I’ll Just Write Around You

flame box elder penMany of the successful writers talk about writing without being disturbed, with the door closed so to speak. Writing time should be treated as sacred and interruptions should be of the emergency variety only and kept to the bare minimum (sort of goes without saying that emergency situations in general should be kept to the bare minimum). They will happily tell you that this is a very important part of their success as writers.

I agree with them. My writing time is sacred. I take my writing seriously. Like all writers, I’m a good procrastinator, but I’ve managed to curb that somewhat, and having two day jobs helps because I can only write during specific times and that definitely makes a difference. My writing time is important.

However, I’m the only one in my house that thinks so.

I write with my door closed, but it does not stay closed. The people in my house cannot stand a closed door.

I live in a house with my dad and a friend. During the day, the two of them will make multiple trips into my room to talk to me. They talk to me about things they’ve read on the Internet, episodes of TV shows (that I don’t watch and don’t want to watch), whatever is going on in the news, celebrity gossip, the latest political bullshit, this, that, and the other. Sometimes the conversation is only a few minutes; sometimes “I just need to tell you one thing” turns into thirty minutes to two hours. This happens every day. And it happens when I’m writing.

It’s happening right now as I’m typing this blog post, actually. My roommate has been talking to me about Project Runway (that I don’t watch), asking questions about the movie I’ve got on (The Ghoul), asking about arranging a movie date with her and my nieces, telling me about what the cats did upstairs.

I pretty much wrote everything until this point while she talked to me. That’s how I end up having to get my work done a lot of the time. I just write around the people in my house. Because if I don’t, I will get nothing done.

I can’t do this all the time. Sometimes, whatever I’m working on requires more attention than I can manage while listening to someone else talk and sometimes, whatever someone else is talking about requires more attention than I can manage while writing. Which is pretty frustrating because that means I either don’t get everything done that I want to get done in the allotted time or I end up working much later than I anticipated and other things I wanted to do don’t get done.

Why don’t I say something to them? Well, I have. But, since my writing schedule is inconsistent due to my day jobs and the demands of whatever project or projects I’m working on during any given day, they can’t tell if I’m working or not. And if I tell them I’m working, they either get offended that I don’t want to hear about the latest episode of Bar Rescue or about what Abby Lee Miller did now, or they assure me that whatever they have to say will “only take a minute” and talk to me anyway.

Why don’t I go somewhere else and write? I would, but I’m actually not really comfortable writing in public spaces. I would prefer to write in the space I’m most comfortable in as I tend to be the most productive there and that place is…my room.

Which sometimes reminds me of a bus terminal during bad weather and all of the buses are late: you can’t escape from the conversations.

My dad and my friend aren’t bad people. It’s not that they don’t care that I’m trying to write. It’s not like they’re purposely trying to sabotage me in my efforts.

It’s just that my writing time isn’t important to them. But it’s sacred to me.

So, I write around them.

Are You a Good Fatty?

Fat girl bikiniThis is a mindset that I have struggled with and one I’m working very hard to correct. Why? Because the Good Fatty is bullshit, that’s why.

Here’s how it works.

People make generalizations about fat people. They’re lazy. They eat like garbage. They’re unhealthy. You know, the same song and dance folks have been performing since before Jane Fonda made jazzercise a thing.

Immediately, my reaction is, “Not all fatties! I’m not lazy. I exercise. I do yoga. I belly dance. I count my steps. I lift weights. And I eat healthy! I rarely eat fast food. I eat vegetarian meals several times a week. I don’t eat a lot of processed food. And my health has been more affected by not having regular access to affordable healthcare than by my weight.”

Now, all of those things are true and generalizations are garbage. But, the fact that I feel the urge to defend my honor and separate myself from those other, “bad” fatties is bullshit. I shouldn’t feel that way. I shouldn’t actually have to do that at all.

Why?

Because there are thin people whose only exercise is walking out to their car so they can drive to a fast food joint. There are thin people whose diets consist of not much more than Starbucks and cigarettes and cupcakes. No “good” thin person has ever felt the need to distance themselves from those “bad” thin people by saying, “I’m not like them! I run twenty miles a week and take a spin class and do hot yoga. I eat gluten-free vegan. I’ve never drank or smoked and I haven’t set foot inside a Starbucks in my life!”

No, no thin person, good or bad, feels the need to defend their life choices because they are, by default, “healthy” just because they’re thin. Regardless of their choices, they’re treated with basic human respect. They don’t have to worry about anyone judging their choice of fries over salad. They don’t feel the need to remind everyone that they walked their five miles yesterday and today is just an off day. They don’t feel the need to say, “But I’m not like them.” They know it doesn’t matter. They will still get that basic human respect.

