Friday Fictioneers #3

Yes, another installment of this Friday Fictioneer thing. Great writing practice when you’re trying to get yourself back into writing again. So let’s go!

Photo Prompt:

© Roger Bultot

Moving Up

Ronda put the box down at the bottom of the apartment stairwell. It was done – she was finally moving out of this dump of a place and into that posh loft downtown. It’d add another 15 minutes to her commute, but she didn’t have to worry about double-locking her windows and keeping her gun within reach of her bed anymore. Her son could also go to a much better school. All it took was to wait for her boss to finally retire. It was time for younger folks to take up the mantle. It was now her time to shine.

Life · Work

Media Blackout

I’m posting super late because, well, I’ve been kind of super demotivated lately. Starting with the last week of February – I had that weird insomnia episode and everything just kind of went into a haze afterwards. I had zero motivation to do anything, which I’m not proud of. Finally, I got myself motivated enough yesterday since it was the first of the month – a great fresh start, right? Nope! I sat down with the full intention of doing my normal planning and bullet journaling and blogging, only to be sidetracked by a news article. And then it was off to the races! I spent a good hour just browsing news and get demotivated by all the shit that’s going on in the world, and then I got on reddit, and, yeah, it was just a bad spiral all the way down. My plan of doing any work went to nil. And the day was wasted, with me being super upset to boot.

Well, because of all that, I’ve decided this month I’m going to put myself on a media and social media blackout. I will be completely blocking click-baiting sites like cnn.com, and of course no access to reddit or twitter or other forum-like places. (I do not have an active facebook, so at least there’s that.) I, however, will allow myself to look at npr.org, because I found that I can read NPR articles and stop at 1 or 2 articles, because their headline is factual and non-sensationalist. Because of that, I can read a report, get the info, and then go back to work. If it was CNN I’d be continuously clicking titles and skimming the barebones article and then immediately move on to the next one. Their marketing and clickbaiting works! So I’m going to cut myself off from going to that website at all. Ditto for reddit and other social media sites. It’s one thing if there’s amusing content, it’s another that, 4 out of 5 times, I leave feeling stressed, anxious, and upset. And that impacts my creativity so much. (I also give leeway to covid vaccine news, but I go straight to my state’s dashboard for that, so no clicking anything there).

I successfully blocked myself from these distractions today, and lo and behold, I’m finally beginning to get myself back into work-mode. Still didn’t write anything creatively, but at least I’m blogging, and journaling, and doing something productive for my mental health. I’m hoping I’ll return to writing tomorrow. At least a little bit. I can fill my time not doomscrolling with reading or playing a video game. Speaking of reading, I really need something lighthearted and fun for this month. I would like to keep up the habit, too. Well, I guess that’s the next goal.


Weird Insomnia

I did not sleep a wink on Sunday night. I have no idea why. I’m guessing it’s because I had some coffee? But I had coffee in the morning! And no other things of caffeine during the day. Whatever. The point is, I did not sleep a wink the whole of Sunday night. Just couldn’t get my mind to calm down and before I knew it, it was light outside. So I decided to get up and read random things on my iPad for a while. Miraculously, I got sleepy around 9 am, so I went to bed, finally, and slept to around noon. And that was all I got.

So my Monday was terrible. I was a zombie, with a headache and a cloud of tiredness. I wanted to see if I could do any work – ha! Futile attempt. I couldn’t even get enough energy to sit on my computer and play a video game! The only thing I did was stay in bed and watch youtube mindlessly. Insomnia is horrible. Unexplained even worse. But yeah, Monday was a complete wash, but Monday night thankfully I actually slept. Whatever weird insomnia I had went away, at least, for also no apparent reason. I hate the human body sometimes.

Today, Tuesday, I woke up again around noon (slept for like 12 hours straight) with a thumping headache. It went away as soon as I ate food and had some water, so, not that worried. But my concentration is shot today too. Didn’t get any work done – small wonder, eh? Hopefully I will fully recuperate tomorrow and get back to writing. Fingers crossed.


