Articles By Jamie DeBree

Hats, Seaweed, & Dry Eyes

I’m happy to announce that I finished and delivered my mom’s hat this weekend, which settled the last of my Christmas gift “debt”. No, I did not get a picture, because I was interrupted on the very last row by a work call Saturday night, and by the time I got back to it Sunday, I just wanted to finish it and go drop it off. It turned out nicely though, I think, and since I made two sizes so she could pick which one fit best, I have an extra one to donate next year. Win-win!

Now I have my evenings back for editing, gaming, and I’ll probably designate one for knitting so I can finish last year’s blanket project. After that’s done, I’ll get started on this year’s gifts. Or something for myself. We’ll see. I’m just glad to have the “must do” projects done. I hate it when hobbies turn into “work”. Defeats the purpose of doing them, methinks.

I’ve also recently discovered those packs of roasted nori sheets as a great low-cal snack at work. Seaweed is supposedly very good for you, and may even have cancer-fighting properties, and part of what I want it for is thyroid support (nori has low amounts of iodine in it…kelp has quite a bit more). It’s difficult judging how much is good and how much is too much, but maybe the iodine will get my thyroid moving a bit faster, as long as I don’t overdo it.

Also, the seaweed keeps me from snacking on other things at work. Like, donuts. *sigh* It’s a very low-calorie snack, and the oil coating sats my appetite. So, we’ll see how it goes in the long run, but I’m enjoying it at the moment.

Moreso than my eyes, which are currently being rebellious. A pretty severe lack of sleep over the weekend coupled with cold winds and dry weather has my corneas in a bunch, quite literally. I’m trying to mitigate it the best I can, with limited screen time, closing my eyes and letting them rest regularly, and making sure I use my eyedrops at least once a day, but two if I feel the need.

I’ve been referred to a “cornea specialist” by my eye doctor, but I didn’t go last year when I was supposed to. I’m honestly afraid of what he’ll say. But if this doesn’t clear up on its own, I dare say an appointment is in order. Dammit.

In any case, I’m going to post this, and then go to bed and give my eyes a good rest.


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Sugar, Carbs, & Self-Destructive Behavior

I may have gone a little overboard with the food in celebrating my birthday last week. It’s mostly because I never quite crawled back out of the “sugar and carbs” hole I allowed myself to fall into over the holiday season. “Just gotta finish off these cookies,” or “don’t want to let that go to waste” – two of the most self-destructive things I told myself when faced with all the cookies, breads and candy this year, and the thing about carbs and sugar for me is that they are very addictive to my palate and my body. When I eat them, I crave more. Even when I’m not hungry, my mind wants to find that next “fix”. I know some people can eat carbs and not have that problem, but breads are just as bad as cookies for me – I love bread, and I could easily eat myself into the ground with them if I gave myself the chance. My body will grab those carb calories and hang onto them for dear life in the form of fat cells, and that means I’m also dealing with hormonal issues (because estrogen tends to get stored in fat cells – the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen your body holds on to).

Due to this “just a little” mentality, I’m around five pounds heavier than I was in November and not fitting into my clothes as well as I’d like, my body thinks I’m trying to starve it every time I go for even just a few hours without something “carb-based”, and my skin is breaking out. To make matters worse, we indulged in Chinese Friday night for my birthday dinner, and now we’re both dealing with the fallout from so much salt (because there are always leftovers, and that means Chinese Friday and Saturday night too). Dehydration and carb cravings do not make for a pleasant duo.

Basically, I’m physically a mess, because I quit taking care of my body and just “gave in” to the temptations around me. My ankles are unhappy for some reason too – the burning was bad enough Saturday night to wake me up. I suspect that whether I injured them or if it’s inflammation for some other reason, they’ll probably be happier/more likely to heal quickly if I start taking care of myself again.

The main problem is, I have very little self-control when it comes to sweet snacks and breads. Today I’m wrestling with the fact that there are ginger snaps in the kitchen, and also a few pieces of leftover angel food cake. Do I just eat the cake since I’m already so far into the hole, or toss it and start the climb out? Do I keep the ginger snaps and do my best to ration them out reasonably, or just toss the whole tin and not subject myself to the daily temptation (I got them for free for spending $10 at the bread store a week ago). Ginger is good for inflammation, but they’re full of sugar too. I can put ginger in my tea and skip the sugar, which would be healthier.

