Feel free to let up, Universe… Seriously…

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Well. I’d intended for this to be something I would record and put out on The SF Signal podcast, but time has caught up to me on that. Life is an odd duck these days, and on the one hand, great things are happening for me – things I have spent a decade and change working towards, and on the other hand, well, things have gone to shit. I’ve read a lot of books about order and chaos and balancing the scales, and when I look at my life I can’t help but wonder if the Universe isn’t trying a little to hard to balance my life for me.

(Feel free to let up, Universe… Seriously…)

I have a few announcements that I’m gonna go through as quickly as possible, but I’ll warn you now, this could be a longer post than I intend as I sit down to write it.

SF Signal is closing up shop

I received an email from my friend John DeNardo, informing me that after 12 years (nearly 13), multiple Hugo Awards and nominations, and thousands if not tens of thousands of posts (having never missed a day, he tells me often and with a twinkle in his eye), SFSignal.com was going dark. I’ve known and counted DeNardo as my friend for roughly 7 years now, and no more stalwart and enthusiastic fan of all things speculative fiction has ever existed. Get him talking about genre and his eyes light up, he sits a little straighter, maybe leans towards you with a smile, the energy radiates out of him, and that unabashed giddiness is infectious and wonderful and has fueled SF Signal throughout its illustrious history. I know in my heart SFSignal, and John driving the ship, has done more to grow readership and expose new readers to great stories than any other single source on the web.

But nothing can last forever.

sfsignalLogov5-3

Running a site like SF Signal, putting out content every single day (again he tells me this often) is a grind. Having done a portion of that myself for the site for a short time, I can speak to this personally. It drains you. Working a full 40 hour a week day job and then coming home to another 4-5 hours of work on the website? I was single at the time and it was killing me. Imagine having to do that and have a family, wife and kids and maybe a dog or cat or six. I’ve no idea how DeNardo did it so well, so professionally, for so long. I tip my hat to him for that. And I thank him for it, too.

John DeNardoSF Signal has been the one-stop shop for all things spec-fic related and newsworthy for a very long time. Filling those shoes – well, no one really can. Because DeNardo is the heart and soul of that site, and without him there to greet you with a bagel and a smile, it’ll never be the same. It can’t be.

I will miss SF Signal immensely. There is a hole in the world now, and I don’t know how to fill it again.

Luckily, I have DeNardo’s cell phone number, so I can continue to text him pictures of frozen bagels from the grocery store, and he can continue to tell me bear claws are utter crap.

Ahh, friendship. 🙂

The Podcast

You may be aware that I host and produce The Hugo Award winning SF Signal podcast. You may also be wondering what will happen to that show once the site goes dark.

Excellent question.

002-SFSignalPodcast-smallI’ve published 322 episodes to date, and John and JP – cofounders of SF Signal – have graciously allowed me to setup an archive here on my website  – I’ll give a link when everything is official. This will enable people to continue to enjoy those episodes for as long as I can afford to keep my site and hosting going. So there’s some good news for you.

Moving forward? I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Certainly continue on with The Functional Nerds. But beyond that? Some people have suggested I should launch some new podcast using the same, convention-panel format I’ve done for years, just under a different name. Anealio and I have discussed launching a 2nd podcast under the Functional Nerds umbrella called ‘Extra Nerdy’, that would be a place for me to podcast stuff. Or I could do something here on atfmb again (I had a podcast here once, a long, long time ago).

I just don’t know.

What do you think? (Comments encouraged, please)

AudioBooks

In other news, I am launching an audiobook production company. Yes, you read that right. I’ve had some things fall into place recently, and that includes some deals to produce audiobooks for people. The skills I use to engineer and produce podcasts translate quite easily and well to audiobooks. The equipment I have will also work nicely. I’ve been slowly remodeling an area in my basement for this very purpose over the past few months.

