Rambling: Cigarette Ash and Clock Radios

There are times I yearn for my teenage and early adult years. No, not the depression and anxiety. The stress of high school/college. The near death experiences and occasional hospitalizations. More I yearn for that period of creativity that I had.

I yearn for the late nights spent up well past my bedtime, during punishments of not being allowed internet because of bad grades, typing away at my old 1997 off-brand computer from FingerHut. The once pristine white casing stained yellow from years of cigarette smoke and tar that no amount of cleaner or bleach could clean or scrub away.

The bright light of the old hulking monitor as my clock radio played beside me. My window cracked as I smoked the cigarette butts that I had foraged from my parents’ ash trays when I thought they weren’t looking (but they knew). The heavy smell of cigarette smoke and eucalyptus incense that I burned in my room nearly day and night.

The first light of dawn as I realized what time it was and had to rush to get dressed for school – racing to the bus stop on less than an hour’s sleep because I was up all night writing.

The seeming unending inspiration as I jamed out to my stolen Linkin Park cds (stolen from my sister, not the store.).  The 1 foot tall stack of disks that held all my stories, my books, my poetry, my notes and research for my stories.

To this day, I can’t make a single playlist to listen to for my writing that does not include every single song from Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory and Meteora albums – because their music just always hits the right buttons for my creative streak. They are both my muse and my soundtrack for life itself.

I mean, I’m happy with my life as it is, and where I am in it. The people I still have in my life and the people that have come into it.But there are some days, some nights like tonight that I can’t help but long for those old days when it was just a blank Notepad file, the blinking red of a clock radio with the time still not re-set after a power flicker, and my own thoughts in the dark before the bright, brilliant screen of a 10lb late 90s computer monitor.

Ramble: Eliciting Emotion Without Details

Recently I posted 3 new chapters to a fanfiction I’ve been writing for a rather long time now (no, I’m not going to link it. It’s embarrassing. If you happen to find it though… well… anyway). These chapters dealt with some very harsh, dark themes such as rape, torture, mental fuckery – among others. One of my favorite readers, who leaves reviews nearly every update, mentioned this in one of her latest comments:

“You weren’t kidding about there being hard things in this chapter, but you did a good job of having us feel the horror without needing to go into gruesome detail.”

And it got me thinking about all of the stories I’ve read over the years that I can remember. Both in regular and in fanfiction And I’ve come to realize that many of the stories I have enjoyed the most leave a great many details up to the reader’s imagination. While yes the basic description of characters and scenes are given, or building up to an event and using language to direct the reader to experience a certain emotion, stories that suddenly jumpcut immediately after making it clear what is about to happen, but not having you read the gruesome detail (especially in horror and suspense situations) – those to me are the best. Not only does it allow every reader to have their own personal experience with the work, but there is nothing more frightening than the worst possible things we can imagine. Perhaps the scene was leading us to believe that a favorite character was about to be tortured to death, but then didn’t let us see/read the torture taking place. When we read the segment that the character appears in afterwards, perhaps having escaped their jailers, how they are described and appear will guide us to imagine the things that may have happened to them. Perhaps the reader is more afraid of water torture – they may imagine that’s taken place to the hero. Or maybe starvation and beating? They’ll imagine that THAT is what may have happened to them.

But later still in the story, the hero may confide in their best friend or lover what truly took place in the jail/dungeon/cavern, etc. And how relieved the reader is that what they feared most wasn’t the thing that has happened… Or, for those who imagined correctly, the overwhelming empathy the reader feels for the hero. This method, which I honestly unintentionally used in my piddling little fanfiction, makes the reader more emotionally invested in the story, and in a way makes them feel like they are part of it. And when a reader becomes so invested in the story, they will keep reading.

That’s my take on it, for what it’s worth anyway.

Life, Sleep, and Shoes.

The last few entries I talked about things related to my foot. Well, it’s nearly completely healed now. There will be scarring, and I’ll have arthritis in my big toe (like the other one) but other than that, there seems to be no lasting effects. Well, other than the pain in my ankle, but with liberal application of heat and anti-inflammatory medication that seems to be easing up as well.

