Category: personal stuff


As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m heading into the busy season for my day job. Because I’m self-employed, my hours can be absolutely crazy, and I think I’ve been wearing myself too thin. Part of me wants to keep pushing, to keep working, but when I’m consuming so much caffeine that my hands begin shaking, it sort of defeats the purpose. My work requires very fine motor control on some of the more detailed pieces, so I’m not producing anything useable, by pushing on.

I’m burnt out.

So I’m going to take the day off today.  I need time for me.  I might go on a motorcycle ride — I haven’t ridden in far too long. I’m going to write. I have 2 partially finished short stories I wanted to submit to anthology calls, and the deadlines are fast approaching.  I’m going to do a read through of a couple of my novel manuscripts. Maybe do a little editing.  Definitely going to try to do a little catch up on my blog reading and commenting.

I’m feeling better already 🙂

Photo by me. Yes, those are my real pills.

I haven’t had the energy for blogging, or anything else, lately.

I received the results of the blood tests I mentioned in a previous post, at the beginning of the month. Everything was normal, except my a1c levels were slightly higher than normal, which, according to my doctor, means I’m not yet diabetic, but I’m “at a higher risk to develop diabetes.” She started me on Metformin. The dose was to start out low, and gradually build up over a period of three weeks, to reduce the side effects.

At first, it didn’t seem too bad. It made me a little nauseous, and tired, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. But when it came time to increase the dose, the real problems began.  Not everyone experiences the gastric (stomach) problems, so I’m apparently one of the (un)lucky few.  I don’t want to get into the gory details here, but let’s just say that I was pretty much chained to the bathroom, and no matter how much sleep I got, I was constantly exhausted.  Good thing I’m my own boss, because there is no way I would be have been able to function normally during this time, much less be able to work on someone else’s schedule.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced side-effects that were worse than the original problem (I blogged about it years ago here), though this is the first time it’s happened with a prescription medication.  I really didn’t have any symptoms of diabetes before the test, either.  The test was part of a screening for my general health condition.  So to end up completely miserable from a pill, well, it left me wondering if my doctor wasn’t a little too quick to jump straight to medication.  A full-dose seems a bit like overkill when I think about it: my numbers were literally 0.1 percent outside of the normal range.

The symptoms did start tapering off a few days ago, much to my relief.  I guess my body has adjusted to the medication.   I’ve heard horror stories about people suffering through the severest side-effects for years.  Despite this, I’ve decided to add another resolution to my list for the year: to lose another 10 pounds, and get off this medication for good.  I’m sure it’s possible.  My father, who is a full-blown diabetic, was able to get off medication by adding additional exercise to his gym routine, and I kind of wanted to lose more weight even before this happened.  I lost 15 pounds last year, and have managed to keep it off.  We’ll see how it goes.

I hope to get back into blogging more regularly, soon.  Plus, I know I have a lot of catch-up commenting to do, on the blogs that I follow.  This could take a while…

I had to go in for a series of blood tests the other day.  Routine stuff, to check my cholesterol and for anemia and a few other things, but it  required fasting for 8 hours beforehand.  Also included was a glucose test, for diabetes.  Diabetes is what I consider the boogeyman hiding in my genetic history: my paternal grandfather had Type 2 Diabetes, and my father has it as well.  It’s a disease that scares me almost more than the family history of cancer.  Irrational, I know, but has everything to do with my equally irrational fear of needles.

The glucose test ensured that my time in the lab would be nearly 3 hours.  The initial blood draw itself seemed to take a really long time.  I don’t have the easiest veins for the techs to find, to begin with, and it seemed like a ridiculously large amount of blood was needed.  Four test tubes worth.  It took so long that the lab tech was able to discuss, in detail, unique aspects of the Georgia school system that I had never known, nor cared to know.  Talk about a captive audience!

Once the initial work was over, I had to consume that disgusting sugar drink to begin the glucose testing.  I’m not sure what flavor I was given, it tasted like pure sugar to me.  That was too much, even for my massive sweet tooth, to find very palatable.  Just glad that I didn’t get sick, as some people do.  While I waited out the 2 hours that needed to pass before I was to have more blood drawn, to check my body’s reaction to all of the sugar, the skies opened up in a heavy, constant downpour.  When I left the lab, I learned something interesting: Apparently, my phone’s navigation app doesn’t work in the rain.  It kept trying to say my location was in Malaysia, instead of Georgia, USA, and that therefore it couldn’t create a driving route to my destination. 😯

By the time I was finally able to go home, I was running on automatic pilot, with only a brief stop for fast food that didn’t quite seem to fill me up as much as it normally did.  I took care of my dog, refilled his water bowl, and headed back to bed.

