January 29th, 2021

studious

How You Can Tell I’m Old

On Wednesday morning, I woke up and my back had gone out: that distinctive and painful feeling where your lower back muscles go on strike and when you move the rest of your muscles try in vain to make up for it and it hurts to do anything but lie down.

I have thrown my back out before, usually when I strain the muscles by lifting something heavy in a bad way. This time, I did it while sleeping. This is how you can tell I'm old. It runs in my family: my father permanently crippled his ankle two years ago, while asleep in his bed. No, neither of us sleepwalk or do anything more complicated than roll over while asleep. Sometimes your body just randomly breaks.

Anyway, Wednesday was also Lut's monthly oncology clinic appointment, so I had to drive him to the clinic that morning.

Also, it had snowed overnight.

I contemplated calling a cab for Lut, and also driving over the snow instead of shoveling the drive -- it was only an inch or so. But taxi service in my area is poor and Lut doesn't have a smartphone so he can't use Lyft or Uber. My driveway is at an incline and shaded, which means that (a) packed ice can trap my car in the driveway pretty easily and (b) it takes a long time to melt off. So I summoned all my determination and went out to clear the walk and the drive. It was little enough snow that I could use the shovel to push it to the side instead of having to pick it up, so this was actually possible. I don't think any amount of willpower could've made me pick up a shovel full of snow more than once. Because it was so little snow, the city hadn't plowed my street yet, for which I was grateful. It meant there was no large ridge of plowed-up snow that I would have to struggle to move and possibly not be capable of either moving or driving over. Instead, I pushed the snow out of the road in front of my drive, too.

I am extremely proud of myself for getting this done at 8AM while in significant pain and with a marginally-functional back. BE PROUD OF ME, INTERNET.

By nightfall, my back was mostly-functional again, and then I went to bed and struggled to walk again in the morning. Lather, rinse, repeat. It does seem to be improving faster today, at least. Hopefully in a few more days it'll be back to normal.

I haven't done much since it went out apart from required stuff, like dropping off & picking up Lut and also prescriptions, and finishing out my 20-hour work week at my day job. I did the color doodle of Anesh and that’s about it. Sitting up in the reclining loveseat at my computer is uncomfortable but I do it anyway. I haven't tried sitting at Pretend Coffee Shop, which is less comfortable than the loveseat in the office even when my torso is fully functional. This morning, I made hot cocoa with marshmallows and motivated myself to write this blog post, so that's something. And also, my cat is lying on the footrest next to my feet and is super cute.

I will probably get some writing done tonight, because CoffeeQuills is doing their usual Friday writing stream and those are fun.

I'm gonna write a little about CoffeeQuiills' stream because the thing I like about it is not obvious from the description. They break the stream into 10-minute blocks, using an on-screen timer: a 10 minute "progress sprint", then a 10 minute break, then repeat. During the sprints, CQ writes quietly, and during the breaks they chat with their audience (CQ talks, audience types in the chat bar). Chat is mostly casual and about whatever anyone feels like talking about -- sometimes writing, sometimes other stuff. During the sprints, the audience can watch what CQ is writing, but the feel of the thing is more "you should work on your thing while I work on my thing!" They even call them "progress sprints" rather than "writing sprints" so that people who want to work on non-writing things will feel included. The pacing suits me very well: my attention tends to wander when I'm supposed to be writing, but focusing for 10 minutes is short enough that I can generally manage it. The 10-minute breaks likewise suit me: long enough to talk a bit or to get up and stretch and refresh my drink. It doesn't leave me feeling rushed or pressured. And I write quite a bit more over the course of one 4-hour stream than I do when I just decide "I'll get some writing done today": a couple thousand words, without ever feeling as if I'm forcing myself to struggle onwards.

And it's companionable: CQ and their audience alike are friendly and encouraging. For me, the stream is much more about "hang out with nice people while you all get stuff done and say kind things to one another" rather than "spectate as one person livestreams their writing." Nothing against people who enjoy the latter, either as streamer or spectator! But I am not a good spectator so a productivity-hangout has much more appeal for me personally. I started attending the livestreams during Nanowrimo and have made a habit of going to them on Friday and Saturday evenings (my time) since. (CQ is in Japan, so their livestream is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday morning in their time zone. They have an afternoon-in-their-time-zone stream Monday through Friday, but those generally start around my bed time so I seldom attend.)

Haven’t decided what to work on, either. It’ll be either notes/outline for my next book, or revisions for Angel’s Grace.

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