Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weird Tales Levels Up!

As has today been spreading along the currents of the intrawebs like the smell of whalefall in an empty see, Weird Tales just muscled up, took its sunnies off and gave you the eye.

WEIRD TALES: New Website, New Submission Portal, Pay Rate Increase

The World’s Oldest Fantasy Magazine Re-invents Itself for a New Decade

Several exciting developments mark the start of 2011 for Weird Tales. In addition to launching a new website at http://www.weirdtalesmagazine.com, editor-in-chief Ann VanderMeer and publisher John Betancourt have raised the pay rate to 5 cents per word and implemented a new submissions portal for potential contributors, located at: http://weirdtalesmagazine.com/submissions/.

These changes come on the heels of the news last year that VanderMeer would be taking over as editor-in-chief, with Paula Guran retained as nonfiction editor and Mary Robinette Kowal named as art director. This is the first time in the magazine’s 88-year history that Weird Tales has had an all-female editorial/management staff. Dominik Parisien and Alan Swirsky join Tessa Kum as editorial assistants on the Weird Tales team.

“Weird Tales was always known for publishing unclassifiable dark fiction, for publishing new voices alongside old pros, and we’ll continue that tradition,” VanderMeer says. “Our website updates those traditions by posting video flash fictions and news of the bizarre.” The new site also features a blog, through which VanderMeer and the rest of the Weird Tales team will discuss fiction and topics related to the revamped magazine.

This month marks the publication of the 357 issue of the magazine, featuring exceptionally strong short fiction. Contributors include Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ N.K. Jemisin with “The Trojan Girl”, Swedish newcomer Karin Tidbeck’s ingenious and unsettling inversion of faerie and critically acclaimed J. Robert Lennon with “Portal,” a disturbing Shirley-Jackson-esque horror story. Weird Tales will return to its normal quarterly schedule this year, with future issues slated for May, August, and November.

Thanks to Matt Kressel for the new website and Neil Clarke for the submissions portal.

I just had a look at the Slush Cattle Pen, and holy hammerheads and harpsichords, Batman. That's a lot of slush. Do you have a story in there? Have you brazenly submitted your work of art to our fair publication? Do you realise what the Slush Cattle Pen actually means? For me? Hands on. No longer must I wait for Captain VanderMeer to feed me! I am free to rub my face over all the slushcows! All of them! And I will. I'll sniff them and lick them and probably not call them George. (I realise that last sentence may sound disturbing if you don't get the Bugs Bunny reference.)

Send Moar Slushcows!

And while I've got my pimp coat on, may I interest you in these shiny glittering offerings?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't rock the boat; sink it.

If you reach the point at which your Doktor prescribes you two anti-depressants, one prescription painkiller and weekly sessions with a counselor, it's a pretty clear sign that shit ain't working. It's time to admit that while you have worked incredibly hard to set yourself and your life up the way you want it, that shit ain't working. And when shit ain't working to that degree, then there's nothing for it. No tinkering or tweaking will fix something like this.

Time to take this life and scuttle the fucker.

Today I handed to my real estate agent my Notice to Vacate Property. I am become one of a massive diaspora of not youngin's but not oldin's who are returning home to roost. Mum is actually quite excited about it. I don't think she fully grasps what I mean when I say I live a bachelor life.

This will enable me to save money much faster and thus acquire the funding necessary to enable my Cunning Plan.

A good friend I hadn't seen in a while, on discovering I wasn't writing at all and knowing what writing meant to me, asked how I was coping with that.

"I'm on drugs," I said with a laugh. "And moving to another hemisphere."

That's right, kids. The Ultimate Kamakazi Operation: GTFO.

It. Is. On.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Third Bear - Jeff VanderMeer

buy - author site

I do not have a bear. Well, I do, but I don't know where he is. I do have an Octopus God, however. He is not protecting an island. He is just hanging out on my desk.

The other good thing about my diagnosis is that my Reader's Block has been removed. And when I say 'removed' I mean 'asploded with fifty-million tons of shark dynamite'.

First book of the year!

This book is a soft re-entry into the world of reading, being as it is in essence a reread. I was sent the initial MS to poke at with a stick, and even on that reading many of the stories contained I had already read.

It is well established that I am a touch sycophantic about VanderMeer's writing, and this is why: it's really fucking good.

(It's obvious I haven't done a book write up in a while. I have no idea what I'm doing. Faff, faff, faff.)

