I am having a bitch of a time writing lately, and it’s ironic. Well deserved, because the less I write the harder I find it, but still. A bitch of a time.
The irony comes from the fact that I have recently become a lot more invested in becoming a Real Writer ™. I’ve said before that I have one marketable skill, and that’s writing. This would be a lot more frightening if I was responsible for feeding myself, because writing isn’t the easiest thing to get paid for.
You know how you sell your writing? You’re tenacious, you’re passionate, you’re damn lucky, and you’re at least a little bit good. I used to think that being a good writer was more important that being a tenacious or lucky writer, but Twilight and its bastard love-child 50 Shades of Grey have seared my innocent optimism right out of me.
So, I have one semi-marketable skill. I also have significant motivation; the lack of purpose in my life has been eating at me. I want to do something bigger than what I’m doing now; I don’t want the only marks I make on the world to be the tracks I leave on the carpet when I vacuum. I want to do something that I’m proud of. When someone asks me what I do, I want whatever I tell them to be amazing, at least to me.
This is not the part where you say, “But being a mom IS amazing! It’s such hard work and blahblahblah….” I know you mean well, I do. I know exactly what being a stay at home mom requires, and I’m not ashamed of it.
I want more than that. I don’t want to be the supporting cast in the lives of my children, I want to be the headliner in my own life.
I can’t say that I haven’t had doors open up to me. When I started Razorblade Sammich, all I had was a computer and an abundance of female gamer frustration, and somehow that turned into opportunity. Because I started that blog, I’ve met amazing people that I am honored to call my friends (they probably call me “that one loud chick from Twitter” but that’s okay). I’ve gone places and done things that I could not have imagined possible two years ago. Even when it seems that I am actively trying to sabotage myself as a writer, doors open in front of me that I don’t expect. It’s like the universe has chosen a road for me, paved with frustration and excitement and broken keyboards, and it won’t allow me to walk down any other.
Now I have a skill, a motivation, an opportunity, and the hand of fate is clearly guiding me. What am I lacking?
A fucking work ethic, that’s what. I whine all the time that writing is hard, and that’s because it IS. It’s totally fucking hard, and it’s not fun, and I honestly don’t always like doing it. Sure, I like it when I’m done with something, because then I can be like, “Hey look at this fucking awesome thing I did because I’m so awesome”. Before the thing is done, though, it’s just frustration and exhaustion and “why the fuck can’t I remember that fucking word”. (That is a huge problem for me. When I sit down to write my vocabulary likes to abandon me. It’s the writing equivelent of going into labor when your obstetrician is golfing in Maui. That’s why I use ‘fuck’ so much. Sometimes it’s the only word I can remember.)
Everything is coming together to give me what I want most, and rather than reaching out and grabbing it my reaction is “I could actually really use a nap right now. Probably after that I’ll spend four hours telling dick jokes on Twitter. Maybe I’ll do something with my life tomorrow, that’s cool, right?”
I don’t fucking have time for that. I don’t have enough tomorrows to waste them doing this stupid bullshit.
This is normally where I’d outline my plan to do things differently. “I’m going to write this many hours a day and then this and this” but that shit never works and then I feel bad about it later. So I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to make goals for myself and make promises to other people and end up failing everyone. Nope.
I actually don’t know what I’m going to do. I think I’m going to be satisfied that I wrote something today, and let that be enough for right now.
We met in the summer of 2010. My husband’s birthday was coming up, and I, as usual, had no idea what to get him. He’s the most irritating person in the world to shop for, because he just never wants anything.
I watched him for a couple weeks, trying to figure out what hell to buy him. Finally, after watching him squint at the screen of his phone while he read Game of Thrones on his Kindle app, I knew just what he needed: A Nook. (Why I went Nook when he was reading on the Kindle app, I have no fucking clue.)
He wasn’t convinced he would like it, but I talked him into it. It was probably my earnest desire to finally get him a good gift.
He read one chapter of one book on it, declared that he hated it, and never touched it again.
I picked it up, read one chapter of one book, and I fell in love.
I hadn’t expected to like any e-book reader, because I like books. I like the sound of pages turning and the way they feel in my hands. I like the way they smell when they’re new, and the way they smell when they’re old. I like flipping through them to find the passages that I especially want to read again. I like seeing them around my house. (I like using them as props to make people think I’m smart. “Look at that! Pride and Prejudice. I gots mad culture, bitches.”)
