Not dead (well, not yet anyway)

So….. Wow. Not a single post since April! Bet people forgot I’m even bloody here. But that’s alright! I write here mostly for myself anyway.

So the goings on in my life are thusly – medically I’m still in the same boat so no updates there other than “hey, pain! all i know is pain!” so that’s nothing new. My son’s doing quite well with school and has been saying A LOT of things now! Still barely recognizable as actual words, but he’s now trying to establish a base for communication with repetitive words and actions and that’s taken AGES.

Mom’s doing alright. Her health has gotten worse, but that’s expected with her age and different conditions.

Husband found out he’s got a slip disk. His L5 on his S1. And it’s been causing him issues for a long time but no one’s been able to catch it till now.

It’s his birthday. He’s 45 years old today.

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Dealing With Myelf

I’ve been rediscovering my love of Power Rangers these last few weeks and trying to decide if my body is fighting with me or not. Some days are better than others, and I can do a bit more than usual. Other days, I have to drag myself out of bed because if I don’t I’d spend all day in it.

My pain these days has made me quicker to anger than usual, in some cases to an extreme that frightens me. I haven’t harmed anyone – but with my particular set of anger issues it can be a possibility. Unfortunately I take after my dad in that respect. Part of why I’m in therapy, and will likely stay in therapy till the day I die. Unlike my dad, I do have a brief few moments before I fly into the Rage where I’m still aware, lucid, and can redirect or leave the room before I cause true harm. The fact that I am this way scares the shit out of me, and I don’t have episodes often but when they happen… holy crap.

Part of good coping skills is changing your “self-talk”. That’s what I’ve been doing the last few weeks, and my therapist has been really helpful and supportive in helping me figure out a good language for me to use for talking myself down and referring to my “episodes”. Part of my problem is that certain terminology I’ve used my whole life is also negatively associated with my dad – specifically our very similar anger and rage issues. Thinks like “seeing red” I’ve switched to “seeing green”. Instead of “raging” I’m “Hulking out”. This removes the mental association I have with my dad which makes me feel even worse than I normally would after an episode. It also reminds me that I’m not, and never will be my father. By using terminology reminiscent of The Hulk, it tells me that there are times when I can’t control my anger, but that I am not always like this. Whereas my dad WAS always like this. He chose not to do anything about his problems, but I choose to work on them and improve them. It’s slow going, but I haven’t had a full Hulking Out since right before I met my husband. So about five years. I had an episode a few weeks ago, and I’ve been dealing with that and developing more coping skills as a result.

Which brings me back to Power Rangers, surprisingly enough. See, as I said before my pain levels have been causing me to be quicker to anger. I’ve got a shorter fuse than normal while I learn to re-adjust around the increased chronic pain and the shifting stresses in my life. So I’ve been re-watching Power Rangers, all the way from the very first ever episode, as part of my cool-down/wind-down time. It’s soothing to me and comforting because it’s something I associate fondly with from my otherwise turbulent childhood. Plus it’s so poorly made, and ridiculous that when I’ve had a harder than normal day, or had an angrier than normal day, it helps pull me out of myself while I ridicule specific plots or monsters in the series. Such as the lead up infamous Peace Conference from MMPR season 2 where they got rid of the original Red, Yellow, and Black Rangers. The body doubles were ridiculous but nowhere near as horrid as the voice double for the Red Ranger. My gods that was… painful to hear.

Anyway, that’s been it. Just me dealing with myself the last few weeks.

“Life, don’t talk to me about life.”

Ah. One of my favorite quotes from my favorite manically depressed robots, Marvin. Douglass Adams truly knew what he was doing when he created him. Truly Marvin is the most relatable of fictional robots.

It’s been just over a month since I’ve posted. It’s a combination of lack of blogging inspiration, lack of motivation, seasonal depression, regular depression, medical issues, financial issues, scheduling issues, family drama, and working on a writing project.

