Age and Illness with a Touch of Ennui

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On Thursday I turn 29, and lest I forget that I'm getting ever closer to the big 3-0, my body decided to self-destruct yesterday. After months of dealing with lower back pain (which I blame on my awful desk chair at work, which I have to sit in 7+ hours a day), said lower back muscle seized up and spasmed yesterday when I was getting out of the shower, bringing me to my knees. I could barely move much less sit or walk, so needless to say I didn't make it to work. After a full day of lying on a heating pad and popping the anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers my doctor had previously prescribed, I managed to make it to Urgent Care, where they gave me a steroid shot and a referral for physical therapy. I'm feeling much better today, but I still can't walk or sit for extended periods of time, so I took today off to rest as well.

This whole experience is particularly frustrating because until I moved to Pennsylvania, I prided myself on my good health, on the fact that in the past ten years I'd been to the doctor maybe five times, and even then usually left the doctor's office feeling as though I'd just wasted my time (and co-pay) and my body could have easily healed on its own. Since I made the big move last August, however, I have been to more doctors' offices and taken more medications than I did in the previous 28 years combined. Still, I hadn't had to take a single sick day this year (or ever, come to think of it) until yesterday.

I have to rest as much as possible over the next couple of days, though, because on Thursday T.J. and I are going to Niagara Falls for a few days. We've been before but got a really great weekend package deal from Living Social, so we couldn't pass it up. It will be nice to get away from here for a few days. We haven't really gone anywhere since we got back from our honeymoon at the beginning of January, and I think being cooped up here in this little mountain town is starting to get to me. I've been even less productive than usual lately, and even when I find myself with hours of free time, I can't motivate myself to do ANYTHING, not even read or watch TV. That's not to say I haven't been reading lots and keeping up with all my favorite shows, because I have, but just that I could be doing so much MORE than I'm doing. Call it depression, ennui, whatever you want, but I need to escape for a few days so I can hopefully come back refreshed and get my act together. I'm hoping that's what this little trip accomplishes.

I've also decided to do one of those 365 photo logs so many people do, but instead of basing it on the calendar year, I'm going to chronicle my last year as a twenty-something. So look out for the first picture on Thursday (either here or on Facebook; I haven't decided).

Despite my lack of desire to do ANYTHING, much less ALL THE THINGS, I have made good progress on a new short story, and I'm going to be doing a writer's talk/reading here at SFU next week (with a dinner in my honor!). So those are all good things. And I had two stories published in the last couple of weeks, "Black & White" in Southpaw Literary Journal and "The Trappings of Mice" in The Vehicle, both of which I'm really excited about.

Despite my ennui, I'm ahead of my reading goal for this year. So far this month I've finished Lauren Oliver's Pandemonium and side story Hana, Margaret Atwood's I'm Starved for You, Rachel Hawkins' Spell Bound, and Megan Mayhew Bergman's Birds of a Lesser Paradise.

Spell Bound was a fantastic conclusion to the Hex Hall series. (Although I thought the battles and some other really important scenes felt rushed and imprecise, and I still feel that Cal is total Dullsville as a second leading man. That's okay, though, because Archer was hotter and snarkier than ever!) Still I loved the book and gobbled it up as quickly as I did the first two. Sophie was her witty, sarcastic self through and through. More and more I find myself getting annoyed with YA heroines, but Sophie never lets me down.

Birds of a Lesser Paradise is Bergman's debut story collection. I kind of felt about this book the way I felt about Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness (which I reviewed last month); there were some truly moving, memorable moments, and some fantastic lines, but overall it was lacking something. The first story was very strong (and appeared in Best American Short Stories 2011), and I liked the two that followed it, but I thought the stories kind of went downhill from there. Overall, though, I'm excited to see what Bergman does in the future and I have to say that even when her stories left me wanting something more, I still was somehow inspired by them, and I've spent the last week jotting down more short story ideas than I've had in years--enough for a whole collection if I wrote them all.

Lauren Oliver's Pandemonium is the second book in her Delirium series, so I was a little wary of it at first. The whole sophomore slump thing and all. In almost every YA series I can think of, the second book is my least favorite (I think Beth Revis's A Million Suns is the only exception). And I didn't like Pandemonium as much as Delirium, but it was still a strong book. Parts of Lena's personal journey were a little unbelievable, I think (I don't want to spoil anything, but I found some of her boy-related decisions to be a bit forced), but overall this book had lots of action, new characters, and new scenery that made it a compelling read on its own.
After I finished Pandemonium, I downloaded the companion story (novella?) Hana. I love that so many YA authors are doing these little side story e-books that give us a different perspective on events that happen in their books or let us see into another part of their world. Carrie Ryan did it with Hare Moon and Stephenie Meyer did it with The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner. I had high hopes for Hana, too, because I was hoping that it would let us in on what was happening in Portland after Lena left, but instead it was just a retelling of part of Delirium of Hana's point of view. I was pretty disappointed in it at first, but the last couple of lines made up for any disappointments I initially had. In its own way, Hana does give insight into what happens after Lena leaves, and it explains a lot of questions I had about Hana's character in Delirium. So for those reasons alone I think it's worth the read.

As much as I love the side-story e-books by YA novelists, I love the shorts Byliner is publishing even more. These are "shorts" (something between a short story and a novella) written by famous writers, and I was super surprised and happy to see one by Margaret Atwood a couple of weeks ago! This is a fantastic piece of speculative fiction, simultaneously imaginative and frightening, as all good dystopian stories should be. Byliner fictions are meant to be read "in one sitting," and I easily read Atwood's in one evening. If you're a fan of hers, and especially of her speculative fiction, "I'm Starved for You" is definitely worth the $2.99.

There's still time for a couple more books this month, and next on deck I have Kirsten Hubbard's Wanderlove, which I started earlier this evening. Tomorrow it's back to work and I hope that getting back into a routine will help me get over this unproductive period I've been going through the last few days. After all, I only have one day to get all my work for the week done and then I'm off to Niagara Falls for three days!


Marva March 26, 2012 at 10:32 AM  

I found your blog after reading "The Trappings of Mice" in The Vehicle. I enjoyed it tremendously. I felt your characters' pain and fear. It was a very gripping story. I hope to read more of your work.

Lacy Marschalk March 26, 2012 at 10:42 AM  

Thank you so much, Marva! I worked really hard on that story, so it's always nice to hear that others enjoyed it. You can read more of my work through the links in the right menu, and I will have more "forthcoming" announcements to make soon.

Marva March 28, 2012 at 9:16 PM  

Great, I will be on the lookout for your stories.

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