Top Ten Things To Do While Tired

Caution: These activities were completed under controlled test-conditions.* Do not attempt in Real Life.

1. Attempt to open your son’s school locker by pressing the car remote.

2. Drop son off to school and get halfway home before you realise you’re not supposed to be going home, you’re supposed to be going to work.

3. Show up on time for Year 11 – when you’re supposed to be teaching Year 8.

4. Overbalance when you stomp on the non-existent clutch in your automatic car (after not having driven a manual/stickshift for five years straight).

5. Walk into doorframe. Repeatedly.

6. Walk into the corner of the bed on your way back from the bathroom at night. Every night. Maintain consistent bruises on your thighs.

7. Show up early for a meeting – when you’re supposed to be teaching Year 7.

8. Miss your mouth entirely and throw your orange juice over your shoulder instead of drinking it.

9. Put the Thing in the wrong Thing. You know, the Thing with the Thingies? The Thing-Thing. Words. Urgh. THING.

10. Borrow your mother’s car. Cut the final corner on your way home with the sun just skimming the rooftop in front of you, neatly blinding you. Hit something. Bounce up so high that your head hits the ceiling of the car. Sit stunned as you wonder how on earth you managed to hit the gutter – you know you cut the corner, but surely not THAT badly? Peer confusedly as someone taps on your window. Die, as you realise that actually you didn’t hit a gutter, you literally ran over the bonnet of a tiny, old car belonging to tiny, old people that you didn’t see because Sun and that you hit because Cutting Corner, but actually all because Exhausted.

(Bonus: 11. Never be allowed to drive your mother’s car again :P)

* Lies, all lies.

Happy New Year!

Family emergencies have had me out of action since Christmas, but regardless, happy (western) new year! I look forward to sharing the next 12 months with you :3 Let’s hope they’re good ones.

Oh My Gosh The Last Two Weeks What The Even.

Self-indulgent post, sorry, but here we are.

You GUYS. The last two weeks have been reeeeDIKulous.

Monday: Full day of work, then 11-hour stint cake decorating (see next Monday), meaning I got to bed at 4:30am.

Tuesday: Full day of work, home for an hour to make a batch of buttercream (which takes 30 mins), then split/fill/decorate a small dietary-requirement cake to go with Monday’s epic one, then load both cakes into the car and head into town to drop them off. This took Time, and I ended up getting home around 7pm.

Wednesday: Work, then the usual rigmarole of gymnastics + swimming that sees us all home at 7.

Thursday: Work. Frantic Christmas shopping. Kid 1’s school presentation/performance/graduation night. Home at 8:30pm.

Friday: Work, but got to leave an hour early, which was nice. Additional Christmas shopping. 5-hr cake stint on two different cakes, finishing up at 1am.

Saturday: Drop off cake 1 from last night, drop off husband, head home to pack, take cake 2 to be dropped off, go meet husband and do church stuff for an hour-ish, head home to eat and finish packing, spend an hour driving out to look at a block of land, drive to Sydney. Experience Epic McDonald’s Failure for dinner, swear as a family to never eat there again unless it’s a real emergency, arrive at in-laws at 9:30pm. Kids finally asleep by 11pm. >.<

Sunday: Spent the day in Sydney doing Christmassy stuff with family, drove home (successfully avoiding a McDonald’s dinner, woo, go us), home around 9:30pm.

Monday: Morning drop-off run. 5.5 hours at home to catch up on an hour of lectures + an hour of assignments I was running behind on for some writing courses I’m doing, squeeze in a 1.5hr nap (THANK GOODNESS), pack the car to the gills with all the stuff for 2 x market stalls, go run said market stalls at the school/church Christmas Event Thing until 10pm. Packed up and home by 11.

Tuesday: Spent all morning at Kid2’s language thingo – she’s participating in a longitudinal study about childhood language acquisition and we have to go in for a few hours every 3-6 months. Kids came home and CRASHED, sleeping about 3 hrs each. Then, market round 2. But because it was the final night, SUPER pack-up, so I wasn’t home until 11:30pm.

