Just About Me

Everything Update

Writing: I’m technically signed up for Camp Nanowrimo but haven’t written at all in July. I made some notes but that’s it.

I bought Save the Cat and snowflake method books a couple of months ago. I tried so hard with the snowflake but I despise the book format so much I can’t get through it. I don’t want to read about how Goldilocks did it!

As for Save the Cat, so far I’ve gotten a little out of it but haven’t read very far in. I’m quite distracted by something else. More on that later.

I still plan on trying to do some writing this month, even if only for a short time every day (every writing day, not seven days a week). We’ll see if I can manage it. I don’t know why I’m struggling to get back into it, besides my distraction, but I’ll keep working towards a regular writing schedule.

New Hobby: On to what is distracting me. Sewing! If you knew me well this would shock you. I’m not exactly the ‘crafty’ type. Get a hot glue gun near me and I’ll feel threatened. Ask me to make a wreath to save my life and I’m dead. Paper crafts? Forget it! Sewing is different. It is not a craft in my eyes. It is a useful skill. It took me thirty years or so to come to this conclusion.

It all started with masks. I wanted my family to have some so I cut up some old T-shirts and got out some needles and thread. They took forever! Surprisingly, they turned out okay. I made some for a friend and then tried different patterns. Through it all, I was having fun. Fun with sewing. What the hell? How could I possibly have so much fun with something so…girly?

Then one day I randomly had an epiphany. Who gives a shit if I like something girly? Pardon the language but since it’s a quote I typed it word for word. I’d secretly been considering getting a sewing machine for a few days by that point. By secretly I mean I wasn’t admitting it to myself. I started looking at prices online.

Not long after my evening of research, I was at Walmart and I went into the fabric section. Sitting on a shelf, all by itself, was a sewing machine. I knew they had been selling out all over town so I followed the siren call and walked over. It was the one I’d more or less decided I would get, eventually. I seriously thought I’d be getting one in a couple of months. I even reminded myself of this as I put the box in my cart.

Floodgates open, I roamed the area and picked up everything else I thought I would need to get started. The last time I did any sewing was thirty years ago. I knew the basics but obviously, I was rusty, or so I believed.

You know the saying “it’s like riding a bicycle?” Applicable. I took to it as easily as I could have possibly imagined. I really thought it would be hard but it wasn’t. That’s not to say I haven’t had issues. You would laugh at my first zipper attempts. I still need practice with those.

The first things I made were masks, which were a thousand times better than my hand-sewn attempts. I bought fabric and made new styles and got good at it. To date, I’ve made some for everyone in my immediate family, my parents, in-laws, my best friend (who was patient as I tried many styles out on him), a few of my son’s coworkers, several of my husband’s coworkers, and most recently my brother and sister-in-law.

My sister-in-law posted a picture on Facebook of her and my brother wearing masks at the gym and said it was torture. I noticed the one my brother was wearing was ill-fitting and hers appeared too thick.

Of course, I pulled out my phone and texted her. She asked if I had black fabric. Miraculously I did (it’s so hard to get), so I got to work. I made two different styles that I thought would be better to work out in than what they had and I dropped them off on their porch (I believe in social distancing).

About half an hour later I got a very excited text from her. She loved the masks and she wanted me to make some for five of her family members. Yes, I was flattered. More importantly, I’m happy that she and my brother can work out more comfortably.

Also, for the last week or so, I’ve been making masks to send to New Jersey. My mother-in-law asked if I’d like to make some to sell in her shop. I told her I’d make up a few of each style and send them to see how it goes. I’ll finish those today or tomorrow. I’m also making her and my father-in-law a new style of mask. They both had trouble finding ones they liked, which prompted me to send the first ones to them. They like those but these other ones might work better.

If the ones I’m making to sell do well then I’ll bring more with me when we head up there to see them next month. We might have to get tested for Covid before we go since we live in Texas. That area requires people traveling from Texas to quarantine. It’s a mandate in New York. I don’t think it is in New Jersey but I’ll look into it.

Even if we just hang out at their house, we want to go. We only get to see them once a year. If we don’t go then by the time we see them again it will have been two years. Not on option unless the state flat out bans travelers.

I couldn’t blame them if they did. A lot of the people in my state have behaved as if they don’t have a brain. It seems like half of them won’t wear a mask just because someone told them to. Okay, toddlers. It’s not oppression it’s just inconvenience.

Anyway, so now sewing is my official hobby. It’s my second hobby ever. My first was writing back when I began but it became more than a hobby a long time ago. I haven’t had a real hobby for a long time. I play video games but I do it on and off with my husband. Sewing is a solo thing.

