Tuesday, January 29, 2013

fogged brain

an eventful ferry ride this weekend landed me in an ambulance Sunday night on a fast trip to the ER.

thankfully, it was nothing really bad, just a series of epic muscle spasms which then tore my ribs out of joint and sent my diaphragm into convulsions.

now I'm pumped full of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories & tylenol 3, a potent cocktail which has zonked me out completely.

sorry to those who have emailed me, as my brain is so fogged it's been hard to reply.

I'll be back when it doesn't take me 11 tries to spell 'muscle' correctly.

seriously... 2013 has been beating me black & blue... I think I'm going to bet on Feb 10 (Chinese New Year) as the day the slate truly gets wiped clean

Friday, January 25, 2013

The raven boyfriend

Growing up, my mom used to tell me stories about her cousin, who kept a pet crow, and a de-scented skunk as pets (they were rescued animals).

Hearing about how cool they were*, I've always liked both crows and skunks, and in the lower mainland**, both are plentiful***.

This particular house on Vancouver Island backs a nature preserve, and is a hot-spot for animal activity, including deer, raccoons, squirrels, birds, and various other critters. I've mentioned this a lot on this blog, but am too lazy (and still too sore from my ribs/etc) to take the time to link to past posts.

Anyways, two summers ago (when we first moved here), whenever I was working outside/landscaping/etc, I always would see these three enormous birds circling overhead which made the strangest variety of sounds I've heard... like a klee klee klooo warbling sound, throaty trills, and screeches.

I had no idea what they were, and were always too high to tell colour/etc, all I could tell was that they were big.

Last summer, there was only one. It would circle around by itself, but as (I think?) it got used to seeing me outside all the time, it started to land in one of the big trees and would call and talk, and I started to talk back.

Unfortunately, the tree is super tall, and has super dense foliage (a conifer of some kind...not pine or cedar though... I'm not sure what it is), so even though I knew the bird was there, I still couldn't tell what kind it was until my mom came over to spend a couple days with me, and she brought her camera which has a super high zoom.

She was curious/confused as I was, because she had never heard a bird like that before, and through her camera, we were able to take a few pictures... and discovered it looked like a giant crow.

Duh, a raven.

But growing up in the lower mainland, neither of us had ever seen a raven before... so we weren't familiar with the sounds it made.

Anyways, the raven is still all on its own... and every time I'm outside, he (I've decided to call it a he) perches in the big tree and talks to me, but he never will when my husband is outside. So it's a joke that the raven is my secret boyfriend ;)

So that's the story of my raven boyfriend ;)

Okay, too much sitting... going to flop on the sofa and ice my ribs... yowch.

* which is why crows frequently show up in my stories
** local term for Vancouver & the surrounding area
*** no skunks on Vancouver Island though... :(

Friday, January 18, 2013

Out of commission

I know, I've disappeared again, and I may be on and off for a few more weeks.

There's a couple reasons for this, one I don't mind talking about, the other... better kept offline ;) Let's just say I thought 2011 & 2012 started badly, each with 2+ near-death scares, including my 8-month pregnant sis-in-law and her unborn child.... the beginning of 2013 has been a roller-coaster adventure of an entirely different kind, but equally exhausting, both emotionally and mentally.

As for the reason I will talk about, I already mentioned in December that I'm getting decompression treatments on my back/neck to fix some old soccer injuries. As the scar tissue is breaking up, the underlying muscles around my spine are very weak, since the scar tissue had locked everything in place.

Currently, 3 of my ribs keep popping out of alignment and grating against my vertebrae. I had them popped back into place this morning, and by the time I drove home (10 min max), I could barely slide out of my truck because the pain was so bad that I couldn't draw in a proper breath.

This is going to keep happening until the muscles are stronger, and the best preventative measure is for me to not sit at all. I'm only supposed to stand, or lay flat on my back. Which, as you can imagine, makes being on the computer more than a little troublesome.

