Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer|conventions] Schedules, short term and long

Another somewhat sleepless night, thanks to my lower GI issues making a return engagement. Having applied the lessons of last Tuesday's disaster, I managed to keep both the digestive and sleep harm down to merely annoying as hell, as opposed to nigh-catastrophic. Yes, Virginia, sleeping in the recliner really does help.

I completely lost control of my schedule yesterday. The Day Jobbe, very unusually, needed a meeting covered from 4 to 6 pm Pacific. As everyone in my department but me lives and works in Nebraska, that would have been 6 to 8 pm in their home time. So I agreed to take one for the team. Given that I started work at 6 am Pacific, as usual, this netted out to a twelve-hour work day for me. (In fairness, I took an extended afternoon break, but it ain't the same.) As a result, though I managed to help the_child with her homework, I got nothing else done outside my office chair yesterday. I had in fact planned to begin work on the Endurance revisions, and return some languishing emails.

This reinforces to me something I already have been wrestling with: that I really don't control my time any more. The most I can do is set goals, and aspire to meeting them.

In ordinary health, I am awake about eighteen hours a day and active the entire time. The first two hours of that are exercise, personal grooming and blogging. Nine hours of that is Day Jobbery, at least during the work week. That leaves me with seven hours per weekday for time with the_child, relationship maintenance, friend time, writing, reading, cooking, housework, shopping, errands, and all the other things that make up a life. (I don't watch tv or play video games, so I don't budget time for that.) All the more so on weekends.

In chemo mode, and this has been more or less true since the surgery in November, I am awake fourteen to sixteen hours a day. The first two hours of that are still exercise, personal grooming and blogging. Nine hours of that is Day Jobbery, at least during the work week. By the time work is over, usually 3 pm, I am running out of steam, and have at most two more productive hours left.

I have gone from seven hours per weekday to accomplish things, including both parenting and writing, to two hours per weekday to accomplish things. And if anything upsets my schedule, such as sleep fail or other side effects issues as with Tuesday, or work overflow as yesterday, or family issues as at the beginning this week, I'm done. I meet none of my goals. Guess how many of my goals I've met this week?

This is making me insane.

And there's nothing I can do about it.

Some of my friends have argued for acceptance. I can't do that. I simply will not give in to the cancer. I am forced to compromise in obvious ways. I don't fight to stay awake and do things when my body needs to sleep. But as soon as I start telling myself, "Oh, it's okay, I can't do this any more because of the cancer," I've lost something important. Critical.

Because I will take back every inch cancer is taking from me, with interest and vengeance. And if it does eventually drag me into the grave, the undertaker will be picking dirt and blood out from under my fingernails, where I fought it to the last. The fight starts anew every day, because I'm afraid if I give in even that first inch, I'll set myself on the path to losing the entire field.

More on this later from another angle, when I have brainspace and time. amberdine made a wise observation in comments yesterday, which dovetails with discussions I've already been having with calendula_witch and shelly_rae about the coping distinctions between chronic and acute conditions, and how I'm viewing my cancer.

Speaking of compromises, my convention and travel schedule this year will be quite different than it has in prior years. Time to update that.

Except for a hoped-for appearance at Rainforest Writers Village this March, I don't plan to be at any events prior to this summer. I will be writer in residence at A Writers Weekend in July, my first post-chemo event.

My first conventions post-chemo will be Au Contraire (New Zealand's national SF convention) at the end of August, and AussieCon 4 the weekend following. calendula_witch and I burned a sky-high stack of frequent flyer miles to get ourselves there in celebration of my recovery from cancer.

Due to constrained funds because of healthcare expenses, and having to use all my sick and some of my vacation time at the Day Jobbe for chemo, that's about it for major conventions for me. Barring unexpected developments I will probably make it to Foolscap, and certainly to OryCon.

Speaking of major conventions, I will almost certainly not be at World Fantasy Convention, for the first time in many years. Even if I were in funds and equipped with plentiful time, I would probably skip it this year for two reasons.

First, the continued difficulties the WFC convention committee has been experiencing providing something as simple as on-line registration — not exactly a startling new technology in the 2010s — gives me no faith whatsoever in their ability to do anything else basic to putting on a successful event.

Second, when I inquired why this was an issue, I was told that the committee had been running conventions in the Midwest for years without online registration, and that only "coastal elites" cared about such things. I have no desire to spend my time and energy at an event where the convention committee has such a derogatory view of me, as well as many of the pros in our field. So, no WFC for me this year. Which is deeply ironic, considering I was Toastmaster at WFC this past year, and have long been an enthusiastic fan of that convention.

So, if you want to catch me on the Con circuit, you'll have to pop down to Australia or New Zealand, hang out on the West Coast, or extend me a GoH invite and see if I can wrangle the time. Another gift of cancer, this lack of time and funds. Another thing I've given up this year. Some fights I cannot win, and the fight to keep up my travel schedule and public presence is absolutely one of them, in the face of my need to heal and recover, and manage my life.

It's tough, giving up my activities. I don't think I'll stop resenting the need for additional sleep, and resenting even more the need for daily periods of inactivity, especially after about 5 pm. Giving up so much of my travel and convention schedule is just another annoyance on the pile.

Tags: australia, books, calendula, cancer, child, conventions, endurance, health, new zealand, personal, shellyrae, travel, work, writing

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened