Not That

I hate to admit I have struggled with my mental state in the last year.  It didn’t help that the shrink I saw told me it was okay to mope, whine, and be depressed, or even have a good cry.  I was told these things would help me work through my depression.

It didn’t do much for me.  Long before my laming (I don’t have a clue what to call this), my family experienced something we never thought we’d experience.  I won’t get into the details much because it isn’t pretty and we’ve kept the family out of it.  It isn’t my immediate family, but my extended family, however family is family.

I find it bizarre and it doesn’t make much sense to me, but so few things in this world actually make sense.

The point is, sometimes I have to remind myself that I am not a bowl of petunias that have suddenly sprang into existence 300 feet above the surface of a planet and gravity is providing a demonstration of how it works.

I can also claim that in the event of an emergency, like someone deciding to build a hyperspace byway, I have a nice towel handy.

Life is about the little things after all.  All I can say, is Don’t Panic…  I am reminding myself of this every couple of days.  Jude the Great Nephew turns 2 this month.  I ordered his gift the other day which gave me a few minutes of happiness.  And my mother came up with a solution to get myself a child’s toy, because we didn’t have cool toys like that when I was a child and I enjoy doing things with Jude, but feel I have failed lately due to my obsession with my own problems.

But there’s no reason to sulk, because at least I’m not a bowl of petunias.  There is always that…

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Common Courtesy

What happened to common courtesy?  I was at my OB/GYN on 29 June.  Two things happened that annoyed the crap out of me.

The first was a woman on her phone, talking loudly, while her children ran around like barbarians.  There were five of the little monsters.  It is an OB/GYN’s office, and kid’s aren’t uncommon there… but 5 of them?  Her phone call was about the ultrasound she’d just had… It showed twins.  She was pondering how it happened.  I had suggestions on how it worked, but I managed to keep my mouth shut.  A feat considering I can’t stand when people talk on phones loudly in public or children who are not supervised.

The second was a woman who checked in at the front desk a few moments after me.  It was 11:10 am.  I was sitting in a chair facing the reception desk and she strolled in like she didn’t have a care in the world.  Before she began check in, I was thinking I might want whatever she was on.

She gave her name and the woman at the desk blinked at her several times before saying “You’re appointment was at 9.”  The woman responded, “I overslept.”  I wanted to go “What the Hell?  If you oversleep by 2 hours, you call and reschedule your appointment.” They worked her in because like me she was there for a Depo Provera shot.  It takes maybe three minutes after all the paperwork is done.

Then she tells the receptionist she doesn’t have her Depo Shot.  I am guilty of this crime on one occasion and they told me if I could run home and be back within 15 minutes to do that instead of rescheduling the appointment.  At the time, I could be back in less than 10 minutes, so I flew out the door and went home, grabbed the vial and, and was back in 9 minutes.  This woman couldn’t get there and back in 15 minutes and she was already 2 hours late.  They did not reschedule her.  They said she had to bring it in next week and they’d use one of their emergency vials of Depo Provera to give her the shot that day.

She kept acting like it was no big deal that she was 2 hours late.  I don’t like to be 2 minutes late.  I wouldn’t have shown my face in the office at 2 hours late, especially if I hadn’t called them first.  I could see it if she’d been in the ER or Urgent Care for something… But she admitted that wasn’t the case.  My doctor is pretty flexible about appointment times when it comes to simple things like Depo Provera shots, but still.  I was raised where if you are going to be late, even by a few minutes, you let the others involved know, because that’s the courtesy thing to do.

Sometimes I think the biggest blight on society is a lack of common courtesy.  It isn’t something that gets taught, anywhere.  And with the increase in technology, it’s gotten worse.  I have this thing about having cell phones at a dinner table, especially at a restaurant.  You are out to dinner, talk to the people you are with, not someone on the internet or your mom.  If you wanted to talk to your mom, you should have brought her to the restaurant.  I make exceptions for emergencies because I’m not a monster, but that’s about it.

