Vacation Saga Day Four: If the Yardwork Doesn’t Kill You

If the yardwork doesn’t kill you, apparently your scarf will.

Um… yeah.

So today Grandpa had a funeral to do with the color guard, and we thought we were released from projects. Alas, such optimism was really a trick as there was… edging to do.

Fifteen years worth of edging, to be precise, not that Grandpa mentioned that when setting us to work with the edger. It didn’t want to go, and Mom was definitely struggling with it. I would say that I sort of had the easier job in that I went and got a broom and swept the grass up behind her, except I got my blister first and it took the skin off my hand right where I need to hold to crank the Maxwell.

(Incidentally, I did that later, cranked the Maxwell. It started for me first time… but I couldn’t feel my arm afterward. Fun times.)

Anyway… the edging was a slow moving process. We only managed to get part of it done before both Mom and I were wiped and even with the easier job, I was way too hot and getting migrainy. So we called it for now to be resumed at a later time.

Still, having run short of my stuff for my migraines, I wanted to go get some before we headed to New London, and to that end, I tossed a scarf on over my tank top to cover the grease stains on my shoulders that I got putting the Maxwell in the trailer and as we were leaving, I walked out the door and my scarf got caught, trapping me on the step. It didn’t want to come loose without opening the door up completely, and even then it tried to catch again.

And again when I got in the car.

See? If the yardwork doesn’t get you…

Vacation Saga Day Three: When You Should Hire a Landscaper

The suburban America obsession with lawn care mystifies me. I simply do not see the point in it. In some sense, I would probably prefer to live where grass can grow wild. In other ways, I am too used to my modern comforts to be okay with that. It’s not that we didn’t live outside of town when I was growing up, but nowadays almost everything is right nearby so I’m able to get anything I need, and if I can’t, there’s the internet, so I’m spoiled.

The point of that is… I really don’t know what to think of yardwork. It certainly isn’t fun for someone with a tendency to get sick in the heat and carpal tunnel.

Still, Grandpa needed help with his yard, and since we are here, we are rather easy targets.

So… um… Grandpa’s yard looks a bit like it was mowed by a drunk person. Not, of course, that I was drinking while doing lawn care, other than coffee before and after, that is, but I can’t drive a mower in a straight line.

Mom even went back and fixed stuff I did because I somehow missed a row completely. And by the downspout, supposedly, though I swear I tried to do that.

I think it just goes to show that you would be much better off not asking me to take care of your lawn.

Vacation Saga Three: The Return of the Mysterious Squeak

Monday morning the first week of vacation almost always means working on the Maxwell.

(My Maxwell is at home. I miss him. But my kitty does not travel well.)

I started being tasked with cleaning the back tires free of grease. I got my bright green gloves and my special cleaner, and Grandpa jacked up the Maxwell so I could spin the tires. For some reason, it lifted lop-sided, where the passenger side was higher and driver’s side low. Still, it was enough.

I got the tires nice and clean and also did the splash pans and the hood. The car leaked so I had to do the splash pans twices. Also the hood as Grandpa was not satisfied with my first attempt.

We were about to break for tea when Grandpa discovered that there was another squeak. I was like, “but we fixed the squeak last year.”

And we couldn’t figure out what was making the noise.

After Mom trimmed the hedge, she came over to see what our status was, and she helped look for the squeak, but it couldn’t be found. It seemed to be coming from the area of the gas tank, which made no sense. Mom asked if it was because the Maxwell was on the jack, and I asked if Grandpa had heard the squeak before yesterday. He said it shouldn’t be the jack and that while he hadn’t heard it yesterday, it was there anyway.

We went back in for tea, and when we returned, Grandpa continued to search for the squeak.

We still couldn’t find it, but we ended up letting the Maxwell off the jack.

Yes, you guessed it. There was no more squeak. Funny how that goes.

Vacation Saga Two: Unfortunate Carpet and Unlikely Win

Day two of vacation had us arriving at our destination too tired to do much more than say hello and crawl in bed.

That whole overnight thing… I’m not sure I can do it anymore. I used to be fine going all night on our drives, but not so much anymore. At any rate, we were feeling rather mellow for the day as we were both still very tired even after the nap.

I discovered to my dismay that my record player is malfunctioning.

