Play With Me

Are you a “gamer”? By that, I mean someone who plays games in their spare time – video, tabletop, cards, mobile – whatever strikes your fancy.

Games have always been sort of a gentle “hum” in my life, though I didn’t realize it until I started writing this post. There were the occasional arcade games while I was growing up (Frogger was my personal favorite, with PacMan a close second), and some simple computer games (Space Invaders on a 5 1/4 inch floppy for the Osborne “portable” computer, anyone?), but other than that, I pretty much stayed away from anything that seemed like a potential time-sink (we never had a game console – they were too expensive). I played the first Civilization iteration on my dad’s PC for nearly an entire weekend one time in high school or college (long ago enough now that I forget which), and promptly decided I didn’t need to be one of those people who lost entire weekends to unproductive things such as that, even though we had a copy of the very early Sims game for PC on hand and I really was interested in trying it out.

When I started my Facebook account, I played FarmTown a lot, and a few other Facebook based games. They were fun for zoning out in the evenings, but eventually I got bored with them and my husband has now taken over my FarmTown acreage.

Gaming ebbs and flows with me, and after a good several months (maybe even a year) off from most games, I just spent the majority of this past weekend playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on my cell. I have a bit of an addiction-prone personality when it comes to such things, obviously. I thought maybe I’d outgrown that little issue, but apparently not. The hubby and I also spent 2.5 hours playing Uncharted this weekend as well (the first one – Drake’s Fortune). Though one might argue that’s no more a waste of time than staring passively at the TV for the same amount of time (which is what we would have done instead). At least we were actively solving puzzles and shooting our way out of ridiculously annoying gunfights, which requires quite a bit more mental and physical participation.

As an adult, I know my own mental flow better now, and I know the “play every free moment” addiction for Animal Crossing will level off fairly quickly into a far less “needy” routine of checking in a couple times a day (not much choice with work hours off-limits anyways). Uncharted requires a fair amount of mental energy and it’s honestly somewhat physically draining for me as well, so I’m usually needing a break at the 1 – 1.5 hour mark. And I don’t feel the need to play that every day either – one, maybe two sessions a week, and I’m good. It’s fun, it’s stimulating, but it’s not something I feel like I can’t let go of.

Which is good, because the whole reason we got this hand-me-down PlayStation 3 (and a stack of games as well) from my brother-in-law is because I was interested in playing the new Spider-Man game on the PS4, but I didn’t want to spend any money on a console or game unless I knew we might actually use it. Now I know we will, and eventually we’ll shell out the big bucks, but for now, we have that stack of games to get through and I’m in no hurry to drop that kind of cash just yet. Game consoles are spendy! Maybe we’ll see if someone wants to get us one for Christmas…

I downloaded Pokemon: Go a few weeks ago, and I play occasionally because one of my co-workers plays and needed a friend for something or other, but that one isn’t as much of a draw for me because it requires…well…”go-ing”. When I’m out and about, I generally don’t want to be paying attention to my cell (it’s generally in my bag or back pocket, and I don’t generally use it as a phone). So I have to make a special effort to get it out, and then I feel vulnerable and self-conscious standing out there on the sidewalk, swiping to catch pokemon or hit up pokestops for materials, etc.

It’s a battery hog too, and before I started playing, I could go all day on a single charge for my cell with no problem. Now, I need at least one top-off. *sigh* And I may need more than my 4g per month of data, if I do keep playing (before that was *more* than enough).

As for other games, I used to play Smurfs Village all the time until notifications stopped working on my phone. Apparently it’s a known issue, but they haven’t figured out how to fix it yet, and without notifications, there’s no point in planting crops (seriously – I’m not going to put the brainpower into remembering when virtual crops need to be harvested…it’s just a game). So that’s on hold. And a puzzle game I really like is Gardenscapes, but I hit a level I couldn’t get past several months ago, and I’m still stuck there. One of these days I’ll go back to it and see if I can figure that level out. Once the Animal Crossing “newness” has worn off a bit.

I was thinking about all of this the other day while reading an article about a game company I’m thinking about buying stock in and how much money they make with just four of their games and the burgeoning field of “esports”. We (humans, collectively speaking) spend a *lot* of time and money on games and game-related hardware every year. It’s kind of crazy. And naturally, it made me wonder…

Why?

Why do I (or why does anyone) feel drawn to playing games? What is it that they give me? Is it the dopamine hit every time I meet a goal or reach a new level (probably)? The stimulation of making me think? The ability to “zone out” of my own life for awhile and run a campsite where the predominant inhabitants are animals, or create an entire society of little blue gnome-like creatures?

I don’t have the answers to those questions yet, but much like my comic-book reading adventure (which turned into another hobby of sorts that I still enjoy today), this recent spate of gaming is actually research for a book (contemporary romance) I want to write sometime next year. By the time I’m ready to write, I should know why *I* enjoy playing, and what I get out of it, and maybe some insights into why others do too. I find immersion is often the most fun way to learn about…well, anything.

