Out With The Old, In With The …

This may be the last year I get to use that tagline.

Last year (2014 – yes I’m late with my End of the Year post) was intense. Heck, every single year for the last four has been intense. Ending an 8 year job, international move, career reboot, starting and finishing law school, ending relationships and starting new ones, running an award-winning podcast, and those are just the big things off the top of my head. I realized yesterday that these two weeks off have been my first official no plans, no requirements, true Down Time since I’ve met Alasdair.

That’s scary. And completely unacceptable.

Look, I am the first person to admit I’m a full-blown Type A workaholic. Give a task to a busy a person and they get it done could be my motto. I like it. I thrive on it. I’m good at it. Which is part of the problem: it’s not going to slow down (let’s be honest, it’ll never stop) unless I make it.

The September Deadline was a fantastic (and successful) experiment which I’ll be repeating. And this year we’re only going to three conventions (two for me, unless Charles Soule makes it to Thought Bubble). We’ve scheduled several long weekend / short vacations, money willing. Time for this country and part of the world to be a place I get to explore and experience and enjoy instead of being just the place I work.

And tentative feelers are in the water about wedding venues and dates and such, but that’s a whooooole other thing I’m still unpacking.

Looking back 2014 was amazing and hard and busy and emotional. Amazing highs (engaged, training contract started immediately) and tough lows (visa trauma, yet another Annual Move). All I want from 2015 is a more stately pace: more breathing room, more downtime, less cost to the accomplishment. I want to concentrate on spending more time doing and learning and experimenting with the things I enjoy. I know what that involves in an ideal world, we’ll see how reality stacks up.

Four years worth of montage. Time to see how it pays off.

The Holidays Approacheth

I can always tell when the holidays are getting close – my free time evaporates.

This year we hosted Alasdair’s parents for Thanksgiving, which was lovely. They don’t like cornbread, and do like pumpkin pie, which I consider a victory.

And then of course, there’s Dragon Age Inquisition. Which I’m trying very hard NOT to take up my every waking weekend hour. So far, so good, but I’ve still logged close to 30 hours since launch. More posts on that later. My current interaction with the game is … complicated.

While I struggle to balance household chores with saving Theda, enjoy this lovely Pat Cadigan story, “Cody”, which I narrated for Clarkesworld.

The Last Big Project

Alasdair and I are trying a new approach to projects this year: a cut off date. And of September we officially closed the doors to any new conventions, projects, collaborations or other new work. One month later and it’s already have a big impact on our free time. Namely, we have some every single weekend, and the projects still on the boards are making steady progress to complete by the middle of December. It’s a simple, glorious hack.

Of course it meant a few last-minute “quick get this in the wind!” emails, but so far none of those have come in to roost. And since the big one for me (a Law and History track of programming for next year’s Nine Worlds) has months and months yet, all the better.

This last couple of weeks was also the end of THE big project – my visa. We’re squared away for another two years, and all the paperwork has been carefully archived for if it’s needed again. A huge psychological sigh of relief, followed by a lunch of tapas and cipriani.

This weekend was another gloriously relaxing, rambly couple of days. The bikes have been given an overhaul and are ready for some dry weather to go out and explore MK’s Red Ways. We found a great new Indian restaurant, and I’ve read THREE novellas in the last week. I can see actual physical progress on my To Be Read bookshelf, it’s a miracle!

I love taking on new projects. And this time of the year, when it feels like the world is ready to sleep, it feels just as good to finish them up and put them down.

 

Published in: on November 2, 2014 at 18:43  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

T Minus One

Tomorrow’s the big day – the first day of my training contract (or “period of recognized training”, as it’s now known). I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m not enough of either of those things, and too much all at the same time.

Mostly I feel distracted and worried about all the logistics we’re juggling: the move, the visa, etc. I viewed another house last week and applied over the weekend, but of course the referencing and such will take a few days. Part of me knows I’ll be extremely busy (and therefore distracted followed by exhausted) during the coming week, but still… I can’t help but long for things to be more settled than they are right now.

