While waiting at the hairdresser, I read an alarming article this morning that claimed that my mechanical keyboard was putting me in danger of having my writing stolen. So naturally I had to go try out the software they said was so advanced that every sound of a touch on my keyboard could be tied to an exact letter.
The “sentence” I typed, which could only be lowercase and spaces, no other characters, was this: “the dark sky really looks bad she said altering the way she looked at the code on her phone”
There were seven pages of one sentence results and these were the closest ones:
1. “he see and i was the of little and the soon of the their press alreally in there water inter been a ”
2. “h walls none and streemed iioie hthe latter anhere in the that and the see this worth they really o”
3. ” c s of there and and looked to ea and therent of it and i had feeling seen this the s and rho”
Whee! Needless to say, my fears have been allayed.
“The Overachiever of Illness.” That’s what the ER doctor called me two weeks ago when I went in, unable to breathe. Turns out that not only did I have Covid, but also bronchitis and Flu B. I’ve been mostly in bed ever since.
Am I really sick?! Yeah. I’m sick.
Fortunately, I have long been a person who forgets to pack pajamas on trips, so I have a full drawer of them. I have a solid week’s worth at this point, from lightweight beach themed summer wear to heavy duty pink snowflakes, and everything in between. I can change into new pajamas every day! It’s been great. (A kids friend said she aspires to that lifestyle and I laughed too hard.)
I’m not going regale you with all my temps and oxygen levels and liquid intake and literally nineteen new medicines (the real literal, not the fake one) and all that because it is so very boring, even to me. Just know that I’ve been checking levels every hour or so for two and a half weeks now.
So to keep myself entertained in between taking down data for nurses, I’ve been in bed reading and watching movies and catching up on Netflix series. Here’s what I’ve been up to….
I finished all the Practical Magic books, which were lovely, as expected. A bit more repetitive than I’d hoped, but that’s what I get for reading them back to back to back. It was good to see the whole story from beginning to end like that and really take in the whole of the way the curse changed the family as time went on and how each generation dealt with it in unexpected ways.
Then I read a new book by Freya Marske called “A Marvellous Light” that I loved so much that I immediately tried to buy the sequel to, only to be told that it was pre-order only until November and I’m dying over it. I really need the next one because this gentle Victorianish man romance/mystery/magical thing is my jam, apparently. Who knew? Steph. She always knows what I need to read.
So now what I’m reading is “Dear Writer, You Need to Quit,” a title which cracks me up. One of my writing groups suggested it as something I needed because I’m always needing to quit things and sometimes I don’t choose the best things to quit.
“Unicorn Store” was the first one I started. It took me forever because I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes before I was overwrought. I don’t know why. It was just too cute and embarrassing, but I couldn’t not watch it, either, so I watched it in 10 minute spurts.
One day the kids were horrified to realize that I had never watched “Ponyo” all the way through, not even once, given that they had each watched it approximately 95,000 throughout their childhoods. So we watched that. It was really good and now I know what Ree’s t-shirt means. Ponyo Loves Ham!
Like everyone else on the planet, I couldn’t get “We Don’t Talk About Bruno, No, No” out of my head, so I watched “Encanto” multiple times until I could sing all the songs. When I feel better I will learn the dances and then my children will be really embarrassed. It will be great!
I thought I’d seen “Cloud Atlas” before, but apparently only the same few sections a couple times, so I watched it all the way through and it was more violent than I’d expected, but I liked it and I’m still thinking about it in that way that you do with weird movies like this.
I’d started watching “Locke & Key” with Greg when Season One came along and we both loved it. By the time we got to Season Two, Greg thought it had gone off kilter and “too relationshippy” and he didn’t want to watch any more, so I finished this off while he was at school.
Greg and I also would watch “Good Witch” together, which we’ve been watching since practically before he was born at this point (TV movies first, of course, then the show). He stopped watching at the beginning of this season because he hated the new intro and wanted Grace and Nick back in the story. So I’ve watched this last season alone and I don’t know if it’s the missing Grace and Nick, the missing Greg, or the missing soul of the show, but this season was just not what I wanted. Taking the emphasis off of helping others and putting it all into minding their own magic threw me off and I was just glad that it ended, I guess, because it was breaking my heart going on the way it was going.
