the_gneech: (Default)
In the spirit of keeping calm and carrying on, have a random check-in with the mundane things in life.

Job Hunt

In my quest to return to a more traditional job for a while, I have been sending out job applications right and left since sometime in December, and they have started to bear fruit. Two weeks ago I had a phone interview that seemed to go very well, and the interviewer said they would recommend me to the next rung up and that I should expect to hear shortly. This has not happened, causing the interviewer some confusion as the next person up said they were contacting me.

So, a bit of confusion there. Fortunately, they aren't the only fish in the sea! I had another interview yesterday with a different company who (should all things go well) would provide a very nice salary and benefits, as well as a relocation stipend, which would come in very handy. The interviewer for the second company says the hiring process typically takes 2-4 weeks, so that could be done by the end of February.

Fuwa Fuwa Time

I am nearing the end of the main series of K-On! and I love the hell out of this show. Besides the fact that it's funny as all get out, every time I finish an episode I want to round up all of my friends and just hug the heck out of them. It just perfectly captures that ephemeral feeling of realizing you have to live in the moment, because that's all you really have and it will quickly be gone.

It has also made me reflect on what a mess my own childhood was, how it could have gone differently, and how I could have reacted better to the circumstances I was in. Of course I was a child at the time, so I had no frame of reference to realize what a mess it was, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it, just do my best to learn from it.

Shoes By the Door

Speaking of things Japanese, [personal profile] laurie_robey and I have adopted the habit of taking off our shoes at the door and changing to slippers to wear around the house. The reasons are purely pragmatic– we keep squelching in the mud here and tracking it into the house and we don't want to have to keep cleaning the rug– but it does produce an interesting psychological shift as well, making home seem more "homey." I wasn't expecting that.

We're still getting used to it– for the first few weeks particularly I kept putting on my shoes to go out and then realizing I'd left all the lights on and had to go tromping on the rug to turn them off, defeating the purpose. -.- But, as I needed new shoes anyway, I picked up some comfy Sketchers loafers that are easy to slip on and off, making the change of shoes a much quicker and easier process than it was before. So far I'm liking it.

No Mercy

That's it for now. Have an Overwatch fan vid.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Boot to the Head)
Okay. So, we all know. Let's get it out of the way.

John Oliver blows up 2016

Yeah, 2016 pretty much blew chunks in a lot of ways. Thing is, it started out so well! I thought 2014 was the worst things were going to get, 2015 was the beginning of an upward climb, and that 2016 was going to be awesome. Then everything went pear-shaped, starting with our moving plans. Then Buddha died... and from there it was a nearly-unrelenting sea of crap that culminated in the Worst Possible Result in the election. I used to joke about not wanting to live in 1930s Germany. I don't joke about that any more.

For the record, some good things DID happen in 2016, and there's evidence that 2017 will be better. So even though things have been rough, just wallowing in it isn’t going to help. Since the end of November, I have been making a concerted effort to wedge positivity back into my life by any means possible, and it is working, even if there is a lot of resistance from a world determined to set itself on fire. But more on that in the Goals for 2017 part of the post. For now, let's review the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

  1. Issues Four and Five, Plus the First Collection. Partial success. Issue four is out and issue five is running currently, after moving and story development heck. This will be finished in early 2017, assuming all goes well.

  2. Publish That Book! Still working on it. I've received a fair amount of positive feedback from the various agents etc. I've shopped it around to, but so far it hasn't found a home. I'm going to keep at it until it sells or I run out of potential markets. If it gets to that point, I'll look at self-publishing.

  3. Finish Another Book! Didn't happen. Had to punt mid-NaNoWriMo, but I'll get back to it in 2017.

  4. Get the Money Sitch Fixed. Didn't happen. Despite being a very strong candidate, [ profile] lythandra went to trainings and applied for jobs and talked to headhunters and out of all that got a few tiny nibbles and only one offer– which was immediately cancelled a few days later due to the contract being disputed. I hung out my shingle as a freelance/tech writer but so far have spent most of my time on that front turning down such lucrative offers as "Write ten full length novels for us to sell without giving you any residuals or credit for $35,000/year." So, still living on savings and what income the comics and art bring in, but we have plans in motion. (See below.)

  5. Move. Um. Happened, yes. But not the way we wanted. It needs fixing still/again.

  6. Get Back to Conventions! Eh... sort of. AC and MFF happened again. We also went to a steampunk meet in PA, but we had to punt on FurTheMore and Dragon*Con for financial and/or scheduling reasons. I expect 2017 to be different, however.

  7. Stronger faster slimmer better. Big setbacks here. Depression, stress, and a host of other factors meant that in six months I regained all the weight it had taken me two years to get rid of. :P I am not happy about this. The good news is that at the end of November I rejoined Weight Watchers and I have recovered 11 pounds' worth of progress since then, despite the best efforts of convention food and holidays. More significantly I have figured out how to live comfortably on a 35-ish point diet– basically the allocation for someone my age weighing 220 lbs. At my current rate of weight loss, I will hit that in six months, which would suit me just fine.

  8. No More Afib. Success! Heart ablation surgery was a complete success. Since March, I have only experienced afib twice, both of which were in December and seem to have been triggered by salt. As long as I continue to limit my salt intake, I should be set.

