Self-care, or donning my own oxygen mask first

I saw this image on facebook the other day and laughed:

I realized, some hours later, it was the first time in a very long time that anything on social media had made me laugh.

That’s a problem.

I wrote a post way back in 2009, when I first started using twitter, titled Creativity, Laughter and the Element of Surprise. It was about how unexpectedly and delightfully fun twitter was and how important the fun of play is to my creativity. In it, I wrote:

“So for now at least, Twitter has become my place to play. I’d forgotten how much I need that, how imperative playfulness is to imagination.”

Twitter stopped being fun or playful a long time ago. It has morphed into a place where information is shared– and that’s a good and helpful thing, as much of that information is about writing and publishing. But increasingly, it consists of information and opinion about world events and politics and civics. My feed is currently a stream of unrelenting rage and despair. For good reason.

Facebook isn’t quite as depressing and people do still post entertaining tidbits, but it has become something I almost dread, never knowing when I’ll read something that simply enrages me. Again, for good reason.

The thing is, feeling this rage is neither helpful nor productive. For me. It doesn’t change anything for the better. I’m already doing all I can, in my own small ways, to improve the world. Getting angrier and feeling more helpless every day doesn’t change that.

In fact, the constant onslaught of rage and despair is, slowly but surely, destroying my imagination and my creativity. Destroying me.

Am I being too sensitive? Probably. But I consider that sensitivity an asset. It’s certainly not something I can turn off and on at will.

I’ve tried cutting back, limiting my time on social media to small bites. It has been less than effective. So I’m stepping back, making a clean break. Taking a hiatus, if you will, for the month of July. Maybe August as well.

I need to focus exclusively on my offline life for a while. And on my writing. Because stories are one small way I can contribute, to provide a brief respite when those who struggle mightily take a much needed break to escape into fiction. Perhaps one of the stories that entertain will be mine. But that won’t happen if I’m too outraged to write, as I have been recently.

I’ll leave you on a positive note, with a few daughter-approved pictures of A Most Adorable Granddaughter.

 

 

 

 

 

Take care of yourselves while I’m away. Be strong and brave and thoughtful. Be kind if you are able, especially to yourself. And laugh, without reservation, every chance you get.

 

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Filed under creativity, deep thoughts, health and well-being, social media

It’s a Girl!

Welcome to the world, baby Anna!

Born after dawn this morning, weighing 8 lb 11 oz, 22 inches long.

Both parents are exhausted, but everyone is doing well. I got to hear her sweet little baby cries over the phone earlier, and was all verklempt. In fact, I’ve had something in my eye off and on all day.

My heart is full.

MONDAY: Edit to add the pic below. Testing to see how much adorable one blog post can contain. My daughter tells me Anna has beautiful blue eyes and she does, in fact, open them occasionally.

 

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Proof of Life

“I’m not dead yet!” -from Monty Python, of course

But I do seem to have taken a bit of an unplanned blog hiatus. Sorry about that. I’ve been busy, even though there isn’t all that much of interest to report. Let’s see, since February [:wince:] [has it really been that long?], what have I been up to . . .

Well, there was the whole terrorist-raccoon-in-the-attic problem, which I thought had been solved well over a year ago. Until I discovered water dripping from the downstairs bathroom ceiling during a rainstorm and called a roofer, who gave me the unhappy news that if a raccoon is given even a tiny opening in an old worn shingle, they will wreak havoc:

 

So, that ended up being an emergency roof repair that led to the over-due decision to replace the entire freaking roof. What fun. Not at all noisy or disruptive. Or expensive. At least I didn’t have to do cleanup of this mess.

What else . . . oh, my daughter’s baby shower luncheon was fun. I even went and got a haircut beforehand, speaking of over-due decisions.

My life is so exciting.

And then there was the usual last minute scramble to get tax info to my CPA, made even more frantic by the discovery that my accounting program decided to stop working unless I paid several hundred dollars for the upgrade. Which led to much profanity and re-creating the entire year by hand, because fuck you Intuit.

Good times.

My daughter had been helping me clean out various cupboards and closets, until she got too far along in her pregnancy. Here she is holding The White Ninja during one visit. Just before I took the second pic, TWN was resting her head on my daughter’s stomach as if she was listening to the baby and giving it a hug.

 

What else . . . oh, this was pretty funny. In all my years of buying toilet paper, I’ve never encountered a roll quite like this one:

Are you bored yet? Starting to see why I haven’t been writing blog posts? None of this stuff is exactly fascinating.

I have been writing fiction, though. Slowly, as usual, but I’m making progress. I’ve been reading quite a bit as well, in an attempt to avoid world news. Probably I should do a post about books I’d recommend, except I’ve gotten ridiculously picky and easily irritated when authors [no, not you; other authors] do stupid stuff that ruins an otherwise great story. Yeah, there’s no way I’m going to discuss that in public.

And, of course, there are all the other Usual Life Stressors that aren’t even slightly entertaining. Nothing that I’d put in a blog post, anyway.

But exciting news is imminent! Well, exciting to me and mine.

At the moment, I’m sitting here listening to the rain and biding time, waiting for my first grandchild to be born. Which should be any day now. All this week, I’ve been fielding text messages from my daughter of the “I’m so bored” and “I wish this baby would hurry up” variety. Because she is now officially on maternity leave, her husband is on paternity leave, and we’re all just waiting. Some of us more patiently than others.

I’ll keep you posted. Really, I will. Any. Day. Now.

 

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What’s in a name, anyway?

In December, when everyone was here for my birthday, my son-in-law suddenly asked, in a teasing way, “So, how old are you now?”

