Monday, June 30, 2014

June, what a good month you were

Greetings Kind Reader ... another month and yet another AFK (seemingly) from me. But here I am ... just as June 2014 is winding down. Though it might have come and gone where you are right now.

Yes, yes, I've been busy --- there was the usual this-n-that I did during the month. Writing (though I didn't actually do a lot, a tad; but not nearly the amount that I did in my head. I suppose when I'm lying in bed at 2AM not able to sleep {because my leg is hurting or my neck is hurting or my back or so on and so forth} I can create such lovely stories. Some are adventurous. Some are thrilling. Some are just plain silly - I rather enjoy those.

I suppose you could say that in my quietest moments I can write umpteen novels. Unfortunately, my quietest moments are moments when it's not a good time for whipping out my laptop to tippity-tap down those ideas. And it's sort of difficult to write in the dark - though I have done it on really moonlit nights several years ago when we lived in a house where the blinds didn't quite block out the bright moonlight that poured in through our bedroom windows. (However, I will say, I rather enjoy it being dark at night. My only complaint is that we have a giant TV on the dresser -- and we barely ... as in super rarely ever watch it but it has this obnoxious bright white light. I loathe that light.

Most nights it's easy to ignore but when I'm uncomfortable and trying to think of everything possible to soothe my weary mind and body ... I swear that light hovers around 'super nova' bright. We even have a cable box with a DVR thingy in it so it's got 'extra' lights. Lights which are electric blue. OMG - not even Todd can stand those lights. There have been nights when he, who can sleep through so much (me taking out the dog, cat jumping on the bed, me sneezing or sniffling with allergies -- the list goes on), will get out of bed and put whatever he can find to put in front of that stupid clump of blue lights! Though now we rarely have that problem because I've put up a little light blockade in front of the lights that escaped from the Blue Man Group. But the TV, well, that's a different story because the light is a bit too high to put a greeting card in front of it!

Where was I?

Oh, yes, my writing. As I mentioned I've not done as much as I'd actually like to do during the month of June. And I'm hoping July will be more productive.

I've been working on edits and helping get some clients ready to send their work to agents. And before the end of July ... I think the query letters will be sent out. Man, I hope these Indie Authors whose work I truly believe in are snatched up by an agent because they deserve to be. Sure, it would be great for my fledgling business --- but honestly, to think that I might have played a role in getting someone their 'big shot' ... well, that's even cooler!

But don't think June has been all business. It hasn't been. I've been editing the videos for Jessica's high school choir. I had hoped to have them all done by this past Saturday. Unfortunately, my computer doesn't like it when I run two different video programs, a music editing program, and Adobe Photoshop. It gets all cranky and hot and slows down. My brother, Kenny, has suggested that I get some sort of monster fan thingy - and I'm seriously considering it because I don't really enjoy having my forearms burn. (Yes, burn. Because my machine gets so hot!) So, I've had to take it slow which annoys the heck out of me. I'm not a take it slow sort of person. I never really have been. (Who would have ever guessed?)

The big thing this past month has been wrapping up the school year for Jessica. She is now, officially, a SENIOR in high school. Lord help me, I remember her first day of kindergarten like it was yesterday. I don't know where the time has gone but I'm so glad to know that even though it seems to have flown past ... we've enjoyed the ride. Next year is going to be so amazing for her. She's taking 3 (Varsity Choir, Chamber Choir, and AP Music Theory ... I'll give you one guess to figure out what field she's going to pursue in college!).

Incidentally, she's taken up Classical Guitar, too. In fact, this summer, she's taking lessons for classical 3 times a week and taking none for her contemporary acoustic (after nearly 4 years she's pretty much got that one down!). She's learning CG to broaden her chances for college because there are lots of CG players and lots of Contemporary Acoustic players but not a lot of CG/CA players! And she's found that she really enjoys it. In fact, one of her birthday gifts this year was a beautiful classical guitar. (So now there are 3 guitars and one electric piano in her bedroom which seems to get smaller by the day!)

She's also in Varsity Theatre (it's the competitive theatre group which is pretty cool especially since she finally made it into the International Thespian's Society. Go, Jessica! Oh, and she's taking English, Gov/Econ, and some sort of elective earth science class which she doesn't have to take but she wants to so she won't be stuck taking something she really doesn't want to take simply because she has to 'fill in a 90 minute slot'.

