Wake me up when it’s over please!

I’m sitting here thinking I might have to grab a couple of toothpicks from the kitchen to keep my eyelids open. The only thing stopping me is the fact that I’ve never had any desire for a facial piercing of any kind. Especially not around my eyes.

Why am I so tired today? It probably has something to do with only getting three and a half hours sleep last night. My schedule is kind of screwy under the best of circumstances, but today it’s a little screwier than that. As a rule, I seldom sleep more than five or six hours, so I stay up fairly late, as I don’t want my day to begin before four in the morning. Nothing against anyone who does keep those kind of hours, but I prefer getting up around nine or ten. Life is just more productive for me that way. Late evenings, or very early mornings, are when I tend to write the best, too.

Problems arise when I have to get up earlier. Like this morning.

My daughter has been having trouble with a root canal, and Tuesday night she wound up in quite a bit of pain. So yesterday I called the dentist, who said they don’t pull a tooth that’s had a root canal (of course!). They referred us to an oral surgeon, who could get her in first thing this morning.

And early mornings, as I mentioned, just happens to pose a problem for me. Just because I have to be up earlier, doesn’t mean I’m able to fall asleep earlier.

Today, it turns out, was a wasted effort. Apparently my daughter also has a cavity under one of her fillings, and oral surgeons only pull the tooth that’s obviously causing the trouble. Since there are two possibilities here, this guy wisely decided to leave them both alone. So it’s back to the dentist on Monday, who will determine exactly which tooth needs to be dealt with.

Personally, I’m hoping she just needs a new filling in the other tooth. It’s a lot cheaper than going back to the surgeon will be! And that would likely mean another day like this one.

In the meantime, I have to deal with the rest of today. First there’s the whole pool thing. I’m not giving up my workout for something as insignificant as not enough sleep. People do sleepwalk, after all. I’m sure I can handle sleep-swimming. Next on the schedule is a follow up appointment for this same daughter. The one who stepped on a carpenter’s staple last week and wound up with an infected foot.

But that’s all I intend to do. At least until I get home and have a nap. I sure wish it was 5:00.

Can we say, ‘Yawwwwwnnnnnnn?’

Yeah, I know. Boring blog today. But this is the best my sleep-deprived brain can come up with.

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I don’t like snakes…

I like to laugh. In fact, it’s one of my favorite pastimes. So when something happens that strikes me funny, I usually don’t trust it to memory, but write it down so I’ll never forget. Sometimes, though, it can take awhile for me to appreciate the humor in a situation. Take this story, for example…

Last night I needed to run an errand that took me to the ‘plaza’ here in town. Now I imagine that when you think of the word ‘plaza,’ it has a slightly different meaning than when I think of it. Ours consists of a handful of businesses.  It’s a small town plaza for, well, a small town.

Of course my daughter, who is still joined at the hip, came along for the ride. Technically I knew she was only tagging along to listen to the fifty radio stations she likes. Seriously, she’s as bad with a car stereo as men are with a remote control! But I enjoy her company immensely, even if I don’t always enjoy her choice of music.

Except I was wrong this time. It wasn’t the lure of the radio that tempted her. Long before we’d even pulled into the parking lot, she began nagging me about the real reason.  She wanted to visit the pet store that had opened a couple of months ago-something I’d managed to avoid thus far.

A glance at the clock showed 7:45 and I sighed and said okay. Only because most everything in the plaza closes at eight…and I knew I wouldn’t be stuck there long. Better to get it out of the way when there was a time limit than to be trapped there indefinitely some other day.

Don’t get me wrong. I like animals just fine. It’s just that pet stores don’t smell good. Kind of like the pet food aisles in grocery and department stores. It makes me kind of want to hold my breath, only it’s one thing to not breathe for the length of an aisle. It’s quite another when it’s an entire store. I’m not sure anyone can hold it that long.

So…

We arrive, my mood not quite as chipper as when we started out. I park the car and get out slowly, taking my time so I can breathe fresh air for as long as possible. My daughter, on the other hand, is inside the store almost faster than I can blink. But, wanting to pretend to be a good mom, I grudgingly step inside and…

I kid you not! I hadn’t gone six feet into that stupid store when the young, female cashier says, “Dan, you’re going to have to get that snake,” which stops me in my tracks immediately. After a brief hesitation I hear Dan say, “Uh, they don’t bite do they?”

By this time my daughter is kneeling down next to a pen of rabbits, in heaven and trying to pet each and every one of them. I’m still hovering near the door thinking, ‘Snake! Dan is going to take a snake out of a cage! While I’m in the store!’

