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Not a changeling.

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Subconscious prods · 3:26am Apr 1st, 2020

So Princess Luna released a new DREAMSCAPE version yesterday. And apparently I'm one of the early adopters, because I had a hell of a dream.

George RR Martin had finished a long-awaited book series — which, I suppose, is how you know it was a dream — and was visiting my university on a book tour. (My dreams haven't gotten the memo on social distancing yet. On the other claw, given that I graduated from college in 1998, I can probably start expecting quarantine dreams in the late 2040s.) I was tangentially involved in the event. I know this because I talked to a lot of people and did a lot of planning. For some reason, this involved me spending nearly the entire dream in a men's bathroom. I'm sure it made sense at the time.

As the dream continued on, I stepped out from the bathroom to go get some food. But the cafeteria line was too long, and while I was walking away, I got stopped by one of my fans.

He was slightly built, clean-shaven, and quiet but intense. On the taller side. Fair-complexioned. Came across as (Eastern?) European. Immediately recognized me, and complimented me on my writing. We held a brief conversation about my book, and then he asked me a question.

"When are you going to publish something else?" he said. "I mean, you've only got 78 years, and they're more than halfway over."

It's a valid question! And the question's been sticking with me. But I keep thinking about it and getting derailed by the offhanded mention of my lifespan.

Actuarily speaking, he was correct: the average male at my age will die at the average age of 78 (give or take a fraction). But that's not the age I've ever internalized as my time limit — and, in fact, I didn't even know it was correct until I looked it up just now. The number I've always set my internal clock by is 75: given family history, socioeconomics, U.S. life expectancy for my birth cohort, and some rounding down, that's the lifespan I've always felt would count as a "full" lifetime for me, with everything past that being gravy.

Notably, that number has never been anything but rounded off … so to have this random dream stranger just casually give me a specific figure is weirding me out pretty hard. Subconscious, do you know something I don't?

I can't be too upset about it, to be honest. If it *does* turn out to be some paranormal dream prophecy, then it means I get the lifetime that satisfies me plus 3 bonus years, and I don't even end up below average. It's just … it's weird to think about, you know? Having an abstract ending made concrete.

So, when am I publishing something else?

The answer to that is oddly entangled with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world. Before I say anything else, I'm doing fine; in fact, I'm better than fine, I'm godsdamn lucky. I've got a work-from-home job in a field that is basically recession-proof (telecommunications), and a pretty significant nest egg in case of unexpected changes. I live in a rural area likely to get off easy and I'm in an age bracket not statistically hard hit. My hardest decisions right now are how much spare money to allocate to friends in need. (So if we're mutuals and the virus lockdown is putting you in a crunch, please point me toward your gofundme/commissions/etc.)

What has been destroyed by the virus, however, is my productivity. Ironic, since everyone is finding themselves with nothing but free time right now. But my job hours haven't changed in the slightest, and my off-work time has. I've gotten far too used to leaving home after hours and heading to a local coffee shop in order to focus on writing; the change of venue keeps me honest about focusing on personal projects, and removes the temptation of falling into computer games. When I stay at home, more often than not, I just veg out in front of my game machine and recharge with mindless entertainment. With so much disincentive to leave the house, I've just been clocking out and goofing off.

That hasn't been helped by California's oddly delayed winter. March has been a solid wall of frigid air and grey skies. I'm a solar-powered beast; when it gets this cold and dreary I shut down even harder. (I learned this the painful way, by living in Seattle for half a decade.) I've been mostly treading water since autumn, and in between weather and California's mandatory lockdown, that's slowed to nigh-on hibernation.

Hopefully that's turning a corner. (I'm writing this, after all.) But I won't really know until I've got some momentum built up; I'll try to keep you all posted when I do.

How are you all doing? Healthy and sane, I hope! If there's anything that's been getting you through being cooped up at home, please tell me about it — it's always cool seeing what gets friends fired up, and it might give folks here ideas if there are others desperate for a diversion of their own.

Comments ( 21 )

I work in an essential job (steam plant operations) and I work at night most of the time, so mot much has changed for me. Expect for cleaning more and grocery shopping once a week. Most of the people around where live just aren't taking it all seriously. A shame, because many of them are going to be sick and are likely getting many others I'll as well. I wythey weren't so selfish.