And then it was time for food. We went to eat at a local hotel’s restaurant which was quite tasty (the gumbo was spicy but very good and my sandwich was so huge I had to finish it today.) Still, Grandpa and Mom both noticed the unfortunate carpet pattern on our way in, and I was like, “what?”

So after the meal, I go back out and look and sure enough… The pattern on this carpet is an odd mixture of colors done to alternate in random ways kind of like those graphs you see when its a needle on a polygraph (I may watch too many crime shows) and where one of the colors was looked more like the carpet had completely worn away and so it looked pretty bad. It also clashed with the grain on the wood.

We were joking about how we’d be easy pickings for Whist and shouldn’t get paired up because it would be too easy. And it’s true, really. I’m a terrible Whist player. Like… awful. People really complain about me as a partner. So I figured it would be bad.

Only… I won for the first time ever playing Whist. Well, Mom did, but you know… it’s still a win.

Vacation Saga 2018: Spills and Fears of White Vans

We got a later start on getting on the road this year, owing in part to my varied… er, issues? I was a bit scatterbrained all the way through packing, relying heavily on lists to get by and still managing to forget what I was doing about two seconds later.

There were upsets like “wow, none of my jeans fit, what happened???” and there were “crap, I can’t find that” panics and then there was… my new talent for spilling things.

If it was on me, I’d be tempted to quote Airplane and “that as much as anything led to my drinking problem,” but I didn’t actually spill anything on me. First I knocked over a thermos full of water trying to get a suitcase out the door.

Then as I was packing my dress bag, I knocked over my coffee cup, spilling the last of my precious coffee all over the floor.

Still, in spite of that, we made it on the road. In addition to the usual game of watching for horses (Mom totally won and possibly cheated as she ended with thirty-seven and I got three) we were on the lookout for white vans like the one that stalked us last year.

We did actually see several, and a few of them acted a little suspicious, but we ended up leaving them all behind or they turned off, so no stalking occurred.

Then I was starting to get a little fuzzy like maybe a migraine might be coming on, and so I stopped driving to rest, and I was just trying to move the box of crackers when I lost control of it and dumped it all over the floor of the car for spill number three.

Those are good crackers, too. It was a real shame.

Still, we made it through the night minus a few crackers and no white vans, so that has to count as a victory, right?

A Brief Summary of Experience as a Language Student

Mine, mine alone, and I’m not an expert but I saw a post again that irritated me by assuming that people did things wrong by doing what I did daily and had to say something for my own peace of mind.

I took French and Spanish in school. I’m an English speaker by birth but I’ve wanted to learn other languages since I was a kid. Mostly French, but I once had grand ideas about knowing them all. I was going to take my French and Spanish and learn all romance languages. I learned a bit of Dutch because of the guy I was dating. I taught myself some Irish and some Italian for stories. I tried hard to learn Ojibwe/Chippewa as I am of that descent.

Now I’m older and I know I won’t be learning everything, but here’s what I know from my experience…

I was at a point where I would and did think in other languages. I would mix all three of them in the same sentence even though I knew the words in English. I would dream in the other languages.

Even today I will randomly ask “ou est mon -?” Like with my phone, even though the last word is almost always in English. I speak bits and pieces of things in other languages no matter what I’m doing or who I’m with, and yes that can be embarrassing but just because I’m around all English speakers doesn’t mean I won’t mangle some French or Spanish in there.

I am someone who doesn’t use bad language as a rule, but believe me, I abused the heck out of knowing the curse words in my other languages, especially in French at work, I swear.

I read a lot of French in the past, sight translating it. I went crazy and collected French music and sometimes randomly sing it.

My friend is learning Spanish to communicate with her step-mother-in-law, and it has sparked a reawakening of both languages in my mind, not just Spanish. I’m mixing in more words in thoughts and spoken sentences than I have in years.

I find it irritating to be told people don’t act like I did myself and that shouldn’t be in the story. I lived it like this, so it shapes my writing. Maybe I’m not the most popular example, but I’m not invalid, either. I exist. I did this. So people do it.

My point with languages like everything else is that it’s unique to the individual. Someone else’s experience as a bilingual/trilingual will be different from mine, and I accept that. I just wish I wasn’t seeing a very popular post going around telling me what I lived was wrong and telling thousands of writers not to write like I lived.