January 14th is the anniversary of my brother’s death in 2014. Throughout the holiday season, and onward through January and February, my mom goes through severe depression. She’s lost a lot of family members in January over the years, and despite my birthday being in the same month, she just can’t find the joy in life this time of year. Not that I’m complaining, because I love my mom. I’d do anything for her, have done. She’s one of the hills I’d gladly die on, because I know she’d do the same for me no matter the reason or cause. That’s just how we are. But January runs me ragged. I’m on egg shells, and dealing with my own thoughts and feelings towards things this time of year as well and this year… I just couldn’t keep up.

And then I got a notification in the mail that my husband’s disability case is under review. We had to fill out functionality reports. The last time I had to do that for someone was my niece (husband’s side of the family) and it didn’t turn out that well. Once they got the paperwork in, and I was able to relax a bit, we get ANOTHER notice in the mail. On date night. Now he’s got to go in tomorrow morning in Rome for a mental evaluation for additional shit to do with the review. And I’m just so fucking stressed.

This last week, my birthday week, has been especially trying. I had to deal with paperwork related to the appointment tomorrow morning. Reschedule everything I possibly could because someone at my mom’s job quit suddenly and she had to pick up almost all the shifts left open, which meant her hours changed, and I had to reschedule everything. Only there was an appointment on my birthday that I couldn’t reschedule because it was my son’s IEP meeting to set things up for the next school year. Monday, mom suddenly had to go to a meeting at work at the most inconvenient of times which meant I couldn’t take the car in to get worked on. Up to this point it had been stalling out on us pretty frequently but we didn’t have the time or money to get it fixed. My birthday – Tuesday – IEP meeting. I was then going to go take the car to the mechanic. But lo and behold mom’s hours got fucked up AGAIN and she had to be into work earlier than she originally did. Finally Wednesday, I can take the car to get worked on. Only to find out that part of what’s wrong with it will cost between $1200-$1500 to get fixed (and that’s if we get a used/rebuilt transmission instead of new). But my mechanic’s an honest guy, and he fixed everything he could fix for me. Car runs better but it’s only a matter of time now before the transmission finally goes. So I tell mom what happened and the situation. That we’ve got to save every penny. No more candy bars at the grocery store unless we really REALLY budget it in. And I mean every single penny. Mind you, I’m now operating on the hope that my husband’s disability case isn’t closed out, but on the assumption that it’s a possibility. So I’m working with a budget 2/3 what I normally work with. Just in case. Did I mention that since we were doing so well before all of this that I decided there was enough in the budget to treat my family with bumping our Comcast bill from just internet (which was costing us nearly $100 a month anyway) to a bundle with TV for $120 a month? Well… guess what I’m locked into for 2 years unless I want to pay a $250 contract cancellation fee? – This is the entire reason I kept off the contract plan for 3 years. Just in case situations like the one we are in now came up and I had to start dumping luxury bills. So what day are we up to now? Wednesday right? Okay. Well that was Wednesday. Thursday I could FINALLY get to doing laundry! Hurrah! Only half a week late. So I managed to get that done. But wait! In order to get it done, I had to take mom to work that evening because guess what I spent all morning doing! Grocery shopping and paying bills. Friday morning, mom got off at 7AM. So, I rolled out of bed when my son got up for school, got dressed and left right as his bus was pulling up. Didn’t even have my coffee yet. Managed to have a few minutes to spare so I could roll up to the RaceTrac and get mom coffee and some sausage biscuits. Got myself some croissants and realized I’d promised my husband I’d get him a coffee, too. Problem: we only have 2 cup holders in the car. So I got him and mom their coffees. I got myself a bottle of water. Told myself no big deal, I needed more water anyway. Mom had to roll back into work at 3pm. Husband went and paid rent since I didn’t get to it the day before (which is fine, it was only the 2nd. It’s due on the 5th.) He calls me not long after he gets there and tells me that the landlord sold the house. While we’re still living here. Knowing we needed time to get our credit in order because we wanted to do rent to own. We made this known right up front before moving in, told him it might be a few years because my husband had NO credit and mine was screwed from medical stuff. He said that was fine. Now we’ve got a new homeowner – same landlord company (as far as we know) and the person bought the place sight unseen. The last time I’ve been in this position the new owners knocked on my door and said we had 2 weeks to get out. My friend Crystal actually helped me move a lot of the boxes from our old place in Debary to our new place in Deltona between classes for a few days so it would be less that my mom and dad had to deal with. So I’ve been in full metal panic paranoia mode since Friday.

