Writing

Friday Fictioneers #4

Here is this week’s. I’ve been looking through my records of writing FFs and it looks to be once every couple of months! Well, that’s not very good, is it? I need to make this more of a habit. (But probably not next week, as both I and my s.o. are getting our second shot of vaccine and probably will be sick for a few days each.)

Photo Prompt:

Breaking Quarantine

“Mom, I don’t think that’s what they meant when they said we need to quarantine.”

“They just said we can’t leave the house,” Liza carefully pulled the trailer onto the highway. “Well, we ain’t leaving it, are we?”

“But…”

“Look,” she turned to her teenage son in the passenger seat. “we planned this months ago. The money’s all paid, and I can’t start that job late just ’cause the gov’ment’s being slow.”

“It’s not safe!”

“It’s fine. We’ll stop by Nana’s on the way, and I promise I’ll wear a mask. Okay?”

“Okay,” he grumbled, clearly unappeased, but stopped arguing.

Books · Life

Good Mondays – Libraries

Today I’m going to talk about my love for public libraries. As a child who grew up poor but loved books, the public library was my sanctuary. My local one when I was growing up was not very big, neither was my school’s, but there was a branch that was literally a five-minute drive from my house (or 15-minute walk if I felt like walking alongside a local highway without sidewalks in ridiculously hot weather – the deep south was not fun). I volunteered at that library during summers and the experience actually gave me the inkling to become a librarian. (Alas, life has taken me down a different path, but I really do wonder what would happen had I stuck with that back then.) I went to college at a different state and the university’s library was awesome. I was definitely one of those weirdos who actually spent time in the library not for cram study but just for reading. They had a lot of Chinese literature and that was my only source of it in the States. What can I say? I love reading. Of anything. Everything. It’s just never not been a part of my life.

So imagine my great joy when I discovered that my local library (a wonderful system here in So Cal) carries digital magazines on Libby! I’ve always subscribed to random magazines, but there’s a limit on how many you can read at one time (and it got pricey). One day I decided to check out the magazine collection (I believe it was a recent addition, or they just started to advertise, because I don’t remember seeing it featured so prominently before), and behold, you could get so many current magazine for absolutely free! Unlimited checkout, the issues are always available (but I believe it’s the current issue only. Not sure how you’re supposed to get back issues), and there are so, so, so many choices. (They don’t have everything, such as literary magazines, but uh, those should be paid for so I agree with that decision.) I’ve always wanted to read Wired but never got around to buying a single issue to try. Well, fret no more, I can now do it for free. There’s also magazines I read religiously every month and I can probably stop all my subscriptions now, but I do feel like I want to support them, especially the smaller publishers, so I’m still debating on that.

So a great big kudos for resources in our local libraries. If you haven’t used your membership you really should give it a go. I believe it’s a great public good, and I’m so, so grateful for its existence, especially during these pandemic times.

Work · Writing

End of Month Update

Well, today is April 30th, and I utterly failed in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. Yep, 100% didn’t meet it. I partially blame all the life stuff that happened this month. Covid vaccine sign-up and subsequent visits. My s.o. quitting and starting a new job (and the headache of health insurance changes that came with it). I contacting my doctor to discuss our plan to start IVF again and all that involved (I’m on birth control again and it’s really messing with my hormones/weight/headache/fatigue level). You know, life things! Coupled that with me being nervous about finally submitting something to my writer’s group – yeah, my head space was not all there this month, which is an issue. Because I’m kind of pushing close to my self-imposed deadline now. Here’s some more details.

So I talked to my s.o. about my work last year and I said that I’ll give him an assessment of how it is by the end of June this year. Now, I’m planning to finish my novel by the end of this year, but I also set a deadline of finishing the first part (there are three parts) of the novel by end of June. I gave myself more time at the beginning because I figure it’ll take me a while to ramp up. And it did! Oh boy did it take a while. I’m not proud that finally, finally managed to move on from chapter 5 – this is the one I’m submitting for my group, btw – and it has taken me a good chuck of half a year to get there. Granted, it was a very tumultuous half a year because of all the pregnancy then miscarriage then grief and all. So I’m not blaming myself too much for unable to create while being in that emotional state. However, I’ve been past that emotional state for a while now, and it still took months to wrap up ONE chapter. Boy. I’m not looking forward to meeting that June deadline. I told my s.o. that if I just cannot get myself to finish I’m going to stop writing this novel, and probably quit being a writer altogether. Because you know, sometimes you just gotta give up when you know you can’t do it. (I know people love to say “Never Give Up!!!!” Um, sometimes it’s smarter if you do. I’m sorry but it is. Sometimes you take a deep, hard look at yourself and you think, yeah, time to change course.) And then I’m going to take a coding course and then try to be an engineer, or find an actual job before I age out of finding a career altogether. No I’m not there yet! I still have time, but it’s getting pretty close.

