Random Thoughts #4,562,914

I got Moderna #2 on Thursday. It hasn’t hammered me too badly, apart from chronic exhaustion and vague headaches. The worst, like last time, is the pain in my arm, and that’s dramatically better today. But is my mind more organized? No, it is not! So I will do the ping-pong thing.

I finally went back to Horizon Zero Dawn, mostly because I’ve played both Prey and Control into the ground at this point. (Also because I read plot spoilers on line, and yes, I’m That Person, don’t @ me.) I think sometimes my big problem with video games is that I’m slow on the uptake when it comes to controls. I’ve attacked this one a few times before, but this time I actually got the hang of some of the weapons. Of course, then I got my horse killed, and now I think I have to start over because even when I restore the poor thing is still just metal fragments. Sorry, horse.

I still play Control, mostly because I love the environment. I tagged my review of it “Alice goes to Hell,” but it’s more like “Escher goes to Hell.” I’ve loved Escher’s work since I was a kid because of where it took my imagination. (I had a college roommate who argued with some vehemence that Escher’s stuff wasn’t “art,” and she’s entitled to her opinion but she also insisted on hanging a neon-pink inflatable heart on the wall of our dorm room, so you be the judge.) The gameplay is fine, the backstory is entertaining (although I think I’m coming around to Darling being the most interesting character; you have to pay attention to his weird little film clips), the plot is compelling. All of that is enough on its own. But have you Levitated through the Panopticon lately? Have you used the Oceanview Motel to reach The Clocks? Have you thought about what the heating bill must be for the Research Sector alone?

It’s the building that gets me in this game. The Oldest House. In real life, Brutalist architecture leaves me pretty cold, but this building? Stunning. Beautiful. Oversized and absurdly inefficient and full of twists and turns and odd corners. Somebody had so much fun building this, and I kind of want a theme park based on it.

So I trot Jesse through her paces again and again, and I turn on one-hit kills for the boring bits, and this is what passes for comfort food in a pandemic.

So here’s the thing about the GOP: I think they’ve been attempting a coup for a long time. I think they hit on an effective propaganda formula with Reagan (maybe earlier, but he’s the first president I remember as an adult), and were hoping to sort of soft-dominate the culture this way. Things went back and forth for them, and then Obama was elected, and they realized they weren’t going to win without cheating. Cheating brought them 45, and that should have been enough to appall them…but it wasn’t. Because they saw the path to a successful coup. And suddenly foreign interference was OK, overt white nationalism was OK, explicit elevation of white men over everyone else was OK.

Then Biden won the election, and January 6 happened. And they’ve realized that as far as their constituents are concerned? Violence is OK, too.

That this is a massive, deeply dangerous problem should be obvious to all of us. As the t-shirts love to say, vote like your democracy depends on it. Because it does.

Do donuts have to be deep-fried?

One of my comfort watches is The Great British Bake-Off. The knock-on effect of this is that I think about food a lot. I’m a decent cook, when I’ve got the patience to follow directions, but I don’t enjoy it much; baking is more interesting, because it requires a little more precision, but it also tends to suffer from my general state of Being In A Damn Hurry. Pastry should be the perfect challenge for me, but I always end up getting frustrated rolling the stuff out. Butter gets exposed, layering is thwarted, and there’s no fixing it.

Tastes good, though.

After watching a donut challenge on Bake-Off, I went online and bought a donut pan. (We have a deep fryer, but what a pain in the ass.) It came with a recipe for a basic vanilla donut, and I overcooked them, but even so I think they were a lot denser than the donuts we get at our local donut haunt. The glaze was nice, and they were tasty enough, but they were ring cupcakes, not donuts. I have a chocolate donut recipe I’m going to try this weekend, assuming Moderna #2 gives me enough of my energy back.

Do I need donuts? I absolutely do not.

Somewhere in Gillian Anderson’s home is a painting of a dowager who gets older every day.

I am sure I’m not the first person to observe this.

Most of the people in my circle are at least half-vaccinated at this point, and we all know what that means: catching up on all the critical stuff I’ve put off.

I need to go to the dentist. My parents need to go to the dentist. And the ophthalmologist, and their GP. I will be driving a lot. I will be looking into what it would cost to have someone else accompany them instead. Which feels selfish, but it also means they don’t have to wait on me or my schedule if something comes up. The importance of having a back-up structure has become searingly clear over the last year. That we were able to move them without us being there to help is a small miracle.

Someone asked (I think on Quora) why people put their parents in assisted living instead of just taking them in to care for them. I mean, thanks for the guilt, dude, but there really is a long list of varied answers to that question. In our case? We are not qualified to look after them.