My sleep cycle however is still re-adjusting. Every twitch of that toe would trigger a pain response, after I injured it, and that would wake me up. Now, I just wake up whenever that toe moves – no pain – just habit. It’s annoying when it happens in the middle of a really good dream. But, it is what it is. I roll over and go back to sleep if I can. If I can’t then I find a mindless idle game on Kongregate to play for a bit before laying back down.

Recently I’ve been playing around with different file organization programs. The most current one I’ve been messing around with is Evernote. The free version is good enough for my current project organization needs, and I may actually splurge and get the $35 one year Plus version (anything version higher than that and it’s bells and whistles I don’t really need or use). I’ll give it a few months though to see if it’s really worth that much to me and how effective it ultimately is for helping to keep my projects organized between 2 laptops.

And yes, I’ve tried the OneNote program that is free and native to Windows 10. It relies heavily on the OneDrive, and the last time I used OneDrive (to back up music I bought and downloaded through Amazon) all but my Libre Office docs were deleted. I had nearly 8 years worth of music backed up in there, and not only did my music collection get wiped from my OneDrive (after using the Groove app to play them) they were also deleted from my computer itself. Ever since, I refuse to use anything that relies on OneDrive and do everything I can to block OneDrive access on both my computers. So no, OneNote while it is very similar to Evernote, is not even up for consideration.

I did try out the Google Drive for desktop, but all it did was add a file folder called Google Drive where I can drag and drop my current files. That is NOT what I wanted – as I can just do that with a regular file and setting up a Windows Homegroup between my two computers. It’s really aggravating. I hope that Evernote works out because so far over the last few days, I’ve really enjoyed using it.

In other news, we have a Bealls Outlet in Cartersville. Have had for quite a long while now (just over a year I think?) and boy howdy do I love it. It’s one of my favorite stores from Florida and for over a decade the nearest one was at the Outlet Mall in Calhoun. I’m not gonna drive all the way out there unless I wanna go to Old Navy AND Bath&Body Works even if I had a reliable car that would be able to drive all the way out there. Anyway, I’ve been needing new shoes for about 6 months now. But me being me, I always put what everyone else needs first, then take care of myself. (This sounds like a complaint, and normally I don’t really mind and prefer it this way but sometimes man, I just wanna go out and binge shop somewhere else than Dollar Tree for a change, y’know.) Anyway, my son also has been needing new shoes for a few months. I found 2 pairs for good prices for him, and then decided “Fuck it, I need shoes.” So I looked and looked…. but I have rather large feat for a woman. My shoe size is 11, and I have to buy a pair at least a half size bigger to accomodate the inserts I need for my arches and arthritis. And I have to wear sneakers (gone are the days I can wear Chuck Taylors and hiking boots. BOO!). I was about to give up hope when 2 pairs I found were far too snug and small. The largest women’s sneakers they had in the place.

But then I remembered – I can wear men’s shoes. DUH! So I go over, grab a few pairs in different sizes just so I can check what size I needed. And then I looked for sneakers for a good price. I found some really nice LA Gear’s with an Iron Man theme in men’s size 10. They fit BEAUTIFULLY! My husband was jealous, as he’s an Iron Man fan. As luck would have it, they had the same exact shoes in his size! He tried them on, they fit, and he got them for himself. I also got a cute cup with the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers megazord on it.

It’s been a pretty decent week. Some ups and downs, certainly. But there’s been a few more ups than downs lately and that’s left me in a pretty good mood looking into the week ahead.

On Being Sick and Keeping Busy

My foot, which I mentioned last time, is healing slowly, but nicely. I’ve been able to adjust my foot position when I walk now to take semi-normal steps. It’s agonizing after spending 2 weeks walking on the side of my foot because now my muscles are like “haha fuck you”. The joint in my foot is inflamed from walking like that, which has set off literally everything else in my leg. It’s getting better though. My son’s also gotten sick, but he’s gotten better. I had no idea snot from his nose could come out his eyes. That was gross. Doctor gave him an antibiotic eyedrops that’s worked wonders!