Of course, I have a ton of societal pet peeves, cell phone conversations in public are just one of them.  As is being late.  Since she was late, the appointment that usually takes me 10 minutes including sitting in the waiting room, took me 30.  During which time I was in a waiting room filled with pregnant women and their babies and sometimes their male partners and the woman on the phone regarding her twins.  I consider pregnancy contagious, so I hate sitting in this waiting room for very long, I’m afraid I might catch it.  I am aware everyone thinks I’m crazy for thinking pregnancy is contagious, but as someone who didn’t have children, it’s hard to miss that several women in my friend group would get pregnant within a few months of each other or they would get pregnant and then tell me their cousin was pregnant or someone else in their family would become pregnant.  That is one communicable disease, I absolutely do not want.  I don’t remember all the criteria for a communicable disease, but I am fairly sure pregnancy checks several of those boxes.

Life v. Fiction

They say life is stranger than fiction.  I agree with this.  It’s also funnier.  Often times, even when humor is verbal, it is still situational.  I can tell people about the hilarious conversations I’ve had with say my best friend, but you still had to be there.

For instance, her and I often make jokes about things like what kind of cult leader we’d be and what would entice us to sell our souls… nothing is sacred when we are together.  On the surface, the conversations aren’t all that funny.  However, at their specific spot in time, they are hysterical.

This funny factor is why I don’t like romance.  It’s hard to take a mushy book seriously when the wife suddenly turns to the husband and asks if he realizes how much he is contributing to the green house effect.  But that is the kind of intimacy and the sorts of events that dampen romance.  Your husband could be Prince Charming six days out of seven, but on the seventh day, he is going to make up for it in some way.  We accept our partners, flaws and all, and that doesn’t really fit into a romance novel.

For example, for about six months over a year ago, when I said or did something my husband found ridiculous (this happens often just FYI), he would look at me and say “Really?”  The tone of his voice when he said it coupled with the look on his face… I would be in pain trying not to laugh.  He didn’t mean for it to be funny, he meant to highlight what he thought of whatever I had just done, but it was hysterical.  And eventually, I got where I would do and say things just to elicit that response.  I couldn’t laugh at the time, but I could when I repeated the incident to people later.  He stopped after he realized it tickled my funny bone.

With the deadpan seriousness my husband put into that one word, it wouldn’t be funny in a book, it would come across as verbally abusive.  It just wouldn’t translate onto the page very well.  Telling the story it does because there are tones in that disapproving seriousness that can be included in the retelling that just couldn’t be in a book.  Not even Nora Roberts could pull it off.

The point is, this hilarity is the reason a Dysfunctional Chronicle takes me longer than a D&R book even if it isn’t as long.  The humor has to be written in after the book is finished and edited and then it has to be edited again.  Then it has to be rechecked to make sure I’m not missing out on comedy gold.  And then sometimes it gets edited again depending on how much I’ve had to add to it.

 

 

Audiobooks & Video Games

Since I have written only in fits and starts lately due to adjusting to medication levels, I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks.  Technically it’s still working, a writer must also read to get better at at their craft.

When I’m not trying to sling words onto the page, I often play video games.  I don’t like shooter games or games like Candy Crush, I prefer puzzle games and simulation games, like Roller Coaster Tycoon or Pharaoh.  Lately, I have been playing Project Highrise because I like tower games.

I have figured out I can listen to audiobooks while playing video games and feel a little less guilty about playing video games instead of putting words down on the page when my brain can’t focus on it.

For instance, Ritual Dreams touches on a subject I have managed to avoid for 13 books or 14 books or 27 books.  I can’t remember right off the top of my head how many books are in D&R or the number I have published… This has led to several moments of face rubbing, which is something Nadine got from me.

I have found some very good books this way.  I also feel like I have accomplished something, listening to books I wouldn’t have read.  Not just Dresden Files, but The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer.

I’m using Scribd.  The option to read a book is there, but I am preferring the audio book format at this time.  Sometimes, I look at the last year and marvel at how much has changed.  Ironicallly, I know that lots of my readers, read my books specifically to help remove their pain from their conscious mind and yet, I can’t read a book and get that same relief… But I can listen to it while playing a video game.

