Archive for the ‘life’ Category

New Digs!

March 14, 2010

All settled into the new digs. Check it out! (everything here but pics of J’s room, which he’s still putting together a bit)



(Click here for full set)

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Oh, How I Love Thee….

March 2, 2010

J. and I have nearly finished the first full season of Farscape. Last night, he looked up some actors on IMDB to see what else they’d done, then came back into our room and said, deadpan, “Did you know that most of the actors are Australian?”

Oh, J….

Looking forward…

February 27, 2010

… to spring.

Moving Daze

February 21, 2010

The move to the new digs is beginning. We pick up the keys next weekend, and have started packing today. Or, in my case, cleaning up all the fucking stacks of paper in my room to *prepare* for moving. Figure we’ll get keys next Saturday, spend Saturday cleaning the place up, Saturday night and Sunday moving smaller boxes, and then do an official move-in weekend March 6th.

We decided to do this mainly to cut down on utility costs, since we’ll be paying for both places during March. Better to clean out the big house, jack it down to 50 and stop running the space heaters, and jack up the other house to 65 and sign up for budget billing, which is $100 per month (last month’s gas bill for this house was a whopping $371).

So… here goes.

Back in the PNW

February 13, 2010

I’m back in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) for my grandmother’s funeral this weekend. I’d have much preferred being back in the PNW on a happier occasion, but since I’m here, I’m trying to make the best of it.

The air here is different, did you know that? Clear and clean; tinged with evergreen. I love it. I miss it. I miss the big trees and the water and the 40-50 degree “winter” weather. I miss eating fresh fish.

I do not, however, miss the cost of living.  I stood in the grocery store this afternoon suffering from quite literal sticker shock. Stuff here was often $1-2 more than I would have paid back in OH. Gas was 30 cents a gallon more expensive. But you know what? Folks are a lot more friendly. And they know how to drive as if there may actually be other human beings in those big hucks of metal they share the road with.

I’m sitting in bed now with the window open, listening to the frogs in my parents’ pond out back gettin’ on their early-spring song in the otherwise silent night, and man… I do love the PNW.

But who can afford to live here?

In any case, here’s a picture of my niece, Kaylee, who is training to be a carpenter or perhaps an engineer, as you can see from how skillfully she removed this slat from one of the kitchen chairs. I anticipate getting her some overalls with a teddy bear patch at some point.

With a career like that in her future, she will have no trouble getting along in the PNW!

New Digs

February 1, 2010

After much wringing of hands and moaning over our $900 rent payment and crazy utility bills, J. and I decided to downsize.

We can afford our current place perfectly during the summer and passably during the winter, but we’re looking for a place we could afford should one of us lose our jobs. Crazy economy, and all. We also wanted something with a slightly more efficient heating system (no more radiators!), a fenced yard, a garage, and a liberal pet policy that would let us have a dog.

Enter our solution: $665 a month. Slightly better neighborhood. 2 car garage. Forced air heat. 700 sq feet smaller. Still has 3 bedrooms. Lacks a shower upstairs, but has one downstairs. Needs some extra 3-prong plugs upstairs, but we’ve got them in the kitchen and upstairs in what will be J’s office (I have no problem using converters. He shudders at the thought).

We’ll still be paying out the ass for utilities during Dec/Jan/Feb, but the furnace is more efficient and total sq ft is smaller, and I’ve learned my lesson about the whole “put plastic sheeting over the windows” thing. I detest the white trash idea of “winterizing” my house with plastic sheeting. But then, I grew up in the PNW, where it doesn’t generally get below 40 degrees for very long. Winterizing is still a foreign idea. We’re def. doing it next year.

We’ve filled out all the paperwork, so we’ll see how it turns out. Move date would be around March 15th.

Click for full set.

Things That Need Doing

January 26, 2010

Stepped on the scale today for the first time in, what, six months? When I was living at my old apt, I was very good at weighing myself once a month and making adjustments accordingly. It kept my weight steady and my clothes fitting and all was well. Now that my house is so damn cold, I’m less inclined to strip and step on a scale. So I’ve avoided it since at least October when the house started getting chilly.