The Tragedy of the Hats

So I made a mistake.

I ordered some hats online. I had good intentions. I had ideals. I had these notions that if they were going to sell hats, they knew what they were doing. I figured the hats were pretty and the thing I had to worry about most was them fitting my head, right?

Oh, no. No, I was wrong.

I waited. Waited. And waited.

And then I finally come home after a really rotten day of work, see packages in the mailbox and on the porch and get excited.

The porch one was Whim’s proof, wrong again and making me feel like burning it in frustration.

Still, that was somewhat less of a let down than opening up a bag to find it is full of hats. Yes, my hats came in a bag. Three of them in individual bags, placed in a larger bag. This had the effect of knocking off their decoration, if it was ever on, causing one to look like a bird had died, with its feathers all mangled. Still, I could have lived with broken decorations.

The hats themselves have been smooshed so badly they’re bent with a permanent crease and several indentations that won’t come out. I’ve tried to fix that, but I can’t.

My hats are misshapen lumps. Worse still is that I bought one to replace one that was already damaged/misshapen, and now its replacement is misshapen, too.

I am so depressed by this. I love hats. I never managed to do the hat challenge I put to myself years ago, but I still love my hats.

Only… these are ruined and I can’t wear any of them tomorrow like I would have.

And I keep asking myself, “who ships hats in a bag???”


I need new hats. I wish it was worth trying to return these, but it’s not, so I am stuck with misshapen lumps of hat and a very strong need to cry.

Today’s Grand Accomplishment: Brushing My Hair

Oh, sure, let the mockery begin, but I have just one question for you…

Have you ever brushed your hair with a migraine?

If you have, you know what that’s a great feat. It’s not half as simple as it sounds. Or as we take for granted.

Which is to say that of late, the frequency and severity of my migraines has increased, and I’ve actually been sick on and off since October, when I came down with pneumonia. Between the migraines, the lingering issues from the pneumonia, an increase in my anxiety and panic attacks, plus a crazy work schedule, I’ve been sick a lot.

I’ve managed to keep up with work, barely, but between work, being sick and the dismal failure that was Nano last fall, I haven’t had much to speak of on the writing front.

I’ve been down with a bad case of writer’s block, too, much as I wish it was different.

This weekend is the first time I’ve felt up to doing much of anything with my time off work, so I’m hoping to have something to share for a change. We’ll see how it goes.

The Part of Eccentric Writer Will Be Played Unsuccessfully by Me

I woke up this morning in dread of my upcoming book signing. I had a headache, and I was slow moving and prone to many bouts of panic over the morning alone.

I didn’t know what to wear. I had a hard time talking myself into a shower.

Eventually, I found a dress I’d worn before for memorial and renaissance fair, and I tried it on to be sure it still fit. It did, so I had a dress that looked awesome, if a bit over the top. (A lot over the top.)

I did the showering and even ironed the dress, as it had gotten very wrinkled. Maxwell helped so very much by jumping into my dress while I was ironing it. That gave me a bit of a panic as I felt sure that he was going to rip it. I got it on, and I wandered about, hours before the signing. I even attempted to fix the windshield wiper problem with my car (one is too long, it’s odd) and put on a new Grumpy Cat decal, all in the dress.

I even put on a flower headdress, as I was without any other idea what to do with my hair.

I told my nephew that I was embracing the role of eccentric author.

I even took along Bill, my bag that is shaped like a buffalo, to complete the look.

Alas, things went rather badly at the signing. At first the room Mom booked was still in use until after the scheduled time and they didn’t clean it afterward. We organized things in the room, got all set up, with a few disagreements about certain pictures (I do not photograph well) and we waited.

People passed, lots of them, as we were in the walkway, but no one came in.

No one came at all until the other part of Kabobbles, the cover artist, showed.

So I did not sign any books. I did not sell any books.

I did tell a man outside the place who asked if I’d gotten married that I was there to sign books and showed the proofs to him, but that was it.

I drove home uncertain what part might have fallen off my car earlier, took off the dress, and did my worthy best not to curl up in a ball and cry.

