Saturday, December 03, 2022

Spoke Too Soon

Hear that maniacal laughter? That's me after thinking I was back to 'normal' on Thursday. I woke up Friday and could barely move. Everything hurt. Yep, another flare decided to invade my body, and I ended up sleeping most of the day.

When I woke up, I didn't feel any better. I ate some lunch, took a pain pill, and stayed in bed. I was so, so FRUSTRATED. I had all these plans to go outside and take a walk, spend some quality time with my boyfriend, and enjoy the day, and here I was, stuck in bed again.

But we had a nice evening anyway. My boyfriend built a fire in our downstairs den, I worked on my puzzle, and we watched a few movies. And even though I slept so much, I was still exhausted and I went to bed at a reasonable hour (for me). I didn't get any writing done on the novel which annoyed me, but sometimes, you have to just listen to your body and stop trying to push, push, push.

Today is a tiny bit better, but not much. I was determined to get out of the house, so my boyfriend drove me around to do some errands. I returned all the books I'd borrowed from my university library, then we headed off to buy some Christmas lights, a new chew toy for Blitz, and a few other odds and ends.

Now I'm back in my recliner, watching Turner Classic Movies, because it just makes my life easier. I'm planning to work on the novel later. I'm at a really fun - but tricky - part and I need to carefully work my way through it. 

I still haven't done anymore decorating for  Christmas - it's such a big job and I don't have the energy for it. I doubt I'll put everything up this year - but we'll see. If I have a good health day, I just might be motivated to put some Christmas cheer into my home!

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Back to Normal...For Now

The antibiotics did the trick, thank goodness, and the fiery sore throat has eased considerably. A ticklish, slightly sore remnant reminds me of the hell I went through for three days, and here's hoping I don't experience it again any time soon, if ever.

I still took it easy today - no walking on the treadmill - but I did tidy up my bedroom - washed the bedding, took out the trash, dusted, and vacuumed. The atmosphere feels much better, as though I've swept away the icky germs. 

I'm planning to work on my novel tonight (my creativity usually kicks in after 10 p.m.) and here's hoping I'll continue to feel better tomorrow. I need to get out of the house, for one, and two, I'd like to take a walk on what looks to be the last warm day we'll have for awhile. 

Of course, as a chronically ill person, my normal is quite different from other people's normal. I always have pain or discomfort, always have symptoms. Some days are worse than others, but anytime I feel halfway decent, I'll take it!

In other news, my professor already returned the first draft of my paper and I'll only need to make minor changes to it. Tremendous news, indeed! It shouldn't take me long to edit, and then, it's time to focus solely on the novel. 

I have a new desk arriving next week. If I'm going to be doing a lot of writing, I need to make sure I'm doing it in a healthy way. Therefore, I'm going back to an ergonomic keyboard and now have a comfy desk chair. I'll still have times when I write on my laptop while reclining in bed, of course, but I want to have some options.

Tomorrow is Friday. Huzzah!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Fight Through the Fear

 All day long I worried.

I'd been reading a novel set in the same time period as the one I'm currently writing. I didn't like it, so I found some reviews. Many readers saw the same flaws I did in the novel, and I wondered again why some books are published and others are not. 

But I also know that books are art, and art is subjective. 

What if my novel received bad reviews? What if I couldn't pull it off? Should I even bother?

I could feel the resistance starting to build the wall in my head, brick by brick. 

"Maybe I'll skip tonight's writing session," I thought.

But then I rebelled. "No. If I cave in to the fear and the dread, it'll drag on and on, and I'll end up avoiding the novel for days, if not weeks."

So. I decided to face the fear. 

I grabbed my headphones, put on my writing playlist, and opened the Word doc. 

And I began to write.

I wrote and wrote, and before I knew it, I'd finished the chapter. 

It's amazing what can spook our psyche. 

But we can either give in to it, or push back. 

Last night I chose to push back. I ended my writing session on such a high I wanted to dance around the room. I didn't, of course, because I'm sick with strep throat, but inwardly, oh did I dance.

