Another Year Older and What Do You Get?

I’ll be 44 years old on Wednesday, in the afternoon, when the sun is still in the sky but is starting to set, before the light has faded. (My birth certificate has another hour listed, but I’m adjusting for the time difference; I was born in Los Angeles, CA, far from where I ended up in central New York.) I’m very nearly middle-aged now, according to the OED, which defines all things.

Baby me, early 1974.

I don’t feel old, though. I don’t look back at my high school years or childhood with much nostalgia, and my 20s (into my 30s) were a whirlwind of bad relationships, bad choices. I didn’t know who I was, and I let too many other people define me, or limit me. You could say that I spent the first 20 years of my adulthood learning how to do all the things I didn’t learn as a kid–including how to go to school, how to manage my ADHD, how to be a well-balanced, emotionally healthy, and functioning adult… and that’s not wrong, but it’s not entirely right either. At least, it’s not the whole story. Before I could learn to grow up, I had to figure out what that meant to me, and that process took a lot longer than anything else.

In a way, being who I am now is pretty new to me still, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.

If you’re struggling with your own life and goals, good news kids! I’m hopeful, happier, more focused, and more productive than I was at 34, or 24. I’ve got some health issues, but I take better care of myself than I did at 20; I’m still physically strong and capable, and I’m confident than within a few years, I’ll have the shape and fitness level I want, which is more than I had at 20. (My sex life is amazing, in case you were wondering. Knowing what you like and not being afraid to ask for it is a a good thing.)

And I’m learning to tackle my problems, make changes, make amends, instead of running away. I’m learning (have learned) what I deserve, and what I have to give.

My biggest problems right now are all about money, because I’ve been in a career transition the last couple of years, and being my son’s sole caretaker means my work options are limited. But we’ve learned to live with a lot less than before (including being without a car, which broke down earlier this year). I have plans for our future that feel possible, if we can survive until then.

I have writing projects I’m genuinely excited about, and I’ve learned–lately, finally–that success for me comes from a mix of work ethic and inspiration, not just one or the other. Novels are possible from me now. Writing multiple days a week is possible now. You can expect to see a lot more from me in the near future… which I couldn’t have said at 24, or 34.

So this “getting older” thing is pretty good, and I hope to keep doing it for a long, long, time.

If you’d like to get in on my birthday (or winter holiday) celebrations, I have some Amazon gift lists and of course, PayPal is great for a coffee or helping me pay a bill. It’s instant help, & so appreciated.

My household Amazon list is here. It has things like bakeware and paper towels–it might not be “fun” stuff, but not having to worry about buying those things for myself this week reduces my stress and that’s a great gift.

PayPal is here, and you don’t need an account to use it.

My personal wishlist & my son Logan’s holiday list is here too. (Thank you!)

If you’re looking for another way to make my life better, there’s two things I can think of. The first is to read my fiction–most of which is free to read online–and if you loved any of it, recommend it to your friends. Tweet about it, write an online review, rave about it on Facebook… whatever you feel comfortable with. Share my work. Introduce new people to my writing. It won’t cost you anything but time, and it could make a big difference for me.

A sorted, often-update, list of my fiction is here: https://carriecuinn.com/2015/01/09/where-to-start-when-you-want-to-start-reading-my-work-fiction/

(You can also find my non-fiction writing here )

The other thing you can do for me is to do something for yourself. Do one thing that will make you happy. Treat yourself to something nice, to a nap, to a quiet evening with a good book, even if it means leaving the dishes in the sink. (And leave me a comment to tell me what you did!)

Life is so much shorter than we think it is, and before you know it, half your life has disappeared behind you. The journey is worth it, though. I’m not sure I believed that at 34, or 24. But I know it’s true now.