ADHD and Me

So I was browsing tumblr earlier, and came across this reblog of ways to deal with ADHD. They talked about how one might need a concrete timer instead of an arbitrary one – case in point, a timer counting down is just a number you can ignore, a pot of water boiling has an absolute “finish” point. So when you’re waiting for the water to boil, do the dishes. Or, put on this album (or Spotify playlist for an hour) and work until that stops. Things like that. And as I read the entry, completely fascinated, I realized that some of the suggestions are 100% how I deal with my own unproductivity. I absolutely put on a podcast when I do dishes, and whatever time left after I’m done with dishes (podcast is usually half an hour and my dishes take about 15 min) I use the rest to do other chores. I have an actual timer that beeps at me after a period so I work until it beeps. I use other podcasts for all menial tasks you have to do around the house. If I don’t do these things, chores don’t get done, I don’t work, and all that jazz.

Except I came up with these ways on my own, through trial and error to see what makes me work, without ever even realizing these relate to ADHD. I’ve never been diagnosed, and never thought I had an issue. I thought I was lazier than most people, and since I’m prone to depression, I also put these all on depression and anxiety. I then went on a Google spree about signs of adult ADHD, and, yeah, I do a lot of the things they said ADHD sufferers do. And it has been absolutely devastating to my creative career in that I just can’t get myself to finish things. It’s why my novel’s going at a snail’s pace, and I’m terrible at creative deadlines, and I never seem to get to the end of anything no matter how much I work. I fidget – not a lot, but I do, I realized that now. And they even said having ADHD is connected to anxiety and depression. So, a few boxes got checked. Of course, I can’t really rely on web-diagnosis because, you know, everything’s cancer and all. But it did get me thinking about actually getting diagnosed by a professional.

My therapist told me during my depression treatments that, he’d seen a lot of patients with productivity issues, but none of them were because they were “lazy.” Now I’m definitely over my depression, and am still not progressing as much, so maybe this is why. I talked to my s.o., who has subclinical OCD so he’s no stranger to mental health issues, and he said, maybe it’ll help you. Maybe some medication or other therapy would be the push that you need to get going in your career. And I agree. A little push is all I need, really, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up with a steady supply of Adderall and become super human or something. (Joking, okay? I know it’s addictive.)

Well, everything will have to wait until I get vaccinated, though. Plus, I’m sure if I become pregnant I shouldn’t take any medication regardless, so it’ll be a while before anything happens. I’ll revisit everything in June, probably, at the rate we’re going with vaccinations in our state. The only thing I can do is just keep trucking.


Our Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul, If They Work

So I went to the doctor’s on Monday. A retina specialist, to check up on my eye condition after I had a vein occlusion. (Yes, I realize 30s is super young for vein occlusion when I don’t have underlying conditions, but you know, them’s the breaks?) For the past year or so I’ve been seeing flashes of light every time I move my left eye to the right. It’s most likely something is tugging on the retina and causing weird effects, which is why I had to go make sure my retina’s not detaching. Because of the pandemic I put it off until now. It’s gradually getting bigger – the area of flash of light, I mean – but more of a nuisance than something debilitating. Anyway, I finally scheduled an appointment on Monday, and went.

Well, the good news is that my retina is structurally fine, so far. No tears, no sign of detachment, etc. The bad news is that the doctor doesn’t know why I’m seeing this flash of light. His theory is that my vitreous liquid in the eye is shrinking, something that happens to near-sighted people as we age, and that is causing the problem. It doesn’t mean that the retina is going to detach, but it might, so the only thing we can do is just keep an eye on it (ha!) with routine check-ups. Not great, not terrible? At least I’m assured that so far, I can continue to see, which is a plus in my book!

