A Day Like Today

Thus ends my first week of working four days, ten hours each. Friday is my official Writing Work Day, with a break to get my allergy shot.

How has the new schedule gone? I’ve seen some highs and lows. The week started rather badly, to be quite honest. The doctors think she had a mini-stroke and they discharged her Tuesday evening. I spoke to her Wednesday but wasn’t able to get in touch today, so right now I’m assuming no news is good news. We’re all glad she’s home, but I can’t fight the fact that given her age, she’s probably never going to be at 100% again. The important thing is to keep her as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

But after that, I realized pretty quickly: I like the longer day. Coming in early means I can turn on some music and get some necessary administrative shit done first thing in the morning without any distraction, and staying late means that I can finish whatever projects I’ve got going on without feeling super-rushed or stressed. Yesterday on my way home, I was contemplating how much I liked it, while my brain was heckling me with doubts.

Sure, it says, THIS week was good. But what about two weeks in a row? Three? How’s your body gonna like that?

Only time will tell there.

Okay, fine, my brain says. But what happens if you wake up with a MIGRAINE. Missing any time means either taking a bigger chunk of sick time OR having to divy up your hours and come in on Friday ANYWAY.

Shut up, brain.

So it did. Sort of. Until I woke up at 4:30 am with a migraine. Little bastard. It was an old school migraine, the kind that makes me worship the great porcelain god. How’d I handle it? Vomit once, decide I’ve had enough of this shit, and get ready to go to work. Hot water works wonders, and I took my prescription. Made it to work on time, sans headache, nursed an emergency Coke all day, and got in my ten hours. The day was full and crazy-busy too, but as of now, I’m not kicking myself over the extra time spent there during the day.

Then again, it’s only the first week. And tomorrow’s my first Writing Work Day, though given my current plan, there will be less writing and more reading, analyzing, and thinking about how to whip Codename: Telepathic Soulmates into shape.

In truth, the real test of this four 10-hour day experiment will be in March, because next week has a federal holiday, so I’ll be putting in eight hours a day due to the paid holiday, and then the week after, I’ll be doing four 10s, but instead of writing on Friday, I’ll be hooking up with a dear friend of mine and trekking to Con Nooga for all kinds of crazy shenanigans. But by time March rolls around? I should have a clearer direction for what I’m doing for revision, and that, my friends, is where we’re really see how this experiment works.

In the meantime, today’s blog post comes from Tom McRae’s “A Day Like Today,” from the album Just Like Blood. You can listen to it here.

How Sick We Are

So I’ve been fighting a cold since Tuesday, hence the radio silence. Last week was a busy week with late nights, and it wasn’t even my first week of four 10s. That starts this week.

Hopefully, the cold is on the way out. And I promised progress reports (which I hope to do on Fridays in the future) when I talked about my official plan, so here’s how week one went.

The goal:

Read Codename: LB Prequel. Take notes on world-building, write down questions to get answered in Codename: Telepathic Soulmates. Deadline: Sunday, February 8th.

Consider it done. For a while, the cold was fighting me, but I got caught up.

This week’s goal:

Read Codename: Telepathic Soulmates. Take notes on world-building, write down any questions that aren’t answered, figure out what, if any, questions should be addressed in a sequel. Deadline: Sunday, February 15th

I’m actually well on my way of finishing this. Maybe that’s a good thing that I’ve got a head start (I’m on page 317 of 518), because I’ll start the 10 hours days tomorrow, and I’ll likely be pretty zonked by time I get home. So I’m glad that I’ll have Friday free to really focus on the reading.

I don’t have any commentary yet, other than places I’d previously thought I wanted to change for REASONS, I’m second-guessing now. Once I finish reading and start studying the notes, and get off the cold meds, I may have a clearer direction, but for now, I’m still pondering.

So that’s it for a writing update. Today’s blog post title is brought to you from Evanescence’s “Sick” from their self-titled album. You can here the song here.

Do It On Your Own

Short post tonight, because it was a long day tacked on to a longer night. The Super Bowl party was a hit, though half our guests barely caught five minutes of the game. Good food and good company, I suppose?