(There’s also the fact that I really think I might have adult ADHD and need some medication. Maybe once I actually get some Adderall or whatever everything will be awesome and I’ll be a productivity machine. Who knows. I’ll reassess if that happens, after the whole Covid and new insurance and everything.)

I don’t know how I’ll fare but the next two months are going to be very, very important. I am going to see in May, first, if I can at all keep a work schedule if I try. Like, in the middle of April I just gave up, you know? And I really, really need to stop doing that. Like I said I still have time and I cannot waste it away being all dejected or moody or whatever! I’m going to seriously see how many chapters I can do in the next two months to determine if I can at all come close to finishing. Actually, with the way my mind works, if I don’t think about finishing and just write, it may work better. Like, if I just stick to fill out all the hours instead of having a goal of where to stop ahead of time, I tend to go further. I feel like I can only plan 1-3 days ahead at a time, which is horrible, but if I go any further I freeze up under pressure and then I just stop doing anything and go cry on the bed all day, you know? Hmm, that actually gave me an idea of how to setup my bullet journal more efficiently. Anyway, not important, the important thing is that I need to tackle the rest of the year, and it starts with May.

Life

Good Mondays – Vaccination!

Well, hello everyone. It’s a Monday again and I want to express my gratitude to the fact that I got vaccinated! A week ago, actually, but I didn’t feel the implication sink in until a couple of days later. And now, I am feeling more and more optimistic about the future, at least regarding my immediate life.

I got Moderna from my health provider. So did my husband. So far we only got jabbed once and experienced arm pain. (The second shot is supposed to be a tough one so, I’m certainly not looking forward to that.) I was super thirsty for the first 48 hours after the shot, though, like chugging liters of water kind of extreme thirst. My skin broke out – inflammation all over, I assume – coupled that with maskne and yeah, don’t look at my face right now haha. My husband didn’t feel thirst but he got a slew of cluster pimples. I’ve never heard of a Moderna reaction of cluster pimples before! We think it’s also inflammation related since his skin is super oily. I also found out that a small group of people actually experienced itchiness, swollen injection site, pain, and other irritations 8-14 days after the injection. A sort of delayed reaction – unexplained of course. Well, guess who’s among that small group of people? (Me, it’s me.) The good news is that it’s already getting better. Yesterday my arm was super itchy and swollen, but today it’s less itchy. Still swollen though. My husband also got a really swollen lymph node under his armpit right now. It’s bothering his sleep, but they’re all minor and seems to be temporary. Man, so many different and weird side effects with this mRNA stuff. No wonder people are all iffy about getting vaccinated.

Whatever. Still better than actually getting Covid. With my asthma I probably will die or end up in ICU at least. One of my immunocompromised friend got her two full shots and will be fully protected by midweek. She told me she can’t wait to go grocery shopping again haha. (Being immunocompromised she literally haven’t left her house except to walk her dog since March of last year. She get all her groceries online. No gathering/shopping/doing anything in person.) I can’t wait to go eat in at a restaurant somewhere. We’ve been getting takeout but it’s not the same. It’s crazy how much super mundane stuff we all missed this past 12 months huh? I also want to see a movie in theaters, go to Disneyland, see a live concert (that is probably not going to happen until 2022) and fly across country to see my family (who’re also fully vaccinated). But these are distant goals. Now I just want to go eat out somewhere, preferably with other vaccinated friends.

People, do your part. Get vaccinated so we can all move on as a planet, yo!

Life

Good Mondays – It’s My Birthday!

It’s my birthday today! Yay!!