So then I got on the bandwagon and started watching “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” because a) Kristen Bell and b) the title is hilarious. But the show? Not so hilarious. Slow. Suddenly sexy. Slow. Slow. Huh? Slow. Slow. Oh wait, what??? Slow. Suddenly sexy. Confusing. Suddenly violent. Is it over yet? Maybe? I hope so. But wait, maybe not. I don’t know, y’all. I watched it all day long and now that it’s over, I just wish I’d used my time better that day.
After that we had snow days and the kids and spouse were home to entertain me, so I stopped doing anything that wasn’t staring at their faces, unless it was staring at the Olympics. Figure Skating is my favorite. I could watch that for hours.
In any case, I hope you never, ever become the “Overachiever of Illness” because it’s terrible. But I hope if you do, you have friends to help you along and access to all the books, movies, and series your heart desires. 🙂
2022 definitely started off with a bang for my family.
It hasn’t stopped moving since. January first was technically a “rest” day from writing for me, but because we were hosting our Board Game Extravaganza on the second, January first was all about cleaning and setting up my dad’s Tyler house for the party.
So January second came and only one party guest arrived. We usually have around 50 people at this event, but a) Covid sucks (so many people were exposed the week before), and b) cold weather sucks (I am not leaving my warm house for you), and c) (the most entertaining response) an owl attacked some chickens. But still, we played a bunch of games with our new friend, who asked when we were doing this again.
January third was a blur of me trying to do all the things that had been piling up, undone, in December. Imagine me whirling around with laundry, binders, notecards, glasses, and eyeglasses in hand while pushing a shopping cart loaded with cleaning supplies and you get the general idea. No writing occurred, but much planning and tidying at my own home. Plus leading my first East Texas Writers Guild Board of Directors meeting as President of the Guild.
Today I am working on typing up note from last nights meeting, writing scenes 2-5 in Chapter 11 of Caro’s Quest, and booking a photographer for my headshots for the UtNC Anthology.
Off I go! Hope y’all had a happy start to your new year.
Tuesday, I got up and was so hopeful. Sure, I had my Spiritual Practices class that evening, but I had all day to write, so it was going to be great!
Nope. Due to some not-quite-disclosable things that are in the works, I got caught up in not one, but two different side projects. One is writing adjacent and in the end won’t require as much of my time as some of the things I’m doing now, but there was a wrapping up of one set of things in order to hand them off to someone else so I’d be ready for the next thing. I know how vague that sounds, but that’s the way life is sometimes, right?
The other thing is not writing adjacent, except in that I am writing up minutes for a group that I had thought I wasn’t taking part in any more. So there was catching up for that group’s information and making sure I still had access to all the notebooks and cloud storage that I need to do that work.
By the time I completed both things, it was time to hit the gym. On Friday, I rejoined the one that is walking distance from my house, instead of the one that I only go near on the way back from taking kids to school in the morning (which isn’t a good time for me to write, due to my ADHD meds timing). I went and learned where all the new stuff was, which machines I could still comfortably use, and which ones are still out of my happiness zone. It was a good workout, and I felt better for having done it.
The rest of the night zoomed by (literally haha!). Wednesday I had two meetings scheduled, so I knew I’d have to make the most of my in-between times for writing. Unfortunately, by the time I’d gotten home from the first one and eaten lunch, a problem had sprung up.
My kids school had a potential shooting threat. They informed parents right at the same time the 504 coordinator called to ask me if we could postpone our meeting for that afternoon. Because of the way our high school sends out alerts (first in the form of a phone call from the school’s main phone line wherein a computer voice reads the entire body of the message, including the URL’s – letter by letter; then almost immediately as an identical text message, an identical email, and then as a link to an identical letter in our district app), and the fact that 90% of the more than five a week they send are either about buying football tickets or that the PTA is selling Chik-fil-a at lunch on Friday, I have stopped answering calls from the school. So I missed that phone call and drove directly to the school. It was a madhouse. Literally hundreds of parents had driven there to take their kids out of school. Since there’s only one way in and out not on lockdown, they were all in the same foyer I needed to check into in order to get to my appointment on time. I was speaking to the woman guarding the door about my having an appointment “Honey, everyone is saying that,” when the 504 coordinator called me again. Since I was already there and the coordinator was meeting me at the inner door, I was ushered right inside. I heard the scoop on everything potentially threatening that was going on, had my kids 504 meeting, and offered to take the kids home anyways, even though it sounded like there was nothing actually going on other than the parental mayhem out front. Both my kids declined. One didn’t want an unexcused absence and the other wanted to go to Writing Club (oh my heart!).