Proof that the universe is a strange place that doesn’t always make sense.  I keep waiting for a bowl of petunias to materialize near me and think Not again” before shattering on the floor.

What was the point of this post?  I have forgotten.  Something about using audiobooks while playing video games to make me feel a little less like a slacker.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

It’s Haunted

If you were online in the mid-2000s, someone you know probably sent you an eBay link for a haunted wine box… Because let’s face it, when an eBay seller has Haunted in the title an description, you have to show it to someone.

The haunted box eventually ended up in the state of Missouri, about an hour north of where I live and the wine box turned out to be not so much haunted as home to a demon and thus the story of the Dybbuk Box began.  There’s a movie.  There’s a book.  There’s interviews on a TV show (I don’t remember which show) about the box and it’s owner who agrees that something nefarious is going on with the box.

With the success of the Dybbuk Box which sold for a couple of thousands of dollars, if I remember correctly, other haunted items have shown up on eBay.  Specifically dolls.  For some reason there are a lot of haunted dolls.  Usually they look like dolls that should be haunted.

Not surprisingly, there is a psychology behind this.  First, we buy haunted things because we are naturally drawn to the items due to our curiosity.  Oddly, a number of ghost skeptics have admitted they want to be proven wrong about the existence of ghosts.  The Dybbuk Box was actually an anomaly.  Haunted or not, people are less inclined to believe something like a wine box could house a spirit.

We are far more inclined to believe dolls are haunted.  For the most part, old dolls creep us out.  The older the doll, the more likely it is that we will find it creepy.  In other words, today my 30 year old cabbage patch doll isn’t projecting a sense that it is creepy.  Most us remember the cabbage patch rage and even though it is old, it is also commercially produced and it was trendy in recent history.  In 70 years, my Cabbage Patch doll from the 1980s will most likely be creepy.

The psychology of it, goes beyond just “dolls are creepy.”  When we buy the item with the label “Haunted” we set our selves up to be haunted, even if it’s just in our imagination.  For instance, we have an Echo Dot.  On Saturday night, I jumped from bed at 2 am to check on Lola.  I would have sworn I heard Lola whining.  I get into the office where the echo dot lives and where Lola usually sleeps on the futon, to find Alexa telling a knock knock joke… At 2 am.  To my dog.

We had guests from out of town Saturday staying at our house.  Five adult human beings and two dogs.  There is no telling what Alexa thought she heard.  I was the only person awake, but it’s possible she heard one of the dogs or one of the people talking in their sleep or snoring and mistook it for a command.  On Friday, I was messing around with the echo dot and the last command I gave it was tell me a knock knock joke.  I do this to expand my catalog of Knock Knock jokes to tell to Jude the Great Nephew.  So, Alexa at 2 am on Saturday, basically repeated the last command I had given her, the day before.  If I were less rational, my first instinct was not “an unseen presence commanded Alexa to tell a knock knock joke” but it could have been.  I figure Lola who occasionally tosses and turns, probably hit the echo dot with her foot jarring the power cord which resulted in the repeated command.

But it isn’t hard to see how one could imagine the house haunted simply from Alexa’s late night forays into telling jokes and giving empty rooms baseball scores.  Because these and playing the song Hey Jude for Jude are pretty much the extent of my echo dot usage.  I feel I got distracted.  The point was, that our expectations of being haunted appear to play a role in whether we are haunted or not.

It’s not limited to dolls and echo dots either.  If we buy a house with the expectation it is haunted, then we are more likely to experience incidents we attribute to paranormal activity.  A creaky floorboard suddenly proves to us that the haunted house is haunted when it might in fact be that the humidity has changed thereby causing an expansion or contraction of the board which made it squeak in the middle of the night, when humidity as well as temperature is prone to extreme fluctuations.

Essentially, we know that expectations contribute to things like hauntings, which is why buying anything listed as haunted is more likely to be haunted.

Of course, from my personal experiences, I can say there are still things that go bump in the night and that expectations do not account for all hauntings.