I  try to tell myself that I’m an adult, I can handle this, and finally work up the courage to take a few hesitant steps toward the rabbit pen when I hear someone say, “They move pretty fast, don’t they?”

You know what? So do I.

Our first visit to the new pet store lasted maybe 45 seconds. I swear this kind of thing can only happen to me…

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Another blast from the past

To explain here, my son is autistic. High functioning, but autistic nonetheless. He tends to get enthused about things that, frankly, don’t enthuse me much at all. Take cartoons. Clearly there is something not quite right about a mom who has no interest in them. We have the same issues over things like infomercials, something he absolutely loves. The following is an almost word-for-word conversation we had awhile ago.

Saturday night my boy came peeling out of his bedroom extremely excited over an infomercial he’d just seen. About a knife set, of all things. Unfortunately for him, I didn’t get very excited about it.

“You get a LOT of knives, Mom! Stainless steel knives that won’t get dull no matter what you do with them. You can cut cans, you can cut wood…all for just three easy payments of $13.33.”

“That’s cool, son, but I don’t spend a lot of time cutting cans or wood.”

“But Mom, you get a lot of knives, and it comes with not one set of steak knives, but two, in case you have a lot of company.”

“Sorry,  but if we had that much company we’d be having Sloppy Joes. And you don’t need any knives for those.”

“But Mom! That’s eight steak knives, all for just three easy payments of $13.33.”

“I’m sorry but we don’t need more steak knives.”

But it comes with kitchen scissors, so you can cut up chickens and other stuff, Mom. And the first knife they showed is guaranteed so if it gets dull they’ll replace it. But only the first knife. The rest of them aren’t guaranteed.

“We don’t need knives!”

“But you can have them all for just three easy payments of $13.33!”

No!” (By this point he is getting extremely annoyed with me)

“Those knives sell for $840.00 and you can have them for just three easy payments of $13.33!”

“I don’t really care. I’m not buying them.”

“That’s just stupid, Mom! You’d waste $800.00 when you could have had those knives for just three easy payments of $13.33? That’s just stupid!

“Well, I’m not wasting $800.00 on any set of knives, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

(Now he’s walking back to his room muttering…)

“That’s just stupid. You could have had all those knives for just three easy payment of $13.33….”

And he actually said the phrase, “three easy payments of $13.33” all those times. I should have written the company to let them know they could have a new spokesperson for their knives, all for just three easy payments…

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I kill people

There isn’t much about the whole writing process that I don’t like. Except the editing. And I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy that. I also don’t like taking out the extra space between sentences, partly because it’s not wrong. Mostly because it’s very time consuming. And more boring than I can say.

There is, however, one especially rewarding thing about writing. And that is the ability to kill off, humiliate, or otherwise make miserable the people who offend you.

On the whole, I think I’m a pretty nice person. I don’t really hold grudges, and it usually takes a lot to offend me. But like everyone else, there are just lines you don’t cross. People should know this just as a matter of course. If nothing else, they should know not to mess with a woman. I mean, we do have the whole PMS thing going on, after all.

So, being a woman, and dealing with PMS on a regular basis, you have to know that there are times when the rudeness, or thoughtlessness, of others sets my creativity in motion.

Someone cuts me off in traffic? Suddenly they’re the ‘bad guy’ and they’re going to be going to prison for an indefinite period of time. Customer service rep gives me a hard time? I make sure they’re fired from their job. Snooty acquaintance insults me? They’re going to die a miserable death in chapter seven.

And before you start to wonder even more about me, I do not have visions of doing any of these things in real life. No, I look upon these situations as opportunities to add something interesting to my stories. Or not. Sometimes I just write scenes as a way to vent. And then I delete them. But I it sure is a lot of fun getting my ‘revenge.’

One of the most unusual deaths in one of my books involved a character I hadn’t actually intended to kill off. She’d started out as simply a mean-spirited woman that I needed to move the story along. Only the further I got into the book, the more I disliked her. Intensely. And so she had to go. Even though I had to do some juggling and let another character that was slated to die survive. That was the only time I’ve ever actually enjoyed killing someone off in one of my books.

In fact, I almost always hate that part of a story. The first book I ever wrote, I nearly didn’t finish. Why? Because I wound up liking the character that had to die so much, I didn’t want to have him murdered. I tried to figure out a way to make it work without that scene, but it was impossible. Eventually I did resign myself to the fact that I had to tell him goodbye, but it gave me no satisfaction.