  9. Bernie Sanders 2016. Ugh. Don't get me started.

Now the review post from last year had unexpected things achieved in 2015. Alas, 2016 didn't really have a lot in the way of such things. However, it wasn't entirely bleak. Zootopia was really good, for instance. Also, I got into Overwatch and a fan very kindly built me a terrific computer to run it on, which prompted me to create the Learning Not to Suck at Overwatch series. It didn't exactly set YouTube on fire, but the videos were fun to make and I got to test my mettle in a competitive environment, something which I've never done a lot of. Overwatch also provided my single longest running batch of art commissions, in the form of "Play of the Game" badges. My Overwatchery has been thin since Halloween– other priorities eating my time– but I hope to get back into it in January.

So that leads me to my goals for 2017...

  1. Issues Five and Six, Plus the First Collection. Five and collection should be done well before AnthroCon. Issue Six, we'll see. I’m thinking of taking the comic in a slightly new direction based on the ending of Issue Five, but that's still in the very half-baked stage so I can't really go into detail yet.

  2. Publish That Book! Like I said, still working on this.

  3. Finish Another Book! I am looking at creating a series specifically for self-pub. More on that as the development fills out some more.

  4. Start a Company. This is a big one that Laurie and I have been messing with off and on again all year, but which is really starting to take shape now. Again, I don't want to talk about it in too much detail before everything is set in motion, all the T's are dotted and I's are crossed, etc., but it's a cool, exciting project designed to put the making of money back into our hands, since getting hired by other people doesn't seem to be a thing that really happens to anyone any more.

  5. Move to California. Okay. So. I thought this was going to happen last year, but for various reasons I kept fairly quiet about it at the time, and then it fell through anyway. It's back on the plan now, and I am not keeping it a secret any more. The exact details are still being hashed out, so you can expect to hear more on this as the year goes on. But part of the reason for the Start a Company item, is to enable living where we want, and since Fed jobs are going to all be utter crap for the next four years or more as the assholes-elect try to burn down the country, there's not a whole lot of point in staying around here for the job market anyway. Our families and some of our friends are here, of course, but we only see them a few times a year as it is– Facetime/Google Hangouts and plane tickets will probably take care of that problem. California is not necessarily the only candidate, we're also looking at some spots around New England for instance, but it is by far the strongest candidate and my top choice unless there is a strongly compelling reason to go elsewhere.

  6. Stronger faster slimmer better. 220 lbs by end of September is the plan. 220 lbs by end of June is the stretch goal.

  7. Bring the Awesome! I was just getting through my grief about my parents when Buddha died, kicking it all off again. I spent most of 2016 in a depression deeper than anything I’ve been through since 2001, although instead of manifesting as "feeling bad," it was more like an emotional dead zone, making it hard to enjoy anything and leaving me in a constant state of "peeved and grouchy for no good reason." That shit's got to go. As I said, since the end of November I've been focusing on positivity, and I'm just going to build on that and do more in 2017.

  8. Edit Myself Less. This one is kind of hard to explain without context and it's more a note to myself than anything. There are aspects of myself that I have simply made a point of not talking about for one reason or another; opinions, feelings, or wishes I have kept to myself when it would have been appropriate to share them, and so on. But honestly? It's not doing myself or the people who care about me any favors. I've had people tell me "I thought I knew you..." before for just this reason. And while I'm a lot more myself now than I used to be, I still get into that self-censorship habit when I’m depressed or afraid. This is something I need to work on. Shoving every thought in your head into other people's faces isn't a good idea– but shutting yourself down just to please other people isn't a healthy choice either. I'm not about to start drawing porn or anything like that, but I am going to be loosening up.

  9. Reverse course and mitigate/repair damage to the country. Grassroots action FTW. They're not going to burn down the country while I have anything to say about it. More on this in some other post.

[ profile] jamesbarrett's sister Kimmie said that 2016 was the end of a 9-year cycle, which is why there were so many deaths and endings and so much loss, but that also meant that 2017 would be a year of new beginnings. [1] While astrology and numerology are not my particular flavor of crackpottery, I can’t deny that 2016 sure has felt like everything was crumbling around my ears. Not going to California when we originally planned to, which pushed us into the Maryland move, and the death of Buddha all hit me hard. Seeing the end of the first administration in my life that I actually liked the President was going to be tough; seeing him replaced by somebody so obviously The Worst Possible Candidate For the Job just hurts.

But these things all happened and can't be undone. I've had my disappointment and my grief and my rage. While there may be emotional aftershocks, the end of November made a sea change in Laurie and me, and I am excited and ready for the things we’ve got coming up in the year ahead. If 2017 is indeed the year of new beginnings, let's make it the beginning of something amazing.

-The Gneech

[1] This is based on numerology: 2016 breaks down to 2 + 0 + 1 + 6 = 9. 2017 will be 2 + 0 + 1 + 7 = 10, 1 + 0 = 1. Thus 2016 is the end of the current cycle and 2017 is the beginning of the next one.
the_gneech: (Gneechtoon)
Earlier this week I finally started up the Bullet Journal again, after getting knocked entirely off my routine for a month and a half or however long it was. I find a Bullet Journal super-useful for both keeping myself on track to being productive, and for keeping my head screwed on right. To use a Spoon Theory analogy, a Bullet Journal is like having an extra pocket you can stash a few spoons in the night before. ;)

Anyway, all week I've had as a to-do item "Three Good Things" post. But what's been happening is that at night I'm fighting to force myself to go to bed much against my will, which means I don't have a "wind down" routine so much as a "knock myself down" routine... and so the "Good Things" post doesn't happen because it's 2 a.m. and I have been trying to make myself go to bed for hours.

I blame Overwatch. :P But that's for another discussion.