Today was my last day of physical therapy. I’ve gotten stronger since I started last year, but let’s be honest: I’m not very good about keeping up my exercises at home. I’ve got a long way to go, but at this point, there’s no need to keep making appointments with my PT guy, so I’m officially discharged. It’s just time to buckle down and figure out a way to get my exercises in and do them consistently. That, coupled with my time on the elliptical, is how I’ll get stronger.

And don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I’m still jonesing to take up running like I was last year. Rather, it’s the realization that everything I do between my day job and my hobbies involve me sitting on my ass. I need to get stronger so that there’s less pressure on my joints, which means I’ll be dealing with less pain as I get older. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

That said, I wish there were more hours in the day, or that I was the type of person who really looked forward to exercise of any kind, or barring even that, I wish I was the type of person who was motivated by the benefits of exercise, even if I didn’t like the exercise itself.

I’m not, so it’s a matter of buckling down and doing it.

Today’s headline brought to you from “Invincible” by Muse, from the album Black Holes and Revelations. It’s one of my favorite albums by them, and part of the playlist for my Codename: Telepathic Soulmates project. That’s right…I’m getting in the mood! You can listen to “Invincible” here.

It’s Been A While…

I haven’t posted in nearly a week. I apologize. It’s funny to watch how my site’s stats go downhill when there isn’t regular content, but my brain has been so full of stuff that posting in the blog has been the last thing on my mind.

So to catch-up:

1) The husband and I marathoned the fourth and most recent season of Homeland. This last week was the 10 year anniversary of the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica, and one of the articles I read discussed how the last ten years of television has failed the expectations set up by the show. Mostly, it discusses how science fiction and fantasy has failed, and it makes some interesting points. It also talks about how the successors of the show aren’t actually science fiction or fantasy at all, and after watching this fourth season of Homeland, I think you can make a case that this show could indeed be a successor. No, it’s not science fiction or fantasy. But you want to take some (not all) of the really hard questions BSG asks, the moral ambiguity it puts its characters in and find a current show doing the same thing? Take a good look at Homeland, especially this last season. Damn, it was good.

2) I’ve been reading both published and unpublished work. The latter has taken up most of my time, but I also sank my teeth into Jo Walton’s My Real Children and found myself completely absorbed. The structure is such that once you get to a certain point, you’re compelled to read two chapters at a time, due to the parallel structure. And I’ll give Walton credit where credit is due: at first, I feared she was making a case for one obviously good life and one obviously bad one, and yet it slowly became obvious that wasn’t the case. A clear picture is painted in the last chapter, and the reader is always asking oneself, which life would YOU choose? The ending doesn’t provide a clear answer, but it definitely provides food for thought, especially in light of both realities being alternate universes to ours. A fascinating read, and one I could read again.

3) I’ve changed up my elliptical schedule. Since 2013, I’ve been getting up early to put in my thirty minutes on every work day, but the end of 2014 had me cutting that out completely, and while in 2015 I’ve gotten back on the saddle, I’m looking at a serious change to my work schedule which, in order to keep working out in the mornings, means I’d have to get up an hour earlier, and I’m not sure my body will tolerate that. So, before the work schedule changes, I’m retraining myself to work out in the evenings. The pros: I can do the full 30 minutes without feeling rushed, and I’m fed with plenty of calories, so I don’t get tired. The cons: it takes an hour when it’s all said and done, and I have to take a second shower that day.

4) Nothing of note to report on the writing front. That being said, I’m starting to make plans. I have three projects that I want to reach a certain state, and I making plans to ask myself the following: 1) what is my goal for this project? 2) when do I plan to accomplish this goal? It’s a good start, considering I’m notoriously bad at PLANNING things when it comes to writing, unless it’s something simple, like a word count per day. But what I’m embarking on is a level up, maybe two levels up. We’ll see how it goes.

5) That’s it for now. My brain is still kind of fuzzy and fill, so I’ll leave you with this song that I pulled the headline from: “It’s Been a While,” from Staind’s Breaking the Cycle. You can hear it here.

I Cannot Brain Today….

….I has the dumb.

Seriously, does this cat not say it much better?

cat-meme-i-cannot-brain-today-dumbI did not write yesterday. I came home from an incredibly stressful afternoon at work, brought home groceries, helped the hubby clean up for company and as soon as we finished cleaning up, company was unable to attend. Which was okay: we had the last two episodes of Penny Dreadful to watch and lemme tell you: I was hooked.