Not like the woman in the other book. I was disgustingly pleased with myself over that one.

Yup. Nothing quite like taking your frustrations out on those who deserve it. But to be able to do it without getting arrested? Awesome!

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Writing is kind of like riding a rollercoaster

The closer it gets to having some of my books available, the more nervous I’m getting. It’s one thing to handpick who reads your material. It’s another matter entirely to make it available to everyone.

A few months before my car accident, I taught myself to hand-bind books, thinking that would be a really cool way to get my work in the hands of masses. Turns out that not only was it a very costly option, it was also extremely time consuming. Not the binding so much as the endless process of printing all the pages. My patience with that ran out after the twelfth book was ready.

But it did make it possible for more than just my proof reader (thanks, Jackie!) to read it, among them a rather prominent local celebrity. Everyone seemed to enjoy the story, including two people I fully expected to hate it.

Still, I’m getting butterflies, the size of condors, at the thought of more people reading my work.

There is a saying that you’re your own worst critic, and this is certainly true of me. Even though I’ve picked up something I’ve written and actually forgotten it’s mine. I get caught up in the story, same as I would any other book in my house. Well the good ones.

I’ve read some that have been perfectly awful, and actually finished them.  But only because I’m a fairly stubborn person. I have a hard time believing that there are books that can’t get better. But I’m here to tell you, some of them can’t.

It’s that thought that is causing the invasion of the winged creatures in my stomach. The thought of others reading my books and hoping that, at some point, they get better. And it’s stupid. While I know I’m not a great writer, I know I’m not that bad either. (Oh to have Mark Twain’s talent!)

So I’m just going to remember my Aunt Barb, who was one of my biggest supporters and fans. I’ve never known anyone who read as much as she did. And I’ve never felt as proud of anything I’ve written as I did of one I call, ‘For Baby’s Sake.’ I’d given her the finished draft one afternoon and she told me she’d read it the next day. However, when she did call in the morning, it was earlier than I expected. And the first words out of her mouth after my, “Hello,” had me wondering what I’d done to make her mad.

“Damn you, Kristy!” (I really debated whether to quote her here and decided to just go for it)

Apparently she thought she would start the book the night before, read until she was tired enough to sleep, and then finish it when she woke up. But she said once she started reading, she couldn’t put it down – until three a.m.

It’s one of my favorite memories and I’m grinning from ear-to-ear as I type this. Never thought one of the nicest compliments I’d ever hear would come in the form of me being cussed out, but this one tops the list of my favorites. I really miss that woman.

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What a day!

Ever have one of those days when you drag yourself out of bed and just know it’s going to be one of those days? A day when you have a list as long as your arm of things you’d like to accomplish? And you know when you crawl back into bed that night, the list isn’t going to be a whole lot shorter than when you started working on it?

Today has some serious potential to turn into one of those days…

So much potential, in fact, that I’m not even sure I’m going to start working on that list.

I probably will though. It’s just a matter of time before my brain accepts the fact that it’s not going to get anymore sleep, but right now it just wants to get up close and personal with my pillow…and stay there awhile. Maybe until tomorrow morning.

Okay…

So now it’s several hours later. I somehow managed to not go back to bed. In fact, I managed to make it to the pool, do my compete workout, in addition to adding a couple more exercises, and made a quick trip to the store for a few things I really needed at home. No, I didn’t get done as much as I’d have liked, but I didn’t completely wimp out either.

Still I know I’m too tired to do anything important, such as editing. Not that I didn’t consider giving it a go, but I’m smart enough to know that I don’t enjoy that job-and I certainly don’t want to do it twice! Definitely want to be wide awake when I’m doing that.

While debating whether I should or not, I remembered something interesting I learned in my junior high school writing class. I don’t know why I thought of it right then. It’s just the way my mind works sometimes.

I seriously thought the teacher was nuts when she instructed each student in the class to walk up to the blackboard, one at a time, and write a word that could be used in place of the word, ‘said.’ And no one could use a word that had already been written.

Each one of us went up a few times and that board was filled with dozens upon dozens of ‘said substitutes.’

I suppose what brought it to mind is that, while rearranging my office this past weekend, I had to empty my file cabinet before it could be moved. And I saw the folder of my lists.

Yes, I have 4 1/2 pages (4 columns each) of alternate words for said. A very long, handwritten, alphabetized list that I wrote years ago. I’d forgotten I even had it. And don’t even know if I’ll ever use it again. I mean, Google is just so convenient! But I will hold onto it because it brings back some pretty nice memories.