I knew I’d put on 10lbs or so since J. and I moved in together. I actually managed to get that back down to +5 before the holidays. Then came the holidays, and winter, and tax season, and this really great website with low carb coffee cake recipes…

Despite getting up at 5:30 in the morning to do 30 minutes of exercise and another 20-25 minutes 3 times a week when I get home, it just hasn’t been enough to make up for the coffee cake and cold house. They’ve also cut the workout program at work, which means no more twice-weekly strength training sessions and no more gym membership.

What happened is just what I suspected would happen when I ceased being vigilant – I’ve gained a retarded amount of weight since J. and I first met a year and a half ago – most of which I’ve put on in the last 4 months of coffee cakes and cold houses. Nobody believes me when I say this is what happens when I stop paying attention.

What actually moved me to get back on the scale was my crazy sugar numbers. My blood sugar has been a lot harder to control, and far more frustrating. I wanted to know if the weight gain was indeed substantial enough that it may be causing insulin resistance. And oh yes, dear reader – it is.

There are some quick and easy changes I’m making right away: no more low carb cookies and coffee cakes, for one (do you have any idea how many calories are in almond flour?), and sticking to the lunch I bring into work instead of adding snacks from the free salad bar at work. I did manage to eliminate my peanut butter/low carb English muffin fix way back, which is how I curbed the initial weight gain and got things back under control. But now there’s that coffee cake thing…

My 20 minutes pilates/15 min free weights workout each morning is pretty solid. What I need to work on now is getting at least 30 minutes 5x a week of cardio instead of the current 20-25 3x a week. A lot of the problem with getting this in is wonky sugar numbers. Some days I turn my insulin off at 3:45 and I can workout for 50 minutes. Other days, I turn it off at the same time and I can only workout for 20 and then my sugar crashes and I start to tremble and all the energy goes out of me and I have that intense hunger spike and desire to burn the world to the ground. I need to get this timing right if I’m going to workout properly every day after work.

I’m also working toward doing at least 40 more minutes on Sat or Sun to get me to 6 days. 6 days a week of 30-50 min a day is pretty much the only thing that moves me. It’s just a really tough routine to put into place during the best of times, and right now the house is cold and I’ve got a crazy day job and personal deadlines.

But. The alternative is very bad. This is a good reminder of what happens to me when I don’t stay on top of maintaining my weight with monthly weigh-ins. I know some folks thought this was odd – if you’re happy with your weight, why be so vigilant?

Here’s why: because aside from that whole immune disorder thing, I have great genes. I’m very good at packing weight away, and when you have aforementioned immune disorder, this is a very bad habit to get into. I have been displeased with my numbers, and not feeling well to boot. Now I have a better idea of why. I’m still quite pleased with how I look (I spent a long time learning how to like myself, and reorienting how my self worth was measured in a society with weird ways of measuring worth, particularly in women), but my numbers are bad, so I don’t feel as well, and I’m not throwing out my wardrobe because I’d rather eat coffee cake.

So, here’s what we’re going to do to get back to maintenance:

Monday/Weds/Friday

Workout: 20 min pilates. 15 min free weights
Breakfast: 2 eggs w/spinach
Workout: Bike to work (if not snowing, more than 20 degrees out)
Lunch: Leftovers. No more salad bar additionals.
Workout: Bike home (if not snowing, more than 20 degrees out)
Workout: 25-30 minutes elliptical
Dinner: Entree and side. No more tortillas/low carb bread
Dessert: Yogurt and berries

Tuesday/Thursday

Workout: 20 min pilates. 15 min free weights
Breakfast: 2 eggs w/spinach
Workout: Bike to work (if not snowing, more than 20 degrees out)
Lunch: Leftovers. No more salad bar additionals.
Workout: Bike home (if not snowing, more than 20 degrees out)
Workout: 25-30 minutes elliptical. 25 minutes circuit training.
Dinner: Entree and side. No more tortillas/low carb bread
Dessert: Yogurt and berries

Saturday

Breakfast: Low carb pancakes (no almond flour makes a big difference)
Workout: 40 min circuit training
Lunch: Soup/sandwich/leftovers. No more “it’s a special occasion” carbs
Dinner: Entree and side. No more tortillas/low carb bread
Dessert: Yogurt and berries

Sunday

Breakfast: Low carb pancakes
Workout: 15-20 minutes elliptical
Lunch: Soup/sandwich/leftovers. Ditto above carb curb.
Dinner: Entree and side. No more tortillas/low carb bread
Dessert: Yogurt and berries

This eliminates the low carb bread/tortillas I’ve been snacking on and low carb/high calorie coffee cakes and cookies I’ve been making. I think this alone will make a big difference. I’m telling you, I could live on low carb coffee cake forever.