Except murder. And death.

So…anyone else a gamer? What’s your favorite game/game type? Do you know why you play, and/or what you get out of games? Inquiring, writerly minds want to know…


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Backsliding horribly. *sigh*
Goals check-up: Well, no.

Writer’s Notes

Fall, Activities & Writerly Angst

Don’t you just love fall? It’s been colder than normal here, but the leaves are all kinds of gorgeous, and the crisp air on the more normal temp days is invigorating and inspiring. I must not be the only one thinking that way, as it seems that far more of the neighbors have put up Halloween and fall decor already. I put some up myself this past weekend, though there’s a lot more to do later.

Last weekend was busy, what with the concert Friday night (which was incredible), and ghost stories and drinks at the Moss Mansion Saturday night (which was fun…it’s their first year, so kinda bumpy, but I bet next year everything will be squared away). It was a nice way to kick off the Halloween season, and also a good refresher on the mansion and it’s layout. One of the books I’m working on now features a mansion that is laid out very similarly to the Moss, and I may contact them and see if they’ll give me a tour of their offices on the third floor, which were the maid’s quarters. Just so I can have the general layout in my head for reference while I’m creating/describing my Mardeaux Mansion.

Nothing special going on next weekend, but it’s time to put up the Halloween fence in the front yard and plan the layout for our yard haunt. So, decorating, mostly. The library book sale is next weekend, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go or not. Mostly because I just did my budgeting for this paycheck, and due to some unexpected auto repairs (and being more responsible with on-time payments…*ahem*), the coffers are pretty well empty (or spoken for, I guess…same diff, really). Dammit. *sigh*

I’ve been floundering with writing time and head space – trying to find both at the same time is often rather difficult these days. It’s frustrating, because I know that if you want to do something, you figure out how to do it, and I’m not doing that. I’m letting life intrude, letting writing be pushed aside. Letting my own lack of discipline and boundaries dictate how much I get done.

And of course there’s the business side of things…all the things that need to be done outside of writing the initial draft. Editing, formatting, cover art…that all takes time too – time I need to block out to actually focus on just those things, rather than procrastinating and getting distracted doing other things online. Distraction is a big issue for me. It never used to be, but it’s gotten worse over the years. I think perhaps because when I had that big mid-life crisis/crisis of faith and self-doubt blow-out, I let all my habits and discipline go, and still haven’t gotten them back.

It’s incredibly hard to re-establish habits after letting them go. Especially when other things have already expanded to fill the voids they left.

I find myself constantly thinking that when I retire, I’ll have time. I’ll make writing my full-time job. That’s when I’ll be able to start making progress, and be a “professional writer”. But that’s still over 20 years away, and it’s not feasible to even think about waiting that long. I can’t “not write”. It doesn’t matter whether I’m good, bad or mediocre at the task, I need to write. I’ve needed to write since I was 16 yrs old. I don’t know why, and I can’t say what drives me, just that I’m driven to do this, to tell stories, even if they sit unread and dusty on the shelf. My mind has this need to create that will not turn off, and while I wish I were a prodigy of some sort who could write one bestseller after another and make enough money to allow me to do this full time, I know I’m not, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be good enough to make that sort of money.

But I still need to do it. It’s just…who I am, for better or worse.

I have a new plan – the latest of many in an attempt to give myself the time and space to write. I’ll give it a week or two, and if that doesn’t work, develop another new plan, and another, and another, and someday, I’ll stumble over the plan that works, if only for a little while. And that will have to be good enough.

Such is life, eh? One “new” plan after another.

Speaking of which, I actually did check in with my goals list this week (and changed days/times for that, so I have no excuse for not doing that now). See below for the “report”.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Definitely doing better with this – I think I only missed two nights last week.
Goals check-up: I didn’t need a better alarm – turns out, I needed a better schedule. I switched things around so that Monday evenings I do goal and budget check-ins instead of hobby stuff, and I think that’s gonna work much better. The hobbies just shifted down a night, so no harm done.
One push-up per day: I’ve replaced this with a set of things designed to help me meet my overall weight/health management goals, and I’m doing well with those so far. I deliberately stalled the weight loss while getting my hormones back on track, and now that they seem to be, I’ll try to gradually start working my weight down again.

No writer’s notes this week

A Concert, Spirits, and Recovery Efforts

A day late and a dollar (or several) short this week…that’s me. Just keepin’ on, and only slightly bummed out that today (as I write this) is only Tuesday instead of Friday. But Friday will be here soon enough.

This week, Friday will be an exceptional day, because the hubby and I decided to take it off work. We’re going to a Shinedown/Godsmack concert Friday night, and thought it would be nice to just sort of kick back, sleep in and spend some time with the dogs before we go out. That, and we might drop the car off to finally have a headlight changed. It’s only been out for…well, all summer, pretty much (it stays light a long time up here in the summer).