I’d say that it brings back some not so nice memories, too, but you know what? Even writing my stories using a pen and notebook, then later on a typewriter, it was still a lot of fun. Maybe not the methods so much, but the creation of them was something I’ve always loved. And obviously still do.

So a note to you writers out there. Make your own list. Even if you never use it, it will make you aware of all the possibilities. It will also help you to avoid being repetitive in your writing. I mean, really, how many times can you use ‘said’ in your manuscript?

A lot if you’re not careful. So try to come up with at least one hundred substitutes. Sound overwhelming and impossible? Trust me, it’s not. Use an online thesaurus to help if you need to have your memory jogged.

***Just re-reading today’s blog to check for errors, I see that ‘lists’ seemed to be a theme for the day. I’d forgotten that I mentioned one when I started this earlier this morning.

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Hypothyroidism

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a couple of months ago and, while it’s a pain in the neck…in so many ways…it’s also been an opportunity to learn some interesting facts. Unfortunately many of those facts have been more than a little disturbing.

Have a headache? Take a couple of aspirin and the headache is gone (in most cases). Infection? Antibiotics will almost always take care of it. Broken leg? Six weeks in a cast and you’re good to go.

Problems with your thyroid? You’d think you could pop a pill and not have to worry about it. But that’s rarely the case, from what my research is showing. Doctors don’t seem to have much of a clue, so it’s mostly trial and error-with the thyroid patient in the position of an unlucky, frustrated guinea pig.

So when the suggestion was made to write a book about the experiences of real people dealing with thyroid issues I thought I’d really love to be involved in that.

If you have been diagnosed with hpyo- or hyperthyroidism, please send your story to me, using the contact link on this website. Stories may be edited for length if there is enough interest, resulting in an overabundance of submissions.

And so no one has to worry that I’m doing this for self-serving purposes, profits earned from the sale of the book would be donated to some sort of thyroid charity. I’m open to suggestions on where that money should go.

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“How I spent my weekend”

I started a project on Friday. It seemed like a pretty straightforward task, though not a particularly easy one. Rearrange and organize my office. Then tear out the icky beige carpet, exposing tile that should never have been covered in the first place. Why?

Well, for several reasons. First, it’s a whole lot of fun, I’m finding, to send my desk chair flying (with me in it, of course), from one side of the room to the other. Not that I actually knew about this benefit when I decided things had to be changed. It was just a very happy surprise. Not to mention the fact that this ability is coming in handy when I realize that something that needs to be on one set of shelves is on the other set. Zoom!

There was also the fact that after three years, it just kind of needed to be tackled. Dust, chaos, stuff that accumulates before you realize how bad it’s piled up. ‘Stuff’ being, specifically, paperwork.

I hate paperwork. I don’t like filing it. I don’t like sorting it. I don’t like looking at it. I need a secretary to deal with it for me, but that’s probably not gonna happen. And so I’m stuck with it. But, from the looks of things, I’ll be able to procrastinate and put it off for another three years or so.

The main reason I wanted to get my office rearranged and in order, though, was to free up a significant amount of floor space.

Why?

So I could start Pilates again. 

I have a love/hate relationship with Pilates. The program is very effective at getting you in shape. It’s also guaranteed to make you wish for some major pain killers, a hot tub and full body massages from a strong, good looking guy named Antonio. But I feel that my ‘get in shape’ campaign will work better if I add this nifty program to it, so I’m going to suck it up and just do it.

When I first started Pilates, I was a little leery. For one thing, I was still in physical therapy for injuries received in an accident (red light runner hit me). At the time, I still had trouble doing anything, much less anything that required me to get on the floor.

But, I was assured, I would be able to perform the exercises on a mat. That made me feel better, imaging the mats we used in my high school gymnastics classes. No, it wasn’t like a mattress, but they weren’t too bad, if memory served.

Oh, but nope. Pilates mats are a little different. In fact, to call a Pilates mat a mat is like comparing a biscuit to a tortilla. A Pilates mat is basically nothing more than a really long, very thin placemat. Probably about as padded and comfortable as one, too.

Still, I’m excited to get started again. There are a few exercises on my ‘Pilates For Dummies’ CD that I won’t be trying, because winding up in a body cast isn’t really high on my, ‘things I absolutely want to do,’ list, but most of it look good.

I’d say fun. But… Well, you know… It’s just…not.

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Misadventures In Home Ownership, Part 1

When I first started blogging, I had so few readers that I’ve decided to recycle some of the ones I wrote back then. Here’s the first in a three-part series, originally published on June 24, 2011. Hope you enjoy it.

