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.

 

 

My Good Thing, 02/20/2014

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch

Dunno if I’ve shared this or not, but after my Ex moved out, our kids and I moved in with my Mom, Dad and college student sister.

They made a home for us within their home, a recurring theme in my life, as I come to realize that I really like having a lot of heartbeats under my roof. The more equal, the better the flow. The more respect and privacy, you level up.

Trying to keep the boys focused on the positive, my Mom instituted “My good thing that happened to me today was __________.” You had to have at least one, even if pre-teen or surly or on restriction, or on a diet (me, eternally) but you could name as many as you want.

After reading a comment on a post Chooch made in Facebook today, all I can think of is, “Well. I know what my good thing is today.” Makes more sense when you know that this is, since that ritual ended long ago when our baby birds left the nest or remain in another, how I state that something bubbly-making has touched my heart.

Earlier, Chooch posted this photo:

Chooch's Tattoo on his right arm.
With this original post:
It only took 42 years, but I finally got my first tattoo! — with Vivid Muse.

So, my good thing that happened to me today? Chooch’s explanation on the 4 heart containers with only 2 filled, matching tattoos we just got.

“…you start the game with 3 hearts, so we added a fourth as a 10 year anniversary level up. Since Vivid Muse and I have them matching on opposite arms, when we hold hands all the hearts fill up so we’re ready to take on the next danger together!”

I initially had a different idea in mind altogether, but when he explained why he liked this design?

Done. Let’s go.

(whispers to myself): Thank you for loving me the way you do.

I’ll follow him anywhere.

Not Just Another Tuesday

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Firsts

Today is the fourth anniversary for the podcast my husband and I do, called Into the Blender. When we started out, we had my two sons from a previous marriage living with us and were negotiating the difficulty and hazards of long-distance, as well as navigating the frequently difficult negotiations required when co-parenting with someone that you very likely have massive piles of stinky baggage with.

Our lives have changed in a myriad of ways since that first upload, and it’s impossible to sufficiently explain why it has taken us so long to post a new episode. Our last one was our Live from Balticon! episode in early June. I will overly simplify things by saying that it has been an extremely chaotic summer. More so than any other of my life, save the one immediately following the departure of my now ex-husband. I think we are ready to re-enter the tubes, and I think I speak for my husband as well when I say how grateful I am for the friends and listeners that have asked for new episodes. Knowing that folks actually have an interest in our little corner of the world is pretty damned nice, I have to say.

Another reason it’s a big day is that I am finally doing something I should have done years, possibly decades ago: seeing a therapist. While there are a few parts of my life where I’m extremely private, this is not one of them. I have long supported friends and family as they have sought help, and believe that even if nothing else is gained, having someone to express your deepest and darkest thoughts to is a wonderful gift to give yourself. I am blessed in that my husband and best friend already provides this for me, but I now choose to seek help in dealing with my issues instead of venting them. I see repeating patterns, situations and relationships that I need to figure out. I have, like pretty much everyone else on the planet, issues from my childhood and first marriage that are still impacting me and having a negative impact in my current journey. And because I love my husband beyond measure, I want to find a way to finally work on these and other issues before I drive him running and screaming from our marriage. 😉

It’s a really big step, one that most people I know have already taken. I’m definitely a late bloomer, and am completely grateful to my the folks that have supported me in getting to this point. Whether you gave me a shoulder to lean on or listened to my insecurities or just smiled kindly when I veered off track, I thank you. I am writing this in the wee hours of Tuesday morning,with my appointment later today. I have no clear idea of what it will be like, other than what I’ve seen in movies and on TV. I think my motivation for writing this post was a preemptive tearing off of the band-aid, so to speak. A gesture of honesty before the pending anxiety attack provoking session.

I don’t know how much of the process I’ll share. Probably not much, because I do have difficulty in revealing such personal information. But I did want to let folks know that I’m doing it in hopes of encouraging others that are on the fence to take the plunge. I don’t expect that the first therapist I see will be the perfect fit or that all my issues will become crystal clear and I’ll be able to heal and change in short order. Instead, I expect that it will be a lot of hard work and that there will be a lot of pain involved. Most worthwhile things are just so. But I think I’m worth it.

Happy ItB Anniversary, Chooch. Can you believe the journey we’ve been on since we started it?

