On where I’ve been

648_pd2159608_1True, if ridiculous, fact: other than my wife, no member of my actual family is aware of what I’m about to tell all of you right now.  They will be by the time I hit Publish, or at least my parents will be, but I’ve been putting off writing this post for days because I needed to talk to my mom and dad about it before they find it on the blog and, mysteriously, telling 20,000 strangers on the Internet about my medical issues is easier than talking to my parents.

Last Tuesday I had a panic attack at work.  How I managed to keep it from the kids, I have no idea, but I managed to keep my shit together just enough to call the office and tell them that they needed to put someone in my classroom for the rest of the day right the hell now or who the hell knows what was going to happen.  Wednesday was not a whole hell of a lot better and midway through my morning classes I excused myself for a couple of minutes to call my doctor and make an emergency appointment.  They got me in Friday afternoon.

The doc immediately diagnosed me with what she called “major depression” and insisted I take the next two weeks off of work.  As that would burn through all my sick days for the rest of the year and the thought of writing two weeks of lesson plans was worse than the thought of going to work, I talked her down to a week.  I haven’t been back to school since last Friday.  She’s also referred me to a shrink and gave me a prescription for Lexapro, which is an antidepressant.

I met with the doc– I need to double-check his credentials to find out who I was actually meeting with, come to think of it– yesterday, and he’s modified the diagnosis to generalized anxiety disorder.  I don’t think either of the two diagnoses quite hit the spot, although the depression is probably closer; my anxiety is very specific and focused.  I’m anxious about my job, and that’s basically it.  It’s just that teaching is, y’know, kinda a big part of my life.  But at any rate I’ll be seeing him every two weeks or so through Christmas; I gently declined to make any appointments any further out than that.

Thus far– granted, three days, so I know nothing– I do not like being on Lexapro very much.  I haven’t slept in past 11 barring massive illness since my son was born.  Two of the last three days I couldn’t drag my ass out of bed before one, and while I managed to get out of bed at about 10:45 on Tuesday I didn’t actually do anything with my day until then.  You may have noted that blog posts have been sparse and I’ve barely been on Twitter for the last couple of days.  I can assure you that that is not because I’ve been being highly productive doing other things.

In other words, I’m acting more like a person with depression now that I’m on a drug to treat depression than I was before I started taking the drug.  That seems… backward, somewhat, but I’ll give it a couple of weeks to take effect like I’m supposed to before I start squawking at my doctor about it.

I dunno.  Nothing changes, mind you; I’m still looking for another job, and I’m convinced that once I find one all of my other issues will drop away.  I understand that antidepressants aren’t something you’re supposed to quit cold turkey, but as soon as I’m out of the classroom I’m going to insist on coming off of the Lexapro.   Hell, if the constant sleepiness and general ennui and lack of motivation don’t go away with a quickness I’m going to insist on coming off of it anyway, because the treatment at the moment is worse than the disease.

One thing at a time, though, I suppose.  Just like everything else.

Blogwanking, etc.

It would be super cool if one or two of you would spend like an hour or two going through the archives tonight.  September’s been kinda slow.

I never actually talked about how Sanctum did during the #SilerSaturday sale this weekend.  The answer is “pretty damn good,” I think– the book moved 173 free copies in a day, not as many as Skylights did during its first free day, but I also had a whopping seven sales on that day– six of Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1and one of Skylights.  It topped out around #1140 in overall free books and somewhere near the top twenty in genre.  Which ain’t bad, for a sequel.

For perspective’s sake, that triples the number of copies of Sanctum that are out there in the wild, and it’s even made September a slightly higher-than-average sales month as well, especially for a month without a book launch.  If I see another pre-order or two of Searching for Malumba tomorrow, I’ll be damned happy with how September went.

The free book this weekend is Skylights again, incidentally, and I’m stretching it out over Saturday and Sunday this time– mostly because The Martian is out in theaters this weekend, and I’m hoping to capitalize on a bit of synergy.

You should see The Martian.  And then come home and buy my book.

More tomorrow.  I’ve been crazy quiet lately, I know.  I’ll explain why soon.

REVIEW: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield

This p511UE0Uq4KL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_robably doesn’t need to be a terribly long review, as if you’ve been around for a while you can probably easily guess what I think of Chris Hadfield.  If not, be aware that I believe him to be among the awesomest of humans, so there was really no chance at all that I wasn’t going to enjoy the hell out of his book.  You should read this.  That’s the tl;dr version.

The slightly longer version:  An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is part self-help/motivation book, part autobiography, and part reference manual for all things NASA.  Reading it should have depressed me a bit, as the main effect of the book was to convince me that nearly every detail in Skylights is wrong, even the ones I deliberately got wrong for story purposes, but oddly it didn’t.  I live for focused astronomical nerdery, and while Hadfield never goes too crazy on the detail it’s very clear that the actual life of a working astronaut is roughly 10000 times as complicated as I thought it was and I have thought about it a lot more than most people have.  The specifically science-focused part of the book certainly doesn’t overwhelm the rest of it– this is a less sciencey book than, say, The Martian was, even though The Martian was a novel and this is not, so you’d think it had more room to get into details.  I talked about it a lot in class this week, and had a few of my girls ask me if they could read it.  It’s probably a bit too high-level for even a bright fifth-grader, but I suspect an eighth-grader who enjoyed  reading would be able to handle it easily.

And this book needs to be in the hands of young people, beyond a doubt.  One of the things Cmdr. Hadfield hammers on repeatedly is how he needed to stay focused on his dream to become an astronaut from a very early age.  Dreams are like that, sometimes; you can cheat yourself out of them before you even know it if you’re not focused and careful.  (I remember thinking once as a very little kid that I was already behind in life, because Michael Jackson was famous at nine and I was ten and couldn’t even sing.  I suspect what I actually did in that case was dodge a bullet, but you get the idea.)  I don’t know that he wrote it with young people in mind, but I’d try hard to get this into the hands of math- and science-inclined high school students in particular.

Highly, highly recommended, guys.  This one will end up on my top 10 list at the end of the year for sure, and I suspect it’ll be very close to the top.

STATION IDENTIFICATION: Infinitefreetime.com

Welcome to Infinitefreetime!  I’m Luther Siler.  I’m the author of Skylights, available for $4.95 from Amazon, and The Benevolence Archives.  Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 is 99 cents from Amazon.  Volume 2, The Sanctum of the Sphere, is $4.95.  All three books are available in print as well, and the print edition of Sanctum includes BA 1 as a bonus!   Autographed books can be ordered straight from me as well.

My newest book, a nonfiction book about teaching entitled Searching for Malumba: Why Teaching is Terrible, and Why We Do It Anyway is currently available for preorder and comes out October 27.

Here’s where to find Luther Siler on the interwebtron:

  • You can follow me on Twitter, @nfinitefreetime, here or just click the “follow” button on the right side of the page.  I am on Twitter pretty frequently; I use it for liveblogging TV, whining about anything that strikes me as whine-worthy, and for short, Facebook-style posts.  I generally follow back if I can tell you’re a human being.
  • Sign up for my mailing list here.
  • My author page on Goodreads is here. I accept any and all friend requests.
  • I have a Tumblr!  I don’t actually know what Tumblr is, because I’m old, but I’ve got one.
  • My official Author page on Amazon is located here.
  • Feel free to Like the (sadly underutilized) Luther Siler Facebook page here.  It’s mostly used as a reblogger for posts.
  • And, of course, you’re already at infinitefreetime.com, my blog.  You can click here to be taken to a random post.

Thanks for reading!

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