I adore it. I hope to get good enough to make shirts. I don’t know why shirts specifically but there you have it. I’ll do it. It will be a slow process but I’ll get there.

Sidenote: I’m taking my sewing machine with me on vacation. I’m making Christmas gifts for everyone in my family and I have a lot of relatives. Two weeks of no sewing would be a disaster. Plus, I just want to, haha.

Medical: Things aren’t terrible. I had an injection not too long ago. I still have bad back days but it’s been worse so I try not to complain too much. Leaning over my sewing doesn’t help but I’m learning ways to make it all work.

Back in August, I switched nerve pain meds. Since that time I’ve lost over twenty pounds! I knew that stupid medication was keeping that weight on. I didn’t change anything about my lifestyle, with the exception of NOT going to the gym anymore due to Covid, so I know it was the medication change.

I couldn’t be happier. It’s a happy hassle to have to go buy new clothes. I’ve picked up T-shirts here and there but still need pants. I had bought smaller pants a couple of months ago when I thought my weight was leveled out. Now they are also too big. Thanks to whoever invented belts.

I don’t mind continuing to wear those for a while. However, we’re going on vacation. Jeans aren’t going to cut it. So sometime soon I’ll get out and find some shorts and maybe capri-pants. A couple more tees and some tanks. I don’t want to spend a lot because I can’t guarantee I’ll stay at my current weight. I hope so, it’s a really healthy weight for me. Almost ideal actually.

Once upon a time, I was underweight. All my life until I had babies. People always asked me if I was eating. Boy was I! I had a high metabolism and could eat whatever I wanted. While I miss the latter I don’t miss the former. I didn’t like myself too skinny. I look and Am more healthy now.

Everything Else: Life isn’t so bad right now. My husband is an essential worker so life didn’t change a lot with the pandemic. The sucky part is I don’t see most of my kids very often and I miss visiting my mom and my grandma. But I will do whatever is needed to protect them. My grandma is 90 years old. For all I know I’m a carrier. So I call her instead of seeing her. I’ve seen my mom a couple of times but mostly we stick to the phone.

My writing group started doing Zoom calls so I get a tiny bit of social-ness once a week. There will be Skype calls for camp Nanowrimo all month (though I missed the first one because I was dizzy last night).

I managed to get a haircut for the first time since August. I was scared to get out but I’m growing my hair out and it was a mess. I needed professional help. I picked a place I knew would enforce all the mandates and risked it. Everyone in the place had a mask and I saw a lot of cleaning going on. I was quite impressed with the measures they took. That said, I won’t risk getting another haircut for a long time. My hair is past my chin right now and my goal is just shy of my shoulders. I can afford to put off doing anything until then.

My husband and I are on binging kicks. We watched every Star Wars movie and show (except Resistance, bleh) in timeline order. Then we moved onto Harry Potter, which we finished last night. I’m not sure what we’ll do next but I did manage to get him to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He didn’t hate it so I guess we’ll go back to that. He also agreed to watch the first episode of Orphan Black. I warned him it’s really weird but I think the pace of the show will pull him in. Whatever we watch, it’s a nice way for him to unwind after work without having to think about what we want to do.

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.

Unintended Compliments

Has anyone ever irritated you so much a compliment popped out of your mouth? This happened to me the other day.

I was at the grocery store in the freezer section when I passed a guy who looked familiar. I only saw him for a second, but he looked right at me. Eye contact in public right now is weird, and I try not to really look at people, so I moved away quickly. Also, introvert here! By the time I realized who it was, it was already awkward, and I’d walked away.

This wasn’t someone I would have avoided, but it was a man I had not seen in fifteen to twenty years. An ex. I’m not sure what we would have talked about anyway.

A few minutes later, I was in the self-checkout area and having problems with the register. I had to move to a different machine., which meant I’d been there for much longer than I should have. When I finally finished, I turned to leave, and there was the guy. He smiled.

There are three important things to point out here. One: I was wearing a mask. This man recognized me by my eyes and maybe my hair (which is red, so perhaps that’s it)! Second: He wasn’t wearing a mask. Three: he looked like he wanted to say something but was afraid to.

Like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t mind running into him. Of course, with the expression on his face, it was just as awkward as the freezer aisle, so I unawkarded it (Grammaly hated that ‘word’).

I looked him right in the eyes and said: “You should be wearing a mask.” This may seem harsh, but it was a good ice breaker. He laughed and we started talking as he finished up his transaction.

We asked how the other had been. He told me what he’s doing for a living, I told him I’d been writing for years. We talked about our spouses and children. You know, typical stuff when you run into people from your past.

Finally, I asked the question on my mind since I saw him the first time on that aisle. “Did you recognize me over there?” (I pointed of course). He said, yeah, but he was afraid to talk to me. I asked why.