Fight the fear. Write.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Wanted: A Sabbatical from Life

 I'm on day three of this horrendous sore throat. My doctor thinks I have strep, so I've taken two doses of antibiotics today. It still hurts. I have not had a sore throat this bad in years. As a child, my tonsils were huge, and my mother constantly worried they'd cause me problems. But they didn't - until I became a teenager. I kept getting sore throats and finally, at the ripe old age of 21 (that's old for getting your tonsils out!), I had them taken out. The pain during recovery literally made me cry. My ears and throat hurt so badly that I could barely stand it. But as the human body does, I healed, and life went back to normal.

Over the years, I've still had some sore throat, and have had strep a few times, but nothing like this latest round. When I wake up, it takes me a good two hours to get it calmed down enough to not swallow without crying. I've been eating ice cream as that seems to help, and then feel guilty about it because OH MY GOD I MIGHT GAIN WEIGHT. Ah the brain is just so much fun, isn't it?

Worse, this sore throat comes on the heels of me having a long flare of my chronic illnesses. I feel worthless, depressed, and worn out. I look terrible, I feel terrible, and hate that I'm being a burden on my boyfriend and my daughter.

Those are my thoughts, and as I wrote about earlier, they're wrong because I know I am not being a burden. When they are sick (which is rare for my BF), I take care of them and don't see them as a burden. It's not their fault that they're sick, and it's not mine, either!

I'm still trying to do the day job throughout all of this, and I had to finish the first draft of my class paper. While the paper has been submitted, I now await the inevitable edits I'll have to make for the final.

I haven't been able to exercise, and I know that's a big part of this depression - walking helps me not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.

I'm not excited about Christmas, not excited about the novel, not even excited by the books I'm reading. 

Honestly, I don't want to do it anymore, it being all the responsibilities I have. I want to take a sabbatical from life: do nothing on the day job, don't worry about the paper, don't worry about the novel. Just check myself into a hospital/sanitarium and listen to podcasts or read or have someone wheel me around the pond. 

I'm sure that once my throat stops being on fire, and I'm able to get on the treadmill, or even get out of the house, I'll feel better. 

But it sure is tempting to just say, "I'm done for awhile," and check out of reality for a week or so.

If only.

Honestly, I'm not feeling too resilient today!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Down the Research Rabbit Hole

As a historian, I love to research, and the internet makes it oh so much easier. I'm guilty of looking for one piece of information only to find my attention snagged by something else, and sooner rather than later, I've completely forgotten my original research query.

My current novel is set in Hollywood in 1940, and I am having a blast researching it. The best part is that there are tons and tons and TONS of early L.A. photos available. This means I can research to my heart's content. This also means I can get completely lost in minute details that I don't need for my story.

When I was working on my master's degree in history, I found myself making copies of files that I didn't know if I'd need or not. But as one of my fellow historians said, "The historian who has the most stuff wins." Even if you don't end up using most of your files, you just never know when a little tidbit might come in handy.

The gorgeous actress Gene Tierney

It's the same when researching for a historical fiction novel. In fact, finding one of those little tidbits can sometimes send your novel in a direction you never considered before, or add some color to a snippet of dialogue. 

Of course, you can't research forever.  You need to put words on the page at some point, but having that historical knowledge while you write is crucial. It's one thing to use anachronistic language, but it's another altogether to put a house in a neighborhood that didn't even exist at the time you're writing your story. 

I'm trying to be extra careful with my current novel because it's a topic a lot of people know a LOT about. And historical fiction readers know their stuff. They have no hesitation in calling out an author who got something wrong! I'm hoping to avoid that at all costs.

My problem, though, is that I feel like I need to read every book on a particular topic which is, quite frankly, impossible. Sometimes I wish I had the ability to just put my hand on a book and immediately absorb (and retain) all the information. Wouldn't that be something?

Saturday, November 26, 2022

I Am Worthy

 I'm not sure when I started feeling that my chronic illness made me a burden to those who love me.

Maybe it's because my ex-husband told me my illnesses were one of the reasons he cheated on me and left (he was a master at emotional abuse. I mean, really. Blaming me for him cheating and leaving? Classic narcissist.)

Unfortunately, how he made me feel in that moment stayed tucked into my brain. 

My boyfriend and I have been together close to three years. The last year and a half has arguably been the most difficult due to my worsening health issues. He is invariably patient, kind, and understanding - but I thought my ex was, too. Yet behind my back, he chose to find someone else.