Not just that- I loved CHEAP books. I could get any book I wanted to read for half price just by waiting for it to appear at the used book store, and when I was done, I could sell them back. I could lend them and borrow them. An e-book reader just seemed like a huge downgrade in almost every possible way.
Somehow, it wasn’t.
Over time, the Nook became more than just a reading interface. It became a window into any other world I wanted to visit. I could download and read any book I wanted without reservation or judgment; when I wanted to read a tawdry romance novel, no one needed to know. When I wanted to continue a reading adventure in the middle of the night, I just had to download the next book in the series; I didn’t have to wait until the next time I had a chance to go to the bookstore.
When I needed something, it had it for me. Spiritual advice? Pema Chodron or Thich Nhat Hanh were on hand. Recipes? Rachael Ray was right there.
We went on fantastic adventures together. We battled faeries and demons, tumbled through epic love stories, and saved the world more times than I can count. It re-acquainted me with old friends (Sam Vimes) and introduced me to new ones.
It became my travel companion. When I was bored or lonely on trips, it was always right there to cheer me up and keep me company. When I didn’t want to be around the people I was travelling with, it provided an excuse to escape for a little while.
It became my comfort. When I was depressed it took me to happier places, and when I was overwhelmed it gave me a break.
It even taught me to play Sudoku.
Newer, flashier e-book readers came out, and I considered “upgrading”, but in the end I stuck by my Nook. We were bros. It gave me everything I needed. The plastic was yellowing-in some places even cracking (The page forward button, in case you were wondering), but it still worked, and so I stayed faithful.
A few months ago, I turned it on and found that the memory had been completely erased. Everything was gone; it wasn’t even registered to me any more.
I panicked, but the internet said that it was fine, that I just shouldn’t let the battery get completely drained again.
Fair enough. I re-registered it and downloaded my books again, making sure to plug it in every couple of days.
A month after that, on a full battery, it happened again; for some reason, my Nook was rolling itself back to factory defaults.
It was like my Nook had developed an electronic form of Alzheimer’s.
I kept re-registering it, and it kept resetting. Not only that, but the memory failures were getting more frequent and more severe; the screen would go blank and then flash repeatedly, and it would stop responding to the buttons for long periods of time. Still, I could deal with it. It was happening every few weeks, that’s not a big deal.
It happened less than a week ago. Yesterday, it happened again.
Last night, I went out and bought a new tablet to read my books on.
And I came home and cried a little bit.
It wasn’t just technology. It was my friend.
(Crossposted to Razorbladesammich.com)
A lot of people think ADHD is a made up disorder. You guys know that. Some of you probably even think it. That’s okay. (You’re wrong, but it’s okay to be wrong as long as you’re not a dick about it.)
As I mentioned in my last post, I went off my meds about a month ago because I’m cheap, and also because I’m an idiot. (My face is looking much better, by the way.) This morning has been an excellent reminder of why I need the damn things. (Can’t get them until Tuesday.)
(Tangent: So, every time we put in my prescription for Concerta, the pharmacist asks for insurance information, and every time, we tell them we don’t have insurance. Every single time, they say, “Well, this is going to cost over $200, are you sure you want it?” and every time, we say, “Yes, we know, it cost that much last month, too.”
EVERY TIME, we get a phone call not long after asking if we’re really, REALLY sure we want the meds.
You guys. We live in a society where it is assumed that people will just not take necessary medications because they’re too expensive. That’s not cool. It shouldn’t be this way.
I woke up this morning, which is good because otherwise this post would be kind of boring. It would just be me writing about how I slept until noon and sleep is awesome. I mean, sleep IS awesome, but everyone knows that. You don’t need me to tell you.
Unless you go to a hellish alternate dimension where demons eat babies and you have to sit through your 7th grade algebra class every night. For you, sleep is probably not awesome. I feel bad for you.
For ME, sleep is awesome. Waking up to 9 year olds squealing and giggling because they had a sleepover last night is not as awesome, but it’s acceptable because blah blah blah sacrifice blah blah kids blah love. (translation: It’s what I’m supposed to do so that the therapist my kid hires when she’s 30 doesn’t think I was a cruel, disinterested mother that only had children so I wouldn’t have to wash dishes anymore. I did, actually, and that backfired HARD. Kids don’t do housework. Kids MAKE housework.)