Unfortunately due to him getting/being sick, and myself getting sick as a result of taking him to the doctor (every damn time man… every damn time) both his and my sleep schedules are out of whack. So I’ve taken the time spent sitting up making sure he doesn’t tear up the house and get himself hurt to revisit some writing ideas I’ve had on the burner for a while now. First of which is a Harry Potter fanfiction that is long overdue for an update. And another is, yes, another Harry Potter fanfiction but with an Arthurian retelling/twist which retells the origin of Merlin and Mordred among others, and tying the Pendragons into the Peverell history. At any rate, it’s fun doing the world building bit which is always my favorite part.

So wouldn’t you know it…

After my last post, a few things happened. One, my computer that is logged into WordPress and has the WP App on it got a wicked virus (likely from downloading some MP3s, as that’s the only unusual thing I’d done with it in recent memory – and no it wasn’t that hellish ransomware that went around and infected the NHS computers and such. Just a regular Trojan with a wicked hook deep in my system. Got it sorted though so it’s all good!) and I can never remember my login info half the time. So, that’s why no updates or anything since the 11th.

Secondly…. I injured the big toe on my left foot a mere hours after my last post about having better luck. The irony of this was not lost on me as I bandaged up my toe that night, laughing my arse off about it.

As a result of my toe injury, and where exactly it is at, I’ve been forced to take it easy and I’m not too happy about that. Plus side? I get to use the riding/electric carts at the grocery store. And while I’m not happy, at all, about having to slow down and ask for help until my foot heals and I can walk normally on it again, I am sort of grateful for my injury at the same time.

Since hurting my foot, I’ve been forced to be humble and admit I’m not super mom. I can’t handle everything all the time by myself. I can’t walk normally right now, and as a result I need a lot of help with things as simple as loading the car with laundry to go wash it, or unloading groceries because I can’t go up and down the front steps easily without a cane in hand. It’s made me have to stop. Breathe. And allow myself to be helped.

But it has also forced my husband to step away from his projects and come help me more often. My injury has, most importantly, forced us to spend more time together that otherwise I would be filling with more stressful chores, duties, and errands and he would be filling with more tinkering off in another room where he’s left alone to do, well, whatever it is he does all day. (At this point all I know is he is working on props for his costume for Dragon*Con.)

While I am enjoying the time, I’m also frustrated and can’t wait until I can plant my left foot firmly on the floor and walk to the toilet without wanting to shout angrily.

Oh well, such is life. Tomorrow is the first weekday of the Summer. My son’s last day of school was Friday. I’m going to spend approximately 2 hours at the library just because I need at least 2 hours a week to myself. My son going to school spoiled the crap out of me. He goes back, same teacher and same classroom, at the start of August. I’ve already got it marked on my calendar.

Rough patch, but not for me!

Has it really been about a month (maybe a smidge more) since my last post? Wow. Well, a lot has happened in that time, in my personal life.

Personally, it’s been a rough patch, sort of, but not for me personally. There’s a reason for this that I firmly believe is true. Anyway, so… My mom was diagnosed with COPD last month. We already knew she had it, but she’d avoided an official diagnosis for many years now. Having the “official” diagnosis on her records… well… it’s been tough for her to process. Plus side though? There’s a medical testing clinic right next door to her doctor’s, and we’ve already spoken with a woman from there about her potentially participating in medical trials for COPD medications. Most of what they do is compare generics to name brands, and one medication against combination drugs. It isn’t often that they do placebo testing. The practice my mom goes to caters to the poorest of the poor and those who can’t afford insurance of any kind. And by partnering up with this medical trial clinic, they’re able to get some people life saving medications and treatment that they otherwise would be unable to afford. And they have often taken people for repeat and multiple trials, so it’s not a situation of “we got what we wanted now get out”. They also often compensate the participants for their time and such, and do any testing out of their local office. While it’s not a guarantee, it’s at least a ray of hope for my mom when for years and years now she had none at all.