I think the cookies are headed for the garbage – I can’t trust myself to ration them out reasonably, and I certainly don’t need that sugar “hit” making me hungry 20 minutes after I have one little cookie. As for the cake…well, that’s a harder one. I have sliced strawberries to go over it (I’ve been just eating it plain though, because…yum), so maybe I’ll set aside two thin slices to put strawberries over for dessert tonight (or maybe even lunch today, just to get it finished off), and toss the rest. I need to be snacking on healthy things like prunes and unsalted nuts, not cake and cookies. I need to get back to where I was before I allowed myself all of this culinary debauchery.

The weather is warmer, so Athena and I can get back to walking daily, and if I clean up my diet/bad eating habits, I should be back to a healthier state of being fairly quickly. Enough with the self-destructive behavior already!

More water and walking, less sugar and carbs. That’s the goal, starting…well, now.


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Barriers, Sore Muscles, & Reflections at 45

This past weekend, the hubby and I installed a wire barrier in the Subaru between the back seat and the hatchback. Normally people do this to keep their dogs in the hatch, but my dogs ride in the backseat (I mean, that’s where the windows are, right?).

The thing is, just before Christmas, Athena-dog decided to eat a chocolate cookie while we were out grocery shopping. She climbed over the back seat and into the hatch to get to it while we were inside our last grocery store of the day.

Then the next week, I put most everything into a zip-top cooler, but left my bags from the bread store out (because it’s bread…not much of an enticing smell, or so you’d think). she ate an entire package of english muffins that day.

The week after that, I put everything into a sturdy zipper thermo-bag, and when I came out of the last store, I found a burly, tattooed guy in a big red truck towing a compressor sitting there in the parking lot, laughing at Athena as she ate her way through the top third of a beef liver container (it was half-frozen, thank goodness). He had a great time, she had a great time, and the dogs had slightly less liver in the batch of food I made that week.

So, we installed a barrier to keep the groceries safe from my little perpetually-hungry boxer. And it works great! The groceries are safe, Athena-dog only pouted a little bit, and I don’t have to worry about catching a dog before she can run as I open the hatch to put more groceries in. Win-win for me!

However. I am so, so very out of shape – something I didn’t realize until the day after kneeling/squatting in the back of the car for 30 minutes to install that wonderful piece of equipment. I tell you what – my butt, the backs of my thighs and my inner thighs were all in *so much pain*, they were just burning up. Walking hurt, sitting hurt, standing hurt…I haven’t been in that much pain in a long, long time. Even my back and knees got in on the “let’s remind Jamie she’s not getting any younger” bandwagon.

Ouch.

Yesterday was only slightly better. I did yoga, but it was the slowest I’ve ever done, and it hurt like hell stretching those poor, sore mustles out enough so I could make it back up the stairs. I tried not to sit for too long of time periods at work, but my inner thighs (abductors? Adductors? I can’t remember) are still painfully sore and hurt whenever I sit down or stand up. Or walk, to an extent.

My back, ankles and knees still aren’t happy either. Part of the back/shoulder/neck issues is all the crocheting I’ve been doing to get that shawl done…but I should be able to do that without hurting. And I would be, if I were staying in shape in the first place. *sigh*

I used to recover from such things far more quickly, but alas, I think I still have a day or two to go until I can comfortably sit down/stand up. It was a stark reminder of how out-of-shape I’ve allowed myself to get, and also how much longer it takes to recover now that I’m right at my mid-forties.

Yes, I turn 45 on Friday, and I know people in their 60’s who are in better shape than I am. So…I really need to do something about that, especially since we’re headed back to Universal Studios and Disney World in Orlando this coming fall. I see new, more intense workouts in my immediate future. You know. After it doesn’t hurt to move again.