This is a huge opportunity and I can’t wait to be able to tell you more about it. Hint hint – that’s all I’m gonna say for now…

Writing

I have a few things moving forward on this front. I just turned in an essay for an Apex anthology. The first half of my book has been edited and sent back to me to work on. I’ve seen a sketch of my cover from the amazing Galen Dara. And there’s some other stuff percolating that I can’t talk about yet. But, overall, I’m ecstatic to have things coming out soon, and humbled by the opportunities presented to me on these fronts.

Mom

So. This is big news among a sea of big news stuff already on this post.

momMy mom has been struggling for a while now, with walking and mobility, with memory and speech, she fumbles for words and gives up a lot, saying, “I don’t know.” Her go to line is usually, “Oh, really?” when you talk with her.

She has been living with me for many years now. To date, she has been diagnosed with lung cancer – which we beat, severely broke her leg – which has healed, but continues to cause her issues, had to have her gallbladder removed – an adventure, to say the least, had physical therapy ordered for a frozen-shoulder – a long and arduous process that ultimately didn’t work very well, and has continued chugging along. But underneath it all has been this withdrawal of self. My brother noticed it before I did, really. When he lived in California and would talk to her on the phone, little things started to gnaw at him. Those little things have grown and progressed slowly but steadily.

Recently, I argued (endlessly) with my mom and convinced her to see a neurologist. Following her gallbladder surgery, she adopted a firm stance of ‘no more doctors, no more tests’. Being in the hospital was very hard on her, so I don’t blame her. But when stuff is wrong, you need to see a doctor and figure it out. So I argued with her (I know I already mentioned that, but you need to understand – this was difficult to get her to agree to) and finally got her, grudgingly, to agree to go.

He tested her for signs of a stroke – there were none. I wondered if, when she broke her leg, maybe she hit her head and because the leg break was so severe, no one caught the head injury. He said no, it didn’t look like that at all, but he ordered an MRI anyway.

The MRI results show that Mom has frontotemporal dementia. In short, her brain is shrinking and with it, taking her memories, her mobility and her words. Slowly. All dementia is a form of Alzheimer’s, though not all dementia is the Alzheimer’s most people hear about. Mom’s is rare, representing maybe 20% of cases. (Check that number.)

There is no cure.

We (my brother and I) are working to help her however we can. There are some medications that can alleviate some of the symptoms, and we’re trying them. But this is a difficult and brutal disease, and the toll it takes on everyone, great.

This has taken up a lot of my time in recent months, and the main reason the SF Signal podcast had to take a back burner.

Depression

It’s a thing.


So, that’s it. My updates for you.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support. Hope to see you at a convention soon.

15 comments for “Feel free to let up, Universe… Seriously…

  1. Joerg Grau
    May 6, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Wishing you and your mom all the best. Not much more any of us can do unfortunately.

    Yes to the panel style podcasts alas SF Signal podcasts (I am wearing black in mourning btw)… I don’t really care if it is a functional nerds #2 podcast or on atfmb….

    Keep on writing!

  2. S.C. Flynn
    May 6, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I would love to just say “yeah, another podcast”, but I would be you would be taking on too much.

  3. May 6, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Oh Patrick, I am sending you and your mom all the strength I can. So many hugs.

  4. May 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

    SF Signal will be missed. As a listener, a new podcast would be nice. However, think taking care of yourself should be a priority.

    I hope the Universe will send a few even ducks your way.

  5. May 6, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Hang in there! As for the podcast, you could always hand the reigns off to those interested in keeping it going. The show has a following for sure, and it’d be a shame to watch that community you’ve created evaporate. Best of luck with everything.

  6. May 6, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for everything you do, Patrick, online and off. we’ve had this discussion before, but take care of what’s important first.

  7. Lyn
    May 6, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Patrick, I hung up my audio engineering belt long ago, so I haven’t any thoughts for you about that. As for the audiobook business, that’s great! Try to get paid up front.