Saturday night, we’re headed downtown to the Moss Mansion for a new event that I think will be fun – Montana Spirits at the Moss. From what I’ve read, there are stations throughout the mansion that we’ll be guided to, each of which will feature samples of locally (statewide, I think) made libations and a ghost story about that area of the state. I have no idea how many stations there are or how long it will last, but I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Monday is a federal holiday, so I have that day off too (hooray!). And Saturday our local “Friends of the Library” club is having their bi-annual book sale. I may wander down to that for a bit and see if I can find any new treasures for the library if I can drum up the energy after the concert. We’re getting paid early on Friday – if I’m really and truly motivated, maybe I’ll even get down there early enough for the farmer’s market. Probably not, but we’ll see.

As far as the “eating more often” thing goes, I’ve been doing well. Haven’t gained any weight back, but I am still dealing with hot flashes and other side effects. I did a bunch of research the other day, and I think my main problem is that fat cells store estrogen, and I’ve been burning fat cells like crazy lately. That’s probably what destabilized my hormones (takes very little). So whether I do fasting or “constant feeding”, that’s still going to be an issue, because the more fat cells I burn, the less hormones (estrogen is just one) are hanging out in my body. Which may be a good thing in the long run, but it’s pretty sucky right now, and it will continue to be unless I figure out how to mitigate it.

I’ve been taking a half-dose of my vitamins for months because they throw my hormones the other way, so the first thing I did was start taking a whole dose. Voila, definite improvement in symptoms, especially night sweats (haven’t had a problem with those all week). I already take extra magnesium, but I’ve never been able to take vitamin D, due to it’s estrogen-like effects on my body. I think this weekend I’ll try it again, and see what happens. That may be all I need to re-balance (for now, at least). If that doesn’t work, there are several herbs I’ll try, the first of which is dong quai.

And for all of you screaming out there that I should just go to the doctor…well, since I’m now over my insurance deductible thanks to that wasp/ER visit this summer, I’ve decided to suck it up and do just that. I’ve picked out two doctors who are accepting new patients, and I plan to have an appointment with one of them for late October before this week is up. We have to get our blood drawn at work in a couple of weeks (required by HR for our free insurance), so I’ll have bloodwork done and can take the results with me to the appointment.

Not looking forward to that, but I’m old enough now that establishing a relationship with a regular doctor would be a good thing. *sigh*

Now, to sleep. I only got 3 hours last night, which is never a good thing. A full six tonight will feel absolutely fabulous.

Here’s to health, and all the hoops we domesticated humans go through in the mere pursuit of it. And the concerts and events that make it all worth while…


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Slightly better yet, except for the 3 hours last night.
Goals check-up: Um, no. I need a better alarm…

No writer’s notes this week

Fasting No More

I mentioned back in July that the hubby and I had started Intermittent Fasting (IF)…basically, eating within an 8 hour window every weekday (no food outside of that), and then eating “normally” on the weekends. We’ve been doing that for just about two and a half months now, and I’ve had great weight loss results, losing 7lbs (which is more than I’ve been able to take off steadily in over 10 years).

Problem is, my body is not happy. It’s convinced that I’m starving to death (uh…no), and has decided to shut off all non-essential functions, which is problematic, to say the very least. At first it was just sleep interruptions – I started having a hard time staying asleep at night. Then came the hot flashes, which I attributed to blood sugar swings (hubby gets a mild version too). I figured those would normalize eventually, but they only got worse over the weeks.

My hormones were destabilizing, and among other things no one wants to hear about, I started noticing more hair falling out in the shower than normal, and acne that I haven’t had to deal with much since I was in college started flaring up again.

Throughout all of this, my head felt pretty good, aside from a few headaches here and there. My mind was clear, my focus was good…no issues there. But my body kept throwing me more and more signals that it was in crisis mode, and finally this weekend after doing some more research and reading a bunch of anecdotal stories similar to mine (that’s all there is, unfortunately – there haven’t really been many/any human studies on IF, only studies with mice that are somewhat scary if they translate to human physiology, which they at least partially appear to do given the anecdotal evidence), I decided that regardless of the progress I was making with weight, I have to stop and hope that I haven’t permanently damaged anything internal.

Hormones and the organs that regulate them are a persnickety bunch – extraordinarily sensitive to change, and even moreso for women than men. Apparently men don’t tend to have as many problems simply due to how their bodies work (though they can still have issues, obviously).

In any case, my body says I need to eat regularly in order for it to not freak the heck out, so, fasting is out, aside from the occasional blood test or cold-induced broth-fast.

Now I’m left trying to figure out how to reallocate the reduced calories I was eating while fasting over a longer period of time, so that I can keep the calorie deficit up but give my body the steady energy it needs at the same time. I want to keep losing, and I definitely don’t want to gain that 7lbs back, so just adding another meal won’t work – more calories will just equal weight gain again. My body and I disagree on what the metabolic “set-point” should be, and while I can’t win an argument with my hormones, I do think I should be able to manipulate/sweet-talk them into going along with my chosen set-point (about 20lbs less than what it is now).

