2019 – The Hits

To say that 2019 was a year of change, would be a gross understatement. I do believe that change is constant and our adaptability to it is a big part of what shapes our reality. However, it’s a little extreme when your entire sense of self shifts.

I had to stop working in June because of debilitating pain in my spine, being unstable on my feet, and not being able to see clearly out of my right eye.

Now, for a normal person, any one of those things on their own would likely be enough to give them pause. For me, I had suffered with the first two for a very long time as they steadily got worse. It wasn’t until I could no longer work around the last item that I contacted the company I subcontracted from and told them I needed to stop. I told them I thought my brain tumor might be back.

The fact that I would have heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and sobbing anxiety meltdowns every time I had to leave for a job, never seemed like a valid excuse to make a change. It wasn’t until I was also unable to see that I stopped.

As I sit here today, I am baffled as to why I STILL believe the destruction of my mental and emotional health is not a valid reason to make a change to my behavior when it comes to work. Instead, I pushed through the misery, made sure I didn’t eat, carefully scheduled out my days to the minute, and cried in the car. And I made myself do the work, even though at the end of the day, it wasn’t even a living wage. Or even minimum wage.

The progression from optometrist, to neurologist, to spine surgeon was relatively quick.

The good news is that my brain tumor seems to be stable. The bad news is that back pain I’ve had forever, the grinding in my spine, the shooting leg pain, the tremors I would have to stretch out, are because I have no discs left L2 and down. Words like “degenerative disc disease,” and “root nerve compression” started to be thrown around. I learned about EMG tests and how many of the things I’ve lived with – and mentioned to medical professionals – for years, were not normal.

I has surgery on my spine in November to try and save function in my leg. There’s nothing to be done for the rest of my spine.

I will never have improved function in my spine. Right now is as good as it gets. The only thing to be done is try to preserve what I have left. It’s scary. I think about all the hard labor I’ve done over the years while my back screamed in pain and I pushed through it because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and I shudder.

In January this year, I shoveled my driveway because no one else would do it. No matter how much I explained that I shouldn’t do it because I fall over, because I can’t grip a shovel with my broken hand, because it kills my back, because I have been expressly told on several occasions that I SHOULD NOT SHOVEL SNOW. I couldn’t get any help. And if the snow didn’t get moved, I was going to be snowed in for quite some time. So I shoveled snow. It hurt so much. By the time I had to stop, I could barely move. I spent most of the next two weeks laying down. That’s probably when I herniated the disc in my back. But that wasn’t enough to send me to a doctor.

So much of my energy has been wrapped up in my health, it feels like I haven’t been able to do much else. I’ve been working on disability paperwork, and trying to find work that my health will allow. It’s a very long process. The mental adjustment is probably harder.

I don’t want to be disabled. It feels like self-pity. I know it isn’t, but that’s the struggle between knowing things intellectually, and accepting them emotionally.

In the midst of this, a few other things happened in my life. A partner I pined for over the course of a decade, ended up being not who I thought they were. Letting go of that idea was devastating. I also lost a very close friendship. I cried over that for months. My ex-husband started legal action against me barely seven months after our divorce was finalized.

It feels selfish to complain. In the last month and a half, close friends of mine have suffered unimaginable tragedies so I shouldn’t talk, right?

But that’s not how life works. We all have our own individual struggles. We can all have horrible things happen to us, all at the same time. In the end, isn’t that what life is all about?

Year-end recaps always struck me as odd. Who can keep track of all these things? I can’t remember what I did this morning let alone what books I read in April. This year felt different because of the over arcing difficulty of my health. I don’t know what 2020 will look like. I assume I’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my life is going to look like. You’re all welcome to come along for the ride.

Always room for more

As of today, I have turned in the first round of edits on both stories I have coming out later this year. While it is an absolute relief to have them off my plate (for now) there is still a residual anxiety hovering around. I’ve never been very good at relaxing and it’s quite pronounced today! Once I finished sending off my draft, I very nearly ran out of the Starbucks to get some air!