I work at a Chic-Fil-A that's still open; we're separated from the general public and required to wash our hands and such regularly anyway, so the only major problem is the lack of business (Which isn't a problem, everyone stay safe!)

I'm in about the same boat as you. I'm financially secure (sorta, household income is pretty assured, my personal spending money is nonexistent, so no haircuts, clothing, or art commission purchases) have plenty of food and toilet paper, am not worried about getting sick, etc. but my productivity and creativity are both basically nil right now. Not because of my favorite coffee shop being closed (I haven't even checked in with them, I should, they might be doing to-go, or I could buy some beans or something) but because I have a 4-year-old 100% of the time. She's on my lap right now, in fact.

Her school is closed. I cannot, of course, hire a babysitter. Her grandmother, who I'm willing to call part of our lockdown "bubble", has been sick with an ordinary cold and isn't up to taking her even for an hour, and hasn't been for weeks. I have no idea when she'll be feeling better. She's being sensible about not getting exposed to covid, but she doesn't bounce back like she used to.

Add in a heaping helping of preexisting depression, personal health issues, family stress, (February had been the month from hell for me, before corona was even on my radar at all) and I'm not writing a thing. Haven't written more than a line or two in days, haven't written anything significant in weeks. It feels bad.

But other than that I'm fine, I guess? My therapist is big on "small things you can control" and has me (and to some extent the goober child too) engaging in projects like sprouting herbs to put in the garden, cooking freezer meal batches, and picking up piano again. Basically trying to spend at least a little bit of time every day that's neither engaging with things I can't change, (such as the world news, and my idiot family members out of state) nor just sitting on my duff doing nothing. It's not perfect, but it does help.

I'm not the most worried about when I'll die. It's not going to happen during my lifetime, after all!

The company I work for is essential infrastructure, and my job was work at home anyways, so I know how you feel. I'm even busier then normal, because we're sending a lot of people to work at home now, and they all call me because they're having trouble with it! I did 4 hours overtime last week...

OTOH, I was already at a point where I practically never left my apartment, and ordered all my groceries through instacart. Main thing that's changed is I've had to actually go out and buy groceries more often because with the demand, it's harder to get instacart. And all the buses are on reduced schedule, so it's even harder to get anywhere.

Not to mention I'm in Las Vegas, and all the casinos are shut down! A lot of people here normally work for the casinos and are temporarily out of a job, and the strip's deserted.

From what I've heard. I still personally haven't gone more than two blocks from my apartment while all this has been going on. And I'm reasonably healthy. Don't think I have the coronavirus, anyways...

--Sweetie Belle

Me and my family are financially stable, we are good on food, and whatever else we might need. What I’m most worried about is the fact that I live with 12 people in a suburban one story house, in one of the most impacted areas in the entire country. At least three of my family members that live with me or extremely vulnerable to the virus, and I’m constantly terrified of what may happen. I am keeping Busy by doing homework, playing video games, and I’ve spent hours on the phone talking with friends. It makes for a good distraction, temporarily at least. I seriously feel like this year has already gone on for a decade.

I actually used to have weird mortality dreams for years that have only recently start d to die out. Though, I always could chalk them up to other things that were less prophetic or interesting as yours.

It’s nice knowing that there are some things not too effected by the virus. Most people I know have something to grumble at.

I'm in a very similar boat, with the notable exception that I'm old enough that I'll probably keel over if CoViD-19 looks at me funny. To that end, I don't plan on seeing anyone in person but my wife for three months or so. Fortunately, such isolation is easy to do for both of us.

My freelance work may slow down soon, and if so, that will mean my writing will pick up again. Maybe even some pony writing. Who knows?

Hope you find a path that encourages your writing.

Glad you're doing so well! :)
Good luck with the writing, though!

As for me, I'm also in a fortunate situation, and my schedule has changed even less (though not not at all), it sounds like. Though currently I'm kind of swamped with fanfiction updates awaiting reading or listening to. :D

(Though it's possible the schedule disruption may increase; we're one of the groups in the area looking into building makeshift ventilators, and apparently the local hospital is expected to run out of non-makeshift ones around Friday, last I heard.
(Our company isn't, or hasn't been, essential (at least to society), but it's also located in our basement and doesn't employ anyone who doesn't live in the house.))