Wednesday: Frantically deal with an editing project that had suddenly become 24-hour-turn-around-urgent. Discover the entire reason I paid to send Kid2 to daycare today for one extra day is suddenly null and void: cannot go to gym while Kid1 does gymnastics as per usual, as Kid1 has a massive temperature. >.< Skip the gym, work on edits, head to swimming with Kid2 and get home at 7, finish up edits around 11:30pm.

…Which brings us to today, and y’all, I am tired. Like, whoa. I burned the lower knuckle of my left thumb on a hot tray because I was just spacey at lunchtime. And we spent 2.5 hours out this morning socialising (which was awesome, btw) and DH & I are doing Compulsory Work Fun* tonight, so it’ll be another late night. And then tomorrow and the next night we’ll be up late also, and I just, like, wait? This was supposed to be holidays? I’m supposed to be, like, sleeping, and chilling, and remembering how to be human and stuff? Urgh.

Anyway, it’s not terrible, it’s just busy, and after this weekend I should be able to have some genuine holiday time and read some books. I’m super hoping to get through 15-20 books these hols (I’m secretly aiming for 22, but I’m not telling myself that because I’ll freak out at how impossible that is to include in my schedule 😛 For reference, I usually read about 50 books per year, so you know. Over-achieving here, much.) so next week I’ll do a quick write up of what I’ve read so far, I think, and it’s nearly time to do end-of-year wraps etc (WHOA).

Also, Patreon have just taken a MASSIVE dose of humility pie, and have publicly announced that they are NOT making the awful changes to the payment system that they have planned, and they have issued formal apologies and are just generally doing their best to be a Socially Responsible Company, so that’s pretty cool and a nice bright spot: it IS possible to be corporate AND have a soul! Who knew?! So yeah: My Patreon: Check it out 😉 I’ll probably post some bonus stuff for all patrons over the holidays (I might even write a special short story just for patrons, cause I love my patrony-people THAT MUCH), so if you’re considering it, now’s a great time to jump in for as little as $1/month.

Anyhoo. That’s about all I have brain and time for: I have another two cakes I need to get in the oven, like, NOW if they are going to be done by the time I have to go party.

Love you all, and have a happy forthcoming weekend :3 <3

A

* I didn’t say it was bad Compulsory Work Fun, FYI.

Why Ambition Isn’t Evil, and Neither Is Slytherin

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I am a pretty big fan of Harry Potter – world, series, characters, all of it. And, probably like many readers, I empathised with Harry, and also Hermione, and fancied myself a bit of a Gryffindor. So when Pottermore came out and I could finally get that One Definitive Answer about what house I was supposed to be in* (because we all know fan-made ones are only as right or as wrong as they confirm your own initial bias :D), I was SUPER excited.

* Yes, yes, I know the sorting hat takes your choices into consideration 😛

And then I was in Slytherin.

I was a little crushed initially, but when I told my family and friends (my sisters are both Potter fans too), without exception they were all, Yeah, of course you are, duh!!

o.O

It took me a while to really learn to love my house, but all the fan-created paraphernalia that supports the house, and the explanations – they helped a lot. To the point that when the new Pottermore was released and I had to set up a new account and retake the sorting test and OH MY GOSH IT PUT ME IN RAVENCLAW, I was Not Okay with this.**

** Like my original sorting, however, I have learned to live with this one, and I think it’s actually extremely accurate to call me a Slytherclaw.

Because, you see, Slytherins aren’t all evil. In fact, we’re actually quite adorably loveable, and I stand firmly by my twitter motto of ‘nicest Slytherin you’ll ever meet’ 😀 (And then I discovered this Tumblr, and oh my gosh, YES, like 98% of those observations-about-Slytherins are MEEEEEE.)