Later that evening, when it was time for him to eat, I couldn’t find his food bowl.  Anywhere.  I noticed that his water dish was on the wrong side of the stand, but didn’t remember putting it there.

My husband and I searched the entire house, looking for his bowl.  Even ridiculous places, like the bathroom, and the refrigerator.  Still nothing.  We had a spare disposable aluminum tray, so that became the substitute food dish.  I wish I’d taken a photo of my dog’s face when I set it down in front of him.   The  improvised meal confused him.

The next day, it was time to refill his water again.  When I picked up his water dish, I noticed it seemed unusually heavy.  The food dish was nested beneath it.  It had been there all the time.  😳

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was a full-time college student, making my way through classes on less than 3 hours of sleep and a handful of candy bars.  Not just surviving the day, but thriving.  I would often write my best papers during those times, especially for my philosophy class.

Now, I can’t function on little sleep and less food.  Or was it little food and less sleep?

I can’t be the only one who’s done crazy things while food or sleep-deprived.  Go ahead, tell me your best! Or would it be your worst?

If I Were Paranoid…

I’d think the builder who sold us our house is out to get us! 😉 I can laugh about most of it now, but it’s been quite a crazy ride these last few weeks.

First, they decided to build houses on some of the empty lots in our development, including the one right next door to ours.  Which isn’t too bad, except our view from the front porch now includes this:

Who doesn’t love seeing a port-a-potty the moment you step outside your front door?

Then we found out that the builder advertised this identical house to ours, on an identical lot to ours, for $20, 000 less than what we paid them a little over a year ago.  They’ve since removed the fliers they had with that number on it — only to replace it with a giant sign outside the development, which now advertises houses starting at prices $40,000 less than what we paid.

I know, I know.  It could be much worse.  At least we have a house, and we’re not in the same situation as a good friend of mine, who has a condo in California that is worth less than half of the amount they paid for it a few years ago.  Or rather, I should say, the amount they took out as their mortgage.

Then, while digging out the culvert beneath the soon-to-be driveway, they cut our DSL line, and this was no shallow, barely covered line.  They had to dig really deep to do this.  That meant no internet.  For nearly a week.  My day job depends on internet access, so I spent a lot of time going out to places with free wi-fi in order to keep up with what I needed to get done.  It also means that I’ve fallen even further behind on blogging…

Oh, and our internet company still hasn’t buried our new DSL line.  It’s draped along the border of our front yard, and they actually threaded part of the line through our fence:

Not sure why they did it this way.  They’ll have to disconnect us when it comes time to finally bury the line again.  Not looking forward to that.

Finally, there were the nails.  Specifically, the roofing nails that they apparently dropped on the road.  The nails that ended up in the tire of our car.  It went flat, but fortunately, without causing an accident.  But it did make my husband miss an event he was supposed to attend for work.  Oh, and for all of those lovely motorists who were laughing at a soldier, in full dress uniform, struggling to repair a tire on his car? I have only one thing to say: Pffft! 🙄

All that being said, it hasn’t been too bad living next to a construction zone.  They’re certainly the quietest construction site I’ve ever encountered.  And all of the comings-and-goings of all the strangers around “his” territory has certainly kept our dog entertained!

One of my very best and oldest friends is pregnant.  Due in September.  I must admit, it feels a little odd to me.   She and I were the last of all of my close friends to remain childless, even though both of us have been married for some time.  She was the one I could talk to without worrying that she would suddenly break into the strange language of play-dates and toddler-speak.

Not anymore.

Though she’s not due until September, I’m already having a hard time understanding some of her conversations.  Oh, it’s not the medical side of her pregnancy that’s a problem.  As the daughter of a nurse who spent several years working for a OB-GYN, then another several years working in a high-risk pregnancy ward in a hospital, I probably know more about pregnancy and childbirth than anyone who hasn’t experienced either of those things should know.

It’s when she starts talking about the new things she’s buying/thinking of buying for the baby — that’s where I get lost.  For example, the  other day, her Facebook status talked about her husband’s first foray into parenthood: mastering the Travel Boppy.

Huh? What in the world is a Travel Boppy? A little searching on Google brought this explanation: It’s a “Feeding and Infant Support Pillow” that is made for traveling.  Now, why couldn’t they just call it a pillow in the first place? 😉

If I’m this lost now, I’m scared to see how lost I’ll be after she actually has the baby.  Unless I’m finally lucky enough to join her in impending parenthood before then.

By the way, for anyone who is curious about what a Travel Boppy looks like, here’s the video posted on the company’s YouTube channel:

On March 30th, the winning numbers were drawn for the record-breaking, 640 million dollar jackpot of the MegaMillions Lottery.  Though all of the online forums I frequent have been abuzz for the last several days, full of people talking about how they’d like to spend the money if they won, and  every radio station I listened to had DJs joking about how that Friday would be their last day of work if they won, I managed to resist the temptation to buy myself a ticket.