This post so far is a pretty good representation or what my day has looked like. I sat down with a goal. I was going to explain how having ADHD hampers productivity and complicates my life.
MY DAY SO FAR. It started with “waking up”, which we’ve already covered.
Then we moved on to “finding food” (Actually, we moved to “putting on pants”, which is more complicated than it sounds because I’m an old lady with a very bad back, so I had to pick up my pajama pants with my foot – they were on my floor, where I like to hang them neatly every night before I go to sleep – and then try and maneuver myself into them without, you know, moving.)
Because I haven’t gone to the grocery store in a while, finding food consisted of actually having to make food. So I made muffins. I mixed the egg, oil, water, and muffin mix (YES muffin mix, I’m not Martha Fucking Stewart). Then I went to find a muffin pan and realized that one of my muffin pans was rusty, so I threw it away. Then I checked the rest of my bakeware to make sure that it hadn’t rusted, too.
Then I started a pot of tea. (I have this awesome tea thingy that’s like a coffee pot, but it makes tea. It’s cool.) I washed the carafe, cleaned out the basket, filled it up, started it…
… and remembered that I *thought* I had therapy tomorrow, but I wasn’t sure.
So I picked up my phone to check my calander and look! I had a text.
Replied to the text.
Put down the phone.
I needed to grease the muffin pan, so I went to the spice cabinet and got out the Pam rearranged it.
And realized that the oven was hot and the muffin mix was made, but the two had not yet been combined to create actual muffins. (Thankfully, I had another muffin pan that was not full of tetanus, so I used that one. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain that, but I’ve met people on the internet before, so I’m explaining it anyway. I DON’T USE RUSTY BAKEWARE and then tell people about it.)
I greased the muffin pan. I filled up the muffin pan.
Still didn’t know if I had therapy! Picked up the phone, checked Twitter, put the phone down.
Stared in confusion at the tea maker, which was boiling, and then realized that I hadn’t put any tea into it. Nom, hot water.
Fed the dog. Turned on my computer.
Still no tea in the water.
Still no muffins in the oven.
Still no idea if I have therapy tomorrow.
I’ll cut it short: It took me two hours to make a pan of muffins and a pot of tea, and I didn’t know if I had therapy tomorrow until the fifth time I checked the phone. (And because I know myself, I called and double checked anyway. I do have therapy tomorrow, but I had entered the time into my calendar wrong.)
Everyone has days like this. The difference for someone like me is that every day is like this. It kind of sucks. A lot. I don’t tend to get a lot done, for some reason.
Really looking forward to Tuesday, when I can get my “fix”- not of stimulants, but of sanity.
(I accidentally typed “My tomato looks like a face on a stick”, and I’m still giggling about it.)
My face looks like a tomato on a stick.
It’s because I’m an idiot.
I tend to do this thing- I think a lot of medicated people do- where I take my meds for awhile, and then think, “Oh, I feel BETTER! Clearly I don’t need to take these very expensive medications EVERY day! I’ll save money and just take them when I need them!” It doesn’t take long before “when I need them” evolves into “NEVER” and BAM! I am suddenly a person with untreated ADHD.
When my ADHD isn’t being treated, I have a big problem with hyperfocus. I get stuck on a hobby or idea and immerse myself in it completely until I lose interest. It’s like being in a car that’s going along at a reasonable 40 miles an hour, and then suddenly and without warning, speeds up to 120 miles an hour- and slows down just as suddenly, like nothing ever happened. I’m left in the drivers seat, going, “What the fuck just happened? AND HOW MUCH MONEY DID I SPEND?!”
We call them my “kicks”, and it would usually be cheaper just to take the damn pills. Hyperfocus + lack of impulse control = a very bad time. Actually, it = a damn good time, but only until the kick is over and I find out that I can’t afford deodorant. That’s just a bad time for everyone.
(I am actually not medicated today, either, because apparently every drugstore in the city is out of Concerta, so please excuse the rambling.)
About a month ago, I went off my meds, slowly and with every intention to take them “when I needed them”.