Anyways, please cut me some slack if I'm a little slower replying to emails, or am otherwise out of touch.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hard work, success, and living in the moment

One thing I have always known, is that there is no direct correlation between hard work and success.

You can work hard for years and never succeed. You can also succeed at something with very little work.

That's not to say hard work is meaningless... just that it never guarantees success.

I think my dyslexic is a perfect example. No matter how well I hide it, how hard I try to overcome it, or how smart I work around it, I'm always going to make mistakes. I'm never going to be able to pursue higher-level math, physics, or anything that requires numbers to be calculated correctly. I'm always going to miss things and will often get confused when I'm reading if the grammar/wording is overly complicated. Reading/writing other languages will always be more difficult than for the average person.

Yeah, that sounds pretty negative, right? But I'm not trying to be.

Actually, I think being realistic about hard work/success is essential to one's pursuit of happiness.

Take writing for example. Do you succeed when you get an agent? When you sell your first book? When you hit the bestseller's list? When you go into a second, third, or fourth printing? When you get a 3-book deal? International sales? A movie? When you can quit your day job? Buy a Mercedes, a house, or a cottage on a lake?

When you hit one goal, there is some momentary satisfaction, but it's human nature to ask, "what goal do I strive for next?"

Success isn't a plateau, it's a constantly moving point on the horizon.

If that isn't understood, then I think it's impossible to be happy, because you'll never be satisfied with what you have, with where you are, and with the goals you have already reached.

I think about this a lot, probably more than the average person, because every time I get a cold, or don't sleep well, my ability to read and write becomes compromised. I feel like less of a person when I have to struggle to communicate my own thoughts, or to comprehend the words of another person.

At the same time, it makes me appreciate what I have been able to accomplish, the level I'm able to reach when operating at my best.

That's what hammers home that writing, or truly any goal, isn't like a short distance sprint. You can't reach the goal, win, and that's it. Instead, it's a matter of ongoing, daily dedication, like going for a run every morning, simply because you love it.

I'm not a Buddhist, but back when I was studying comparative religions, there was one philosophy of Buddhism that really struck me. The idea that you should put 100% of your attention, concentration, and effort into whatever you're doing at that moment in time.

I never make New Years resolutions, but if I did, I would try to wake up every morning with that philosophy in mind. To commit myself to enjoying the moment I'm living in rather than being anxious & hungry for future goals, or regretful & dwelling on past failures and missed opportunities.

I want to enjoy every moment, because it will never come again. I want to enjoy writing, not because I want to get published, because I want to be a bestseller, because I want a movie deal or a new car... I want to write because I love it, because I love putting down words, creating stories, and finding characters. Even the times I get frustrated, have writer's block, or am so tired I can't put together a single coherent sentence. I want to savour those moments, because they only happen once.

Sure, it is important to look ahead and plan accordingly, just as it's important to look behind so past mistakes aren't repeated, but the focus should always be on the moment at hand because that moment is the only one which is malleable.

Due to stress and insomnia, I've been offline for more than a week, and I admit, I've been really frustrated at my inability to read and write, but today I kindof made peace with it.

This morning I spent four hours weeding the front gardens, even though it's only 3.0C* outside. It was a beautiful day, crisp & cold, the sky a blinding blue, and the ocean a wind-rippled slate. My raven boyfriend** was in the tree chattering away, and neighbours I haven't seen in two months stopped their car and we talked for a while. There were four bucks wandering around, drinking from the pond and play-fighting each other with their stubby antlers. My fingers, ears, and toes ached from the cold, and the top 2" of soil was frosted so hard, I had to stomp with my boots and whack my shovel to break it up and remove the weeds, but I had fun.

Instead of worrying about the past and the future, I put all my attention, concentration, and effort into what I was doing.

I remembered that every moment is precious, even if it's not a moment of success.

Now, if I can only hold onto that feeling of contentment, maybe I can keep my whirling brain silent and get a decent sleep tonight :)

**Perhaps a story for another time

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Name that cat!