So I’m working on spreading less calories out over a 24hr span instead of trying to condense them into 8hrs (so my body knows it has a stable supply of energy throughout the day). Breakfast wasn’t too bad – I just moved my dish of prunes from lunch to morning, and added some drinkable yogurt and my vitamins. Lunch depends on what we’re having, but I just need to be cognizant of carb intake and keeping my servings small. I cut my afternoon snack in half (peanuts), and the other half of those calories will move to my after-workout or late-night snack (depending on the day).

Dinner will be my hardest meal, simply because I love food, and I have a hard time keeping my portions small. But, I’m going to do it. Keep the protein and fiber portions high, and cut the carb portion in half. If we’re having a pasta dish, I’ll have half of what my eyes think I need. I can add extra veggies if I think I need to, but I shouldn’t, because I’ll be eating again in just a couple hours anyways.

Weekends, all bets are off. Because who wants to think about what/when you’re eating on the weekend?

My workouts will stay the same – yoga four mornings a week, an extra stair climb at least once a day at work, and then weight/resistance training three nights a week after I walk the dogs (that doesn’t really count much for exercise anymore – neither of the dogs can handle long walks at this advanced point in their lives, sadly). I may try to add some cardio in, but I’m not sure where.

In any case, I’m bummed that the fasting isn’t working out for me, but I’m hoping that the panic/starvation signals subside quickly, and that I can keep the downward weight spiral going. We shall see, I guess.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Still a little dicey some nights, on account of the hot flashes (dammit). But overall, improving.
Goals check-up: No check-in *again* because I forgot until this very moment, and I need to get to sleep. Must set my reminder alarm for a day ahead of time. Or maybe Sunday…

Writer’s notes for this week

Organizing, Frustration, & Procrastination

I’ve been a little organizing-crazy lately, if you hadn’t noticed. I’m cataloging books and comic books, my stamp collection, and I have plans to catalog and sift through my Smurf collection in the near future, getting rid of some and paring down what I actually bring in. After all the book organizing a couple weeks ago, I decided to get rid of my carousel collection (save maybe a couple carousel horses), and I think I’m to the point where several of my porcelain dolls can be passed along too.

I (like most of us, I’d wager) go through cycles with things like this – taking control of my “life”, so to speak, and cleaning out things, finances, routines, closets – whatever it is that makes me feel like it’s gotten out of control. I let a lot of things just slide for several years (more, in some cases), and now it’s all pretty much come to a head. Time to clean out and organize and pay off and get “life” in general under control again. Parts of it will stay neat and tidy, parts will not, but none of that matters. Right now it’s all about controlling the things I can.

Yes, this sort of attitude is generally triggered by something that makes me feel like everything is spiraling downward. In this case, it isn’t just one thing, but several, and I’m all too aware that I’m using all this organization partly as a procrastination tool, and partly as a way to make time to think about how to deal with one of the things that I really feel conflicted about – my writing. I have more issues with it than I care to outline here, but in a lot of ways I feel like it’s out of my control (even though it’s really not), and a lot of this “control-grab” behavior stems from frustration at choosing to prioritize other things instead of really focusing on building a writing career. It’s a defeatist attitude that I just can’t seem to shake, so…I deal with it in other ways.

Like reorganizing my entire life.

Obviously, it’s a good thing to have things organized. And it’s never a bad idea to overhaul routines and get household things fixed. There are about a million destructive things I could do with this internal frustration, but I’m choosing to be productive while my subconscious works on trying to find some sort of resolution to the cognitive dissonance that I can live with.

But, I’ll admit, I fully plan to try out a video game system as soon as the husband picks it up from his brother – a PlayStation 3 (if we like it, we’ll get a PS4, so I can play the new Spider-Man game that looks and sounds phenomenal). Which I have no time for, and any time I make for it should be going to publishing stuff (the stuff I don’t really want to do, but I don’t want to pay for, either), but I’m going to do it anyways, because I want to, and…well, that’s good enough reason, really.

I’ll figure out how to deal with my writing issues eventually, but for now…it’s time to get my whole life other than that back in order again. Because…I can.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Swapped my vitamins back, and sleep is better, when I get to bed on time. Mostly good, and more sleep on the weekends than normal, but tonight, I’m up late posting this.
Goals check-up: No check-in again. Must do that tomorrow, and again next week!

Writer’s notes for this week

Patches, Pins, Weddings & Work Clothes

Did you have a denim jacket customized with pins or patches or paint (or all of the above) when you were a teen? I did. I still do, actually. And I’m about to make another one, though this time it’ll be a black bomber jacket I’m embellishing.