A fun fact! So apparently the length of dilation of your eye is affected by how dark your eye color is. I have medium brown eyes, so when I get my eyes dilated it takes like 4-6 hours to get better. My husband has super black eyes and he gets over it in like three. And apparently people with super light colored eyes will stay dilated until the next day. I learned this from the nurse when she was dilating my eye for the checkup, and I was like, wow, no wonder some people don’t fear going to the eye doctors because they’ll be fine in a couple of hours. I can’t imagine how someone feels when it takes like the whole day and then some though. You can’t do anything then! Although I myself didn’t end up doing anything on Monday either. It wasn’t the dilation, it was the fact that the doctor was doing a really thorough job of checking my retina, which apparently involved using a metal stick to push back the sides of my eye and shining a ridiculous bright light for a long time. He actually put some lidocaine gel in my eye so I don’t feel pain during. So of course after I got home and the lidocaine wore off my eyes were bloodshot, puffy, teary, and all around miserable because someone just literally poked at it with a stick and blinded me for like, ten minutes straight. Brilliant. but hey, it confirmed that my retina’s fine, so there’s that, at least.

The doctor also suggested I go see my regular eye doctor (ophthalmologist instead of retina specialist) to see if I have glaucoma, and reschedule a checkup in three month. Well, all that will have to wait until I get vaccinated, I think. Maybe I can get my hand on something in May, but who knows. As of now I’m done with hospitals until I’m ready to try IVF again, which is, at the earliest, middle of March. I’m staying in my self-imposed quarantine for now. And on that note, I hope you guys also stay safe and have a good day.


Good Mondays – Break

Today I want to talk about, and appreciate, days off. Yes, it’s another generic one about the overall state of things, but I figure we can talk about the ridiculous amount of stationary I’ve amassed over the past year some other time (they do all bring me joy, each and every one). And I want to talk about forgiving yourself for taking a break, because we all need them, regularly, frequently, and they’re nothing to beat yourself up for.

This is brought on by the Superbowl yesterday. Usually every year we have a small party with a few friends to watch the game, complete with plenty of buffalo wings and beer. Not this year, obviously, but a friend of ours had set up a zoom hangout so we can sort of have a party. It worked alright, and in between getting angry at all the refs being obviously biased we caught up on our respective lives. Afterwards I was too strung up to do any work, so I didn’t, and just relaxed the rest of the day. I was supposed to be working on Sunday – I only allow myself 1 day break between workdays because otherwise I’d lose momentum so it’ll be extra hard to start up again. I spent most of Saturday just playing video games and do a crapload of chores. Sunday I was supposed to devote some time after the Superbowl to work. And I didn’t. And I want to say: that’s okay!

I woke up this morning ready to work. I made myself relax and not worry about the lost productivity from the day before. Superbowl is once a year, and it’s okay to take the day off because of that. It’s okay to take more time off if you’re meeting up with friends after a long time of quarantine, or having just come back from surgery, or your roof fell in from torrential rain and you have to call people to fix it. It’s okay to not get much done because your child is sick, or your mother had a fall, or god forbid someone in your family had caught a bad case of Covid and is in ICU. If you have the choice to not work on bad days, you should take the rest, whether the stress is mental or physical. It will help you in the long run. If you’re forced to work no matter what, then I’m sorry, and I suggest you take at least half an hour to yourself to relax, somehow. It’s important, and we as a society (especially Americans) are just way too focused on working and productivity. Constant production is unsustainable. It’s alright if you need some time to regroup.

So I did not feel bad (or as bad as I would’ve before) that I didn’t work yesterday when I should. I’m definitely back to work today, not feeling burnt out, and that is a whole lot better than trying to focus yesterday and failing and then end up completely losing motivation for the rest of the week. I lost a day and gained another five days of productivity. I think that’s a fair trade.