I’m not terribly happy with this, but I’m less happy with my sugar numbers right now. If I’m going to do some of the things I’d like to do this year, it’s also very important that I get into some semblance of fighting shape. And all this happy-happy-joy-joy stuff has aided me in becoming a bit doughier than I’d like.

Thing is, you want to be a certain kind of person, you have to start living like that kind of person, no matter how frustrating it may be. And there’s a certain type of person I’d like to be. And she works out a lot more than I’ve been able to the last few months. It’s too bad she doesn’t eat as much coffee cake as I’d like, either, but them’s the breaks.

Imagination

January 25, 2010

Tonight’s Agenda

January 8, 2010

I’d rather it snowed another 6 inches so I could work from home tomorrow, instead of just another 2, which will make it annoying and slow to get into work, but not annoying and slow enough to work from home.

Etc. It’s a rough life.

Anyway, new project in the works tonight, already outlined and chapter one’d. Will post excerpt soon.

Don’t Fail: On Turning 30

January 5, 2010

Failing in obscurity is easy. Failing in public is hard.

There was a lot I wanted done by the time I turned 30. Like, you know, publishing a book (or three). I expected to “be a writer” by the time I was 24. When 25 came and went with no book sale, I quietly hunkered down and got back to work. When I signed a 3 book deal at 28, I figured I was golden. I’d have my first book published before I was 30! Then the contract got canceled, and I haven’t been sure at all what to do next.

I traveled all around the world in my 20s. England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand. I’ve lived in Alaska and South Africa and Chicago. I learned how to throw a passable right hook. I started building a career as a copywriter and communications manager. I got an Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree, and started a Marketing Management degree. I went to Clarion. I accidently got married, which is supposed to be a Great Life Event, but which was never really on my “to do” list, so I don’t consider it an accomplishment, just a fortuitous partnership. My 20s was a screaming good time, sure, but also a time of terrible fear and uncertainty. I got diagnosed with a chronic illness, one that has left me permanently dependent on insulin (insulin or DEATH, yay!). I went crazy, dated crazy folks, spent far too much time flying in and out of New York City and Indianapolis, became all but homeless, acquired massive amounts of student loan and credit card debt, got said debt under control, and wrote three or four books.

That’s all fine and good, but it’s not enough for me. It’s never enough for me. And, to me, I see more of the failure there than the success. It’s just how I’m wired. The failures just sit there and gape at me. The last few years have been full of failure, of pulling myself up out of failure, of building some kind of life from the ashes of crazy misery.

I wanted to have traveled the whole world by 30. I wanted Egypt, China, Peru, Japan, India, Puerto Rico, Easter Island, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Australia, and far more time in New Zealand. I wanted to have 3-4 books in circulation. I wanted to be a passable boxer. I wanted to be regularly running three miles. I certainly didn’t want to be living in Ohio.

I will go to all those places, in time. I’ll get the books out there. I’ll be a passable boxer. I’ll run regularly. And I will get out of Ohio.

But not today.

Not today.

And that, to me, feels like some kind of failure on my part. Lots of folks are struggling with the publishing industry right now. It’s remaking itself, and what I thought of as success when I was 12 may not be the kind of success I end up creating. Being a writer is going to look different in the future (after all, despite the cognitive dissonance that such a date causes for me, it IS the year 2010). Traveling looks a lot different too: both in costs and sheer ease of travel.
Getting on a plane just isn’t as fun as it used to be, and that won’t change for awhile. Traveling is rougher when you’re lugging around insulin, too. Not impossible, not impractical, but… different. And I’m still trying to figure out who I am now that I feel so totally disconnected from the crazy screaming terrified person I used to be.

