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[cancer] Seeing it from the other side

I have a friend here in Portland who is in his mid-60s. He’s going through a very similar cancer course to mine, albeit significantly more severe, as his primary cancer had already metastasized when first detected. Yesterday I had planned to visit him at his house, mostly to listen, and also to talk about strategies for surviving chemo with heart and mind and body intact.

Yesterday, he was admitted to the oncology ward of his treating hospital for severe complications from chemotherapy. So I visited him there instead.

Without too much detail, he’s lost about thirty pounds in the past eight or ten weeks. He looked dreadful. After two months of chemotherapy, he was worse off than I was at the end of a six-month course. I sat with him for about an hour and half while his family ran errands, and mostly we talked. Slowly, on his part, and listening on my part.

The tiny, hospital smelling room; the infusion pumps gently clicking; the beeping of alarms in the hallway; even the look of the bed — this is his journey, not mine. But I’ve been on a very similar journey, and have even odds of getting my ticket punched for the chemo trail again in the near future. Being there put me in a very odd, fragile mental and emotional space.

Did I look like this? I don’t think so, but I never saw myself from the outside. Did I have the cognitive disconnects he was going through? Absolutely.

I realized anew yesterday how frightening my chemo course must have been to [info]the_child, to [info]calendula_witch and [info]shelly_rae, to my family and friends. I realized anew how frightening it was for me.

He’ll probably be ok, my friend. The complications have been stabilized, they’ve identified the reason for the weight loss and are remediating that. Me, I walked out of there weeping for him, for me, for all the lost years and lives that cancer steals from the living and the dead.

[awards|repost] Hugo pimpage

Hugo nominations are nearly closed out. For the record, here is a selected list of my own favorite work of this past year, should you be inclined to review it for award consideration in your own nominating process.

Novels
Pinion, Tor Books
Third volume in the Mainspring cycle, action-adventure in the clockwork Earth.

Novellas
The Baby Killers, PS Publishing
Alternate history politics, magic and spycraft, wherein I try to address the steampunk aesthetic at all levels of the work.

“The Bull Dancers”, Audible.com (audio presentation as part of METAtropolis: Cascadia)
Sequel to my piece in METAtropolis, about the ultimate fate of Green cities in a world beset by a soft apocalypse.

The Specific Gravity of Grief, Fairwood Press
My intensely personal study of a genre writer riddled with cancer. Arguably more appropriate for “Best Related Book”.

Novelettes
“Coming for Green”, The Sky That Wraps, Subterranean Press
An exploration of the Green universe from the perspective of a much put-upon secondary character.

Short Stories
The Starship Mechanic” with Ken Scholes, tor.com
Our joint project from a writer-in-the-window session at Borderlands Books, about an alien lost on Earth.

From the Countries of Her Dreams” with Shannon Page, Fantasy Magazine
A side tale from the Green universe from another perspective.

The Speed of Time“, tor.com
Structurally experimental view of the end of the universe.

“If This Were a Romance” with Shannon Page, Love and Rockets, DAW Books
Exactly what it says on the tin. A romance set on a generation ship.

“Torquing Vacuum”, Clarkesworld
Backstory on three important characters from my Sunspin space opera project.

Best Related Book
The Specific Gravity of Grief, Fairwood Press
My intensely personal study of a genre writer riddled with cancer.

Also, I am eligible for nomination as Best Fan Writer for this blog, and as Best Editor, Short Form, for METAtropolis: Cascadia.

[links] Link salad wakes up slow and cold

Rich Horton says good things about several of my stories in DAW anthologies — Also gives a shout out to [info]calendula_witch.

Announcing Ken Scholes! — Cascade Writers confirms that Ken Scholes is taking over my slot at this summer’s workshop. There are still a few registrations open.

Science fiction author begins war of the books worldsStephen Hunt has grown so tired of the marginal status of his chosen genre that he has begun campaigning for equal genre rights. Really. Who reads that Stephen King stuff, anyway? Or J.K. Rowling?

The Ashtray: The Ultimatum (Part 1) — A fascinating article about Thomas Kuhn, among others. (Snurched from [info]susansugarspun.)

How the Internet Tried to Kill Me —This is funny. (Via Dad.)

Archaeologists unearth Neolithic henge at Stonehenge — (Via Emily Siskin.)

Language Log on the history of the word ‘tsunami’ in English — When I was a kid, I swear we still called them ‘tidal waves’.

This photo from Japan is beautiful and heartbreaking — Yes, it is miscaptioned, and it appears to date from a 2006 earthquake. It’s still a powerful image.

