Now that everyone and their Uncle Bob has taken a sudden, pandemic-motivated interest in hiking, my hiking pole is also my social distancing pole.

Always remember that a social distancing pole is no substitute for choosing an unpopular trail with difficult parking and little to no markings either on the map or on the ground.

And no, I haven’t poked anyone with it–I would have to sanitize it.

That Time I Discovered My Character Has Coronavirus

a mostly blue index card outline taped to an exterior door
Today’s excerpts brought to you by the deck door portion of my Stars Fall Out outline.

The other day I reread some of my recent scenes in Stars Fall Out, for reasons of both continuity and procrastination. Given the current, pandemic-type situation we’re in now and all the emphasis on hygiene, I saw the scenes in a new, corona-tinged light. A theory popped into my head, the type of theory one tends to develop after watching something like The Lord of the Rings dozens of times. In my case, it’s not a movie I’ve watched dozens of times, but a book that I’ve been working on diligently for about a year-and-a-half now. Either way, it’s a story I’ve had a great deal of exposure to. Unlike the coronavirus, at least as far as I know. The theory, of course, is that I gave my secondary-world character coronavirus. As it happens, I have plenty of shifty, circumstantial evidence to support this theory.

Exhibit A: Face-touching

“Can you confiscate things?” I turned back to Piroszehlt, and the question burst from me so suddenly that he startled, and his arm dropped off my shoulders. “You might have been right,” I said, though I didn’t have the time for this, “about being the same person. I know you.” I scrambled to my feet, and offered him a hand. “But you don’t know me, not as well as you probably think. Can you confiscate things?”

“What?” He too stood. “Tyatavar, what is this about? What things?”

“Magic things. Ghordaa’s things. Zanhrori got him kicked out of his lab, and he’s investigating. You’re involved, right?”

“Yes,” he said slowly, “I am.”

“Then,” I said, pointing down the hill at the university, to where Ghordaa and my sister navigated the walkways and crowds of students searching for something, someone, and most likely me, “can you confiscate his things, if you need to?”

“Yes,” Piroszehlt said with more confidence, if not understanding, “I can confiscate things.”

“Good,” I said, reaching up to touch his cheek with three fingers. “Because I do like this face of yours, and I’d rather not see it get hit again.”

On rereading, it does also come across kind of clunky. Too many saids. But I’m not editing it for the sake of this blog post because a) I don’t fiddle around with stuff like that before revision and b) it involves the love triangle, which might mean it’s too cheesy to exist anyway.

Exhibit B: Further face-touching

Leaning back in his chair, he touched three fingers to his cheek, stared up at the ceiling, and let that sting.

Tyatavar.

They were as painfully well-matched as a gritty patch of ice and the raw palm you caught yourself on.

Exhibit C: Reference to being out-of-breath

“Do you want to keep it?” he’d asked as we blinked in the sunlight, waiting for our eyes to adjust. He held out the glass anchor wrapped in ratty old fabric.

“The dress? You should probably burn it.”

“You’d be better suited to the task,” he’d said, and shook his head. “Oneiromantic fire. Can you stop doing amazing things for a couple days and let me catch my breath?”

When I wrote it, I assumed that last line was figurative. But I don’t know, maybe he has a virus-related respiratory problem?

Although I’m definitely not taking my story this direction, it’s interesting to think what the consequences would be if this character did actually have coronavirus. Less than a week after the last snippet, he has to give a statement at a hearing with at least two dozen people in attendance.

That might not go so great.

Running up all the stairs in an enormous tower would probably also not go well. Nor would the day-long walk to reach the airship.

On the other hand, I’ve written in the draft that the city of Nirsuathu is a pain to enter and leave. Perhaps the virus wouldn’t spread throughout the Northern Provinces.

Yeah. The other Northern Provinces are sounding pretty good right now. Or any secondary world, for that matter.

Peanut Butter Cup Fat Bombs

I created my own recipe for peanut butter cup fat bombs since I’m not patient enough to look through 5,000,000 blogs and find a good recipe that someone else wrote. And also, I’m too picky for my own good.

It’s been years since I followed any kind of strict diet, but I have a handful of guidelines I set for how I eat. One of those is to try to stick to sweets that are filling and low in sugar. This fits on both counts.

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter
1 stick butter
2 tbsp honey
Vanilla
Cinnamon
1 cup chocolate bits
Cacao nibs (optional)

Prepare a muffin pan by adding Halloween-themed cupcake papers to each little cup. This will not work if there aren’t ghosts on the paper. It’s the same principle as how, if a recipe says to use 1% milk and you want to use whole milk, you still have to use 1%. Someone who wrote a recipe said you have to do it, and now your arms are moving on their own, and you can’t stop them.

Melt the chocolate bits. I use dark chocolate since the whole point of these is to have something sweet that’s low in sugar. You can melt a little extra if you want to be the type of fancy person who drizzles chocolate artfully on top of things. You don’t need a double boiler for this, no matter what anyone says. Stop living in fear.

While the chocolate is melting, sprinkle a bunch of cacao nibs into the bottom of each muffin cup. They make everything extra crunchy and chocolatey. Plus, ghosts like them.

Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the bottom of the cups on top of the cacao nibs.

Melt the peanut butter, butter, and honey.

Add vanilla to this mixture. I’m not sure how much, even though I’ve made these numerous times. Half a teaspoon? A whole teaspoon? Just add some. You’re not going to fuck it up. Same goes for the cinnamon.

Pour the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate in the cups. Optionally, you could wait for the chocolate to harden first. But I didn’t put patience on the ingredients list, did I?

Now, if you’re fancy, add the chocolate drizzle to the top, and some extra cacao nibs to go with it.

Freeze or refrigerate.

Everyone:

Oh my God, you walked 10 minutes to the store? That’s 20 minutes round trip! Do you also pull your toenails off for fun, you maniac?

Also everyone:

Oh my God, weight loss. I must go to the gym and burn all the calories.

My mom got me a new Fitbit for Christmas, and there is now a thing called a Sleep Score. I got a grade of 72 for a little under 6 hours of sleep last night.

I would like to be graded on a more punishing scale than this. Less bell curve, more bladed pendulum swinging from the ceiling.

Also, I read an article awhile ago that claimed 6 hours of sleep is just as bad as none. I forget what the logic was and what research it drew upon–it might have been mostly about cognitive function. But 6 hours of sleep is most certainly not as bad as none because the extent to which I feel like shit still matters.

This culture devalues sleep to the extent that admitting you slept well is actually met with hostility.

It’s more socially acceptable to say “God, I’m so tired today” than it is to say, “I have plenty of energy,” which will always earn you a dirty look.

If you say “Good morning” without sounding as though you’re about to take a bath with a toaster, then, well, you’re a perky fucker, aren’t you?

Eating well and exercising never get reactions like this.