social distance diaries: days 303-309

in which I receive good news.

Day 303, Monday

No cancer! I went to the doctor for my follow-up and received the best news I could’ve desired: no cancer found in the biopsy and no need for surgery. The final diagnosis was enchondroma (the smallest he’s ever seen, according to the resident who gave me the news). I have to follow-up with yearly X-rays to monitor any changes, but it’s rare for it to become aggressive or turn into a chondrosarcoma. Basically, I have cartilage where I should have bone. It’s commonly found when running diagnostics for unrelated injuries, which is how mine was discovered. I’m so relieved that I can set this one worry aside.

This is what it looks like on an MRI [add image]

Day 304, Tuesday

Woke up with renewed energy but it was a difficult morning. Had to take it slow.

Day 305, Wednesday

Feeling a little overwhelmed with projects. Whenever this happens, I make a list, so I whipped out my Daily Momentum Planner pad and made a schedule of activities for the day.

In other news, I bit the bullet and ordered a new, plush chair for my desk. I’ve been using a cheap, plastic IKEA chair for years, and it has served me well, but I’m over it. If 2020 taught me anything, it’s to invest in my comfort.

Day 306, Thursday

Completed a bunch of little tasks that have been piling up for weeks but took less than an hour to complete (my hesitance was the going out part…).

I’ve been feeling dejected about not writing since I wrapped up the manuscript, but I had to remind myself that I literally had minor surgery and an emotional hangover following this week’s diagnosis. I’ll get back to it on Saturday.

Day 307, Friday

Started my morning with cramps and a morning meeting. Sigh.

Signed up for an online writing conference and revision workshop. It’s been too long since I invested in my writing. This will be motivation for the next phase.

Day 308, Saturday and Day 309, Sunday

Completed the initial review of edits I left for future!Gricel (ie. today!Gricel) and caught up on two weeks worth of laundry that I neglected while recuperating from the biopsy. Unusual tiredness on Saturday heralded the arrival of a mild migraine on Sunday.

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social distance diaries: days 289-295

in which I relax and look back

Day 289, Monday – Day 295, Sunday

Second and last week of vacation before returning to my WFH desk life. I took the time to indulge in good food, sweet treats, and time with my partner. There were walks, solo Just Dance marathons, a return to my Animal Crossing island, and a few socially distant explorations.

I started using my new bullet journal and felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I finished draft 3 of my current manuscript. Next step: recruit betas and review the notes I scattered throughout the draft for future fixes (the future is now!).

It was a struggle to revise draft 2; it coincided with the start of my WFH life and the terrible anxiety and depression that marked those early months. Still, I pushed through and finished draft 3 a month ahead of schedule.

In total, I spent 214.62 hours editing and revising (including a major development edit and a thorough revision), spread across 10 months beginning in March. Draft 1 was completed January 2020. In February, I reviewed the draft and prepared my notes for revision. Now, I’m enjoying that brief sense of relief before I dive back into the manuscript. My goal is to query BYCMB this year and plot a rewrite of Anuna (COI), which I stopped querying at the end of 2019 (but that’s a longer story and may become a self-publishing adventure).

I hope you too had an indulgent and satisfying end to what may be the worst year in many of our lifetimes. 2016 was one of my worst years for many reasons, but 2020 is a close second.

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video: week in the life vlog – 12.21 – 12.26

Because I really needed another creative outlet, I’m trying my hand at weekly vlogging… ordinary days at home, kitties, and more.

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social distance diaries: days 282-288

in which we have the best holiday possible

Day 282, Monday

Went to the doctor. Still don’t know what the growth is, but it’s not a liquid cyst, so I’m going in for a CT guided biopsy. Sigh. She’s still fairly positive it’s not aggressive, but I’m starting to consider the very likely possibility that this will be a surgery rather than a watch-and-wait situation.