Vivid Mommy

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Breast Cancer, Chooch, Dizzy, Dizzy, Family, Friends, Mom, No Whining, Too Long For Twitter, Vestibular Migraine

Just like millions of other people, Mother’s Day is a rough one for me because my mother is deceased. I’m also a mom, which makes it a very bittersweet day. When you add that this year, for what I recall as the first time in 20 years, I won’t see any of our kids, it ensured that I’d be avoiding social media and anywhere that I’d be inundated with the message that I don’t want to be reminded of. Yep, I’m bitter. Then I realized I hadn’t checked in on friends since yesterday and decided to check Twitter and make sure all was well.

As expected, there was a deluge of Mother’s Day wishes being exchanged. One that really touched me was by friend and author Mur Lafferty: “PT has made me toast and yogurt and a can of selzer and brought it to me in bed. “i didn’t know how to make coffee.” I nearly cried.”

On the other end of the spectrum, brand new dad Cheyenne Wright posted “A bit out of sorts. This is the first chance I’ve had to celebrate a Mothers Day in 18 years.”

That one got me right in my vulnerable spot. I closed Twitter as I realized my dizziness had kicked in with an anxiety attack and now-standard accompanying trembles. It was not at all surprising if you understand my current health situation, and I cursed myself for logging in. My husband unwittingly helped my through the brunt of the symptoms (Hey Chooch, this is why I was upset earlier), but I still feel the need to share something about my Mom today. I don’t do this easily because:

  1. I’ve been told in extremely loving ways that I need to try and move on from grieving her as I do, out of concern that it may be unhealthy;
  2. I’ve been accused of talking about my Mom and/or my health issues to garner sympathy for some unknown purpose, either witnessed by me or as reported by others;
  3. I’m not entirely sure Mom would approve of what I want to share.

To those from item 1, I say a sincere thank you for your concern. But my highly remarkable Mom left a massive hole in my world, and it is simply taking a long time for me to heal. In some ways, I never will because I will always miss her. That’s simply the price of having a jewel like her for a Mom, and I’m willing to pay it. Know that I’m making progress and doing the best that I can, and you should feel free to delete any message, change the subject, or ignore any posts. I expect nothing from you when the need arises for me to talk about her.

To those from item 2, I say without hesitation ~ kiss my ass. You don’t understand me now and never did, regardless of what you may believe. Yes, yes, I know, “Never feed a troll,” as it only encourages them. But I’m tired of not defending myself when I’m being vilified and disrespected to those I care about. So I’m using this post to “balls up” and remind myself that my Mom didn’t raise me to be a doormat. In fact, she specifically counseled me on the need to stand up to some of the aforementioned “item 2” people. I feel no guilt over including this paragraph, because they will only be identified to themselves and to those that they’ve trash talked about me. It’s unlikely that most of them will ever read this, except for some that may be looking for ammunition, but this is my little corner of the internet and I’m tired of censoring myself when others won’t.

And for item 3, I mean that Mom would probably not like this picture because she’s not wearing makeup. She was intensely self-conscious and hid from cameras most of my life. I’m posting it anyways, because later in life she embraced her silly side in fantastic fashion and stopped running from cameras. Also, it’s one of my very favorite pictures of her, as it documents a very special moment in our lives.

The tiny hair clips were part of her 60th birthday gift from me. I had gotten a basket and decorated it with silk flowers and ribbons and filled it with brightly colored hair clips, ponytail holders, barrettes, hair bands and a tiara. I wanted to celebrate that the chemo for her newly diagnosed breast cancer wouldn’t make her hair fall out like it did when she battled it in ’91, and it was insanely fun (and cathartic) to pick them out in the girl/teen accessory section.

When we realized that some of the little clips matched her vibrantly colored shirt, my sister put her hair in the little twists that my then-early-teenaged nieces were known to wear for a time, and we couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the spontaneous hairstyle and her reaction to it. A few months later her chemo was changed because it wasn’t working, and her hair promptly fell out. Two and a half years later she was gone.

But I present you with photographic evidence that my Mom was highly remarkable. Even when faced for a second time with the same life-threatening disease that she watched eat away at her mother and grandmother until there was nothing left of them, she was still able to laugh. And when presented with a gift that in hindsight may have unkindly brought the cancer back to the forefront of her mind, she giggled and was delightfully silly. As only she could be.

I won’t exaggerate and say it was Great Bravery or Courage documented in this moment, because it wasn’t. It was just a silly and spontaneous moment. And damned if it’s not one of the most treasured moments of my life. Isn’t she glorious?
Funnest Mom Evah!

This post is written to honor my Mom, Nat, Jaimie, Terry and Zach ~ five people who are no longer with us that are at the forefront of my mind. The first three I miss terribly. The fourth and fifth I never met, but because of their impact on people that I dearly love, I desperately wish I had. You are missed.

