Writing

Friday Fictioneers #5

Ahaha, back to this again. Let’s just say this is a great way for me to stretch my writing muscles. And reading everyone else’s take are always very fun.

Photo Prompt:

Ordinary

Luke toppled over the Lego man with a triumphant shriek. Joanna frowned. He wasn’t a disruptive child, so this out-of-ordinary episode had her concerned.

“Indoor voices, Luke,” she chided.

“It is indoors!”

Joanna paused. “This is how loudly your parents speak at home?” She hadn’t heard anything about divorces or seen any signs of abuse. Not yet.

“Yep!”

“Has it always been like that?”

“Nope,” Luke shook his head. “Only last weeks.”

She made a note to call Luke’s mother after school. But right now she needed to remind the boy exactly how loud indoor voices were supposed to be.

Life · Writing

No NaNo November

For the first time in a long while, I am NOT doing NaNoWriMo this November. So much had happened in the past couple of months that I’m still slowly recovering emotionally, there’s no way I can try to focus on writing anything even semi-literate right now. I have been seeing my therapist, and he said that I had a major depressive episode due to outside sources (so it’s not just a general depressive state caused by my own mind, but actual events that had happened), and it looks like I’m clawing my way out of it, but it’ll take time. I suppose that’s good news. Anyway, I’m sure for the rest of the year my productivity will be crap on top of these past horrible two years. Pandemic really messes with people, huh?

As part of me slowly trying for normal, I’m going to blog here again. I’m sorry I was gone for so long, but really, it’s unavoidable, IMO. So much crappy things had happened that I would love to recount every horrible detail, because if I could do that without crying it means I’m getting over them. Well, maybe getting over is too harsh a word – more like moving past them slowly so I can go back to being a functional adult. And isn’t that all we want? Trying to be a functional adult? Nobody told me it’d be this hard when I was a kid. I don’t really miss my childhood, but I gotta say at least things had definitive goals and I had definitive steps to get there. Now? It’s all a haze.

(Off topic, but I’m not a big fan of WordPress’s new interface. What they had before was better. It was cleaner and the text less cramped and is there a way for me to make it so everything isn’t so compact? It’s not the text size’s problem but more about its spacing. Geez, gone for two months and even your blogging UI decides to change on you.)

Anyway, I’m not doing NaNo and it feels kind of weird. The community aspect had always been my favorite, and this year I’m just completely ignoring the whole thing. I won’t even have a temporary icon with the badge on it! It’s a small thing but that always made me very happy, like I’m part of something cool and greater (yeah only writers think NaNoWriMo is cool, right? I mean not even all of us – I’ve met folks in my MFA who thought the whole thing’s kind of absurd haha). I think ever since the site rebranding it’s less, I don’t know, distinct? In that you can basically do your own NaNo anytime with your own trackers and stuff. So does it really have to be in November? I could probably have a “make-up” NaNo in January if I want. I might do that.

I’m going to stop here. When I’m more up for it I will tell you what happened to me in the past few months. It’s not pretty, but it needs to be said, by me, so I can maybe count that as a way to cope and move past them.

Life

September

Hello folks. I have a very short update on life for ya. So I went through another round of IVF embryo transfer and will be expecting the result tomorrow. I am very nervous, and although my family have been 100% supportive of “what will be will be”, it still makes me scared to find out. My insurance does not cover a single cent of this this time around, so it cost quite a hefty penny on top of all the hopes and fears of someone undergoing this ordeal normally. I have been trying to meditate and distract myself with happy things instead of all nerves like last time. So August was basically a giant wash when it came to creative work. Now it’s September, and I haven’t progressed much anywhere in my life. But I’m not going to think about it today.

I will probably write a longer entry tomorrow about things after I find out whether I’m successfully pregnant or not. No guarantee if I’ll have another miscarriage six weeks from now, but at least I’d have vaulted the first hurdle of at least been pregnant for a week.