She turned 17 this month. Good grief. Again, I can remember her when she was so very tiny before she was even 17 minutes old. WOW. Life is amazing, isn't it? Can you tell how very proud I am of her? If not, you might want to reread the last few paragraphs!

Today, June 30, I found out something awesome that probably won't sound awesome to 99% of the world's population. I found out that I actually DO have a neck injury! Yay!

Why 'yay'? Because for years and I mean nearly 2 decades I've been telling doctors again and again that something is wrong with my neck. But nothing could ever be 'found'. I even had an MRI done in 2002 where doctors couldn't see anything that was in line with the sort of pain I kept saying I was in. I honestly think they all thought I was faking it so I could get drugs or something. But I wasn't. In fact, half the time I wouldn't even take those pain pills unless I reached the 'OMG, I feel like every nerve in my body is screaming at me' pain level. And even then, I'd only take a half a pill or maybe a whole one on rare occasions.

Yes, now, that I'm seeing a pain management doctor (for fibromyalgia pain management) who told me straight up, 'Well, Laura, that's ... that's just dumb. Pain is your body's way of saying something is wrong. If you don't listen to it, you're only hurting yourself.' Smart guy, that doctor of mine!

He even ordered an MRI of my neck after I described the pain I have when turning my head and whatnot. He said, 'Pain like that tells me there's something beyond fibro going on. And because you do have fibro, it's making the pain even that much worse.'

So, I had an MRI done last week. Guess what I found out today -- oh, wait, I already told you ... I actually do have an injury ... an injury that appears to be pretty old ... in my neck! In fact, he went back and looked at my 2002 MRI and saw the same area of injury but it wasn't nearly as progressed back then. He asked if I'd ever suffered trauma to my neck. And I said, 'Yes. Like I said the last time I was here, I was in a car accident where my car rolled over 3 times and I went into the windshield. If I'd not had on my seat belt, I would be dead. So, yeah, I injured my neck.'

And now that he knows where the neck pain is - he can do something about it. So on Thursday, July 3 at 1PM I am going to have a nice little nap and my awesome doctor is going to inject my neck right at the focus of pain with something that should give me relief for the next 9 to 12 months. I was so happy to hear that I'd be in less pain, I was practically giddy.

So, I'm looking forward to July with great anticipation. Once that issue is resolved. We can really focus on the fibro. I can look forward to the trip we are planning (I've not been on a trip for over 3 years!) and I can look forward to it knowing I won't have to put on a pretend smile so everybody else will feel good about the fun they're having because I WILL BE HAVING FUN TOO!

Here's a nod to June, 2014. You were a good month.

Cheers to ya, Kind Reader. I'll chat at you soon!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Is It Still May?

Greetings Kind Reader - 
I know ... I'm a bad blogger. I've been away for a whole month. But instead of coming up with all the reasons why I haven't been able to blog, I figured I'd share with you an email I sent to one of the writer/readers who help me out over at The Magnolia Blossom Review. I sent this message on May 5th - and maybe it'll shed a wee bit of light on just how wacky and tiring my days have been. 
Oh, and as an aside - I had my 44th birthday in May. It was a lovely day, too. I'm rather enjoying 44 and I hope that I've got at least 44 more years ahead of me!
Now here's that email from May 5, 2014 12:17 AM (yes, that's right - AM!)
Hi Sabrina,
I'm not sure if I actually sent you an email just a moment ago - I think I hit send but I might have actually hit the back button - all I know is that I am so freaking tired, I can barely see straight.
Why am I so tired? 
Well, it goes a little something like this:
A. I had a super long day today in the heat of San Antonio for hours with my husband (which was nice) while my daughter sat in the beautiful Majestic Theatre and watched Evita with her theatre class. We went to The Alamo. Honestly, it isn't all that exciting - so if it's on your Bucket List ... unless you are a die hard fan of Texas history ... you might want to put something else in its place like seeing the world's largest ball of twine.
Essentially, the Alamo --today-- looks nothing like it did (externally) when it was actually a fort (even though it started out as Catholic Mission) as it did NOT look like the 'Mother of All Taco Bells' during the siege. The inside is interesting (and air conditioned - and oh, I was SO pleased about that!). 
I would've taken some pictures inside ... only you can't take pictures inside. So, unless you've got a photographic memory or you pay $25 for the photo book, it'll sort of fade away into the recesses of your mind. I seem to remember flags, many flags - a statue of St. Antonio, and very anxious looking park rangers who were ready to throw anyone chewing gum (not allowed) out and ban them for life from the site.
Seriously. There is NO gum allowed inside the Alamo. I imagine when middle school or high school groups come through those guys must have to take anxiety medicine or something as I've never encountered a group of teens where there wasn't at least one kid packing some Juicy Fruit or Trident somewhere on their person just waiting for the most opportune time to whip it out, shove it inside their mouths, and chew like it's the last bit of chicle on the face of the Earth. 
But before ever getting to San Antonio today/Sunday - these are the things I had to deal with in the days prior to our Alamo/River Walk excursion...