Because it’s not going to be a regular Christmas, I popped a fresh mask on and went to visit my mom and gran so I could hand them their presents. I sat by the door and recorded them from a distance. There is a very real chance that this will be the last Christmas my grandmother is lucid enough to sit up in a chair and chatter along, even if she no longer has control of her vocabulary.
It’s been a melancholy year.

Day 283, Tuesday

In light of the fact that my dad is also dealing with a cancer diagnosis, I masked up again and sat outside his building to give him his present. There’s a dog park in his building and some long, shady benches, which make it easy to spend some time with him at a safe distance, though I’ve been loathe to take the risk in the last few months (not that the people who live with him have been taking similar precautions, I’m always worried for him).

Day 284, Wednesday

Today was for me. I’m nearly done with the current draft and might be finished by the end of the month at this pace, so I focused on writing for much of the morning despite a lingering pressure headache that refuses to go away.

I’ve been recording my days for a week in the life vlog, so that’s been a fun side project. I also uploaded a new Study with me/Write with me video that I recorded last week.

Day 285, Thursday

Happy Christmas Eve! Noche Buena to mi gente. Normally, this would be a night for family gatherings and dinner with my loved ones, but this year I’ll be doing takeout with the boy in a well ventilated space. I’ve been buying takeout at least a few times a month to support local businesses and give myself a break from cooking and cleaning. My diet has been more varied and experimental than ever, which I enjoy, but the cleaning is the worst.

Day 286, Friday

Happy Christmas! It was a different sort of Christmas for us all, but a lovely day overall in my experience. The boy rigged a screen up in his yard so we could watch WW84 while keeping our distance and I baked a cake for both of us to share.

We recorded a special episode of the podcast all about our cozy favorites that aired as this year’s Christmas special. You can find it at The Bluestocking Circle.

Day 287, Saturday

Back to writing. Lots of cleaning (I purchased the WORST cat litter ever and it keeps getting on EVERYTHING. I’ve had to vacuum every day this week).

Day 288, Sunday

Another day of writing and taking care of stuff around the house. Edited a collection of clips for a week in the life vlog that will be going up soon. Follow me on YouTube for updates.

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social distance diaries: days 268-274

a day late because Sunday was a DAY

Day 268, Monday

Back to work so I recorded a “study with me” work from home video :). It’s chatty in the middle, because this was entirely unplanned, but I might make some no talking videos in future.

Day 269, Tuesday

Because I was inspired by yesterday’s video, I recorded a “day in the life” vlog. I briefly considered trying Vlogmas this year, but I really didn’t need another daily project while editing and working…

Day 270, Wednesday

MRI done and, since I was in the area, I popped into my local(ish) Asian market to treat myself to all kinds of stuff (only two of which I was actually there for)… It’s like a Target run, but tastier.

Since, I was on a roll… I recorded a haul 🙂

Day 271, Thursday

Woke up at 2am in a panic because something was obviously burning in the area and the smell of smoke filled my bedroom. Searched all over and woke up my BF just so I could be sure it wasn’t the office downstairs that was on fire.
It was not.
But, yikes, was that scary. My heart goes out to all the folks on the West Coast who lived through the recent fire season. It’s terrifying! Of course, the smell and interrupted sleep triggered a migraine and I was still experiencing side effects from the MRI. Not a fun day. Ended up needing to call it quits when my dizziness made it impossible to work.

Day 272, Friday

Back to the lab to drop off my mom’s specimen (see vlog for first lab visit). We will speak of it no more.

I was craving Argentinian croissants (media lunas) and fries, so I indulged in both (separately, of course). Unlike a French croissant, Argentinian croissants have a sweet glaze and what I suspect might be cream (perhaps cheese?) in the dough.

Day 273, Saturday

In an unexpected turn of events, I slept in until nearly 9am, something I haven’t done in ages. Somehow, the cats’ meowing wasn’t enough to drag me out of bed. I suspect I needed it after so many days of migraine.

Did some writing and started the de-cluterring project that I’ve been putting off for months. First to go: all the bras that don’t fit the way they should. I am OVER uncomfortable bras.