“I assumed you wouldn’t remember me because it’s been twenty years.”

I stared at him in open mouth shock, then the irritation started. I asked why he would think I wouldn’t remember him when he remembered me. He mumbled a bit with the ‘I don’t knows’ for a second before I stopped him with a finger pointing at his face (from 6 feet away, of course) then I complimented him.

Not on purpose. I didn’t even know it was a compliment. I said, “Never assume you’re forgettable!” Then I called him a dumbass so he would know I hadn’t changed in all these years. His face lit up like a Christmas tree. He went from surprised to pleased to slightly red. I’m pretty sure I made his day.

I wasn’t trying to make my ex-boyfriend feel good, I was scolding someone for thinking less of themselves. If I’d been thinking of him as an ex, maybe it would have been weird. I was just thinking of him as a person, so out came the admonishing advice. This kind of thing has happened many times with female friends but rarely men.

It’s a good reminder that we all have self-doubts, and sometimes unsolicited compliments (even said in an irritated tone) can help change our perspective. Or maybe it could simply help us forget for a moment to be self-deprecating.

To all the men (and women) out there who think an ex doesn’t remember you, they do. They might pretend otherwise but each person we date changes our lives. So I’ll say this to each of you: NEVER assume you’re forgettable!


I used this great photo by Parsing Eye on Unsplash because we all know who else never forgets.

Sidenote: Seriously, how did this guy recognize me, especially after so many years, with a mask covering most of my face?!?

I Never Said I Wanted To Live In Interesting Times

We’re living in crazy/interesting times, unfortunately. I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe. Everyone in my house is fine. My husband and the one progeny living with us are both essential workers, so our finances are the same as before. I count us quite lucky.

My other three kids live on their own. My oldest son has been out of a job for a while, but with Texas allowing retail businesses to open for curbside, he’ll go back to work on Friday. My two daughters live together, which saves one of them. The youngest is essential, and while she’s lost hours, she’s still working, and they can pay rent. The older is a host at a restaurant, so she’s furloughed. She sleeps a lot and makes masks.

I also made some masks. Unlike my daughter, I don’t have a sewing machine, so it’s a long painstaking (at least to my needle and pin poked fingers) process of hand stitching. The first one I made had the ugliest stitches, which no one can see (YAY)! The last one has stitches so straight you’d think I had a machine.

I’ve never been a crafty person, but sewing isn’t so bad. It’s a useful skill. I will buy a sewing machine in the near future and learn to use it properly. The last time I used one was in ninth grade. I also plan to learn to knit. I have some kits with easy instructions to get me started. I simply need to get over being intimidated.

Every time I venture out to the grocery store, I’m struck by two things. First, I get a lot of looks (some evil eye and some head shakers) for wearing a mask. These are people that think I’m an idiot. Second, there are a lot more people not wearing masks than are. In my opinion, these are the real idiots. No, me wearing a mask won’t protect me much. Though a little protection is better than none. I wear it to protect others. I’m not sick, but there is no way to know right now if I’m a Covid carrier. So to all the people giving me those looks, F you for refusing to understand the facts, and I’ll protect you anyway!

Working from home is nothing new to me but I have trouble with concentration and motivation. I find myself scrolling through Facebook a lot and watching too many movies and TV shows. Also, sewing masks was a time sink.

I have written, a little. Yesterday I ordered a couple of writing books. I figure this is a good time to try some different methods. I bought the Save the Cat one and The Snowflake method. Maybe I’ll love them, or perhaps I’ll hate them. Either way, I’ll learn something and at least add something to my writing toolbox. The added advantage is when I’m learning something new with writing, I’m always more productive.

I miss going out to write. Sitting in a coffee shop or a food court or anywhere away from home always helped me with creativity. I’m happy to give it up to slow the spread, but I’ll be happier when/if things get back to normal.

It could be worse. I think about my inlaws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and what they are dealing with. My brother in law is a doctor in the ER there, so he sees the worst of it. In west Texas, it’s not so bad. My town has 250,000 people, so we’re not going to see the kinds of numbers they do in big cities. We have 419 confirmed cases. Of those, 107 people have recovered. Most are still sick.

I truly wish we weren’t living in interesting times, but we’ll get through this. I hope all the good things I’ve seen will carry over. Take care of yourselves and each other, and please, stay safe.


Perceptions of Beauty

I went to Target on Saturday to pick up a few necessities. As usual, something I definitely didn’t need caught my attention, so I stopped to check it out. I stood at the edge of the main aisle across from an endcap on a beauty aisle featuring the above picture of two models.