Two weeks later, something triggered a beauty kick. I started watching a lot of makeup tutorials, mostly on techniques that I’ll never have an excuse to use, reading up on skin care, and cleaning out my makeup.
That’s when I discovered I needed new makeup. ALL new makeup. After all, my old makeup was old, and cheap, and I just didn’t like it anymore. At 34 years old, it’s time I bought myself the kind of makeup that grown-ups use.
And of course, if I was going to buy nicer makeup, I clearly needed better makeup brushes! Mine were old and breaking! (I actually did need new makeup brushes.)
You know what else? Skin care! My skin is aging, so I needed to buy ALL NEW PRODUCTS and use them ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
At this point, it is important to note that my sister in law is an aesthetician. She makes a special cleanser and moisturizer specifically for my skin, and it makes my skin look amazing. There is no way that anything I buy in the drugstore is going to improve upon what she’s already doing for me.
I still thought it was a good idea. I have so many good ideas when I’m off my meds.
Even this does not describe the true depths of my idiocy, or explain the tomato-face.
The thing is, (for future reference, whenever I start a sentence with, “the thing is”, I am about to try and explain why I did something very, very stupid) there was this antioxidant serum that my sister in law gave me a year ago, and my very sensitive skin reacted very badly to it. It got red, irritated, and I had the most disgusting breakout since I was 13. She told me to stop using it, and I did, because only an idiot would continue to use a product that irritates their skin.
After two weeks of heavy abuse- new product testing, constant washing, application and re-application of new and different foundations and primers- my skin was looking pretty sad. “I know,” I thought, in moment of sheer brilliance, “I will use that antioxidant stuff that Sister In Law gave me! Because oxidants are bad!” This was on Tuesday.
By yesterday (Thursday), my face was so red that, ironically, my fabulous new makeup couldn’t cover it up. ”My poor skin,” I thought. “I should moisturize it really heavily. I’ll use some more of that antioxidant stuff, too, that will help!”
This may surprise you, but it actually didn’t help. By last night, my face was bright red and severely broken out. “OH NOES!” I said. “CLEARLY I NEED TO EXFOLIATE!”
I have no idea what inspired me to do something that stupid. I wish I could say that was the stupidest thing I did.
It wasn’t even close.
After I finished scrubbing what remained of the top layer of skin off of my face, I looked at the emerging break out and thought, “I know what will fix that! Extra strength acne medication.”
Acne medication (at least, the kind I have) is made from salicylic acid.
Yep. I looked at the raw, painful mess I’d made of my face, and decided acid was the best remedy.
That brings me to today, with a face that is scarlet red and swollen looming over my white toothpick of a neck. The acne treatment actually seems to have done its job, which I’d be happier about if I didn’t look like I’d faceplanted on my stove.
I’m an idiot.
Now I’m going to lay back down on my couch and put the ice pack back on my face, and try not to calculate how much money I spent while I was kicking. (The kick is over. It is SO over.)
December is not my favorite month. It used to be; I loved the lights, the music, decorating the tree… actually, that’s a lie. I liked looking at the tree after it had been decorated. Actually decorating the tree was basically a declaration of war on my marriage. There was complaining, failure to cooperate, and eventual tears and door slamming.
Christmas was magical. Even with the pressures that got added on as I got older- things like creating a fairy-tale Christmas for my kids so they’d love me for another year, or feeding everyone in our extended families in such a way that they wouldn’t expect me to leave my house (remind me to tell you about Pajama Christmas, it’s the best idea I’ve ever had), the holiday season always left me feeling peaceful and satisfied, and not just because I drank a lot.
Something changed last year. Well, I say “something” like I don’t know exactly what changed. My grandfather died last year, and I went into the holiday season feeling shocked and numb. My heart wasn’t in it last year, and it’s not again this year.
I’m tired. I’m cranky. I don’t WANT to spend every goddamn weekend going here and there for this person’s party or that person’s open house or the school’s Christmas concert. I want to sit on my couch and watch old Christmas movies and eat cookies that somebody else fucking made, bah humbug.
I’m Scrooge. It sucks.
Unfortunately, I can’t just stick my head under a blanket until January, so I have to escape from this Mistletoe-draped hell another way. Video games are getting on my nerves, I don’t have the patience right now for crafting stuff, and I’m saving alcoholism for when my husband retires, so that leaves books.