She also had an unrelated incident wherein she tripped over a chair at work. About a week after she went back from her severe COPD episode that had left her off work for a week. She was also out for a week for that because she nearly shattered her kneecaps from the way she had landed on the floor. Worker’s comp is covering the medical end of it, and if they don’t compensate her for missing work, then she’s got sick pay built up (and let’s not even discuss the couple of weeks worth of vacation pay she’s got built up as well).

On a similar note to the COPD thing, my husband has to set up a visit to a respiratory therapist at the hospital in order to find out if he’s in the early stages or if he just has asthema – all so he can get a nebulizer and medication for it to help his breathing as well.

As for me – I’ve been going crazy running around for everyone and everything that mostly I’m sore and stressed. But my luck seems to have changed when I received my new Medicaid and Wellcare cards in the mail…

You see, I’ve had this theory for many years now that my maiden surname was cursed in some form or fashion. The women of my dad’s family married and got different last names, and their luck seemed to have changed dramatically, and their lives improved (even the one who married a dead-beat before divorcing. The dead-beat had quite a lot of money that she got from the divorce). I noticed this within my immediate family as well. Out of 5 children, 2 had different surnames than myself. And even those 2 had different surnames from one another. My older brother, though not “successful” in the traditional sense, was well known and liked in town. Opportunities seemed to just fall into his lap quite often. He was happy, and though life wasn’t the greatest, he didn’t really have to worry about poverty like we did when we were kids. Things always seemed to just work out for him. One of my sisters who had a different last name, always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. She always had ways to get what she wanted, and whether she put effort into something or not, again – things always worked out for her no matter what.

Now, what got me thinking it might be my surname that was bringing me the bad luck, was 2 things. Anyone I knew in my extended family on my father’s side, if they had the same last name they usually were struck with the universe constantly shitting on them, or epic tragedy (such as major death in family, etc.) The other was that no matter what, I could set up the same exact situations as my half siblings, and go through the same actions, and with a probability of 50/50 I would meet failure each time. Now, at first I thought “well, can’t win ’em all. Maybe next time.” But more and more, things started to happen thad made me aware of odd things…

People in my immediate and my extended family who shared the last name always succumbed to major, life threatening atypical side effects of medications. Medical procedures always would go awry. Those with my last name were always the outlier that necessessitated surgeons and commercials alike to state things that were the most improbably, one in a million odds scenario due to legally having to say it even though it totally would never happen ever… we were the ones it always happened to.

Every family member I spoke to had similar experiences. Go in for a simple galbladder or appendix removal and BAM! Massive life threatening complications! That “We only tell you this because we’re legally required to, but the chances of this happening are literally infinitely small that we don’t see the point in telling you” group of people.

Well… I noticed a change to this… when my little sister got married. She and I share a maiden name and when she got married, holy crap did events governed by sheer luck alone begin to change for her. And it was an immediate difference.

When I got married, I was not expecting the sudden influx of things that just seemed to always work out. Everything from parking spaces at Wal-mart (I used to have to park at the very end of the farthest corner just to even get a spot. Now, I get first unmarked space next to the handicaps on a regular basis.) to weird medical situations. In the last 3 1/2 years, I’ve had symptoms mimicking a stroke and a heart attack, but when I get checked out – nothing but weird indigestion. Or an odd muscle spasm due to my back of all things. And I mean mimics CLASSIC UNDENIABLE SIGNS of these things – which is why it scares the shit out of me every time it happens and I go rushing to the ER with it.

But here’s the thing – in that 3 years, I’ve still had crazy things happen. Severely unlucky and unfortunate things despite my legal name change… because I could never get everything updated to 100% married name status. My medical records? Until I get back to the doctor and update my records – it’s all still in my maiden name. Since I got those cards in the mail though, the last scrap of my old name now gone for good, things have been working out quite well.

Now, I know it might just be all in my head, but I truly believe, given a long and thorough look at my family history, there might be a kernal of truth to this theory.

Anyway, my son’s nearly done with school for the year and then summer break!

I’ve got some books to read.