After a moment, a man who was walking quickly down the aisle jerked to a stop with his young son (maybe 9 or 10 years old). “See, now that is just too much,” the father said while pointing at the picture. He went on to explain how ugly freckles were, especially on women of color (he was a man of color himself). While dad ranted, the child wore a confused expression. He looked from the picture to his dad several times. His face went from confused to clear disagreement. Then he turned and saw me.

The boy stared at my face and then my arms, both of which are covered with tons of freckles. He smiled. A real smile. He turned back to his father, who was still ranting, and shook his head before both went on their way. The jerk never saw me.

I may or may not have blurted out a not very nice word. If I did do such a thing, it wasn’t particularly loud, and I hope the kid didn’t hear me. Hypothetically, of course!

First, let me say I think the model he was bashing is gorgeous. As I have more freckles than her, I’m biased but no one puts ‘ugly’ models on their endcap pictures for crying out loud!

That man is probably judged every day for the color of his skin and one would think he would understand what it’s like. Yet he tried to teach his child that different was bad. He spent thirty seconds pointing out perceived flaws for no good reason. He used the word ugly, repeatedly. This guy made a big deal out of passing on his own bias to his child.

I’m pretty sure the kid thought he was an idiot, but who knows. The little boy may forever after this think freckles are gross. Or maybe dad accidentally cemented in the child’s mind that it’s okay to disagree.

Everyone has different opinions on beauty. My husband adores my freckles but I’ve had people hate them. When I was a teenager, a boy in my psychology class told me I’d be hot if it wasn’t for all my ‘spots.’

I’ve seen women look at me like I’m going to steal their man while their husbands look at me in disgust.

The model in the photo? She’s probably been through as much as me, if not more. Of course, I hope she thinks about all the disapproving people and laughs when she cashes each check she gets because of her awesome, unique looks.

No one has to find me attractive. Anyone who hates freckles is welcome to their opinion. However, it’s pretty awful to announce those thoughts in public and to push them on others.

The man in Target never saw me. All his focus was on insulting the model. What if I was still an insecure teenager or a little girl with freckles standing there hearing his bile? Hell, all those years ago, I would have been devastated. I outgrew any self-consciousness about my skin long ago, so he didn’t hurt me. He did, however, piss me off.

He made me angry for all those people who he could have hurt. He outraged me on behalf of everyone he’s ever insulted or ever will over how they look. He disgusted ME with his lack of parenting skills on this issue and his need to teach his son to dislike a specific type of people.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

That statement seems a little trite and overused these days, but it’s so true. I think freckles are cute. You might think they look like a disease. I cried the day I realized my hair is growing in more blonde than red, but perhaps you bleach your hair because you adore it so light. Someone might love long hair while my husband and I like my hair shorter. All of these things are okay.

I’m not going to walk up to a woman with long blonde hair and tell her I don’t like how she looks. This is a terrible example because I don’t think long blonde hair looks bad, but you get the point.

I want to add that I’m proud of the girl in the picture for not hiding her freckles. I’m impressed that the little boy didn’t automatically agree with his father. Beauty is what you think it is, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. And if you look different than everyone else around you, learn to use words like distinct, unique, and special about yourself. Don’t listen to narrowminded people, ever.

As for the guy in Target, when I hypothetically called you a dickface, I meant it.


I took the picture of the giant endcap photo/ad in Target. That photo/ad does not belong to me.

Everything Update

Writing: I’m getting there. Slowly. For over a year, I haven’t written much due to some awful side effects of a medication I kicked to the curb. We’re talking depression, mental fog, irritability (no, not all of that can be blamed on gabapentin), next to no ability to concentrate, and straight-up memory loss. There were more issues, but I only listed the most troublesome.

Sounds like a medical update, right?  The point is, now I’m on a new medication (since August), and all of the bad side-effects are gone. I hoped I would jump back into writing right away, but it was not to be. Turns out, I didn’t instantly get back my hard-earned discipline and great writing habits!

I will. Writing every day isn’t an option for me anymore, but I’m working on writing every day I can. It comes in spurts. I do writing exercises as often as my muse shows up though the real issue is a ‘butt in chair’ issue. Technically I’m in the chair, but getting started is difficult. Part of it is the bad habit of not writing. However, I know myself well enough to know the true problem is fear.

What if I can’t do it anymore? What if the meds stole my muse like they did my memory? What if I Can do it again but I suck? Blah, blah, typical writer self-abuse. Yet, this time it’s scarier. There is a sprinkling of reality in my fears. For a year, I really couldn’t do it anymore. My muse was non-existent, and the few times I got words on paper, THEY SUCKED! I know things are different now, but until I write something good, I’ll worry. Then I’ll worry some more.

