Light at the dark side of the year

Returning to balance is hard work. There’s so many pits one can fall in. Not to look far, as I’m writing this, the ruthless clock shows half past midnight. But as with everything else, it’s the repetitive little steps that count. I hope. Ask me in a year.

But enough about that. The last two months were busy (which ones aren’t, eh?). Changes are coming. Some are already here. I’ve started a journey towards self-employment and I’ll be announcing stuff and showing my creations soon. It’s in equal parts scary, exciting and liberating. And also surprising. As kids and young adults we have dreams, hopes and some preconceived notions about where life will take us. It is refreshing to know that it’s also able to surprise us. In a good way. Anyhow, more soon. And I mean, real soon.

On another positive note, I am once again able to write. Sounds ridiculous when placed on a writer’s blog, I know. But the truth is, I have been struggling with putting words together for nearly two years. There’s still days when it seems too exhausting but I’m doing my best to keep them few and far between. What this means in practice is, that the work on my story collection has resumed. Few stories still require finishing and there’s plenty of editing to do, but the end is in sight.

Which in some twisted way brings me to my recent attendance to BristolCon, our last best hope for science fiction (to brutally butcher the byline of Babylon 5). Now, I have been going to BristolCon for a decade and always found it to be extremely friendly. But there have been occasions where, stuck in the cloud of my own self-depreciation, I’ve spent entire hours avoiding people. And let me add, it was despite the wonderful atmosphere and active efforts of some of the con-goers. That trend became so prevalent that this year, especially in view of reduced number of attendees and covid restrictions, I considered not going. I did in the end and feel so much better for it. For the first time since… no, for the first time ever, I genuinely adopted the ‘give no fuck’ approach to human contact. As you can guess it resulted in some great conversations and new acquaintances gained.

In the interest of giving a shout-out, I will now list few people. I’ve spent some quality time talking RPGs with Mieke Blaushild and Emma Collis, digital zombies with David and Claire Cartwright and Andre Garzia. Discussed burying children under the shed and AR board games with Allen Stroud as well as crashing the table of the Guests of Honour Anna Smith-Spark and Adrian Tchaikovsky to reminisce on some shared memories with Pete Sutton. I’ve also (in longer or shorter form) caught up with: Jo, Roz, Chris, Pete, Ian, Nick… this list is becoming ridiculous. Suffice to say, there has been people aplenty and I enjoyed myself immensely. Awkward-free.

There, that’s my personal outpour for this season.

Hopefully you’re still here and awake. Because as tradition dictates there’s some music heading your way. And the recent months have been ripe with good tunes.

Let’s start with something time relevant. It’s a recent release by Żywiołak, a Polish folk/folk-metal band who dig deep into the collective Slavic soul, singing about Dziady. Now, I don’t think this song is a potential radio hit. It doesn’t have enough repetition to become an ‘ear-worm’ but it does strike a chord. Check it out. And if you’re curious about the holiday itself, check this article.

To balance the inherent darkness of Żywiołak, have a listen to Darktek, frenchcore producer whose music (featured in Mr Robot soundtrack) keeps my endorphin levels high. It’s fast, it’s bonkers and full of joy. I love it and as my wife claims, it says something about me. Not sure what though…

And that’s it for tonight. There’s more music and more news, but the call of the Holy Pillow is irresistible. Hello and goodbye, as always.

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