My brain knows it wasn't my fault. My heart, however, does not.

When I wake up feeling  ick yet again, even "normal people" sick - i.e. if I have a cold or the flu - I feel tremendous guilt and worry my boyfriend will think, "God, not again."

He assures me he doesn't. He assures me he won't leave me because I'm sick. 

But it is at these times when I feel very vulnerable. I don't feel worthy of his love because I cannot do all the things I feel is necessary for a healthy relationship. Intimacy is hard when you feel like crap most of the time. Going out and doing fun stuff takes a backseat unless I'm having a good day. 

I constantly worry I am holding him back from doing things he wants to do. He says I'm not at all.

But because of my past trauma, my heart keeps telling me, "He says that. But does he really mean it?"

It is at these moments when I have to remind myself that even if I am sick, even if I have limitations, I am still worthy. I am still worthy of respect, of devotion, of love. Why is this so hard to accept? Every time I get sick, this conversation pops up in my head.

As my therapist said, I am resilient. I will be okay no matter what. I remember the first day I met my therapist. I'd just found out about my ex's cheating, and I desperately needed help. She told me, "It doesn't feel like it now, but one day you will be okay. I promise you." I didn't believe her. I was in so much emotional pain that I wanted to die. 

But I didn't die. I kept going. I grieved, I learned about trauma bonds, I did the work, and I healed.

Healing is not linear, however, and sometimes we end up going backwards. Even three years into a new relationship, I still get triggered. But it is up to me to deal with those triggers in a healthy way.

Above all, I need to remember that no matter what, I am worthy of happiness and love and contentment. 

And so are you.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A Quiet Thanksgiving

We had a nice, quiet holiday, just me, my boyfriend, and my daughter. The BF and I took a walk today - it was a little windy but otherwise not too bad outside - and when we returned, he started cooking dinner. He's so much better at it than I am! We have a deal - he cooks, I do the dishes. Win, win!

After we ate, my daughter and I spent an hour laughing our heads off playing a fun game on XBox. So much fun to just let loose and be silly. North by Northwest, one of my favorite movies, was on TCM, so naturally I watched it. 

Tomorrow we're planning to visit my brother and his family. I'm looking forward to seeing my nieces and nephew. No Black Friday shopping for me! My poor daughter works retail, however, so she'll be in the thick of it. 

I'm hoping I can get some more work done on the novel this weekend. I wrote a bit on it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it, so need to keep the motivation going.

Gosh. What a boring post. But hey, I am sticking to my daily blogging schedule, and even if the posts are boring, they still count!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


Would it surprise you to learn that I have a sticker on the back of my car that says, "Huzzah!" It shouldn't. I found it at Colonial Williamsburg, and I snatched that baby right up. I wanted it on a t-shirt, but couldn't find it, so settled for this.

And why am I saying "Huzzah!" right now?

Because the first draft of the class paper is done. Oh my. This paper has tormented me from the start. My original outline promised a book-length treatise of my subject, which simply wouldn't work. So I had to narrow. And then narrow some more. And then cry - literally - because I'd start to overthink the entire process and thus, didn't even want to tackle the thing.

Of course, quitting wasn't an option (tempting, though). 

But tonight, I finally managed to crank out the conclusion. I'm not thrilled with the paper, but we'll see what my classmates and professors think. Then, it'll be time to edit it. 

It's been a hard semester, and I've struggled to try and figure out if grad school is still something I'm really passionate about doing. 

Life is short. Shouldn't we spend our time doing what we love? I know we all have jobs and need to make money to pay the bills...but I don't want to be pursuing a path that isn't the right one for me.

So. I'll be spending my December vacation from school thinking about what I truly want to do with my life.

As the illustration says, it's okay if we do something that doesn't least we tried. At least we know. 

And that's what matters.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

This Must Stop

Another mass shooting in the United States, only days after the last one.

This time, it was at a Wal-Mart in Virginia. According to early news reports, at least six people are dead.

Six lives lost.

Six people looking forward to spending time with friends and family on Thanksgiving.

This. Must. End.

Mass shootings in America are so common now that they no longer shock us. Nowhere is safe. Malls, shopping centers, movie theaters, schools, bars and clubs...NOWHERE IS SAFE.