This is going to be a long hard road for me. All I can do is try. I need to find my writing discipline/motivation/inspiration again. Perhaps writing blog posts again will help. When I post here, I don’t really worry if it is well written or follows elements of style or reads like a term paper with proper paragraph usage. I simply think with my fingers and the mess you’re reading flows out.

Take this post, for example. I knew I was going to write an update, but I didn’t have any particular plan. I didn’t even know where to start. It took me ten minutes to type the first sentence, but once I did, 400 words came out (and counting).

Which leads me to the next update:

Blog: I plan to write more blog posts. As of now, I don’t know what they will be about. I do want to work on my compound sentence issue. Grammarly lets me know it hates me every time I use one. It also tells me this post sounds disapproving.

One of my goals is to write and post at least one piece of flash fiction or a short story every month. At one point, I was writing and posting close to a hundred. I won’t pressure myself to get back to that level. Not yet, anyway. I do hope to get into some kind of regular rhythm though. I have a huge list of ideas to work with so I’m not as nervous as I could be.

Expect a lot of opinions because I still have those and I’m sure my husband and my best friend are tired of being my only outlet for them.

Perhaps a rant of two? Definitely some ramblings about writing, life, people, etc.

Medical: Life sucks, whatever. I’m tired of bitching about it.

Everything else: 1. My husband and I are binging Grimm. This is pertinent because it involves a lot of fairy tale creatures. Two of my biggest projects involve mythical beasties. One for adults and one for children. Every time we watch an episode (or four in a row), I feel inspired. So far, this has manifested in notes and ideas for my stories but no serious writing yet.

2. There is a comic convention coming to my city at the end of February, and I always get enthusiastic about those. Enthusiasm equals happy muse.

3. I got a new desk. A huge executive desk. The kind I’ve wanted for years (ever since I had to give up my last big desk). It takes up most of the space in my office because I placed it squarely in the center! Every time I manage to get any writing done, it’s while sitting at my perfect desk. Did I mention I love my desk?

That’s all for now. Hopefully, my next update will be more writerly!

Man, How I Missed Me

I have some strong feelings about prescription medication right now. I’m taking more than I ever thought I would and I need each one. It sucks, but what can you do, right? Assuming your doctor is competent, he/she wouldn’t prescribe something unless you need it.

As much as I don’t like it, I take my meds and bitch about it in private. However, I don’t think I should keep my recent experience to myself. So I’m going to share. Before I start my rant, I want to state that every person can react differently to a medication. Just because someone has a bad experience doesn’t mean you will too. Don’t let what you read here scare you but do let it remind you to be cautious and vigilant.

I’ve been taking gabapentin since 2016. Six weeks after my back surgery (spinal fusion), my toes were suddenly on fire. Or they itched. Or both. I didn’t know exactly how to describe it. The doctor at a small clinic said peripheral neuropathy. She explained that some nerve damage was common after surgeries such as mine. It could be temporary or permanent. Guess which mine was?

She wrote a prescription and told me to notify my pain management (PM) doctor as he would be issuing every RX for it after this one. My PM guy agreed with the first doc’s assessment, and I added this new med to my pillbox.

At first, I was happy. The pain went away; of course, I was thrilled. I didn’t even have many side effects. I read everything I can find on adverse side effects because I’m often one of those .0000002 percenters who have weird reactions. Luckily I only had weird, extremely vivid dreams. I thought I got off easy.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was always a little forgetful, but I became what I referred to as ‘flighty.’ It got worse as the year went on and I started to worry. I was writing less and less because I couldn’t seem to concentrate for longer than ten minutes at a time. There were days when I had to think hard to remember if I’d taken a shower in the last day or two.

I was feeling down almost all the time. At the time, I refused to use the word depression because I didn’t think I needed to see a shrink. I was a dumbass. As long as I didn’t use that dirty word, I didn’t have to take it seriously.

Brain fog is how I would describe what happened in my head. Anger was my number one emotion. It’s easier to be pissed off than scared.

Dizziness and headaches were frequent. Anxiety reared its ugly head. I cried more often than I ever had. I was restless and at times, unsteady. You know when you get up too fast, and you get dizzy and unsteady? It was like that, but the unsteady would stay for a little while.

Soon I started feeling weak fairly often, and I had trouble sleeping. I was a mess. Most of these symptoms I ignored or just dealt with them. But there were a few that bothered me more.

My lack of concentration was a big deal. I couldn’t write. I could start but never get far. It seemed like I couldn’t access my muse. ‘She’ was locked up in solitary confinement, and I could only wave at her.

Anxiety always sucks but to feel it as often as I did, sometimes with no explanation was horrible. But the worse symptom was the one that started me on the road to fixing this situation: depression.