And that’s leaving aside the entire ball of emotions wrapped up in bed-sitting / living apart from Alasdair again. With luck it’ll be short – two weeks, maybe three. If not, it’ll be weekend visits and more house-hunting until we can nail down the move. Doable. Sustainable. Undesirable.

On top of all THAT, tonight is the Parsec Awards – airing at an East Coast time which should see me fast asleep. They’re not a tremendous contributor to the overall emotional rollercoaster, but they’re still a part. It feels like Cast of Wonders is right on the cusp of starting to gain more mainstream recognition. I’ve done a lot more commentary and community involvement recently, and am starting to look at panel attendance in next year’s convention circuit.

Then there’s FantasyCon this weekend to finish preparing. It’s all in very good shape, just a matter of finalizing and printing and such. This weekend while I’ve packed for London, I packed for York at the same time.

One step at a time. Finish one project at a time. No new personal projects this year. And a quiet Christmas in a new house with, if we’re lucky, enough space for a tree. Just gotta stay on target, and remember to enjoy the ride!

Phase One: Complete!

One international move, two years of intense work, nineteen examinations and more applications than I care to count, and it’s all over.

The paperwork has been signed. It’s official: I’ve accepted my training contract with Olswang, and I start September 1st!

I cannot adequately put into works how excited I am. Not just to be moving into the last stage of training, but to be doing so immediately. I had resigned myself to a two year gap, and of course made plans to use the time productively. I’m ecstatic to abandon them.

For the last several months, The Future has been one big constantly shifting order of operations puzzle. When and where do we want to have the wedding, and is that timing dictated by my leave to remain visa application? (It’s not. Whew.) When should I start looking for full-time employment after exams? Are we going to move? Where, and when? What does that mean for Alasdair’s employment? How are we going to schedule all these conventions when I may have interviews and assessment days? On and on and on. Many questions, few answers.

These last few weeks it’s all started to click into place. This will be our third move in three years. Where hasn’t been decided yet, but we’ve got a likely candidate, RightMove saved properties and tentative plans for a scouting trip along with offers of help from friends and family alike. But we’ll make it work. We always do. Not to mention the HUGE job possibilities this makes possible for Alasdair.

But one thing at a time. Nine Worlds this weekend (#DragonLadies! Swordfighting!). LonCon next (US friends!).  Then house-hunting and FantasyCon (Redcloaks!).

Onward, to bigger and better!

Last Big Push

As I lean in for final charge on the 2014 training contract application deadline, here’s a few projects and interesting cases I’ve been keeping an eye on these last couple of months. A more in-depth personal update once they’re done and before the (awesome) August convention marathon kicks off. Enjoy! (more…)

Tanned and Ready to Go

Welcome back, true believers!

As I write this my final beach day sunburn is just starting to peel in the last spots. While outside, we’re being treated to drizzle before the weather is supposed to climb to the perilous upper 20’s later this week. Hoodie and lovely new tea one day, shorts and tank tops the next. Ah English weather, you do like to keep me on my toes. (more…)

Soapasaurus

Ahhhh, Christmas break. So far I’ve done tons of things around the house and very, very little schoolwork. It’s been glorious.

One of the things I’ve FINALLY had time to do is use the lovely Soapasaurus products Alasdair is reviewing. He’s writing his own review of these products as part of a bigger “bath and beauty geek products” piece, but this one is mine, ’cause you know… they were open… *grin*

Friendship CubesFriendship Cube

These lovely little gamer’s friends pack a heck of a scent punch for their meager two inches. The pink one especially reminds me exactly of pink Starburst – somewhere between intense strawberry and a unnameable tropical fruit. They lather extremely well, but I recommend a sisal bag or something similar because once wet they’re inclined to slip out of your hand. There was zero residue after rinsing, and my skin felt comfortably not-dry, and not-moisturized.

What I particularly enjoyed about the scent was both its strength and the complete lack of residue. It’s great having a product where you can take an intensely scented bath or shower, but not have to worry about your soap scent clashing with deodorant, lotion or cosmetics when you’re finished.