But I along with groceries I came home with a headache, and when the jolt of caffeine from a 5 Hour Energy didn’t knock it out, I had to pull out the Excedrin Migraine. I thought the headache was from caffeine withdrawal, but it must have been stress, because it felt like someone was shoving a screwdriver in my left temple when I stood up. Pleasant, right?

The headache did go away, and stayed away. Today has been a day of errands, and I set the mood by trying to walk to the car while balancing on the curb. I got distracted by a very pretty, deep red car (a Dodge Challenger, maybe?) and as I tried to get the hubby’s attention, I lost my balance and fell in the parking lot.

Yeah, falls: not just the purview for the old or the intoxicated. I should note I’m okay. Nothing twisted or broken, though I had to scrap the knee highs I was wearing and repair a part of my shoe. I’ve got a scrape, slight swelling, and a bruise delightedly forming on my right ankle. I can’t remember how I fell, in terms of where and how I landed, so I worry about pain during the night, but we’ll see.

On one hand, my physical therapist would be very disappointed in my lack of balance. Then again, I’d like to see him balance on curbs in heels. The moral of the story: don’t balance on curbs while wearing heels. Or maybe, just don’t wear heels.

But my brain is all kinds of mush, and Word Press has been playing with it (or I screwed something up: if you saw a post about me talking about writing SF, it’s been deleted — it should have never shown publicly in the first place), so I think I’m going to forgo writing tonight and just get some sleep.

Because tomorrow is a busy day: our toaster oven decided to stop working tonight, and we must hunt for its replacement.

Happy Weekend!

Look Ma, No Cavities!

So today was my first dentist appointment of the year, and fortunately, it was nothing exciting. It’s not often you hear, “I don’t want to see you again,” and that be a good thing, but I’ll take it. I never developed any cavities until I was 19, when I got a spur of them, and then again when in 2008, when I got another spurt. I’m always glad to leave the dentist’s without a follow-up appointment for dental work of any kind.

Today was another full day, and I hate how late I’m getting to the laptop to settle down and write. I’m hoping the rest of this week will be better, but it’s easy to recognize how easy it would be to look at the late time and decide to go to bed instead of write. Not that I’m staying awake for hours and hours churning out the next Great American Novel, but I am toiling, and writing and blogging are always easy things to put off when it gets too late in the day.

Fortunately, I’m resisting the temptation.

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Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 887 words
Total word count: 4,722 words
Honestly, better production last night than I thought there would be, considering I got such a late start. I can’t say the wordage itself is anything awesome — in fact the words left rather lumpy when they left my fingertips, but writing is writing, and that is good.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Not enough time to read the past few days, but I did manage to sneak a chapter while at the dentist’s office!

Next up: nothing? I hope? Wednesday looks like a normal day: no appointments, no errands, and no epic things to sit down and watch. We’ll probably watch Monday night’s Sleepy Hollow and then curl up with our various evening activities. I’ll let my hubby kill dragons, while I go to work in the Word Mines, as Chuck Wendig would call them.

Cat Be Nimble, Cat Be Quick

Today was my first physical therapy session of 2015. Somehow and miraculously, I’m getting stronger, which is news to me, since I’ve done a shit job of taking care of myself the past three months. Of course, 2015 is a new year, and I resolve to do better, but I assumed my session today would kick my ass.

But apparently I’m getting stronger. My therapist wanted to try some new exercises with me today, and while he was setting up one of them, I made the smart-ass remark, “Oh great. You’re gonna make me jump those, aren’t you?”

“Oh no,” he said, “But we can do that next!”

And despite my protests, he set up two jumping exercises while I attempted this balance and coordination thing with a four-pound ball that’s apparently supposed to be strength-training.

The jumping exercises: in one case, I had to jump up on a step. “Light as a cat!” he kept telling me, and I told him that was a bad analogy: my cat is a 17lbs cat, and there’s nothing light about the way he jumps. As I practiced the exercise, he kept reminding me, “Light as a cat!” and I decided to think differently: spry as a kitten. Yes, that works. Funny that last night, one of the lines I wrote a few times during my free-writing session involved my heroine thinking she’s weak as a kitten.

There’s some kind of irony in that, me thinking I’d be weak as a kitten before my session, and then being a spry one instead.