So I decided that today I would simply list a ton of good stuff that's happened to me recently, in no particular order, and with no numerical limit. Most of this is very personal/self-centered stuff rather than any sort of "greater good," but that's okay. Sometimes things that are just good for me, are good enough.

  1. The weather has been crazy nice for most of May/June. This sounds trivial, but given the strong correlation between my energy level/mood and sunny days, it's a lot bigger than it may seem. It's weird, I can sometimes wake up and somehow know, just from how bleah I feel, that it's a cloudy day outside.

  2. I've been having fun playing Overwatch. This is a little more of a mixed bag because I've also been very frustrated with my computer trying to play Overwatch. The thing crashes five times out of six tries, and I don't currently have the funds to replace it. XD So it can be kind of frustrating to spend 50 minutes rebooting for every 10 minutes playing, but when the computer gets into a long "working" streak, Overwatch is a lot of fun. This leads to my next item...

  3. People are being super-generous about helping with the computer problem. A fan who prefers to remain anonymous is upgrading his own computer to a super-high-end model and basically giving me most of his previous one, which is still a giant step up from the one I'm currently using. All I have to provide is a copy of Windows and a video card, and that I can afford to do. ^.^ He's currently talking about handing it off to me at BronyCon, which is July 9-10. Another friend has given me a full license for Team Fortress 2, on the grounds that Overwatch is basically a newer version of that, to play in the meantime. XD

  4. Finished issue four! It'll be at AnthroCon! Rough Housing is starting to build up a body of work finally. ^.^

  5. AnthroCon is next weekend! I get to see a bunch of my furry pals and do arts and get commissions and stuff!

  6. We're moved! We've got the furniture all in place, curtains up and art on the walls. There's still settling in to be done, especially in the office and library because we don't use those rooms as much, but we do at least have the beginnings of a home going on.

  7. My heart ablation surgery was a complete success! I haven't had any afib since March, and as of this week, I am off the heart meds. In as much as afib ever gets "cured," this is it.

  8. My toe is healing nicely. I did cringe a bit when the doctor said it might need a pin, but then the x-rays came back that the joint was fine and that all I have to do is keep taping it up and wearing this silly shoe-brace-thing for a few more weeks. I'll probably be alternating between it and a regular shoe at AC, particularly for driving and/or if the weather is rainy.

  9. This video. Just... this video.

So... yeah. Some good stuff has been happening. I'm sure there's more than I've remembered to post here, but I am a lion of little brain and things fall out of it a lot. I'm going to try to be more regular about posting good things on a regular basis, but that requires not fighting to force myself to go to bed. So... we'll see. ;P

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Lachwen Lightning Girl)
Our wifi is repaired! No more data management for me! Download all the updates! Watch all the YouTube videos! Waaaahahahahahaaa!

-The Gneech, patching LotRO now
the_gneech: (I.T. Crowd FAIL!)
Not going to have cable until Thursday earliest, and running on fumes datawise for hotspottery, so we're at a Starbucks trying desperately to get some internetting done. Unfortunately, the wi-fi here is




at the DMV





-The Gneech at 9600 baud.
the_gneech: (Keitaro Holy Crap)
I don't know why, but for some reason [ profile] lythandra and I cannot be involved with a move without somebody flinging themselves down a staircase. This time around it was apparently my turn, as this morning when I was coming down for breakfast, my right foot decided not to stop of the step I put it on[1] but to head on down to the bottom, without telling the rest of my body first. Thus most of my weight ended up crunching the toes of my left foot curled under.

Owie. -.-

At first I was pretty sure that I'd broken either my toe or the bones of my foot. After several minutes of ice and cursing, I finally came to the conclusion that my foot is not actually broken, but that the top of the foot had become hyperextended. It hurts like heck, but hopefully it should not be permanent damage.

So once again, I'm gimping around on a cane. But, being forced to sit down means that I have a compelling reason to draw today instead of unpacking, so yay, I guess?

In other updates, the dishwasher has been repaired and we finally got the visitor's pass for our car, so progress is being made. :) We still won't have cable/internet until next week at the earliest, so we're still on hotspots and paying through the nose for it even with "compensatory data" from Verizon. But we are ubergeeks, and as such, internet is easily as important as things like running water. I've been wanting to sign on to LotRO all week, but I don't dare burn up the bandwidth.

The cats are acclimating well, although Inkygirl is terrified of the ceiling fans, much to our consternation. Apparently, this is a fairly common phenomenon, although Dasher doesn't even to seem to notice they're there. But then again, Dasher came to us as the result of apparently thinking a moving car would be a fun thing to play with, so, he's not necessarily a good judge of what is or isn't dangerous.

So, we're trucking along. Could be better, but could also be much worse. We're all right. :)

-The Gneech

[1] I blame carpeting on the stairs. This is something I've railed against before.
the_gneech: (Kero asleep)
Today [ profile] lythandra and I got the last stuff out of The Staircase, swept all the everything, locked the keys inside, and came home to Ginger Court. Tomorrow we do not plan to leave Maryland. This is officially home now.

How do we feel about it? Mostly tired. A bit bruised and stiff. But on the whole... relieved. This whole thing has been a flustercluck from start to finish, dating all the way back to the original short sale of the Hobbit Hole that put us in this situation to begin with. The Staircase was a matter of what we could get immediately on the heels of a short sale and would allow three cats, and while it was decent enough we never really liked it so much as we hate moving. ¬.¬

Ginger Court, while it needs some work and some getting used to, and puts us in a whole new state where we have to get all new everythings, I think we will still like better. Plus, if we put sweat equity into this place, it will help out a friend rather than just be effort wasted making somebody else's house more resellable.