Good luck!

Good luck to you too.

And you and yours.

Termed essential government work here in economic support, working from home over a shaky cell connection. The tenuousness of that link is the biggest stressor right now; that and the cabin fever from never getting to go back into the city. On the plus side, At least it's not cabin fever from never leaving the house, as the country is good for long walks and isolation.

The stress of the new situation is not making it easy for me to summon up the gumption to write, since my reserves are more depleted than usual at the end of the day and trying to circumvent my ever-present grim hatred of the craft is even harder than usual.

Boop. Also nonproductive, though part of that has been drug changes due to the seven month cough that won't end. (Yeah, I really don't want to catch COVID.)

Stay safe. :pinkiesmile:

Glad you’re hanging in there, more or less! :pinkiehappy:

I hear you about the challenge of having littles and no backup. I can’t, or shouldn’t, complain too much; but some days it’s hard enough keeping myself together, much less small people with questions I can’t really answer and social needs that have no outlet. :raritydespair:

So you had a dream in which George RR Martin finally finished his series, that more or less boils down to your own subconious telling you to write more/publish more things? Wow. Even your dreams have narrative themes and allegory.

Disability support is my sole source of income, but I did go somewhere to socialize twice a week and that's canceled for at least another week. My own dreams get more directly prophetic in a "I end up with deja vu later" sort of way.


I'm not the most worried about when I'll die. It's not going to happen during my lifetime, after all!

This is quite similar to my response to my psychiatrist whenever she asks how I'm sleeping: "How the hell should I know, I'm asleep" although more recently I've changed over to making my entire visit about how redundant the visits are so I instead say "the same joke I use every time you ask this, the one you've never laughed at"

I have been in quarantine for weeks and have forgotten what time is. Space and even the concept of seeing others besides my partner... it’s foreign. Strange. I have not been to church or the office or anywhere in so long that I can’t imagine returning.

I take great pleasure in a livestream from an eagle's nest that I've put up on an unused TV. You can't watch it as a movie, treat it like it's a picture on the wall, but better. Right now they're brooding, it's gonna be even more interesting once the chicks hatch.

That sounds pretty awesome, actually! Stream link?

I'm watching this one, but there's plenty of others on the net. This one has a really high production value - two cameras, night vision camera, and also someone is moving the camera around and zooming.

I sympathize on all fronts. The other night I had a dream about wandering around an MLP convention and meeting a guy with a white and grey-speckled dog big enough that, if it stood on its hind legs, you could waltz with. That's pretty much what I told the guy. Then he laughed, the dog pounced on me, and we rolled down a flight of stairs. Dreams are weird.

This is the closest I've come to writing since this whole mess started for largely the same reasons. After eight hours in front of my work laptop experiencing, to quote one of my coworkers, "the webex hellscape" I haven't been able to bring myself to sit in front of yet another screen and expend more creative energy…

Until now, at least. I'm typing this, so hope remains! :scootangel:

Here's to hoping we find some mutual motivation!

Hmm… would she be offended by you rounding life expectancy numbers down because of the way she chooses to wield the ageless perspective to encourage the shorter-lived to take every bit of time they have, perhaps? That's a pleasant thought in its own way.

As for me, I am… probably not going to be homeless, but I am very much not secure, let's put it that way. At the same time, there's indications that I should be treating this as an adversity test. I'm honestly not sure what that means as far as asking people for help. And I'm sort of trying to skate off the shock to catapult myself into more virtuous mindsets. It's… weird. I don't know if my psychiatrist would approve (and that's why I didn't ask). (You know how to get at another me if you're curious about the details.)

As for digital diversions, this is a reason I've been looking into Minecraft more again. And Stardew Valley. I haven't kept up with Nintendo, so no trendy Animal Crossing for me, for better or worse.

Exercise is also a more regular thing for me right now than it's been for a long time. I wonder if there's something about being cut off from the outside world that makes it easier to get in touch with my own body.

I've never had a dream before. Is that odd?
I've been feeling more myself lately but that just makes things harder because I'm very quiet...

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