###

Currently Writing: Codename: Magic Twins
Last night’s word count: 1,217 words
Total word count: 3,833 words
A good session last night, despite writing in bed. Since I’ve got a laptop now, I’m trying to mix up the writing locations a bit, keep myself from getting into a rut or settling into super-bad posture, which is what I think sparked the migraine of DOOM back in October. And after hearing the 12/21/14 episode of Writing Excuses, I think it’s an even better decision: all too often, we forget that writing is supposed to be FUN. I think more thoughts are coalescing about this topic, so they’ll get their own post, but the point is, I’m trying to mix things up this year, writing what I what, when I want, how I want. We’ll see how it goes.

Currently Reading: Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance
Enjoyed the Alexie, but now it’s time to start nibbling at my pre-Hugo reading pile. Finishing up VanderMeer’s weird-but-wonderful trilogy is a must.

Next up: tonight we finished up the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises, and I have some THOUGHTS about the re-watch. Those can come later. We’re saving tonight’s new episodes of Gotham and Sleepy Hollow for later this week, but tomorrow, I’m super-excited to be watching the two-hour premiere of Agent Carter live. What’s Agent Carter, you may ask? Just put Marvel, the television show Alias and the year 1946 in a blender, and that’s Agent Carter. I can’t wait. I hope to hell it’s worth it.

Becoming Janus

Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s the time of year to sit down, reflect on what’s gone by, to look forward to the future, and to attempt to mold that future through a resolution or two. It sounds daunting because we’re talking about, yanno, a year, and it sounds daunting because we usually have BIG IDEAS and BIG PLANS for that year, and often, it’s easy to fall off the saddle before January has even wrapped up.

I have some friends who don’t do resolutions. Not just the ones who don’t do resolutions at all, but those who simply have a different approach. My friend Nu Yang names her years: she gives herself a theme and focuses each year to make sure everything she does is supporting that theme. I love that idea. It’s not one I can embrace for myself, because I need more direction, but I love it. However one approaches a new year, if it works, hats off to you!

As for me, it’s time to reflect: what happened, where I am now, and what I hope to maybe accomplish in 2015. If you’re interested, just click the cut. If you’re not, Happy New Year! May your 2015 be better than 2014.

I sure as hell hope mine is.

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Week #1: NaNoWriMo and the Week That Wasn’t

It started innocently enough: Monday night writing session, sitting in a crap chair that encourages crap posture, a chair I’ve used since my freshman year of college 11 years ago and I’m surprised it hasn’t crippled me yet. That kind of crap chair.

On Tuesday, I felt the starting tension of a headache building at the base of my skull. Easy fix: grab a Coke, see if caffeine will knock it out. By time lunch was over, it was clear the full octane, liquid caffeine wouldn’t work, so I did the next best thing: took the generic form of Excedrin Tension Headache. Two pills.

Three hours pass and I arrive at my physical therapy session and the receptionist asks if I’m okay. I lie, say I’m fine, because it’s automatic and really, when someone asks you that question, they’re not really expecting a different answer, are they? Well, maybe in the medical and health-related field they actually do, but I keep the building headache to myself, get on the exercise bike, and work with my physical therapist and talk extensively about the crap chair and what to do about it.

Get to my car, take a prescription migraine pill. Generic form of Imitrex. One pill every two hours, maximum two pills a day. One pill should do it. Except it doesn’t. Driving home I realize I’m in a kind of trouble, because none, absolutely none of the medication I’ve taken that day has even come close to making a dent in this thing. I stop at a gas station, grab an emergency Coke, and when I get home, take my second and last dose in 24 hours of my prescription migraine medicine, hoping, just hoping, that this will do the trick.

I go to bed. Wake up at 4:30 am Wednesday. Still in pain.

Migraines used to be a different beast for me. Back in college, I would wake up with them, and I’d wake up vomiting. That particular migraine/trait/symptom is mostly history (used to be a monthly occurrence), and I get tiny headaches, the kind that lurk in the background and throb just enough to let you know they’re there, but not bad enough that you’re reaching for the first available pain medication. I also get bad headaches, the ones that make me debate between the Excedrin generics or the heavy-hitting prescriptions (it’s a debate, because I don’t want to starting overusing any one thing and make it less effective as a result). But by and large, if  headaches don’t make me vomit, I feel I’m functional.