So, yeah. On the whole, for all the short-term pain, I think this is a good move overall.

Now, begins the Great Unpacking. But my desk is assembled (mostly), which means I can start drawing again! Hopefully that means Rough Housing on Monday, and if I can arrange it, maybe some sketching between now and then to get back into the swing of things.

But now... SLEEP. *thud* G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. I love ya. <3

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Leonard machismo)
I (almost) singlehandedly assembled three pieces of furniture today. I feel so macho! Now to go eat some steak.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Gneechtoon)
Welp, we'll still got about a day's worth of serious work to do back at The Staircase, but we both need a day that doesn't involve driving back to Virginia, so we're spending it at (our new) home assembling the library (and probably making a run to Ikea to get a few bits of supplementary furniture). We've also got a precious few hours of actual sunlight, which I am trying to soak up like a sponge.

So what do we think of the new place so far? Well I can't speak for [ profile] lythandra because we haven't really talked about it, but a bit to my surprise I think I'm actually going to like it a lot better than the Staircase. Yes, that place was a bit larger and had hardwood floors rather than carpets, but the layout was super-awkward and, as has been famously observed, every room was on a different floor. This place has better windows, a layout that enables me to face Laurie when I'm sitting at my desk instead of spending all my time with my back to her, and a neighborhood that doesn't set off all my paranoia buttons.

It does need some serious tweaking and renovation. I don't know if the previous tenants just abused the place or what, but there is a general "seen better days"-ness to most of the fixtures and appurtenances. The shower plumbing can literally be shoved through the wall with almost no effort, the blinds are battered and fall off with the slightest provocation, and so on. (I already repaired the shower head when it came off in my hand.) I expect to be getting a lot of practice in my Mr. Fixit skills, but as that was something I wanted to do anyway, it's just as well.

We're still getting to know the neighborhood. After spending 20+ years living fairly near the old stomping grounds of where I grew up, we were pretty used to knowing where everything was, what the local politics were like, etc. So far we've found some generic chain places we're familiar with, a funky and cool farmer's-markety thing, the local public library, and some pet supply places, so we've got most of the bare necessities covered.

Oh! And a Starbucks for writing in. That's an important detail.

So, we're getting settled in and we're doing all right. Tomorrow we're going to rent a truck for the last gasp of getting stuff out of the old place, and hopefully next week we get back to regular life of some sort.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Gneechtoon)
Well, we're mostly moved. Almost all of the stuff we're keeping is in the new place; what's left at the old place is stuff that's being donated, or stuff that is needed to clean up.

The only major hitch in the proceedings so far is that the FiOS box is over two years old, which means that Verizon can't (or won't, either is equally likely with those guys) activate it without sending a tech out here. Unfortunately, Verizon is going through a workers' strike right now so... who knows if or when we'll get service.

So in the meantime, I have to use my phone's personal hotspot (which will eat through data like whoa), or find a Starbucks and glom on. ;) So my online time may be spotty for a while. :P

Still, given that we had 30 days to GTFO, it could have been a lot worse.

Now... to see if [ profile] sirfox would consider exchanging renovations for rent...


...but first, sleep. *thud*

the_gneech: (No Drama Zone)
The owner of the Staircase was one of those people like us, caught in the housing meltdown. So, when we asked to switch to a month-to-month lease with the idea that we would probably like to find a better place sometime later this year, she said, "Cool, I've been looking to put the house back up on the market to try to get out from under it, so I'll go ahead and put it up for sale. That should take months to go through anyway."

So we said cool, and she said cool, and everybody thought it was cool. Then the first person who even glanced at the place said, "I'll take it, get those damn tenants da fug out."

Giving us a month to move. -.- The owner of the house was very apologetic... but not so apologetic that she didn't take the offer.

Keep in mind, Laurie is still in the midst of re-training and looking for a new job, and I have been not-so-gainfully self-employed for two? three? years now and our credit is still recovering from the short sale of The Hobbit Hole. So the chances of our being able to find and secure a place in time to actually move there by the time we had to vacate were definitely slim.

However, [ profile] sirfox's townhouse-ish condo in Germantown was between tenants. It's roughly 2/3 the size of the Staircase, but is on two levels instead of five(!), is $300/mo cheaper than our current place, and Sirfie would pre-approve us with the management company and is extremely unlikely to sell the place any time soon. So, problem solved. Off to Germantown we go.

While I'm grateful to Sirfie and at least counting my blessings that we're not on the street, I'm not happy with the current set of events. It's not the worst possible result, but I definitely consider it the last rung below "failure state." However, our options are currently limited and we've got to make do, so I'm going to do my best to focus on the positives and keep moving forward. We get to keep our cats, we get to keep ourselves, and I get to keep writing. Those are the absolute minimum requirements of life as far as I'm concerned, and we've still got those.

Now to build.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Gneechtoon)
I figure there's only one way to make a post more obscure than putting it on LiveJournal, and that's putting it on LiveJournal on a Friday night. But obviously you're here and reading this, so maybe I'm wrong about that! ;)

Anyway! Yes, you're right, I have been a bit less chatty as of late, but that's because my world, which has tended to flop itself upside down like a giant metaphorical pancake every few months for the past several years, is at it again. This particular floppage is a confluence of several things happening at once, so lemme break it down a bit.

How Moving!