That simple respect isn’t extended to all fatties, just the “good” ones and only if they prove that they really are “good”.

So, riddle me this, Batman, why is that?

Why is some lazy, Whopper-eating thin person treated with more respect than a fat person who does the same thing? Why is perceived health the basis for simple respect? Why does a fat person not deserve respect because they’re not “healthy”?

Who the fuck came up with that rule?

Here’s the real skinny, Minnie, until proven otherwise, we all are entitled to basic human respect. All of us. Even the “bad” fatties.

I’m not going to draw that line between me and the “bad” fatties anymore. I’m going to work really hard not to do it. If I don’t draw that line between me and the smokers and the drinkers and the “bad” thin people, then there’s no need for that line to exist between me and other fatties. Their health choices are theirs, such as mine are mine. End of.

The respect thing, though, that’s non-negotiable.

Regardless of my weight, regardless of what I eat, regardless of how much I move, I refuse to accept anything less than simple respect.

I insist upon that.

Why The Timeless Man Got Postponed and Other Life Lessons

Cheaters and ChupacabrasI was supposed to self-publish The Timeless Man last month and the reason why I didn’t publish it is because it didn’t have a cover.

It’s like this.

A friend did the cover for the first Ivy Russell novella, Cheaters and Chupacabras. I decided that I wanted the other three novellas to use the same background, but a different symbol for each novella (for Cheaters it was the wedding rings). I asked this friend if they could do the symbols for the other three novellas earlier this year and they agreed.

But between illness and humidity (because that affects art when you’re working with water colors, kids) and communication issues, it’s now July and the cover still isn’t done. I’m not sure when it’s going to get done or what I’m going to do when it gets done since this has sort of jacked up my entire self-publishing timeline, not to mention it’s not just this cover that needs to not be plagued by humidity, but the next two as well and I don’t feel like it would be a good idea for me to try to publish anything until I have every cover done. And so, we limbo.

The last time I inquired about the covers, which was Tuesday night, in the course of our conversation, my friend said to me, “I thought you got mad and just did it yourself anyway.”

See, that’s the life lesson I’ve taken away from every interaction I’ve had like this and there have been a lot in my existence. People I work with or ask for help from or ask favors of don’t come through for me often, so I just end up doing it myself, if I’m able to do it at all. It’s now such a common occurrence that people just expect it to end this way.

And it’s all my fault.

When you come out of the birth canal (or in my case, c-section incision) as a preordained responsible, independent human, then that’s your label for life. People go to you for help and you help them because you can and that’s what the world tells responsible, independent humans to do.

But when the script gets flipped and the responsible, independent human needs help, nobody knows their lines anymore. They don’t know how to react. Because the responsible, independent humans have a tendency to attract and surround themselves with somewhat flaky, dependent humans that just aren’t up to the task of helping. They want to, but they just can’t. Because reasons. Or they will, but it’s on their timeline, which is completely out-of-sync with your timeline, and that’s just too damn bad because you should just be grateful that they’re helping you at all.

So, I don’t ask for favors very often because I know the likelihood of being blown off or disappointed is pretty high and when I do ask for a favor hoping that maybe this time will be that one time things are different and they end up being the same, yeah, I tend to stop asking and keep on slogging through life on my own, doing everything the hard way because it’s been made pretty obvious that I’m a responsible, independent human and therefore shouldn’t not require much in the way of help. So, yeah, I either get pissed and do it myself, or I find myself in limbo, at the mercy of someone else’s timeline.

Which sucks.

‘Cause it makes my books late.

 

Disclaimer: I love my friends, I really do! Even though some of them aren’t the greatest at helping me out when I need it, they still have other qualities that are absolutely marvelous. All of my friends have their faults, as do I (and I have more than most), but they’re all really good people.

I wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t.

Give me some credit here.

Being Fat on Twitter

Full fat aviThe past couple of weeks, I started getting a lot of friendly interaction from guys on Twitter. Friendly to the point of being straight up creeper. In one case I was pretty sure I was being measured for a skin suit and the guy doing it was kind of underwhelming and I was seriously bummed by the anti-climax there.

But, I digress, as I so often do.

At first, I couldn’t figure out why I was getting all of this attention. I wasn’t tweeting anything differently than I normally did. If anything, I’d been tweeting less than usual.

And then it hit me.