Everyone has times when they are down, and a lot of people go through depression at some point in their lives. For me, I never stay down for long. So feeling this way for at least a year was strange, wrong. Of course, I’d never been through chronic pain depression, which is what I thought my problem was.

I read all about what prolonged pain can do to a person, and I thought ‘oh crap, I guess I have to live with this.’ I was almost to the point of asking my doctor if there was anything that would help. If you know me, you know that’s a big step I never want to take.

One of the medications I take is Tramadol. It is a synthetic opioid. I react badly to hydrocodone and meds like it so Tramadol is all I can take. Since it’s a ‘big’ pain reliever, I became convinced it was the source of all my troubles.

A lot of the adverse reactions that could happen with its use described my life! Part of me was relieved. I believed I knew what the problem was. However, I was screwed! I couldn’t take anything else, and my only other option is another spinal fusion, which wouldn’t completely fix everything. Well, there is one more drug I can take, but it’s some serious shit. The kind of thing they give you in the hospital after surgery. NOT HAPPENING!

Around the time of all this research I realized I was overdue for a physical. I made a massive list of all the things I needed to talk to the doctor about and made an appointment. I told her all my symptoms and asked if she thought it was Tramadol and if she had any suggestions.

Her answer changed my life! She said: “Actually, I think it might be the gabapentin.”

I’m not exaggerating when I say I almost fell off the table/bed. She pulled up symptoms on her computer and read some off to me. My mind and my heart raced. I barely heard her when she said there were other medication options. She said to talk to my pain management guy and told me to have hope.

I did both.

The next day I was sitting in the PM doc’s office, describing my symptoms while the doctor nodded in agreement. They took me off gabapentin (slowly) and put me on Lyrica (also slowly). It sucked because my toes expressed their displeasure in the form of the weird itch/burn. I was warned that Lyrica could cause similar reactions, but there are a lot of patients who react badly to one of the two meds and fine to the other.

I’ve only been on the new med for a few weeks, but so far it’s incredible. For the first time in about a year, I feel like ME again. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until the symptoms went away.

Brain fog, what brain fog? Memory issues? Well, my memory always sucked, but it’s back to a reasonable level. Concentration? I haven’t gotten distracted once while writing this post, so I’d say I’m okay there. I even know when I’ve showered, lol.

I haven’t felt anything resembling depression. For the first time in a long time, I have hope. Last week I sat down to write three different days, and it worked. I wrote, a lot actually, on each of those days. I’m going to write (fiction) today as well. Hopefully, that writing won’t have as many compound sentences as this post, but words are words, and I’m happy for any that hit the page!

I have no way of knowing if the new medication will cause the same issues, but I figure I have a little time. The gabapentin didn’t wreck me until I’d taken it for two years. I hope Lyrica won’t destroy me too, but until (and if) I start having bad symptoms, I’m going to live my life and enjoy being me again.

Again, I want to state that everyone is different, and just because I had a bad time with these meds doesn’t mean you or your loved ones will. My step-dad and my Grandmother are both on gabapentin and aren’t reacting as I did. In fact, my step-dad has been taking it for much longer than I did and is fine.

I do want to stress vigilance and knowledge. Learn as much as you can about anything you put into your body. Don’t let what you read scare you, though. You may never have the possible side effects, but if you do, you’ll know to talk to your doctor about the medication.

Wish me luck as I get back to writing!


Sidenote: to give you an idea of how different life is for me now, this post is over 1400 words. Even two months ago I either wouldn’t be capable of writing this, or it would take me hours or days. This took about 20 minutes.


Photo by kgrkz on Unsplash

 

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! (A Saturday Rant)

I’m so frustrated! It’s hard to put into words, and you all know how I am, that means a LOT of words will follow.

Everyone I know would probably agree that I’m one their biggest cheerleaders. I’m mostly around writers, and I’m a strong believer of encouraging these other pen monkeys. I want them all to succeed. I try to make them feel like they are worth something.

I spent too many years with a foot on my neck being told subtly and not so subtly that I shouldn’t write, that I wasn’t good enough. That it wasn’t something, I should take seriously. Or that I would never succeed. Those people in my life eroded my confidence, exploited my fears, and generally frakked me up mentally. You can see why I don’t want others to fall victim to this.

So, I made it a practice to encourage other writers. To make them feel welcome among the various groups I’ve been a part of. To show them they are good enough. To make them feel a part of something important. Or more accurately, that they have the right to be a part of it.

I did this to the exclusion of myself.

Now, (actually for months) the writing group I go to is in the process of destroying itself. The group as a whole seems to be less important than Marsha ONE, Marsha TWO, Marsha THREE and so on. (This may sound minor but it is not. The details don’t matter here as I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

Each Marsha is so wrapped up in themselves or is busy being snide to each other, they don’t even see the Kristi’s of the group are suffering from the fallout.