    Your mom–I am so sorry to hear that she’s losing memories. Is she upset about it? That’s the thing: does it make her unhappy? I’m only a few years younger than your mom, and I’m taking care of MY mom. Mom forgets things. She has had strokes, but has come back from them. It used to be that I’d just wait while she fished up the word she was looking for, but these days, she gets frustrated and gives up, and then I supply the word. If she didn’t get frustrated, I’d just wait as long as it took–it’s good for her to think of things for herself. I try to get people to come and visit with her, to make her talk. It’s good for her lungs, circulation, mind, and outlook–if there’s not an argument. Mom is bedfast, so she can’t go visiting, herself.

    One thing I have learned NOT to do is to show her videos of people her age still out dancing or parachuting or some such. Between the falls and the polio, she is not as well off as other nonagenarians. Your mom may not be as well off as other members of her age cohort, either. My intent to cheer Mom up only made her feel that I was criticizing her. Oy.

    Mom enjoys hearing music that was popular when she was young. (So do I!)

    One more–touchy–point. My husband and daughter are short-tempered with Mom, and with me whenever I have to ask something of them for her, and that puts me (and everybody) in a difficult position. The answer to that is–well, hell, Patrick, if I knew the answer to that, I’d be the smartest person in history. Long-term care insurance is useless. By the time you need it, the prices of long-term care have quadrupled, and you’re screwed.

    I just never forget that she fed and changed me when I wasn’t able to do for myself. (Cue that awful song from The Lion King–no, that other awful song from The Lion King.)

    Best of luck, Patrick. If being a good person were easy, there would be more guys like you. 🙂

  8. May 6, 2016 at 11:16 am

    That was well-said about SF Signal and the enormous effort John (and others) have put into it. I will miss SF Signal, but would love to see the podcast continue somehow.

    On everything else, hang in there!

  9. cliftonhhill
    May 6, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Indeed, quite a lot going on. Sorry to hear and apparently happy for you all in the same blog post.

    Best wishes for you and family.

  10. May 6, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Maybe wait to see how the audio thing lines up with everything else you’ve got going on before launching a new podcast? Or spread the podcast out more, so you’re doing one a month for now, and just host it from ATFMB? I’m the last person to tell anyone to put their ambitions on hold to care for a parent (because I put quite a bit of my life on hold for the last three years thinking things would move faster than they did with my dad, which, of course, I’m happy they did not, but I shouldn’t have stepped out of so many things I was involved with until I had to), but I do say take care of yourself first. You burning out won’t help anyone. But if you love doing the podcasts, find a way to do them. Sort of conflicting information, I know, but what I’m saying is to look at things carefully, take care of yourself, make sure you have some down time between projects and home responsibilities, and go from there. Start small and add more if you find you can. And lean on your friends when you need to.

  11. Lyn
    May 6, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    You could also use your audio mojo to record your mother’s “memoirs.” It’s not easy. I did a documentary in a retirement convent. Old ladies are as hard to capture as butterflies. But later on, you’ll see the value of the tapes of her memories in her own voice.

  12. May 6, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Thinking of you and your family, Patrick. And Finn sends his love, too.

  13. May 7, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Wishing you and your Mom well, Patrick. Have you considered recording something together for Story Corps?

  14. May 8, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Super sorry to hear about your mom, Patrick. I wish you all the best.

  15. Alverant
    May 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    I just found out about SF Signal today and it will be missed. I enjoyed the podcast since I discovered it (not sure when it was). Sadly I kept confusing DeNardo and Anealio’s names and everyone’s voices. It’s hard for me to keep everything straight without seeing you in person. My first thought after hearing about SF Signal was “Is Functional Nerds going too?!”

    Here’s my suggestion. First take care of family and that includes yourself. Then, maybe in a year, restart the SF Signal podcasts with the other contributes. Maybe someone will step up and be the main host so everyone else can cycle in. I thought some of the best episodes was with multiple hosts just talking. I know how people feel about reboots, but the SF Signal has name recognition and all of us were sad to see it go. Slice of Sci-fi managed to come back after a haitus so there’s no reason to think this can’t as well.

    But, as I’ve said, take care of yourself first.

    Thank you.

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