I’m exceedingly grateful to my writing group friends for tolerating me during the sea of editing crises. Editing my own work is very challenging, even with the assistance of a professional editor. Every time I receive feedback from an editor, I learn something. This time through, the insights were especially helpful. I was even able to apply what I learned from one editor to the change I made on the next piece!

The challenge now is… what to work on next? I’ve done nothing but edit for just over an entire month. I’m itching to do something entirely different, but I hear the call from a mostly finished short story in my documents folder. Only a few changes I could submit it!

I’m also thinking about looking for a few more anthology calls. I’ve found writing for anthologies to be a lot of fun lately!

Of course, what I should do is relax! Maybe just for a few minutes!

Writing is hard, editing is hard

As I’m going through the process of working with an editor, I am reminded that editing blows. As anyone who has ever tried to string together a few coherant sentences can tell you: writing is HARD. Then, to add insult to injury, you must edit your manuscript. It seems rather unfair.

Right now, I’m going through my MS and removing ever time I used the word, “just.” Why in the world did I use that word so much?? What was I thinking? And most embarassingly, how did I not notice it myself before I sent it off to my publisher? I’m tempted to go back to my original draft and find out just how many times it was, but that might be cruel.

It’s tempting to assert that writing is hard, but editing is harder. I don’t believe that to be true. Pulling the words from nothing and putting them on the page is hard. It’s an exercise in dedication and creativity. Taking the words you’ve amassed and shaping them into a more refined whole is hard. It’s an exercise in perserverance and attention to detail. At this point in my life, I’m still working on how to do both of these things effectively.

Hopefully, I’ll find other things to work on as I become more confident in the larger aspects in the process of writing. I will never stop learning. I work hard to make that happen.

In the end it’s like running and biking. (What, doesn’t everyone do those things??) They’re both physically exhausting if you do them long enough but they work different muscles. They’re similar in some ways, but getting back on my bike in the spring after only running all winter is a pretty rude awakening. My thighs mock me with all the miles I ran on that first bike ride. The trick is that I have to do them both.

I’m okay with that.

Truly Outrageous

As a person who vaguely remembers the 80’s, I was understandably eager about the Jem and the Holograms reboot. Women working together, rocking out with amazing wardrobes – what’s not to love? Then of course there was the inevitable let down. Women supporting each other? We can’t have that. What if women start to get uppity and have ideas? Next thing you know they’ll want birth control and clothes with pockets.

Is that hyperbole? Of course it is! I indulge in periodic hyperbole.

It saddens me that so many people have become crushingly divisive over issues of gender. It’s nothing new of course, it’s just the details and mechanics of how it plays out that changes. Women don’t need to be contrasted against men in order to be defined. There is room enough for people of any gender. The only walls that exist are ones we choose to support.

On a lighter note:

This is a great time to pull out an old photo though. Some friends and I cosplayed the Misfits, the rival band of Jem and the Holograms, at a CONvergence in 2003. I’m the one in black on the left. This was such a fun time. Thank you to libradragonmom for sharing the picture with me.

Misfits Cosplay - Jem and the Holograms

Another lonely blogger

As a veteran of the internet, I’m no stranger to blogging. Back in the hay day of livejournal, I was an avid participant. I reveled in the community, the closeness and the honesty.

In the last year, I’ve fallen astray of my livejournal roots. There were a lot of things that came up and prevented me from continuing to engage with my friends in that way. I still miss it. I’ve added many of the friends I made there on other social media and it’s great to be able to keep up with them in a different way.

I’ve started a new venture. In the process of rededicating myself to my art and creative passions, I’ve come to need another blog. Something a bit more public where I can share with everyone what I’m working on and connect in new ways.

Much to my delight, things have been going really well. I have so many amazing projects I’m working on and I can’t wait to share them with you all! I’m writing, drawing and painting more again and I am beyond thrilled. It’s hard to find enough time but I work really hard at it!

I’m following my passions and I couldn’t be happier.