(Structure? What structure? Articulate the awesome?)

It opens with the title story, The Third Bear, which is a bit like opening with the experience of being buried alive. It is claw-swipe to the guts, leaving you wretched, hopeless, horrified and inexplicably mournful. The Third Bear is, undoubtedly, a showstopper.

After which the show begins.

Story after story. Should I attempt to single out only the best, I would end up listing and babbling enthusiastic about them all. There is not a weak link in this chain. Each story rises up to completely obliterate the taste of the story that came before, and then be obliterated by that which follows. There is among them an echo, a resonance, of what is noted in the Afterword as "...the search for, or encounter with, the inexplicable." These stories that seek to contain such vast mysteries they are dense with all the unknown unknowns and gently and sadly weigh the reader down with the loneliness that comes with acknowledging all you will never understand, until you, I, the reader, stumble out the end of Appoggiatura and blink, bewildered to find ourselves in such mundane surroundings - these beige walls and beige carpet and beige blinds - and some threshold has been passed through. The grief of knowing that the accumulated learnings of your life will amount to exactly nothing becomes the joy of knowing that there are such inexplicables in the world, and that, in itself, is enough.

These stories speak to each other. Between the covers they have conspired and so the Third Bear can be found later in the stairwells of a story of a different kind, a dead woman's arm goes on beyond its genesis, the colour green, scent of lime, and a name; the stories more than nod at each other, they wink, whisper and play tricks on the reader. It is not merely a collection of short stories, but an obscure and subtle mosaic that upon rereading will give up more of itself to the reader, as teasingly as any reachable mystery.

Errata and Appoggiatura have been staked out as special territory for years. The Tor podcast and podcast by Jason Erik Lundberg having kept me company while I kept insomnia company. I know them word for word, and small edits made me sit up, nodding as a line was joined between a dot here, or some balancing applied there. They are both astonishing feats of art and heart. It is hard to imagine any of the other stories could survive between three such immense, all-consuming, unremittingly powerful pieces, and yet, each story is so sure of itself, so comfortable in its individuality that survive they do.

I don't generally plan on rereading, but that this is already read, reread, and now reread again, and still the stories affect me profoundly, and still I find myself grieving to have reached the end, and sit here wondering if perhaps maybe I could start another reread here and now...that is a mark of the quality of this book. The reflection on the cover is a gorgeous summer day I only just noticed and have not been out in.

Verdict: One of the best, most challenging and ambitious and powerful collections ever. Of all time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Good, The Bad, And The Otherwise

Back in February 2010 I was referred to a specialist, a rheumatologist. He twisted my joints, poked and prodded, made a couple of comments about Asimov and sent me on my way.

My Doktor, upon receiving the rheumatologist's findings, gave me a "...wtf?" look.

Regional Pain Syndrome

The symptoms of CRPS usually manifest near the site of an injury, either major or minor. The most common symptoms overall are burning and electrical sensations, described to be like "shooting pain." The patient may also experience muscle spasms, local swelling, abnormally increased sweating, changes in skin temperature and color, softening and thinning of bones, joint tenderness or stiffness, restricted or painful movement.

The pain of CRPS is continuous and may be heightened by emotional or physical stress. Moving or touching the limb is often intolerable. The symptoms of CRPS vary in severity and duration. There are three variants of CRPS, previously thought of as stages. It is now believed that patients with CRPS do not progress through these stages sequentially. These stages may not be time-constrained, and could possibly event-related, such as ground-level falls or re-injuries in previous areas. Instead, patients are likely to have one of the three following types of disease progression:

  1. Stage one is characterized by severe, burning pain at the site of the injury. Muscle spasm, joint stiffness, restricted mobility, rapid hair and nail growth, and vasospasm (a constriction of the blood vessels) that affects color and temperature of the skin can also occur.
  2. Stage two is characterized by more intense pain. Swelling spreads, hair growth diminishes, nails become cracked, brittle, grooved, and spotty, osteoporosis becomes severe and diffuse, joints thicken, and muscles atrophy.
  3. Stage three is characterized by irreversible changes in the skin and bones, while the pain becomes unyielding and may involve the entire limb. There is marked muscle atrophy, severely limited mobility of the affected area, and flexor tendon contractions (contractions of the muscles and tendons that flex the joints). Occasionally the limb is displaced from its normal position, and marked bone softening and thinning is more dispersed.

