Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Serenity #343

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During our vid chat this afternoon I was complaining to my husband about all the things still going wrong with my attempt to switch from night owl to early bird.  He listened for a bit then had some observations of his own:


  • That I, as usual, seem to have an image of success that approaches perfection and when I don't see it  realized all I can see is what went wrong and not what has gone right.
  • That I, as usual, am self-sabotaging by not addressing issues that I've identified as things under my control that would contribute to the success.

He went on to list some of those things in the first category and I filled in the ones in the second.  I won't list any of them here as one in the latter is getting posted earlier in the day and that's what I'm trying to do now and it is second to last on that list which I've just spent the last three hours implementing.

I've got one more major one to do and I established with him this afternoon that I will start making our 8pm  good night phone call my reward for having nothing left to do but go to bed.  Otherwise I have to text with my good night and confession.

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

To Sleep Perchance

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Two weeks into the night owl to early bird shift.  Yesterday I was feeling hope again.  Today not so much.

Had another rough night.  Was awake past midnight tho in bed before ten.  Slept hard in between frequent wake-ups. Was awake three different times for over fifteen minutes. Then when finally time to get up only wanted more sleep.  Have been lazy and lethargic all day.

Fiddled away morning playing Spider solitaire and so did not get anything productive done including a post.  Started working on the post at four by visiting cheeseburger and two hours later found the picture then spent an hour on quote sites looking for a quote.  Then an hour on the phone with my husband followed by another hour reading quotes about sleep and insomnia.

Collected a lot of interesting titles while I was at it but now, once again I'm just now wrapping up my post and about to begin the go-to-bed routine and it's already fifteen minutes past my ideal lay down time.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Making It Dance

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If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.  --  George Bernard Shaw

It was two weeks ago tonight that I conceived the idea of switch from night owl to early bird.  Finally I'm starting to see the skeleton of success.  The days are taking a shape that I just need to flesh out now.  And I need to start doing more of the things that set me up for success--like getting things arranged so that the things I have to do when my head isn't fully in the game can go on autopilot.  That would be especially the first and last half hours of the day.  But also the late afternoon when my system seems to hit a valley in both mental and physical aptitude--a time when getting physical would be the most productive use of the time but tends not to happen if I don't have a plan.

Getting these posts up earlier in the day--preferably before lunch--would really help the evening hours go smoother.  They are one of the main culprits keeping me from getting laid down by 9 as is my goal.  And having them still hanging over me after 4 lends a pall of anxiety over the entire evening--the dinner prep and eating, family time, reading to Mom and kitchen cleanup.  It might even have contributed to the collisions I had with the wall and the dishwasher this week.

So I will be devoting attention to the necessary tweaks to the schedule and environment and giving thought to designing a series of routines that can be turned into to habits for those first and last thirty minutes and the late afternoon hours.


Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame.  --  Virginia Woolf

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

So That's Where It Went...

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Nearly two weeks into the night owl to early bird metamorphosis now.  Frustrations still abound but I can see progress.  The last several mornings I've been waking just after six-thirty without an alarm.  But the nights have still been rough with me always hoping for a 9pm lay down but ending up closer to ten and then not being able to sleep until closer to midnight.  At least the last two nights tho I've slept through once I was asleep.

I'm more than two hours past my hoped for bedtime tonight.  Everything got thrown out of whack when I tripped over the dishwasher door while cleaning up the kitchen.  Again.  Went all the way to the floor this time and broke my clip-on reading glasses which allow me to see the netbook screen from a comfortable typing distance.

As for me, I got a nasty jarring of joints, a small bruise on the top of my left foot, a skinned pinky knuckle on my right hand and it feels like probably a bruise on the side of that hand below the knuckle and my right wrist hurts.  I suspect typing is going to be a challenge by morning.

I would have just gone straight to bed after that happened but I'd forgotten to get my post up earlier today.  I've still not got it set in my head that posting must be done before dinner if I want to be in bed by nine.  And tonight like last night dinner prep was on me as my sister is attending a four day retreat.  So my free time ended at 4:30 at which point it was all about dinner prep, eating then reading to Mom and then kitchen clean-up.

Ideally my post should go up before lunch to leave the afternoons for physical and social activities.  Well, I guess I will work all that out eventually.  Right now I need to go find my pillow.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: My Year as a Clown by Robert Steven Williams

My Year as a Clown
by Robert Steven Williams
Publisher: Against the Grain Press  (Dec. 26, 2012)
ebook  365p

Robert Steven Williams is the recipient of the Silver Medal for popular fiction in the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards for My Year as a Clown.

Reading this novel was a surrealistic experience for me as it was the first novel I read in the weeks after my husband and I pulled our own 34 year marriage out of the nose dive we'd put it in.  I'd just spent several weeks believing it was over and wallowing in the devastation of it so I was easily thrust back into the emotional maelstrom as the protagonist Chuck Morgan's own shock and dismay washed over the pages.  It was sometimes hard to stay with it but I'm glad I did because I believe I gained some invaluable insight into the male psyche that will help as my husband and I continue to practice our new communication skills as our relationship regains a stable flight path.

Though at first this personal connection caused me to picture my husband and my self in the roles of Chuck and his wife, that was a brief artifact that was quickly erased by the author's deft drawing of two distinctly individual personalities.  I both laughed and felt the irritation and sense of abandonment Chuck's wife felt over his always putting football first even to the point of postponing their honeymoon for a major game as memories of my own wedding night in which my husband tuned the TV in our motel room to professional wrestling overlay the page.  But after that, other than the general observations that even a marriage of decades duration can be prey to communication misfires and complacency and that the belief that the other's love is proved by their knowing without words what you want is a dangerous delusion, the story took off on its own trajectory for me and I was able to enjoy it on its own merits.

And merits aplenty it had.  Topping them was the humor sometimes gentle and subtle but that reached ROFL proportions at times.  There were a number of eccentric characters that stay with me months later as memories that get confused with memories of someone I once knew.  Not that I'm confusing the characters with someone I ever knew but that when something triggers a vague memory of them I'm at first searching my memories of real people from my past for them before it dawns on me they were characters in a novel.  Which is high marks for the author.

The journal like format for the story gave it an easy flow and worked well to allow us to follow Chuck through the morass of the first months and the slow slog towards happy that followed.







From the Publishers:

With MY YEAR AS A CLOWN, Robert Steven Williams introduces us to Chuck Morgan, a new kind of male hero-imperfect and uncertain-fumbling his way forward in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse of his 20-year marriage.

Initially, Chuck worries he'll never have a relationship again, that he could stand in the lobby of a brothel with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead and still not get laid. But as the emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by being suddenly single-new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.