Decoded History & Fiction

My husband and I have watched episodes of the TV Show Decoding History.  He isn’t the geek for history that I am, but he has an interest as long as aliens don’t get mentioned.  Brad Meltzer is a good host for Decoded History.  And as a historian, I have respect for him just based on his tenure of working for the National Archives.

I had tried to read his book The Millionaires and just couldn’t get into it.  After listening to a non-fiction history book on the lost books of the Bible, Scribd recommended I listen to The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer.  I didn’t immediately jump on it.  As I said, I respect Meltzer’s wealth of knowledge from working in the National Archives and he obviously has a passion for history like myself, but after trying to read The Millionaires, I decided maybe his love for history just didn’t translate into fiction very well.

But Scribd keeps telling me the majority of the books I want to listen to, aren’t available until 7/7/18.  Book of Lies was available.  I started it Monday.  And was riveted within the first chapter.  The narrator did a good job, which helped.  The ending was a bit of a let down, I didn’t feel everything tied together very well.  I had figured out the “who is the Prophet” part fairly early in the book, but the action and suspense kept me listening.

Overall, I enjoyed it immensely.  It did get me thinking though, could I write a conspiracy novel based on history?  I’m not sure.  I’d be willing to give it a try though… when I get some other stuff written and ready for publication, like The Dysfunctional Mob and Ritual Dreams.

And I might have to do some serious research.  My history degree primarily covers European History during WWI and WWII.  I can talk at length about Stalin and Stalin’s rise to power, and Stalin’s actions during WWII and how WWI helped the Bolsheviks gain power in the 19-teens.  I can also explain the social psychology of Hitler’s rise to power, the reason Germans did not oppose Nazism when it first started and I can tell you why there aren’t more stories of Germans disagreeing with Nazism.  I can also tell you that Hitler and his crew were some weird dudes and I’m not just talking about trying to establish an underground base in Antarctica (which they really did consider) or their dabblings in the occult with the Vril Society…  The upper echelon of the Nazi regime is like all the kids you wouldn’t play with on the playground got together and became really powerful people that started their own club when they grew up.  Because that is my area of specialty.

Granted I took classes in medieval Europe (including one on Medieval Russia, which I had never heard of until I went to college).  I also took some civilization classes and some contemporary religion classes, but some doesn’t mean I can spout facts about the time periods off my head on command, like I can Europe during WWI and WWII.

However, history is full of things that would make a good conspiracy.

Somehow I Missed the Announcement

I was searching to see when the next season of Midnight, Texas was going to start airing when I learned that Netflix might have just become my favorite streaming service.  They picked up Lucifer for Season 4.  Thank Gods!  I need to know how Chloe reacted to the Devil’s face and the bizarre bonus episodes did not do anything for me… perhaps annoy me a little.

And surprisingly, I am going to miss Charlotte Richards’ character.

I still haven’t figured out when Midnight, Texas airs, I just know that it was renewed by NBC for a second season.  Back to searching…

 

The Book After Ritual Dreams

I am working away on Ritual Dreams as my body allows.  It comes in fits and starts depending on my pain level.  Anyway, the other day, I had a flash of something and suddenly the Dreams novel to come after Ritual Dreams took shape.

This happens regularly.  I’ll be writing one book when suddenly the idea for the next book comes to me.  It happened during The Dysfunctional Mob too.  As I was writing on it, I suddenly knew what the next Dysfunctional Chronicle needed to be.  Just like when I was writing Flawless Dreams, and Raphael showed up, I knew what was going to follow Flawless and then while working on Demonic Dreams, I suddenly knew that Ritual Dreams would be next.

I’m not as far into Ritual Dreams as I would like to be, but part of that is failure to keep my pain in check.  I know everyone gets tired of listening to me whine about it, but I’m not going to do that this time.  And what I’m going to say actually touches on the point of the blog post.