[info]pecunium with some links to before-and-after images of Japan — (Via [info]lt260.)

[info]cathshaffer is sensible about Japan’s current post-tsunami nuclear issues, and the coverage thereof

?otD: Daylight savings time: threat or menace?


3/14/2011
Writing time yesterday: 1.75 hours (2,800 words on Sunspin)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Weight: 253.0
Currently reading: Between books

[links] Link salad parties with the belly dancers

A nice review of “Rolling Steel” by me and [info]calendula_witch

Star Wars’ Imperial March played with a floppy disk — Um, wow. (Thanks to Dad.)

How a steam powered sawmill works — (Thanks to KF.)

Computer Wins on ‘Jeopardy!’: Trivial, It’s Not — A discussion of what Watson’s recent win means. (Thanks to my Dad.)

The ‘core pathway’ of aging — Cool stuff in the biology of senescence. (Thanks to David Goldman.)

No Argument: Thomas Keeps 5-Year Silence — A curious piece on America’s most fair-minded, non-partisan jurist, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

?otD: Got fringe?


2/19/2011
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (2,400 words on a short fiction project)
Body movement: 55 minutes of belly dancing workout/class
Hours slept: 7.0 hours (interrupted)
Weight: n/a (away from home)
Currently reading: Dead Iron by Devon Monk

[links] Link salad files its nails while they’re dragging the lake

Electric Velocipede 21/22 reviewed — Including “In the Beginnings” by [info]calendula_witch and me.

A reader comments on my cancer novella The Specific Gravity of Grief — The resonances for her are unfortunately strong.

Ken Scholes is looking for company in Chicago Thursday evening — If you’re in Chicagoland, say howdy.

Light-Emitting Rubber Could Sense Structural Damage — I so totally misread this headline.

A Fight to Win the Future: Computers vs. Humans — Great article about machine cognition, but I especially like the ‘Paris Hilton problem’. (Via my Dad.)

Reagan and Reality — Two words you don’t often see in the same sentence…

In Haley Barbour’s Mississippi: Civil War Looms Over License Plates — Mmm, classy. Nope, no racism here. Move along, boy, nothing to see.

South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers — And the rational discourse of the American Right takes another step on the road to civility in their obsession with forced pregnancy.

Terrorism and Magical Thinking — Ta-Nehisi Coates with more on the proposed South Dakota abortion law, including a fascinating riff on why the politics of forced pregnancy have been so successful.

Mitch Daniels and the 2012 Field — Some thoughts on 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitch Daniels from conservative commentator Daniel Larison.

?otD: Watching the detectives do what, precisely?


2/16/2011
Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (copy edits on Endurance)
Body movement: 30 minutes on stationary bike
Hours slept: 6.75 hours (interrupted)
Weight: 251.4
Currently reading: Dead Iron by Devon Monk

[personal] Bits and pieces

I dreamt last night of waterspouts. An old nightmare, one I haven’t revisited in years. These looked like a cross between waterspouts and low-yield nuclear blasts. I was in Hastings, in the UK, with calendula_witch trying desperately to locate something or another which we couldn’t find, and kept stopping to photograph the monster weather menacing the town.

Parent meeting today at the_child’s school wherein the forthcoming classroom topic of reproductive anatomy was reviewed with us. This was a fairly amusing set of discussions, from my perspective, but for the most part I was the only one in the room laughing. I am either a cad, or notably unrepressed.

At lunch yesterday, I was explaining some of my narrative strategy behind Sunspin to my dining partner, a dear friend and delightful human being who happens to also be an author and thus is interested in such things. I was using the provided crayons to draw plot arcs on the butcher paper covering the table when it suddenly occurred to me that some of the techniques I’m experimenting with in writing Sunspin are in fact preparatory to what I’ll need to do for Original Destiny, Manifest Sin. Fred has apparently decided to use a half million+ word space opera as a dry run for a fantastic alternate history of the American West. Go me!

Hitting a party tonight, out and about in the morning, then tomorrow afternoon: momos! Go cook something good this weekend.

[links] Link salad has a sugar hangover

A review of “If This Were a Romance” — Short story in Love and Rockets by me and calendula_witch.

A hilarious and decidedly NSFW conversation with the_child: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]

alumiere asks how do you know her — Interesting question. How do you know me? Through the blog? Reading my fiction? Have we met in real life? When and how?

Book page origami — Cool art. (Via willyumtx.)

The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain ArtAs featured in Science, Knitting Help, and the National Review. From here in Oregon, no less. (Via MH.)

Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A. — Hmmm. (Thanks to my Dad.)

?otD: Really, why did you eat that?