With My Year As a Clown, Robert Steven Williams will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, Lolly Winston, and Tom Perrotta, delivering painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that's hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

What they are saying:

"Robert Steven Williams has written a novel of tremendous honesty, humor, and insight...does for men what Bridget Jones's Diary did for women." - Joy Johannessen, editor, Alice Sebold, Amy Bloom, Michael Cunningham and My Year as a Clown

"Williams' characters give us the real-deal: a gut wrenching and often humorous look, showing us the everyday horrors of what it's like to start all over again as one approaches middle age."- Suzan-Lori Parks, novelist, playwright and screenwriter. Winner, 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Topdog/Underdog

"When we first meet Chuck Morgan, he's broken, twisted and confused. And that's what makes him so interesting. Like other intriguing literary heroes, Chuck is at his best after life has knocked him to the ground, forcing him to find a new way to be strong again; damaged maybe, but more confident this time, with a kinder, more open heart." - Jimmie Dale Gilmore, singer, songwriter, guitarist, member of the Flatlanders

"Painfully honest and very funny.  I loved this book, but it took a few chapters to start feeling that way. What makes it so memorable and touching is the total honesty. The beginning was incredibly painful to read as a long marriage comes to an abrupt end. What follows is the happy discovery that you can start over at 40+ or any age. In the same way that Lena Dunham has been called the voice of her 20-something generation, Robert Steven Williams strikes me as a genuine voice for the 40-something generation."-J. Beardwood, Amazon.com Reviewer

"An honest portrayal of heartbreak and healing. I laughed a lot and at the same time really felt Chuck's pain as he lost control after his wife's betrayal. I felt like it was happening to me and I couldn't put this book down. I enjoyed the journey as Chuck redefined himself and found his footing as a single man in his 40's. The cast of characters, including a pot smoking rabbi, an overprotective mother and a sexy yoga instructor, was engaging. My Year as a Clown is fast-paced and the diary-like structure of tracking the days worked very well. I heartily recommend this book."- Paul Schwrzbaum, Amazon.com Reviewer

"A very compelling read- Funny, sad, and utterly believable. Launched into the world of the newly single, Chuck takes us along for the ride as he makes the painful separation from his wife and finds his feet as a single man. The characters are believable and, at times, infuriating. You root for Chuck to find happiness and also want to give a hug to some of the women in the story who seem to be adrift. I think that Williams' book gives voice to a life experience that is not often portrayed in fiction and does so with a touching mix of humor and compassion."- Liz, Amazon.com Reviewer

"Through humor, humility, and honesty, Williams leads us, layer by layer, into the inner workings of the emotionally bruised male. The doubts, the insecurities, the fears: all revealed. Being allowed into the private thoughts and deeds of Chuck effectively evoked several reactions from me: surprise (Do men really put that much effort into trying to decide on attire for a first date?), amusement (The antics between Chuck and the phone as he receives an unexpected call made me laugh out loud.) and sympathy as Chuck attempts to regain some order and happiness in his life. The conversation among characters is believable and the day-by-day chronicling over the course of a year allows the reader to clearly see the development of Chuck's self-understanding and healing as he stumbles, sometimes falls, and then rights himself to face another day."-Sue T., Amazon.com Reviewer

Robert Steven Williams is an author, singer-songwriter, and musician. His debut novel, My Year as a Clown (Against the Grain Press), was released in January 2013.

As a writer, Williams was a finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and was awarded a Squaw Valley Writers Community Thayer Scholarship. He attended Bread Loaf, Sewanee and the Squaw Valley Writers' Conferences, and worked closely with the esteemed fiction writer, Barry Hannah. His short fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, The Orange Coast Review, and the anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories Volume II. Additionally, he was the executive producer of the critically acclaimed BOOM! Studios CBGB Comic series, nominated in 2011 for a Harvey Award for Best Anthology. Robert's work has also appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, Billboard, USA Today  and LetterPress, a newsletter for writers. He is also co-author of the best-selling business book, The World's Largest Market.

As a musician, Williams studied songwriting with Rosanne Cash, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and other top country writers. In 2005, he released the critically acclaimed CD "I Am Not My Job," featuring Rachel Z (Peter Gabriel, Wayne Shorter) and Sloan Wainwright.

Robert's Website: http://www.robertstevenwilliams.com/
Robert on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-Steven-Williams/151139431616038
Robert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RSWwriter
Robert on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111002605881778815727/posts
Robert on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/robertstevenw/
Robert on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/rocknovel


Follow the blog tour for more reviews, giveaways, author interviews and guest posts: 

http://www.virtualauthorbooktours.com/


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm a Wrimo Rebel

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Yeah I'm a sucker for the Wrimos.  But this time a rebel too.  Not another novel next month tho.

Have joined the rebels and created my own goal for the July Camp NaNoWriMo:

--Work on cleaning up the files of the more than dozen NaNo and JuNo novels already existing
--write character rambles for at least 30 of the dozens of characters from existing or planned stories whose voices still elude me -- min 500wds ea
--write 14 book reviews for backlog of finished ARCs -- average 500wds ea.

and that's 22K not 50K

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Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.

The sections of this template:

Intro (here)
My Week in Review (list of books finished and links to bookish posts in the previous week)
Reading Now (my current reading list broken up into NF and Fiction)
Upcoming (scheduled reviews and blog tours and list of finished books awaiting reviews)
Recently (links to bookish posts in the last few weeks)
New Arrivals: (lists of recently acquired ARC broken up into snail mail, email and Net Gallery)
ARC in waiting (a list that is getting shamefully long)

My Week in Review:

No bookish post in over a week.  The last eleven days have been devoted to my metamorphosis from a lifelong night owl to an early bird in order to create a block of time for my writing..both the book reviews and the creative.  But the reward I gave myself for the steadily earlier rising hour was guilt free fiction reading.  I read 1.2 novels in the last week.

Also I will be posting a review of My Year as a Clown a novel by Robert Steven Williams on Wednesday for it blog tour.


Finished reading:

Good in Bed by Jennifer Wiener


Reading Now:

Non-Fiction:

Most of these I plug away in at a snail's pace--a couple pages or chapters per week or even every other week as that is my preferred way to read non-fic.  It sticks with me longer. I'm closing in on the finish line for several but as I get close on one I tend to add two or three more. There are some not listed here because I read in them so infrequently.

