Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thinking Too Much. Again.

I just got the 'you should be making money, not living your dreams, you need income' lecture.


Ironic really since, just this morning I was thinking, that maybe, just maybe I could do what I've always wanted instead of what I was schooled for. I thought it was amusing that I went to school, to secure a career with a steady pay, but since I'm now chronically ill and totally incapable of working full time, I might actually be able peruse what I wanted to.

I've always wanted to write, but I've never liked the insecurity, the knowledge that I may never get paid enough to live one, the knowledge that creative writing won't feed you, and you'll have to have a 'day job' to fall back on, or learn how to be a commercial writer.

My husband just suggested I seek out freelance work to write crappy websites.

I'm ethically against ad farm websites with dubious and badly written content, just on principle; they're sneaky and sleazy.  Besides that, I'm not actually sure I could write that sort of content. What I mean is, I'm not sure I have any writing skills outside of the creative writing field.

There is of course, pay by the story options. Maybe? Someday?

Right now I'm just beginning to learn how to write. I feel like I'm a toddler, trying to pick out a career. I.... I don't feel ready for that?

All I really want right now is to finish my nano story, let it rest a bit, and then attempt editing it. I've never edited anything half so large. I think it will be a huge undertaking and learning experience.

I also really want to read more on the art, the science of writing and editing. Maybe take a course on mystery/suspense writing, and the one on writing for women and selling it - that one is sounding more and more like something I need to learn.

I want to sell my work. I really do. But I'm not even sure right now what kind of stories I'm capable of writing. I don't want to be some literary genius, I just want to write things I'm mostly proud of, things that others will read and enjoy. I'm perfectly happy being the cotton candy of the writing world. I love cotton candy!

It's been almost a year since I took the creative writing course. I haven't accomplished much since then. I haven't done any of the reading I'd hope to. Life has intruded. Also, a deep love affair with the cotton candy of the writing world. I have read so many romance novels! And most of them were yummy. I'm not entirely sure what I learned, except that I really love simple, cheesy, cotton candy romance stories.

My tummy hates me tonight. I'm not at all sure why it's angry like it is. I haven't eaten anything to set it off. But I know how I'm feeling isn't helping. Right now I'm feeling very guilty and worried.

Guilty for being a penniless burden. Guilty for wanting to live my dream instead of trudging to make some amount of money. I want to believe that living my dream, that writing what my soul wants to, would lead to money, but I know it wouldn't do it as fast as if I just sought out freelance work and wrote, gods knows what. Hell, I feel guilty for wanting to write instead of doing other useful things like getting groceries, doing dishes, cleaning our apartment, doing laundry. I can't do both, at least, I can't write mostly full time AND do errands or anything else. Nano has taught me that getting 100 pages in a month means ignoring everything else in my life. I can't keep that up long term, I'd burn our or contract some filth-related disease.

I'm worried my husband is finally starting to understand the burden he's placed on himself (me). Worried that he's worried about money. Worried that he feels the pinch of having a useless wife, and is, understandably blaming me for not helping out. I'm worried that I'm being totally selfish even considering trying to become an author. Being married to an author sucks, authors don't make a lot, but work a lot, and me, I work best at night - he might as well be single. As mentioned above, if I were to take a more serious attempt at being an writer, I'd have to devote time otherwise spent taking care of us. *sigh*

I feel utter selfish for wanting to live a dream. Just because I live with chronic illness, and my life is pain, doesn't mean I'm entitled to anything. As my husband pointed out, he wouldn't be doing what he does if it wasn't for the paycheck. I have no right to expect to like my job, never mind love it. I have no right to peruse something that won't help us financially.

I'm beginning to wonder if I should just give up this silly idea, and look for part time work a chronically ill person might be capable of. Clearly, I need to be making money, not living some foolish childhood dream. I'm an adult now. I didn't pick a field I loved in the first place, I picked one I thought would get me a steady pay check. I need to put that goal first again. Just because I'm chronically ill doesn't relieve me of the duty and need to actually support myself. Dreams are for bedtime. Work is for waking hours.

I'm a WINNER!!!

51,240 words, as of tonight, 6k of which I wrote today! Man am I beat!  I hope I still have something left in me for tomorrow!

I still need to finish my story! I'm almost there. I'm in the climax now. Just a little further to go! May Fria help me write like the wind!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Food I've made!

This post is devoted to food I've made recently that I'm proud of.

First, I made thanksgiving dinner, for the first time ever. Everything was made from scratch, and man, was it good!

Thanksgiving dinner First Turkey

Here's the Apple Pie. My first, if you can believe it.

First Apple Pie

I also made my first Carrot Cake for our first anniversary. It was, in a word, magnificent.

Carrot Cake Slice Anniversary Carrot Cake

Now, clearly, I didn't make/cook this, or rather I don't have a picture of it cooked, but I just had to share it as I think it's really really neat. Yes, neat. It's a pointy cauliflower. It tastes like regular cauliflower, but it's green and pointy. I saw it at the market and couldn't not buy it, it was too neat. Yes neat. I'm a goober.

Pointy Caulifower

You know, all my life I've wanted to be great at something. Just once I wanted to be great, at whatever, just something. I've always been good at whatever I studied, but I had to work my ass off to get there. I was an average university student. I made it, it what I say about it. I'm a good writer, I think. Or at least I know I'll be good, but not great.

Well, I've finally found what I'm great at. I'm a great baker and cook. It's like I have golden fingers -- everything I bake turns out fabulously. And it's easy! And I'm learning how to tweak certain kinds of baked goods the way I always do with cooking. It's awesome. I love doing it. And, my mom, I can hear the pride in her voice when we talk baking. She knows I'm awesome at it, and she's actually told others I'm good! :D It's.. it's everything I wanted and more. It won't bring in money (I'm too ill to bake and sell it), but it brings me joy, and my family yummy baked goods. Finally, finally I'm great at something.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Harvest Muffins

These sort of, came about as a "Melissa can't read/follow a recipe", but they're delicious, so I'm actually writing down what I did!

Makes: ~28 cupcake-sized muffins

Harvest MuffinsIngredients
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup demerara-style brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 large apples, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups bran cereal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 1/2 tsp cloves 
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚F, and grease muffin pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  
  4. Add raisins, pecans, and chopped apples to wet ingredients, stir well to combine.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, combine, flour, bran, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  6. Fold dry ingredients to wet until just combined.
  7. Fill greased muffin cups 100% full (they don't rise much). Bake for approx. 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of muffin clean.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thinking too Much. Again.

So I read this blog: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/ A lot. The woman who writes it, whose blog it is, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, is amazing. She's like my knitting hero. She's one of those people that I think, when I grow up, I want to be Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  Of course, part of the problem with that is, I'm already grown up, in that I'm 32 years old. I also have zero desire to have children, never mind three girls. But knitting/career-wise? Stephanie is amazing. She's written five books on knitting. Five. Her latest is on the New York Times Best Seller List. How awesome is that?!

It's funny, when I first started knitting, her blog was one of the first things I found. It didn't impress me much. It had awards down the side for like 5 years past Best Canadian Knitting blog, and the like. Her blog hasn't changed in format or look since then either. It's very basic and felt dated, and I can be a techie snob sometimes, okay most of the time.(I should say now I appreciate the simplicity and it's appeal. Coming to her blog and reading it feels like coming home, like spending time with a well-loved friend.) Also all the entries I read were about socks. I hate knitting socks. Okay, to be fair, I've only ever knitting one pair of socks, and I don't think I'll ever knit another pair. I hate knitting anything on needles that small, for one thing. For another, my feet are too stupidly sensitive and I know I could never actually wear them, so what's the point? Last and not least, until very recently I've been just rubbish at knitting short rows. I've knit a lot of short rows now on the knitted sea creatures I've made, but I'd still hate to test my short row skills against a sock! No thank you! So, in length, you can see how her blog just didn't appeal to me.

Thanks to twitter, and a crochet-crazy acquaintance I have on my feed, I re-discovered Stephanie about a year ago or more. Yes, she talks about socks a lot, and I can't really identify, but she talks about a lot of other things too. And she's funny! She makes me laugh out loud until I have tears streaming from my eyes. Mostly though, she's just... endearing, entertaining -- she's the most likable writer or knitter I've ever encountered. I really don't know how else to put it, except that she's a joy to read, and I wish she was my friend, 'cause I think she's awesome.

She's having a book signing here in Toronto today. At a chapters downtown. I kinda want to go, because I want to support her, and maybe meet her. But I've never actually bought or read any of her books. I want to, but I just don't have the $$ right now. If I went to the reading/signing, I'd feel obligated to buy her latest book (I do want to but again, $$).. But after spending $35 dollars on tea this week I think my husband might blow a vein if I spent more. *Sigh*

I was just reading her latest post about how we Canadians are quiet with out enthusiasm for writers and other famous people. I am so very guilty of that! A few years ago when I got to meet Kim Harrison, who is my all time favourite author, I was so excited I could barely speak. I had so much love and admiration for her, but I didn't know how to show it. I just ended up being awkward and telling her she made me love reading again, and I almost cried, because she really did change my life, and I didn't know how else to express my gratitude.

I know if I went to see Steph tonight I'd be the same way. I'd barely be able to speak to her. I know I wouldn't be able to tell her how awesome I think she is, or that I wish I knew her in real life, because from a 'fan', that can come off really creepy, and that's the last thing I'd want.

I also really need to work on my Nano novella today as I haven't worked on it since Monday and I'm likely 5k words behind by now. *sigh*  FMS has really done a number on me this week. I'm not in anywhere near the pain I was yesterday or the day before, but my brain still feel exhausted. Being in that much pain for that long takes a mental toll on a person, and it's that toll I can feel myself paying today. Bah. Hopefully by Saturday I'll be well enough to enjoy some time with my friends!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pushing Through the Pain

Sometimes, if I don't push through the pain, I don't get anything done. And by anything I mean basic things like showering, getting dressed, making myself solid food--not just scrounging for whatever will have me standing the shortest time to collect it.

Yesterday I pushed through the pain and complete exhaustion because I really needed to get out, to take a walk, get fresh air, have a sky above my head, not a roof.  And I did it. I went on a walk, almost to Bathurst along Bloor, because I really wanted to go to David's Tea. Let me tell you, when your every movement brings so much pain you are clenching your teeth to keep from crying, walking one km feels like walking 10.

But I got there. I bought some lovely teas, then went to the metro for milk so I could have cereal in the morning. I also picked up some half price cheese and a bottle of gatorade as I was seriously dehydrated.

I limped all the way home. I know why old and crippled people walk like they do. It's not for lack of trying to walk like they used to. I was in so much pain every step brought the idea that I should stop, that I should sit, even if it meant sitting on the sidewalk, that I just couldn't take another step, that my body was too heavy, that I didn't have it in me to walk one step further, and yet, I did. I made it home. But the cost!! The cost was great.

I spent the rest of yesterday in sick feverish exhaustion. But it was too close to dinner time to sleep. When I did try to sleep I ended up crying myself to sleep. What I really wanted to to was get out of bed, and go into the living room where my 'old' bed from my parent's house lives. The mattress is far softer, and when I hurt like I did last night, every bit helps. Mostly though, I just wanted to get away from my husband so he could get a good night's sleep. But I did my best to be quiet, to suffer in utter silence. Eventually I fell into a very unrestful sleep. When he got up at 6am, it felt like 3am to me. I slept, tossing and turning, sobbing with pain, until 10am. That's when my headache told me I better get up or I was just going to hurt worse.

Today I've done almost nothing. I made myself cereal for breakfast, so at least I ate well. I had a snack of a couple tiny apples. And I've been knitting. It's about all my good for -- watching tv and knitting.  My whole body aches, I hurt so badly I can't even cry, it would shake my shoulders and ribs, and they already hurt more than I can handle.

Now I've just spilled burning hot tea on my thigh. Cause today needed to get worse. Fuck.  I hate burns, they just keep on burning, even when the heat source is gone!

I had to push through the pain today. I've been sitting here for four hours now, watching tv and knitting. I really need to work on my novel, but the pain, I really don't think I could work through it.

My right shoulder, for reasons I can't understand, actually starts aching when I type to much. That burning, numbing kind of pain. I had it yesterday too, but I didn't type much, so it's kinda odd. I wasn't able to work on my novel yesterday either. Too exhausted, too much pain, too overwhelmed by the combo.

I needed to eat something though. And I'm all alone. I can't ask someone to make me food or go get something cold and soft for my inflamed/scratched palate. If I want it I have to go myself. I don't know if I can do that. But I managed dishes, and I'm now, likely, burning my pasta. So at least I'll have something solid to eat.

I really fucking hate this though. I really need to write today, and, my brain, even as I type this, it's shutting down and my right, NO, it's my left! Fucking dyslexic mess that I am! My left shoulder is already burning with pain, and it's only going to get worse.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chronic Pain

I feel like I live on the edge of overwhelming pain. Meaning, it takes the addition of very little pain (added to my 'average daily pain') to take me over that edge, or tip the scales, or however you think of it. Once past that point, all pain becomes amplified, I am exhausted by doing nothing, and my brain refuses to think, surviving is all I'm capable of.

I hate it. I hate that having a shower exhausts me. That I have to sit for an hour afterwards just so I don't shake when I stand up. Just so I don't bloody well faint if I try to, say, do the dishes. I hate this so much. I hate being a fucking invalid.

But I don't know how to fix this. I don't know how to fight it. I don't have the energy to push though. It just isn't there anymore. Where it was, fear now lives. I know what happens if I push too hard. I end up bed ridden for days, for a week even if I'm not careful.

How the fuck am I supposed to get healthier like this?!