I had put up a new avi a few days after New Year’s Eve. A head and shoulders selfie of me wearing a white cami (that’s a kind of tank top, fellas) that I’d tinted to blue to give it a wintry look. I liked it. I thought it fit the January feel and I was looking for something I could have for a while before I got bored and decided to change it. Sounds pretty legit right? Nothing weird. Nothing overtly sexy. Nothing overtly anything, I thought.

Except the angle, the framing of the picture, well, you couldn’t tell that I’m fat.

January aviAhh! That’s it!

Guys think the “fat girl belly dancing” line in my bio is some sort of self-deprecation thing when they see that pic. I actually had one guy tell me that I’m “not that big”. Thanks, dude. Didn’t ask for your pitiful reassurance, but okay then.

As soon as I figured this out, I changed my avi to the full-figured shot at the top of the post. And I made a vow. Only full-fat avis (avies? avi’s? I still don’t know how to spell that) from now on.

First of all, that does cut down on some of the questionable attention, except for the odd chubby chaser.

Second of all, I don’t want the people that follow me, that read my tweets to forget that I’m legit fat and not “OMG I’M SO FAT!!!” fat. That when I talk about my weight, even when I joke about it, I’m talking about my actual state of existence. I’m not fishing for a compliment. This is my actual being, kids. I am fat. Legit fat. For real. And I’m going to comment upon it from time to time.

I don’t want guys to be misled because I put up a picture of my pretty face and they miss out on the rolls in the bakery and cottage cheese in the dairy section. I want them to know that I am more than likely a girl they wouldn’t give the time of day to on the street because she’s a “fatty”.

This is a public service, my friends.

I just can’t be responsible for anymore broken hearts.

35 Now

birthday hatI’m going to be honest with you about something.

Yesterday, when I officially turned 35, I was more put out about the fact that I had to run errands and go grocery shopping than I was about turning 35.

When it comes to my birthday, I am like a toddler. It’s mine, mine, mine! I don’t have to! It’s my birthday! I get to do whatever I want! And I don’t want to be a grown-up and do grown-up things!

Which brings me to my next reflective point about turning 35.

I am now on the downward slide to 40 (“Hands up! Test your nuts!” as we used to say while riding roller coasters) and as such I’m sure there are people looking at me, possibly wanting to poke me, wondering what the hell is wrong with me. I’m 35 now. I’m supposed to be a grown-up. I’m supposed to be this, that, and the other with a real job and a mortgage and bills and all the trappings of adulthood. I’m supposed to be striving to meet society’s expectations of a woman of my advanced age (and weight, but that’s a different post). What am I doing?

This is actually something I’ve reflected on quite a bit in the month leading up to my birthday.  I gave serious consideration to the fact that I’m still dodging a big part of the standard adult business and that maybe I should consider, you know, straightening up and flying right.

But I just can’t make myself do it, kids. I knew it back when I was 12. I remember being supremely unhappy at the prospect of being 13 because that would mean I was a teenager and after teenager was adult and there was so much of that life stage that I didn’t find appealing. I liked being a kid and I’ve always been very bitter about the whole growing up thing.

Here’s the thing. I KNOW I can adult. I could adult with the best of them. I’m very good at responsibility. I’m so good at responsibility that I’ve been known to take on responsibilities that aren’t even mine. I’m very reliable and dependable and organized. I’m mature. I’ve been mature since I was little. I have all of the qualifications to be a good and proper adult according to society’s standards.

I just don’t want to BE an adult.

After years of doing things I hated in order to live up to someone else’s standards, trying to please other people, I realized that I have no desire to adult. It’s an epic drag and it’s not for me.

I’d rather do things my way, if you don’t mind.

So if that means being 35 and not being grown-up, that’s perfectly cool with me.

The Anxiety Monster

Kiki's red hairI have a mild problem with anxiety. Back in the day, smoking is what helped me medicate it. I smoked when I got anxious. The nicotine helped when I’d get that sudden flare of what I called “fuck up anxiety”, that sure fire feeling that I had just fucked up even if I hadn’t, or if I had, it was so insignificant that an ant wouldn’t notice it because it was such a small thing. Just the act of getting the cigarette out of the pack, lighting it up, taking the first inhale, smoking that sucker down, helped take the edge off of that.

I don’t smoke anymore, but I still have that fuck up anxiety.

I’m having it right now, actually, as I type this.

It likes to settle in my shoulders mostly and ride up the back of my neck. My brain likes to replay whatever it is that I’ve done or think I’ve done until it’s so huge and wound up so tight my head would spin off if it were to let go. It makes me want to primal scream in an attempt to release the pressure in my head and drown out the voices assaulting my character.