I'm sickened by the gun culture of this country, and I'm sickened by our political leaders' refusal to do anything about it. One party tries, and the other party blocks it. There is no compromise, no discussion. People are literally dying over this issue and even that cannot unite us?

This sickness within our society has made me seriously look at moving overseas. No country is completely safe, but I don't have to worry about getting shot while out shopping or going to the movies or any other public activity in several other countries. 

Why is the Second Amendment being abused like this? I'm not going to go into the whole "it's my right to own a gun." Fine. But your right to own a gun doesn't overrule my right to live. No one - I repeat NO ONE - outside the military needs to own an AR-15, the gun that is used for the majority of mass shootings. You don't need an AR-15 to keep varmints off your land (I grew up on a farm - we never, ever had an AR-15!). 

We have a gun problem in this country. Some people will try and say it's a mental health problem, and that is absolutely part of the equation, but it is not the only part. There are steps we can take, but the gun culture refuses to even consider them. 

I don't know what to do anymore. I write to my representatives in Congress and they. don't. care. They do not care that people are dying. 

What have we come to?

Monday, November 21, 2022

Monday Musings

Marilyn Monroe in a Thanksgiving pinup!

I find I don't have much to say this evening.

The day went by rather slowly. I fought to stay awake, knowing that if I took a nap I'd be worthless at class tonight. My body craves sleep most of the time - that's the reality of living with chronic fatigue syndrome - and lately I've been trying to indulge that craving. When I don't, I usually end up in a flare. I'm a little worried that might happen tomorrow.

Still, class went well this evening, and I was able to have a nice chat with two of my classmates afterwards. That's one of the things I love about grad school - making friends with people who love history just as much as I do.

We'll be spending Thanksgiving at home this week - just me, my daughter, and my boyfriend. On Friday, we'll head over to my brother's house. I'm looking forward to that as I adore my nieces and nephew - they're all under the age of 7, so the place usually bursts with energy.

I find myself missing the holidays of the past, when we usually went to my grandmother's house, or we hosted Thanksgiving at my parents' place. Lots of good food, family, and laughter. Now, with everyone grown up, with their own families, and living in different parts of the state, it's hard to get everyone together. We try but are not always successful.

I'm both excited about decorating for Christmas and dreading it because it takes a lot of energy - energy I do not have. But as I'm in a different house this year, I will get to decorate it however I want in new-to-me ways. That's always fun. Plus, I have a fireplace so I can actually hang up the stockings on the mantle! 

The semester is almost over - which means I can start to focus on my fiction again. I'm quite looking forward to it.  

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Wonderful Barbara Stanwyck

Some of the first classic movies I ever watched starred the wonderful Barbara Stanwyck. I loved her spunk and spirit as Molly Monahan in the 1939 western Union Pacific, and I adored her street-savvy, wise-cracking gangster's girlfriend Sugarpuss O'Shea in Ball of Fire. Not only could she play comedy, but she could play drama equally well, and she just captured my attention whenever she was onscreen.
It wasn't until years later that I realized why I so loved Barbara Stanwyck: it was and is because she reminds me of my beloved grandmother.

This is my grandmother when she was young: 

Grandma is on the left!

Wasn't she absolutely beautiful? And here, for comparison, is Barbara Stanwyck.

Maybe it's just me...but I sure do think they look similar. And the similarities don't stop there. Barbara Stanwyck was known for being a bit of a firecracker, taking charge of her career and being a strong woman. My grandmother was the strongest woman I've ever known. Fierce. Independent. And so full of love.

I lost my grandmother four years ago and I feel her loss every day. Our relationship was special - we loved talking about old movie stars, politics, the state of the world, and anything and everything under the sun. She was whip smart, and started using a computer and the Internet in her 70s and 80s. She wasn't about to let technology pass her by. Even so, we'd still handwrite letters to each other, and I saved them all. 

She was my champion, my confident, and one of my very best friends 

That's why sometimes I will put on a Barbara Stanwyck film and feel just a little bit closer to my grandmother. I like to think that they have become fast friends in the afterlife.

Spoke Too Soon

Hear that maniacal laughter? That's me after thinking I was back to 'normal' on Thursday. I woke up Friday and could barely move...