Body Talk

Ah, the human body. It’s only as high maintenance as we make it, I guess, but just doing whatever without taking the effects on the body under advisement can lead to…well, a much shorter, more difficult life in general. Too bad that realization doesn’t really make the constant attention to maintenance any less annoying.

With that in mind, a few things from the past week:

– The bathroom scale is now registering high enough when I step on that I was forced to face the fact that my experiment with adding more bread and cookies back into my diet is a complete failure. I’ve started imposing restrictions again and am already seeing downward movement. Call it bloat or “water weight” or whatever you’d like, the fact is, my body does not process breads and flour-based foods well. Moderation is a *must* – no getting around that. I need to plan better for next week so I have alternatives ready, and can easily limit both calories and breads/pastas/flour-based treats.

– Still on the subject of food, I tried not-snacking in the afternoons to limit calories, but the brain drop is severe enough to stifle productivity, and it wasn’t helping with the weight issue anyways. Tried nuts again, still not as helpful as I wanted. Then a co-worker shared a single thin mint (girl scout cookie, for those poor unfortunate souls who don’t know), and the chocolate/slight bit of sugar definitely seemed to help. Tried it again the next day (with a single dark chocolate cashew-butter cup), and same thing. In the meantime, the scale is still moving down (inching, but not going up, which is the important part). The nice thing about this is, I don’t like chocolate well enough to sit and eat a whole candy bar or pack of chocolate (it’s not like…say, Pringles or gummy worms, both of which I will consume the entire can or bag of before I even consider stopping). I really don’t like milk chocolate, but I like dark in small doses, and just a very small piece is plenty for one day. So I got some Bark Thins in this week’s grocery order, and I’m going to try one in the late afternoons for the next week. If it works the way things have been working, that’s a total win for me.

– I dyed my hair this week, but unlike previous times, I did the roots first, and then the rest of my hair for less time. Because I’m growing my hair out, I’m worried that dyeing my whole head like normal will result in the lower part becoming much darker than the roots, because they come in white, and henna is permanent (so it doesn’t wear out, and I’m not chopping the length off anymore). It went okay, though I still ended up with lighter roots than I was hoping for. I’ll have to experiment a little more, I guess. One person who also uses henna just does her whole head all the time, and doesn’t have a problem with the roots blending (or not). So maybe I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be? We’ll see. It will be about 6 weeks before my roots start bugging me again. We’ll see how it looks when this dye job has grown out that far, and make a decision then.

– When I dye my hair, it’s a three-hour project (because that’s just how long it takes for natural pigments). I have to take my earrings out first, which is another hour or more project after just choosing a theme and putting all my jewelry back in. Saturday nights are nail nights, so that’s another three-hours (remove polish, cutting, filing/shaping, buffing, polishing). And Friday nights are foot-care night, which is an hour for filing, soaking, and moisturizing. Plus random eyedrops & hand lotion – because…dry is bad.

So all in all, I spent a full workday or more just on physical maintenance this weekend. I don’t do that every weekend, of course, but…it just struck me as a lot of time spent just…maintaining. Obviously I choose to do that, and none of it is strictly necessary, though all of it makes my life easier in various ways. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing or it just…is.

I don’t think I want to make any different decisions at this point, but…it is a lot of time spent.


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The Princess Bride & Editing

I am very nearly finished reading The Princess Bride (finally). I’m quite enjoying it in most ways, and only semi-enjoying it in another. That is to say, my copy is a beautiful hardcover collector’s copy that my mom bought me for Christmas, and while I adore it, it’s also kind of a pain in the butt to deal with in my lap (there’s no way I’d be able to read it in bed).

I love how the pages look, and the color and fonts throughout, and even how it feels, but it’s hard to get it at the right angle with my bifocals (“progressives”, whatever – which admittedly, need updating), and also difficult to juggle it with my teacup as I settle in my reading chair without spilling the tea or dropping the book (or both).

Yes, I need a small table by my chair. I’ll get to it eventually, but for now, I have the armrest, which is where I perch my teacup.

In any case, I’ve very much enjoyed the story, as well as the way Goldman went about skimming over details and scenes without actually “writing” them out. The ultimate “screw you” to the old “show, don’t tell” adage…he does exactly the opposite with his little faux abridgements. The rebel in me who hates editing and sometimes wishes I could just tell the story instead of “showing” the story adores that he actually does just that.

Honestly, I’m jealous that he both figured out a way to get away with it, and at the same time wrote something that turned into “Something” and became beloved by so many people, myself included.

Seriously. Genius.

At the same time, I have been trying to both edit, and figure out why I hate editing so very much. I think what it mostly boils down to is that writing – “creating” is fun. Editing (and revising) is serious work that requires reading the same thing over and over. I find it incredibly tedious and boring. I love writing, even when it requires work and extra thought or the odd bit of research. I don’t love editing. Not at any stage. It’s just…boring.

I need to become okay with that, and I need to adjust my perspective, employ self-discipline, and make the time to get it done.

I’m not really sure how to do that, other than to first make time, and then just…do it regularly. I need to prove to my brain that it’s a worthwhile endeavor, and to do *that*, I need to edit.

Alas, finding/making the time has proven more than difficult. I have fifteen minutes of writing time every morning, and I’m using that faithfully for new words. The rest of my day is spent either at work, or at home in the company of my husband and dogs, aside from half an hour I take at the end of the day to read before bed. And that’s it. That’s my day. Even my late half-hour gets encroached on occasionally by a chatty husband or needy dogs. The only way to really get more time would be to stay up later, but then I’m sacrificing sleep. And I’m trying really, really hard to get 6 hours a night whenever possible, to protect against mental conditions and diseases later in life.

So. That leaves weekends. I don’t schedule my weekends well at all. My late nights are routine, because I have complete control over those. The days tend to be more of a free-for-all, compounded by the fact that the TV is on all day because my husband likes noise. When I’m home by myself, no problem, but I fall into that “sit in front of the TV” trap while he’s here, and then I end up not getting anything done until he leaves and I can turn the TV off – at which point I need to get all the other stuff I didn’t get done, done (housecleaning, dog food, etc).

I need to just get up and go to the office, or get up and do housework while the TV is on and he’s here, so that once he leaves, I can have that quiet time to edit and work on writing stuff. There is no schedule for that though, which always throws me off. I don’t deal well with a lack of routine. I tend to do nothing (obviously). Not good.

So that’s the goal for this week. Instead of trying to find a time during the week to shoehorn in some small amount of editing time, I’m going to do my best to get my housework and domestic chores done while the hubby is sitting around during the weekend, and then when he’s gone (normally Sunday evenings), sit and use that time for editing.

Another week, another time experiment. Wish me luck!

And I’ll have to pick a new book to read too. What will jump off my TBR pile this time? Hmm….


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Writing Progress & Healthy Habits

Things have been busy, busy in my world lately, and while a lot of it is just annoying “gotta do it” stuff, I’m actually starting to make progress on the things I want to make progress on again. Like…writing and editing.

I tell you what – that feels incredible. I am *so close* to finishing the novel draft I’ve been working on for at least two years now. I’ll finish it this week, and it will be ready to edit, and then I’ll get back to work on the other one I was working on before Christmas.

Last week I marked up one of the new flash stories (I’ve been writing a flash story every Monday to “warm up” for the week), and after the final type-in sometime this week, it will be ready to put in the “Completed” folder. After researching what it would take to make a calendar of stories, I’ve decided to scrap that idea (it would be expensive, as it turns out, and time consuming), and just publish a collection of 12 flash stories for the year. The story I just finished would be a great spring story, so I think it will be the April or May entry for that collection. The story I wrote today will be perfect for a January or February entry.

I’ve also been working on edits for a story I wrote several years ago, but never published. It needs a new last quarter or so (I knew that when I finished the first draft), and now it’s finally going to get one. I’m doing line edits at the moment, until I get to that part where it “jumped the shark”, so to speak. Then I’ll start rewriting from there, and see where it takes me. I’m guessing it will be somewhere good, based on what I’ve read/marked up so far.