Work · Writing

Work Update

Well, folks, it’s been a while. I had such high hopes for July but I guess I was not prepared of the toll the whole biopsy thing had taken on my body. The PIO injections were so painful! I basically have to slot in extra times in the day to exercise/massage so I can keep the pain controllable without taking too many painkillers. I know it eventually will be more manageable, but it definitely was not the first week after a whole year of rest. With all that physical baggage I basically copped out of writing the whole month. Isn’t that always the case, though? If it’s not this medical thing it’s something else. I just have very little will when it comes a lot of things and I’m not happy about that. So, new month, new beginnings, new resolutions.

One thing I did realize is that I need a central notebook, reminder list, something tangible, to keep my goals in sight. Like, I have to write something down (not just type out a blog) that is concretely related to my writing in order to keep motivated. If I don’t I literally lose track of where I am in my novel process and then nothing even gets planned, let alone get done. I’m not sure if this happens to other people normally or just people with ADHD or what. But yeah, out of sight, out of mind forever. (Could be a visual learner thing?) Anyway, luckily (unluckily for my wallet, but for me, yes) JetPens keep on stocking things I want so I bought more notebooks, and I’m going to use them as a ledger of sorts. Yesterday I used a very cheap notebook (new stuff hasn’t arrived yet) to start, and I wrote down in large, colorful bullets what I have done with my novel, and this morning I thought in detail about what I will accomplish with my novel today. Achievable, but concrete steps (so none of the “this character is going to do this thing somehow” or “I will brainstorm the third section of the plot”, but more like “move everything from this file to the new one” and “edit these five sentences, then these five paragraphs, etc.), and I’m going to keep this up every day. I will also find a suitable notebook to compile everything I’ve done by the week’s end, just so I can look at it and see, here’s step 1 – 10 you’ve done. Next week do step 11- 20. There will be 100 steps total. Get to it! I think this will actually keep me on track. I’m beginning to truly realize and embrace that I am a planner, a neurotically obsessed chronological planner, so the only way for me to work is do things like steps in a chemistry experiment, or follows a recipe, and not some nebulous concept that a more free-flow-thinking kind of person could just magically make do as work.

My plan for August is very work-focused. Since July fell through, I’m hoping this month I’ll really, really, really kick myself in gear. I’ll let you know mid-month how it’s going. Crossing my fingers that my fickle brain would actually work for real this time. Then I’d know I finally have an achievable schedule.

Life

Insurance. Ye Gods.

I spent a good chunk of this morning calling insurance. Why? Well, it looks like my lifetime limited coverage of infertility issues have run out, so nowadays every single one of my visit with my doctor (and the subsequent ultrasound) would cost me 800+ dollars per. Yeah…. I’ve been trying to see if I can get it coded a bit differently, especially this time when I’m not actually doing an embryo transfer but just a biopsy. If it’s just billed as regular ob/gyn it would be covered. I’m not holding out much hope, though. It’ll be another few weeks before anything is final, so I’m not paying a cent right now. Even if it’s not covered I’m going to see if I can negotiate the bill down or something. Also, I’m going to ask my doctor to see what is the minimum number of visits I can do before an embryo transfer (this procedure has never been covered by any insurance so it’s about $2500 each time.) If I only have to come in once then at least I can minimize my cost so each cycle would roughly cost me $5000. Otherwise it seems very insane.

Before you go on rage about America’s utter lack of universal healthcare, I don’t think any country’s insurance covers infertility treatments. If you’re a woman who’s infertile then your option of getting a baby is basically get rich and pay up. Them’s the breaks, yeah? This is why we set aside a very significant amount of savings to try to do this. Also why I’m definitely going to be looking for a job later this year. Well, part of the reason, mostly it’s because my book is killing me yo! But that’s a topic for another time.

Anyways, spending a long time talking to insurance and billing is not a fun way to spend a morning. Add to that my derrière really hurts from the progesterone shots right now, I’m close to just giving up today on other work and just play the Sims haha. But I can’t, because that would be counterproductive to my goals. I might take a painkiller though. I wonder if Tylenol will even help.