I like reading, but when I start reading for eight hours a day, it’s because I’m under some serious stress. When I’m spending that much time reading historical romance novels, I’m one step from running away to read tarot cards in a travelling carnival. (Which is actually my backup plan if this “lady of leisure” thing doesn’t pan out.)
Romance novels are like literary comfort food. They all follow basically the same formula; Boy meets girl (or boy, or girl meets girl, or whatever floats your boat), they fall in love while overcoming obstacles. The good guys always win, the bad guys always lose; the characters you love are guaranteed their happily ever after. It’s part of the deal.
Romance novels aren’t as much porn for women as they are fairy tales for grown-ups. They sell us a magic we can still believe in. (Also, it turns out that real sex is not at ALL like romance novel sex. NOT AT ALL. Which was an extremely disappointing discovery for a much younger, much less debauched version of myself.)
Romantic fiction is fluff, and it can be very comforting. It can also go horribly, horribly wrong.
So, without further ado, I present:
THINGS I REALLY FUCKING HATE IN ROMANCE NOVELS.
1) Mix and match characters. Almost without fail, the women are beautiful and kind and brilliant and witty. Oh, and don’t forget “spirited”. The men are all tall and handsome, rich (and/or titled), kind, gentle, blah blah blahhh. OH MY GOD COULD YOU BE MORE BORING.
2) Lazy writing. I read a trilogy once where, I shit you not, the exact same conversation appeared, word for word, in each book. The same conversation, three times, in three different books. Probably the author wasn’t expecting someone to read all three in two days, but that does not excuse that. This trilogy was centered on three sisters- a blue-eyed blond that loved fashion, a green eyed redhead with a softness for animals, and a brown eyed brunette that loved books. She Mary-Sued a FAMILY, y’all.
They weren’t very interesting books.
3) Using sex as a crutch. I love a good sex scene as much as anyone, but how many different times can I read about the same couple fucking before I get bored? (Twice. The answer is “twice”. Possibly thrice if it’s done really well. So to speak.) What I don’t want is a frayed thread of a plot holding up an endless chain of sex scenes. “They banged all night, so she was surprised to find herself alone in the morning. She met him at the breakfast table. They argued. They banged on the breakfast table. She followed him to the office to continue the argument. They banged in the office.” THIS SHIT IS RIDICULOUS, ROMANCE WRITERS. YOU ARE WRITING A NOVEL, NOT A 300 PAGE LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF PLAYBOY. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
4) Pretentious narrative language. If there’s a character that uses words like “shan’t” or “daren’t”, I can live with it. When the author does it, the book gets thrown at the wall. Which is unfortunate now because I’ve got an e-reader and they’re really not made for bouncing off of walls.
5) Back to the sex scenes, once you’ve gotten past the unrealistic expectations they create in young virgins, there’s also the problem of poorly blocked scenes. When a writer doesn’t pay attention to what she’s making the bodies of her characters do, you end up with some really, really disturbing mental imagery. We’re talking The Exorcist meets Debbie Does Dallas type shit. Not okay.
6) Stupid premises. I’m sorry, but when you tell me that the main character has been deaf her entire life and no one realized, EVER, I am left believing she was raised by complete fucking morons. When you tell me that her romantic interest’s voice is “So deep and powerful she can hear it”, I want to punch myself in the face for even reading the plot synopsis. THE MAGIC OF LOVE DOES NOT CURE DEAFNESS.
7) THE MAGIC OF LOVE DOES NOT FUCKING CURE ANYTHING ELSE, EITHER. Not cancer. Not tuberculosis. Not raging alcoholism, not raging douchebaggery, not even “mystery disease the author made up”.
8) NO FUCKING MEANS NO. I am getting really fucking tired of seeing female characters getting coerced into sexual situations that they clearly state they do not want. NOT OKAY. (This is Nook-throwing territory right here.) It’s a trope you rarely see these days, but occasionally it still pops up, and it pisses me right the fuck off every damn time.
9) Actually, that’s all I’ve got right now. I reserve the right to come back and add to this list after I read some more fluffy romantic goodness. And probably some fluffy romantic awfulness, too.
I think my wild reading binge is almost over; I’m getting pretty close to my happily-ever-after saturation point. Hopefully it’s enough to last me another two weeks of ho-ho-hell.