This is the big one. The lease on our current townhouse ended in March, and for various reasons that will wait for another day, we wanted flexibility to be able to move sometime around July-ish. So we opted for a month-to-month renewal, because our other choice was another 12 months. The owner of our house was like, "Cool, I've been thinking of selling around then anyway, so I'll list the house and aim to settle around the time you guys are planning to move." We said, "cool," and she said, "cool," and all was good.

The first person who even glanced at the house bought it and wanted us out immediately. :-`

The current owner was like, "Uh, I'll sell you the house, sure, but I have a legal obligation to the tenants." So the buyer rolled their eyes and said, "Okay, fine, give them 30 days notice and be done with it." Thus it is, that we need to move by May 17th.

As you can imagine, this has rather flung us for a loop. We have spent the time since getting this news looking for a new place to go, selling/donating/disposing of even more stuff than we did when we were selling the Hobbit Hole, and generally freaking out.

The good news is, we have a backup plan, in the form of [ profile] sirfox's condo in Maryland which is currently vacant. If we don't find anything else, that will be our safety net. But we are not settled on that yet.

Things That Aren't Moving

Meanwhile, when not dealing with that, I've been cranking away on my novel writing. As of this afternoon, Sky Pirates of Calypsitania has officially received two rejections, one from a literary agent who likes my writing generally but wasn't interested in that particular book, and one from Tor-Forge, who simply responded with a form letter. All of the other markets well-suited to the book do not take unagented manuscripts, so for the time being the strategy on that book is "keep looking for an agent, and keep working on other books."

In the other books department, I've returned to Tend on Mortal Thoughts and I'm trying to Second Draft it up to 80,000+ words if I can. Some of my beta readers have given me very good suggestions in that regard and when I'm not in the midst of moving I intend to make use of them. I have also put in some serious thinking on Brigid and Greg, and might just have a direction with that to go I like after all. But that's going to have to wait a few months.

But here's the thing about writing: when I start doing that, I tend to stop doing anything that's not writing. Video games, TwitterPonies, basic hygiene, whatever it is, doesn't happen because it doesn't involve putting words on the page. A typical writing day for me tends to be 8-12 hours of phrenetic typing, punctuated by the occasional five minute stare into space while I try to solve a problem, then back to typing. When it comes time to finally hang up my keyboard at the end of the day, I'm generally completely exhausted, and as a general rule I have to physically force myself to take time off on the weekend or at night in order to prevent turning [ profile] lythandra into a Writer's Widow.

So as you can probably guess, progress on writing means little to say on LiveJournal, because LiveJournal is not putting words on the page.

Has Anybody Seen D&D? It Was Right Here a Few Weeks Ago. Also, Dammit Game Parlor.

On the topic of the world being turned upside down, [ profile] jamesbarrett, who is a major participant in my current D&D game and is in fact the only other DM in the group, has recently lost his weekend evenings to his own life's topsy-turviness. It's just possible that the group might be able to find a way to making "super late Friday/Saturday night and all online" work, but it's very iffy. Right now it's kind of a moot point because moving has knocked all chances of gaming off the map until mid-May anyhow, but even once Laurie and I land gaming as we have known it is currently not looking like it will survive.

In this context, my discovery today that Game Parlor closed back in November. I can't honestly say I'm surprised, but I am bummed, because in its heyday it was the nicest gaming store I've ever seen. The late 3.x/4E-era collapse of the RPG market, combined with the rise of online shopping and PDFs taking over the gaming industry dealt them a series of blows it would have been hard enough to recover from if they'd been savvy about it all, much less putting their hands over their metaphorical ears, going "LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING" and trying to carry on through pure inertia. On the other hand, the owners did say they were retiring, so it may have been that they only needed for the store to stay open long enough to get them to that spot, and therefore mission accomplished. Dunno. In any case, this is a blow on par with the closing of the Reston Barnes & Noble. Not the end of the world perhaps– I've got plenty of online and other options for my gaming fix– but a major bummer nonetheless.

Buddha, Jobs/Career Changes, Familial Health, All That Other Stuff

Well yeah, there's a lot of other junk in the turning-upside-down of everything. Some of them are more heavy hitters than other, and it's not necessarily all bad, but it is all change, and in the mix. Even change you like is stressful, and when introverts get stressed they tend to get quiet.

So, for those among you who've wondered why I've been a bit remote lately, that's what it boils down to. Sorry to keep you in suspense! But when there's news hashed out, I'll certainly share it. :)

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
I want us to own a house again. I want it to be a good house, that we shape to suit our needs and caprices, in a place that we love.

In this house, I want to have a solid, for-real studio, in which I can do solid, for-real work (even when that work is creating light entertainment).

No more messing around.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
So, say what you want about 2015, it was better than 2014, and for that I am grateful. In fact, while it's had its rough spots, when I analyze it carefully I find that it was also better than 2012 and 2013, being in fact one of the best years I've had in a long while.

How so? For starters, this is the first year in several in which the number of friends I have at the end is higher than the number of friends I had at the beginning, instead of the other way around. Not only did none of my close friends or family die this year, but I made new friends! And that is worth more than words can express.

2015 was also a very mixed bag news-wise, and I won't pretend it wasn't. But something huge happened this year that I don't want to forget:

It doesn't impact me personally, but it changes the shape of the world for many people I love, and it wasn't something I would have ever guessed would happen in my lifetime. Whenever I start to worry about the state of the nation, I remember that this happened, and hope returns. The U.S.A. can be a great nation, when we summon up the courage.

