new phone, who dis

I got a new phone! It’s a Pixel 3. I’m finally retiring my good old Nexus 5x to the fields of factory reset and minimal trade in value.

So far, it’s pretty nice. Very slick interface, highly responsive gesture navigation, amazing camera. It also really, really, really, really, really wants me to use Google assistant and let it “learn my voice” and whatnot. Which… no? Thanks?

Not that I really have any illusions about the digital age whatsoever — I know all my info has been sold to the a bidder, probably not even the highest one. And likely both Google and Amazon already have plenty of voice recordings of me, even though they both say they aren’t storing them. But lots of people say lots of things.

It’s mostly that I just don’t really see myself actually using the voice assistant whatever thing. Like, I’m not usually trying to text or look things up while I’m also doing something that I literally can’t put down for two seconds. So it just seems unnecessary to me. Maybe it won’t be and I’ll change my tune a few weeks down the line, but until then…

Here’s the other kind of funny thing. I’ve been trying to stay off my phone for most of the day, trying to be less tethered to it. I’m working on recognizing that when it notifies me of something, it’s usually not urgent and doesn’t require me to drop what I’m doing to respond. I still have a tendency to carry it around though and just look at it sometimes when I’m at a loss for what to do. Which is a habit I’m still in the process of breaking.

But since I got the new phone and I haven’t gotten my case for it yet, I’ve been leaving it safely in my office for fear of dropping this expensive, shiny piece of hardware. I always get a case and a screen protector because I drop my phone at least once a week, probably more (my Nexus 5X + case tolerated this with great aplomb) so I don’t want to risk it. Which means that I’m not carrying it around.

Which makes me wonder if I should cancel my order for a phone case…

tea for trouble

After Thanksgiving, we were traveling home with an excess of gifts, as we are after every trip to Houston. It’s become routine enough that I’ve started taking a slightly larger bag than necessary, purely because I’m sure it’ll be stuffed with various things for me to bring home. This time, we were carting back multiple kinds of tea, bottles of wine, and some snacks. We distributed the things into our bags and also ended up checking a box because of the wine.

One of the teas that my mom sent us home with was pu’er, which is a special fermented black tea. This tea is sold in compressed cakes of tea leaves, shaped like flat discs, wrapped in cotton paper. It comes with text on the top and a little insert within the wrapper that attests to the authenticity — pu’er can be expensive, and counterfeiting is sometimes an issue. The pu’er we had was also nestled in a little box and the box went into a bag.

But we didn’t have room in our luggage for extraneous packaging, so Adam took the wrapped disc out and put that in his backpack, neatly cushioned by some sweaters. (At least traveling in winter means you have copious packing material to cushion breakables with.)

It looks like this:

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writing (and life) recap 2018: w47

Survived round one of marathon family events season. Which, as a moniker, makes it sound rather dire (even for all that it is certainly true).

Thanksgiving shenanigans were good, better than expected even. This year, we went to go visit my family in Houston. Had waaaaaay too many huge meals, which surprised no one. The usual number of (or maybe slightly fewer, if I’m being optimistic) problematic things were said and called out. For Thanksgiving proper, we had an elaborate hot pot, which is our go to holiday meal. My mom and stepdad tend to go all out with it; they event built their own giant hot pot specific table. It’s fun and interactive and social. (Should’ve snapped a pic, but I’m bad at remembering things like that especially when confronted with tasty food.)

Got to see the brother and the stepsister and a lot of dog nieces (and one dog nephew). They were all happily spoiled by my mother who insists on feeding all dogs table scraps. Her own Maltese, named Proton, now eats mostly people food, and has terrible tableside begging habits because of it, to no one’s surprise at all. This has been a running conversation for duration of Proton’s entire life, and this year, I chose to be very ambivalent and vaguely amused about it, which was less stressful. I think partially it’s because the parties involved were more honest about their intentions — whereas previously, my mom made overtures about not wanting Proton to beg or was (seemingly) annoyed at her behavior, now she just fully embraces the fact that this is how she wants to raise her dog. Which makes the whole thing simpler because then I can let it go instead of watch advice that I was asked for go completely unheeded and then hear the same lamentations at each meal.

Everyone should be more honest about their intentions.