Life

And It Begins Again

I’m starting IVF again. Yep, more hormones, painful shots, expenses that insurance doesn’t cover, the whole nine yards. I’m doing a “mock cycle” right now, to prep for a biopsy on Monday. Basically they want to measure that the condition of the uterus is where it should be given the amount of medication I’m on. If it’s not, then they’d adjust the day when implantation happens. Maybe I just have super low hormones so the usual length or dose of medication is just not enough, so they’d wait for it go up longer before trying implantation. Or everything is the way it should be and I just can’t get pregnant easily, even if an embryo is implanted directly in the uterus. In that case it’s just a constant trial and error until I run out of embryos. Fun.

Either way, I’m expecting this whole thing to be over in the next year or two. By then I’d have exhausted all possibility and we’d have to look into adoption. It’s fine, just another huge money pit. But in the meantime let’s just stay hopeful, I guess. I personally am not optimistic, but the main thing this time is to stay calm. Being anxious 24/7 is not good for any pregnancy, let alone a difficult one. So I’m just going to try to stay as calm as I can while being all on kinds of artificial hormones. As of today I have started the painful progesterone shots again. Ugh, but a least this time it’s only for a few days until the biopsy, and I have some ways to try to deal with it. It’s going to be bad, but you know, eventually you get used to it. It’s kind of like how people keep asking someone who’ve survived a tragedy “how do you get through that?” You, uh, are kind of forced to by being alive still? I mean life doesn’t stop just because you’re in pain, so the only thing you can do is just do what you need to and know, at least in my case, that the pain will go away.

And Advil. Lots and lots of Advil. Until I’m actually pregnant, then it’s Tylenol. Modern pain meds are a marvel.

Life

Might As Well Call This Another Adventure in ADHD

Okay, so. I talked about the book I read on coping with ADHD before and how effective it actually is in fundamental ways to help me navigate life. In one chapter the narrator said that sometimes an ADHD person get stuck on one, seemingly insignificant step in the process of tackling a large project, which could end up derailing progress for days, weeks, months. I think she used an example of someone putting away mail and got stuck on exactly where to put a postcard/birthday card because it required many steps to sort out. To a non-ADHD person it would seem like a non-issue; put that thing down somewhere else and move on to other things in the pile. But to ADHD folks they either just freeze completely or put it somewhere and never pick it up again and so the large project will never be completed either. I thought, huh, don’t think I’ve had that experience, and continued on.

Well, now I have just realized that I had a similar thing happen to me last night! (Definitely not the first time this thing happened to me just the first time I mentally acknowledged it’s currently happening.) So one of my big projects in July is to completely sort out my medical records and clean the dining table which is half-covered in all sorts of medical things due to IFV and multiple surgeries. (And after that‘s done is when I can actually tackle the humongous pile of junk/unsorted mail hidden beneath the coffee table but that’s another thing entirely.) I already have some medical things sorted in a folder in a cabinet, along with taxes, old work records, things like that. My plan was to sort out those old folders and then start putting the new stuff away. Well, let’s just say I’ve been not sorting out those old folders for months. Kept on putting them off, and because there’s seemingly no folders to put the new stuff in, I didn’t organize anything, and the pile on my dining table just kept getting bigger.

And so, in a sudden epiphany while having dinner last night, my brilliant brain came up with a conclusion of JUST GO BUY MORE FOLDERS! If I need folders to put the stuff in, but currently they’re all used up, obviously the solution is to just acquire more fucking folders! I can’t believe I literally wasted months not starting on this project because I cannot make the leap from lacking folders to buying more. If I want to organize the old stuff first before tackling the new stuff, but the new stuff is getting out of hand, then it’s okay to just organize the new stuff first and then incorporate the old stuff into it! Old stuff is not getting bigger by the day, after all. I talked to my husband about this and I was like, what would you say if I came to you with this problem? He was like, well, I have hoarder tendencies so the minute I realize stuff is spilling out existing containers my go-to solution is buy more containers instead of actually organizing or throwing stuff away. I was like that does not help in the long run and he’s like, well, yeah but the room you want cleaned will be clean. Anyway, had I asked him this months earlier, when I was first stuck, then his answer would’ve probably prompted my brain to think BUY MORE FOLDERS!! sooner and we won’t be in this mess now still.