As for my own personal year, many of my plans were all gang aft agley, and many of the best things that happened were things I didn't expect at all. Looking back at my goals...

  1. Sell the House and Move Already: Did that. Ambivalent about the results. I don't like The Staircase even half as much as I liked The Hobbit Hole, even at half the price and twice the liquidity. But this was always (as Doodles the Great put it) a Rebound House, and we'll be out of here as soon as possible. I'm hoping for spring.

  2. Bring in $13k Income: I haven't run the numbers, so I don't know if I did this or not, but my guess is "not even close" even with the Starbucks job.

  3. Four Issues of Rough Housing: Three and progress. Issue four was disrupted by a novel. More on that below, but issue four is under construction and will start running next week, so this item is still on the boards.

  4. Get Dungeons & Denizens Rolling: Didn't happen. Between Greg and myself both kinda stalling and/or getting caught up in other things, the project has just sorta languished. I'm not sure we wouldn't be better off to just put it to bed and move on to something else.

  5. Continue to Lose Weight: This is a weird one. I got down into the 270's, but have drifted back up to 288.9 as of this morning. But I am slimmer and more toned than I have ever been. Am I gaining muscle mass? I dunno. Unfortunately, last month Weight Watchers ditched their useful and achievable model in order to become just another "live on fumes and exercise 26 hours/day" bullshit plan that is just as doomed to failure as the rest. So I expect I'll be dumping my membership. I'm grateful for what it taught me about which foods were good and which ones were bad, as well as for the progress it helped me make over the past two years, but clearly it's time to move on.

  6. Keep Flossing Them Teeth: This is a pretty set habit for me these days. :)

So what did I achieve that wasn't on my list?

  • Novel and a Half! I wrote the Airship Pirates novel! And in all honesty, I think it's a very good novel. The next step on that front is hunting for publisher/agent. I was planning to devote December to that, but the Starbucks job interfered; once I actually get to work on that, however, I fully expect it to move quickly. The other half novel was the revised outline for the Brigid and Greg novel, which I was making huge progress on until the house sale and move bumped it to the back burner.

  • Reincarnation/Meditation/LoA I don't even know what prompted me to start going down this path, and I've barely scratched the surface of what I've been doing here in my LJ "reincarnation reports," but the experience has been something akin to this:

    Part of the reason I haven't talked about it all is that is it's such an intensely personal experience that I can't really describe it in words that don't utterly fail to get it across. Another part of it is that a lot of it falls squarely into the realm of crackpottery, and I have better things to do with my time than fend off a legion of tiresome snarky and dismissive comments from the usual suspects. So I will just say that over the past few months I've felt happier and more centered than I have at any other time I can remember, and I have been seeing results in the "real world" all around me. I'm very pleased with this development and intend to continue!

So that's the year that was. Although it didn't up being as big a year of going big as I was expecting, it was still a good year and movement in the right direction!

So what are my goals for 2016?

  1. Issues Four and Five, Plus the First Collection. Rough Housing is going to continue, and I think this year it's finally going to come into its own. The first collected volume will carry issues one through four, for which I'm going to go back and do some cleanup of continuity, some revisions of the character design, and some generalized fixing of things.

  2. Publish That Book! I have a terrific novel that only five people have read. This needs fixing. ;)

  3. Finish Another Book! Whether it's Brigid and Greg, a second Sky Pirates book, or even Charlie Providence, we'll see.

  4. Get the Money Sitch Fixed. Some of this is dependent on [ profile] lythandra's new job, which is currently floating just on the other side of a probability wave and should be appearing at any time; but I also want to be bringing in proper money myself and– and this is the important part– I want to be doing it with my real work, the writing and comics, and not with some phony-baloney day job I took just for the cash. My creations are valuable, and it's time they started earning what they're worth!

  5. Move. We need to live in a place we like. This is not negotiable. I'm still California dreaming, but I'm not going to fixate on that. I believe in incremental improvement, so even just being in an apartment/house with enough room and some sunshine will be considered a success. A roomy craftsman rambler in Santa Cruz would be a slam dunk, tho. ;)

  6. Get Back to Conventions! This is something of a sub-set of the money thing. I only worked two conventions this year, AC and MFF, because my plate was so full of other things. (Technically I did attend FC this year, but I always think of FC as being part of the year leading up to it. So, FC was a 2014 thing, even if it did happen in 2015.) But we're already on lock to go to Dragon*Con next year, and of course I'll at least be doing AC and MFF again. I'd like to do AwesomeCon, and I want to find more cons to go to.

  7. Stronger faster slimmer better. I don't get this whole "weight staying the same waistline shrinking" thing, but I'm not going to complain about it. While I'm in considerably better shape than I was last year or the year before, I'm not quite ready for Speedos yet. I want to get there this year.

  8. No more afib. Heart chakra's opened up. My "love being blocked" problem is opening up and going away. If the afib was a physical symptom of that (and I suspect it may have been), hopefully that means I'm done with it as well.

  9. Bernie Sanders 2016! Workin' on it. :)

For the moment at least, I think that covers most of it. If I've forgotten something, please let me know!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
I have the car today as I was off to see my heart specialist (good news: they were able to find it), and now I'm sitting at the window bench in Starbucks after having had a very nice lunch with [ profile] lythandra, getting ready to try to actually get some writing done for the first time in two weeks. It is a beautiful warm sunny day and I spent the morning playing with my adorable cats, looking out the window at the cherry blossoms falling across the park, and receiving a phone call from the real estate agent this morning telling me that the mortgage holder reported the loan "paid in full for less than the loan amount" (which means our credit rating should now start regenerating hit points). I'm a little sleepy from having stayed up late two nights in a row hanging out with the #TwitterPonies and planning for a bit more of the same tonight.