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton (Part of my ROW80 reading in craft list)
What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)   ROW80 reading list
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler   ROW80 reading list
And So It Goes by Charles J. Sheilds a bio of Kurt Vonnegut.  (I've posted about this biography of Kurt Vonnegut several time in a kind of reading journal. It is past time for another.  Part of the fun I'm having reading this is in stopping to read the stories he wrote as the narrative reaches the point where he writes them. Since this is an author bio this will also be on my ROW80 reading list )
This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias Freese (I've posted a reading journal post for this collection of personal essays also.  It is past time for another.)
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and tecniques of fiction I'll be adding this to my ROW80 reading list
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff So part of my ROW80 reading list. Have finally taken the strikethru off as I retrieved this from home Thursday
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious this will be on my ROW80 reading list
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last Thursday.   ROW80 reading list
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!   ROW80 reading list
Before You Say I Do Again by Benjamin Berkley  for Blog Tour Review Feb 8.  The review is up but I'm not finished.  This is a very difficult read for me at this time and irony of the events that fell on the same week I was scheduled to review this book did not escape me.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  for an upcoming blog tour   ROW80 reading list
Choice Theory: A Psychology of Personal Freedom by William Glasser M.D. a library book
Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson  I own this book.  Was rereading his essay on friendship this week
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  This Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.   ROW80 reading list
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron   ROW80 reading list
Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer.  my sister bought this one for me after finding me standing by the book rack reading it while waiting on her to exit the restroom at the truck stop in Rice Hill OR on our trip home last week.
It's Not About You by Max Lucado.  I found this on my own shelves while packing up my personal library.  It was one of the last gifts I received from my Dad in 2005 the year he died of cancer.  It has a lovely inscription in his handwriting on the inside front page.  And I was reminded how I'd promised him to read it.  My bookmark was less than half way through and I could not remember if I'd finished it and just left the bookmark in or not but I doubt it.  So I've pulled it out to put on front burner.
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch  I pulled this off my sister's bookshelf about a month ago.  It is over a thousand pages in smallish font.  So it will be on this list for a long time.  I find it exhilarating that my mind seems ready to tackle text that is so dense in info and complex ideas again.  There is only one other book on this list that fits that criteria, The Act of Creation, and I've not pulled it out very often in these last months but am now finding myself yearning toward it again.   Good signs.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Also found on my shelves.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.  Tho I admit it is hard to pull it out and read in it now that I'm back at Mom's.  But since Valentine's Week all my new story ideas have been for romances.  Not my usual thing.  But hey, you gotta take what the muse sends or she'll stop sending.  Setting aside the erotica aspects, this book is full of good story structure advice as well as romance genre specific advice.  I'm exploring the idea of writing a love story.  Hmmm.  Not sure who that is that just said that.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.  A tiny little paperback published in the mid 70s.  I pulled this off my own shelf a couple days ago as just the right size to prop the netbook keyboard at a better angle but then I pulled it out to read while waiting on my computer to finish updates and a restart as all the ebooks were unavailable and it was the only book I could reach without getting up.  Lazy me.  But it hasn't gone back under the keyboard yet.  I keep picking it up whenever the netbook is too busy to mind me.

OK Seriously.  It is now time to start knocking some of these NF off as I did for the fiction over the last couple of months.  By limiting my starts of new novels I guess I was just transferring my need for 'new' to the NF list and now I've got too many to give proper attention to in any two weeks.

That paragraph is kept intact from the last several IMWAYR?  and still the list grows....

Fiction:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  (audio from library)  Was listening to this while working on this Xmas crochet project and have not gotten back to it since Christmas.  I'm going to have to restart it yet again.
The Civilized World by Susi Wyss (another a Tree book ARC that got lost in the mix before I'd finished it.  Have not posted a review for this one either and can't remember when I received it but it had to be at least a year ago before I started packing for our move and likely before 2011 NaNo when I typically stop reading fiction while I'm so intensely writing it.  This is a collection of interlocking short stories set in South Africa and I remember I was quite enjoying it.  I've had to start it over.)
Certain Girls by Jennifer Wiener (sequel to Good in Bed)
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon  reading aloud to Mom


Upcoming:


___Blog Tours:

My Year as a Clown a novel by Robert Steven Williams  --  June 26
The Story of Sassy Sweetwater by Vera Jane Cook  --  July 19
Tilda Pinkerton's Magical Hats by Angela Shelton --  July 25
Mr. Monk Helps Himself by by Hy Conrad  --  September 19
Arctic Fire by Paul Byers  --  September 26

___Books I've Finished Awaiting Reviews:

Whenever I'm not pinned to a date like with the blog tours I do very poorly at getting reviews written in a timely way after finishing books and the longer I wait the harder it gets.  This is an issue I'm working on and hope to get a system in place to smooth the track from beginning book to posting review.  But that will mostly have to wait until I'm back home where my time is more my own.  This final week at Mom's and the first week or so I'm back at home are going to be full and unpredictable  So much for that theory.  So much for having anything like predictability anytime soon either.  So I guess that means I have to figure out how to solve this problem in spite of that issue or give up on it altogether.

At Home in Mitford and A Light in the Window by Jan Karon  (the ebook I was reading aloud to my Mom while staying there in March and April. These short little lighthearted chapters are almost like stand-alone short stories with beloved characters and make great bedtime reading for adults wanting pleasant dreams)
The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg   Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list.   I discussed this in such detail in my mid-week ROW80 check-in post it was practically a review and I'll probably copy/paste much of what I said there into the review.
Never Give in to Fear by Marti MacGibbon  This was a NetGalley ARC but later I picked it up for Kindle when it was free on Amazon.  I began it in Adobe Digital Editions and when that timed out on me switched to the Kindle for PC.  This was a memoir of an addict's decent into the abyss and rise back out again and was quite engrossing.
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff  a library book
Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert Meyers (Research for a fiction WIP)

Losses by Robert Wexelblatt an ARC
After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson  This is post apocalyptic horror with zombies.    I anticipated enjoying this even tho zombies are not my favorite horror theme because I really enjoyed his The Red Church and I did but probably not to the same degree.  And its continued.
These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon  The third book in the Mitford series.
Pie Town by Lynne Hinton
My Year as a Clown a novel by Robert Steven Williams  an ebook I got free at Bookbrowser and thus consider an ARC  But am now participating in its blog tour so my review will go up soon.
Out to Caanan by Jan Karon  Book Four of the Mitford series.
Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Curse by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
A New Song by Jan Karon.  The fifth Mitford book.
Legacy by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Spellbound by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
A Common Life: The Wedding Story by Jan Karon
In This Mountain by Jan Karon
Good in Bed by Jennifer Wiener

Recently:

___Reviews and Bookish Posts:




The blog tour review of Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse   In this suspense thriller set during the Vietnam War, Victor Ortega is a rogue CIA agent, and he needs someone to blame for his crimes. Recon Marine Ethan Card is the perfect patsy. As a teen, Ethan ran with a Chicago street gang, and he has a criminal record. He also has a secret lover, Tuyen, who is half Vietnamese and half French.

The very week of the blog tour the author learned his book won honorable mention general fiction at the 2013 New York Book Festival!  and if that's not enough good news in one day for an author, it was also awarded Runner Up in General Fiction at the 2013 Beach Book Festival

Let me say, well deserved and congratulations Lloyd!

The  review/giveaway in a blog tour for the novel Finding Lilly by Lisa Ellis.

 Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Two blog tours in April:

Defiant Heart by Marty Steere   on April 17th  a sweet YA love story set during WWII

The Happiness Workbook by Jenn Flaa on April 24th  Found this very relevant to my current challneges

And a review for an ARC:

Prophet of the Bones by Ted Kosmatka  sci-fi thriller  a fascinating page turner featuring DNA science and science ethics issues.  Set in an alternate history world in which science has proven the age of the earth to be less than 7 thousand years and religion rules science.



Appearances and Other Stories by Margo Krasne
With these well crafted stories, Krasne creates a hall of mirrors as revelation after revelation of family secrets, hidden agendas and wounded psyches reflect back onto each other revealing how unreliable is perception and thus, ironically, how futile those efforts we invest in appearance.