Upon reading the symptoms, I returned the "...wtf?" look to my Doktor.

The only symptom I had and have in common with this condition was pain. And you know, that's a symptom I have in common with, say, piranhas. Does that mean I have piranhas? No. No, it does not.

As such, we elected to overlook that diagnosis and continue with physiotherapy, which had been making significant improvements. For a while. Well. Yeah.

Hands started to deteriorate again, no matter what I did or did not do, which lead to the prescription of Cymbalta among other things, and, eventually, another referral to the rheumatologist.

My Doktor had specifically chosen Cymbalta as it has been proven to be effective in the mitigation of chronic pain. Curious, I asked my physiotherapist about the idea behind Regional Pain Syndrome and the theory my Doktor appeared to be latching onto in regards to overactive nerve activity and a brain that no longer filtered properly.

"Absolutely," she said. Although the problem with my hands may have started as a very straight-forward Repetitive Strain Injury, it had gone on long enough that the nerves would have changed with the conditions they found themselves in. In layman's terms; the nerves expect pain, so they make it. The brain expects pain, so it receives it.

I had my doubts when my Doktor explained his reason for the Cymbalta. Pain is not something that should be covered up. It's there for a reason, it's the best warning sign you get that something is wrong. There have been many, many steps backward on this "road to recovery" my hands have taken me on. One of the biggest was late last year. The Doktor had given me Celebrex, with instructions to take one a day for a month, and see how that helped. I was having adverse reactions to over the counter painkillers, and thankfully the Celebrex had no such effect. It's a slow-acting medication. Not designed for quick pain relief, but for chronic pain relief. It only kicks in after a few days, once appropriate amounts are in your blood.

It was lovely, being without that pain. Lovely.

At the end of the month, when I went off the Celebrex, the pain returned and was significantly worse than previously. I could only assume that without the pain to hold me back, I was working too much and not realising, and doing even more damage to my hands.

That terrified me. I wouldn't take any more painkillers after that, except at night when it was the only way I would get to sleep. The pain was necessary to keep me in check. I needed the pain, to listen to.


I was getting better.

I could see it when my physiotherapist tested the tension in my nerves, and I could feel it when she went at my muscles and nerves with her frighteningly effective hands. I could feel it when I moved and when I stretched.

Improvement = more pain?

No comprende.

The rhuematologist twisted my joints and poked me hard enough to bruise and made some more comments about Asimov, and then wrote on a piece of paper "fibromyalgia" and peered at me over his glasses.

Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and allodynia, a heightened and painful response to pressure...Other symptoms include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some patients may also report difficulty with swallowing, bowel and bladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling, and cognitive dysfunction. Fibromyalgia is frequently comorbid with psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety and stress-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Not all people with fibromyalgia experience all associated symptoms.

"I've seen this," I said. "When I was reading up on Cymbalta."

He gave me his recommendations - to raise the dose of Cymbalta or stay on Celebrex indefinitely - and sent me on my way.

My Doktor was well pleased to hear this, his hypothesis being confirmed by a second source, until I pointed at that at the current dosage of Cymbalta I had noticed no different in pain levels and given the somewhat UNRELENTLINGLY ARSEHOLEY side-effects currently afflicting me, no way in hell was I going to start a higher dosage.

And that's where we are now. I'm to stay on 60mg of Cymbalta for the next couple of months. Should the current side effects of RAGING INSOMNIA and SOB-INDUCING RESTLESSNESS abate, I will try a higher dosage in the hopes it alleviates my chronic pain. If not, I'll drop back to 30mg of Cymbalta and stay on Celebrex for...however long.

I've done my reading around on the intertubes, and I have my reservations about the diagnosis. Fibromyalgia itself is something of a controversial condition, and when I look at the symptoms and requirements of diagnosis, my face gets a little skeptical. I'm not sure I tick all those boxes.

But, what my physiotherapist said makes sense to me, and she is the one who knows my condition best. I trust her opinion.

The majority of those I have shared this diagnosis with have expressed quite sharp-edged dismay, to my surprise and gratitude. Yes, well. The idea of living with chronic pain isn't exactly a happy ending. It's not something that really featured in my plans for the future, you know?

That said, I'm descended from people who pay sweet bugger all attention to pain. They shrug off cuts and don't notice bruises, strain and pull and twist things and simply treat them gently till they've calmed down, barely even notice when they're sick because, hey, it isn't actually stopping them from getting on with things. One of the problems in talking to my medical posse about my hands, for the entire duration, was being able to express the "level" of pain. When it's bad enough to keep me from working, then I notice it. Beyond that...look, I'm uncomfortable all the time, so I don't really pay it any attention, sorry.