Hubby wants to dress up as The Joker for the local art museum’s Halloween masquerade this year, so naturally I’m going as my favorite super-villainess, Harley Quinn. I was excited about the idea, but not about the whole suicide squad look (can you say “overdone”?), so I decided since it’s a masquerade party and a dressy one at that, I’d do a “she tried but didn’t quite make it” look that sort of bridges the traditional Harley and the newer-style Harley. Needless to say, there’s a ruffled skirt and combat boots involved, as well as a red sequin t-shirt and the aforementioned black bomber jacket.

It’s really just a great excuse to customize a light jacket for myself. I need a sort of “in between” jacket for spring/fall, and a light bomber will be perfect. But why stop there when I can put Harley, Joker and Poison Ivy patches and pins on it here and there to spruce it up a bit?

Now you might be thinking, “aren’t you a little old for that kind of thing?” And you would be…well, wrong. Because no one should ever be too old to celebrate things they love. And a fun Harley Quinn jacket is no different than a 40-something person wearing a sports-themed jacket of some sort. Actually, I’d argue the Harley will be far more fun than my Broncos or Boise State sweatshirts, and I like both of those (even though I don’t watch football anymore).

Why did I stop wearing my denim decorated jacket? Mostly because the fabric paint dinosaurs on the back weren’t/aren’t really “me” anymore (well, and I went through a “have to be a grown-up” phase that I think we all at least try to outgrow as we get older, because it’s boring). But I still love that jacket, and enjoy looking at all the buttons I collected back then. It was fun, and all of my friends thought it was pretty cool too.

So I spent a fair amount of time shopping for the Harley stuff this past weekend, and late Sunday night, the hubby and I remembered that we have to go to a wedding this coming weekend. A quick glance through my closet tells me I really don’t own anything “wedding-worthy” anymore (I have work, casual, and costume clothing). So it may just be colored jeans, a nice shirt and a professional jacket. Boring, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Or rather, that’s the appropriate thing. *sigh*

Speaking of boring, I’ve been wearing a lot of cardigans to work lately (keeps me warm, keeps the tattoos more or less covered when I want them to be), and I’m sick of them. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to break out the actual jackets with my jeans. Try something different. Look a little nicer, in a casual sort of way.

Heck, maybe I’ll even start wearing a necklace and/or dangly earrings here and there. Maybe it’s time to get a little crazy.

Or just…you know. Less boring.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: I’ve been pretty good about getting to bed on time, but due to some vitamin changes, haven’t been sleeping well.
Hopefully everything will be balanced out again soon so I can sleep.
Goals check-up: No check-in (because I totally forgot), but I’ve been budgeting and overspending and acknowledging so I can re-budget, so semi-progress, anyways.

Writer’s notes for this week

Collections & Cataloging…or Not

I’ve been thinking about the stuff I collect lately – what, why, and how. I have several collections: stamps, comic books, smurfs, dolls, carousels, and if you want to call it a “collection”, we can include our fairly extensive library. Not all of my collections are active – I haven’t gotten a new carousel in years, and aside from a Halloween one I have my eye on for our SpookyTown collection, I doubt I’ll add more to that collection anytime soon. It simply takes up too much space, sadly. And while I add a doll to my collection here and there, they’ve been mostly Halloween/zombie dolls lately, rather than the standard porcelain dolls I started collecting as a kid.

I don’t actually have many “good” reasons for collecting the things I do…or most of them, anyways. I collect things because I like them, and I’ll admit to a fair amount of guilt about my Smurf collection, which is 95 percent plastics (the kind that never breaks down, and also spews harmful toxins into the atmosphere both when created and when burned). I started collecting Smurfs because I like them, but also because my mom was struggling with gift ideas and I thought that would be an easy thing for her to get. Which turns out not to be true, because my mom doesn’t shop online, and finding them in town is nearly impossible, though there are occasionally some at the antique malls. So. Backfire in so, so many directions there, though my dad does figure out how to order them online. I think I’ll start asking for only Smurfs that were found at garage sales and/or antique stores. Smurfs that have been around the block, so to speak, or porcelain/metal Smurfs. But I digress…

Why don’t I ask for stuff for my other collections? Because books are difficult to ask for – I generally buy what I want, and I don’t want to ask for anything expensive (say, collectors editions, etc). And I’ve tried asking for stuff for my stamp collection many, many times, and no one will buy me stamps for gifts. Which is all kinds of annoying, but there it is. My other collections are, as I said, stagnant, largely because they require room, and I really don’t have any more to give them.

In any case, I go back and forth on whether to catalog my collections or not. The one main reason to do so is for insurance purposes (in case of a fire or some other such disaster), and the other reason is to keep track of what I have so I can avoid or sell duplicates, and so I know what I still want/need for each. I suppose a third reason would be for records and liquidation in the case of my “untimely demise”, so my husband (or whoever) would know what was valuable and what’s just flotsam to get rid of at a lower price.