I’ve been thinking a lot as I approach what is probably close to the midpoint of my life, about the life I’ve lived so far, and the choices I’ve made. I don’t regret anything, really – I’ve found regrets are pointless for the most part. I do wish I could believe in reincarnation or some such philosphy of infinite do-overs. Not because I think I *should* have done things differently, but I so wish life could be like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels. I think it would be fun to be able to go through life, making the choices you make, and then at the end, be able to start over again from the beginning and make just a few different choices, to see what that life is like, and then do it over again to see what *that* reality is like…don’t you think that would be fascinating, especially if you could remember it all?

I like the life I’ve built, but I’m also constantly wondering “what if?”, and I think it would be fun to be able to explore all of those possibilities. Alas, it’s not to be, but perhaps that’s why I’m a writer, eh? To explore all sorts of different lives without getting into too much trouble, hurting too many people, or getting thrown into prison (*ahem*).

What’s one choice you made a long time ago that you’d like to know how it would have turned out if you’d chosen differently? Or do you already know how it would have turned out, and would just like to go back and…do that, for the experience? Inquiring minds…


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Goal Prep & A Digital Notebook

Making goals is fun. Reaching goals is fun. Doing the prep and subsequent work necessary to reach goals? Not so much fun. Which is why it’s a good idea to jump right in and create habits while the main goal is still exciting enough to be motivating.

No, I’m not going to bore you (or myself) with weekly reports, but since this is the first week and I’ve made some progress all around as well as some revelations, it seems noteworthy.

I have been reading more – not always at the times I want, but at least a little bit every day, which is good. It doesn’t matter right now how much or what, really, just that I’m carving out time for reading, and I am.

I also have three flash stories ready for editing. I wasn’t ready to jump back into my longer novels just yet last week, so I worked on a few more flash stories instead, and then dictated another yesterday (which will be part of my normal schedule – flash on Mondays).

Lastly, I held BSB “Office Hours” twice this weekend, instead of once. I made a list of things I felt like I needed to do in order to both keep track of important business items (like sales, expenses and assets), and also to move forward with some sales and update type things (like updating books/blurbs, taking care of social media presences, etc). To do all of that in one sitting is…a lot. Overwhelming, you might say (since on the one side, I have to do things I should have started 10 years ago, like…say…build/maintain an asset list). Especially this first week – I didn’t feel like I could even come close to getting it all done.

So I decided to break it up. Bookkeeping and accounting on Friday nights, and sales & maintenance on Sunday nights. That allowed me to…you know – go to bed when I was tired on Friday night (aka 2am Saturday morning), and not have to sleep in quite so late.

I think that should work, at least until I get some things I’ve been neglecting (expenses, asset list, etc) caught up, and the habits to maintain them are established and efficient. Last year, it took several months for me to get in the habit of doing the household budgeting efficiently – it took me a couple of hours per week until I settled into a more efficient workflow and got that cut down to less than an hour, even with paying bills as I go on paycheck weeks.

I’m pretty sure that once I get into a good workflow and get caught up with the BSB stuff I haven’t been maintaining, the time I need will go down, and I can think about consolidating what I need to do. It just takes time, as all new things do. Frustrating but normal.

My reMarkable

In other news, I also bought myself a new piece of equipment that I originally thought would be perfect for the last edits before a draft is ready for copy editing, and it will, but also so much more. It’s basically just a digital notebook – an e-ink screen you can write on and keep your notes organized in. It’s called a “reMarkable“, and it’s very simple, but oh so useful when you don’t want to haul around an inch of printed manuscript to edit (e-ink looks like paper, and the writing surface of this feels like paper too, so it’s a different experience than editing on a backlit screen).

I already have one of my longer novel drafts loaded up and in editing – I can mark it up just like I’d mark up a paper copy, only without having to flip or keep track of separate pages.

Just like a regular notebook, I can also write or draw or whatever in it, so I’ve also got places for blog ideas, notes on drafts and stories in progress, notes for work, business stuff I’m keeping track of…pretty much anything I’d reach for a pad of paper to note down instead of typing it into my laptop or cell. I can and do take small notes on my cell, but the reMarkable is bigger and better organized than the note functions on my cell. Options are good. This option is great, in my opinion.