Sugar WhipFestive Fall Handmade Sugar Scrub

Oh my god. Imagine the best coconut cream pie you’ve ever smelled, thick with graham cracker crust. Add pumpkin pie spice and a healthy dollop of maple syrup. Now whip it until it’s frothy and creamy with just a few hints of brown sugar chunks and rub it all over your face and don’t eat it because it’s soap but you’ll want to it smells so good!

Lovely creamy texture without a hint of residue. I was expecting something a bit more exfoliating I think, because of the name “sugar scrub”, so this won’t replace my normal face wash, but it’s a fantastic supplement. It has a bit of a lingering scent as I write this about an hour post-shower, so I think I’ll put this in the weekly treat category as opposed to daily wear. Plus I had to ask Alasdair to smell my face and that made him laugh and then lick my forehead.

The little green tub it comes in has a fantastic texture that lets you get a good grip on it with wet hands, and the screw-top lid is water proof – I stuck it under the running water with no leaking. Once I’ve used up all the product I’ll keep it and store other soaps.

Blue Sky CrystalBlue Sky Crystal

This was the first of the products we tried, and I could smell the intense blueberry scent hours after it was used. You’ve GOT to have some way of containing these little shards, though, or you’ll drop half of them and they’ll slip down the drain and you’ll be sad. For these little pieces we use a shower glove, which lets the thick lather through but isn’t as hard on skin as sisal. Scent-wise this is the most intense of the lot and the one I’d recommend the most for children because it’s an immediately identifiable smell. If Soapysaurus wants to branch out into bubblebath, they could do worse than start here.

Flying Update

Two more weeks of classed until Christmas break and the pressure has ramped up significantly. Apologies for the bullet points, but I need to get back to Wills revision.

  • The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary “Day of the Doctor” was fantastic. Going to see it with hundreds of other fans in costume in the theaters was amazing. Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows owned the Internet last night.
  • Thanks again to The Cheesecakes for hosting me while Alasdair was in Leeds for Thought Bubble.
  • One flavor of Jelly Babies is icky. Now that I’ve got the rest of the bag home in lighted conditions, I will investigate further to discover the guilty party.
  • The house is mostly unpacked and I’ve just set up a couple of reusable ceramic dehumidifiers in the two less-well insulated windows. There’s several small projects left, but first I need to learn how to properly install hanging things in these types of walls. This may involve the purchase of power tools. Heaven forfend.
  • Our housewarming / late Thanksgiving / early Christmas / Great Swap party is scheduled and the menu being planned. Alasdair wants to make tamales. YUM.
  • The mediation competition has advanced to the semi-finals this week. It’s fascinating being on the other side of the table this time, and I’m developing whole new sets of skills.
  • I’m hoping I might get to do my first community mediation over the Christmas break, but I haven’t heard back yet.
  • Speaking of the Christmas break, we are officially going to take 10 days off towards the end of the month. I’ll post about it so people can help keep me honest.
  • My latest narration is up at Cast of Wonders – “The View From Stickney Crater” by Rick Kennett, our latest Cy de Gurch story.
  • I think I’ve located an international foods market that carries fresh Ancho peppers. I need to get some and roast them to confirm. Because that would mean green chili and cheese tamales. YUM.

Right. Back to work!

Fall Back

Five in the evening and it’s already dark. No matter how hard I try, I never fully adjust. There are plenty of evening hours, but they all feel like they’re closer to midnight than dinner time. Ah well.

The move is complete, the old house has been cleaned top to bottom (it’s cleaner now than when we moved in!), and the new place unpacked enough to be functional. Both offices are still a mess, but at least all the furniture’s in the right places. Which is SO much easier to accomplish when the house is only two stories instead of four! Alasdair’s even had a chance to play the first part of Arkham Origins – life is slowly returning to … well, what we call normal anyway.

Monday is the commercial mediation competition kick-off, and I’m equal parts excited and nervous. I can’t wait to compare and contrast with my community mediation training, and strangely I’m looking forward to the chance to practice my note-taking. I didn’t realize how many different -ways- there are, depending on your focus. Yes, I’m dorking out about note-taking. Geek in all things, right?

Back to business prep and unpacking!