I really want to indulge in some constructive selfishness, but I’m the only one in the group not allowed to do so. I’ve learned the hard way, if I, who is expected to stay in my role as cheerleader, express an opinion, I’ll lose friends or at least offend everyone for calling them out. Or I’ll be the final straw that breaks the group. Dammit ONE, TWO, and THREE, cut your shit!

The last time I said how I felt everyone acted like I’d grown horns then screamed it over a global intercom and shook my demon finger in their faces. No one could believe I had feelings other than encouragement for Them.

The other response is denial. It’s quite frustrating when someone tries to convince you your feelings are not legitimate because they refuse to see the problem. Pretending there is no issue doesn’t absolve one from being part of it Marsha.

Hell, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the outside for so long I don’t know what I would do if that changed. I know other people have felt this way, but that only meant they didn’t notice I’ve been going through it. So I keep my mouth shut about me and cheer-lead them. It’s strange to try to convince someone to not listen to those inner doubts when the same fears float around the top of my head.

I’m left with a new dilemma. Say something or stay home. Who am I kidding? I’ll keep going and keep repressing and keep getting angry. Then option two will bubble up, and I’ll have to spend all my time fixing all the Marshas’ hurt feelings at my audacity for having feelings!

Like most rants, this one rambles around and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to those reading it. However, getting the words out, especially on ‘paper’ helps me more than I can say.


 

Stop Bringing Me Down!

You know the type. The melancholy girl, the persecuted guy. That one person you know who spreads their own brand of misery wherever they go. Maybe you’re unlucky enough to have several of them in your life.

There are a few for me, and each one is unique, and I have to handle them differently. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting and potentially detrimental to me. What does that even mean?

Let me give you one of my examples. One of the biggest downers in my life, we’ll call her Sarah, has affected me in ways I am only now realizing. Between her negativity and ‘poor me’ attitude, she tapped into my overly developed empathy and brought me so low I’m not sure how to pull myself back out of the hole she dug for me.

I’ve barely written in months. For some reason, every time I sat down to work doubts, fears, and sadness overwhelmed me to the point of immobility. I stared at my pen or screen and did…nothing. Why should I? It was going to suck anyway. Why bother to try when I would fail in the end. Why move that pen when only junk would come out of it.

WHAT THE BLOODY HELL? That wasn’t me talking! Well, it was the old me, but not the me who wrote steadily for many years now. Nor the me who overcame those fears long ago. So who was it?

Sarah. Poor sad, despondent Sarah. The woman who enjoys living in her hell and spreads her misery in all directions. We all have some degree of empathy. For me, it’s so stupidly strong that I will start actually to feel the intense emotions of those around me. It sucks. I don’t see Sarah all that often, but it’s enough that her wretched aura got to me. For months.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming everything on the girl. I’m fully capable of screwing myself over with writing. However, in this case, she shares some of the blame. The truth is, she’s brought down my entire writing group. All of us have been down for months. Empathy is real people, and we have little control over it. She doesn’t mean to bring those around her down, but damn, she’s good at it. Just like I don’t intend to let it get to me.

Ironically, she complains when others do it to her. She once told a group I was in that she hates people exactly like her. HA!

Anyway, what can one do to guard against someone else affecting you in this way? Wish I knew. I do have some guesses though, things I will try to put into action.

Avoid the source of misery. Sometimes this is mostly impossible. What if it’s a close friend or family member? Unless you live with the person, you can limit the time you spend with them. No matter how you feel about someone, if they are toxic, you need to get away at least some of the time.

Tell them. Okay, this one is hard, and I won’t be doing this. It will only add to her problems. Guilt won’t change her anyway.

Encourage them. This won’t work. Not if they don’t want it to. Some people are content being down. It can be a comfortable alternative to effort and accountability. Still, if they are in your life, you probably care about them, and your good will might mean a lot. Besides, empathy works both ways. Maybe your positivity will fight against their opposing attitude.

Recognize what is happening and do whatever you can to counter it. Now that I know that part of my issue is others bringing me down I can tell my negative feelings to suck it! When I say to myself that writing is a waste of time because I’ll fail, I can remind myself those are not MY words. That aspect of myself is small and tied down. I’ll always have doubts, but they will not cripple me the way they did in the past.

Share your story. I’m well past some of the bad feelings I’ve picked up from others, but they are Not. So I can tell them what I went through and how I overcame these things. It may or may not help them, but at least the effort is there on my part.

If all else fails (in my case), use ear buds. Doesn’t make sense, right? Empathy is about feeling what others are feeling. However, loud music and putting my head down to write can distract me from what is being said and felt. Something is better than nothing when the misery in the air is loud.