One Step at a Time, and Skincare

So I just want to say I’ve spent most of January basically honing my work/life routine. I know people always say keep a routine, and I’ve never liked that idea, but now, a year into the global pandemic, I realized how much routine is necessary in times of great stress and copious unstructured time. I didn’t think about how my husband going to work, coming back from work, eating out, grocery shopping on weekends, and a slew of other chores kind of naturally formed a loose routine before. I had a concrete starting and stopping time for work: when my husband leaves I work, and when he comes back I stop. Now he’s WFH and it’s so sporadic when he’ll be busy in a meeting or when he’s slacking off, it’s throwing off my rhythm too. My routine just went completely whack over the past year, which was both bad for my productivity and for all the other things in life, like washing my face/put on sunscreen even if it’s cloudy, you know, self-care things. (The IVF surgery/pregnancy/miscarriage hoopla did not help matters, but that’s a different story.)

I decided as part of my new year resolution was to get myself back on a functioning adult track. Which basically meant I started to rigidly follow a schedule of what I’m going to do at specific time of day. In hand-written form, mind you, because I found that writing down checklists with a pen is somehow magically more motivating than typing it out on screen. I bought myself the Hobonichi Techo (which I LOVE. 100%. It’s been so, so helpful with my work), started a random journal and forced myself to record down every thing I’ve done each day, and bought an actual timer (like, the kind you use in the kitchen – it’s cute!) so I don’t stray off course. A bit excessive, I admit, but apparently that’s what it takes to whip myself into shape. Now I’m a month in and have more or less established things, or at least have concrete goals and can see when and why I’ve slipped up (mostly because I kept on getting distracted online, so I installed a web blocker and diligently used it.) You know I’ve always thought writing creatively as a career for me is like an alcoholic trying to stay sober. You have to do baby steps at first and then keep it up every day. You might slip up once in a while, but the goal is to get back on track, hopefully faster every time you failed.

In addition, I’ve also found out that keeping a routine is inadvertently helping out my skin! I’ve developed seborrhoeic dermatitis a couple of years ago (thank you California drought weather!) and have been trying to keep it in check ever since. I’ve been using prescription steroid creams and they do clear it up, however, it always come back after 10 days or so. I don’t want to keep on putting steroid on my face indefintiely, so I’ve been trying all kinds of other creams and serums and etc. to see if I can manage it without medication. Well, turns out that if I consistently keep a skincare routine it gets better. Right now I have minimal redness and peeling, and I’ve honed down what kind of moisturizer works best for me and what kind of ingredients are huge no-nos (alcohol, mainly, and maybe niacinamide, which is a shame because it’s a great ingredient, just not for me). I’m still trying out things but the combo is working well, and I’m super stoked about that. Keeping a routine on my work made me also commit a routine on my health. Who’d have thought?

Now if only I can apply the same to flossing. (Need to go to a dentist, but am waiting for after I get the Covid vaccine, which might not happen until June. Ugh.)

Life · Writing

Yep, It’s February

Well hello folks. New month, new entry, per tradition. Really, I should post more often, but sometimes things just get in the way. Plus, it’s not like every day there’s some major crises like Insurrection or Second Impeachment and the like. “May you live in interesting times” really is the worst curse ever.

Anyway, I just want to give a general update on my life right now. The first month of 2021 has passed and I used most of it to basically establish a routine – writing, skincare, chores, everything. Of course I hit snags when I just was not up for it, which was kind of excusable considering the turmoil that happened in the US, but just barely. I had no excuse not to work as much as I could the past couple of days, for example, except I just really didn’t feel like it. I did finally give my bedroom a thorough dusting. It lead to many more chores, however, now that I took a proper look at the mess the house has become over the past few years. I know we accumulate stuff just from living, but there’re surely ways to organize things better. I’m not going to Marie Kondo everything, but at least I should clear all the papers from all the surfaces (and they’re literally on ALL the surfaces) so I could give that a thorough dusting too. I mean I don’t think I’ve seen the top of the living room coffee table for a long time. So, yeah, more to add to the to-do list.