They both wanted me to keep close “on standby,” so I ended up hitting the nearby stores and doing some early Christmas shopping to keep busy, since I had no computers or iPad on me to write with in the parking lot (the notebook I’d brought for the meeting literally had two pages left and I used them during the meeting). Scooped up the first kid out, then sat in the car waiting for the second kid for almost an hour.
I was exhausted, physically and mentally, by the time I got home. I ate dinner and was just heading to bed, when a kid -the one that has never in his life sat still for a movie – begged me to watch a silly Disney movie (Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge) with them. Of course I had to.
Today was an early-to-school day for the kiddos, but I had all the chores I hadn’t gotten done Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to get to work on, plus grocery shopping, so I did those things first. Then I had critiques to do for the Pineywoods Critique Group (which has a new website with a forum and blog here), along with hitting the gym again so I don’t turn into a stiff blob like I was all last year). I also needed to finish one last bit of an old transcribing project that I had promised someone ages and ages ago.
All of this is a long way of saying: it’s late Thursday and I’m still at 684 words for NaNoWriMo. *sigh*
AKA: How I managed to spend a whole week NOT writing
This was a hard week for me. As I’ve mentioned before, my half-brother Ray passed away last month. Last Thursday I drove to DFW and dropped my car off at Katherine’s and she drove me to the airport. I hopped on a flight to California in order to help out Ray’s widow, Susan, and kids getting reading for the memorial service. I’d brought my writing stuff with me, hoping to get to spend some of my free time writing, but there honestly wasn’t any minutes to spare.
I got to their house after a long day of driving and flying and with a negative time change, I was so very tired and it was only 8pm. I tried to stay up and talk with everyone, but it was no use – I was in bed by 9:30pm PST.
The next day I woke up at 4:45am, but managed to coax myself back to sleep until about 6:30am. I went to make coffee, but my nephew ran out and shooed me away, telling me that his dad always got up and said “Make the coffee, Joe,” and he was determined to keep on making the coffee, even without his dad around to remind him. Just like that, I could hear my brother in my little nephew’s voice and see him in his every movement. I had to shoo myself away before I cried all over the little guy.
We spent the rest of the day taking kids to and from school, organizing, then cleaning rooms of the house and the patio so it could be all ready for the memorial service the next day.
The next day I was again awake at 4:45am, but this time I got up, made my own coffee, and spent some time taking photos of photos in my birthmom’s room (which was where I was staying). Her walls are absolutely covered in photos, many of which I’ve never seen before. I stood up on a stool and angled myself this way and that to get the best photos possible. Once the other’s were up, I started decorating the house with photos of my brother and his family, and then put out the tablecloths, and washed up all the dishes and platters I thought we might need. An hour before people were due to arrive, the first visitor showed up. He was the ex-husband of my brother’s housemate and since he was early, we put him to work carting drinks into the house, setting up the coolers, and re-installing the door to the garage that Joe had taken off a few weeks ago (and was unable to put back up alone).
After that, everyone else started arriving and over the course of the day I manned the buffet table, meeting many members of the housemate’s family and Susan’s family. There were even some little kids there. Everyone brought fruit. It was fruitopia. The day spun by so very quickly. We were unable to have the main part of the memorial service, due to some clerical errors that kept Susan from being able to get Ray’s death certificate (and therefore also his remains), so the little tree she was going to plant in his honor remained on her front porch. A few of us spoke about Ray, even his little son Jeff, and we all cried. It was nice to meet so many people that loved my brother and sister-in-law.
Because it was also the busiest day of the band year back home, I skipped out on the early evening’s visitor (who had come late due to his work schedule). I went back to my room and watched the livestream of my kids marching at UIL Contest and then looked for photos of them from the Rose Parade earlier in the day. I texted with them, congratulating them on their Sweepstakes win. And then I went back out and joined the conversation.