New Arrivals:

By snail mail:

Tilda Pinkerton's Magical Hats by Angela Shelton

By email:

The Story of Sassy Sweetwater by Vera Jane Cook

from NetGalley

Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson
Kinslow System Your Path to Proven Success in Health, Love, and Life by Frank J Kinslow
Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza
Women, Sex, Power, And Pleasure Getting the Life (and Sex) You Want by Evelyn Resh
All Is Well: Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition by Louise Hay & Mona Lisa Schulz
The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth by Bruce H. Lipton,

ARC in waiting:

Tree Books:

Most of these I left  behind when I left home for the five week visit at Mom's in early January but now that the visit has been extended indefinitely I retrieved them on our February 21/22 trip down to Phoenix

The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean  read this over a year ago now but still need to review.  It's an emotional block due to the nature of the story being so close to personal experience.  I need to get over it.
The Variations by John Donatich
The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith   My husband read this and loved it and is after me to read it so he can talk about it.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  Nobel winner!!
Skios by Michael Frayn
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbo
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman
Winter Journal by Paul Auster a memoir from an American literary figure that really excites me.
We Sinners by Hanna Pylvaine.   It's another story exploring the impact on family life of a fundamentalist religion.  One of the themes I'm drawn to like Pooh to honey.
Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 compiled by The Organization Breaking the Silence
A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks
Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an american Metropolis by Mark Binelli
The Autobiography of Us
The Abundance by Amit Majmudar


Ebooks:

____By email:

After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson  have at least finished reading it now
Troubled by Scott Nicholson
Losses by Robert Wexelblatt  have read but not yet reviewed
My Year as a Clown a novel by Robert Steven Williams  an ebook I got free at Bookbrowser and thus consider an ARC.  Have read.  Was about to post review but then joined a blog tour for the book so will hold off.

____From Net Galley:


A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  have read but not yet reviewed
Never Give in to Fear by Marti MacGibbon  have read but not yet reviewed
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Unloched by Candace Lemon-Scott
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy 
by Emily Bazelon
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch
With or Without You A Memoir by Domenica Ruta  The 55 days ran out on me before I finished it.  Had actually barely started it so probably no review unless I find it in a library.
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
The Book of Why by Nicholas Montemarano  The 55 days ran out on me before I got far so probably no review until I can find it in a library.  This is a direct result of the lifequake referred to at the beginning of the post.
Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson
Kinslow System Your Path to Proven Success in Health, Love, and Life by Frank J Kinslow
Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza
Women, Sex, Power, And Pleasure Getting the Life (and Sex) You Want by Evelyn Resh
All Is Well: Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition by Louise Hay & Mona Lisa Schulz
The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth by Bruce H. Lipton,

If anyone reading this states a preference I may let it weigh my decision as to what I begin next from the above list.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Serenity #342

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Day 9 of the experiment in time, the metamorphose of a lifelong night owl into an early bird in the hopes of creating a block of safe time for my writing while I'm here at my Mom's.  Though I learned today that my husband is excited about this attempt and hopes that, if it works out, I'll consider maintaining it once we're back in our own home together again.  All I can say is that it would have to work spectacularly well. It was only telling myself 'this is temporary' that made it feel possible to try in the first place.  But I'm open to it.  And if I've learned nothing else from this 'lifequake' it is to never say never.

Today I woke at 7am after close to nine hours of sleep and by 8am I was reading.  And not the light fiction I'd been treating myself with all week as the reward for making this extraordinary shift in my self-identity.  Lured by an email subject I found myself on the Brain Pickings site reading articles on inspiration and anxiety fueled creativitiy and then doing Google searches on titles and authors mentioned in said articles.

That was definitely a sign in favor of this working out because that was most definitely brain work and not only did it start less than an hour after I woke up, it was also not caffeine aided.  At least at first as I didn't start sipping at my green tea for over an hour.  Nor was it day meds abetted as I did not take them until after nine.

One of the things my husband said in our chat this afternoon that I need to consider too, is that 4am may be unachievable as my circadian rhythm may not allow for being asleep by 8:30pm even if I can swing all the other variables around my self and this household toward that goal.  I resisted at first but I'm going to keep an open mind and watch my physical, mental, and emotional reactions to the schedule changes and if, I eventually have a string of 5am or even 5:30am wake-ups followed by hours of productive brain work, I won't allow myself to feel like a failure if I can't push it any earlier.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Night Owl Dreams on Early Bird Wings

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Day eight of the campaign to switch hours from late night to early morning on behalf of my writing and I'm still at what I consider the half-way mark since I woke at 8am but for the first time the whole day went better than I anticipated and was quite productive on all fronts except the writing.  Which I'm ecstatic about since I've purposely not put any pressure on myself for the writing as I knew the changes would discombobulate me too much.

So I've been testing the viability of the plan to use the pre-noon hours for brain intensive work by reading a novel.  And not much of a serious novel at that.  But a fun one.  That has been the carrot to pull me out of bed at whatever time I wake up that is more than 7 hours after I got to sleep.  Based on the success I've had with sustained reading after my morning meds kick in, it looks like this can work.

Now after eight days a glimmer of hope and a skeleton of a possible schedule is forming.    Wake-up to noon is brain work and that includes daydreaming.  Four hours isn't enough for all of the brain work I need to do each day tho.  I need at least six and eight would be better.  Meanwhile the hours between noon and six are shaping up well for all the physical tasks from meal prep, showers, exercise, kitchen cleanup and etc.  As well as socializing with family.  Then after dinner is reading to Mom followed by a good night phone call to Ed followed by a quick post.  That last tho is one of the brain tasks that I hope to move to the pre lunch hours as soon as possible.

I've just taken my night meds and am about to click publish and it isn't yet nine-thirty.  I should be in bed by ten and hopefully asleep by ten-thirty so I can get up before seven if I wake up without an alarm.  That is one of the keys--waking up without an alarm after a minimum of 7 hours sleep means I've gotten my sleep out and hit a natural up cycle of my circadian rhythm which lessens the chance that I'll have to fight the brain fog for hours afterward.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

That Explains It

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Yesterday's post was bemoaning what seemed like failure in my efforts to switch my hours from night owl to early bird for in spite of having reached the halfway point in my efforts I was feeling so cruddy it was giving my second and third thoughts--did I really want to do this?

But the whole fiasco of yesterday may have been explained by what happened two hours after I went to bed last night.  I was wakened by stomach cramps and cold sweats that lasted for nearly two hours.  So apparently I was legitimately sick yesterday which pulls all the negative stuff of that day out of the calculation as to whether this campaign to switch hours is going to work.

It's almost 8:30 as I write this and I'm already taking my meds so I should be asleep in under an hour.  That is pretty close to my target bedtime--8-9pm.

This idea was hatched a week ago tonight as an effort to find a block of time with less interruptions for writing.  I'm hoping by this time next week I will have some word count to show for all this.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

There's No Pleasing Her

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The campaign to switch from night owl to early bird, in order to create a block of time for writing, has reached a major milestone.  Today I woke up before seven-thirty.  That is halfway from my normal wake-up of 10ish to my goal of 4ish.

That is supposedly a major accomplishment.  But all I feel about it is grumpy.