Yes, Slytherins are driven by ambition, but ambition in and of itself isn’t evil. It’s what you’re ambitious for that makes the difference.

Derek Murphy, YA author and professional cover designer, sent out a newsletter recently that said this: “Ambition is seeing something you want to change in the world and making it a reality through the strength of your own will … changing what is into what can be.” (original emphasis).

Heck yes, I am ambitious. Always have been. My grades at school reflect that, as does the fact that I currently work full time, am making significant in-roads into being a professional writing, am running my own mini-publishing company, have a burgeoning cake business, and run a baby-things small business with my husband. Oh yeah, and I parent occasionally in there too O:)

But I was never that kid who cried when I didn’t get an A. I never felt good when I beat my equally-high achieving friends. I was, dare I say it, really relieved when I didn’t get the highest university entrance score in our friendship group. Because I’ve never wanted to beat other people. I’ve never wanted to use others as a stepping stone to make myself feel better. I just want to be the best human being I can possibly be – and that includes being a decent, moral human being, too, and it comes tied with a sense of duty to make the world as good as it can possibly be.

Ambition, yo. If no one had it, we’d still be living in the dark ages.

So here’s to all my fellow Slythies: Be proud of your house affiliation, and let that ambition drive you onwards to great and wonderful things.

Here’s to Slytherin.

Here’s to ambition.

Here’s to making the world great.

Confirmation: Amines Are Like Drugs :P

Had to go out for dinner on Sat night to a wood-fired pizza restaurant. Dinner was delicious, as expected – and the food reactions were awful, as expected. *sigh*. It didn’t help that I made the mistake of eating a GIANT BOWL of rocket salad before realising that oops, yeah, rocket =/= lettuce and while lettuce is pretty fine for me in moderate amounts, rocket is on the DEATH DIE DO NOT EAT list >.< Urgh.

So, two extremely sleepless nights (less than 4 hours each, I think) on Sat and Sun, and then Monday evening I was just hyper as anything, feeling like I’d been drugged 😛

Interestingly, amines seem to amplify the function of my critical brain while diminishing my creative brain; I definitely can’t write while reacting to them. Sat down to try and it was all like, This sucks, This is stupid, That word is horrible, I hate this book, etc. I really just *couldn’t* get into the character’s voice, and this is a character who’s usually dead easy for me to voice. Super mega frustration.

And also interesting, part of the anxiety was amplified. Not the fear-of-the-dark, that’s separate to regular anxiety and seems to be triggered partly by a huge amount of salicylates, and partly by sustained low mood (i.e. feeling flat, tired, or otherwise negative for several days in a row – something that can be triggered by lack of sleep, which is triggered by amines, so the amines can be partly responsible for the fear-of-dark, but not directly, and certainly not after only one meal, even though it was a GIANT amine-heavy dose), but the regular, plain-old variety that’s the precursor to depression: feeling like I suck, second-guessing everything I do and especially say, and running old conversations/highly-negative moments on repeat obsessively.

It wasn’t *bad* this week, only just enough to notice it was happening, so I’m totes fine, but it IS definitely interesting. Because a lot of that kind of thinking is fear-of-judgement based, which is uber-critical brain, right?

ALSO interesting was that I powered through my marking at hitherto-unheard of speeds: I marked an entire class set in a couple of hours on Sat night + Sunday, and then another entire class set just on Monday alone – AND I didn’t even stay up late to do so, I finished it all by 8 o’clock.

You guys. That was weird. 

I am NOT a fast marker. It’s usually laborious and slow and tedious, and getting through two sets in essentially two days? I have NEVER done that before.

And guess what marking involves? Yep. Uber critical-brain oriented.

So it seems like amines basically affect me like a stimulant for my critical brain. For marking, that can be a great thing. For shutting up the critical brain and letting me sleep, write, or not be anxious? Not so great.

And now I want to go to a bunch of research about possible links between depression/anxiety and critical-brain activity.