The next morning I did not get up early. We all got up a little later and then moseyed over to church, which was part Southern Baptist-part rock band church-part surfer dude speak. Everyone there was really nice and no one bugged me about my mask. After church was lunch and after lunch my best friend from high school came and scooped me up and we ran off to Starbucks for a while. I was sad to leave her when our time was up, but I love how easily we slipped back into that friendship for a couple hours.
After that, Susan and I loaded up the kids and went to the beach. We didn’t stay long, just long enough for Joe and I to get thoroughly soaked from the waist down and for Jeff to lecture us on the improbability of us turning into merpeople and Susan to get creeped out by some weirdo. A couple hundred beach pictures in ten minutes, really. But it was good. I always feel better at the beach.
Susan dropped us back at the house and stayed just long enough to say hi to the chair lady. Then she drove back out to pick up Angela. I made my “famous” chicken spaghetti and “Aunt Mandy’s” green beans for a late “fancy” dinner. I laughed at that. Chicken spaghetti is the easiest thing ever. I taught Joe my secret sauce, just in case they liked it. Oh boy, did they! Jeff said I took him to “Flavor Town” and “Delicious Land.” I’m so happy it was well-receieved.
We went to bed very late that night, in some part due to a conversation that needed to take place out of the earshot of the children. We had to wait for Joe to fall asleep. In the end, an agreement was reached about what would happen with the kids if something happened to Susan. It was a hard conversation, but necessary. I was really glad to be included.
The next morning we all got up at the crack of dawn so Susan could drop me off at the airport and then take the kids straight to school. I waited in the longest TSA line I’ve ever seen, but made it to my gate all right. The flight itself was mostly okay, but there was a medical emergency towards the end in first class, so we ended up spending quite a while at the gate waiting for that to get sorted out. Then Katherine picked me back up and we had a late lunch and then went to rest at her house for a while before I drove home. I was feeling so foggy and out of it, I was worried about driving home. I did end up making it home okay, but I had to stop for a while halfway home and walk around for a bit to get my brain back online. So I didn’t get home until about 7:30pm (I’d expected to be home by 5pm).
Tuesday I spent cleaning my entire house. Being away from home on a super busy weekend makes the mess so much worse. But I was also still feeling so groggy and weird that it was hard to get anything done. I started to worry that I was coming down with a cold or something. I attended my Spiritual Practices group, but I absorbed none of the conversation, alas.
Wednesday morning was my pill box refill day. I couldn’t find the pills I needed to fill the box. I finally realized that the reason I was so out of it was that I had picked up my medicine at the pharmacy before I left on the trip, but had forgotten to put that one in the box I took with me. So I’d skipped it for a couple days by accident. (And now I know just how essential it is to my health and well being.)
I taught a lesson at the Wednesday Whatchamacalit group that day and it went well. That is detailed in an earlier post. Later. I spent the rest of the day resting/spending time with my younger kids because I knew that the next day I had some more big cleaning to do.
Thursday I went over to the David House and helped him get it cleaned up because my dad was coming to visit. David was supposed to have finished moving rooms before my dad came to town and he had not finished. Plus there was resetting the room he’d moved out of and resetting the closet of the room that stored the stuff that used to be in that room and putting stuff from the room he was moving to into that closet. If it sounds circuitous, it really was.
After that was the recycling. I don’t think anyone has taken the recycling out of the house since January. I filled my entire Jeep up from top to bottom and back to front. It was only about 2/3 of the total recycling. I had other errands to run, though, so I did that and never got back to check on the David House.
This morning I got up and realized that I’d never gotten around to doing the critiques for the Pineywoods Critique Group, which was just as well because I hadn’t sent anything in over the last weekend, either. So the spouse and I went and got haircuts, which we have literally never done at the same time before. Then we ran a couple errands and ate lunch. One of the errands was picking up all the boxes of history for the ETWG Historian position before the current Historian moved and took them with her.
This was the last thing on my To Do list for the day besides feeding and chaperoning the band. It’s also the first real writing I’ve done all week. I’m not sure I’ll have time during the weekend to write, unless I am very careful with my time. We have the game tonight, my dad in town, an afternoon church party tomorrow, dinner at my dad’s and games, then church Sunday morning, and an ETYO concert Sunday afternoon. I may not get anything sent in to the critique group this weekend either. Chapter Nine of CQ needs re-drafting. Maybe I’ll send them some more poetry.