I’ve not had a migraine that’s lasted longer than a day. Or, if I have, I’ve forgotten, and the circumstances were so completely different that it’s not even triggering the whole, “Oh, I’ve been here before,” feeling.

For the purpose of this entry, I’m blaming the craptastic chair. Truth be told, I honestly don’t know. In the past few weeks there’s been enough going on that’s different (I’ve made a list) that it could be any one of or any combination of those things.

In those wee hours of Wednesday morning, I gave up and took two generic Excedrin Migraines (only two in 24 hours allowed!). I feel asleep, and when I woke for work, the headache was on the way out. I grabbed my emergency Coke from the fridge, hoping the extra caffeine would drive it away completely, but I ended up taking a nap at lunch. When the timer went off and I was forced to return to a vertical position, I knew it was a very, very bad idea. But I did it anyway. After all, I only had four hours of work left. How bad could it be?

Bad enough that I finally gave up and went home at 3:15, after fighting to keep my head upright. Bad enough I called my doctor and asked for his advice on medication: I’d already taken my recommended dosage of the generic Imitrex. I’d already taken the recommended dosage of the generic Excedrin. What else could I do? He asked about my symptoms, the location of the pain, about what I’d taken and when, and called in two prescriptions: a new round of generic Imitrex (as the stuff I’d been taking had gone out of date in March. Ooops) for migraine, and generic Fioricet for tension headaches, which we both agreed was what this was. An aggressive, Hulk-sized tension headache, but a tension headache nonetheless.

I pick up the meds, get tips from the pharmacist on how to make those meds more effective (20 minutes soaking in a hot-as-humanly-tolerable bath with 4 lbs of Epsom salt). Pick up Thursday, until mid-afternoon, where I swear, in the span of 20 minutes, if left like someone grabbed the remote and turned up the pain levels back up to screaming. I wanted to pop my head like a zit. Powered through to 4:00, went home, made my list of WTF-is-causing-this-shit list, took my special bath, and then ended the night with the prescription dispersing in my system.

Today, Friday, was a day of goals: don’t ingest the things that might be exacerbating the pain (sugar, caffeine). Don’t take anything for the sinuses, even though the blockage is annoying as hell (and yet this isn’t a sinus headache). Keep taking the big guns through-out the day, because if the bugger comes roaring back like it has the past two days, it’s time to call the doctor and beg for a brain scan.

Fortunately, I did not have to call the doctor and beg for a brain scan. But headache’s still there. Lingering and waiting, shifting around and testing various locations in my head, like it’s trying to find a room just right. But because it’s Friday night, I’m debating taking another around of the big guns. I want to go to sleep, see what I wake up with, so I can get a feeling for how this sucker really operates, if it’s really on the way out like I hope. I’m not out of the woods yet, but I didn’t need to go home early today (stayed late, even!), and that is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Writing-wise: Tuesday yielded nothing. Wednesday yielded a couple hundred words that knocked me over 10K. Thursday I didn’t quite make the daily word count, and today, Friday, well, I need to get started. While I’m not in bad shape for NaNoWriMo, I’m also not where I want to be either, and I’m hoping the weekend affords me some time to get ahead, really ahead. I’m also hoping that this migraine, this tension headache on steroids, goes the hell away and stays the hell away.

Because this bastard has been here since lunch on Tuesday. Not off and on, but on, brighter and sharper at some times and dimmer at others. Friday’s been the best day since this started, and I hope that’s a sign that Saturday and Sunday will get better and better. I’m tired of having to say, “I was migraining yesterday,” in order to explain a lapse in attention, a screw up at work, a bumbling of words, or a plain fuck up (leaving the garage door open, forgetting to feed the cat twice). I’ve had to say it two days in a row, and that’s more than enough.

So let’s be optimistic: here’s to a migraine/tension headache-free weekend. Here’s to writing my heart out, eating delicious Chinese food with friends, and being blown away by the glory of Interstellar on IMAX. Please be awesome, Interstellar. Please be awesome.