In short, life is good. And I feel that it's very important, when you are in one of these moments, to stop and acknowledge it, and offer thanks to whatever cosmic forces that may have been involved and might be listening. And even if there aren't any of those, it's just good for the psyche. If today was a poker hand, it would easily be at least a full house.

So thanks, whatever cosmic forces may have been involved and might be listening. And thank you to all of my friends, family, and random internet peeps who have helped me get to this moment. You are all awesome, and I am very grateful. Love ya. :)

And now... to work!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
Version 1.0.

1. IF IT'S BROKEN, FIX IT! Because everyday practical problem solving is the most beautiful form of creativity there is. 2. IF IT'S NOT BROKEN, IMPROVE IT. A small, clever tweak can improve how something works for years to come. 3. GIVE YOUR PRODUCTS A LONGER LIFE. If we double the life of our stuff, we halve what goes to landfill. 4. FIXING MEANS FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE. As a fixer, you don't need to worry about wear and tear. Nothing stays new, so forget perfection. 5. RESIST TRENDS AND NEEDLESS UPGRADES. They fuel our throwaway culture. 6. DON'T LET COMPANIES TREAT YOU AS A PASSIVE CONSUMER. Every time we spend money, we vote for the kinds of products we want to see succeed. Buy products that can be repaired. 7. A FIXED THING IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. Every fix, whether skillful or improvised, holds a story. 8. IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA, START SMALL AND MAKE IT GOOD. If it's right, it'll grow from there. 9. NURTURE YOUR CURIOSITY. Keep trying things you've never tried before. It's good for your brain and your soul. Don't be afraid to fail– it makes success all the sweeter. 10. PEOPLE ARE INFINITELY DIVERSE. PRODUCTS SHOULD BE TOO. Everything can be improved or customised. 11. DISPOSABILITY IS A CHOICE, NOT A PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTIC. Plastics aren't evil, but we're using them wrong. Treat them with respect. 12. SHARE YOUR IDEAS, YOUR ENTHUSIASM, AND YOUR SKILLS. If you've found the joy of fixing, pass it on. It's a gift for life.

NOTE: Fixed this. An Oxford comma was missing. And yes, that counts as broken.

I'm going to be living this motto here at the Staircase. I figured it was worth a refresher.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
Well that was a fun couple of weeks. And by fun, I mean harrowing, frightful, and exhausting. But the good news is, we're finally through it and can start working on a New Normal.

In fact, here I am at Starbucks, tapping away on the lappie like it ain't no thang. But of course, it is totally a thang.

The Hobbit Hole is sold. We are moved. We still have some outstanding change-of-address stuff to deal with, and I have got to find somewhere to claim as "my space" in a house that just doesn't have anywhere to put me (ugh), but we have made remarkable progress over the course of the past week and even had time to get in a visit to the Rathbun House and go down to the peak day of the Cherry Blossom Festival yesterday, which was beautiful and fun as always.

As for The Staircase, I keep vacillating between thinking "Ugh, this place is a disaster!" and "It'll be fine once we get it all worked out." The major difference seems to be how much sleep I've had in the past 12 hours, and whether it's a sunny day or not. In short, how I feel about the house varies with the mood. I will say without reservation that I liked the Hobbit Hole better and I'm pretty sure The Staircase will never be my favorite home. But compared to Headlands Court or (shudder) Townhouse Park, it's a warm, welcoming, roomy, and well-built home.

The real problem is the sheer verticality of the place. Everything in the house is too far away from everything else in the house, because it's all on another floor. The room I initially chose for my office is a tiny square at the end of a corridor on the top floor hidden behind the bedroom, a dark little hole that really should be a walk-in closet or (better still) a half-bath. I will not be able to work there without plunging into depression... unfortunately there's nowhere else for me to go. My next best choice would be putting my workroom into the bedroom and... just... no.

The basement will probably be fairly roomy once the forest of boxes is gone, but it's not much more appealing, being cold, low-ceilinged, and dimly-lit with flickery spotlights. Even for gaming, we're going to have to come up with about twice as many lights... we're currently looking into stringing up Christmas lights or something similar to bring some warmth and illumination down there. And again... it's isolated. The basement feels like a completely different place from the main floor, and like it's in another state entirely from the top floor.

As for the main floor, it's where my drawing table is likely to end up, shoved into a corner of the dining room because there's nowhere else to put it. [ profile] lythandra's desk is already in the living room, and I don't want my desk in there anyway because while I want to be where I can easily interact with Laurie, I absolutely must not be able to see or hear the television most of the time, or I will turn green, grow huge, and smash the Evil Lightbox From Hell. [1]

The Hobbit Hole setup was good for this, because where the drawing table was, I could shift over a bit and see Laurie, but with my headphones on I could pretend the TV didn't exist. I'm going to try to set up the same thing in the dining room, but it's going to cause interference with the kitchen doors [2] and I'm going to have to put up heavy opaque curtains to prevent the direct sunlight that comes in from 2:30-5:30 from blinding me while I work. And of course the broken chandelier and full-length mirrors have got to go. Unfortunately, the dining room is currently occupied by, y'know, the dining room table, which also has nowhere else to go. In our optimal setup, the dining room and gaming room would be the same space and we'd toss the extra table, but the way this place is set up it's not really possible.