1/24/2011
Writing time yesterday: 1.25 hours (WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minutes on stationary bike
Hours slept: 5.75 hours (solid)
Weight: 254.0 (hello, Chocolate Fest)
Currently reading: One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde

[personal] Stuff and things

Yesterday I worked. Had lunch yesterday with my friend SG. Spent the afternoon doing homework with the_child. Had dinner with H—. Still managed to find an hour to sign signature sheets for a forthcoming limited edition anthology in which calendula_witch and I have a collaborative story. Full day with some interesting moments along the way.

Pretty busy today, including Day Jobbery, another basketball game this afternoon, and another dinner out tonight. Plus revisions to a story that’s due, erm, now. Tomorrow, I’m back on Sunspin. Going to a radio play of The Hobbit over the weekend, off to Omaha Monday.

Having essentially spent most of the last year trapped in my body and in my house, this is terrific.

On the flip side, I’m going to the hospital for bloodwork today or tomorrow — whenever I find the time — in prep for my oncology followups the week after next. And that, well… There’s a fall-down-go-boom coming in April with the next round of scans. This intermediate check isn’t likely to reveal much, as we know from my experience that my CEA antigen levels are not strongly correlative to tumor activity. Still, it makes my head ring, and not in a good way.

What you got going on? Entertainment? Projects? Trepidations?

[awards] Nomination season is upon us

Nominations are open for the Nebula (through mid-February) and Hugo (through late March) awards.

For the record, here is a selected list of my own favorite work of this past year, should you be inclined to review it for award consideration in your own nominating process.

Novels
Pinion, Tor Books
Third volume in the Mainspring cycle, action-adventure in the clockwork Earth.

Novellas
The Baby Killers, PS Publishing
Alternate history politics, magic and spycraft, wherein I try to address the steampunk aesthetic at all levels of the work.

“The Bull Dancers”, Audible.com (audio presentation as part of METAtropolis: Cascadia)
Sequel to my piece in METAtropolis, about the ultimate fate of Green cities in a world beset by a soft apocalypse.

The Specific Gravity of Grief, Fairwood Press
My intensely personal study of a genre writer riddled with cancer. Arguably more appropriate for “Best Related Book”.

Novelettes
“Coming for Green”, The Sky That Wraps, Subterranean Press
An exploration of the Green universe from the perspective of a much put-upon secondary character.

Short Stories
The Starship Mechanic” with Ken Scholes, tor.com
Our joint project from a writer-in-the-window session at Borderlands Books, about an alien lost on Earth.

From the Countries of Her Dreams” with Shannon Page, Fantasy Magazine
A side tale from the Green universe from another perspective.

The Speed of Time“, tor.com
Structurally experimental view of the end of the universe.

“If This Were a Romance” with Shannon Page, Love and Rockets, DAW Books
Exactly what it says on the tin. A romance set on a generation ship.

“Torquing Vacuum”, Clarkesworld
Backstory on three important characters from my Sunspin space opera project.

Best Related Book
The Specific Gravity of Grief, Fairwood Press
My intensely personal study of a genre writer riddled with cancer.

Also, I am eligible for nomination as Best Fan Writer for this blog, and as Best Editor, Short Form, for METAtropolis: Cascadia.

If you are a SFWA member, you have access to all these works at the appropriate SFWA forum topic.

[personal] Postcards from the subconscious

Complex dreams last night, most of which are lost to me now in the manner of such things. I know the first part involved making soft-core skin flicks in a garage with several Prominent Figures In Our Field serving as producer, camera crew and so forth. There was a fire, and most of our assets were lost, including a valuable collection of SF first editions that had been used as a backdrop on the movie set. calendula_witch was by my side at that point in the dream.

After that, I set out alone on a quest to find resources to redeem our losses. This somehow involved me creating public art. I wound up on in-line skates on a one-lane country road in New Zealand’s Wairoa Valley. The sun was high, but I was also casting low shadows to the east, as if there were a second light source near the western horizon — think blast shadows, Hiroshima style. Except instead of destruction, everywhere my shadows touched brass ran and set as if cast to mold made from those shadows. I kept doing flips and jetés to leave graceful, bright scrollwork man-high on the sides of houses, fences, retaining walls and embankments. A trail of strange glory stretched behind me. An empty road ran before me.

Often in my dreams there is a musical score. Usually it’s original compositions, rather than recycled from the listening of my waking hours. This dream was no exception. A rich, mellow cello played a slow and mournful melody while a soprano choir sang wordless vocal harmony. Or perhaps the voices were singing in a language I did not comprehend.

Waking saddened me.