When I was a kid, my dad’s favorite saying about life (and, honestly, this is still something he likes to say to me today) was all we could do was just muddle through. He’d say that any time life happened so much: any time things seemed overwhelming, he’d shrug and tell me to just put my head down and muddle through.
I follow that advice a lot less gracefully than I’d like to admit. My habit tends to be to catastrophize for at least a day or two; even small things start to feel overwhelming when they all come at you at once. I’ve started utilizing Mondays to just write myself a to-do list for the whole of the week so that I have something concrete to come back to and reference whenever I can. The current state of the world notwithstanding (I do try to keep an eye on things to stay informed, though I also often find myself having to disengage some just to keep from going out of my mind), my daily life is also pretty intense right now.
It isn’t all bad, even when the specter of potential calamity looms close by. My birthday is on Thursday, the 12th! I have a new story coming out November 1st! (If you’re interested, preorders are 15% off until October 31st.) Next Saturday, we’re headed off to Hawaii for a week, for the first Real Vacation I’ve taken in over two decades. We’ve been planning this for the better part of the year, and I am pretty excited for all of these things.
On the flipside are the lows that come with those highs. I’ve talked before about how anxious I am about the story that’s coming out, and I’m deeply hoping that readers new and old will give me the benefit of the doubt.
I’m a little disappointed that I can’t take my birthday itself off because of the vacation, since taking the actual day off has been my present to myself literally since I started my dayjob. And going on any sort of vacation, let alone somewhere touristy, is going to cost a lot of money. And while I have been saving all year and we’ve gotten help from parents, I’m still pretty nervous about how much is enough — I want to enjoy my vacation but not push myself into debt. We’re in cleaning and prep mode, so everything else I’ve been planning to do has been kind of set aside for now.
And then, yesterday (Saturday the 8th), we noticed our cat, Merlin, was having some significant discomfort walking and sitting. He was fussing obsessively over a spot under his tail and getting progressively unhappier about it through the day. It was too tender for him to let us get a good look, but what we did see, even through all his thick fur, looked bad. So we rushed him to a 24-hour emergency vet, and while it turned out to be easily treatable — one of those gross but common enough things — that was an extra expense slapped on when I wasn’t expecting it. Life happens so much.
But it isn’t even the money that is the issue. I have savings for things like this. The bill was high, but nothing compared to what we had to pay when our poor other cat was sick. So Merlin charmed the vet and techs until his brief procedure, and then they sent him home with us with a passel of painkillers and a stiff “Elizabethan” collar. A cone of shame. He’s got to wear it for two weeks, and when we come back from Hawaii we’ll have to take him to his regular vet to get his stitches removed.
The poor guy’s having a hell of a time navigating the house right now, though. Even when we can’t see him we can hear him, and the soft scuffle-thud of his cone smacking into walls and bags. He’s much more cautious about jumping onto the bed or the couch.
Of our household of three humans, Merlin is “my” cat more than anyone else’s, and I’ve fretted about leaving him for the vacation, I admit. A friend will be checking in on him, but it’ll be the first time in 8 years where he’ll be mostly alone. I knew I was going to worry about him even before his little health scare, and now that concern has been amplified. I know that he’ll be fine, and that this is fairly standard. We have an easy plan of action and he’s already back to mugging for food and sassing me about how much he hates his cone. I’m hoping that we can schedule getting his stitches out the day after we get back from Hawaii so that I won’t have to juggle work even more to make it happen. It’s going to be more money. I have edits I need to do as well as rewrites I want to make happen; I have a story that I really want to submit that is this close to being finished. I have my dayjob and its changing expectations; I have new things I want to start writing.
Life happens so much! But I’m still trying to do the best I can, with what I can, and what is available to me.
I’m putting my head down, and I’m muddling through.