It would be awesome if I could sell enough books this year to justify the cost. Or even in the next two years. We’ll see.

So, I’m off to a good start, methinks. I just need to figure out how to keep the momentum going long enough to get a few new habits in place. I have a good feeling about these goals, and the new workflow overall…

Are you working on new goals? How’s the momentum so far?


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2020: All About Words

Ah, a new year. Is there anything so soothing to a brain that craves organization than a logical place to take stock of where we’ve been and then make a plan for growth for one more year? I think not, even though I am necessarily starting from behind where I’d like to be. Unfortunately I can’t just drop everything and start over, as much as I’d like to.

But, whereas last year was pretty much all about getting finances in check, this year’s focus is completely different. This year is all about words. Reading them, writing them, publishing them. Steeping in them, as it were.

As always, I have a long list of goals I’d like to work on over the coming year, but three of them have been elevated to “Resolution” status, which means that they get both first priority and my focus even if everything else has to be left behind. Resolutions are the most important goals, as they are the ones I believe will most likely change my life for the better if I complete them.

That said, here are my resolutions for 2020:

1. Set “office hours” for a weekly BSB overview and keep them for at least 45 weeks of the year.
2. Publish a calendar in December 2020 for 2021 that includes 12 flash fiction pieces – one per month
3. Make reading time a priority

The first and third I’ve tried before, and eventually failed at. The second was inspired by a project some other writers are doing coupled by a mass mailing the realtor up the street did for everyone in the neighborhood (I assume – otherwise she really wants us to move) just before Christmas. She’s sent us a calendar for the past few years at Christmas, and next year, I am going to send her one right back. It seems only right to return her kindness, don’t you think? It will make a nice gift for family members too, and of course a good addition to the BSB catalog for sale.

As an added bonus, in order to publish a calendar of flash fiction, I have to actually…you know. Write and edit fiction. So, it’s a good way to motivate myself with a weekly flash fiction piece every Monday to “warm up” after a weekend off writing.

As for reading time…well, I’ve let other things encroach on that to a point where even the 15 – 20 minutes I was doing before bed last year has been “eaten up” by my trying to get more wriing/editing time in after the house is quiet. I haven’t been reading comic books in the morning so they’re piling up again, and my “TBR” (to be read) list is insanely huge, both in print and digital backlogs.

The thing about writing is, you really do need to be reading too, in order to keep that creative well topped off. I’ve let things like writing/editing time encroach, but also gaming time and other times when I have a few minutes and I could be reading, but I scroll facebook or something instead.

I love reading. I miss reading. And I’m getting back to it, starting asap. I have a definitive plan for reading times and will make it a point not to let those times be co-opted for other things. I do not have a specific number of books or list I need to stick with, because it’s not about how many or which books I read, but rather just that I keep reading daily.

Which leaves us with the dedicated office hours. This sort of thing was so much easier when we only watched network TV. I can’t even tell you how much work I got done durimg commercial breaks, whether it was writing, editing, cover art, blurbs, uploading…it was a *lot* of work. Without commercials most nights (we still watch some network TV, just not nearly as often), those “work breaks” are gone, and I think I’m possibly the only person to actually miss them.

In any case, in order for this to work, I knew I needed to define “BSB Overview” specifically, because without concrete, actionable tasks to complete, I will flounder for what I need to do when I sit down, and not do things that really need to be done (which defeats the whole purpose of the weekly overview). So I made myself a specific list of things I need to do during my weekly overview. After those tasks are done, I can keep working or not, but that list is my bare minimum to count as “one week” of office hours. The tasks include things like checking sales numbers, updating accounting, scheduling a minimum of one social media post per account for the week, making a list of potential blog post topics (not writing them, mind you – just coming up with topics), and picking a book to update over the next week or so. A lot of my books are older, and the covers and blurbs need to be updated (the covers were done when size requirements were different, so I really do have to completely redesign those, per the distributor I use – it’s not optional if I want my books to stay available for sale).