It’s really annoying. I’ve yet to come up with decent coping mechanism in the five years since I quit smoking. Meditation helps, but funnily enough, when the anxiety acts up, I don’t want to meditate. Kind of defeats the purpose there, huh?

Now, I know that compared to some of my friends, I’m getting off easy. Their anxiety and the resulting attacks can be debilitating and that’s pretty awful. I do acknowledge that I’m lucky in that respect that it isn’t worse for me. I can actually still function despite the anxiety.

But it’s still annoying.

I don’t need any help from my brain when it comes to screwing things up. I can do bad and feel bad all by myself over legit things. I don’t need to blow up tiny seconds and non-existent moments into a disaster.

Sometimes, it’s a once in a while thing. I can go weeks and not have a problem. And then I have times when it’s basically an all the time feeling that can go on for weeks. It lightens up, but never really goes away. It’s the latter that I’ve been dealing with lately. It makes me a right irritable bitch because the constant anxiety puts me on edge and within a day I hate everything, everyone, and your mother, too.

I haven’t exactly figured out the triggers for it. I think some of it is stress. I think some of it could be hormonal. I think some of it could just be. I don’t think I always need a trigger.

I do need a better coping method to riding it out, though. Because this habit of doing nothing but feeling bad and being irritated and not meditating isn’t working.

Stupid anxiety monster hanging around the closets of my mind.

Crisis Averted…Mostly

ThinkingI’ve had my bout of existential episode and I’m feeling better now. It took some long, hard thinking and some meditating and some avoidance and some more thinking and some prioritizing, but for the most part, I think the crisis has been averted.

The biggest hurdle was asking myself if I want to continue with my writing career. The answer to that is yes. I like to write, I’m going to do it anyway, I might as well try to make some money off of it. That said, I’ve come to accept that I’m not the kind of writer that will be able to support herself exclusively through writing. I lack what it takes to do that. And that’s fine! Well, it’s not really fine, but I need to accept it as fine because there’s not much I can do to change it and accepting is better than being all salty about it.

So with that lined out, other things have sort have slotted into place. I’m still a writer at the end of all things, I’ve just now wised up to the fact that I can and should be more things. This isn’t a failure. This is me reassessing my writing career and coming up with different goals that are more realistic. This is me reassessing my life at present and re-prioritizing things and coming up with goals that are more realistic. That’s necessity, not failure.

And you can believe me because I know a thing or twelve about failure.

Once I sort of got all of this hashed out, I realized that I felt better. Not necessarily happier. Definitely not content. But better. I had my “What the fuck am I doing here?” picnic and now I can get back on the path to my greatness, whatever that is.

I also came to the conclusion that if I don’t stop every once in a while and assess my state of being, I’m going to end up chugging along out of habit or stubbornness instead of really paying attention to what I need and what I want and changing to accommodate that. And that would be a real drag. It’s okay to change. Like the song said, it’s the only thing that stays the same.

No, I can’t remember which song. My brain is a jumble of song lyrics and pop culture trivia.

Anyway, I’m back in the saddle and marching to a beat of a different drummer and taking it one day at a time and whole bunch of other cliches that illustrate poorly that I’m not giving up, just moving on.

That’s the trick.

To keep moving.

I’m Having a Bit of an Existential Episode

ThinkingI said last week on my Facebook page that there wasn’t a blog post on Thursday because I was having an existential crisis. That was both true and misleading (that’s a Clue reference, just to be clear). I am having an existential episode for sure, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a crisis. Yet.

Right now I’m feeling deeply unsatisfied with the state of my existence and I’m not exactly sure how to rectify it. Mostly it has to do with my work-life. I feel like there are choices to be made, decisions to be decided, when it comes to my writing career. Mostly, I’m questioning on whether or not to continue it.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking why didn’t I label this as I writing post. Because this sort of thing leaks into the rest of my life as well (and I’ll probably do a writing post about it later). Answer this question: What would I do if I didn’t write?

-First of all, I’d probably still write because that’s what I like to do. I like to tell stories even if my ability to do so is questionable. I just wouldn’t be trying to do it for a living.

-The status of this blog would be up in the air. The big motivation for having it was to establish it as a sort of writing home base. Take that away, and it’s basically nothing more than a ramble about random life thoughts and my favorite old TV shows.

-I’d have to figure out what I want to do with my life. If I’m not going to be a writer, then what am I going to be? If I throw in this towel, then what’s Plan B (or by this point in my life more like plan K)? Am I calling my attempt to make my own life the way I want it a failure? Do I go get a soul sucking job that I’ll hate but will pay the bills and make me the adult everyone says I should be and just plain exist until my heart finally gives out from boredom?