So, yeah, it's a work in process. We're taking lots of notes so that in a year, when we have a decent credit rating again and can hopefully move to a place more of our own choosing, we can have a list of "must haves" that will put us where we want to be.

I'm hoping to have the drawing table set up by the end of the week, so that comics can start again by the beginning of May. I then have to crunch to prepare for Furthe'More, which at least has the benefit of now being about 20 minutes away from my house. :)

-The Gneech

[1] My life-long hatred of televisions is well-documented and comes from a childhood of being traumatized by them. My favorite Whistling In the Dark strip is quite simply Art demolishing a TV with a sledgehammer, then placidly explaining to Cyrano, "It was him or me." That's pretty much how I feel about the things. When I was growing up, every TV in the house had to be on, even if there was nobody in the room, and I was constantly having wars with the rest of the family in which I'd go around the house turning them all off, only to come back into an empty room ten minutes later to find somebody had turned the TV back on and left the room again. WTF. Anyway, as an adult, I try not to be an asshole about it... I just sequester myself away from the damn thing. I know my views on the matter are extreme and I don't feel I have the right to impose them on the rest of the world.

[2] Why does the kitchen have doors? -.- Why does it even have walls? This place could be improved 200% by knocking all that crap down and putting a simple bar there.
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
282.7, down 2.0 lbs from last week, total lost 36.3 lbs, average 0.9 lbs/week. I'm gonna attribute it to three solid days of moving ALL THE THINGS combined with now living in a staircase disguised as a townhouse. The fact that I only had one meal to speak of on Tuesday probably is a factor as well.

I can't remember ever having been this slim before; I'm sure I was at this weight once, but I was several inches shorter at the time. It's weird to lay my hands down across my chest as I'm going to sleep and be aware of my ribcage.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
The docs at the hospital gave me a shot of something (Cordarone, maybe? the notes are not handy) to bump me out of afib. It kinda-sorta worked, and they said, "Go home, take more aspirin and metoprolol, and your cardiologist will call you in the morning." They had apparently had a very busy day, which included at least one case involving about eight uniformed police officers and a woman unable to walk under her own power because she was weeping and wracked with grief, so I didn't deem it wise to press the issue. Hopefully by morning I will be all right again.

As for the house closing, the buyers' portion was due to happen at 5:00 p.m. and I haven't heard anything saying it didn't, so I'm going to assume it did. That their agent tried to hold the sale ransom at the last second for an additional $500 commission does not surprise me much; he displayed all the classic symptoms of being a sociopath with no sense of conscience or decency. All I can hope is that justice comes to the guy sooner or later. He has a reputation around town, it seems, as various folks involved at all levels of the transaction have muttered about his ethics (or lack thereof) and methods.

The buyers themselves seemed like very nice people and I hope they are very happy in The Hobbit Hole, as much as we'll miss it. I also hope this goon doesn't take them for a ride any more than he already has.

So tonight, the plan is to move enough boxes to enable me to collapse on the couch, and then, to collapse on the couch. If I wake up with a regular heartbeat in the morning, hopefully I can start actually making some progress on the house and even (gasp!) get back to doing some writing or comics work. And ponies. I miss my ponies.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
Greetings from our new home. :) The place doesn't have a name yet, although I'm thinking of referring to it as The Staircase, since we have more staircases than levels of house, and you can't get from one room to another without going up at least one and probably three flights of stairs.

At least we'll be getting exercise.

We are completely out of The Hobbit Hole and will be signing the final sale paperwork today at noon... something which this time last week I literally thought was not going to happen due to the machinations of various banks and the buyer's agent, who is the first real estate agent I've ever met who seemed to be doing everything in his power to prevent someone from buying a house.

We weren't due to have any kind of electronic connection until Thursday, but one of the many great things about [ profile] lythandra is that she is a massive a/v geek and wasn't about to let a little thing like not knowing how to do it prevent her from installing our internet service. Verizon provided the magic box, and Laurie poked it until it worked. Easy-peasy. Cable is a little more of an issue, due to a mysterious lack of coaxial jacks in a house that was built after the discovery of fire. It may be a while before that part's operational. But really, we've got the internet, the rest is bonus materials.

The first few days have been stressful, for many reasons, with several emotional collapses a couple of physical ones, and the house is a disaster zone at the moment. Storage space is wholly inadequate, the bathrooms are wholly inadequate, the closet rails disintegrated when I tried to hang up my clothes, and we discovered a bit late that there's no microwave oven, so my breakfast was cold. The place was basically built on the cheap and its various owners have half-assed everything they did in the intervening decades, so there are... challenges... to overcome.

Laurie and I are somewhat shackled in our reactions to this by the fact that we are renting rather than own, so we don't have a simple License to Fix. But even within that rather narrow range of acceptable action, I think we will quickly find ways of reducing the suck and enhancing the awesome. It's just how we roll. I don't think we've lived in a place yet that wasn't in nicer shape when we left than when we moved in, occasionally to the owners' annoyance, simply because we have high standards and refuse to make do with broken crap.

I suspect that within three months at the outside we'll have a layout that works, have all of the major bugs worked out, and be fairly comfortable here. And if we just can't stand the stairs, by this time next year our credit rating should be recovered enough that we'll have a wider range of choices and be able to have a nice, leisurely move to somewhere better, if we decide that's what we want when it comes to "run or renew" time on the lease.

In the meantime, I need to put my shoes on and start unpacking boxes. Writing journal entries on the kitchen counter because I can't get to the dining room table is hard on the back.

-The Gneech

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