On top of all of this I am still dealing with my chronic pain in my back and now in both knees as the tendons and ligaments are literally deteriorating and my kneecaps are sliding out of place little by little as time goes by while my L5 is also disintegrating. The cluster headaches are getting worse but I’ve literally had no time to get to the doctor’s to get my meds refilled let alone adjusted.

So pretty much my entire world right now is being held together by rage, spite, and duct tape and I’m barely holding it together because if I crumble, literally everyone else will, too. I just hate having to be the strong foundation all of the time for everyone.

However! I’ve got a plan! It’s not a cunning plan, but a plan nonetheless! I’m still seeing my therapist every 2 weeks, and that’s been my lifeline. The main reason I’ve been holding it together as well as I have for so long like this. But I can’t rely on that alone.

I’ve been taking at least one afternoon a week, for a minimum of 3 hours, during a weekday. And for that time I am sitting in a quiet, quasi-dark corner of the library with my old clunky laptop. And I’ve got headphones. And I’m writing. Or I’m photoshopping, or both. The important thing is I put my phone on vibrate, pull out my laptop, and I have uninterrupted (save for emergencies) me time. I know that I certainly wouldn’t have been able to survive these last 2 weeks if not for my library time.

So, I’m going to keep it up no matter what life is throwing at me because it’s pretty much the only free thing I can do where I can get there regardless of if I have the car or not (we live a few blocks away and if I take my pain meds approximately 45 minutes before leaving the house I’m able to walk there if I have to. Take my anti-inflammatory about half an hour before I leave the library and I can make it back.

Anyway, I have a bit of writing to do tonight before bed.

Hope you all had a lovely holiday (I know I did!)

I know I haven’t posted much at all this month. I tend to go a bit dormant in the winter, like a bear. Or some other winter slumbering large blubbery mammal. Seasonal depression, holiday stress, etc. is typically the case. This year, however, it’s just been holiday stress and working on a writing project.

I’ve said before, ages ago, that I write fanfiction as well as my own original works. But for those who didn’t know – Hi, I’m Z. I write fanfiction for all kinds of things (formerly mostly Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and Sherlock Holmes related stories). It’s a fun hobby and I’ve met some really amazing people this way.

Now that that’s out of the way, my holidays went rather well despite the stress. I hope all of you had a good one yourselves! My husband made ham for Christmas and it was absolutely delicious. The best one he’s done since our first Christmas together. He does it in the rotisserie, and holy crap it’s amazing. Always comes out perfectly cooked and perfectly glazed (I always make a home-made maple brown sugar honey glaze. This year it was molasses and orange juice based… or it would have been had I had enough orange juice. So I cut it with part of a bottle of Motts for Tots apple juice and some Sicilian orange marmalade). My husband got me a Ninja blender and my mom got me an electric skillet. Now, I know most women don’t like getting kitchen appliances for gifts but holy crap it’s perfect and they are exactly what I wanted for Christmas!

I wasn’t the only one to luck out though. We got my mom a new desk weeks ago, as an early present. My husband was able to put it up tonight. I had to clear out a space in her room and get rid of a bunch of junk she’d just kept holding onto for no reason other than not feeling like dealing with it. Well, she’s got her desk set up now! My husband got some retro game systems (you know the plug and play types with like 100 games pre-loaded into them). And he got a new set of tools that includes a new power drill and hammer and all sorts of goodies.