Dementia is an orphan from a medical coverage perspective. My mom, for instance, is in excellent physical shape, and her medical costs are staying pretty low.

But I can only say that because her medical costs are not defined to include giving her a safe place to live, never mind enough social interaction to keep her brain as active as possible. The cost of that care is extremely high, and my parents are lucky they were able to save enough throughout their lives to pay for it.

It is not reasonable, in any civilized country, to expect people in general to be able to save what my parents saved, especially these days; and yet dementia is becoming more common. And no, you can’t take care of your mom with dementia yourself, not without training, not without disrupting your home, not without possibly destroying every other relationship in your life.

There’s a whole “what do we owe our parents?” argument in here somewhere, and I suppose I feel a lot of that is circumstantial, and I’m not going to judge anyone, whatever their choices are. As long as they don’t judge us for ours. I am not medically qualified to look after my parents. I could not keep them safe, or calm. Happy is off the table entirely.

And none of their care is covered by insurance. None of it. (I’m pretty sure it’s not tax-deductible either, but I’ll see what their accountant says.)

Cases of dementia are increasing. The need for people who can soothe, distract, safeguard people with this disease is increasing. The cost of care and housing is increasing. The actual caretakers earn their money, and far more–you can trust me on this. But the cost to the end-user is staggering, and there’s no insurance that will help. (They had a long-term care insurance plan that expired; it would have covered roughly 6 months of their rent.) Even with my parents’ good luck, there’s a good chance some of the cost is eventually going to fall on us anyway.

This is not sustainable.

What do we do?

No, seriously: what do we do?

I wrote a lot in April, which was lovely, but I am still so incredibly slow.

I did Camp NaNoWriMo, and according to the tracker there I wrote 64,620 words. That brought me about 15-20K short of halfway through the story. If I keep up the pace (and I won’t; I’m taking a short story break), that would finish the draft at the end of June.

My drafts are super drafty. I’m already, as I’m writing the part where the plotlines are coming together, recognizing where the beginning of the book needs to be restructured. I draft long–150-180K, usually–and much of the pre-publication trimming comes from whacking off the start of the book and redoing it.

Am I getting better at this with practice? No.

Am I getting over that panicked feeling that this time, it’s not going to work? No.

Am I starting to realize that it’s always going to feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and that feeling is okay and normal, and if I persist it will pass? …Kind of. Maybe. Some days.

I like this book. It’s not there yet, but I like it. I think I’m figuring out what it wants to say, and that’s a big part of trimming the draft: right now, I’ve written my characters doing All The Things, but ultimately the story will only care about the things they do that are related to the overall theme.

I like revisions. Drafting, not so much. But I did an experiment this time: I outlined. Sort of. I wrote a synopsis and sent it to my crit partners and thought about things, and it’s worked, for this book at least. I may try it for the next one, which is about 1/3 written; I know the end, but not the middle. I like that book, too.

Short stories are a very different medium, and I think I’m a bit out of shape.

I re-read something I’d started in the Before Times, and it resonated a bit, so I’m poking away at it. I think it could be lovely. It could also be disastrous, but that’s what revisions are for. And since I don’t sub this stuff anywhere, I don’t really have to please anyone but myself. (And my crit partners, who are extremely talented and super-nice, but still manage to say “yeah, Liz, this isn’t doing it” when necessary.)

It’s nice to write something for myself.

I’ve got another short story idea that is gaining some traction in my head, so I think my book break will end up with two new shorts instead of just one. And then I might actually have a reason to write a newsletter.

2 thoughts on “Random Thoughts #4,562,914

  1. Hi Liz! I do love your posts … this one was a nice mix of serious and not serious plus a glimpse of your writing life which for me, is foreign and fascinating.

    The cost of good elder-care *is* staggering and I need to start figuring out how much we’ll need to have in place for our care – so hard to predict – my Mom passed away at 75 (not that far off now) but her sister is doing pretty well at 100 with a 24/7 nurse in an assisted-living place … not something we could afford, their brother was very successful and generous.

    The ease with which so many people are being manipulated is also staggering … I don’t know what to do about that :-).

    Bye for now!


    1. Gail! So nice to “see” you!

      Yeah, we’ve thought a little bit about our own care, but it’s so far down on the list of priorities right now it’s hard to get a lot of traction. I do know I want to get our kids a power of attorney while we’re still alert and healthy – my dad was still on top of things when he signed one, but he was very much at the stage where he bristled at the suggestion he might not be able to handle his affairs in the future.

      Also, when I went through their house and all their things, I decided what we really needed was a bin for all documents including a social security number. Everything else could be recycled, but that stuff needed shredding, and it was *everywhere*.

      Stay well!

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