B. I had to get up EARLY on Friday to get Jessica to school to take her English Dept exam for the college that is buddied up with her school. And I mean E-A-R-L-Y, too. And I have to ask myself ... why? For Pete's sake - the entire semester her class has started at 9AM and on this one day they insist the students arrive at 8AM. Is that the real test? Is the arriving on time on that one day the deciding factor between passing or failing? It boggles my mind. And my mind is already pretty freaking boggled!

C. I had to get up even EARLIER on Saturday to get Jessica on the other side of Austin to take the SAT. And trust me, when people say 'the other side of Austin' (or any-flippin-where in Texas) it's not like a 10-15 minute trip. It's a damn (s'il vous plaît pardonnez mon putain de français!) EXCURSION! OMG ... I had to dodge packs of cyclists egging one another on (apparently they do 'team' rides on Saturday mornings against other biking teams and something happens when they get on those cycle seats - it's like their freaking asses get shoved up into their brains and they become jerks who really think that I'm going to be intimidated by men in tight padded pants, safety helmets, and little shoes that go 'click clack' on the pavement and sound like a group of 4 year old tap dancers. ... Okay so maybeI have a little issue with cyclists.
Oh, and do NOT even get me started on 'the runners' - GEESH! Yes, we know you have buns of steel and have like a six-pack and a half of abs ... but you're creepy. And even though I'm watching the road carefully it never fails that I wind up having to deal with at least one Son (or Daughter) of Skeletor running nut who suddenly decides 'Hey, I don't feel like running on the SUPER HUGE sidewalks in our community with close to 30 miles of beautiful nature trails and paths aside from the sidewalks so I, without so much as giving a hint to the drivers in the big vehicles that can crush me like a freaking fly, am going to step off the path and into traffic'. 
That's when I, the courteous driver who is contentiously paying attention to the task of driving my rolling fly-swatter wherein I do not actually swat the damn flies, suddenly have to deal with bi-pedal morons who come into my path! 
Good grief, can you imagine how I'd go off if I was actually talking about them?

D. (Finally - to today) I had to get up early today to get J to the school to pick up her ticket for Evita because she can't ride the bus because she's suffering from severe vertigo caused by an inner ear infection, made worse by a trip last week the day after their AWESOME choral competition down to Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast (about 7 hours away) and dinner on a yacht. 
Nothing like getting a call at about 1 AM saying 'Mom, I'm really sick. But I think I'll be okay' 
By the time I picked her up on Sunday night last week - it looked like she'd been slapped upside her head with a 2x4 and she could barely stand up straight without getting wobbly. 2 days later - in the hospital getting multiple bags of fluid and vertigo medicine out the wazoo. But she's doing better now. Thank God!

E. Aside from working on the review site, I'm also trying to finish up my entry into the contest. I really want to enter but I need about 4 hours of uninterrupted silence.

F. And, I've got a new client asking me to help them as a literary liaison (basically, they write the book, I make sure it gets either edited (if it needs it) or Beta Read and revised and then I create a query letter for them that I then send off to agents I've researched in depth. A lot of work - but worth it in the end.
And there you have it. A wee little few of my moments of crazy for the past week.
But hey, now that it's off my chest, I feel much better. Well, the anxiety medicine could have something to do with that, too.