What a rant! I’m not as angry as this sounds. I’m simply drained and tired of it all.

As much as I’ve been affected by some others in my life, what I choose to do is my responsibility. Like I said before, not every writing difficulty is 100% Sarah’s fault. But it’s important to acknowledge the effect she’s had on me. I advise you to do the same with the people in your life who did the same to you. If you don’t realize what’s happening, you can’t take steps.

Don’t feel guilty for not wanting to be brought down. Know it’s not your responsibility to fix someone, whether they want to be fixed or not. All you can control is you. I’m choosing to do something about the situation. I have enough roadblocks in my life as it is. I don’t need this one.

File it under self-care and convince yourself that taking care of you is the most important thing.


Nanowrimo 2018 Update (Late)

Well, I didn’t win Nanowrimo. I didn’t expect to get 50,000 words written in thirty days. What I wanted was to get back into a good almost daily writing habit. In this, I did win!

I don’t write on my husband’s midweek day off or on Saturdays (most of the time), but I always intended to the rest of the week. By participating in Nano, I’m back to doing just that. Even if it’s only 300 – 500 words, I’m writing regularly again.

Sometimes it sucks to sit and write, due to pain issues, but I do it anyway. Yes, I’ve had bad days where I accomplished a whole lot of nothing. But most days I work through the pain.

One thing that helps is some days I work on the class I’m taking, and other days it’s straight writing. Today was a little of both. I wrote about 300 words and finished an entire lesson (those usually take a few days). Maybe I would have written more if I hadn’t done the coursework, but both are important to me, so I’m satisfied with what I chose.

Tomorrow a new lesson will be available, so I’ll probably work mostly on it with a little writing sprinkled in. I also have to do grocery shopping, and it’s just as likely I’ll do less than I plan.

Friday there is the potential for terrible weather and horrid driving conditions. As the people in my town lose their minds and driving abilities with even the tiniest bit of precipitation on the ground, I’ll probably stay in and write all day. After the winter Library sale, that is. There is a chance of cancellation due to the weather, so I’ll be closely watching the news. If they do cancel, I’ll have no excuse not to write though.

I’m hoping to find good copies of urban fantasy series. It’s for research! If my research is fun, that’s not a problem, right?

This week, I’ll probably write on Saturday too. Something about cold weather brings out my muse. I hope it stays true to form. I am still trying to plot the story I’m working on. The middle is giving me trouble.

I wrote the beginning and some of the end during Nanowrimo, but new ideas changed my original loose plotting. Now I need to figure out how to get from point A to point B with many characters, using no straight lines.

I don’t do outlines unless you count using index cards and pinning them on a board an outline. I’m sure if I did do a ‘real’ outline I’d know exactly where I was going and writing the story would be a breeze. Except there would be no magic, no fun — no room for change or growth in the story.

Serious plotting works for some people but not me. I like to let my muse be as free as possible while giving it at least a direction to start with.

I’ll try to post an update on my efforts soon.


Sidenote: I use Grammarly, which I love, and it told me I ended two sentences with prepositions. 1. Sorry to anyone this annoys, but it’s the way I speak. This is just a blog post. If it were a story, I wouldn’t have ignored the suggestions to fix it. 2. I love this program because there are things I don’t notice myself doing while I’m trying to get the words out. So it’s good there is something to help me notice my flaws, such as the preposition thing, and my overuse of compound sentences, or certain words. In fact, it pointed out I used the word notice too much in this post as I typed this paragraph!

Also, I picked the image above because I hope the story I’m writing will feel this way when read.

Nanowrimo Update

Three thousand, six hundred fifty-two words. Sound low? It is if your goal is to win Nanowrimo. For me, this is a great number. It means I’m writing. I’ve put some words on paper almost every day since the beginning of the month.

Plus, I started out handwriting everything. I only switched to typing last night at my region’s first write-in. So I’m not doing so bad.

Winning would be great but that’s not my goal. My goal is to get back into a regular writing routine. Ideally, I would write at least four days a week. I don’t want to work on my husband’s days off because he has a weird work schedule and we get little time together except those two days a week.

On Saturday my muse thinks it’s time to crawl under a mental rock and hide. It frustrated me at first but now I enjoy having time to myself with no expectations. However, for the rest of this month, I plan to try to write every day, if only for thirty minutes to an hour. Chronic back pain will make it hard, but I if I don’t attempt it, I’ll be disappointed in myself.

I’m trying not to have a word count goal but my brain is stuck on half. If I can reach 25,000 words I’d probably be satisfied.  If I write about 900 words a day I’ll get there.

I’ll post another update on my progress soon.