On the other hand, cataloging a collection is a lot of work, and very time-consuming. So I tend to put it off even though in the case of things like books and stamps, it would be very beneficial to know what I have before I buy anything new (or old, as the case may be).

Luckily, there’s pretty decent software out there for cataloging collections, and I just bought a really handy stamp catalog program called StampMate this week (and started putting stamps into it). It’s going to take me quite a long time to get all of my stamps cataloged, but I think it’ll be really nice having that information at my fingertips, so to speak. Especially if I ever get to attend a bonefide stamp show.

This coming weekend is Labor Day weekend here in the states, and my husband is *finally* going to trim out the bookcases he made for the office last year. But this means that all the books have to come off the shelves, and then be re-shelved once everything is square and the trim is on. Which seems like it might be a good time to start cataloging our library. I have the CLZ Book Collector app (and the comic book collector app too), and it has a barcode scanner with a pretty decent database on the back end, so that should make the process much easier than if I had to enter everything in by hand. It’s just the old/antique books that will take some manual entry work. That’s not too bad, really.

Will I ever get my Smurfs and spoons cataloged? I’d like to think so, but maybe not. It won’t be anytime soon, I don’t think, because there really aren’t good databases out there already for those sorts of things (that I know of), so I’d have to make my own spreadsheet or database, which is even more time consuming than just cataloging. But I may get around to it eventually. I doubt any of my collectors spoons are worth much, but some of the Smurfs I have are. It would be good to at least have the more valuable pieces cataloged, I suppose.

Do you collect…stuff? If so, do you catalog it? Or do you just enjoy it as is, and leave it at that?


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Most nights, was at least 5-10 min. late getting to bed or sleep. Not sure what was up there, but annoying!
Goals check-up: Checked in, but not doing so well. Still working on finances, and this week, cleaning too.

Writer’s notes for this week


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Two Lessons, Artwork & Yogi-Smurf

I learned a couple of lessons last week, and semi-ruined the two days I had off in the process. So naturally, I’m going to share those lessons with you, in hopes you don’t repeat my mistakes:

1. Don’t pet wasps. They don’t care if it was an accident, and they will take great offense, much like a tiny rattlesnake. Only meaner.

2. Remember to change the water filter in your refrigerator at least every 6 months (if you have an ice-maker/water dispenser). Don’t put it off if you know it needs to be done. Get off your lazy butt and just do it.

It’s a long and ridiculous story involving wasp venom, weird toxin allergies and making stupid decisions at wrong times, but just trust me on this.

Also, Benadryl doesn’t put me to sleep like a normal person, a fact my husband is in awe of. Apparently, it’s my super-power. There are worse powers to have, I suppose. If anyone ever drugs the whole world with diphenhydramine, I’ll be one of the few people who doesn’t get knocked out, so there’s that.

In other news, I bought a couple of pictures at our county fair last week. One is a lovely painting that I find very calming, though it’s actually a ship in a storm. I think it’s acrylic, though I’m not one-hundred percent sure. The hubby and I both loved it, and now we have the task of finding a place to hang it. Understand, we have zero nautical items in our home, and the painting matches nothing we have. But that’s kind of our MO when it comes to artwork, so in a way, it does match everything just because nothing actually matches, if that makes sense.

I think I know where it will end up, but that means I have to relocate another picture (my framed Rodin postcards from the Rodin Museum in Paris). We’ll see. I’ll give it the week before I decide.

The other picture we bought is a photograph of wasps (yes, they’ve been very focal in my life for the past little bit) on a heart (a real, anatomical heart) in the dark. It’s…intense, to borrow from a friend. Only one other person I know reacted as I did, basically finding it so disturbing and yet so compelling that it just will not get out of my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for two days after seeing it. And even after I’d talked myself out of buying it, I ended up buying it anyways because…I had to have it. I triggered so many different emotions in me when few things do. Which makes the title of “Process vs. Emotion” even more fitting.

More than all that, the night I saw it, it spawned a story idea that I wrote down immediately, and I’ll definitely be writing that book in a year or so. And I’m really looking forward to it.

That photo will hang in my office as soon as we get the bookshelves trimmed out and finished. There’s just enough room between them for this in a recessed area, which will give it the drama it deserves.

In the midst of all this physical and emotional chaos, I got a new tattoo last Thursday (the whole reason I took Thurs/Fri off). I’ve had a lovely lotus on my left thigh for a good 20 years now, and it was showing it’s age. I had that retouched, and then right above it, I got a yogi smurf figure tattooed. It’ll look great once it heals, but it’s a little ironic that everything that happened last week did so around this supposedly calm tattoo of a smurf meditating.

Be calm, and let it flow. Right?

Also, don’t pet wasps.

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Missed two days, I think. Not bad!
1 push-up per day: Pinched the normal nerve in my shoulder blade, dang it. Need to find a different goal.
Goals check-up: Missed this week, with no good reason. But I am focusing on finances for the week.