I just... I feel so.. Beaten. So frustrated. So fucking useless and weak - the two things I have always dreaded being. And that's what I am now.

I wish I was stronger. I wish I had the discipline, the strength, the hope to fight this. But it's gone. The pain has eaten through whatever strength I might have had.

It really doesn't matter to me that if I lost weight I'd hurt less. Sure that makes me want to loose weight, but when faced with the pain of hunger, when faced with the chronic, devastating pain I live with every day, it means nothing. I just don't have it in me to suffer further, to 'push' to exercise - because I would have to push, most days I don't have the energy to take care of myself in the most basic terms, never mind enough to go out and do things. I don't have extra energy. When I have any energy at all, I use it for useful things like, showering, doing dishes, cleaning, getting groceries, making soup, making dinner.

I hate what I've become. I disgust myself. I'm so fat my body is falling apart. I'm in so much pain, I really couldn't care less about, well, most things really. It's amazing what chronic pain will do to a person, how it will change their priorities, their personalities, their desires and goals.

I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. I want to hide from the world and wait till it's over. I have no hope this will ever get better. I know it's only going to get worse. I want to hope, but, experience tells me, no matter what happens, I'm always going to be in pain. Life is pain. That's all I know. That's how my life has been for as long as I can remember. I don't know any other life. I don't want to live like this, fuck, who would? but I don't have the faintest clue how to fix it, how to fix me.

Wedding Sea Creatures!

Sea Creatures! Guest Book Octopus

Seeing as our wedding was over a year ago now, I thought I'd (finally) share the sea creatures I knit. To be fair, although I knit four octopuses for the kids coming to the wedding in time for the wedding (see above), the ones I knit for Sabrina's kids I finished at the end of July, so not thaaaat long ago.

So let me introduce you!

This is the Mega Kracken I knit for Caleb. He's big and squishy.
Mega Kraken

This is the wee Kracken I knit for Conner, her youngest. He was sooo excited to see him! Conner jumped up and down with him. I won major points that evening. :)

You can see the size difference here:

Last but certainly not least, this is the octopus I knit for Kiera Bella

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day - 11.11.11

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in 1918 the 'war to end all wars', aka world war one, ended. And almost one hundred years later, we're still fighting.  It's been a bloody century.

But on the eleventh day of the eleventh month we remember. 

I'm a sentimental fool. Thinking about Remembrance Day always makes me teary eyed. The unimaginable sacrifice of fighting and dying, and even of living, that our armed forces make and have made, for all us civilians, gets me every time.

We owe our soldiers a debt we can never pay.

They've put our lives in front of their own. Whether they see action or not. Whether you agree with their deployment or not. By the very act of becoming a soldier, they have put our lives, our way of life, before their own.

Thank you seems so pale, so inadequate. But I say thank you, nonetheless.

I pray to Fria that our younger generations are taught about the horrors of war, that they are taught what we all have to be thankful for. That they, that we, never forget.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

sometimes I'm an angry bitter woman.

My letter to the Red Cross:


I've donated blood over the years, from 15 to 31 years old, I'm 32 now,but I haven't given in a year, so I don't count it. The last time was my 20th, so I guess don't go very often.

I thought it might be helpful for you to know *why* I don't donate more often, and why I haven't gone in the past year. I'm morbidly obese, and chronically ill, but I don't have any blood issues. I'm not diabetic, and thus far the drugs I'm on haven't excluded my donating.

For the past five years or so, the biggest reason I haven't donated, is the attitude I get from the nursing staff. EVERY time I've donated in Toronto I've been lectured, I've had nurses treat me like I'm personally offending them with my presence. I get the lecture that I shouldn't have tattoos because they are dangerous. I get the lecture that I should loose weight because I'm morbidly obese, like somehow I missed that fact. I live with me, of course I know what I look like. I don't like it either, but I at least most strangers are civlil, your staff has no idea what situation is, how dare they judge me! The nursing staff always makes me want to cry.

THEN I get the lecture about how my blood pressure is too high and I should really see to that. You know WHY my blood pressure is so high?? Because I know every time I go in there I'm going to get torn down for something. I know I'm going to get the lecture about how my weight is affecting my health, like somehow I missed that, you know, living in my own skin. You know what? When I go see my GP, which I do regularly, seeing as I'm chronically ill, I get my blood pressure checked and it's perfectly fine. Your staff causes my blood pressure to spike.

You know, when I donated in Hamilton, where I used to live, I never had that problem, but then I usually ended up at one of the McMaster Clinics and they tend to move people pretty fast through there. No time for lectures or passing judgement.

I just thought it might help you to know why I don't want to donate. I can't be the only fat person with social anxieties that doesn't want to put themselves in a bad situation.


Melissa Wood.