Pineapple cookies and the Library

Today, I actually woke up well rested. This does not happen very often considering my bad back, knees, and a toddler. After having had a good night’s sleep, I took a slow start to the day. Had a perfect cup of coffee made by my husband (no joke – I can make my coffee the same exact way and it still isn’t as good as when he makes it). And a leisurely morning. Made my son some lunch, actually remembered to have a bite to eat myself today, and then set about making some cookies.

I had a mix in the cabinet that I had admittedly been afraid to try. So afraid that it sat in my cabinet an entire year before I finally got up the courage to make it. Spongebob Squarepants cookies. Complete with edible decals. No big deal, right? Well… they’re pineapple flavor. I like pineapple. I like it in rings; I like it in chunks; I like it in smoothies. But I don’t like it on pizza. Nor in a cake. So I was very apprehensive of trying it in cookie form. The only reason I’d bought it is because it had been on clearance and my son likes Spongebob Squarepants.

Today, I went with the mantra of the tired mom and just said “fuck it”, then made the mix. The cookies themselves were easy to mix up with just an oversized plastic spoon. The cookie dough was nice and smooth, easy to pull apart and roll into balls. Easy to press in order to place the decals. My oven’s weird and I had to pull them out about 2 minutes early to keep them from burning.

Mom liked the cookies. My son can take ’em or leave ’em. I find them disgusting. My husband thinks they’re good. Not super great, but okay. Not the worst thing he’d eaten. Thank goodness I only made 18 of them (there were only 18 decals). I could have made more if I wanted to make smaller cookies. After they cooled and I was able to put them away for later, I got my son ready for a trip to the library.

My mom worked this afternoon/evening so she had the car. No big deal, as I need to walk a bit anyway. So I loaded the kid up in the big kid stroller and headed up the road. My son loves the library. He loves running up and down the aisles of the children’s section. Sitting at the little tables and arranging the chairs just so. They keep wooden puzzles and games for all the kids to play with, and boy does he love playing with the puzzles! There’s also a large wooden cube big enough for 6 kids to play with that has lots of different activities built onto it on every side save the bottom. This is his favorite part of visiting the library.

After he tired himself out, I loaded him back into the stroller and we wandered around the library looking at DVDs and some books for me to read. I found 2 that look promising. One is called The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma and is by Brian Herbert, son of late sci-fi legend Frank Herbert (author of the original Dune series). I’ve just started chapter 3, and so far it has a very pro-environmental tone… but the blurb on the inside cover promises that Eco-friendly utopia isn’t all it seems and there’s going to be mutants and a a possible end of the world type of scenario involving dark matter. I can’t wait. Of particular note about the book physically is that all of the text inside is in green. It’s a nice touch, given the title and the subject matter… however it does make it a bit difficult to read when I’ve got my floor lamp set to night-light mode, as the light emitted is a soft and calming blue/green.

The second book I picked up is called Counting Heads and was written by David Marusek. The blurb on the back of this one teases of a story set far into the future where the elites of mankind have found the secret to immortality. Nearly everyone who is anyone is immortal, and has some form of cybernetics. Life is measured in centuries… but the main character finds himself caught up in a situation of mixed up identity and he is stripped of his status, his immortality and cybernetics, and is labeled a terrorist. The only thing keeping him afload is that he is married to one of the most powerful women on Earth. Apparently there’s ging to be attempted murder on his family members, and his daughter’s head is stolen. Certainly this one looks interesting to say the least.

After a bit, my son started getting very fussy, so I checked out and headed back towards home. I realized only after we passed by a lawn being mowed that I had forgotten to use my Flonase this morning. It being late in the afternoon anyway, nearly 5, I was grateful that I had made too much chicken soup for dinner yesterday, so I took out the pot and reheated it. I’d had enough foresight to save the left-over cornbread.

Now, as I sit here, winding down for the night, I’ve got a nice hot cup of cocoa. Curled up under my TARDIS blanket, watching one of the DVDs I picked up today (the animated reconstruction of the 2nd Doctor’s first adventure, Power of the Daleks), and waiting for my son to finally get to sleep.