I had that one really great writing day last week and then it all dried up. When I say “dried up,” I don’t mean that no words came to mind…not exactly. I was just too cranky to find the words and let them out.
It started with a migraine that wouldn’t go away. I woke up migraine free this morning after 7 days of migraine. It was not one of those all-encompassing-bad migraines, but one of those where your head hurts and you feel dizzy and things look weird and nothing seems right.
Then I joined a reading group for next year where you try to read a book a week all year, only you fit the books into categories that someone else makes up. It sounded fun, but led me down the deep dark path of “what did I read this year?” I only had like 20 books in GoodReads and surely I’d read more than that, right? Turned out I had 38 books in my “Currently Reading” list that I’d never gotten around to finishing. So I’m making my way through the ends of those now. I do the audio book of “Becoming” when I’m in the car waiting for kids, a fun kids book “5 Children and It” (from the Top 100 Fantasy Books list that came out not too long ago) in the morning when my brain isn’t awake yet, and “Thinking Fast and Slow” when I have more brain.
Then my sister told me that my dad caught Covid. Seriously? He goes nowhere and sees no one. He doesn’t even feel bad from it. He went to the doctor for something else and they tested him for it any way. So now he’s super perky because he’s on good drugs. This did not make me feel better about life, though, because now our carefully laid out Thanksgiving plans are not going to happen. We were kind of all depending on having a few lazy days somewhere that wasn’t this house for the first time in seven months. It made the crankiness worse. And a cranky Lisa is not a writing Lisa.
A few days into this “no writing” phenomena, I just decided I hated everything and I was done writing forever. I cleared off my desk, took down a bunch of art, and decided to work on some other projects. One of those was clearing out my hard drive. So I spent a solid day combining all my photo files, deleting the randomness out, and making those nice. Then I spent a day sorting out my documents folder into places where things actually went. That led to me shoving all my poetry into a Scrivener document, like I’d always planned. Which led me to looking for poems that I couldn’t find, but knew I’d written. Which led me to tidying up my writing from the TPL writer’s group and putting it all into the right Scrivener files.
Which sneakily led me back into real, actual writing again because I kept finding things that just needed a little tweaking here or there to fit into place in their own main storylines. So I’d tidy this bit up over here, and change the time of this piece right there, and bam: a whole new scene just appeared. MAGIC!
You know how we thought the Feast of Tabernacles last year was weird? Yeah, this year is weirder.
If you are new to this blog and do not know: we are an interfaith household. My husband’s family belong to the United Church of God. More info on the Feast of Tabernacles can be found here.
David is headed off to Utah with church friends from all over. I dropped him off at the Tyler airport today after spending all day with him yesterday trying, and failing, to get his phone fixed before he left. We ended up getting him a new one instead, as T-Mobile doesn’t recognize Sprint’s care plan after their merger.
David waited til the last minute to tell us what he was planning, then the pandemic threw a wrench in things as well, with some locations deciding to limit visitors all together. So Utah was super last minute, which meant getting him a reasonably priced airline ticket was going to cause some issues. He ended up on three different planes with one eight hour layover in Dallas and one twelve hour layover in Phoenix.
He was totally calm about all of this. It was me wracked with worry. What if he missed a flight? What if the Phoenix Airport wouldn’t let him spend the night inside? What if he forgot to pick up his luggage in Phoenix and ended up in Utah without it?
My anxiety levels were already crazy, but sending my 19-year-old off on his own for the first time drove me over the edge. Hence the All Crochet All Weekend confabulation.
He got there just fine. His friends eventually picked him up at the airport. He’s great, he says.
Meanwhile, the other four of us are at home this week. Nick and Greg are going to watch videos livestreamed from other locations. They can do it in the morning with a Florida site or in the afternoon with the Utah site David is at. (Ree and I? We are doing school work or writing or practicing instruments. We’re fine.)
So this week in Spiritual Practices class we covered “Keeping the Sabbath.” If you know me well, you know the phrase “keeping the Sabbath” weirds me out. I spent a long time trying to shove my big round self into the little square hole of my husband’s religion and “keeping the Sabbath” and “keeping the Feasts” where big phrases in his church community. It really makes me shudder.
