beautiful, charming and mischievous than any of us could have ever hoped and dreamed. She’s The Complete Package, if my dream is even only half right about her. *swoon*

People that usually are unkind about me behind my back were nice to my face.

People that are usually nice to me were extremely cruel, with exceptions of extreme kindness from a few beloveds.

I spent most of the time separated from Chooch because of panel schedules and social responsibilities. That is not unlike Balticon 45 ended up being.

These are only things I can remember after waking half an hour ago. I conclude by saying that we should keep Dragon*Con on dry land, in Atlanta, where it belongs. It’s just… safer that way.

Hectic Silence

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Health, Household

Apologies for the sporadic posting here, in Twitter, and in Facebook. We have so many things going on right now that it’s been hard to maintain contact as we’re in constant motion.

The house is still on the market, as the Open House yielded no offers. Nor have any of those that have viewed it before and after. We’re still waiting it out, and hoping it sells sooner rather than later, but it’s not encouraging.

There has been a lot of activity with Chooch’s band, Ditched by Kate, as they have been playing shows and are preparing for a fierce throwdown at Balticon on May 28th at 7:00 pm in the Garden Room.

We’re also really excited about their EP Launch Party on Tuesday, May 31st at Jammin Java in Vienna. There will be three other acts performing, and as soon as I know their performance time it will be posted on the official Ditched by Kate site. If you are unable to attend either show, we will be posting information on how to order the Stumble EP very soon.

In other news, I’m fulfilling button orders for Balticon and if you are interested in purchasing some custom buttons with either your design or a design that we create for you, please take a look at my fledgling business, Vivid Muse Creations, LLC.

As for non-business stuff, I’m excitedly planning out the summer visit for my youngest son, LT. It’s a bit chaotic with the house on the market, but we will have a wonderful time!

I’m having some issues with running after the Komen 5k, as the final hill has caused me continuing knee pain. That partnered with my flared up back pain (manageable) and some pulled muscles in my ribs have finally forced me to take a short break from running in the hopes of not doing long-term damage. It’s just fast-paced walking for me now, but I’ll be pulling out my bike this week as well. I’ve been afraid of riding it in case I get dizzy on it, but I won’t know until I get on it. With padding and helmet to protect me, I’m going to give it a try. I promise if I fall to take pix of the boo-boo’s and have a hilarious telling of it here.

I’m really bummed, because I signed up for an 8k for next Saturday, thanks to a $10 registration fee through Groupon, but I’m now thinking I won’t be able to even attempt it, let alone finish it. If I’m lucky and rest up and can restart my training, then the 10k in mid-June is still possible.

We are having great fun watching George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series on HBO every Sunday night, and we hop on Skype with friends P.G. Holyfield, Christiana Ellis and Nuchtchas (Nutty) Nimlas on Monday nights to record our Beyond the Wall Podcast. We discuss the series, the books and it is always a lot of fun. I’m grateful the P.G. is bearing the brunt of the production work, as he’s doing a wonderful job and I’m very proud to be a part of it. He just created a promo for it from outtakes that shows how much fun we have, but I think it’s likely NSFW or kids.

We’ve sadly had little to no time for gaming. I’m having increased difficulty as I almost always end up extremely dizzy and nauseous during a gaming session and usually end up with a migraine. We treasure the time with our long-time gaming friends and I’m refusing to let that stop me. I’m learning some tricks to minimize it and will keep trying new ones.

On a teensy note, I willingly tried asparagus and portabello mushrooms last night and they were delicious in the pasta dish our dear friend Jenn made. I’m tentatively branching out as I am continuing my quest for healthier foods that may or may not make my pee smell funny.

Balticon 44 Part 3 (Final) – Sunday and Monday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Friends, Podcast, Uncategorized

Sunday was an extremely rough day with dizziness, disorientation and migraine but in hindsight I’m lucky it was the only full day of it. Still, I missed a hell of a lot of amazing things and I can’t wait for all the recordings to hit the feeds.

Chooch slept in, so I headed out solo. I started the day right by grabbing lunch with P.G. and Christiana, again at Baja Fresh. We chatted about a variety of things and it was the kick-start I needed to get my brain energized and ready to tackle the day. I can neither confirm nor deny that there was plotting for Balticon 45.

