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January 6, 1999

Asking For A Day

I'm still working on trying to breath, sometimes. Laughter, amusingly enough, is the worst thing of all, for breathing, that is, but it's kinda funny to be fighting for breath in order to enjoy a good laugh. So it doesn't frustrate me nearly as much as it might otherwise.

I asked for the date today. Found out it was the sixth, good thing too, as I spent nearly the whole day buried up to my eyeballs in paperwork as the benefits lady came in and lectured us on what we could do, what we needed to choose and what we needed to decide before the day was out. They wanted as much of the paperwork as they could get today and then the rest of if FAX'ed in tomorrow. Luckily she'd done an orientation presentation a few weeks ago and so I knew the shape of what it was that I was supposed to decide, and I knew the general way I wanted things to go.

It had been pretty amusing going into the walk-in clinic a few days ago and basically saying that we had no health insurance, no numbers, nothing. I don't think I ever remember doing that. What was even more memorable was the doctor telling me, "Good luck." as I walked out the examination room door. The pharmacy folks wished me well, too. Sometimes I think it's good to see things from this side, as both sets of folks may well have implied that with no insurance we were either unemployed or down and out of luck or something. It was cool to see the kindness.

Though I wouldn't know how someone that is trying to count all their pennies would be able to take a $85 doctor bill and $45 in drugs. I remember when $100 was a huge problem, a major catastrophe to recover from, which is really weird because I know that it influences how I approach taking care of myself even when I really don't have those kinds of concerns anymore. Necessity sometimes dictates more than I care to know. Well, it's mostly going to be paid for by my medical insurance, anyway. So it's a good thing, but it's also a good thing for me to remember, as some part of me is going to now be on the lookout for a charity that provides medical care for those that can't afford it.

One of those things... while fighting for breath one night my mind started to just slide elongated, rectangular tile images together, one after the other, just fitting them in one after the other. I realized, in a moment of consciousness that I was actually fitting each piece in with each breath I managed to breathe through seared membranes at the back of my nose and throat.

The third or fourth day I was coherent enough to at least sit up and read. I reread Kormarr, and then read Sean Stewart's Cloud's End. I liked that in the dedication he apologized for bringing out books that were each so different from the others. Marith described it as a Patricia McKillip book written by Sean Stewart. It did remind me of McKillip's fantasies, but only so far as magic from elements and that all things could be heard. The mythology was entirely its own. The lyrical eloquence at the heart of McKillip's magics weren't a requirement here, little to near none of that feeling of power and danger of a word well or badly turned, rather, with Cloud's End power was in the heart's own truth. This isn't to say that the book wasn't eloquent, it was. Utterly. But many of McKillip's magical fantasies showed just how powerful words could be, for destruction or for creation.

What I found most fascinating about Cloud's End was the lovely balance between myth and reality, what makes a story and what makes a life lived. The concepts that could be gleaned from seeing the world with that boundary rather than the more common ones that are given. The differences and the similarities, and the fact that one affects the other. He, so deftly, brings all the major characters through a realization of what their lives are like when touched by myth, some more, some less. And even the amount of touch is something of a point of conflict for some of them. I loved how he followed it all through.

In a way, this journal is my exploration of the other side of that boundary. I'd always thought the stories were more important, and I gave them my attention, time, creativity. In the last couple of years, I've learned, day by day, that the things that make up a life, all the little, everyday things from cooking to pot cleaning, from breathing to petting a dog are what make up the elements that would enable the big stories, the myths, the adventures. Balance.

It was an excellent book and will make me think for a while to come.

One thing that I got from it was that I have stopped writing fiction because I am afraid of my 'real life' being overwhelmed by it. That the tides of adventuring in the lands in my head will take me so far out that I'll never be content with vacuuming black dust bunnies, washing the dishes, or having to sit and watch TV while my hands rest for a while. Stupid things, mundane things that are easier when I'm working on bits of code for a mundane master and corporation for very prosaic amounts of money to live on and eat on and be warm and real. Or seem to be. How can I be content with having to scrub out the toilet when, in my head, I have a creature of wind and darkness, bladed as sharp and brightly as moonlight?

Well, guess what? I have got that critter in my brain and I have got to clean the bathroom anyway. What the book brought home was that may simply be the way life is. That the two are going to be crazy juxtaposed, but juxtaposed they're going to be.

The codeine cough syrup really did a job on me. Everything from sleeping in at an overnight with my sister and having this blur pop out at me and her pouncing on it to pull up a foot wide tarantula and bite its head off to this perfectly ironic superhero standoff that had me laughing so hard, when I woke up I couldn't breath.

This woman and two kids are fleeing this bunker and being accompanied by this superhero type. Big, buff, strong brick's brick. They break out into this thunderstorm, trying to use it as cover for their getaway. Another superhero type pops up with armor, effectively another brick with armor providing the brickhood. The in-coming hero yells, into the crashing thunder of the storm, "Unhand those civilians!" The hero with the civies yells, "You'll never get them!!" Neither of them hear the other, but the civ's hero flies up to meet the other. They both growl with the thunder and then swoop and bash into each other, headfirst. Knock each other out. Last frame is both of them sitting up woozily, stars and birds and whatever circling their aching heads and they share the same thought bubble, "At least the civilians got away..."

The noise of the storm was pretty terrific. Couldn't capture that in the panels it cries out to be drawn as. Hey. Maybe I should draw it as a four panel cartoon. Maybe I should ask Peter. <laughter>

I have another dream that should probably go to story rather than Web-share, but some part of my brain said that it'll only get told as a dream anyway. I'll update the What's New to say I've added a new dream when I do. Oh, yeah, the cold's completely taken away my voice, even John can't hear me speak, sometimes, so I can't use the dictation software. Luckily, with the week-plus rest for my hands they're perfectly willing to type all of this down.

Sometimes, now, I go through the day looking. Just looking at things. At the myriad of views of the lake, Lake Sammamish, as we drive by it on our way to work our back, drinking it all in for the days we move away, for the days when I won't be able to. The mists today were near haunting, sliding over the hills to all sides of the lake, ghosting the forests and the trees, sliding over the mirror surface of the dawn-calm water. The mists make each further layer of hills then mountains paler and paler as they are further and further away. I eye the near hills hungrily, seeing how they shoulder up against each other, all mantled in trees and houses hidden amid the foliage, no clear path for the eye.

I look now at all the giant trees, towering over me everywhere. All the pine and fir, especially the giant firs cutting off the horizon in all directions, shading, cooling, so dark green in all their aspect when in mid-winter, their green is all there is, but everywhere. Dense, solid, alive in all directions when all the wimpy deciduous trees have given up the year's ghost. I marvel, often, remembering when I learned, here, alders, thirty feet and taller, are considered mere weeds.

Now, I agree with them. The alders with their roots in bog or watery soil usually rot in the center for all that they grow so quickly tall and then then crack and fall over, when the firs can stand, together, forever.

So many things I marvel at, now, knowing that I might well leave them all behind in a few months. Odd how true it is that I better appreciate what I might lose.

Well, I added the dream. I also completely snuck in 1999, and a 1998 page for all the past months now. I'm still wondering if all my links work. Please tell me if something's broken somewhere and you get annoyed by the breakage. Just push the little word down there that says 'mail' and I'll be happy.

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