So I went on Amazon today and bought some nice thick folders. There’s my weekend planned out – cleaning! Hopefully my brain doesn’t come up with new ways to derail me, but I have faith. Have to at this point. Christ.

Life

Good Mondays – Reunions

Today I want to celebrate all the reunions and gatherings – family, friends, people you haven’t seen in over a year because of the pandemic – that are happening now. I saw my family during my trip to Hawaii, and a few friends came down from Nor Cal to meet up with the rest of us So Cal gang for the first time in a year. I’ve done more social things these past few weeks than I’ve done since 2019, and I think it’s something to be cheerful about. (This is a lot coming from an extreme introvert.) It also coincided with the Fourth of July weekend, so celebrations all around!

The Hawaii trip was very, very relaxing. It was so great seeing my parents. They both got more white hair than I last seen them, and it’s such a stark reminder that they’re indeed growing older every day. It makes me want to visit them more, which also reminds me that I need to call my family in China more, too. They’re doing okay, I guess? My grandma is still hanging on despite being very sick for a very long time, which I consider a miracle. I’m not sure if I would be able to see her though, because right now to go to China as an American citizen is pretty much impossible. With my mom though I hopefully will visit her in half a year or so. Preferably after all the insane airline prices go down (and the South not have a winter Covid outbreak). Family is so important and I did not realize how much I missed them until this very prolonged time of no visitation. Will definitely keep that in mind in the future.

As for my friends, well, everybody’s vaccinated, everybody’s happy to see everybody else, so just drunken parties all around haha. Okay, not really, but we did meet up at a nice bar with a beach view and threw down some cocktails and beers. In August I will be driving up to Nor Cal to attend a friend’s wedding. They were supposed to have it last year in June but, you know, lockdowns and Covid. So they’ve pushed it to August of this year. I imagine it’ll be a small gathering? I’m not sure. Anyways, I now need to buy more clothes because I don’t think I have anymore formal clothes that fit haha. Or lose like 10 lbs in a month and a half, so, I think buying new things is a more feasible endeavor.

So for everyone out there who hasn’t seen family yet, or still couldn’t due to various reasons, I wish you a happy reunion in the future. For everyone already seeing friends, carry on! We deserve some partying as we emerge from this awful year.

Books

Book Thoughts – Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul

Wow. I finished reading an actual book. I meant for “Book Thoughts” to be a series, but so far I’ve only had one entry in it, and it was back in September of last year. Yeah… you know, I used to read all the time when I was younger. I don’t know what has happened since I became an adult.

Well, no matter, now I’m going to get back into the reading groove. So today I’m going to talk about this book I just finished. It’s not even fiction, more of self-help book when I need a kick in my derrière to get my productivity up. And I think it has done its job pretty well considering. It’s a fast and easy read organization guide mainly for folks with ADHD. The author has a blog focused on dealing with ADHD, as she and her family all suffer from it. In Order from Chaos she doesn’t really go into too much detail about the ‘why’s’ behind ADHD, but instead jumps right to the ‘what to do when’s’, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Of course, ADHD comes in all shapes and sizes, and the author specifically talked about how different her own ADHD manifests versus her husband’s. (I can’t imagine keeping a household functional when multiple people have ADHD. Major kudos for her.) So the tricks and organization advices in this book might not work for all people. For example, I don’t have the same issues as the author when it comes to retaining information. She has to write every single thing down; I can keep some in my brain without forgetting. I mean, of course I do write things down, but it’s more of a “if I don’t write it, it won’t get done” kind of thing instead of forgetfulness. The author also talks about how sometimes she’d tunnel vision on one thing and forget time existed. I do not have experience with that. What I have instead is that I have trouble prioritizing tasks. Imagine cleaning, cooking, laundry, vacuuming all weigh the same in your head as writing your book, and everything has to be done in an order that your brain just arbitrarily assigns. You will never get to writing because you will never run out of cleaning jobs in your house! That’s what I have. My brain has to go through all the “little” things before it can tackle the “big” thing, but by the time it got to the “big” thing it’s so tired that it just doesn’t do it at all.