My first excuse must be that I live in Alabama, and we don’t have the lottery here, but that’s a very weak excuse at best.  I live just twenty minutes away from the border with Georgia, which does participate in the MegaMillions.  I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t tempted — I was in Georgia on Friday afternoon, running several errands.  But those errands were my priority, and to be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to buy a ticket.

After my husband arrived home from work, and I teased him about whether he had stopped to buy a lottery ticket on the way (he actually works in Georgia), I started really thinking about it.  Unlike most of the people I know, I never really even thought about what I would do if I won such a prize.  Deep down, I  don’t ever expect to do so.

My father likes to say that people who have a lot of luck have to take the good with the bad.  One of his best friends from his days with the Honolulu ambulance was one of those lucky ones.  He usually returned from his vacations to Vegas with more money than he left with, while my father almost never came out ahead.  On the down side, however, his friend would often get called to the most gruesome and difficult emergencies, while my father, when not partnered with his friend, would usually get the much more routine calls.  My father often says that it’s not his luck to ever have anything really exciting happen to him, good or bad.

I do think there is something to his theory.  I think my husband has the same kind of luck as my dad.  He has an Army buddy who is much like my father’s friend — very, very lucky.  I know he often gets choice assignments, to relatively easy jobs, while my husband often gets jobs he doesn’t want.  But on the flip-side, his friend was not only involved in a bad accident (that resulted in a fatality) while they were deployed to Iraq, he’s also been involved in an off-duty accident that has left permanent damage to his back, and he mentioned being the victim of a hold-up at a job he held before joining the military.  My husband, on the other hand, happened to be on leave when the accident in Iraq happened (he would have been in the vehicle), and in many other ways, has lived a relatively uneventful life.

So you could say that I might not want the kind of luck I would need to win the massive jackpot.  I don’t wish the winners any ill, but if my dad’s theory is correct, I’d hate to see what kind of bad would come after winning a record amount of prize money.

But my feelings about luck are not the only reason I won’t  play, and it has more to do with both my writing and my feelings about gambling in general.  If I’m going to have any luck at all, I would prefer to have the luck of being published — the odds there aren’t much better than the odds for the lottery, but I think I would be happier.  Making it as a published writer isn’t solely about luck, there is some skill and a lot of hard work involved.  After all, there are many, many people who say they want to write a novel, but how many of them follow through? And of those who do finish a novel, how many of them keep persevering through the long, winding road to publication? I’ve been writing for more than twenty years now, and I know many who have given up in that time.  Some are much better writers than I can ever hope to be, but the world will never know it, because they are no longer writing.  Seeking publication makes me feel like I have some control over my odds.  Not much, but more than just the random luck of a lottery.

The same goes for gambling, in general.  My mother loves to play slots in Vegas, but I’d rather play blackjack.  Yes, there is luck involved in blackjack, but you can also affect your odds of winning by skill and practice.  I just don’t have the personality to look to fate to provide for me.  Learning the techniques of blackjack doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win, but at least you lose your money a lot slower =)

All that being said, however, I make no guarantees that I’ll be able to continue resisting temptation if that MegaMillions jackpot goes over 1 billion dollars.  I may just have to buy a ticket in that case.  I won’t need the prize of becoming a published writer then.  Becoming a billionaire would surely silence the character’s voices I hear in my head.

Or maybe not…

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On Valentine’s Day morning, I awoke to find a text message from my little brother on my phone.  He had proposed to his girlfriend the night before, and is now engaged to be married.  His message also included a little note about how he thought I would be sleeping (his time zone is five hours behind mine), so he wanted to send the text to make sure that I received the good news before he posted about it on Facebook.  It was definitely a bittersweet moment.

Don’t get me wrong, I really am happy for him.  His fiancée is great and I’m looking forward to the day I can call her my sister(in-law).  Yet… I couldn’t help feeling a little down, too.  It brought home to me just how much I’m missing out on by living so far away from my family.  Seeing the words in the text message wasn’t the same as hearing my brother’s happiness and excitement.  We weren’t particularly close growing up.  Our fights were so bad that our mother often said that she thought we would have killed each other, especially during our teen years.  But once we were no longer living together, we eventually matured into a very close bond.  He would often confide in me about his disastrous relationships, and I wish I could have heard how happy he was now that he knew he was finally in the right relationship.