Because it’s pandemic times, I have absolutely nothing planned for it. No cake, no dining out, no presents, no party. My family sent me text messages saying happy birthday, and say I can buy whatever I want using their credit card. OK, cool, I didn’t really want anything. Usually for birthdays my s.o. and I would go out to a fancy restaurant (like, fancy, as in a set menu with no prices listed kind. We’re both foodies and it’s a good splurge once in a while). He’d buy me some flowers (because we made a deal to not buy uber overpriced flowers during Valentine’s Day and do it on my birthday instead), and we’d custom order a small cake from a nice bakery. But of course this year (and last year) planning went out the window. I’m not even sure the bakery we usually go to is still even in business. We’re certainly not dining in anywhere without vaccinations, and flowers? Too much hassle for no celebration. It’s fine; times are rough so I don’t mind just not doing anything haha. I’m happy just chilling today.

Well, apparently the Earth doesn’t like that, which is why in the wee hour this morning I got woken up twice by earthquakes. The second time it jolted me awake so I screamed really loudly at like 4 in the morning. So I slept terribly because when you get rudely woken up because you’re afraid your house might collapse on your face you kind of don’t get back to sleep for a while. Great. And then my mom called and woke me up to wish me happy birthday but it was too early for me. (In truth it wasn’t, it was 11 am when she called so I should be up, but again, when you get woken up at 4 and then again at 5 am because of earthquakes you kind of need more sleep than usual.) It was lousy. I’m going to need better sleep tonight and hopefully it won’t earthquake again. If I were religious I’d think it’s a sign or something since it was right after Easter.

So I decided that, fuck it, I’m not going to bother working today. I know I also said this yesterday about finally working the full 4 hours, but you know, it’s my birthday and so far it’s been pretty lackluster. So I’m not gonna feel guilty about it and just enjoy the rest of the hours that I’m awake. Pretty crappy to have a Monday birthday already but you know, that’s why I started the Good Mondays series. Mondays suck so I’m going to enjoy every little bit of happiness during it as I can. K.K. Slider sang me a birthday song in Animal Crossing so hey, that’s a pretty good bit eh?

Work · Writing

Schedules Are There For a Reason

You know, I’ve been thinking. About my probably most likely undiagnosed ADHD prognosis. I know it’s not good to self-diagnose mental health issues, especially with the help of only Google, but, if the shoe fits I mean…? Kathleenlights basically thought she had OCD (clinical, that is) and then she did this whole video about the things she does and compared them to OCD symptoms (again, clinical, so much more than just ‘oh they’re just picky’ kind of things), and I was like, uh…yeah, I think she has a convincing case. (And kudos for her being so brave about it!) Anyways, regarding myself – so yesterday I set out to work because I was feeling better although not 100%, and then I didn’t work a lick, because I felt like “I can’t concentrate so might as well cut myself some slack. It’s the weekend and I’m not 100%, yeah?”)

No. The answer is NO. If I really do have ADHD, and I think I do, then the hard truth is that I probably will never be able to concentrate without some outside help. I’m not on medication, and even if I should be, I can’t because I think if I want to get pregnant they don’t recommend I take any ADHD medication. So I won’t be getting any help anyway aside from sheer will, and so, when I sit down in front of my computer to write, 9 out of 10 times I won’t be “in the mindset.” It will always, always be a struggle, and I have to develop some ways to cope with it. Them’s the breaks, you know. So I decided, literally this morning (you know, when we just wake up and groggy is apparently the optimal time for life-changing epiphanies), that that’s no longer an excuse. “I can’t concentrate so give up for now, try again tomorrow” is not going to fly if I literally cannot concentrate ever. Tomorrow is going to be the exact same as today. And the solution is, obviously, fuck your brain, push through, and work anyway.

Yeah yeah, easier said than done and all that. I’ve talked with my therapist about some of this (without thinking I had ADHD at the time) and he suggested to try some caffeine just to see if this makes a difference. I did, and I think it does, so I have caffeine to help (and of course have to give that up too if I want to be pregnant, ugh). Another thing is that strict scheduling seems to help me a lot. Which is kinda bad because if I deviate from this schedule even a little bit, like if I were sick, or something else comes up, I don’t really adjust and instead just falls completely off the wagon every time. I think the problem is that I feel like I have to make up for it. Like, I had a sick day on the 2nd, right? I was supposed to work 4 hours that day. Well, I didn’t, and so I thought, I’ll just work 4 hours on the 3rd, which was Saturday, which I initially scheduled to work 2 hours (weekend quota). Well, this little change apparently messed me up mentally enough that I didn’t do any work at all! Had I just completely written off the 2nd as “sick day” and moved on to the 2 hours slotted for Saturday, I probably would have gotten that done. Like, today, I’m also supposed to work 2 hours. I decided to not “make up for lost time” and just follow my initial schedule, and guess what I’m doing right now? Working! I feel like a robot that will just shut down if it deviates from its programming, so I guess the key is to never deviate ever?