There is almost nothing that can be done for my pain.  It is part of the reason more than 90% of people with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome commit suicide, thereby earning the disease the nickname the Suicide Disease.  In some ways, I am lucky, there are things that can be done for me… Granted controversial things at the moment, but I keep my fingers crossed that it will change since I am not helped by steroid injections into the hip or spine and I was fitted with a test unit for an electronic simulator and found it made it worse.  Meaning the spinal cord simulator isn’t an option for me.  Opiates do help, they don’t help everyone with CRPS and treatment pretty much has to be individually tailored.

For a while, I have been using 5mg hydrocodone, thinking it helps with my hip.  And it does, unless I want to work.  The reason I was able to get Demonic Dreams finished while seeing Dr. Wonderful was that he was prescribing 3 hydrocodone a day, and when I wrote, I would take 10mgs or 2 pills.

I was prescribed 2 a day by the new doctor because Missouri is going after doctors who write too many opiate prescriptions (because patients aren’t responsible for their actions anymore).    I will be out before my refill date, because on days I wanted to write, I didn’t have a pill to take for my gallbladder or hip later in the day.  I see the new doctor again on 3 July and am going to talk to him about moving me off 5s and up to 10s, that way I can take 10mgs to work and not worry about how badly it screws up the rest of my day.

The good news is I am still making progress.  On Ritual Dreams as well as on The Dysfunctional Mob.  And while I won’t have Ritual done by July 1, I hope to have it written by 1 August.  Which would lead to an early fall release.

Dear Gallbladder

Dear Gallbladder,

You are fired.  I have been quite understanding and willing to meet you half way with this nonsense, but this relationship is more than a little unhealthy.  I feel that your attempts to control me and my life to be dastardly and underhanded.

Your stubborn refusal to play by the rules is infuriating.  You are supposed to hurt while I eat and/or after I eat, not when I get hungry or watch recipe videos on Tasty.  The doctor says he doesn’t know what to do with that symptom because that’s not the way it works.

Furthermore, you have blatantly waged a battle that includes psychological warfare, which proves you a coward.  The sleepless nights because it appears my night time medications trigger indigestion so intensely it makes my right bicep ache is proof that there is nothing you won’t try.

Finally, I do not understand why you insist on feeling bruised all the time, like I have somehow wounded you, it reeks of desperation.  Perhaps even more so since I have told a doctor and they said that they have never heard of that happening either.

I am unsure what you hope to accomplish with these strange symptoms.  You are stuck with me.

 

I am on my third night of not sleeping  because of indigestion that is so severe, even my hand aches as I type.  Both my father and sister experienced gallbladder death.  At this moment, it is the best I can hope for since all my tests keep coming back normal and the doctor keeps telling me that the symptoms I am having, he has never heard of… However, if you Google it, I am not the only one to experience these symptoms.  I found a blog post from a woman who experienced similar symptoms and after more than two years of them, they finally removed her gallbladder and her life got much better.

For the record, I do not seem to experience the same intensity in my heart burn during the day very often.  Also, I watched a recipe on Tasty the other day that made my gallbladder pain so intense I thought it was exploding.  It wasn’t.  Eating makes me feel nauseated, it doesn’t cause intense pain, not like being hungry does.  Stupid thing.  I have my fingers crossed that it will just die soon.

Moving Past It

For the most part, I’m over most of my anger and sadness at the turn my life took a year ago.

Over a week ago, I encountered a situation that put me in a bit of a funk though.  One that is hard to explain.  Over the course of the last five years or so, I haven’t driven a lot, mostly because I haven’t wanted to drive.  And except for a few rare occasions, the option has always been there… I have a car, if I want to run somewhere I can.

So, more than a week ago, we went up to the campground.  Took the dogs.  It was nice.  This summer has been brutally hot already, even by Missouri standards.  It’s not just the glaring sun, it’s the ungodly humidity that comes with living in Missouri.  Those crappy jokes that it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity have a basis in reality when you live in the Plains region of the US like I do and even during a drought, we can have days with 80% humidity, which is just wrong on so many levels.

With my gallbladder deciding it hates me, I have a very limited amount of items I can eat.  One of them is bacon, which is odd, but whatever, microwave bacon is best and has become a staple in my life.  We took a package of microwave bacon to the campground.