Writing was a little more difficult this week, but I got the words in. I wanted to make sure that I wrote while traveling because I didn’t want to feel too tied to location or supplies when trying to get work done. It would be totally like my jerkbrain to try to entice me away from being productive by telling me that I needed to be at my desk or I needed to have x, y, and z. So proving to myself that I can/should work away from home was important. It seems like such a minor thing when you say it (or write it) out loud (or on paper), but I think it’s helpful. It’s sort of like how last year’s NaNo, though I wasn’t totally happy with my end result, proved to me that I could do it.

And it’s not even that I’m proving to myself that I can do these discrete things, not really. It’s more proving to myself that I can hold myself accountable. That I can keep the promises I make to myself, which is essentially the only category of promise I have historically had no compunctions in breaking.

I am worried about a couple of plot points where I think things get a little weak. In those bits, my characters lack some agency and are reacting mostly to external stimulus instead of pushing the plot forward themselves, so I need to think about that. I’m solidly in the muddy, mushy middle, and it’s feeling messy, which makes my enthusiasm flag. (That was a lot of M’s. I should have said motivation, I suppose, to continue the trend.) What it tells me is that I need to outline to where I am and figure out where it breaks down, go back to where I was enthusiastic, and figure out a new way forward. That feels very daunting right now though…

Word count total: 42,460

cat cave

Now that the weather has gotten cold, Nukat’s favorite spot is in between Adam’s back and his sweatshirt, in the dip of his office chair. She kept trying to close the sweatshirt door as I was attempting to take this picture.

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snow day

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Woke up this morning to this, with more fluffy flakes still falling from the sky. Good thing I stocked up on hot chocolate and library books…

vote

If you’re in the US, go vote today.

I could give you lines and lines why, but you already know why, don’t you? So I’ll give you this instead:

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel

writing recap 2018: w42

Oh man, I have been exhausted this week.

My writing progress was minimal. I kept up with morning pages and with my flash fiction challenge, but that was really it. My intention was to do NaNo prep stuff — get a story outline in place, do some character sketches, etc. — but I just didn’t have the bandwidth.

Diana and I put on the first ever Shenanicon this year, and it was a whirlwind six weeks of planning and phone calls and ordering and task lists and and and. But it was great. And, as far as I can tell, it seemed like it was a success. People enjoyed themselves, we got to meet some Bscotch fans and put faces to the Discord handles. It was basically an extended, somewhat-structured party for the fans.

But it did mean that anytime I tried to think about anything else this past week, I’d remember another checklist item that I needed to attend to. So… a little distracting. After yesterday, I’m basically all out of spoons and at the limits of my decision fatigue. I told Adam that I’m not going to make anymore decisions for the next week and I don’t want to think about any additional convention planning stuff until November is over.

And then we’ll start figuring out next year (there are rumblings but no promises)…

In any event. I went into a hole this week (thus no updates to the blog except for the prompts). I dragged myself out long enough to tap out this scatterbrained post, and now I’m going to go hole up again and keep recharging my introvert batteries. And then this upcoming week will be NaNo prepping in earnest.

(I was going back and forth on the whole semblance of anonymity thing. But after a little while, referring to people as A or D or other letters just got kind of annoying? Unnecessary? Also, three of my most oft visited family members’ names start with S, so that would be a whole thing. And then, after another moment of hemming and hawing, I thought fuck it and went with names. As I said, no more spoons.)

eggs in purgatory – tomatillo edition

We had our good friends M & M over for brunch this past weekend. Well, it started with brunch at our place and then sprawled out into the evening time too, which was amazing. They are some of the best people.

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Lemon rosemary cream scones

I tired a new recipe for our brunch, a variant on eggs in purgatory. Eggs in purgatory is an Italian dish of eggs cooked in a tomato sauce. The sauce is usually kicky and bright, infused with umami and spicy heat. The eggs are soft, with the whites barely set, and the yolk creamy and golden and runny. You top it with cheese and eat it with toasty bread and it’s just one of the best things.

When I was thinking about brunch dishes to prepare, it came to the forefront because it’s easy to put together, and you can do a good amount of advanced prep, so that when you have company over, you’re not in the kitchen trying to fry up individual over-easy eggs.

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