I finally made it to the Dealer’s Room, sort of. I actually only made it to the Dragon Moon Press table, where the paparazzi was in full effect. In other words, a group of us were standing all in a group so pictures were snapped. Did I mention that I love my friends?

Sadly, farewells began again on Sunday, as Doug “Geek Acres” Rapson departed. I had missed the DS Breakfasts because I ended up on an opposite schedule, and found that we really didn’t have much time to catch up. I made a point of finding him in the lobby before he left and am very glad I did. Somewhere there are pictures, but I can’t find them right now on Flickr and I don’t have any in my sets 🙁

There were so many folks in the lobby, that I ended up spending quite a bit of time there chatting with folks and gathering more author signatures for the books we had picked up over the last year. It was at this time that I discovered my ability to summon J.R. Blackwell by simply tweeting her name! Sadly, this only appears to work while at Balticon since my subsequent attempts have failed.

Happily I was given a spot on the schedule to record an episode of my new podcast, Girls’ Rules. I took advantage of some of the amazing authors at the con by asking Philippa Ballantine, J.R. Blackwell, Christiana Ellis and Mur Lafferty to join me. Color me surprised, they all agreed! I was not feeling my best, but was energized by the panelists and the full audience. I found the discussion to fascinating as the women gave their different points of view and experiences as female authors and podcasters. Yes, I’m extremely biased but have gotten the same opinion from others. I was also encouraged by the support they gave the project and look forward to living up to their kind words. I haven’t posted it yet because the file we got from the official equipment was only two minutes long. Luckily, Chooch had recorded it with our H4N but he’s been working on improving the audio as much as possible before posting.

I completely fell apart shortly after the panel from relief, dizziness and then my brain just went *POOF*. I ended up grabbing dinner at Outback with Chooch, Jett, Helen, Patrick, P.G. and Zach. It was a great time and fascinating conversation, but I did have  some disorientation, confusion and fatigue. I was really having trouble following the conversation at times, and formulating responses. I was just keeping my mouth shut for the most part as my dear friends and husband knew something was up already, and I didn’t want to worry anyone.  I had resigned myself to napping as soon as possible, as that is one thing that sometimes gives relief. I bumped into Bruce Press and his AMAZING family, and let me just say that if any of them ever want to show you a picture of something they found in their hotel room you should RUN, not walk away.

Having a solid meal helped, so in spite of how I was feeling I went to the Grow Up New Media panel. I was curious to see how this panel went, as there was talk about it being very caustic towards podcasters that are supportive of new media productions regardless of their “quality”. I was intrigued by this because, if true, it didn’t seem to take the purely personal opinion of the podcaster in the hot seat into account. Who’s to judge that something I enjoy is “bad”? Chooch and I already only support podcasts and novels that we enjoy, and only minimally promote things purely out of friendship.

In I went braced for insults, and instead got hit in the face by logic I couldn’t really argue with from Evo Terra. And it was on the subject of the annual NaNoWriMo program. He pointed out that the point of NaNoWriMo is to see if you are able to write a novel, and questioned why someone that won would need to do NaNo again. If you have already proven you can, then just write another novel. Simple, right? I had been on a panel the day before discussing NaNo and my possible plans to do it again in the future. Add to that the fact that I haven’t even finished my first edits on the one I wrote last year, and I now have a lot to think about. Judge me all you want, the community support for NaNo participants is addictive and having a deadline with public accountability definitely helped to keep me motivated.

I hit rock bottom about halfway into the panel, and headed back to take a nap in our room. Chooch headed off to Living Proof, a meet-up with home brewers and ale connoisseurs held by Thomas “cmdln” Gidon and John Taylor Williams. This was one of the many conflicts for me over the weekend, because in spite of my dislike for beer of any kind I happen to genuinely adore Thomas and John. Sleep won out so I napped until eleven or so, and I’m really glad I did.

Chooch was staying at Living Proof longer than we had planned, so I headed over to Books and Braun solo. I still felt pretty disoriented and wandered around a bit in a daze before grabbing a seat. Pip and Tee were giving a hell of a good reading, and even popped the cork to celebrate their announcement of the publication of Books and Braun in 2011! It was going swimmingly until someone in the audience decided to grind the panel to a halt to make a phone call during their show to spread the news. Tee and Pip handled the interruption and resumed the fun. Congratulations to them both as they launch the book and also the newest phase of their relationship. I wish them every happiness that can be found in this world!

