Kage Baker was a big believer in the maxim: “Sufficient unto the day are the troubles thereof.”
She interpreted it as meaning that one shouldn’t stockpile problems, nor hoard them for quiet moments. If at all possible, examine them in brief and set them aside until one can do something about them. Make plans – one can then label the problems In Process and file them away for a more appropriate moment.
This is especially nice if the moment the problem chose is, like, 2:45 in the morning.
Kage wasn’t subject to insomnia, so something had to really bother her to keep her awake. Then she’d spend an hour or so planning and plotting – long conversations in the dark we had, something at which I am at least very good … and at some point the Worry-Meter would click over to empty, and she’d go to sleep.
It’s a good system. I use it when I can – though I’m not as good a plotter. So sometimes, I just make up a sketchy outline – just enough to confuse my neurotransmitters and force a nice cascade of endorphins. Then I get some cheese and a book and overwhelm myself with a little sensory overloads until my consciousness burns out. It’s not as useful as Kage’s way – no plans result, and I do entomb cheese crumbs in books – but all that really matters is that one is asleep at the end of it.
Half a hundred small problems are making this December a chore. There are one or two large ones as well, but they aren’t as much of a bother. There’s only so long one can actually, physically and mentally maintain high-level worry about rising sea levels, gun control and the coming world-wide shortage of neon.* It’s hard to keep a good paranoid focus, when one is being much more immediately assaulted by the local unavailability of King Arthur Self Rising Flour. My rear tires are shedding their skin like fat snakes. Is the noise at midnight in the pantry the cats practiscng Irish dance, or do we have mice? Why the hell has 1 sock out of each pair of my long stockings vanished?
Outside my room, the wind is abruptly rising and loose stuff has begun to fly sideways down the driveway; the lights in the mulberry tree are clearly at risk. In the lemon tree, the steel chimes sound like a jam session with Quasimodo and Keith Moon. Harry is meowing in the unique, parrot-style, I-don’t-need-to-breathe-to-make-this-keen-noice staccato that drives listeners insane. And we’re out of fudge.
But in the meantime, in the fertile plain of desire and delirium that is my desk, Joseph is closing in on the ikons he needs; soon he’ll be successful and safe. For a while, he he he … Lewis has no idea yet what is coming, but maybe I’ll write him a nice date with some lady from the Hollywood Canteen as recompense. (Kage always said, she felt so guilty when she wrote Lewis into trouble …)
I saw my oncologist today for the standard check-up and I am fine. She said she didn’t like the way my heart sounded, but then – neither do I. So I’m seeing my cardiologist just after the New Year, and she can find some new way to keep my fuel pump from failing. In the meantime, I can take a nap. And write some more. And hunt down the bag of York Peppermint Patties Kimberly hid somewhere.
Yeah. That sounds like a plan.
* I’m not kidding. Neon is obtained by mining.What is mined is air. neon being one of the residues after nitrogen, oxygen and other compounds are extracted. Neon, being a noble gas, does form compounds nor result from them. And therefore, when we’ve used it up, it’ll be gone from Earth.