That is the biggest, and possibly hardest resolution I have, but it’s also going to be the most important, as doing that will keep the business moving forward and also force me to stay engaged with the business side of writing – which is important if I want to actually keep publishing. I’ve given myself a buffer – I have to hit 45 weeks out of 52, so I can miss 7 weeks out of the year. Vacation, being sick, major holiday….whatever. But only seven. I think that should be easily doable.

So that’s what I’m focusing on this year, and I’m optimistic. I know for a fact that if I can do all three of these things this year, I will be both a better writer and a more engaged publisher by the end of the year, and I’ll have established some excellent habits to take forward with me (much like the financial habits I established last year).

And now, it’s time to go read before bed. Happy New Year, and if you have goals you’re trying to reach, I wish you motivation, determination and perseverance in the coming months!


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2019 in Review

Ah, the end of another year. No, I’m not going to do an entire decade in review, because frankly, my personal timelines tend to get all tangled up in my head after a year or so, and something that happened 20 yrs ago feels like it happened last week, and another thing that happened a month or two ago feels like it’s been over for years. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to get 10 yrs worth of “life” straight in my head, much less on paper. Things happen. We learn stuff, do stuff, and hopefully keep moving forward.

I do know that I published my first book and established Brazen Snake Books in 2010. So that was pretty significant, I guess. Speaking of which, I really need to update that cover and blurb…

In any case, last year, I had three major resolutions to work on (and a lot of smaller goals). The big three were:

1) Pay off one major and 2 minor lines of credit
2) Institute a one-paycheck waiting period for all unnecessary, un-budgeted purchases
3) Publish two books

Finances were very much at the forefront of my mind because I’d just done some major overspending, I was way behind on my “normal” bills, and I was very much aware that I really needed to get a handle on both my spending, and the lackadaisical way I’d been handling money.

I’m happy to say, I did get myself in gear, got tough with myself, did my weekly budgeting whether I wanted to or not, and completed those first two resolutions. It was frustrating and annoying a lot of the time, and as soon as I finished paying off those particular credit lines, I was hit with a whole host of dog-related medical bills I had to pay, and then dental work I had to have done, so that was even more frustrating/annoying (because I was on a roll, dang it, and wanted to keep paying stuff off!). But, even though I’m operating closer to my personal margins than I’d like, I’m in a much better financial place this year, with money set aside to be invested when I have the time and a tiny bit of savings (which I haven’t had in a long while), so…those were very worthwhile goals, and I’m still very much motivated to pay several more credit lines off this next year. Which should be interesting because we’re actually taking a vacation in the fall (like, a fly-out-of-state vacation), but we’ll figure it out.

The last goal was an ultimatum to myself to either “publish or perish”, so to speak. I really, really struggled with writing time for the first three quarters of the year. At the moment (and by “moment”, I mean “moment relative to the rest of my life”) my schedule…my life is just not really conducive to sitting down and composing/typing a bunch of words late at night (and there is no other time…oh man, did I try to find another time). I can’t think well enough early in the morning, and my brain was done being creative about three hours before when I sit down late at night after everyone else has gone to bed and the house is finally quiet enough that I can think.

I really thought I was going to have to consign this one to the “perish” bin, as in, don’t bother publishing anymore until after I retire. If I can’t get a first draft down, there’s nothing to edit, and ultimately, nothing to publish. It all starts with the draft.

Late this fall, I decided to try one more thing: dictation. I figured I’m awake and alert in my car, I’m alone, I can have it quiet, and I’m often thinking about story lines or things that would make a great story while I’m driving. I honestly didn’t think it was going to work, because while I talk to myself, I don’t generally “dictate” stories or tell them out loud, and it was exceedingly weird the first couple of times I tried it. But I reminded myself that no one else was listening (and who cares if the other drivers think I’m nuts), and that no one else ever needed to listen to the audio version – the whole point is to dictate and let the program transcribe the dictation, which I can then edit into something readable.

