Tuesday, June 04, 2013

93rd 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.

I've finally got all my Ys back.  And I surpassed the first day's JuNoWriMo quota.
And then I zeroed out on wordcount for three days.  Sigh.
But I kept all the Ys.
It's been a busy week and I'm trying to make healthy choices about sleep so something had to give and it was the words.  Why does it always seem so easy to short shrift the words?  I know there were other things besides sleep that I could have done less or none of in exchange for fiction words but over and over I kept choosing the other things over the story.

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier.  Since so much has changed in the last month I wiped most of the old stuff from the Lifequake and Self-Management sections for the 89th check-in and then added some new pics to the workstation section.

The Lifequake--a new link here for 92nd check-in. a new sentence for 93rd
Self Management--some minor deletions and additions for 92nd and 93rd
Evolution of the workstations
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.


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.

This trip our cat Merlin returned with me and has been part of the comfort.  He is still being kept in the laundry room until we are sure he has no parasites before he is allowed to share a litterbox with Bradley.  So I've created the ritual of going down to spend time with him after Ed and I end our daily online chat.  When it isn't raining I take him outside to explore the yard on his leash.

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 today, 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...


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.

Last 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.

Today, 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.

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.

Yesterday, 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.

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 last weekend's 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.

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.


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


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.

1 tell me a story:

Beth Camp 6/08/2013 7:08 AM  

Welcome back to ROW80. Sometimes I think our best efforts are to create harmony and beauty within our worlds, loving ourselves and loving those who are dear to us. Congratulations on standing up for yourself with the doctors/health professions. Being informed is one of the best ways to care for yourself. Every day takes courage. It sounds like you have a very good support group, and you are making very good progress. I hope the coming week is a good one for you -- Persevere!

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