I was savvy enough to anticipate that this might be the case because I know I do not tolerate change well and besides this being a major shift in time it is a major shift in self-identity, as well as a shift in the meds schedule.  So I did my best to set myself up for success by declaring that the very act of getting up early was to be credited as successful without any further expectations put on how I used the time.  If anything productive got done that would be gravy.

So I spent the first hour I was up getting meds and snack and writing a good morning email to my husband.  The next three hours I devoted to reading a novel of my choice, not an ARC and allowed if I so chose to be completely frivolous.  I've not done that since mid January about a week before the lifequake hit.

At noon I fixed lunch for Mom and myself then spent three hours watching news pods while crocheting.  Then spent about half an hour surfing and then twenty minutes or so txt chatting with my husband who'd just got home from work down in Phoenix, OR.  When he was about to be called to dinner, I segued to watching news vids again but this time while standing and shuffling and light bouncing on the mini-tramp for two hours.  Then I started working on this post by hanging out on cheezeburger.com and had chosen the pic and got it into the post just as I was called to dinner.  Now I'm trying to get this posted before the scheduled vid or phone chat with Ed at 8ish.

After we say goodnight, I hope to be heading to  bed.

That all looks like success, not too shabby on the productive side either.  So why am I so grumpy.  I've been a whisker away from tears all day.  A pervasive sadness grips me.  I have a list in my head of many possible culprits but it feels like a futile exercise to name any one thing let alone all of them.  It just seems like right now at this moment that the only explanation is that this is me.  No matter what goes right or wrong I'm going to see the wrong in it more strongly than the right.

On both the days when I'm feeling like this and the days when I'm feeling elated and optimistic I will tell myself 'this won't last'  which sometimes helps me get through days like today but on those days when happy wants to rule acknowledging that is a total buzz kill because I don't then allow myself to enjoy it while it lasts but immediately start probing my mood like a bad tooth looking for the pain which is bound to still be there.  And I always find it.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

97h ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 2 2013

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
My goals are all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.

These check-in posts will contain any commentary I have about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in and any relevant links.

Below the commentary is my current reading list for the READ CRAFT goal.


Last round I finished the edit for Blow Me A Candy Kiss, the short story I'm planning to use as the experiment in self publishing.  This was on my original Goals when I first joined ROW80 last April.  It is now ready for beta readers.   Anyone interested can say so in a comment or email me at the email in the sidebar.  A link to an earlier draft can be found in the ROW80 Goals page linked under the spreadsheet below.

In spite of the lifequake I've hung on to nearly all my Ys except for FICTION FILES more often than not tho FREEWRITE has taken a hit since I returned to Mom's on the 11th.  The fact that I did FREEWRITE the whole time I was in Phoenix but lost the habit again when I got back indicates to me that it is the emails and chats with Ed that are taking the place of FREEWRITE.  If I gave myself FREEWRITE credit for those emails I'd definitely have those Ys and I probably should since they are very similar to journaling the only difference being that I edit the emails before I send and to some extent self-edit while writing a little more than when I know I'm the only audience.



After the month long hiatus that ended the last week of May I'd finally got all my Ys back.  And I surpassed the first day's JuNoWriMo quota.
And then I zeroed out on wordcount for three seven eleven fifteen eighteen days.  Sigh.
But I kept all the Ys.
Until I didn't.
For the June 11 ckeck-in I had a wall of shame.  Three days of all Ns and zero words for first time since I started keeping score on the spreadsheet.  I had always hung on to at least DAYDREAM STORY.  I'd decided to give myself a day off the sorting project last Sunday but it turned into a day off everything and then a second and then a third and then a forth..

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier.
And for the 97th check-in I'm adding a new section directly below the list for the must recent check-ins some of which won't make sense without the context from the other sections but will make it easier for returnees to see only the latest.  After a week or two I'll delete the older stuff, preserving any info significant to context in the relevant sections below which I will also continue to edit and pare so it doesn't grow like kudzu.

The Lifequake-- little will make sense without this context
Self Management-- the work most relevant to ROW80 goals
Evolution of the workstations -- efforts to create a vialble place to write
Fiction Files--new for the 92nd check-in due to switching story focus for JuNoWriMo
Read Craft--a new addition to the list for 93rd check-in but alas still no finished books.

June 15 check-in. Two of my posts this week dealt with the very themes I would be addressing here so I'm going to drop the links here:

Lazy Daze  why am I still planted like a turnip on the mini-tramp after four days and unable to put action where my mouth is on any of my stated goals and priorities?
Working it Out  yet another workstation tweak

June 19 check-in --  again I posted twice this week already on the same themes I cover here so I'm going to drop the links here:

An Experiment in Time  -- in which I announce that I'm going to defy my life long identity as a night owl and attempt to switch my hours to early bird as I think I've identified a larger block of time that can be counted on for more privacy, quiet and limited interruption.
A Bedtime Story  --  a tale of my foiled attempts to switch hours so far.  it is always one thing or another.

after posting that last night fully intending to be in bed within an hour or two I was contacted on fb by a cousin who lives in Tennessee  I haven't seen or communicated with for years and we chatted until after 11pm.  She is the daughter of my Mom's twin and also suffers with the retinitis pigmentosa like her mom, my mom and myself and she's heartbroken over the recent discovery that her sister has stage four inoperable breast cancer already riddling her bones.  This was what took her mother from us.  So obviously I could not brush her off with a brief surface only chat.

This morning I had the field vision test to determine how much of my peripheral vision I have left and judging from how few times I was able to click the button upon seeing a flash of light while I stared at a bright dot in the center, I've got very little.  I only saw one flash near the center in my left eye.  There were several on the right but I didn't think to count.  I won't know the official report until Friday when the doctor calls.  I only saw the technician who administered the test today.

I knew it was getting bad but I don't think I REALLY knew how bad and I'm more than a bit flustered.  I think I was able to be sanguine about it as long as it hadn't started threatening what I love to do--read, write, crochet and watch movies.  But my left eye is already nearly useless for most of that, needing size 20 font and then having to decipher words syllable by syllable.  I close it when I'm doing close work and let my right eye have at it which can still read size 12 font and take in about 5 letters at a time which slows me but doesn't stop me.  But who knows how much longer before my right eye goes the same way?.

I helped my Mom switch her winter wardrobe for summer in her drawers and closet today and was given a serious object lesson in what I'm in for.  The time is coming when I won't be able to identify by sight alone items of clothing I've owned and loved for decades.

I think I've been in denial because I've never really put much effort into picturing my life after the vision is gone or all but gone.  For the last thirty years it's been about the bruises and the fear of falling or getting run down by a car or cyclist or tripping over a small child and injuring it.  Now it is starting to register that I will eventually be finding my way around with my fingers and cane.

And what will become of the messes in my fiction files?  I'd rather delete them all then let anyone see them in the condition they are in...

Well, if I hurry I might be in bed by 10 tonight.


THE LIFEQUAKE:

Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
The event I'm calling the lifequake hit me in late January and for the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from it.  The details are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity and most recently in It's Like This and The Eyes Have It so I won't keep reiterating the story in these check-ins.