The pain was there to stop me from doing damage. If my nerves are simply crying wolf, and there is no damage being done?

Fuck yes I will live with chronic pain. Fuck. Yes.
Fuck yes I will take medication indefinitely. Fuck. Yes.

Because what this means is the damage is not that bad. What this means is physically I can and am recovering.

What this means is I can think about writing.

I have a future, again.


Which isn't to say I can throw all caution to the wind. I'm currently filling another position at work, a role that involves more computer work than my own, and combined with the recent spate of blogging; I feel it. Oh boy am I feeling it. Ouch. Ow. Argh. Getting a bit carried away with this heady air of possibility. Oh air. Oh air.

This may be the first breath I've taken in 21 months.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Public Love Letter

Dear you, yes you,

It is not news that I love that Deborah Kalin woman in more ways than Shakespeare could fit in a sonnet. My adoration causes those who have already known her and who are encountering me for the first time to walk away with the impression that I am a lesbian chasing a straight woman. These days we pass through now mark the sixth year she has been in my life, and even if nothing else good came of Clarion South it was worth going purely because I found her there. Together we have raised hell and put hell back in its place. She has held me up and talked me down, she laughs at the mistakes I make because she knows I need it, and has been an unwavering voice of reason when my second-, third-, sixth- and nineth- thoughts have left me paralysed with doubt. I can trust her to know exactly how to manage me when I'm at my worst, and know she'll up the ante on any hijinx when I'm at my other worst. Having her move down to Melbourne a couple of years back was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Plus, she makes amazing nachos.

I haven't known that Karen Healey woman as long. That scheming Justine Larbalestier woman friend-match-made us a couple of years back, for which I am exceptionally grateful. Although I am still getting to know her (I believe it takes years of meaningful entanglements before you can really know someone), I am already well and truly smitten. She is one of the few people who has earned the title of "Fabulous". She has a sophistication, class and style that does not come naturally to her, it is her. Her fierce yet goofy outspokenness on all she holds dear amazes me and leaves me clapping in admiration. She has the single most wicked smile I have ever seen, and fabulous curly pink hair, and is unrepentant in her identity. Plus, everything she cooks is amazing. I'd recommend cultivating her as a friend for her lemon cake. Oh holy of holies.

Both these women are intimidatingly intelligent and clever in evil conniving ways. From them I have learned and will learn a great many things (such as, the best way to test the quality of a moisturiser is to rub it on your elbow), about all manner of things, and think myself too fortunate to have such fascinating, interesting and interested people in my life. They are both dedicated and highly skilled writers, and are honest about the hilarity and horrors that come with a mind that writes. They are also both honest about themselves, their short failings, the mistakes they make and the doubts the carry and the bad habits they cannot break. They are both stunning, and while they have moments of hating their bodies, they also embrace those moments of looking and feeling fucking breath-taking.

They are both women I admire greatly, and feel foolishly gumpy around frequently, and are in fact so awesome that their awesomeness has its own gravitational field. Whenever they enter my orbit I am gleeful to say that indeed, my world does revolve around them.

I've seen them both the last two days. Because of them my world is right now full to brimming with joy.

Gentlemen, the privilege, pleasure and honour is mine.

Thank you.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Why haven't I been made King of the World yet?

It started, as most things do, with cheese.

I'd run out. This is one of those circle of life type things; you put cheese in sandwich, you eat sandwich, repeat until you run out of cheese/bread/butter/vegemite. My lunches are not complicated things, but I do like a little bit more than just a spread. (Unless it's toast, in which case a wad of peanut butter is just fine.)

So I went to the supermarket, as one does, and I went to the dairy aisle, as one does, and I stood in front of the cheese, as one does, and spent the next twelve minutes struck dumb with indecision.

A wall of cheese, from floor to ceiling. Cheese in different brands, of different types, reduced fat or full, sliced or not. So much cheese, so many cheese, and too much choice.

When the shelf-stacker gave me a funny look on passing me for the third time, I realised what I was doing, grabbed without looking, and walked away.

That is what stress can do, that is what depression can do, that is what not having all your mental resources operating at normal capacity can do. The ability to process and compare information is significantly reduced, and the capacity to commit to a decision is practically nil. That is how cheese can steal twelve minutes of your life.