I feel relatively okay when it comes to work, surprisingly. I’ve been keeping more or less on track with writing, and I feel like I got a little more done each week that passed. It’s like I’m starting as an overweight person trying to run for the first time in years. Of course it’s going to be slow and miserable and sporadic the first 100 miles (aiming for 1 mile a day as the metaphor). But as I build more muscle I can run faster. Same thing with writing. I’m not working as much as I want right away, but it’ll build upon itself, so eventually I’d be able to actually keep a consistent schedule. The pitfall is stopping. And yes, your body needs at least 1 day of rest a week if you exercise regularly, so I carried that over to my writing too. Five days of work and then one day of break. I found that if I take more break days I tend to just, well, get lazy and not do anything for more days. So I have to keep up the momentum. That’s the goal of this month – keep going, and see how far I can run.


Inauguration 2021

I got woken up by an earthquake of all things. Hello Cali amirite? It was a small one so no big deal. And also the garbage truck kept beeping right under my window, but, anyway, the point is that I got woken up at spanking 8:30 am and so, decided to just get up and have coffee instead of rollover and go back to sleep.

Because of that, I caught the inauguration almost live! Almost because I went back to the very beginning instead of just watch the live feed so I can see the whole thing, which started I think half an hour before I tuned in? I don’t remember. Anyway, never in my life have I watched an inauguration of the presidency, voluntarily, in full. The only other time where I partially watched it was when Obama was sworn in since it was so historic. But these four years have tempered me from completely meh about politics into someone who actually turned into most of Biden’s many speeches, mostly after he won, and paying attention to state and local politics too. (I still try to avoid Trump talking as much as I can, so I did not watch the debates, but I did hear people’s reaction to it and I don’t think I missed much.) I voted for the first time ever. I obsessively followed Georgia Senate race and subsequent runoff; I think Stacey Abrams is just goddamn amazing and am going to check out her book from the library (I ain’t made out of money lol). I’ve also never had the desire to read any books written by politicians before. Not even Obamas, although maybe I should read Michelle’s at some point now. What a legacy, huh? (Trump I mean.) I’ve never had the illusion that America’s the greatest nation on Earth or whatever bs people get fed in elementary school, but now all the political decisions have such huge impacts on everyone that I feel like I must be well informed in order to navigate my life for the future.

So I watched all the speeches, songs, poetry, and of course Harris and Biden getting sworn in. I was truly anxious that there’s going to be a terrorist attack or something, but thankfully, nothing happened. Probably because there’re literally 25000 troops at DC right now, and social media kind of blocked people from organizing. It was boring, and normal, and bureaucratic, and I’ve never felt more hopeful. Later I was browsing more news and saw a headline that said something like “White House Believes Climate Change Is Real Again” and I was just facepalming so hard. Can’t believe the bar is set just that low but we’re slowly, slowly starting to climb out of the hole. So yeah, hopeful is definitely the right word. A hopeful 2021 is what I’m looking forward to.

(I don’t dare think beyond that let’s just get past the next few months first eh?)



So I called my parents yesterday and learned that they both got their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine!! Joy of all joys!!

Except, I also learned how they managed to get their shots, because they’re definitely NOT in the first group to be vaccinated (which is front-line workers and people in long-term care facilities, and I think also people over 75). The reason they got it was because, apparently, 60% of the medical personnel (nurses, mostly) TURNED DOWN the vaccine! Like, WHAT?? How can a medical person not believe in vaccines for whatever reason? So because the vaccines once thawed have to be used within a certain time limit, the facility’s just giving the leftover doses to whoever signed up. My mom not only got herself vaccinated, but she talked other people in her lab into getting them too, and they’re post-docs in their 20s – at the very back of the line, logistically, but they all got vaccinated. WTF? Here I am in a state where we actually have a shortage, and people in my parents’ state are having a surplus because of anti-vaccination ideals. Wow.

I would never move back to her state if I have any choice, but now I’m like, damn, I want my shots already haha. It’ll be like June before I can get mine, at the earliest, probably. It’s doggone crazy! Still, I’m so glad my parents are getting vaccinate, period, because no one around them wear masks and everything’s open. I worried about them every single day since March of last year. Now I can worry just a little bit less.