My son also had a great haul this year. Lots of DVDs (mostly Paw Patrol), a big marker/crayon/art supplies set (also Paw Patrol themed), plastic dinos that he absolutely loves (gift from my sister and her husband), a giant crayon filled with megablocks, a Paw Patrol themed sleeping bag with matching little pillow. And a Paw Patrol bike complete with training wheels. I’m taking him to the park tomorrow sometime so he can try it out!

I know it sounds like a lot of stuff, and sounds rather greedy. But I am genuinely grateful for the fact that my family was able to afford giving each other such wonderful gifts this year. It sounds like a lot, but it really wasn’t. And most stuff was bought from the discount dollar bins at Walmart (except for most of my son’s stuff).

Anyway, onto the other reason I’ve been busy. My writing project. That bit about fanfiction up there is pretty much what this relates to. I write fanfiction mostly as a stress reliever, and over the course of the last month and a half I wrote a story for a fandom that I hadn’t posted (publicly) for before. There was this show from 2007-2010 called Heroes. NBC came out with a continuation/sequel a few years ago called Heroes Reborn, and it well and truly sucked. So I tend to pretend that the sequel doesn’t exist. Anyway, I won’t bore anyone with plot and details and stuff because I’m pretty sure none of you really care about my shipping preferences, my OTP, and my ridiculous daydream fantasies. What I want to talk about is the process/method of my writing it.

Typically when I sit down to write a fanfiction, or any story really, I have a loose idea of what I want to do and where I want to go with it already sort-of thought out. I make a very bare bones outline for each main character’s motivations and personalities.  I make a very bare bones outline of the plot and the conflict I want to take place, then I get to work hammering out the details chapter by chapter. For fanfiction especially once I complete a chapter, edit it, correct it, check it for more editing, then it gets posted online, and i get to work on the next chapter.

However I knew that for this particular story that wasn’t going to work. There really wasn’t any way I could break it into chapters and bite-sized chunks for readers to enjoy bit by bit.

The resulting story was a 48,000+ story, nearly novella length, hammered out into a single stand alone tale. Segments are broken up by month rather than by chapter, with the entire story taking place in the course of one year in the character’s lives. I wrote it all in a single file in Notepad so that I could not keep track of wordcount and the red and green squiggly lines of typos and gramatical errors would not distract me from writing. The only numbers I paid attention to were the file size itself – as my current primary laptop, that much loathed Acer Cloudbook  have hate posted so much about in the past, has a very limited amount of storage I can use. I backed up my story using Evernote (love that thing) and occasionally checked my wordcount out of curiosity that way. And the entire story was written with a smattering of ideas in mind but nothing much solid

The only truly solid ideas I had were that the two main characters, formerly enemies (they were this weird sort of place between enemies and not-quite friends in the final episode of the TV show with the villain having reached the end of his redemption arc to becoming a hero), would end up having to live together. Most everyone they knew would have a major problem with it. One of them would temporarily gain the ability to see the future and it would be pretty weird and make things awkward for a while. And lastly the two main characters of the story would at the very least become best friends over the course of the year. That’s it. That’s the only solid idea I had going into the project. Everything else was just constantly shifting what if scenarios that I couldn’t really pin down until I started writing. The entire thing was written stream of consciousness, which I haven’t done since around 2011/2012 with a Sherlock Holmes story.

I am rather pleased with how it turned out, and apparently so are others because I’ve gotten small, but much appreciated praise on Archive of Our Own for it. Enough that I’m considering writing another. Regardless, the process I chose to pursue for the writing of this particular story was very relaxed, and is one that I think I may begin employing more often in earnest. I felt far less stressed writing it, as I didn’t have the pressure of an audience waiting for the next installment of the story, and having to make them wait longer than normal due to life problems and so forth. It was very pleasant all around.

Well, that about wraps it up for me. Both my boys, my mom, and even the dog are asleep so I shall likely be headed there myself before too long.

I wish everyone the best in the new year, and hope it goes better for all than the last one.

Not dead. Happy Holidays!

Hello hello!

Just been busy with life and things of that nature.