(And if you’re like ‘wtf girl you’re only working 4 hours a day holy crap you lucky/lazy person’, yeah, I know. And it’s doubly shameful that I can’t even achieve that much. I want to up it to 5 hours eventually but right now I just want to get anything consistently done at all).

So my solution for now is set a schedule and don’t change it ever. If I’m sick or something big happens then just write the whole day off. Just pretend in your brain that you’re not behind, which apparently is the key to actually be not behind. I’m going to try this for the rest of Camp NaNoWriMo and see where it gets me. And if that doesn’t work either, well, May is a new month too.

Life · Work

Stomach Ache Delaying Work

Well, so much for working full steam come April haha. Literally one day after my post with all my goals I came down with a severe cramping stomach ache. I don’t know what it was, and it was not bad enough that I had to go the ER, but it was bad enough that I pretty much lay in bed all day yesterday. I tried to work and my s.o. was like, come on, take a sick day. You’re not really concentrating and we have a new villager in Animal Crossing to find. So I guess I got persuaded by that and instead of lying in bed I lay on the sofa and went on Island Tours until I found a good villager for our island haha. I mean I also slept and read and ate soupy food, so I’m not neglecting my health or anything. Just was not up for anything mentally taxing.

Today, I feel much better. Stomach still not feeling 100% so I had soupy pho for lunch although I was craving spicy fried chicken. I guess that’ll have to wait until next week. But I’m definitely well enough to be able to sit in front of a desk and type things. I’d have to watch my caffeine intake, too, which is a bummer. Nothing but boring warm water for a while (maybe with some super diluted lemon juice just to give it a bit of flavor). I’ve stopped taking some of my supplements because, well, I haven’t gone to the doctors in a while due to pandemic, so I’m not sure if I’m like taking too much vitamin D or whatever. My body doesn’t process vitamin D well but I’ve also read that you shouldn’t take too much of it either. I’ll know I’m okay if I had a physical, which probably won’t happen until I get vaccinated, which is most likely in June. So many doctor things coming up! Meanwhile let’s make sure I’m at least functioning, mmh?

Life

Things I’m Going To Do In April

Hello folks. It’s April. Wow. This year feels just like last year – moving incredibly slowly and ridiculously fast at the same time. Feels like eons have passed since January 6th, huh? Yet, my state still isn’t open for everyone to get the vaccine. And that is the first thing that I’m going to to do in April – get vaccinated! Well, at least sign up for getting vaccinated. Who knows when exactly I’ll actually get the jab in my arm. Might be April, might be May. But I’m signing up first chance I can.

Another thing in April – Camp NaNoWriMo, of course! I’ve never actually used these challenges as intended, though. I don’t care much about the word count, but I do use them as a springboard to get myself into writing shape. There’s been some instability in my family life all through February and March, and so my productivity had gone down to the toilet. I’ve finally started back up this week, and luckily April marks a new beginning, so to speak. Combined with Camp NaNo and the fact I’m (bravely) submitting some of my work to my writers’ group (stake is still very small, but there is a stake now, as opposed to none) for critique this month, all of this probably will propel me to write on a more dedicated schedule. I still don’t think I’m operating like a “writer”, per se. I love writing; it seems as natural as breathing (don’t @ me I know where the original quote came from lol). How do you turn existing into a job? Anyway, existential crisis aside, I have goals to meet and schedules to keep. Because of my budding realization that I probably have ADHD, it’s more imperative I strictly follow a routine in order to be productive. Or at least try this month and see where it leads.