That sounds both unappetizing and fucking scary.

The other day I said on Twitter that some days I feel like I should have just pursued a career in marine biology or meteorology like I wanted to and called it good. Oh sure, I got ribbed to hell and back for saying that I wanted to do those things and I didn’t exactly get any overwhelming support for those possible career choices, but the to be fair, the same can be said for writing. And if I did become a marine biologist or meteorologist, I’d have that coveted grown-up job and I wouldn’t be having an existential incident right now.

Or would I?

Maybe I would have hit this point in my life no matter what I was doing and be forced to question if I still wanted to do it. Maybe no matter what I’d hit the September of my 34th year and be unsatisfied and feel the need to sit down and try to figure out why and what I needed to do to fix it.

Or maybe I wouldn’t.

Maybe I would have had a much more satisfying life studying science and this would never be a problem.

I’ll never know.

I can only go by what’s going on right now in this life which has resulted from the choices I did make.

And right now I need to make another choice.

I didn’t study for this quiz.

Five Things About My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

bucketIn case you missed it, earlier this week I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and posted the best part of the video on my KikiWrites Facebook page (you would know that if you liked that page, hint hint). It’s the craze sweeping the nation and all for a good cause!

But because I’m an egotistical sort and this is my blog, I thought I’d give a little insight into my particular ice bucket challenge.

Here are five behind the scenes trivia bits about it.

1. I wore that shirt on purpose. You’d think it was a blunder wearing a white shirt for a water challenge, but no. I wore it for the message (Live Laugh Love) and I wore it because my darling friend Carl referred to me doing the ice bucket challenge as a wet t-shirt contest and I felt compelled to play up that angle because I thought it was funny.

2. I involved my nieces. I decided to seize the opportunity of being challenged to educate my nieces (I’m homeschool them anyway, so might as well). In order to dunk Aunt Kiki with ice water, they had to learn a little something. The older two had to read about ALS and the ice bucket challenge while I explained it all to the youngest niece. When it came time to do it, the middle niece filmed it while the youngest niece had the honor of drenching me (the oldest niece had lost interest at that point because being 12 is hard, yo). The younger two then opted to also do the challenge unofficially (I did film them and posted those videos for family to see). What started out as a fun opportunity to pour ice water on Aunt Kiki became an education in charity, illness, and the power of community.

3. I flipped the bird to certain people in the comments of the original video. The full-length video was posted on my personal Facebook page because that’s where I was challenged. My first comment on it was to inform people offended by the “waste of water” of two websites, water.org and cleanwater.org, which they could visit in order to turn their disdain into positive action. If you’re going to be asshole by judging and dismissing people’s attempts to do something good, then I’m going to make you LOOK like an asshole. I got no problems with that.

4. I donated money, too. Many of the detractors point out that people are wasting water just to get out of donating money. HOWEVER. Many, if not most of, the participants are donating some money. I couldn’t afford to kick in a lot of dough, but I did kick in a bit. I also made sure to mention the website repeatedly so other people would know where to go to donate.

5. I did this challenge at my mom’s house, so… She got that big dead spot in her yard where her pool had been nice and watered, but it’s a 25 minute drive home for me and I wasn’t going to do it in wet clothes. And since I already lug two bags to her house to teach, I really didn’t want to pack another one so I could change for the drive home. So I took my pajamas instead. And drove home bra-less.

The more you know…

PSA: Stop Saying “Being Fat Isn’t Healthy”

stopThis is going to be short because I want to be able to use it as a reference for people every time they make this comment. I want to be able to link to it and call it all good.

Three reasons for you to stop saying “Being fat isn’t healthy.”

1. You can’t tell the state of someone’s health by looking at them. If you could, then doctors wouldn’t need to go to school for so many years because anyone could be diagnosed with a glance (which is, unfortunately, how many doctors do diagnose fat patients). And if all it took to be healthy was to be thin, then Mary Tyler Moore wouldn’t have diabetes, Weight Watchers would be a cure-all, and there’d be no tragic articles about people who did all the right health things and still got cancer.

2. The lack of affordable healthcare in this country, the fact that healthcare is considered a privilege, the fact that healthcare is a for-profit business has contributed more to the state of my and many other’s health than weight ever will.

3. NO ONE IS OBLIGATED TO BE HEALTHY ANYWAY. For real. Fuck off.

So the next time you feel the urge to come at a fatty with the pseudo-concern blather of “being fat isn’t healthy” refer back to this list.

Particularly the last two words of number three.