At the check out, bewildered as I was having passed by soup (Do I need soup? I don't know!) and tea (What about some nice tea? I don't know!) and chocolate-covered honeycomb (Should I get a treat? I DON'T KNOW!), I figured there must be a niche in this anxiety-driven and consumer-based society for a supermarket that caters to the perpetually overwhelmed. A supermarket that stocks milk in milk cartons that say milk and with no options on offer, cheese in a packet labeled cheese and no options on offer, museli in a bag labeled museli and no options on offer.

This is a supermarket I would really appreciate right now. A place at which I will be able to find the basic necessities to feed myself without being confronted with choices.

You could even have levels of the Stressed Supermarket, for those who may be coping a little better but still not ready for a wall of cheese; full cream and skinny milk and only those two to choose from, jarlsberg or chedder cheese and only those two to choose from, swiss museli or natural museli and only those two to choose from. Baby steps. We have to work our way up through the ranks, get practice at processing and streamlining information until we are prepared, at last, to face a wall of cheese, and make a selection in a mere moment.

And not be stricken with indecision.

And not feel weak for the time wasted.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

It doesn't recognise 'eh'. DOOMED.

hello, my freaky darlings.

for Christmas, my family put in together and bought me Dragon Dictate for Mac. It was at my request. A year is long enough to sit on an idea, and where it down, until, it is no more threatening than my age painted this. I was actually a little bit excited to receive it, as while I will not be using it for fiction it will enable me to properly e-mail all you far-flung distant beautiful friends. I have missed you.

Unfortunately, many in technology, well, we have “issues". When I installed Dragon Dictate it politely informed me that it refused to run on the current version of Eddie's operating system. Fussy little sheet. That shouldn't have been a problem, and I was quite happy to even pay for a legitimate upgrade (because Macs are just too weird and funky to our stuff on) and went to do that right away. However, Apple beings so forwardthinking shooter orientated, and all that, there was no option to simply download the upgrade. Noel. They insisted on shipping me the physical disk. Which... Was not what I wanted this year on the first day of the four-day long weekend.

Beach ripe Martin.

I cultivated some patients (meaning I stole some from our little old lady on a Zimmer frame outside the supermarket) and ordered the damp upgrade will stop. It was not delivered on Wednesday. It was delivered on Thursday. And of course Apple use a courier service so they weren't going to just shove it in the letterbox. I had to sign for it. So I missed that first delivery, and low! The next delivery would not be until Tuesday due to new years public holiday will stop. Fine stop. That's just fine. Fortunately they agreed to deliver to my workplace which happened on Tuesday quite early, and it was just a CD case. It's not even like it was a big cardboard box of new slots packaging will stop they could have quite easily have shoved in the letterbox. It was only $40. The.

After doing a quick backup of all my necessary files, of which I'm sure I forgot many, I upgraded Eddie's operating system. Which was surprisingly painless.

Then I ran Dragon Dictate.

Then, I pulled out the fancy Swedish headset that my family had also given me for an extra $100 and went to plug it in. The fancied swish headset has a USB plug that is the some reason ridiculously why stop.

Eddie has only two USB ports.

I could not plug the headset in and have my ergonomic keyboard plugged in at the same time.


I can tell you right now I did not just say “can't" Asian stop.

So I had to unplug my ergonomic keyboard, which meant that Eddie could not sit in he's nice ergonomic laptop stand, as it covers his own keyboard. This seems to be, I don't know, ergonomic forces at wall? I know. Factions of occupational health and safety revolution coming into conflict and you're getting distracted so that they not actually fighting the problem which is RSI and instead bed is fighting each other and... It is a little bit frustrating. I'm going to have to buy a USB hub. The better Eddie gets for my hands, the first portable he becomes.

So. There we are a will stop. As you can see, I have a little bit of trouble ending sentences. I haven't corrected anything in this post. For ease of reading I will go back and insert paragraph breaks.

And then, I am going to teach this program how to swear will stop.

Expletive. Blasphemy. Expletive.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Year of Vanished Fish

Hey, you.

You're a bit lost right now, a bit bewildered to find your foundations absent and sureties you had taken for granted now unsteady things. There is, abruptly, a fog of uncertainty in your head, obfuscating your present and making a smeared water-colour painting of the future you're trying to aim at. You've never coped well with uncertainty, being a touch too gifted at taking all potential hypotheses into consideration when presented with any decision, but you're doing okay for now. Ish. Okay-ish.