My goal is to publish this one by October 1st. That shouldn’t be a difficult goal to hit at all, especially if things keep going like they have been.

For the most part, I’m keeping up with my workouts, though it’s been too cold to walk the dogs at night this week. Hopefully we’ll be able to get out for a bit towards the weekend, because they’re going a bit stir-crazy being stuck inside, and I need exercise. Unfortunatly my eyes can’t really handle much time in the cold, dry wind, so that’s limiting too. But it’s been a much warmer, milder winter this year, so we’ve had a lot more time to walk than normal, which is a nice change.

Speaking of eyes, the e-ink reMarkable tablet has been a real lifesaver. When my eyes are fatigued and sore, I can still use that, no problem, so I’ve been doing line edits while I sit and watch TV at night. I have a light that hangs around my neck for crochet and for using with the tablet, and there’s just enough light, pointed away from my eyes, to make editing painless.

It means I can work longer without straining my eyes, and I love that. My eyes love that even more, and they get a rest between the workday and my late-night laptop session (aside from the occasional Pokemon/Animal Crossing/facebook checks, that is). I also use the tablet for planning & brainstorming. Sometimes it’s just…easier to write things out by hand.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get enough sleep, and then force myself to quit working earlier so I’d have time to read before beed..that would be perfect. I have been reading comics in the mornings again, and getting caught up with those. Now I just need to get back to Origin by Dan Brown (which is the print book I’m reading at the moment), and life will be going swimmingly.

Alas, tonight I am late with the blog (by a day, but also in getting to bed), so no reading time again. I’m determined to make it a habit again by the end of the year. We’ll see how that goes.

Progress feels so good. Wouldn’t it be great if we could bottle it and take it later, like a spice with dinner or an energy drink or something?

That actually kind of gives me an idea….


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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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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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Talkin’ Tattoos & Halloween

Tonight, I’m off to get a bee tattoo at Rise Again Tattoo. It’s a local shop that holds charity events every so often, and this past weekend, they happened to hold one to collect money for a fund that helps apiaries. I’m not generally big on charity events, nor do I get too excited about cheap tattoos (because with tattooing especially, you tend to get what you pay for). But I feel like this is a good cause, and I’ve been thinking I need a bee tattoo specifically for my Montana/nature sleeve in progress, so…I decided to take a risk. They were out of time before I finally stopped in, but gave me a voucher and an appointment so I could still participate, which was cool.

Understand, I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to tattoos. I normally have my tattoo work done by Andrew Hauck, owner of Ghosts of Grace Tattoo – he does good work with sharp lines, I like the way he interprets what I ask for, he’s fun to chat with, and also not uncomfortable to just be quiet with while he works. I was going to have him do a back piece for me last year, and then I couldn’t quite settle on exactly what I wanted stylistically speaking, and I decided to do the adult thing and pay off some bills instead of spending money on tattoos. If he’s still amenable to the idea, I’ll have him schedule me in for December to get started, now that I finally have a solid idea of what I want and why, and am kind of over the whole “financial adulting” thing for awhile.

The most important thing with Andrew is, I trust him. And tattoos are largely a matter of trust, if you care about getting a good tattoo. If you don’t, and just walking into a random shop and picking out a piece of flash to add to your collection is your thing, more power to you – I kind of wish I could be that person (it would make getting tattooed a lot less stressful, honestly), but I’m not. I’ve actually stressed more over this bee tattoo than I have over most of the pieces I have, just because the place I want to put it is right front and center on my forearm, and while I know most of the artists at this shop have good clean lines and sharp designs, I’ve also seen a few of the cheaper event tattoos from this shop (earlier events) that were…well, not the quality I’d want, personally. So it’s a bigger risk than I’d normally take – picking out some event flash (no, not the cheapest ones either – definitely at the higher end of the pay scale), and then trusting a new-to-me tattooer to make it look great.

So, we’ll see how it turns out. Fingers crossed, because there’s plenty of room where I want to put this little bee, and zero room for a cover-up if it somehow goes wrong.