After far too many years of renting, I have had some very eye-opening experiences over the past few months as a first time home owner. I’ve also discovered that some of these experiences are, well, something less than pleasant.

The most notable example having begun, and note that I said begun, not happened, on a Thursday night as I was packing to leave for a three day weekend in Mackinaw City..

Or not.

Because, without the slightest bit of warning, the toilet in the main bathroom started backing up. Into the bathtub. Which was, to put it mildly…disgusting.

Thinking someone must have used just a little too much toilet paper (I‘m not classy enough to say bathroom tissue). I think to myself, ‘One of the kids can take care of that, and I’ll just keep packing.’ But I shortly after they started to plunge, I heard gurgling from my kitchen.

Aghast at the thought of some of that stuff backing up in my sink, the sink I wash my dishes in, I immediately grabbed the plunger that I keep in the kitchen and did some plunging of my own. Ah, togetherness…

During the short breaks to rest our arms, I was pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drains like mad.

Well…

Around two-thirty in the morning, after nearly four hours of trying to clear the drains, I realized that we can kiss the trip goodbye because, Houston, we’ve got a problem.

So instead of loading the van, first thing the next morning I called a friend who also lives in the country and explained what was going on. She thought it sounded like the septic tank needed to be pumped out. Great. Having only owned the house for four months, I realized that we were going to have to pay to have other people’s waste cleaned out of our tank. Even better, we bought that waste the day we bought the house.  Talk about a superfluous purchase!

So I whip out the phone book and discover that we have only two companies in the area that are into the most awful job I can conceive of. My hope was to get someone out right away in an effort to salvage most of the weekend.

The first woman was one of the nicest I’ve ever talked to. In fact, she was incredibly pleasant when she said they could squeeze us in sometime Tuesday morning.

I quickly started counting on my fingers because, having stayed up half the night dealing with the stuff nightmares are made of, I was more than a little punchy. Hmm. Four days away.

Given that we’ve got eau de latrine wafting through the house, courtesy of the cesspool in the bathtub, I’m thinking that Tuesday morning just wasn’t going to work for me.

So I quickly thanked her and called the other company. They only charged ten dollars more than their competition, and could be here that very afternoon.

All we have to do is dig up the access hole and remove the lid.

Umm…

What’s an access hole?

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Misadventures in homeownership, part 2

She was a big help there. Somewhere in the yard was a septic tank. And on the top of the tank was a lid. A lid that we’d have to find, expose and remove.

Yeah right. Like that information was in the reams of papers I signed in order to buy that mess the house. Not!

She suggested I make a trip to the county office. They’re supposed to have inspection records of things such as where your septic tank might be found. And sure enough, they did have the exact information I needed. They were even kind enough to print a diagram for me.

Are we in business or what!

We immediately headed for the hardware store to buy a dirt shovel, because sure as shooting the snow shovel wouldn’t be much help.

Turns out the dirt shovel wasn’t a whole lot of help either.

Apparently this house sits on some pretty hard dirt. More like clay. Or a combination of super glue, concrete and clay. All we could do was chip away at it. Actually the kids chipped away at it. I chipped twice and gave up.

My daughter thought it was great fun. The rest of us, on the other hand were fully aware that it wasn’t. But I guess like beauty, fun is in the eye of the beholder. And my eye didn’t behold it as even remotely close to fun.

After two and a half hours of my family taking turns, I ran back to town for a second shovel. The only progress at that point was a three foot square, ten inch deep hole. With no sign of the tank at all. At that rate I was afraid it would be about six months before we could schedule the appointment!

But the second shovel helped the whole process along and, after another couple of hours, there it was! The access hole.

Our elation quickly turned to dismay when we discovered that not only was it a thick concrete lid, the only handle, and I’m being very generous calling it a handle, was this curved, tiny, narrow metal thing. So narrow that the only way you could have worked two fingers in it side-by-side was if you happened to be that stretchy guy from the Fantastic Four. Or Casper. There was no way any of us would be able to grab it.

One brilliant suggestion was to rent a crane to get it off. I thought that might be overkill.

Finally we tried the claw part of the hammer, and the tip of one side fit in the small opening, only the lid wouldn’t budge. Some gentle tapping around the edge was all it took and voilà! The lid was removed.

Whoa!

I’d been in a few outhouses as a kid. A lot of roadside parks had them back then. And for those of you thinking that must have been around the turn of the last century, trust me, they’re still out there. And they will always smell bad. Really bad.

A septic tank with its lid off smells a lot worse though.

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