Writer’s notes for this week


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Fair Time, Hobby Restart & Comic Book Catch-up

It’s county fair time! Which was more fun when I was in high school/4-H, but I still enjoy going to the fairgrounds to eat fair food, check out the exhibits and take in some free side-shows along the midway. We’re going tonight, so that should be fun.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I had an idea on how to get back to the hobbies (and my comic book TBR pile). Well, I’ve been working on implementing that and another one, with some good success. Sometimes whining is productive, once you realize that at least some of what you’re whining about just isn’t true, when you really think about it.

I set myself up for success this past weekend, in that I did what I could to make my hobbies more accessible to me, and also to change my perspective when it comes to hobbies like stamp collecting and fiber arts. This is one thing that my personality does not serve me well with, and I end up putting too much pressure on myself to “do and learn everything right away”, and “participate and interact regularly with other hobbyists” with activities that should be fun and relaxing, rather than stressful. I tend to treat it like a job and knock myself out trying to learn everything about it all at once, instead of taking it easy, figuring out what I enjoy about that particular activity, and then focusing on that. In a more moderate manner.

So part of getting back to my hobbies is to acknowledge that I don’t have to do “all the things” associated with that particular hobby, and I don’t even have to do much in one sitting just to make a little progress & enjoy myself. Saturday night after I cleaned my office, I got my two stock books out and put several hundred assorted worldwide stamps into glassine envelopes for passing to other collectors. They’re stamps I got in the big assortments that beginning collectors get when they’re first starting out. Those packs are great ways to sort of figure out what draws your eye and what you’re personally interested in collecting, but I’d kept far more than I was actually interested in keeping just for the sake of “building my collection”.

Years later, I have a better idea of what I like and what I’m not really interested in, and I feel like I can pass along the stamps I’m not interested in, and just keep what I really like and want to know the history of. That will make collecting easier as time goes on too. Before, I’d get shipments and keep a lot that I kind of liked, but didn’t really fit anything else in my collection. Now I feel more okay with saying “no” to things that just don’t interest me – and I think that will make for a healthier collecting attitude/environment, and make my collection easier to maintain.

I tell you what – it felt good to sit there for an hour last Saturday night and just look through stamps, deciding which to keep and which to pass on. It was relaxing and fun. I have an hour on Monday and Friday nights set aside for working with my stamp collection, so last night, I went through a couple more packets of stamps I bought ages ago. Put some into my newly cleaned out stock books to be put into albums later, and put the rest in a pile for trading/selling. Another enjoyable hour.

My issue with fiber arts (crochet/knit/weaving) is similar but different, in that if I’m just making stuff and not worried about what/who it’s for (or if it’s for myself), I’m having fun. If I’m working on something for someone else and that’s the whole point of the project, that’s work, and no longer fun. I wish that wasn’t the case, because I’d love to make things for people, but that’s how my brain perceives it, unfortunately. I need to just “make stuff”, with no particular purpose, and then if I happen to have something on hand that will work as a gift, so be it! If not, no problem, I’m not going to knock myself out to get projects done on a deadline, or to specific sizes/colors/etc. I have to take the “work” out of it in order to enjoy it…probably because it needs to be a relaxing endeavor in order for it to “earn” space in my already tight schedule.

I need some new dishcloths (for myself), so that’s where I’m starting this week. Simple, easy, no pattern needed (so I can easily watch TV while working on them). I have an hour on Tuesday and Thursday nights set aside for crochet and knitting projects. It’ll be Thursday night this week, since tonight is fair night.

I figure with two nights per week set aside for each hobby, I’ll feel good if I actually get one night for each. That gives me two “chances” to work on things, and if I use it, great, if not, well…no biggie. I can’t complain about not having time for these things if I actually have time built into my schedule. It’s unlikely that all four nights in a week would be preempted for something else. And if that happens on a regular basis, then maybe it’s time to give priority to whatever’s doing the preempting.

These hobby hours intersect with our normal “TV hour” between 9-10pm, so they won’t get in the way of dinner or walking the dogs or working out or whatever. I’ll be splitting focus those four nights, but Monday/Friday nights are hit or miss on the TV thing anyways, as the hubby often works out late on those nights (he did this week, so focusing on stamps was easy enough once the dogs settled after our walk). As long as I’m working on easy things I don’t need to follow a pattern with, Tues/Thurs should work fine for knit/crochet/weaving. Keep it simple.

As for comic books – I mentioned last week that I’ve been reading one issue every morning when I get up. Last weekend, I hung a magazine rack in the hallway between the bedroom, the office and the bathroom, so I can grab the next issue as I’m headed from the bedroom to the bathroom to shut off my alarm, and then when I’m done with that issue, it goes in a pile on the bookshelves in the office for archiving later. Routines are all about flow, and a simple magazine rack on the wall makes the morning flow that much more efficient. Plus, it’s a visual reminder to grab an issue – not even just in the morning, but whenever I have time.