I can edit even when my brain is tired. Editing is much easier than drafting – it’s all critical voice, and that is what my brain is best at – being critical and fixing things. It can do that sort of thing in its sleep (and often does). So the more I dictated, the more comfortable I got with it, and I found that while I struggled hard to come up with even 250 new words late at night, I could dictate a thousand or more in the car just in 2-3 fifteen minute trips to work and back! And then when I uploaded the transcripts at night, I could sit down and edit, a task that wasn’t nearly as much of a struggle late at night after a full workday.

It’s a lot more work to write this way – because the transcription has to be edited into a “first draft”, and then a second round of actual editing to get it ready for copy-editing. But I can do it with the time and energy I have available, when I have them available, and it feels good to be making forward progress on stories again. I’ve written more in the last quarter of 2019 than I have in a long time, thanks to dictation.

So no, I didn’t publish any books this year, though I did write and edit a flash fiction story to send off with my Christmas cards. But I am going to keep writing and have a goal to publish some books next year, and maybe get this whole writing business back on track. I’m optimistic, to be sure.

As for my smaller goals, I got a few of them done, but I never put in place the infrastructure I needed to really be successful with them. I need to make calendar reminders and routines and in some cases, buy something small to make the goal easier. This year, I’m doing that.

More on that in tomorrow’s post on resolutions and goals for 2020.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

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Tools, Motivation & Forward Progress

I got my new laptop the week of Thanksgiving, and spent several days setting it up. It is *so* much better than my old one. We’re talking leaps and bounds. The bigger screen is nicer than I thought it would be, it’s quick and clean and “roomy”, and best of all, it has a true mechanical keyboard that is clicking happily (and audibly) along as I type this post.

The right tools really do make all the difference, and honestly, I *want* to use this laptop. I want to have it with me in the living room, where it’s in easy reach to work on a web site update or make some cover art, edit part of a story or even write a blog post (*ahem*).

Needless to say, having the right tool(s) is paramount, and this laptop is definitely a game-changer for me. Why did I not get this post done/up last week, you might ask? Well, it’s because I finally got motivated to actually start getting things done.

I’ve had a lot of outstanding projects going on lately, and while I still do, I decided it was time to quit letting those feelings of being overwhelmed de-motivate me.

You know how sometimes you have so much going on at home, at work, and everywhere, and every time you even think about making some progress on *something* (even just one tiny little thing), you get interrupted or derailed or…whatever, and more things keep piling up and not getting finished, until you just sort of hit that point where your brain shuts down and states that if you can’t even finish one simple little thing, there’s no point in even trying to do anything at all?

Yeah. That’s kind of where I’ve been for awhile now. Drowning in “things” that need to be done, things I want to do, and being constantly interrupted and derailed at every single freaking turn. It’s the most annoying thing ever in life, and I got to the point where I just sort of shut down and quit trying.

Then I went ahead and got this new laptop against my better judgement, and I decided to *take* the time to get one thing off my plate. Just one minor side project that I’d been working on for awhile now, and only had just a little bit left to do on it. If I could have focused, it would have taken me an hour, 90 minutes tops. As my life is at the moment, it took me several hours and a lot of irritation at interruptions, plus a later bedtime than normal (which actually turned out to be pretty normal for last week, unfortunately), but I got it done.

Finishing that project was a major turning point for me. I finished something! Anything! Done, complete, off my plate! I tell you what, it was such a relief just being able to finish *something* that I was downright giddy (at 1am, that happens quietly, but it does happen). I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to prove to myself that I am capable of focusing and finishing things, especially when it’s been a long time since I’ve actually…you know…finished something.

Completing that project was the “re-proof” I needed, apparently, because I actually managed to get some larger projects off my plate last week, which felt phenomenal. And there are a couple more that I’m on track to finish this week as well.

Granted, I have had to be very focused, and sometimes very insistent with others that I needed time to work. I hate having to do that, only because I feel like people should just automatically leave me alone when I’m clearly busy. That never happens, but it would be nice if it did. I’ve also been giving up some sleep too…compromising between the 6 hours I want and the 4.5 hours I can’t really function well on anymore for around 5 hours instead. It’s not optimal, but honestly? The better mental outlook because I’m finishing stuff is worth a little less sleep. At least for awhile, until I figure out how to sneak the sleep back in too.