I had to pause and think about it, as I always do. Part of this inability to remember my age is that my birthday is at the end of the year and it’s not a simple matter of subtracting one year from another, because 11.5 months out of 12 that answer would be wrong. The bigger part of it is that my age doesn’t really matter to me and never has. The entire year I was 39, I told several people I was 40. Only to realize, the next year, that I was . . . 40 again.

Anyway, he laughed at my hesitation and said, “You know, when we [doctors] evaluate people for memory issues, there are two indicators that people are in real trouble– when they can’t remember their age or their name.”

I protested that I did NOT have memory issues. [Note: Quietly deciding not to do something people think you should do and have repeatedly told you to do doesn’t mean you’ve “forgotten” it.] [Yes, I have always been willful.]

He relented and said it wasn’t exact age so much as not being able to remember their birthdate. I’ve never had any problem remembering that, thankyouverymuch.

What I didn’t tell him is that when it comes to my name, I might be in trouble.

There just aren’t very many people who call me by my “real” name, anymore (this is not a complaint). My kids call me Mom. My mom and sisters and a few close friends call me an abbreviated version of my name. My long-time online friends refer to me by the initials BCB, and everyone else knows me by my pseudonym. Honestly, I have to concentrate sometimes to remember which name to use when I’m making an appointment to have my hair cut or my furnace serviced.

Do I need to create some quasi-official ID to reflect all these different names, so when the surely inevitable day comes that someone questions my mental acuity there will be a comprehensive record?

“I know what the chart says, doc, but I’m not confused. Really. I estimate that 80% of the people I know actually do call me KD James.”

*sigh*

Speaking of names, several years ago the standard advice for writers was to create a google search for your name (or your pseudonym). Not sure why everyone thought this was necessary — I don’t really care whether someone online is talking about me — but I did it anyway.

It’s rare that I get a notification. When I do, it’s usually just telling me that I’ve published a new blog post. Or, more likely, it’s to tell me that Kevin “KD” Durant and LeBron James are in the news at the same time. Makes me wonder whether they get notifications when I put up a new blog post.

Several months ago, I got a different kind of notice. Someone had created two new characters for a board game called Dead of Winter: one was named Meryl Wolfe and the other was, ta da, KD James. I was busy and ignored it, but I got another alert a couple weeks ago when someone was selling their game upgrade.

And I started to wonder . . . is this just a weird coincidence or did someone actually name this character after me?

Here’s a screenshsot from Plaid Hat Games’ website:

She looks just like me, right down to the blood-stained jumpsuit I usually wear around the house. Positively uncanny.

It’s hard to read, but apparently the game is about an apocalyptic zombie virus and this character is a “CDC Official.” But I can’t tell what sort of role she plays. Is she a good guy who finds a cure for the virus? Oooh, or maybe she’s a bad guy who spreads the virus? I hope she’s not merely a hapless bystander who dies inelegantly. Or do the players get to change the role each time?

I’m not a gamer — my kids tried to teach me to play Werewolf and it didn’t go well, given I couldn’t stop laughing at the narrator’s oh-so-dramatic voice (honestly, it’s a fun game, you should try it) — so I’m not entirely sure how that works and whether roles even can change.

Now, I don’t think I know any game developers but I guess it’s possible one has heard of me? KD James isn’t a particularly common name, as evidenced by my lack of google notifications.

Nah. It’s probably just a coincidence. But still. Wouldn’t that be cool to have a game character named after you? I suppose I’ll never know. Unless the person who created the character is reading this post . . .

Anyone want to fess up?

 

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BOOK REVIEW: His Forgotten Fiancée by Evelyn M. Hill

My dear friend, Evelyn Hill, is starting out the New Year on a high note! Today, January 1st, is the release date of her debut novel, HIS FORGOTTEN FIANCÉE, from Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line. SQUEEE!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Evelyn is my friend and of course I’m going to say Nice Things about her book. Which is true, to an extent. I mean, I almost never review books and I’m definitely making an exception for her.

BUT, here’s what you might not know: I’ve never met Evelyn in person. We’ve never spoken to each other on the phone. I wasn’t even sure what she looked like until sometime last year when she posted author photos.

Everything I know and like about her is based on words she has written.

So it’s not true that I love her writing because she’s my friend. She’s my friend because for years I have loved her writing and her voice, not to mention her dry sense of humour, even when I could only read it in blog comments.

I was absolutely thrilled when she finally admitted she was writing fiction. I am not disappointed by the result.

So, about this book. I admit to feeling some trepidation when I learned it was an inspirational romance, agnostic heathen that I am. I’d never read one before and wasn’t sure what to expect. But that aspect was fine. I didn’t feel preached to or made uncomfortable about my own beliefs. Faith was clearly important to the main characters and it was just part of who they were. It was refreshing.

I loved the premise of a man losing his memory, not knowing who he is, not remembering he’d fallen in love and asked a woman to marry him. And then not being able to explain why he’d vanished for an entire year. I thought that was handled well — his confusion and frustration, even anger at times — and its eventual resolution was believable.

I admired Liza’s strength and courage and practicality. The details of that time period (c. 1850) rang true and fit with stories I’ve heard about the strong pioneering women who were my ancestors. I really enjoyed her sense of humour– and Matthew’s as well. Plus, the kitten was adorable. No, actually, it was Matthew’s interactions with the kitten that were adorable.

The threats and drama in the story were suspenseful even though the perpetrators were readily identified. I liked that there was some ambiguity in how justice was served. Life is often like that, probably more so in that time period.

I’ve got to say, I do prefer more kissing in my books — at times I was like those sea creatures in The Little Mermaid, “Go on and kiss the girl!” — but I can hardly fault the book for being true to conventions of the genre. After everything Liza and Matthew had been through and how their faith in each other had been tested, their happily ever after felt genuine.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read whatever Evelyn Hill publishes next.

Five shiny (and so very delighted) stars.

 

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