That's all we can hope for, really. The uncertainty is you. Or rather, you are uncertain about all things including yourself. Especially yourself. You do not trust your own judgment, nor your capacity for logic, nor your ability to function. Lately, you've found yourself a startlingly unpredictable creature. Mood swings that have no trigger you can identify, nor any overarching plot to trace too. Violent bouts of crying that blindside you like a brick and disappear just as abruptly, leaving you nothing short of perplexed and confused, because while that violence ambushes you, you don't feel it.

What are you? You are not known to yourself. Not right now. For perhaps the first time. Your mind is now terra incognita.

No idea how people live like this.

In the interests of getting to know you, me, I, us, them, let's try a little exercise. I know it will be tough, because we've already tried this a couple of times with the result being Ctrl+A, Delete. I know your heart isn't in it, because mine sure as hell isn't.

But for the you, me, her, them that come back from the future to read this, some balance is required. This blog has become an unhappy place. You, I, we're only recording the misery. That's no fault of yours, I know. Processing the turbulence is more important than maintaining balance for the readers. But let's just try, okay? For you, me, us, them. For later.

Without further ado; things that made 2010 worth living.

And without further ado; I have deleted the list created.

Partly because it was forced. There is no capacity within me to be grateful for the privileges I've enjoyed the year passed. I acknowledge them, but right now I cannot feel them, and so to speak of them would be an exercise in lying to myself.

Also, I am battered and bruised and flinching. There is no capacity within me to trust the randomness of the world and its enduring capacity for capriciousness. If I were to announce the small wonders I hold close, then the acknowledgment would drive the world to then poison those wonders. Let them stay precious for now. Let them stay private. Let them be only mine.

Last year everything clicked into place. It was as though you had finally reached the age you have always been, and fit your skin and personality for the first time. You're a school of fish, and last year the fish swum out of their chaotic lack of coordination and began to move as one.

If you are composed of a million pieces, and those million pieces move as one, then that is almost the same as being composed of one single piece.


Here and now, some of the fish are missing. Not eaten, not fled, simply disappeared. The remaining fish do not roil in confusion, although they are confused. They are lost. They don't know where they are going, and so they are not going anywhere.

You're a school of fish, full of holes and still in the water.

Sharks will find you if you stay like this.

2011 is going to wear me down. The decisions I've made will involve a great deal of fenangaling, and I expect to melt down often and with significant fallout. Even from out here the plans scare the shit out of me, but, scary things are worth doing. Remember that.

I wish I could go sailing into this year hollering and wild-eyed with some misguided sense of glory, delirious anticipation of the mistakes and messes I am to make, impatient for my triumphs and awards, and full of hunger for all that is unknown ahead of me. I wish I still had that strength, that willful heedlessness to all that might rend and scar. I wish I still knew that I would conquer the world.

It's come to three letters, two nested, each responding to the last, because by all that is infuriating and exasperating, THERE IS TOO MANY ME. We are an arrhythmic school of fish, and every damn fish has something to say. We, Planet Tessa, a fucking hivemind of one.

We have something to say to ourselves.

Maybe I'm not a school of fish, maybe I'm a migration of Golden Rays, or Blue Fin Tuna, or Wilderbeast. Maybe parts of me are meant to split off. Maybe my identity is meant to diverge and separate and be a fractured thing that will, later, come together again as something new.

It's 12.34am, and my ears are ringing with the memory of music. Music = mountains. There's mountains in me now, as intangible as music. This duality of being both immense and macroscopic in their extremes simultaneously is rare these days, it doesn't sweep through and out my head as often as it used to. But it is here now, and so I will ride it and say this.

You will not escape this year resolutionless. I had thought to let you off the hook this time, as the pressure of promises won't help you right now, and there are so many things you want to address, the size of the list alone will choke you.

You choked a lot in 2010. You're scared.

Now, now, now you'll be the spread lace of the Frilled-Neck Lizard, the raised quills of the Crested Porcupine, and the rampant fluffage of the White-faced Scops Owl. You're not dangerous, but you can pretend to be.

What do puffer fish do when they are frightened?

They make themselves look a damn sight sillier, but the point is made. In taking damage, they defeat their adversaries.

You are not strong, little fish, but you will be brave.

Also, you need a haircut.