There is another option, which is to go higher and use a spot on my arm with more room for a larger piece in an easier to hide spot. We’ll see which I’m in the mood for tonight when I get to the shop.

The other fun thing happening this week is…Halloween! Although it’s colder and snowier than normal, so it’s going to be…well, cold. But, it’ll still be fun to scare the kids daring enough to come out that night, and try not to blow a breaker in the process. I have Thursday off to decorate, hand out candy and tear down.

That reminds me – better charge my Zune! Yes, I still have one, and yes, it works great. Especially with our Halloween sound system that hooks into the lighting. A spooky night calls for spooky music!

Bees and ghosts are this week’s theme. Ghost bees? Hmm…that kind of gives me an idea for a story…


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Perceptions

I was in a tattoo shop this past weekend. I wasn’t getting a tattoo. I was getting a couple new piercings.

I’ve been contemplating these two piercings for several weeks – I’m not generally the type of person to go in and get any kind of body modification done on a whim. I’m a “plan-it-out, overthinking for weeks or months and then maybe finally get it done” type of person. But the one thing I did not think about was jewelry.

Generally you don’t have much of a choice in jewelry when you’re getting pierced. You have to use the jewelry that’s best for fresh piercings, which tends to be pretty boring. So I hadn’t really thought much about jewelry when I went in. I knew it would probably be either a fake gem of some sort, or a plain metallic ball. I’m not generally a person who wears a lot of gems. I did when I was in college, but I haven’t for a long time. Normally my go-to neutral is pearls (fake pearls, most of the time).

So when I was faced with the decision of what color gems to wear in my ear for the six to eight week healing time, my first inclination for the larger piercing in my inner conch was teal, and black seemed like a good choice for the other one.

Long story short, I let the piercer’s personal preference overshadow my desire for black and teal (to match my tattoo sleeve and also a good half of my wardrobe), and ended up with a light blue flower that I may wear again in the winter, and a bright royal blue gem that I’ll likely never wear again once the healing period is over.

My favorite color is blue, but I rarely wear “real” blue. It’s not good with my skin tone, and interestingly enough, the artist who does most of my tattoos recognized that right away. My sleeve was originally supposed to be black and a more royal blue, but he switched it to teal because the blue would have been too harsh on my skin. When I saw the colors, I knew he was right, and I’m grateful to him for recognizing that when I didn’t see it myself.

The tattoo artist has a better eye for color than the piercer, it would seem (which does kind of make sense, when you think about it). And I’m kind of annoyed that I allowed myself to be swayed from what would have been a great color choice in my ear to one I’m already tired of. It’s going to be a long 6-8 weeks of staring at that royal blue stone before I can take it out and get rid of it for good. Mea culpa, of course.

All this got me to thinking about how we perceive ourselves vs. how others perceive us, and how often that actually translates into us changing how we look and maybe even act to please others, even if it’s on a subconscious level. I know I’ve changed my appearance to a certain extent because that’s how someone else (or several someones) perceived me. I’ve also refused to change some things because no matter how much people wanted me to dress a certain way or be a certain type of person, I just…can’t, and am not.

For example – dresses and skirts. Lots of people, men and women, have told me I should wear more dresses/skirts. I look good in them, and people aren’t shy about saying they like them on me. Thing is, I hate them (or most of them). I feel incredibly constricted in a skirt – even a long one – because I’m constantly having to watch how I move and how I bend over or that I don’t catch a hem or that the hem doesn’t ride up too far…it’s a very high-maintenance thing for me to wear a skirt, and while I’ve tried wearing skirts and dresses here and there, it’s just not who I am.

But I did cut my long hair off pretty much solely because people kept telling me it looked better up. And I can tell you, without a doubt, that the short style has directly affected how people perceive me (for the better) and also how I act (which isn’t something I really want to admit, but there it is). I keep it short for that very reason.

Perception is a weird thing, and the lengths we will go to in order to alter or bend it to what we want is pretty amazing, whether we’re doing so consciously or not.

Deep thoughts for a Tuesday, eh?


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