I returned to our room and P.G. had some folks gathered for a party. I talked Zach into coming in with me, and felt guilty for doing so as he immediately became the insult gauge for some “jokes”. Yes, I’m very protective of my friends and I wouldn’t have invited him in had I known that would be his greeting. After a brief time he headed out as he had originally planned since he had a very early flight, so we said our goodbyes.

The rest of the party was a lot of fun and I finally got to chat with some friends I really enjoy including Patrick and Brent, to name a few. I even got to meet even more amazing women, including Sheila Dee. If you don’t know who I mean, I’ll be describe her by saying that Evo Terra is lucky enough to be her husband. (She had introduced herself as Evo’s wife, and I told her we needed to shake that description up a bit). She is a real pleasure, and I’m glad we finally had a chance to get to know each other. I briefly chatted with author Gail Carriger, and am really looking forward to reading her highly acclaimed books. I also got to actually meet and chat with Starla Hutchton. I’d heard her name before as two friends had mentioned her beautiful singing voice, and she was also there at the pre-dawn concert Phil gave the night before in the hotel courtyard. As we talked I found out she also has a novel she has been podcasting and based solely on how much I enjoyed our chat, I’ve already added it to my listening pile. That’s saying something because I came out with a much shorter list than in either of the previous two years. After looking at her “Cast” page, I have no idea how I missed hearing about it, as I have several friends on the list as well as following several others’ projects.

The party grew, and the room ended up pretty packed. Since we were on the ground floor we spilled out onto the balcony and stairs. We again welcomed the sunrise in the company of friends, and then headed off to bed.

Favorite Moments:

  • Dave Slusher wearing his Prom King sash.
  • Becoming smitten with Starla’s new baby. Thank you, technology.

Defeats By Nature (Either mine or witnessed by me):

  • Guest Eating Shrub – I witnessed and assisted on the rescue.
  • Slippery Grass of Doom – I witnessed several after my own defeat.
  • Evil Day Star – Me, my roomies, and The Hobo.

Monday

Heartbreak. As awesome as Friday is with the joy of seeing old and new friends, is as crappy as Monday is with the departures of amazing people, most of whom you won’t see until next May.

Visiting in the lobby, that’s what it was all about for me. I didn’t make it anywhere else once I got there, as I was not only saying goodbyes, but also doing brief interviews with women for upcoming Girls’ Rules episodes. There are tons of photos in Flickr as people departed. After several hours, we finally headed out to grab a late lunch at Noodle & Co. with a quite large group.

I was feeling extremely sick, and it was my own fault. I hadn’t eaten anything other than 100 calorie snack bar since the night before and it was after 3 pm before we left the hotel to eat. Once fed, I noticed that Chooch and I weren’t the only ones hoping to extend the experience just a bit longer as folks lingered over their empty plates while chatting. More photos, and pretty much the only real chat time with Scott Philips, Nutty, and Nathan.

I was sad for those that I didn’t get to spend time with, but that’s unfortunately the nature of con attendance. While I was sad to say goodbye to everyone, I was excited to head home because our oldest son cleared his schedule to have dinner with us to celebrate his nineteenth birthday.

As was true after last years’ Balticon and Dragon*Con, as we pulled out of town it started raining. I’m still trying to remember when the rain actually started in 2008…

Favorite Moments:

  • Being pleasantly surprised by someone that I’m no longer very close with, even though it ended up just being fodder for insult by another. Lesson learned once and for all, as I’m now DONE with that endless source of negativity.
  • Holding hands with Baby Seidman, as she was nestled on Carrie’s shoulder.
  • Receiving a lovely purple wildflower that Elf Princess had picked.

Note: While I’ve decided to never take this much time to write a recap post, I have to admit it would have likely been twice as long had I remembered every special moment and genuinely fascinating encounter from the weekend. I want to thank everyone that I interacted with virtually and especially in person over the weekend, because that helped to shape my experience. Whether it was wonderful, unpleasant (yes, there were a few), awkward, inspirational or just a shy moment, I thank you.