For Project #6, I need to decide on a name for Kell's cat. One of her parents is from the Middle East, so I have narrowed my choices down to these two:

Qarin (qarīn)/Quareen: Arabic for 'companion'

Has two further meanings. The first is a 'constant companion', the Muslim version of a guardian angel, which is unique to each person, the second is a good household spirit that takes the form of cats (or dogs) when the sun is down.

Muezza (Muʿizza): Turkish for 'caring for someone'

This is said to be the name of the prophet Muhammad's favourite cat and there are several tales about her in historical texts, though none in the Quran or the Hadith.

Personally, I think Muezza looks/reads better/easier on the page, since I don't have any intention of including a pronunciation guide... but I like the idea/meaning of Qarin better.

What do you think?

Either name would work, in context of the story, and since it's an insignificant character, but since the names are different genders, I need to pick one and stick with it to keep the he's/she's consistent... no more genderless characters for me :p

...and yes, even I think it's strange that I put way more thought into a cat's name than I do into my main character's names.

...by the way, Kell's appearance was 100% inspired by this very famous photo.

Friday, January 4, 2013


I love the fog. One day I will write a story where fog is a major atmospheric component, but that would certainly lean further out of the Contemporary realm of things, and back into the 'I want to make up my own world, but without magic!' like in "Simon's Oath".

Yesterday morning when I took Eva for a walk on the waterfront, the entire city was smothered in it... Like the buildings were evaporating, shimmering in and out of existence, with odd crevices and windows lit-up by reflected sunlight, ever changing, even just by taking the smallest step.

Here are a couple pictures I took from the waterfront/Seawall... and what's funny is the sheer number of buildings in behind that are completely invisible due to the heavy fog.

(click on photos for full size)
Just for reference, I took this photo yesterday afternoon, so you can see what this looks like sans fog. It's a little park above Harbour Green Park, and it's about 3 blocks from the building I'm in. Eva and I start and end our walks here with tinkle breaks (for her, not me).

 Now, here is how it looked in the morning...

This is normally one of my favourite views because you can see so many beautiful buildings in the background... not yesterday :p And yes, that's Eva at the bottom of the picture... wandering off while I was trying to take the picture.

This is my favourite, unfortunately, my finger slipped over the lens... like my nice red mittens? I love how the light looks like it's bursting out of the windows. Incidentally, I was standing beside the light-bursting-building when I took the previous photo, so in this one, I'm looking back at it.

As a comparison, here's what it looks like yesterday in the afternoon, but from further back :)

This is down at Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour, just a few steps from the small park I posted first. I think this is my second favourite photo of the day, although I'm sure all these pictures would have looked way better if I used a proper camera instead of my phone :) I'm pretty sure all those bare-branched trees are Japanese cherry trees, or maybe they are plum? Either way, in a few months they'll be beautiful!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

(Belated) Happy New Year!

Hey, guys, I know I'm a few days late on this... but I've been stuck in bed with the worst cold ever. This is the first day in over a week that I'm actually out of bed, vertical, and not feeling like I'm going to keel over at any moment*

Well, due to the overwhelming (or underwhelming) lack of responses to my last post, I suppose I shouldn't post any more first draft material in the near future.

The people have spoken! (or not spoken...?)

I'm pretty happy since today the husband is flying in from Victoria (he had to go back on the 26th for work), and we're going to hang around Vancouver for another few days. Since I'm finally kicking this cold, it'll be great to walk around together and enjoy this city we both love.

Anyways, hoping you all had great New Years' celebrations, or at least better than mine :)

...then again, who can compete with going to bed at 7pm, completely drugged up on cold pills?

*For the sake of humour, cold + cold pills + dyslexia = 38 errors/mistakes in writing this short post. And there could be more... those are just the ones I found, heavily aided by the always helpful 'red idiot squiggles'. Hence the reason why I've been suspiciously absent from the online world ;p