Related but random other observations:

  • Writers are more neurotic as a group than other creatives. Why? What specifically is it about writing that makes our mental health vulnerable?
  • My critical brain seems to throw tantrums when it thinks I’m ignoring it. If I’ve done a lot of creative work and regular work but no hard-thinking work lately, I’m a LOT more susceptible to anxiety/self-doubt.
  • Could this type of anxiety be critical-brain overload, such as I seem to be getting when eating amines? Could writers combat critical-brain tantrums (anxiety, self-doubt) by letting the critical brain out to play, exercising it by doing, say, some soduko or something hard and thinky??

Where’s a good researcher? I need to pay someone to investigate this for me.

So anyway, to give this some semblance of a conclusion… Amines: Not For Amy! Unless I want to stay up really, really late and get some marking done 😛

I’m Not Depressed, I’m Just… Food Intolerant.

Truth (sadly). Turns out that not only is the mild depression I’ve been prone to since having postnatal depression with my first baby attributable to food, but so are 99% of my other health issues. Even the joint pain that’s caused by Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is, it turns out, exacerbated A LOT by food.

Long story short, around Christmas last year, I stopped being able to breathe properly and was short of breath for over a month. I wasn’t too stressed, I’d had days like that before and it always passed – but after a month I was fed up and figured I should get it checked out by the doctor. (Short, I am keeping this story short…) Cue a bunch of tests, including a positive blood test for celiac disease, a gastroscopy, a colonoscopy, etc etc etc. And every time, the results came back: yeah, you’re all inflamed and your body’s mildly unhappy, but there’s nothing really WRONG.

(Short, short). I’ve suspected for years I had some sort of food intolerance (official allergy tests came up blank; sinus scopes showed the same as the rest of my insides – irritated, inflamed, nothing else to see) and tried to do an official elimination diet in the last quarter of 2015. However, elimination diets are BLOODY HARD, you guys. VERY, VERY HARD. So I didn’t make it.

But this time, with the whole not-breathing thing and the scopes done etc etc, I kind of had reached the breaking point, where SOMEthing needed to change, and this was the only probable thing I COULD change. So I started the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Elimination Diet (which was later affirmed by a dietician as being the Correct Elimination Diet For My Symptoms, so that’s nifty and helpful #oops #dontdietwithoutadvice #doasIdonotasIsay O:)). That was about three months ago now, and… Yeah. Guys? I am pretty much literally intolerant of FOOD. >.<

So this sucks, but I’m getting used to it, and I’ve made it nearly a whole week now without a food-related breakdown, so that’s progress, and my symptoms are manageable, and the most, most, MOST important thing? I CAN SLEEP.

I’ve suffered from apparently-random insomnia and disturbed sleep for YEEEEEARS. (Yes, had sleep tests done and been checked out for sleep apnoea too – conclusion? No apnoea, but yes, definitely something wrong, more investigation required >.<) Turns out the culprit isn’t stress, or lack of exercise, or even temperature (though I do struggle to sleep when it’s really hot). It’s amines.

Amines are a natural food chemical that, if your body is normal and sane, are actually quite healthy for you. They’re formed by the breakdown of proteins in food. But they’re known to be a trigger for migraines, and, in my case, a bunch of other fun symptoms too. So I pretty much can’t each chocolate, or any of the fruits/veggies on this list that have an A next to them, or a bunch of other really tasty things, like cheese. Which… is really sad. Because I like food. And I like cooking. And I’m kind of a low-key foodie. *sad faces*. Oh, and you see all the Ss against those foods on the list? Yeah. Can’t have too many of them, either. Thank goodness I’m okay with the Gs >.< (I also have to cut out gluten (though I’m hopeful that once my insides heal, I’ll be able to tolerate small amounts), and can’t have more than a few serves of dairy a week. URGH.)