I know all of this. I know the world is different. I know I am different. But it doesn’t keep me from thinking I’ve failed at 30, the same way I thought I’d failed at 24 because I wasn’t “a writer.”

Yet, here I am making a living as a copywriter, with full benefits (uncertain as the job market may be for everybody – including me – right now). My personal writing is stutter-start-jerk-jitter-squee, but it does crank along – painful word by painful word. And that’s another huge change: I never expected that my personal writing would ever be so incredibly painful and difficult. I’d heard about this happening to other folks, these 6 months-to-a-decade writing slumps, but I never imagined it would happen to me. I *had* to write. Writing kept me sane.

Thing is, I’m not nearly so crazy anymore. And that means I don’t *need* that outlet with the same crazy desperation I used to. More and more, writing is something I do to pay the bills, not something I do to relax or unwind.

And that’s been a problem.

Cause see, despite my long, un-done to-do list, despite my wretched embarrassment about not doing more before 30, despite all the writing that isn’t getting done, despite the house I can barely afford to heat…. I’m strangely happy.

Sometimes I attribute all of the writing block to the weird saneness, all the happy-happy putter-putter bubbliness that is my personal life.

But this weekend, while cleaning up my room, I found a box my editor had sent me after the God’s War contract was canceled. It contained several copy-edited copies of the manuscript with page inserts and a bit of typesetting for the intro bits. And I opened the box and my heart sank. I got that weird, heavy lump right there in the pit of my stomach that makes my breath feel heavy. I spent a few minutes going through the box. At first, I resolved to work on the copyedits right then. I’d resolved to do this months ago when the box first arrived. But somehow.. somehow… lost the will to do it. But I had the whole day to myself today. Why not check this off this to-do list? Why not —

Then the feeling passed, just as quickly as it had risen. And I re-packed the box and put it back under my desk, willing myself to forget about it for another week, or another month, or another six months.

And maybe that’s the trouble. Everything I associate with my personal writing right now is profoundly negative. I keep picking up the critiques from my first-pass readers for Black Desert, and all the negative stuff just leaps out at me. And there’s this profound depression that comes over me, and I think, “It’s not going to get any better. I’m going to work on it and it will get worse.” And then I pack those letters away again, too.

I’ve rewritten Black Desert once now, and need to print it out and copyedit it to make sure I caught all the big plot changes I made the second time through. But I don’t. I just open up the draft on occasion and rewrite a scene or a paragraph and then pack it away again.

There’s just no joy in it at all for me. And I don’t know what to do about it.
Everything is supposed to be OK when you sell a book. Certain things are supposed to happen. Then they don’t. And though I’ve gotten slightly more productive the last few months, the book depression is still there. I have a feeling I may need to start a new series entirely just to get away from the negative feelings that get dredged up every time I open this one (at least until I resell it).

I’m starting to wonder if that may be the trouble with my life, really. Or, rather, not my life but my *feelings* about my life. I’m still judging myself on what I used to want and who I used to be. And I still don’t know what it is that *I* want *now.*

I know what I love. I love my partner. I love our life together. I love the big old house we’re renting (tho I would like to be able to afford to heat it). I love reading. I love school. I like my career. I like my job. I like traveling, still. I like to get in the car and go. I love just being still.

Stillness. I still revel in absolute stillness.

Some days I wonder if I’m suffering from a mild form of PTSD. Three years seems like a long time to crave stillness, even after the crazy that was chronic illness/Chicago crazy/unemployment/homelessness.

Stillness.

There are a lot of stories I’d enjoy telling, I know. But some days even opening up a Word file causes a deep, sinking feeling of depression. I open it and think, “What’s the point?”

And that may be the trouble, too. Because I don’t have the answer to that question. I don’t know what the point of anything is, really. I just know I want to live. I love life with a sickening, bubbly rush of sweetness. I love it because I know how close I am – all the time – to losing it. Staying alive – while maintaining my quality of life – is really hard work for me.

I only have so many spoons.

And I’m just not spending them on things that don’t make me bubbly-joyful anymore, not unless those things are absolutely vital to survival.

There are things about my old life that I was happy to part with.

There are things about my old life that I want back.

We’ll see how much I get back and how much I never needed in the next 30 years. I know something needs to change, soon. I just don’t know what it is.