So what did I learn from the author to fix my issue? Well, I wouldn’t say “fix” completely because that’s not possible, but there are still a lot of things I can do to minimize the problem. I think the biggest takeaway is that I have to learn to work with reality and not wishful thinking. The reality is that I have to have nothing on my plate when I start working, so I need to pare down significantly what I need to do each day in order to function. It means only do one major chore a day and STOP. It means block ALL websites while working except for a useful handful (thesaurus.com, for example). It means turn on DO NOT DISTURB on my phone and only write ONE blog entry per day (this one for today!) and work in absolute silence instead of with background music (learned that I’m a visual learner and any noise detracts from my concentration, not help it like with some others). My brain is not equipped to do what normal people can do without effort, so in order to get my main goals done (finish my novel), I have to significantly aim for less everywhere else.

I didn’t mean for this book thought to be mostly about me. But I think with a self-help book, this is probably the result you’d want, right? After reading there should be some kind of epiphany that makes your life better. If you have ADHD and you just want some practical advice on how to organize your life instead of diving deep into the psychology of manifestation of ADHD, this book is very helpful. Not every exercise she suggest would work for you, but I thinks the fundamental lessons she listed out is good, and you can always tailor what she does to what you need. Essentially she gives you the tools to help yourself. I probably used less than half of her techniques but still found ways fundamentally to make things work better for me. Even if you don’t have ADHD she’s got some solid organization skills in general, so I wholeheartedly recommend checking this book out.

Life

Good Mondays – Traveler’s Notebook

Hello! Today, for a good, cheerful topic, I will talk about my upcoming trip, but more specifically, the travel notebook I bought for this trip. I’ve always wanted to start a traveling journal, an analog record where I can put down all my thoughts on the sights, the food, the whole experience. However, I don’t travel that frequently (not rich enough haha), and I wasn’t that big a stationery fan until recently, right in the middle of the pandemic where I couldn’t go anywhere. So I just put it off.

But no more! I now have a complete “system” of a travel notebook, bought from the aptly named Traveler’s Company. I got the basic starter pack from jetpens.com and also a whole lot of accessories. It’s unnecessary, I know, but right now I have a perfectly tailored notebook for me, with a lined and a blank paper refill, zipper bag, stick-on back pocket, and more. You can definitely go a lot more in depth than me, though – I think it’s perfectly possible to use this notebook as a one-stop traveling wallet/purse if you customize it enough. I’m just going to use it as a journal/scrapbook, though. Mostly because I want it to be relatively light, and also, I already spent quite a bit of money decking this one out. Anymore I’d feel like I’m being too extravagant.

Speaking of journaling, I bought my first customizable multi-pen to pair with the notebook. It’s a Pilot Hi-Tec-C with 4 pen inserts. I love to use different vibrant colors for journals, and a multi-pen would get me many colors in one pen barrel – great for traveling! I tested how it writes on the Midori paper and it flows like a dream! So smooth and also dries quickly. The only downside I read from reviews is that the pen inserts tend to run out of ink quickly because they’re so small. Well, I’m only going to be gone for like 4 days, so I imagine it’ll be enough. On longer trips in the future I’ll be sure to bring back ups (or if I’m going to Japan, I can just buy more there. My next trip to Tokyo will definitely be a giant stationery haul.)

So yeah, for this Good Monday, I’m getting hyped up again about my upcoming trip. So getting ready to get the hell out, you know? I’m going to start packing the small things tomorrow – way too early to pack, but my mom has already started packing like last month, so in comparison I’m the lazy and unprepared one haha. And of course I’ll start writing the whole prep into my traveling journal, because anticipation is part of the journey, too.