In my continuing quest to “get stuff done”, I have two smaller writing projects I’m finishing this week – one a story for an advent calendar (it’s actually done now, and yes, the calendar is late, but better late than never and one of the projects hanging over my head), and one a story for my Christmas cards this year. My writing projects have been suffering just as much as anything else, but I think I’ve found the (mental) problem, and I’m working on “fixing” that as well. More on that later.

I don’t actually know if any of this would have happened without the new laptop. Having a tool you *want* to use is so much more productive than having one that frustrates you every time you need it.

Like magic, of a sort.


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Impulse, Electronics & Buyer’s Remorse

I ordered a new laptop this past weekend.

I was totally not planning on doing that. I was going to wait until I could pay outright, not go into more debt (though honestly, it doesn’t even seem to matter at this point), and just make due with the one I have now for at least another six months to a year.

But somewhere between fighting the insanely mushy keyboard on my older Win 7 laptop that I only keep around for VPN sessions to work when needed (it’s got a bigger screen) and sticky keys plus jumping trackpad cursors on my current Win 10 laptop, I decided to go gander at “laptops with mechanical keyboards” on Amazon Saturday night. Just window shopping, I told myself. See what’s out there. Talk myself down from the insane cost of a gaming laptop (because that’s really the only way you can get a nice mechanical keyboard on a laptop), and reaffirm the decision to just make this too-flexible little notebook work.

It’s getting close to Black Friday though, and Amazon’s got deals for those of us stupid enough to know that we have a decent credit score and also those of us who don’t yet have an Amazon credit card. They’re smart like that.

And I, running seriously low on sleep due to the aforementioned argument with my mushy only-for-work-calls keyboard and my normal Friday night late (or early, depending on your perspective) bedtime, happened across a lovely little laptop with a bigger screen, mechanical keyboard, more hard drive space than I could ever need (and definitely enough to run dual boot linux/windows), and review promises of no bloatware, great customer service and a solid case with no flexing whatsoever in the keyboard deck.

Amazon said if I signed up for their prime customer credit card, I could have $160 off the price, and pay over time. I looked at my cell, which cost only slightly less than that lovely laptop, and thought…well, if I qualify…maybe this would make my life a lot easier. One computer to do everything, no more mushy keyboard, no more sticky keys or jumping cursors due to case flex…bigger screen…

I hit “apply”, got approved, ordered that laptop, and am now trying to figure out how to get the package that requires my signature on Wednesday while working instead of wasting a perfectly good Thursday off work while the new laptop sits at a distribution center somewhere because I wasn’t home when they tried to deliver. *sigh*

Impulse is bad. More debt is bad. I know these things. And I may yet feel some sort of buyer’s remorse when that first credit card payment comes due.

But at the moment, I just want my new laptop so I can stay home and set it up on Thursday while the rest of the country is being social and eating too much.

I’m excited. And a little concerned that I should probably be more remorseful, but…well…mostly just excited.


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Reflections & List Items

As I write this, I’m sitting on the couch with my tea and two sleeping dogs on a welcome day off from work. It’s Veteran’s Day here in the states, a day to honor those who have fought for our country in years past. There are a lot of political statements that could so easily be made at this point, however, I’ll do as I always do and leave those to others who mind less (and seem to have more energy for) the unwinnable arguments that such topics bring about online.

Needless to say, I am reflecting, as one is supposed to do on such days. About veterans, politics, and also the insanely long list of things I’d like to get done while I’m not at work today. It would be impossible to do them all, unfortunately, and the all-or-nothing thinking that tends to go hand in hand with having an impossible list keeps beckoning from the edges of my mind.

I can’t do it all, so no point in doing any of it. Might as well watch movies or play games all day.

Alas, I know that would leave me feeling far worse than completing at least a few things on the list, so here I am, taking advantage of the dogs’ normal morning naptime to write this blog and cross one thing off the list. Once they wake up, we’ll have to keep moving anyways. They’re not big fans of laying around all day if someone is here to keep them busy.