Husband gets up early and goes fishing with his dad and his brother.  He needs this.  The dogs and I stay at the camper, keeping Lola from melting into a puddle is harder than one thinks because she loves being outdoors.  I make jokes that Lola lets me know when it’s too hot for man or beast outside as it was this day… She wanted in the camper and then she spent the day stretched out on a leather lounger that is in the camper.  The leather is cool to the touch and there’s an air conditioning vent right over it.

I have my SUV.  I microwave a package of bacon that the dogs get to eat because there was not a happy medium for cooking it.  I realize that the camper microwave probably isn’t an 1100 watt unit, it’s probably a 700 watt microwave and the instructions say to cook for 2 1/2 minutes in an 1100 watt microwave and microwaves lower than that are not recommended.  Awesome.  I try one more time and the dogs are incredibly happy about the sudden surplus of bacon they are getting, even if it is a little blackened in spots.

Houston, we have a problem… There is nothing else in the camper that I can eat for lunch except a couple small bags of chips.  I open one and eat it.  But chips by themselves isn’t really a meal.  I grab the car keys and it hits me… There’s a town 8 miles in either direction or a little cafe like place about a mile from me… I could get food in any of these three places, but my husband is still fishing… and that is a problem.  It would be less painful to walk the mile to get food than to drive it.  But it’s 99 degrees outside and sometimes even with pain medication I have a limp.  Much like driving, I’m not sure my hip would hold out for the mile walk down a washboard gravel road to the blacktop and the food place.

For the first time I realize that even with a car and a valid driver’s license with no restrictions except one about driving on migraine medications which has been on there since I was 21…  I am stuck there.  Which put me in a bit of a funk that I have had trouble recovering from.

It was less about driving and more about freedom.  Sometimes the walk into the stupid grocery store is brutal.  I had three modes of transportation (we have a golf cart that could be driven to the food place), car, golf cart, and legs and because of my hip, none of them were options to go get me food.  At first my brain screamed at me, just take the damn car and suffer through the drive…

It’s not just the mile drive there and mile drive back though.  It’s also the emergency room visit that I know is going to follow it, because even a mile drive will put me into what they call a crisis.  Crisis pain isn’t stopped by mild pain killers.  My hip goes from feeling like it’s broken to feeling like the bone has been pulverized inside my skin and then the pain medication I carry around with me, doesn’t work… It’s not strong enough for a crisis.  And I am 80 miles from home.  The closest hospital is 20 miles away.  20 miles further from home.  20 miles further from doctors that know my medical history.  20 miles… And only god knew how long before the guys would come back from fishing so I could even go to a hospital…  My pain gets high enough that I’ve been known to pass out or become delirious.

What happens if I drive that mile and it takes six more hours for them to come back?  Will I be conscious for the return?  Will my dogs have clawed the walls down in a panic because I have passed out?  Will my blood pressure sky rocket and start a monster nose bleed and migraine that I can’t treat?  Or will they come back and my pain will be so high I won’t be able to tell them what is wrong?  Or stand up unassisted?  These are all reactions to pain I have had in the last year.  Along with getting dizzy and losing my balance and falling, making things much worse.  It’s not just a mile… It might as well be the restaurant at the end of the universe and require me to have a space ship equipped for time travel.

So I ate a couple bags of chips, which did not make my gallbladder happy and stayed at the camper, trying not to feel anything about the situation.  Eventually me and my unhappy gallbladder curled up in bed to take an afternoon nap.  Lola who is very intuitive about pain, curled up with me, careful to not touch my bad hip despite putting her head on my mid-section where my gallbladder ached.  And when I woke up a few hours later, Lola was still there with her head on my upper abdomen.  She isn’t a dog that likes to cuddle… however she is protective and she does those things to keep Kelly who doesn’t seem to have a clue about pain, from brutalizing me, because Kelly will run from down the hall and Superman jump onto me, usually onto my bad hip, my right hip, the same side as my gallbladder damn it…

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