Mostly holiday shopping and writing. Our power went out for a day last weekend when we had snow. Nearly the whole town was without power. So that sucked.

Anyway, I realized I hadn’t posted anything for a while so just wanted to let anyone know that

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My joints, my joints, my joints are on fire!

We’ve officially hit, I believe, cold wintry weather. With lows in the 30s at night, and the grinding of bone and cartilage in my knees, it’s kind of a hard thing to miss.

My pain management, however, has taken the unfortunate turn of now having to take the meds as soon as I get up because I’m waking up to anything from lower back and full leg pain to whole body joint inflammation. I’m calling my doctor after the holiday – I need new X-rays done on my back and now both my knees.  It feels like I’m getting stabbed in the patella with a very thin knife every time I bend my knees to walk or sit. Heaven forbid I need to kneel down on the floor for something.

Now, I know I could have hurt myself when dealing with my kitchen, but this was a problem before doing all that hard labor cleaning (well, hard labor for me these days anyway).

I know some of you deal with far worse pain on a daily basis (one of you in particular I would never wish your condition on my worst enemy because holy fuck that’s… I honestly can’t even imagine what you deal with guy) but keep in mind we all start somewhere which chronic pain before hitting that point of “whelp, this is my life now then I guess”. I’m hoping that the majority of this is just due to the cold weather aggravating my pre-existing problems rather than the normal evolution thereof. I can hope!

As a result of adjusting my medications to compensate my body’s been doing the whole “it takes 2 weeks to readjust to this shit” sort of thing so I’ve been sleeping weird times.

Plus side, I’ve gotten some kitting done, and some writing too. So score one for the bonus team!

Thankfully my mom, also chronic pain sufferer, is off on Wednesday and Thursday. Together we make 1/2 of a functioning human being which incidentally is all you need to pull a Thanksgiving dinner together.

Self reflection and a clean kitchen.

One week ago I began cleaning my kitchen. Not a typical wipe down and mop job. Oh no. A full on deep strip clean. Literally scrubbing the walls from top to bottom and within an inch of their lives. Treating them with anti mold and mildew chemicals because the owner (we rent) used poor quality primer instead of real paint and after exposing my walls to all that water and bleach I don’t want to risk problems down the road.

Weeding through pots, pans, and containers that overflow from the shelves we installed a few years ago and taking out ones that we simply have too many of, don’t use, or for containers – no matching lids.

I’m also going through the cabinets. Going to pare down the dishes, especially the cups. We don’t have space to put them all. I need to fix that. Also going through the food and disposing of things that have been there so long that they can’t be used anymore. Then I’m scrubbing those out, too.

And THEN I’ll scrub and mop the floor.

The reason for all of this? I’m not having the best time of it mental health wise, and my marriage could be in better shape (communication issues). And I just feel like I’m losing control over my life. All of my hobbies have gone to the wayside because I’m always having to take care of everyone else. On top of this my pain issues have gotten worse, causing me to be even more limited in my movement and activity level. What energy I have goes into child rearing and errands. Hell, most of the time I have just enough energy left in me to make a cup of coffee – only because it literally requires adding a pod to my machine and hitting one button – and making lunch or dinner for my son.

Hell, I hardly can keep my eyes open most days to make a note to myself to make a draft of a blog post here.

So, my kitchen cleaning has been about taking back control of something in my life that I alone decide how it’s done, when it’s done, and where it goes from there. It’s also about learning where my limits are now and which ones I can push through and which ones I can’t anymore.

Since starting the project I’ve noticed a remarkable side benefit. It has helped me to work through my emotions so that I do not fall immediately into the knee-jerk reaction scenarios. It has also helped me with my focus, and allowed me productive time to myself. When I have taken breaks while doing the hardest parts of the work I actually got a lot of writing done. Enough that I was actually surprised that I’d written most of a story without meaning to.

I plan to paint the kitchen next month with a glossy pastel green paint so that it’s easier to clean and won’t require so much elbow grease next time.