A Year in Reflection: 2013

Every year, I struggle to believe that it’s already over. I remember when I was a child, when my year was structured into definitive patterns: school, break, vacation, etc. Now the months just slide on by, because every day of every month is marked with more of the same. Work, eat, sleep, repeat. When I was compiling addresses for Christmas cards this year, I always felt at a loss when people asked what I’ve been up to lately, because for me, the answer is, the same old thing. I don’t look at my life as anything interesting or exciting, and as a result, when people ask what’s up, all I do is shrug, you know?

I realized, a few days ago, that such a response is somewhat disingenuous of me. Because while my life is not filled with the crazy ups and downs (we don’t have kids, we’re not having marital difficulty, we’ve not moved or had major job upheavals, etc), there are things I should be really, really proud of this year, things that are worth talking about. So I thought I’d share them here, with you.

1) I retired the book blog. It was a bittersweet event, but one I knew needed to happen, because it was a major source of anxiety for me, and I found I was getting more and more jaded by the books I read, rather than simply enjoying them for what they were. Looking back, I’m very proud of all the work I did there and the community I fostered, but I don’t regret closing it. I can’t believe I found the time to read so much or write so many reviews. But that’s because I’ve filled that time with other things.

2) I’m slowly getting over my cooking-phobia. It’s a running joke in mine and my husband’s families: I don’t cook. I can do a few things, sure, but any more than those few things I’m likely to screw up somehow (like the time I put the Hot Pocket in the microwave without its cooking sleeve). My husband and I have a handful of things we argue about, and cooking is one of them. However, ever since I discovered the Andes Mint Cookie recipe, I’ve been starting to branch out and getting a wee bit more comfortable in the kitchen. Mostly cookies, and cake-mix cookies at that. However, I’ve also tried a few glazes for salmon, and of the meals we usually make, I started helping out more and have gradually gotten to the point where, if need be, I can do it myself. I know I need to branch out even more, but this year’s been a good step.

3) I’ve actually developed an exercise regimen and I’ve stuck to it. Mostly. The spring got me walking again, and my employer’s walking initiative kicked my motivation into competitive mode so that I can reach and pass 10,000 steps a day. Not only did that get me walking daily, but it also got me on the elliptical every morning before work for 30 minutes. The walking initiative is over, and with the time change and colder weather, walking is on the back-burner until the weather warms up again, but I’ve kept up the elliptical, which is something of an amazing accomplishment for me. I’d like to find something to complement it next year, and that’s going to take some digging, but working out on a regular basis has been an amazing thing, not because I love exercise or anything, but because I’ve kept it up (we won’t talk about the recent holiday gorging on sweets or the days I’ve been skipping due to my cold, no sir).

4) While I can’t talk specifics, we reached a great milestone at work, and as a result, I was treated to an all-expense paid trip to St. Louis to visit headquarters and attend some fantastic sessions to keep upping my game at work and sessions that I could also apply to my own personal life in terms of, well, just being better. Learning how to undo negative thinking and trying to take more positive routes isn’t something that’s done overnight, but trying to take the more positive route in my head instead of the negative one has been really helpful and uplifting. I find myself more cheerful and less stressed. That doesn’t mean NO stress. I’ve had a few late nights at work where it felt like everything was piling up on me, but the difference is before, I would’ve gone home with a migraine, and now I’m not. This is something I’m still working on, but that trip to St. Louis taught me a lot about myself and my job and what I want to accomplish, and that’s a good thing.

5) This is more nebulous, but I realized I’ve got to stop compartmentalizing my life. I’ve always treated my life like a little kid treats their dinner plate: things must not touch! So I had college friends in one box, writing friends in another, family in another, my interests in a billion different ones, and so on and so forth. Do you know how draining it is trying to be one person for each of things things, rather than embracing it all and saying if you don’t like it, fuck it? Seriously. Growing up, I groomed myself to be the kind of person that is accommodating and to be what other people want and expect. And to some extent, that’s a good trait to have (especially when you work with the public on any level), but everywhere else, it’s exhausting. I shouldn’t be apologetic for my interests, no matter how disparate they appear, and I need to stop living in the mind set of “One day, when I grow up, life will be THIS.” Fuck that. I’m 33 years old and living life NOW. What, exactly, am I waiting for? It’s time to take who and what I am and take the cards life’s given me and play the best hand possible, rather than waiting on the magical winning hand that’ll give me the ever-elusive jackpot. And on that note:

6) Like Minute Maid’s slogan says, “Put good in, get good out.” Where I live often gives me a crushing feeling of isolation. None of the people I would call good friends or even best friends are local, and all the writing events or readings I would love to attend aren’t even remotely local, which means in order to visit the people I love, or attend the events I want to, I need to travel, which costs vacation time and money, both of which are not limitless. As a result, I’d find myself feeling bruised and chafed when friends would talk about things they did on Facebook, things I would’ve loved to do but I wasn’t able to (or wasn’t invited). But I realized: what do I expect? I’m not reaching out to these people, I’m not making my interests or wants or desires known. I’ve let my relationships go stagnant, so how can I expect them to include me when I’m probably just an occasional reminder on a Facebook page? I have to start putting myself out there. I have to start re-cultivating these relationships. I have to stop looking at my local friendships as less superior and embrace the time I have with these people, because while I am an introvert by nature, I require a healthy dose of social interaction. In person, online, whatever: put good in, get good out. Time to stop looking in and start looking out.

7) Part of that “put good in, get good out” philosophy is something I’m attributing to myself as a writer. Last year, I finished the crap-draft of a fantasy novel that, in 2014, I’m going to sit down and really hammer into shape. But for 2013, I’m close to finishing a prequel novel to my thesis novel (code name Telepathic Soulmates for those of you who are following up on that). The prequel wasn’t originally going to be an actual novel, but it’s kind of turned into that. I would kill to have it done by the end of the year, but that means I probably shouldn’t be writing this blog post, because I’ve got a decent chunk to churn out if I want to meet that deadline. Regardless, I’ve been happy with my progress this year. I’m starting to take myself a little more seriously as a writer, and I’m trying to look ahead about what I want to accomplish, when I want to accomplish it, and how. The Telepathic Soulmates world is a big one, and I realize it’s not something I want to rush out, because I’m still making discoveries that are molding and shaping the world and its characters. That’s why I’m going to polish the fantasy novel (code name: Magic Elves) next year so that I’ll have something to shop around that isn’t my precious, you know? Also helping shape my writerly frame of mind is the weekly podcast Writing Excuses (15 minutes, because you’re in a hurry, and they’re not that smart–>that’s their slogan. If that doesn’t make you want to listen to the podcast, I don’t know what will). If you’re a writer of any sort (hobby, amateur, want-to-be-professional, whatever), start listening to this puppy. It’s free, and it’s worth it.

8) On December 30th, my husband and I will celebrate our 15 year Together anniversary, and our 5 year wedding anniversary. That’s right: we got married on our ten year dating anniversary. The plan, provided this cold I’m fighting doesn’t get in the way, to go to our favorite fancy-pants restaurant and enjoy good food and good drinks. But 15 years together without killing each other is an amazing thing, and hell, so is five years married. We’ve got each other, and we’ve got the cat. Things are good.

9) I got off the pill. Women know of what I speak. While the hubby and I aren’t trying to have children, being on the pill for so long was doing things to my hormone levels that frankly wasn’t good for me mentally. I’ve been off the pill since June, and that, combined with the exercise and various tweaks I’m making to my diet, have me feeling far, far better, which makes everyone happy.

10) No list is complete without 10 items, right? So last but not least, I’m trying to be more decisive. It’s not that I wasn’t before, but you remember what I said about being accommodating? It’s a bad thing when you’re doing it all the time, or when you think your wants aren’t as important, or you feel like you shouldn’t have the things you want for whatever reason (but namely reasons that are all in your head and involve you punishing yourself). So to that affect, I’ve been trying to be a bit more assertive in the little things: if I want something (for dinner, to listen to on a car ride, to watch a particular movie), I say so. If I definitely don’t want something, I say so. It doesn’t mean I get my way every time, but at least I’m making a clear declaration, you know?

BONUS ITEM: I served on a jury for the first time this year, on a murder trial no less. It was fascinating, and if you missed my break down, you can read all about it here.

That’s my 2013. There were other minor ups and downs, but nothing to expound upon here (though I could put up a post from my cat’s point of view of the year. That would be mighty entertaining). I’ll probably try and put up a post about what I hope for 2014 or what I look forward to, but that’s gonna have to wait. Right now, I’ve got laundry to do, reading to do, and a book to finish writing.

How was your 2013? What was your biggest accomplishment? Any regrets? Things that you want to make better?