So…good things happening around here, plus the writing is finally picking up a tiny bit of speed, finally. Naturally, I’m wondering what kind of a curveball life will throw at me next to knock all this new organization/prioritization out of my hands, but until that happens, I’ll just enjoy being back to “normal” for awhile.

That’s really all we can do, right?


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Did pretty well for the weekdays, but worse on the weekends.
1 push-up per day: Did 5 on 3 non-consecutive days, and that’s it. Need to work on that.
Goals check-up: Completed Sunday, with a few changes to a couple hobby goals.

Writer’s notes for this week

People & Thought-Provoking Entertainment

Last Friday we went to a ZZ Top concert, and while the music was good, I really wanted to hurt some of the older concert-goers there. The younger people were easy to be around – even when they were dancing they were cognizant of the people around them and polite when they bumped into someone on accident.

We weren’t even at the front of the crowd, but rather in the middle (standing room only – a street concert/festival), and half-way through the set, a crowd of older (probably in their 50’s) people pushed their way up and through and not only blocked the view (stopped right in front of me instead of pushing forward even more), but took up all available space, leaving zero room between me and anyone else. Understand that I *need* at least a couple inches of personal space. At all times. I’ve been to a lot of concerts (less so with standing room only like this one, but still, quite a few, and never had a problem before. I don’t mind the occasional brush-by or whatever, but being in a constant crush of people is not something I can really mentally handle.

It’s odd to me that these people would have been so incredibly rude at that age. People far younger are far more polite at concerts – even drunk young’uns. It really kind of ruined the experience for me, which sucks since it’s the one older band I’ve seen lately who still sounded just as good as they always have (most have been very disappointing, unfortunately).

I was also disappointed they weren’t selling swag. Because I’ve always wanted one of those keychains, and it just isn’t the same just buying one off the rack, so to speak. *sigh*

We’re going to a Godsmack/Shinedown concert in October, and I am so glad that our seats for that are in the lower arena, but the very top row, so no one can be behind us, and we’re not in standing room only. Whew!

Saturday night we watched a movie called Gamer (free with Amazon Prime, if you have it). Totally intense, and had a pretty freaky premise, really. It’s hard to even imagine doing some of the things those people did, and even harder imagining agreeing to what they did (intentionally vague to avoid spoilers). It’s a very thought-provoking (and bloody, fair warning) movie, and a potential warning, really. Because as far-fetched as it may seem, the technology isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility (though admittedly, probably not as it appears in the film). Definitely an interesting watch, if you’ve got a couple hours.

I watched another movie this weekend called Color Me You (also free with Prime), which was slow in spots, and some of the acting was decidedly mediocre (some was just plain bad, I’m afraid), but it was one of those “young artist at a crossroads deciding to follow her dream or a parent’s dream” type coming-of-age flicks. With romance, of course, because life is relationships (or lack thereof).

And I found myself wondering yet again what it would have been like to eschew my parent’s advice to pursue something other than writing as a profession. Honestly, if I’d studied writing (English) in college, my life could still have turned out exactly the same (not like I’m using my history degree for anything, and haven’t, ever). Or maybe I’d have learned the craft more quickly and taken a completely different path with writing at a more central place. I did take some English classes and worked toward a minor (later changed to philosophy), but I never really took it seriously, mostly because my parents insisted there was no money in writing, and I believed them (still do, honestly, but I wish I didn’t, and I do know professional writers, just not many).

Which probably would have meant a completely different life, and completely different people in it. A difficult thing to really conceptualize fully, honestly.

I caught up with one of my favorite TV shows – The 100 on Saturday as well, and man…the character development this season is just outstanding. I’ll be discussing that more on the writing blog later this week.

Since we’re talking entertainment today, I’m just about done reading Douglas Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God, and I can say with complete honesty that I don’t really ever want to actually visit the rainforest. National Geographic videos will be fine, thanks. It is quite fascinating, but I’ll take our rattlesnakes over a fer-de-lance any day, and no thank you to all the sand flies, rain and sleeping in the mud, too. *shudder*

And lastly, I’m starting to get caught up with my comic book “to be read” list by reading an issue every morning right when I get up (as opposed to scrolling FB/checking email, which is hard on the eyes and kind of ridiculous when I can’t even think yet). This week, it’s I Hate Fairyland, which is perfect, because it so matches my mood in the mornings…and murderous little Gertrude makes me smile. It’s good to start the morning with a smile (even if it’s a bloody, somewhat toothless one), right?

So…what all have you been watching/hearing/reading lately? Anything thought-provoking or shudder-worthy?

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Missed it a couple days, but did okay the rest of the week. Progress!
1 push-up per day: Didn’t keep good enough track, but missed a few days. Really need to keep a daily tally.
Goals check-up: Completed Sunday night, adjusted for the week with a specific focus on financial and hobby-related goals.

Writer’s notes for this week


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