Grateful Respite

Today was so much better than I imagined. Lately I’ve felt like I was only just outrunning the boulder that was barreling down behind me, threatening to crush me. Be it financial, work, or personal problems, feeling overwhelmed has been my baseline as of late. I was dreading today when I got up for the sole reason that today was the day I would file my taxes for the first time with yet untaxed self-employment income. I was sure I would owe thousands. I had a great time with my family at the Made in Vermont show in Essex, a nice lunch break with Scott when we went to ReSource in Williston to check out the cheap records (I got like 20 for $11), a wonderful time discovering Speaking Volumes on Pine Street where an Austrian gentleman runs a vinyl shop with a remarkably good selection of music and the drink at Zero Gravity afterwards. I was thoroughly relieved when Scott’s flank pain didn’t turn into a kidney stone. But when I got home and fed the dog, it was time to snap back to reality and face the music. I fired up my laptop, logged into HR Block’s website, and started doing my taxes.

To my incredible relief, there was no need to dread the process. With zero exemptions, my regular employment ended up over witholding so my untaxed self-employment income just wiped out what would have been a decent refund! In fact, I’ll even get $2 back from the Feds! Sure, it’s barely enough to buy an unsweetened tea at McDonald’s, but that will be the sweetest drink I’ll have had in a long time since it won’t be accompanied with huge tax payments. I woke up expecting the worst and ended up having one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Thank you, Universe. I really needed this.

Climbing Mount Everest (en espaƱol)

I finished Don Quijote de la Mancha Today after a combination of listening to the audiobook and reading the 1,600 page paper volume. It was a bit of a slog, but hearing ‘the end’ this morning was incredibly rewarding. It seems a good time to read a story about the blurry line between reality and fantasy, truth and lies. In a world where strongman authoritarian presidents are increasingly attempting to subvert the press until only their version of “the truth” can be heard, it seems a perfect time to be reminded that this is not a new problem. People have been seeing what they want to see, willingly or by way of mental illness, for a long, long time.

Ylanathajo Family Tree

Prompt: Write a scene in which your character from your previous exercise uncovers a secret about his or her family history, including the true meaning of his or her name. End it with a cliffhanger.

Tobalen knew that he was born from an artificial uterus in one of Mother’s birthing pods; everyone was. Well, all the other human children were at least. The androids and other robots that outnumbered the organic life forms (“orgs” in the nascent parlance of Trappist-1d) were assembled in a neighboring facility, though not often these days since most of them had been put together long before the process of producing orgs could begin. What Tobalen didn’t realize was that Mother had decided that she would give all her children, carbon and silicon based, a last name of her invention. “Ylanathajo” was the last word ever received from Earth, widely believed to be the result of the communications operator’s body collapsing on the keyboard after being shot by an enemy soldier. Ylanathajo was the inadvertent swan song of terrestrial humanity and an appropriate exclamation to start humanity anew. Ylanathajo! Humanity is dead: long live Humanity! Ylanathajo! Let us never forget the errors of Earth as we build a new world together.

Of the twenty four embryonic colonization missions, only eighteen reached their destination planets and only fifteen successfully landed with their embryos intact and usable. All human life on earth was exterminated millennia ago, but now there were fifteen second chances spread throughout the Milky Way. Each command computer would transport enough genomic information to recreate a whole ecosystem and an army of nanobots designed to harvest resources and build progressively larger infrastructure to support a new civilization. By the time Tobalen was born, terrestrial orgs were established well enough to maintain themselves on seven planets, some well enough that Mother incorporated their history into her lessons.

Tobalen was a very curious child.