With the Unitarian Universalists, keeping the sabbath seems to be an easy affair. It can be done any day or any time. It doesn’t even have to be all day, apparently.
What is a Sabbath practice? The Hebrew root of Sabbath is a word that means “to cease.” So the big question here is: What do we want to turn off in our lives to make a Sabbath? What do we change from our regular lives?
For me, a Sabbath looks like turning off a lot of my responsibilities. I don’t do PTA or volunteer work on a Sabbath, nor do I attempt to get any serious writing done. If a great writing thought comes to me, of course I’ll write it down, but I won’t sit in front of my screen with my mind on my plan and my plan on my mind.
In thinking about it a while, what I realized is that I need more than just not doing things, though. I need things to do. So I thought about it a little more and decided that the things I could do that would make the Sabbath a little cozier were adding in good music, making gratitude lists, reading from my spiritual books, and spending time on self care that I don’t usually get to during the main part of the week (like fun nail polish or teeth whitening or other spa like treatments).
What are some things you do to make your Sabbath a great experience?
Over the weekend, my family cleaned out our garage. All four of us at once. Usually it’s just me and one kid or the other, dragging things out and throwing them in the trash. It takes all day, sometimes two. This time I put my foot down and made everyone work together at once. Two hours later we were nearly done. Two dumpsters were filled with trash, the van was filled with donations, and more donate-ables were put out at the curb for people to take. Later that afternoon, I pulled some memory boxes inside, one by one, and dug through them. More papers were added to the recycle bin, old bills were shredded, and folders were made and labeled with dates and kid names. I knocked out 3 of the 7 that were left before the end of the day.
While I was going through all that paper, I found 6 new poems, notes on two novels that I’d never seen before (one which tied up a plot hole I’ve been edging around for months), and a rough draft of a short story I cannot remember writing (but it’s in my handwriting). And all that doesn’t include the four notebooks I found that I hadn’t had a chance to dig through yet.
This afternoon, I typed all that into the computer. Between the random sheafs and the notebooks, I ended up with 14 poems across the last decade. While I was putting those in order, I discovered 22 other poems that had been mis-foldered at some point in the past. Since I was on a roll, I went through all the rest of the notebooks in the bedroom and checked for poetry. Found 5 more pages of one novel, written longhand, and three pages of notes on another one.
After all that nonsense, I opened up my old yWriter files from the current novels and translated a bunch of character/location/item templates into Scrivener, then updated my three current Scrivener novel Outliner Columns/Keywords/Custom Meta-data so they all had matching information to work with.
(I also went to the doctor and shopped at three stores today. I’ve been hyper-productive.)
I always intend to blog more than I end up doing. I type up my morning pages and then think “I’ll add to these and make a blog post.” And then I end up dumping the info into a post and don’t edit it or hit publish until a couple weeks or month or so later, when I do several at once. I do that with a lot of things. I think “I’m going to do x,y, or z” and then don’t plan well around that thing, so not as much gets accomplished and then I feel bad about it. I decided to get better about planning writing things.
On Sunday I got out my new HP Classic Planner, the Welcome to the Book Club one. It’s super fun and has lots of book themes dividers and pages. I got the accompanying planner stickers, too. What I failed to notice in my buying spree was that this is a horizontal layout, not vertical, and I converted to a vertical process for regular life stuff several years ago. I had no idea how I was going to use this one. I had initially decided I was going to chuck July through December and start it in January. I’d have a plan by then, right? But on Sunday a beautiful plan came into my mind and I had to try it.
So here is my new writing planner for July.
I have only included writing goals, writing related events, and the odd regular-life event that impedes my normal writing time slots. Blue ink is for writing, purple for revision, green for events (like writer’s guild meetings, library writing class, other writing-related classes, conventions, etc.) and pink for impending due dates.
Weekly view looks like this:
I’m using the left side for planned scenes to write and # words needed for that day, the middle for word sprint counts, and the right side for events that might impede the schedule. The bottom right provides a place for overall word count for my main project, things I love this week, and what writing related guidebook I’m reading this week.
I started using it on Monday and it’s working out pretty well so far. (these photos are from Sunday when I first started filling it out) I like being able to just get up andstart on work I already know needs doing. I plan on updating it weekly on Sunday like I do my regular life planner and meal plan. 🙂