The most important fact affecting ROW80 goals is that my 5 week visit at my Mom's begun in early January has been extended indefinitely.  It has been a huge disruption in itself not counting all the disruptions of life, thought and emotion behind the whys and wherefores.



The latest in the series of aftershocks disrupted things so much I had to drop out of ROW80 check-ins for a month.  I left Mom's in Longview WA April 29 to spend the next 11 days in Phoenix OR with my husband packing up the rest of our stuff and helping him prepare for vacating the house on the 15th.  My sister returned here with a third van load of my stuff on May 2nd and then picked me and a forth van load up on the 10th.  I spent the next two days shuffling boxes and bags and stuff around between van and house and my areas at Mom's.  The four days after that I wallowed in the pain of missing Ed, loosing our house and not knowing when the next visit will be now that there are no more loads to go after and no house to call ours.

Merlin
This trip our cat Merlin returned with me and has been part of the comfort.  He was being kept in the laundry room until we were sure he had no parasites before he was allowed to share a litterbox with Bradley.  But Saturday night he got paroled.

He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick this winter.  During our last trip in early April my sister took him to the vet and the following week he had surgery to remove rotten teeth and fix his eyelids so his lashes would stop scratching his eyes.  He looks oriental now.  The pic is from several years ago when he was still healthy.


One of my main focuses in the first week home was unpacking and organizing my clothes.  The hanging clothes in the room where my primary workstation is and the folding clothes in the room across the hall which I share with Mom.

When I first arrived in January I had about ten hangers hanging in this closet and now there are two winter coats in there belonging to Mom and everything else is mine.  My coats, sweaters, jackets and vests are hanging on hooks on the door to the room.

Since 89th check-in I've continued to unpack and tweak every area.  One of my projects is to unpack every one of the hastily packed boxes and do the sorting, organizing, cleaning, repair etc that there was no time for before stuffing things in boxes.  Then I'll repack the household stuff and keep those boxes together in anticipation of the first load gong back as soon as Ed is able to move into another place.

As of June 4th, there have been some exciting developments in the Rogue Valley but everything is still up in the air so I can't say what though I'm bursting to share.  Maybe by Saturday night when I prep the 94rth check-in...

June 8th--too soon for specifics but it looks promising that Ed will be moving into a place by the end of the month.

In light of that, I've spent the last two days on the project described above.  I've opened every one of the boxes still unpacked to identify contents, unpacked at least a dozen, repacked with eye to keeping household items going back on the first trip after Ed is moved separate and once such a box was identified or repacked stacked it in the garage.

Meanwhile, I sorted out several categories as I went thru boxes: crafts, Health and Beauty Aides (HABA), office supplies, electronics, cat toys/misc, paper files and loose paper, Ed's personal belongings and books and magazines.  Ed's personal belongings will be distributed among the household items as there weren't enough to fill a box.  The books and magazines found homes on the shelves with the others unpacked after the second trip.  I sorted the HABA into stuff I might need while here and stuff that I won't packing the latter and putting away the former.

I rough sorted the electronics into related and identified broken and tossed.  I rough sorted the office supplies and put away what I could in the most logical place currently available--which is constantly changing as I constantly rearrange my office space.  I rough sorted the crafts and repacked taking some of it back down to the rec room box stacks and distributing the rest among my craft areas upstairs--bedroom, 'office' and living room--a major fine sort is needed for all crafts and an organizing of the craft storage and work areas.

The biggest sort project left is the paper files and the loose paper.  I have two medium sized boxes with files and notebooks that are moderately organized already but it is the two large boxes of loose paper--one very large--that is going to be a very tedious and long process.

To prepare for it I've gathered dozens of boxes of various sizes from boot boxes down to the cardboard covers of tossed out VCR cassettes, from the shallow boxes cans are stacked in at grocery stores to empty tissue boxes and I've created a sorting station.





While teaching how to  triage my priorities, Ed identified the paper sort project as non-negotiable, top priority because I'd said that those two boxes of loose papers had become a trip hazard for me on entering and exiting the room as well as causing me grief in getting ready to go anywhere because they were blocking access to the closet.

So I targeted that task to focus on last weekend while Mom was at my brother's.  I whittled the two boxes down to one on Saturday.  It took six hours just to get that far.  I estimate another two to three hours on the remaining box.  The second box, tho smaller took another four hours on Sunday due to having eliminated most of the obvious trash on Saturday.

And that is just the first once-over rough sort--weeding out the obvious trash and grouping related things.  I tried not to spend more than a few seconds per item to identify it's category.  Anything that needed more time than that, especially if it required reading more than a sentence or two, was 'filed' appropriately in one of the smaller boxes for later perusal.  But at least those boxes are not trip hazards and they are grouped by topic or theme so that when I tackle them one by one my attention can be focused on one category at a time instead of being split three dozen ways like it was during this rough sort.


SELF-MANAGEMENT


Reading and crafting corner
The creating of stations to accommodate activities has been one of the themes of my organizing.  It was after the books and bookshelves came back last month that I moved my writing workstation entirely out of Mom's room and turned my corner in there into my reading and crafting spot.  Not much of either is happening in there yet though.  There is just too much unpacking and organizing still to do and the time that might be used for reading and crafts is given to those tasks.

The pic to the left is new for 90th check-in, reflecting the latest tweaks.  One of which was switching out the office chair that was there for the exercise ball.  The office chair is now where the exercise ball was--at one of the workstations in the other room which are discussed in the next section.  The empty shelf is reserved for library books which I hope to be acquiring again soon.

The other development related to self-management is the timer my sister bought me just before she left me alone with Ed the first week of May.  It has two timers, a clock and a stop-watch function.

One of her concerns about leaving me there for a whole week was the tenuous nature of my ability to stay on my med schedule, sleep schedule and food and water intake schedule without outside monitoring.  That is one of the repercussions of an unmanaged mood-disorder.

She had a heart-to-heart with Ed about it in my presence and they elicited solemn promises from me and helped me work out how I might keep on track even on those days when Ed had to work.  The timer coupled with the ritual of writing a todo list every morning was the solution and I stuck to it through the first weekend back at Mom's.  I still maintain the med timer and sleep schedule but I let the todo list drop away during the week I wallowed and have not returned to it.

The week before I left the med nurse had added Ritalin to my day meds to address the issue that makes it so hard for me to maintain the healthy sleep schedule.  The fear that all those 24 to 48 hours and more awake were a symptom of bi-polar has been nearly eliminated and we are leaning toward the theory that its a combination of anxiety and ADD.  With anxiety causing difficulty in getting, staying and returning to sleep and the ADD responsible for the way my brain won't turn back on for 8 to 12 hours after I've slept for over 6 hours which makes me resist sleep when I'm involved in a task or project.

The Ritalin has been a failure and my sister and husband concur.  It did help turn my brain on and give me energy earlier in the day but it also brought back the anxiety that the BP med Metoprolol had removed and left me with lower tolerance for frustration, high irritability and a tendency to meltdown. And after four hours I crashed.  It felt a lot like when I used to drink caffeinated sodas and would crash off the sugar and caffeine.