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.

Balticon 44 Part 1 – Thursday and Friday

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

*phew* That was quite a week. After returning from Balticon it’s been hectic with preparations for my nephew’s high school graduation (a whole year early!) and our oldest son’s 19th birthday party. I finally got photos edited and posted on Sunday and am finally able to do my post about Balticon itself. There are so many people and amazing moments that there is no way to capture them all, so am doing a few highlights from each extremely full and fabulous day. Also, I’m writing these as journal entries for myself so this will be lengthy, but I’ll break it up into a few posts for sanity’s sake.

THURSDAY
Hubby worked from home on Thursday, while I busily ran last minute party preparation and packing. He then delivered our goldie Kaylee to her beloved kennel. After loading up our car Tetris-style to get everything we needed, it was clear that our car would burst if we put even a wafer thin item in there.

Disappointed that we didn’t actually get on the road until 6 pm, we still found a way to enjoy the drive. I spent a good portion catching up with my dear friend Heather Welliver on the phone, and the rest doing some plotting and planning for the weekend. Have I mentioned that Chooch has a wicked sense of humor? We had an extra giggle as we both realized that the last push out the door had us both forget our wedding rings. We joked about being unwed for the weekend, but let’s be honest about the fact that no one else makes my heart go pitter-pat like my man.

We arrived in record time, luckily having missed rush hour and getting the jump on Memorial Day travel traffic. We roomed once again with P.G. Holyfield and Patrick McLean, as we had such a wonderful time with them at Dragon*Con. Both Patricks are brilliant writers, so go buy their books immediately.

P.G. was kind enough to set down his drink and help us unload the car, and I ran to Greg and Carrie’s room to stash some party treats in their fridge. I was thrilled at this, because they have just had a daughter that I had yet to meet. I practically raced down the hall to see Carrie and babe, and was blown away by their beauty. I nommed baby toes and hugged on mama as we chatted and caught up. For you Apple fanboys, it was also my first sighting of an iPad in the wild.

I grabbed Chooch and P.G. for a visit with Carrie and the baby. That little beauty can throw down some fierce Kyoot Aggro so we spent some time there cooing over her before making it to the bar.

Ah, the bar. The drinks are subpar and overpriced, but this is the natural gathering place as people arrive. The sea of awesome is a blur, so I won’t try and name everyone I saw there as we hugged and got caught up with each other. Since most folks arrive on Friday it wasn’t a full-on glompfest as would be seen the next day. As the night progressed, we grabbed Christiana Ellis and headed back to our room for some Pandemic. To say we had a good time time would be a tremendous understatement as we encountered drinks, viral doom and spiders. We saved the world and headed to bed around 5 or 6 a.m. When it’s that late, specifics don’t really matter, do they?

Out Of Context Theater:
“Backgammon porn” – I believe Doc Coleman said this at the bar?
“It’s gonna eat me!” – Viv, after a spider sighting.
“Somebody give me a bikini so I can flip Viv off!” – P.G. while playing Pandemic

Twitter thread that amuses me:

Christiana – I have cured red and black. @vividmuse @choochus and @pgholyfield haven’t cured shit.
P.G. – @christianaellis I may not have cured anything, but I made you spit tostitos across the room.
Christiana – @PGHolyfield And onto your leg. I was TRYING to share! Ingrate.

I, of course, was giggling uncontrollably and contributed nothing.

I spoiled My Inner Child by…
…putting together a Tinkerbell puzzle with Elf Princess. She is delightful and sweet, and I love our playtime together.

Friday
Having no panels or any other need to get up early, we slept in. We grabbed food and headed out to get some last minute party supplies, since we figured Saturday would be crazy. In spite of rushing around, we sadly missed Chris Lester’s reading, but made it just in time for the 5:00 pm panels. The first of many difficult choices had to be made, as Mur Lafferty and P.G. Holyfield both had readings at the same time. We ended up splitting, with each of us going to one knowing that they would be recorded but still wishing we could be at both. P.G. did a reading from Murder at Avedon Hill, his recent release published from Dragon Moon Press. He ended it early to go to Mur’s, but by the time I got in there it had ended.

I got to spend some time very briefly with M.A. in PA and her new podcast partner Sara. As was true during previous Balticon weekends, I didn’t see much of M.A. and this year I saw even less of her. Luckily, we’ve had the opportunity to visit with each other previously this year, but it was something I definitely missed.

