Bathed in the Light at the End of the Tunnel

The editing gig I’ve been working for a month or so is now, finally, thank the stars and the heavens, over. While I’m thankful for the filthy lucre, working on two textbook projects at the same time and mostly close to the deadline, during an already-busy semester, while keeping up my writing (somewhat, because I had deadlines of my own to keep), pushed me very close to my limits as a human being. Last week was relatively free, but the couple of weeks before, and the last few days, have been so crammed that I felt as if I were working two full-time jobs on many days. I was getting all the familiar symptoms of stress: tightness in my chest, indigestion, loss of appetite, stiffness (which wasn’t helped by the fact I was too busy to even go for a walk many days), and worse asthmatic conditions than usual. (Though some of that is the cold air as it’s finally beginning to feel like winter over here in Korea.)

And now, it’s all done, and I’m left with:

  • a lovely hunk of pocket money that I likely could live on for a year if I were careful with it
  • an apparent outbreak of an allergy I didn’t know I had, which has made my hands very, very sensitive to water. Stress seems to be a factor here.
  • an apparently pulled intercostal muscle in my ribs, which doesn’t hurt so much as it makes me uncomfortable, and makes the vigorous exercise I promised myself impossible. Stress seems to be a factor here. I’m supposed not to breathe too deeply. You try doing that, after years of playing saxophone.
  • three manuscripts to pound into shape in the next week. One is basically done, one is half-done, and one is far from done.
  • a column to write for Cahoots for December 15th
  • One day plus two weeks of regular classes before the final exam period begins.
  • The freedom to sleep when I like, as long as I’m not in class! This one, I appreciate more than you can imagine, my friends!

I’m still walking and talking, so I must have done something right, but I think I’m going to be very leery about what I commit to outside of work from now on. In retrospect, if I weren’t fighting to get a few works in for an anthology to which I really must submit something, I could have taken the month off and been a little (not much, but a little) less stressed. But I also found myself last week working on another story that had just sort of bloomed in my head and demanded that I write it. So I know this writing thing isn’t something I can just turn off.

For now, I’ll be working on the manuscripts mentioned. After that, I think I’ll take a relative break — grading will be crashing in about then — and work only episodically on short pieces I’m experimenting with, one being a retelling of the fable of the grasshopper and the ant, the other being an expansion of a flash piece I wrote a while back called “Iblis.”

On the horizon?

  • A Killing in Burma awaits, a little under half-done
  • A redraft of my novel with the working title “Dead Abroad,” possibly involving serialization, and possibly not — if not, maybe a different serialization project
  • A likely collaboration on a short story (or novelet or novella, I’m not sure)
  • “And the Blind, Given Sight,” my story set in mid-nineteenth-century India, is really aching to be written
  • A return to (off-and-on) work on my verse epic, Taiping, which is about two-thirds done and only needs about 30 poems more to be finished and completely unpublishable!

However, for the moment, I’m thinking of taking a few weeks and just reading for pleasure. I haven’t had a chance in a long time, now, or it feels like a long time, and I need it. Maybe for that week after final exams, and before we leave on holidays? I’ll sink into a couple of fiction books, and a magazine. After that, I think I’ll try to do some nonfiction research, since, these days, going to Myanmar sounds a little, well… not like a good idea.

For now, I’m going to go eat a bunch of kyul — which are what we in North America call “Mandarin oranges” (Edit: Caroline pointed out on the livejournal version of this post that they’re also called “Satsuma oranges” in North America. Is that an American thing?) They’re dirt cheap here, especially at this time of year, and I was hit by a craving and bought a huge box on the way home from the doctor’s office. Now Lime and I have to eat them! Well, I’ve been short of fruit (and food in general) lately, so this is a good thing. (And is balanced off by the fact her mother just sent a bunch of kimchi and side dishes. Dinner the last two nights has just been rice with nice, homemade side dishes. There’s no better dessert for such meals than kyul!)

6 thoughts on “Bathed in the Light at the End of the Tunnel

  1. Little oranges are good! :)

    Cold weather + stress -> hand eczema in me. I had it really bad the winter after the twins were born. I’m developing one patch on one finger, but we no longer have houseguests, and will not for another 3 weeks, so that gives me time to calm myself and heal up.) So, the hands sensitive to X is not unfamiliar to me, and you have my sympathies on that.

  2. Thanks, Julia. The doctor I saw — my amusing dermatologist — told me it didn’t look like psoriasis, but people with psoriasis (which I have a very mild case of) sometimes exhibit allergic reactions, and stress can be a factor.

    Lime tells me winters are the worst for excema and psoriasis, too. Dry air and all. My hands are improving, at least.

  3. We call them Mandarin oranges where I come from, so perhaps Satsuma oranges is a regional variation? I know that my Australian friends call them Satsumas.

    And do take care of yourself…you’ve got plenty left to do and be.

    Oddly, the title A Killing in Burma has become so familiar to me that today I reminded myself that in fact I have not read it.

  4. Satsuma is a type of mandarin orange (I always just call them mandarin oranges, myself):

    “It is commonly called mikan in Japan, satsuma in the UK, naartjie in South Africa and mandarin or tangerine in Canada. In the United States, satsumas are most frequently marketed as tangerines.

    Its fruit is sweet and usually seedless, about the size of other mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata), smaller than an orange.”

    Wikipedia is my friend.

  5. Kangmi,

    Yeah, A Killing in Burma is one of those titles I won’t be changing. But my habits, I am already. As you say, lots left to do in this life. :)

    Kangmi & Tinatsu,

    I see. Funny how many names the same things acquires within supposedly one language (English). So what do you call the big citrus fruit that look like an orange, but darker (usually), easy to peel, and often with a slight bump on the spot where it hangs on the branch?

    Wikipedia calls them tangelos, but when I was a kid, that was what we called tangerines.

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