In other words it put me in a volatile emotional cauldron.  I stopped taking it every day.  I've discovered that it is helpful if what I need to do is primarily physical with little social or emotional elements to it.  Like the unpacking, workouts, or showers.  But it is useless for brain work that entails sitting still like writing or reading.  And only 4 hours?  Really?

I saw the med nurse again May 28th.  She increased the Trazadone to 300mg and added Adderall to address the morning mush brain and low energy.  But if I experience a similar reaction as to the Ritalin I am to call and she'll put me on Welbutrin again, which was what I was on before we lost our insurance a year ago.

A week ago Wednesday I went in for a fasting blood draw to check the levels of things related to energy and fatigue like thyroid, adrenals, blood sugars, vitamin B and D, and etc  This was something that I asked for when I saw the other nurse who is managing my care last week.  Big step for me--self advocating, being the one to suggest a course of action.  If I was dealing with a doctor instead of a nurse practitioner I might not have had the courage.  Tho my sister who is officially my advocate might have anyway.  She is bold she is.

Well the results of the blood draw show everything but cholesterol and triglyceride levels are normal and they called to tell me they'd called in a prescription for a Statin drug.  Did not consult with me.  Did not tell me the numbers.  Just essentially ordered me like a child.  I won't have it.  I have a history of atypical reactions to drugs and from what I've read on the side effects of the statins I'm not going near them.  Not unless the problem is severe enough to warrant hospitalizing me so they can monitor my reaction.  And what of the careful work the med nurse has been doing with my mood meds?  Making it a point to add or subtract only one thing at a time and careful to note possible interactions between them.  Did they consult her before adding this?  I doubt it.

Why am I so afraid of the statins?  The side effects include muscle weakness and fatigue which I already have issues with.  And more severe side effects can include damage to the muscles or damage to the liver.  I'm willing to work hard via the diet and exercise route and I believe that responsible medicine would promote that over drugs and that a care provider who respected you would consult with you and not just issue orders from on high.

One of the things happening to me as the depression lifts is that I'm starting to crave autonomy.  And when the assistant called to inform me about the prescription I found myself saying OK and Yes aloud while inside I was screaming No No NO.  Like a child who is compliant on the outside but feeling rage or helplessness on the inside.  And as soon as the call was over I said the No out loud.  And started researching the drugs alternatives and the diet alternatives online immediately.

I'm not sure yet how I'm going to inform them of my choice.  I'd hoped to use my counseling session on Monday to get advice on that but it got canceled due to the counselor's illness.  I've decided to wait until I can talk to her before I do anything so I'm not filling the prescription yet.  My appointment was rescheduled for the 17th.

In the past when a doctor has treated me autocratically or not listened to my fears or concerns I would just not go back.  I would stop complying. I did it once before when a doctor put me on a BP med that turned my muscles into sugar taffy and would not consider trying a new med because it was working to lower the BP.  So my BP went untreated for several more years until I tried to have dental work done and they found it too high at 220/120.

My sister is not going to let me get away with that tactic this time plus it would interfere with my main goal of saving my marriage and being able to live with my husband again which requires having my mood stabilized which means I must continue working with the med nurse supervising that which means I have to stay in the good graces of this clinic. I'd just as soon keep the focus on the mood issue for now as that is making it possible for me to make the healthy choices in other areas like diet and exercise and sleep and I believe all of that could go a long way toward making drugs unnecessary.

June 4th, I was hooked up to a heart monitor for a 48 hour recording of my heart rhythm.  This I'm told was in response to my complaints of dizziness and near fainting nearly two months ago.  I did not get the impression that was being taken seriously before so I suspect it was after the cholesterol results that he decided to order this.

Yesterday, June 7th, I had an ultrasound done of a mysterious lump the size of a large grape in my left calf that I'd first noticed in late February.  I was 90% sure it was something silly like an old bruise slow to heal but I was concerned enough after two months to bring it up at my last appointment.  Then Thursday morning my sister heard from our cousin who is one month younger than her (late 40s) and the daughter of our mother's twin sister--she has stage 4 inoperable breast cancer and it's already in all her bones.  Her mother died from this in 2005 the same year my Dad died of colon cancer.

So  my anxiety about the lump ratcheted up a bit before the ultrasound 28 hours later.  And a bit more when the technician went and got a doctor to come look.  I listened to them talk about it--it looks fatty, there is no blood supply, it looks to be in the derma, probably a benign process.  Since it is at the site of an injury that looks like a bug bite or scratch/puncture it is likely a sebaceous cyst.  Especially since I've had them before.   Big sigh.

I've not discussed the metrics of my weight loss campaign here but I was delighted to find my weight down two more pounds since last week and to have dropped another inch off my belly since the week before our trip to Phoenix last month.  That  is approximately 15lb and 2.5 inches since New Year's.  The size 18 pants that I just started wearing in April are already loose and Merlin actually pants me the other day climbing my leg.  Good thing we were alone in the laundry room and not out walking on the sidewalk.  I hadn't been in a size 18 since the late 80s.  Looks like I'm going to be in a 16 soon.  Last time was 1985!

Meanwhile there have been enough improvements in my ability to function that I've been able to commit to making and serving lunch for me and Mom every day and load the dishwasher after dinner.

Yeah.  It was once that bad!

On Thursday May 16th  I began to crawl out of the wallow I fell into the morning I said goodbye to Ed and last week I've returned to posting on the meatier reading and writing themes.  I'm his week I have been able to garner all the Ys in the FICTION FILES and FREEWRITE columns.  I've had some really stimulating ideas as I daydreamed stories in the last month.  Not all of them are in the FOS storyworld either.  My newer story ideas seem to be leaning toward romances which is not my usual fare.  Hmmm.  I wonder where they're coming from.

On June 3rd, I researched online for hours looking for time tracking software and/or calendar software so that I can start keeping track of how my time gets spent, what my mood is, med, food and water intake and sleep.  I want to develop a record of the useful information to look for patterns in cause and effect and to look for the payoffs for unhealthy habits so I can design alternative behaviors that are healthy but preserve the payoff as described by Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit which I read around this time last year.

After making myself dizzy with the choices I finally decided to give Outlook another chance.  I already have it on my netbook and have just avoided it because my first few encounters with it were so intimidating.  It seems to have a steep learning curve and to have way more functions than I need.  Plus it's fonts for menus and dialog boxes are so tiny.  But I opened it last night and spent a couple hours exploring it and hope to start implementing it sometime this week.

Meanwhile I'm trying to learn patience with myself and flexibility.  One of the new skills I'm honing is the ability to analyse what is working and what isn't and then apply a likely fix and observe what does and doesn't result.  I'm trying to keep a vision of what success looks like in my head so that I'm always aiming for it.

June 15 --  in response to my Lazy Daze post my husband commented in his email that he believed that I was experiencing a mini-burnout after having pushed too hard on too many fronts for too many days in a row, allowing myself little recreation.  And a second point he made was that he believed I had too many high priorities and several of them were in conflict which I was possibly unconscious of.