We grabbed dinner at Noodle & Company with P.G., Jett, Carrie, Greg and Baby and had a wonderful time as we chatted and gazed at the beautiful baby. Back to the hotel in time for Chooch’s Being a Parent in the World of New Media and Social Networking panel and while the conversation veered off topic a few times it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Chooch and I split up after that, as he attended Thomas “cmdln” Gideon’s FLOSS and Tech Geek BOF while I went to the scheduled J.R. Blackwell Reading. As had been hinted, Dr. Mercury made an appearance in J.R.’s place, and provided delicious entertainment. First an explanation of who she is, and then readings of exploits. Later, she kidnapped Mur Lafferty and forced her (against her will, naturally) to do readings including one from the collaboration between J.R. and Mur titled Her Side. It was one of the high points of the weekend for me, in that J.R. completely immersed herself in the Dr. Mercury persona to the delight of the entire audience. I had actually intended on slipping out a few minutes early to prepare for our show at 11 pm, but was unable to tear myself away until after Dr. Mercury exited.

We had invited our friends Christiana Ellis, cmdln and P.G. Holyfield to our Into The Blender Live recording to discuss movies, and I can’t speak for anyone else but I greatly enjoyed our chat. I was going to moderate the discussion, but passed my notes to Chooch when I started feeling under the weather. I could feel … it’s hard to explain what it feels like, but almost a jittery twitch in my jaw when the stutter is starting up. I also felt a little disoriented, but after I sat back and took a break from the conversation I felt a bit better. Chooch knew this was possible and took over, so I’m hoping it wasn’t obvious. We had a great crowd, many familiar faces and some new ones which is always a pleasant surprise. The audience participation was fantastic, which we had worried about with our family-friendly show at 11:00 pm.

Afterward, we hung some signs announcing our “Geek Prom” new media party that Jett Micheyl kindly made for us along with Thomas. We ended up in the bar since there were so many more folks that had just arrived that day. I met folks I only knew from Twitter, and glomped many friends that I rarely get to see. FYI, Chris Lester gives AMAZING hugs.

We closed the bar and finally made our way to our room with some friends including Susan, Rich, and Dave Slusher. I think Chooch and I got to sleep around 3 in the morning. That was our only early night, and it was tough to pull away from them but forced ourselves because Chooch had an early panel and I was fearful of not getting enough rest and being even more sick the next day. It was especially tough because I don’t get to see P.G., Rich and Susan NEARLY as much as I would like. And Dave Slusher is someone that I met VERY briefly at last Balticon, spent a bit more time with at Dragon*Con and finally got to really chat with him during this weekend. He is a fantastic and dynamic person, with a truly generous and nurturing spirit.

Out Of Context Theater:
From me: From @pgholyfield: “I’ll pull it out at the reading.” *
“It’s the wood that I like” -Keetara

*He was talking about untucking his shirt, but I thought he’d get more attendees if I left that fact out. On a related note, his reading was packed. 😉

My Balticon flickr stream is viewable below and includes photos from the entire weekend.

What I Learned Today

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Friends, Music, Podcast

It is a long standing joke between Chooch and I that I have a technology destroying aura (TDA). It was with understandable trepidation that I went about the steps necessary to post the second episode of my new podcast, Girls’ Rules. Now, I have done editing for well over a year on our other podcasts, but have only started learning all the other production pieces with this new project. I am striving towards being able to confidently do the full production myself, and while I’m making great strides I had yet to do it all by myself without Chooch.

I decided the best thing to do was to charge forward while he was at work so that I would be unable to lean on him. Full disclosure – I did call him twice, but happily did all the steps myself including posting it to my site and to iTunes. Still nervous, I sent M.A. in PA a direct message in the hopes that she could error check the episode for me. The site post was fine, but the iTunes post was a two minute truncated song instead of my one hour+ long episode. For some reason, I was completely unable to see the episode on iTunes at all, but was unable to find an error with the posting I made. Being clueless on how to fix the problem, I just let it sit until Chooch got home. I was greatly relieved by what he discovered, as it was something that neither of us could have anticipated.

The error occurred because of a link I included in the lengthy show notes. It was to my favorite song of Heather Welliver’s with The Shillas, called Faithful. For whatever reason, iTunes grabbed her song instead of the podcast, and Chooch confirmed this was happening with a test post.  I’m happy to say that through my TDA, we now know not to link to .mp3 files as part of a wordpress with podpress post. Yay for learning new things!

I have happily linked to it above, so NYAH NYAH, iTunes!