We ended up getting supplies for Skip and Go Nakeds, and so ends my day of being an eccentric writer. I suppose I have that last part down, you know what I mean, right?

The Ability to Wreck Nearly Everything

So I have talked a bit before about depression and how it affects me, not in any great detail or anything, but I think people are aware that I have it. It’s something I’ve been officially diagnosed with for fifteen years now, but it probably goes back further than that. It’s also not alone.

I have depression with anxiety. What does that mean?

I’m not going to give the medical explanation, that’s something google can tell you. I’ll tell you what it means for me, though.

Nothing I ever do is good enough.

For a writer, this means that even things that are published are not worth it, should never have seen the light of day, should be burned in protest of how horrifically bad they are. There are thousands of other ways this has manifested itself by either cause (depression or anxiety) but as relates to the writing, it’s a hard thing to finish anything, harder to edit it, and publishing can be nearly impossible. The amount of stress going along with publishing usually means actual physical symptoms, showing up in stomach trouble, migraines, and insomnia. There’s also some very, very dark thoughts that go with it.

Being around people is incredibly stressful.

I am an introvert, and people are draining on my best of days. That said, I am also socially backward, and while I can occasionally fake being okay, ninety percent of social interaction makes me want to panic. Meeting new people is terrifying. Being in crowds leads to panic attacks. I’m constantly on edge and tense around people. As my main job these days involves retail, I have pretty much nothing left when I get home, even on days with a short shift.

Obsessing over past mistakes or criticism is endless.

I have a tendency to remember the bad, not the good. And the bad will come up and replay with all the same emotions that it had at the time. Did I embarrass myself twenty years ago in school? Yes, and I can still feel every second of it if that memory surfaces. If someone says something harsh about me or my stories, I can almost always repeat it word for word. That thing you said you thought was helpful? Not so much. It’s been rattling around my brain tormenting me for fifteen years, so thanks for that.

Adding the social missteps to the obsessive bit creates huge problems.

I am a lightning rod. I don’t mean to be, but I am. I don’t tend to speak up at first when things bother me. (When ninety percent of what goes on bothers you, there’s no point in saying anything.) I try to let things go or get some distance from them if I can. However, that thing that got said that hurt and damaged me… that never went away, and so then it can resurface, and if it does and I’m talking to you… Then there’s a good chance I’ll make things very much worse, whether it’s about that or not. And since I’ve buried other things, they can add to it. I might lose my temper. I might lash out. I might just crawl off to hide and cry bitter tears because I can’t handle it anymore, but usually the hiding comes after I realize I’ve done a bunch of hurting others myself, and it wasn’t what I wanted, but it happened.

When I say I’m fine, it’s more often that I just have no way of explaining the things going on in my head.

I don’t vocalize these things. I’ve tried, and those efforts seem to always backfire spectacularly (not just because I lightning rod, but because people who haven’t been in this situation don’t understand, people who have been and are past it seem to think they know the cure, and others really never wanted that much detail in the first place.) It doesn’t help that I’m a chronic multi-tasker who has the unfortunate tendency to obsess over multiple things at any given moment, whether it be story stuff or personal crises or even the mundane and ordinary.

When it is bad, it is really bad.

There are times when I have absolutely no desire to be in my head. When that stuff scares me. When I shouldn’t be left to my own devices.

So that is a bit of life with depression and anxiety, for me. In the past week, it’s made a real mess of things, again, per usual. I almost didn’t get all the work for my day job done. I had migraines all week. I got into a couple arguments with friends. I just about burned one of the proof copies without even reading it because I can’t get a negative comment out of my head. I stressed out about every step of publishing new things, be it laying things out or proofing them. I haven’t written anything in two weeks. I was supposed to go somewhere important today, and I didn’t make it. I stayed home, and my efforts to distract myself ended up being futile… I broke the sewing machine, ordered the wrong part for my car, and couldn’t fix more than one of the other problems with it even after going to multiple auto parts stores.

And I’d rather die than do a book signing, but I have two coming up.

In spite of myself, there is a new book out in print. It was just an ebook before, but now it’s both. The plan was to have them all done, all the older releases, but obviously, that hasn’t happened. One isn’t quite to the proof stage, and the other is the one I can’t even look at, so… yeah. That’s where things are with me and my ability to wreck just about everything.