So night - and Sweetie, trust me when I say, I do know you are SUPER busy with your classwork, tests, and writing books. And, and, and.... the list goes on!
Js last big tests are:
Her Spanish V AP exam. She's actually been taking Spanish for 6 years and is fairly fluent (but not confident in her fluency - although she has helped some folks and it was great to see)
Then there's her APUSH exam - which she'll be taking in her PJs. Yes. That's right. Her comfort outweighs her desire to 'impress' her pals! These tests have had her really stressed out!
And when she complains or gets really stressed, I remind her there are people near and far wishing they had her issues. Heck, she's got a friend who's 'eye on the prize' is medicine. She's literally taking 8 AP exams this year. 8. OMG!
All good things come to those who wait AND all good things come to those who keep their aim straight and eyes on the goal. before long it'll be summer.
Hmmmm, sorry for the ramble!

There you have it folks! 
That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Damn you, Crayola!

...And yet, I cannot think of life without you!

Greetings Kind Reader,

Yes. I know it's been a month. Yes. I know you think I'm going to use the same excuse as always. And yes, I know you're probably rolling your eyes thinking Once was tough, Twice was tougher, but come on - I need you and your rambling!

Okay, so maybe you're not thinking those exact thoughts, but it makes me feel good to think that you might be thinking about me and my rambling. And isn't that what it's all about folks? Taking a frown and turning it upside down? Which is exactly why I tell myself, They care. They do. It's not just in your head. 

Of course, if it were all in my head - I probably wouldn't care what you thought because you might not actually exist and I might be sitting in a softly padded room with a box of Crayolas and nary a piece of paper in sight. And that really would drive me bonkers.

Because if there's one thing I simply cannot pass on - it's got to be grabbing a fresh Crayola, maybe something like a nice vibrant red like 'Torch Red' whose perfectly flat, virgin tip hasn't been touched by human hands and scribbling across some paper...

Wait. What's that? Did you just tell me that 'Torch Red' no longer exists? WTF! No! How is that possible?

Oh, okay. So it's not really gone they just changed the name to 'Scarlet'. Thank the Lord! I was getting worried! And dang it when I rip into a giant box of 64s and...

Hold up!

There are HOW MANY colors available? 120? What the -- ?

No wonder kids today in America are scoring lower than countries like China, Finland, and Canada. (Seriously, Canada? Does it really count as a different country? Yes, their flag might have a Maple Leaf on it but when I'm watching a TV show that's supposed to be 'set' in the United States only to learn later that it was actually filmed in Canada, I'm gobsmacked. Giant conifers in British Columbia look exactly like giant conifers in Washington State. Coincidence? I think not!

And when I found out that Seth Rogan, Jim Carrey, the Ryans (Gosling and Reynolds) are Canuks, I had a hard time believing it. So, I'm sure you can probably imagine my shock and the inevitable sound of my jaw hitting the floor when I found out that Nathan Fillion of Castle, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long blog fame wasn't American. It was loud. Thunderous, even!

I'll admit I was concerned for a while. After all, they're soooo American it's hard to believe they're actually aliens (not the kind with antennae - I mean the ones with Green Cards ... unless they're here illegally - GADS!). And when one uses the ancient Mallarduckamus method of logic wherein - if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck then it must be a duck way of thinking then I say - Canadians are just as American as I am. Unless their French Canadian and then - well, that sort of throws a wrench in the works.

But I digress. Back to all those Crayola colors.

What is Crayola thinking? In 1903 they only had the basic Black, Blue, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Brown, and Violet (which to the lesser informed is also called by its peasant name ... purple) and it was awesome.You'll notice there were no white Crayolas mingling with that colorful crowd. (But then again, why would you need white since most paper is ... White?)

It took some time - and a bit of prodding but eventually by the end of the 1950s, Crayola had incorporated White into its boxes. And they were up to 48 colors living in peace and harmony within those boxes. Although, there was a color called 'Prussian Blue' that was changed to 'Midnight Blue' because apparently since Prussia no longer existed - its crayon had to go, too. Oh, and there was a color labeled as 'Flesh' that was a soft, peachy shade and created quite a stir because it was kind of, sort of  'racist' to people of color. Personally, I think it was a smart move to have changed it to peach because I'm pale to slightly darker than ivory (according to Cover Girl's color chart) so if I were doing a Crayola self-portrait in 1959,  I'd probably have had a breakdown thinking 'Is this really how people see me? As a big ol' fuzzy peach?' (Hey, I was born in Georgia. I know peaches. And while I may affectionately be referred to as a 'Georgia Peach' I, Kind Reader, am not a peach. I think of myself more like a nectarine.)