*flail*

I’m at the fun end of the project now where I’m trying tiny amounts of random amine-containing foods every couple of days, to see what I can tolerate. For example, tomato sauce (ketchup) on hot chips for one night? Totally okay. A second night in a row? NO SLEEP FOR YOU, SUCKER!!!

Vinegar, which is supposed to be one of the worst amine triggers? Seems totally okay so far. Salt + vinegar chips for 3 days in a row was perfectly fine, mayo doesn’t seem to trigger, and I even tried vinegar salad dressing once and it seemed to be okay. Lemon juice, though? One decent squeeze, maybe a tablespoon, on some (GF)pasta was enough to keep me up for several hours past bedtime with insomnia, and disrupt my sleep for the rest of the night.

Bodies are weird, y’all. WEEEEEIIIIIIRRRRDDDD.

And some things I’ve just decided I can live with. The anxiety that manifests as nyctophobia, which I had as a kid but grew out of and then returned full-force with the postnatal depression and seems to be here to stay? It seems to ease when I eat exactly zero salicylate-containing foods (the Ss in that link – so, like, nearly all fruits and vegetables >.<) – but avoiding salicylates entirely is murderously hard, and makes me cry over my lack of food options at least twice a week. So – and I’m shocked, this is so bizarre – for now, I’m actually choosing to cope with the nyctophobia, because it’s easier (?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!) than trying to live without salicylates (which I still have to regulate and can’t overdose on, but some is waaaaaay better than none in this instance). And there are other things I can do too which down-regulate the anxiety – making sure I see the chiropractor and exercise properly often enough to keep my joints in place,* getting enough sleep – which, WOW, SO much easier without amines!! So yeah. Just going to cope with that one for now.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, I will obviously do the professional thing and say ‘see a nutritionist who’s experienced with food intolerances’, which is a giant case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. There is also a lot of good information on the Fed Up website, which is based on the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital diet. And as an FYI-relating-what-I-was-told-and-not-in-any-way-shape-or-form-making-medical-recommendations-because-I-am-NOT-A-MEDICAL-PROFESSIONAL-Y’ALL, I was *told* by the community nutrition nurses that Fodmap is the recommended diet for bowel- and digestive-related problems, while the RPAH one is recommended as the first port of call re: elimination diets for people with ‘other’ symptoms (e.g. sinus problems, mood issues, behavioural issues, joint problems, cognitive issues, sleep disruption, skin problems, etc etc etc).

So. Yeah. Food intolerant. It me. It sucks, tbh, but not as badly as, say, being in a coma** or having a life-threatening disease, or even just a life-endangering disease like celiac, which they first thought I had.

And you guys? Wow. This sleep thing that everyone’s been telling me about for the last three decades? WOW. 10/10 would recommend.

Sleep?!!? IS MAGICAL. WHO KNEW.

 

* Anxiety + bad joints (for whatever reason) are actually pretty closely linked, the theory being that when you’re all out of alignment, your subconscious homeostatic brain is aware of this and spends its life running interference to protect your spine/neck from damage – so you’re essentially getting low-grade warning, warning signals from your brain constantly without a logical, external cause that your conscious mind can attach it to, and this manifests as anxiety – generalised and non-specific dread and fear – the feeling that something is wrong without something specific to attach it to. (Of course, there are plenty of other reasons for anxiety too!!)

** I know someone in a medically-induced coma rn. It’s… wow, yeah. If you have prayers/good vibes to spare, they could use some. <3

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical person or a doctor or a thing that is in any way, shape or form qualified to give health advice. I’m simply sharing my own experiences. Don’t sue me. La.

STREA. KING. Also words. And bats! #random.

Behold, the power of streaks, that lures me here to my computer when I really, really, REALLY just want/need to go to bed. BUT I AM HERE AND BLOGGING AT LEAST SOMETHING BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO BREAK MY STREAK, OKAY?

So y’all get insanity once again. Sorry.