I’m also going to resume my healthcare journey soon. IVF waits for no one, yo! I’m going to meet with my doctors (via telehealth) later next week for a roadmap of what to do once I’m fully vaccinated. So really, it’s just the beginning of the planning stage due to Covid. I probably won’t step foot back into a hospital until well into May. But I should schedule things regardless. There’s going to be some healthcare provider changes in my house, too, so it’s good that I’m waiting. The US healthcare system is a nightmare and I want to make sure I’m well covered before going in and accrue tens of thousands of dollars in surgeries and the like. I’ve waited over half a year. What’s a few weeks more?

And last but not least, I am 100% following my previous media black out goals. The last couple of weeks I’ve been pretty stressed, so I didn’t follow all my blockers, and went on to read reddit and comments under Youtube (yeah I know I know) and other news publications. And guess what happened? It got me even more stressed! I mean, duh, but it’s good to see empirical evidence of it. So April I have to be good, and block what I need to and NOT, absolutely NOT, visit reddit. Like I said, I only allow myself to open NPR for actual news, and sometimes LATimes for local ones. They’re the least sensational/click-baity news sites I can find and they have factual reporting. On such a work-heavy month I can’t afford to feel terrible about the state of the world and become depressed in the middle. It absolutely will destroy my productivity, and that’s the whole point of this April exercise. So site-blocking extensions full throttle! And maybe instead of wasting time on the web I’ll actually read a book for once. It’s been long due.

Life

Good Mondays – Nice Weather

Let’s just appreciate a very mundane and small thing today – the weather. Today I’m grateful that the weather is nice. Of course, I live in So Cal, so the weather is always “nice” compared to a lot of places. But the cold front did not leave our area unscathed. It had been relatively cold (40s and 50s) and rained a whole lot. Rain here in the desert is not fun. It causes mudslides, so bad that an entire portion of the PCH has collapsed off the continent, and brings out the oil from the roads so it’s more dangerous to drive. Coupled with the plethora of sports cars with no traction and drivers who lose their collective minds when water falls from the sky, let’s just say whenever it rains your safest bet is just stay the hell home.

But finally, the sun has come out and we’re back in the usual “wintery” temperatures of 60s/50s. It means I can now exercise again. I’ve been putting on weight and it’s mostly because I’ve stopped my walks when it got cold. I would walk during the day, but I usually want to go with my husband (because he will never exercise unless I’m with him. It’s one of those things you just can’t change about a person no matter how hard you try), and he doesn’t feel comfortable walking during the day because there’re too many people outside doing the exact same thing. So we always walk at night, when there’re very few people and we don’t have to wear the heavy duty masks (I wear KN95s when I need to go somewhere surrounded by people, and they’re not the greatest when you try to exercise, so instead I wear cloth masks). However, if it’s rainy or too cold we skip it, and it has been that way for a good few weeks. But now that’s mostly over, I can pick my routine back up, and hopefully lose some weight and get back in shape before I try to attempt IVF again.

So a toast, to the sun, to warm weather, to the oncoming spring. I think we all deserve it after such a harsh three months.

Life

Jury Duty and Covid

My husband got summoned for jury duty. It was the reason why we didn’t vote for the longest time haha, so we won’t be on the list for it. Yes, I know it’s an American duty and I’m being bad and un-American and everything, but come on, don’t tell me people really want to go do jury duty, especially if their work is not accommodating. And yes, there’re laws saying your work can’t fire you if you’re stuck in a long case, but we all know how things on paper translates to real life – not very well if it doesn’t hurt corporations. I’ve heard of folks who had to go do jury duty for a year (like the case literally lasted all year), and then of course their work fired them! I’m not sure if they pursued legal actions. If they had no job you think they could afford a lawyer, though?

Also, there’s still the problem with Covid. Neither one of us are vaccinated yet, and being stuck in a room full of random others for a whole day? Uh, yeah, spreader event just waiting to happen. We’ve been so careful all this time only to be thwarted by stupid jury duty? Nuh-uh. So my husband’s going to try to defer it for three months. He’s allowed to at least once, I’m sure, and by the end of June I’m fairly certain at least one of us will be vaccinated. I hope. By then he can go – he’s not going to shirk his duties, but it’s just a safety precaution. I mean seriously what if he’s next to some anti-vaxxer who hates masks? Yes, the court mandates people to wear masks, but do you really think people will comply? They’ll just wear the mesh-like ones or just keep on taking it off and, yeah, no. Not safe at all.