This isn’t the first time this year I’ve felt this particular disconnect, and it’s not just my family that I feel like I’m losing.  Last month, I found out that a good friend of mine lost her mother — through Facebook! She lives in the same time zone as my brother, and since I’ve moved away, we’ve mainly communicated through Facebook.  With our constantly changing schedules, both of us have a hard time figuring out what would be a good time to call.  Even though she was able to write the message to me personally, I know it wasn’t the same for her as telling me over the phone, the words just wouldn’t flow the same way.   I could write and commiserate with her in text, but I didn’t really feel like I was there for her when she needed me.

After all, it’s the sharing of the moments of our lives, both the happy and the sad, that defines both our relationships and who we are as people.  Yet even though there are many miles between myself and my family and friends, it is always the time that gets in the way.  It’s the time that shortens communication and leaves so many things unsaid.  And it’s time — unlike distance — that cannot ever truly be crossed.

Thunderstorms!

Wet and crazy day in Alabama right now.  Rain’s pouring down and thunder is crashing so frequently it feels like I’m living underneath a busy bowling alley.  My dog is seriously freaked out right now! He’s panting and whining and running through the house, looking for a ‘safe’ spot.

Green thumb? Maybe…

Or maybe my thumb just isn’t quite as black as I always believed.

As a descendant of many farmers (and both sets of grandparents had magnificent vegetable and flower gardens at their homes) I was always a little embarrassed that I couldn’t grow anything.  I’ve killed cactus.  I’ve even killed plants grown in the “fool-proof” Aerogarden, because I never remembered to water it.

My parents were never ashamed of having “black thumbs.” My mother even boasted, at times, of all the plants she’d killed.  My father has never had even the slightest interest in gardening.  Period.

But the rising costs of store-bought vegetables finally provoked me to make one last try.  A raised garden, this time.  And so far, so good.  The plants are a little short but they’re starting to produce their first harvests.  Like these cherry tomatoes.

A small start, but better than nothing.  Next up, I have to figure out how to keep the squash bugs from decimating my zucchini plants.

Perhaps the gardening gene didn’t skip two generations of my family after all…

They say that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  Well, I didn’t mean to take that literally, but I’ve left more than my money in Sin City.  I left my wallet behind, as well.

Not on purpose, mind you.  Guess you could say that I was distracted by the flashing lights of video poker, and the sensible part of my brain shut down. Yes, I lost my wallet in the middle of a casino.  I reported the loss to “lost and found,” but no luck.  No one turned it in.  I was fortunately able to look up my bank’s phone numbers up through my phone and cancelled my cards, was assured by the bank that there had been no fraudulent activity since my last transaction, then my thoughts turned to the bigger problem.

I now had no ID.  And no way of getting a replacement before I had to fly home.  How was I supposed to get onto my flight?

I called the airlines that I had scheduled my return flight on.  They said that I needed to file a police report, and they would accept that as proof of my identity.  But whether the TSA would allow me past airport security was something that they had no certain information on…

The report needs to be filed at the station, and the staff of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department were very understanding.  I got the impression that this sort of thing happens to tourists quite often.  After signing in at the front, I was given a form to fill in the details of the items lost with the wallet — only the important things, like IDs, cards, medical cards, things like that — as well as the details of the loss.  I have to thank Michele (didn’t get her last name), for making the whole process a lot less stressful than it could have been.  She also helped me to remember details that I didn’t think to put down when I filled out the form.

I was given a copy, and I was able to use that copy as well as my receipt from my original booking to obtain my boarding pass at the airport.  Then, it was time to tackle airport security.  Fortunately, they were just as understanding as the police had been — as I said, I think this is a lot more common for tourists to do than most people might think.  Besides the police report, I was asked if I had anything else that might prove who I was, other documents with my name on it, such as hotel receipts, rental car agreements, Costco club card, etc.  No, you can’t whip open your laptop and show the agent your Facebook page — electronic ‘proof’ is not considered valid.  It has to be something you could only obtain in person.  If you don’t have enough of these other documents (this is up to the agent to decide), the next step is that the agent will call their database, and you will have to answer a few questions.  Questions that only you would be able to answer.  Not even my husband would have known the answers to mine!

Once they’re sure you are who you say you are, you’re allowed to go through security, but with additional screening.   All of your items will be searched and tested for dangerous substances.  You have to get a pat-down.  All of which sounds bad, but it’s really not.  Keeping calm really helps.  For me, it certainly wasn’t the nightmare that I’d heard it could be.  The TSA agents I dealt with were all really nice, and since my husband and I made sure to arrive at the airport extra early (about 3 hours before our scheduled flight), I was able to get through all of the questioning and additional screening in more than enough time to make my flight.

Now comes the difficult part — acquiring new identification and cards, and monitoring my credit reports to make sure my identity hasn’t been stolen.

I think I need another vacation…