It’s bitterly cold out today, and snowy – the snow not necessarily odd for this time of year, but the near zero temps are definitely out of character. This past weekend we were almost at 60f, plunging into the single digits yesterday. Tomorrow we’re supposed to be up near 50f again. No fall, but definitely a weather roller-coaster this year.

I’m still struggling with my routines. I’ve been dictating fiction on my way to and from work, and man…that works really well for getting a rough first draft down. But the transcriptions need to be edited into a true draft, and that takes time at the computer, and I…well, I need more time, and also more discipline. I don’t like my laptop, which is part of that, but I’m also trying to do that editing late at night when I’m tired from the day and my willpower is weakest. I need to either figure out how to boost my brain one more time before that last editing push, or how to fit in some time earlier in the evening. Which is difficult, as the house is noisy before 11pm. There has to be a solution, even if it’s just changing the venue in which I’m editing or starting my late night routine earlier or…something. I just need to find it. At least if I’m ever going to publish another book.

I will figure it out, eventually.

Now, it’s time to schedule this post and move on to the next item on my list. Ever forward, right?


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Maintenance: Annoying but Necessary

For those who might be curious, yes, I got my bee tattoo last week. Two, actually, and I’m happy with how they turned out. The lines are sharp and clean, and I stepped out of both my comfort zone and the strict interpretation I was holding myself to on that particular arm, which actually gave me ideas and a plan for the rest of that sleeve. So, for all the worrying, it turned out very well.

The rest of the week sort of took a dive downward after that. I had to call my dentist because I had a second tooth in as many weeks break. So I have to postpone the crown prep I had scheduled for the other tooth, so I can get this one filled (and it probably needs a crown too). It’s one of two teeth that I should have crowned years ago, but it got lost in the shuffle of other root canals and crowns along the way while I was trying to get my teeth to a healthier place. Maintenance postponed = two broken teeth and crowns needed.

Then Halloween was cold and miserable for decorating, but we got it done and even had a good turnout of trick-or-treaters. Afterwards, the heel of my right foot started hurting like crazy. The reason? Dry feet. If I slack off on the foot maintenance (filing/soaking once a week, shea butter and socks for an hour before bed every night), the heel of my right foot gets so dry it develops deep, painful cracks in the bottom. I’ve totally been slacking off on both weekly and daily foot care. Maintenance ignored = painful walking for several days.

I was going through my earrings Friday night, swapping out my Halloween theme for something that would match (sort of) the piercing jewelry I’m stuck with for another 4 weeks or so, and one of the pair I wanted is ruined. I have a bad habit of swapping out jewelry and then instead of cleaning the pieces I just took out and putting them away right then, I leave them sitting on the counter to clean “later”. Or worse yet, I’ll put them in a small bowl of water to soak, and then not get back to them until they’ve soaked the finish right off. Needless to say, I had to toss that pair out, and use a pair that don’t match as well. Worse, I have a lot of earrings that I need to toss due to not taking proper care in cleaning and storing them. Maintenance ignored = money and jewelry I really liked both down the drain, so to speak.

This past weekend, the hubby and I finally tried to fix a clog in the plumbing. The bathroom sink on the main floor was draining slow for quite awhile, and then when I finally got it unclogged, the bathroom sink just below it in the basement started overflowing when we used the sink upstairs. We took both traps off the sinks to try to get a snake into the right drain, with zero luck. We did break the pipe for the upper sink in the process though. Finally called a plumber after failing and making the problem worse, and they came out yesterday to clear out the drain and replace some old metal piping (including the ones we broke). Maintenance ignored = a few hundred bucks in professional maintenance, a vacation day and way longer without a working bathroom sink than necessary.

Maintenance is expensive initially, mostly in terms of time and attention. I hate taking time out of everything else I want to do in order to just do basic maintenance on things or myself. But it really is more expensive not to do it in the long run, which is something I really need to remind myself of more often. Or at least every time I’m feeling too lazy to lotion my feet, clean my jewelry or run a bacterial enzyme cleaner down the drains.

What have you been too lazy too keep up with lately? And what’s it going to cost you in the long run? Inquiring minds…


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