Then on Friday during our video chat he proceeded to use his skill-set as a supervisor and experience with time-management on the job to show me how to triage my stated goals.  He also had me estimate the amount of time I thought certain tasks needed.  And then he walked me through what that looked like in terms of the number of hours available in a day, a week, a month.  He itemized everything--even how many minutes per day the average person spends answering Mother Nature's Call (8 times per day for the bladder alone for an average of 5 minutes per visit).  Who knew.

Right off he subtracted the 8 for sleep and another 3 for meal prep and eating.  Then there was my household and family responsibilities--another two minimum on days with no extras.  Then there were my appointments with healthcare and social services which included prep time and transportation time.

For the triage he laid it out there that anything touching on my health or safety was non-negotiable.  This included sleep, med schedule, food schedule, exercise, all those appointments, and recreation--which last I had been denying myself until I ended up planted like a turnip on the mini-tramp last Sunday.

So I'm in the middle of reassessing everything in light of the insights he led me to.



The evolution of the writing and workout room:

2nd Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
In February a few weeks into the lifequake I realized I could no longer wait until I got home to get serious with my fiction writing but to accommodate it I would need a writing station that afforded privacy, quiet, light, and the ability to move about and make moderate noise without fear of disturbing my sleeping mother.  And I would need to designate a time of day in which I could count on no interruptions.

The time best suited was the hours immediately after Mom heads to bed.  The space was trickier.  But the best bet was somewhere in the room that had once been Mom's office and had become a storage room.  So I rearranged some boxes and created a desk in a cubby behind the stairwell.    I was even able to set up the mini-tramp in there. Tho I had to walk across it to get to my desk, I liked having it there until I fell twice inside a week.

 After the first fall on a Sunday I set my mind to being careful but after the second fall the following Friday I realized careful would not cut it.  Not indefinitely.  Not for someone visually impaired and with such a history of scattered thought and impulsive movement.

After a third incident--a close call--my sister set the tramp on end.  But as I feared it seldom got set down for use after that.  I kept wanting to find the time and energy to rearrange the stuff again to make room for the tramp and a path to my desk.  That became one of the goals as I worked to make room for the stuff coming in from the van the first week of April.

To make room for the tramp I moved my folded clothes into Mom's room and the boxes of Mom's papers under the card table.


Reference Books

The reference books are now on that cabinet above the tramp.  The 1999 World Book set and the Britannica Great Books set I bought from the library in 2005.  And writing related misc.


Cubby desk May 25
The cubby desk has morphed so many times.  I continue to tweak things but continued to find it a very uninviting place to spend much time.  For weeks I  used this station primarily for scanning, storing office supplies and as a paper sorting station.  Last week I moved that chair that bit my butt out and put in its place an exercise ball in front of stacked boxes for a desk.  But never did actually sit at it.

On May 25th, I've moved the office chair I'd been using beside the bed in Mom's room in here and the exercise ball in there.  It is a tight fit but I'm test driving it as I work on this post and I am sensing a shift in consciousness. It feels like a place to get work done at now.  I'm more focused on the task at hand.  I'm shifting about less.  I haven't had to get up to get something that isn't at hand.  But a crick in my neck indicates one minor tweak might be needed--raising the desk about two inches.

Let's see if this leads to regaining all those Ys now.

I sometimes get so frustrated by all the tweaking.  It seems I spend more time fiddling with the workstations than I do actually working at them.  I hope I can shift the balance soon.


standing desk May 21
One of my preferred netbook stations is this standing desk above the mini-tramp.  I can stand on the tramp to write or while text or video chatting with Ed.   But mostly I listen to music or watch videos while working out.






Looks more like a nest

For the two weeks after returning from Phoenix (May 11-24) this was my primary writing and Internet surfing station.  I also crocheted while watching videos and sometimes read either ebooks or treebooks.  The tramp in this pic is now my own brought from home.

But on May 24 I decided it was not working.  I'd gravitated to sitting on the mini-tramp that first weekend because there was so much upheaval everywhere else.  But that had unwanted repercussions--I stopped working out because the tramp was always piled with cushions and for some reason I can't pin down my productivity dropped both on and off the computer.  Maybe that is partly due to not working out.  But it might also be because the setup was more conducive to daydreaming, watching videos or surfing than serious work.  The clue is in the caption I gave the pic: Looks more like a nest.

So May 25ths project aimed to fix that as seen in the pic of the cubby desk above.

And then that didn't quite satisfy so two days later I rearranged it yet again.  But now I have to be sitting right there to have the netbook on the board that slides out from under the cubby desk.  I has been a productive writing station tho.

As seen in this pic it was serving as a sorting station.


Bradley
The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearrange the two rooms.  He mountain climbs the stuff.  He picks up small things and carries them off.  Twice it was my reading glasses that I wear over my prescription glasses for close work.  He sits on top of the very thing I need to pick up.

Once he knocked my netbook off the desk.  I had an extreme moment of panic before I got it picked up and checked over.

 I do hope that once Merlin is allowed to join the family the two of them can entertain each other.  So far it looks good.  They talk to each other through the laundry room door.  And once when I brought Merlin up on his leash on our way out for his yard exploration they met and touched noses and nobody hissed.  Bradley did raise one paw over Merlin's head and held it there until Merlin ducked his head and slunk away.


FICTION FILES:



My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
For the duration of JuNoWriMo I've set aside The Storyteller's Spouse to focus on the romance, Orbiting Jupiter.

Juneaux at 27 is still living at home acting as caretaker of her invalid father.  Her ten year high school reunion is upcoming and the talk of the small town is the rumored attending of classmate Jupiter, drummer and leader of the band Orbiting Jupiter which has its own reality show


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)  What with the lifequake and all I've had to do a lot of reassessing.  Recently I realized that my todo lists are way overloaded even for someone with a reasonably quakeless life.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and techniques of fiction
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff  In late February I lifted the strikethru I put on this the week I left home in January as I brought it back with me on the 22nd.
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious as well as research for a character who is a Tarot reader
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last January and has been the one I've spent the most time with ever since.  Friday's post was a quote post for this one.
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Found this while spelunking the stacks looking for the Smiley book.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  My Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.  Also a Longview library book.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review for blog tour  Haven't finished it yet tho so it will remain in the list.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Found on my shelves while packing books.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.  Tho I admit it is hard to pull it out and read in it now that I'm back at Mom's.  But since Valentine's Week all my new story ideas have been for romances.  Not my usual thing.  But hey, you gotta take what the muse sends or she'll stop sending.  Setting aside the erotica aspects, this book is full of good story structure advice as well as romance genre specific advice.  I'm exploring the idea of writing a love story.  Hmmm.  Not sure who that is that just said that.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.  A tiny little paperback published in the mid 70s.  I pulled this off my own shelf a couple days ago as just the right size to prop the netbook keyboard at a better angle but then I pulled it out to read while waiting on my computer to finish updates and a restart as all the ebooks were unavailable and it was the only book I could reach without getting up.  Lazy me.  But it hasn't gone back under the keyboard yet.  I keep picking it up whenever the netbook is too busy to mind me.

Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this last fall and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.

Read more...

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