Rescheduling “Cake History Month” for January 2018

I’m not sure exactly when I got sick but it’s been about a month now that I’ve been too ill to do much more than sleep, cough, and cry about how tired I am. I ended up with two different colds, actually: I had one that dragged on for about 3 weeks and sapped my energy but I wasn’t congested, and then just as that was done, I managed to get a chest cold my person brought home from work. (I know that was a separate thing because the symptoms were different, and because all three of us–child included–came down with it, one day after each other, all in a row.) Today was the first day in that long time that I feel a little better, like I might not die after all.

Being sick for a month messes up a lot of plans. I haven’t worked at all (I posted a note on my editing Twitter that I was closed for business, haven’t taken on any new clients) or written much or even read any books. I watched a little TV, though not a month’s worth. Mostly, I slept a lot, or laid on the loveseat being uncomfortable but unable to do anything about it.

I took the bus to buy groceries today and managed to get home with Thanksgiving supplies without dying in the parking lot of a big box store, so I’m putting my foot down and deciding: that’s it, that’s the moment where I start to get better, because damn was I sick for a long time, and I’ve got so much to catch up on.

It’ll probably take a few days to get all the way back to productive, and my son’s still sick at home, but I’m hopeful.

Meanwhile, I have rescheduled “Cake History Month” for January 2018, which is just 6 weeks or so away. It was my intention to do a post a day and be available for conversation about the history, the recipes, but I was too sick to stay on top of the schedule. Rather than post a bunch all at once, I’ll just shuffle the dates and we’ll do it properly.

I’ve taken the ones already posted back off the website. (They’re not gone, just unpublished, so you’ll see them again.) I’ll use the extra time to do a few more of the recipes I couldn’t test myself, and if there’s anything new I learn, I’ll update the posts.

Thank you for your patience.

Today I’m Saving the World (A Little Bit)

 

When this posts, I’ll be lying on a Red Cross table, donating 2 units of red blood cells in a process they call “Power Red” automated donation. Basically, an apheresis machine will draw out twice as much blood as during a typical donation, separating the blood cells from the platelets and plasma. Then it returns those to me along with some saline; this keeps me from being too dehydrated afterward, and lets me give more blood cells than I could otherwise.

Donating blood is one of the most useful ways to help those in need. Unlike money (which can be spent on a charity’s “infrastructure” instead of going to those the group claims to help) or food (which is hard for food banks to manage and often a waste of time/money), donated blood can’t be “spent” on anything but saving a life.

Listen, the world in general is a cruel and uncaring place for most of us. But as individuals, we’re largely a decent group of creatures worth supporting and even saving, if necessary. Time and again we’re show definitive proof that we can’t go through the world alone — we need family, friends, safety nets, and social programs (including ambulances, emergency rooms, and fire crews) to get ahead and stay there. Everyone has to contribute whatever they can, so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed, or only the truly lucky will.

I’ve been scheduling a blood donation as often as they let me since I moved to Ithaca over 5 years ago. It’s the one thing I’ve been able to commit to, consistently, that is entirely about giving someone else a hand. There’s no glory in it, no reward, other than being selfless for 30 minutes, a couple of times a year.

I don’t have a lot of time to donate toward saving the world, and no money. I can do this, though, and so can you.

A tiny contribution to (the exquisite! corpse of) Uncanny Magazine’s Issue 15

#SFWAPro

Cover by Julie Dillon

Last month, Uncanny Magazine editor Michael Damian Thomas came up with a creative way to put off writing an editorial for Issue 15. He called it The Uncanny Magazine Exquisite Corpse Editorial — and I got to contribute a sentence to it!

In his introduction, Thomas explained…

The Exquisite Corpse was an old Surrealist game where you build off of what the previous person created, but you never see the whole. In this case, each writer only read the previous sentence before writing their sentence. Then their sentence and only their sentence was passed to the next person, and so on. On that note, enjoy this editorial by nearly 40 writers!

You can read our collaboration here.

The first half of the magazine is already online, free to read, here.

You can also subscribe to a full year at Weightless Books or Amazon, plus buy single issues from those retailers, Kobo, and Google Play.