When the 70s came along - the era when I was born, Crayola introduced colors like 'Raw Sienna' and 'Raw Umber'.

Come on now - I know you're thinking it so I'll just say it ...

 What the hell colors ARE those? And does that mean there should also be colors called  'Well-done Sienna' or maybe 'Medium Rare Umber'?

AAACK! You cannot introduce a color as 'raw' and then not have a 'well-done' version, too. Incidentally adding the word 'Raw' is a game changer. Heck, whenever I go to a restaurant and read the menu it clearly says 'ingesting raw or under cooked meats may be harmful or fatal'. So, does that mean there should be a warning label on Crayolas? After all, why else are moms and dads putting their kids artwork on their refrigerators if not to keep it at a safe viewing temperature?

And now - now there are 120 standard colors? But we can't forget the special metallic colors. And special florescent colors. And the special shades of flesh from alabaster to pitch.

GEEZ! And as if the cornucopia of colors wasn't enough to drive a kid  in America bat-guano bonkers, they also have to worry about whether or not the raw colors in their crayon boxes are safe to handle. Then, of course, there's the trauma of choosing the right color for their art. Take Green for example. There are something like a dozen different shades of green in a box of 120 crayons. It makes me weep for them to think of how they must struggle with the inner turmoil created when deciding between Spring Green and Green Yellow.

Then to top it all off, Crayola intentional makes children ponder the notion of self mutilation on a near daily basis because there's that damn built in sharpener. And sometimes it's sooooo hard to resist the temptation of stick one's fingertips into that thing. Not that I've ever done that. Okay, so maybe I did it a few times. But I stopped after like the fifth or sixth time. So far I've been 37 years, 5 months, and 2 days 'BIS -Built-in-Sharpener-clean. It's a daily struggle but I get through it. Although sometimes, when I get a whiff of a freshly opened box of Crayolas, I'll admit it - I feel the urge to stick my pinky in that sharpener.

Honestly, what genius thought of putting a sharpener on a box that kids use? Yes, I know it's plastic and 'safe' but if Jason Borne can kill a man using a Bic ball point pen, then I'm sure I could slice off my fingertip with a device designed to slice!

Kind Reader, I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from, don't you?  Come on. You know there's a certain special feel when one runs a virgin crayon like sky blue across a medium to color in a sky.

But for Pete's sake - it takes a lot of sky blue to color the sky blue! Meaning that when the crayon hits that wrapper, which pretty much stops the coloring process, Crayola die hards like myself have to work like a deranged person to rip off enough of the entirely too thick wrapper so I can stick the crayon into the sharpener. And then by the time the crayon is refreshed enough to finish the sky, when it's done, it's returned to the box. Only after it's been worn down, stripped of its label, and whittled down - it's too flipping short to get a hold of the next time a person gets an urge to color a sky blue. Unless one were to decide to go with 'turquoise blue' which is so totally not 'sky blue' that before long tantrums are being thrown followed by crying because that kid knows it was her OWN fault she's out of 'sky blue' and that essentially she's screwed herself because all her friends are going to notice it's turquoise blue and will shun her forever.

Or until a new box of Crayolas appears so she can begin the viscous cycle of color, peel, sharpen ... again.
This I call the Crayola Paradox - Virgin crayons with that distinctive, never been used, flatten tip can only be fresh once, unless they're refreshed which reflattens the tip. But does simply refreshing a Crayola really create a new Crayola?

It's madness I tell you. Pure madness. And that Kind Reader is what's really the reason for our falling test scores --- too many color options --- it scrambles young minds. And a scramble mind is not a good thing.

So, damn you Crayola! You and all your colors can drive a person insane. But I can't live without you, Crayola because there are crayons and then there are Crayola crayons.

And with that, I leave you Kind Reader. Now go - ponder the Crayola and its role in your life.

That's all I've got for now. Til next time!