Happy today – I finally started When Worlds Collide, Sanctuary Book 3. Only about a month late, but hey – better late than never?? I’m pretty much planning to do NaNoWriMo this year, because I’ll have to to get WWC in on time – still shooting for a late Feb/early March release. Fingers crossed!!

But anyway, after doing SO much editing and proofing and formatting and all so far this year, it’s SO nice to be back doing *actual writing* (TM) again. Actually, I think this is pretty much the first proper drafting/writing I’ve done all year? Whoa. What even is this.

That considered, it’s even HAPPIER that the words flowed well tonight – about 1750 words in about 40 mins, which is pretty much top speed for me! Yay! I love writing Edge – her voice is just SO easy <3 <3 <3

Anyway, I think that’s literally all I can scrape together the brain power for right now, so I’ll leave you with this adorable bat gif that I discovered today and which I’m pretty sure is going to become my lil mascot (because carrier bats and cookies, right?*). And now Imma go snuggle up in a blanket of my own and sneep. I mean sleep. Or probably at this point just eep, let’s be real. Ha.

G’night!

* If you’re not obsessively following along on Twitter, first of all, what’s wrong with you?** and second of all, I don’t know, I just have this THING where if anyone says something that needs a response, it’s all “*loads up carrier bats with health/congratulatory/celebration/writing/editing/happiness/insert appropriate description here cookies and sends them to you*”. Sadly, the carrier bats have a bad habit of becoming waylaid and getting distracted, and rarely make it to their destinations. A few do, though 😉

** WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVE A LIFE????

I’m Only Doing This Because I Promised Myself

See? Streak power at work right here. I had posts for every day last week, so now I want to maintain that. I noted last week that posting once a week was too infrequent for streak-motivation to kick in, but apparently this week-daily bizzo is doing the trick (and let’s face it, the Monday/Friday posts are all prescheduled anyway :D).

So I have things to say and things I thought I’d blog about, but tbh I had like 4.5 hours of sleep last night and I’m fighting off the plague and I’m really all just

right now. So instead you get a random, short, rambly update, I guess about books because… I have nothing else interesting to update you with?

So Sanctuary book three, When Worlds Collide, is officially In The Works. I’ve done a bunch of planning and outlining* and trying to fit together the jigsaw puzzle pieces I’ve left myself in the first two books, and tomorrow I get to actually dive into the writing – assuming I’m up to date with my marking by the time I get home, anyway 😉 At the moment I have it scheduled for release at the end of Feb, but that will depend on me maintaining a moderately gruelling schedule for the next 2.5 months, so it may end up tipping over into March. We Shall See.

And then that wraps up the Sanctuary series, and WHOA OH MY GOSH I WROTE AN ENTIRE SERIES. o.O Y’all have no idea how WEIRD that concept is.

But I’m SUPER excited about what’s coming after that. You might remember that last year I went and stayed with the Twinny One in the US, which was AWWWWWESOME, and that we spent a large amount of time Plotting All The Things, and that one of said Things was the big and tangled novel I have drafted that we detangled, reoutlined, and generally tidied up, filming the whole experience because… why not?

Anyway, yeah, that one. Ferrets and sarcasm and enemies-to-lovers and Mercury, the super-smart, super-possessive, super-snarky, super-SLYTHERIN main character. A bunch of people have read early drafts of this one, and you guys, you are going to love it. Promises. So. Much. FUN.

I’m really looking forward to getting it done and out :3

I’m also super looking forward to some writing courses I’m doing over Christmas, but that’s probably of less general interest! 😀

Anyway, the gloriously savoury scent of roasting potatoes and rosemary is letting me know my dinner is finally cooked, so Imma go deal with that. Food. I hear it’s good to eat.**

Hope you’re having an okay start to your week! <3

 

* I’m not an obsessive outliner, I don’t outline All The Things in comprehensive detail, but I do appreciate a road map.

** This, friends, is called irony, because I have recently learned that I am literally, actually, 100% medically confirmed food intolerant. More on that possibly later this week. *sigh*.