Day 274, Sunday

No extra sleep today. I woke up in the middle of a weird nightmare and was too rattled to get back to sleep. Early start to my writing session and a bit more decluttering. I might document some of it, but so far I’ve cleared out paper clutter, an old toaster, and some perfumes that I’m giving to my mom to rehome. My old vacuum will be going with them and the bras I culled yesterday.

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social distance diaries: days 261-267

in which we try to balance things out

Day 261, Monday

Back at work and feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s a feeling I often get when I return from any length of time off, had to remind myself to tackle each project one at a time. I’ve done this before; I can do it again.

Had some bad news in the afternoon. More of a complication than an insurmountable challenge, but still troublesome. My insurance rejected my MRI approval, so I had to make calls and hope the doctor’s office can figure things out. Otherwise, I’ll need to submit an appeal and/or pay $300 out of pocket to get it done myself. I’m grateful that I’m in a place where I can afford it (there were years when I couldn’t and went into debt), but I don’t want to pay it unless I have no other choice because I’m not sure what co-pays are going to look like going forward with treatment.

Day 262, Tuesday

A productive day. Taking it slow, listed all that I have to do and created a time block schedule to feel more in control. It worked!

Day 263, Wednesday

Spent an inordinate amount of time trying to create a password according to the rules for my insurance provider’s new website. I don’t how someone who is older and/or not tech savvy is going to figure out their rules. Ended up having to use a generator and modify to fit their crazy requirements. Finger crossed that I submitted the appeal to the right place because whoever designed their new portal has no knowledge of user experience.

Day 264, Thursday

Just a regular workday. Nothing new, nothing different.

Day 265, Friday

Did proper groceries (in a store!) for the first time in weeks. Woke up at the crackiest, crack of dawn to get to Publix before anyone else decided to go shopping, which worked, but also left me drained for the rest of the day and feeling pretty meh about all the stuff I needed to get done.

Received some late night good news: my MRI was approved!

Day 266, Saturday

Back to the 4-hour writing schedule I set up during vacation. Finished another chapter and have 100 pages to go before this draft is done! I’m excited to get through it and the edits are getting easier now that I’m past the section that needed extra attention. I have a list of details to work through before I send it to betas, but I also have to recruit betas… so there’s that. (Note: If you’re interested in reviewing an angsty friends-to-lovers romance set in Knoxville that features a bi-racial, Cuban-American heroine, comment below or use the contact form to email me!)

Day 267, Sunday

Another writing day. I’m nearing the 300 page mark, which means there’s less than 90 pages to go! I’m starting to really believe I can finish this draft by the end of the month. What joy! I even spent some time organizing my character boards. No one looks exactly the way I picture my characters, but I curate features more than people.

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social distance diaries: days 254-260

in which I am a productive potato

Monday – Sunday

Took a week off to write and think and spend time with myself, sometimes with the boy, every day with the cats. I wrote for four hours every day, except on Sunday, when I only wrote for two hours around a migraine that started in my neck. I completed 32 hours and 57 minutes of editing for the month (excluding any edits I get done tomorrow), reaching 22,983 words for my NaNo goal (I regularly track hours and pages, but added words for this month), and totaling 141 pages (72 of those during my break). This progress wouldn’t have been possible without this time off; I missed too many days due to headaches, grief, and medical appointments this month, but I’m proud of myself for getting through it.

Still no updates on my shoulder, still waiting for my MRI to be approved. Hoping that will happen this week. Thanksgiving was a simple dinner outside with the boy and a cake that continued to feed me for breakfast into the weekend (I’m a cake for breakfast sort of gal).

Enjoyed lots of walks and several naps. I look forward to my next break in December. After no real breaks since March, I needed the time to disconnect from work mode and experience my home as a home again.

Happy late Thanksgiving to those in the States. Stay safe!

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social distance diaries: days 247-253

in which I still don’t have any answers…

Day 247, Monday

A long, emotionally difficult day. Met with the orthopedic oncologist. She thinks it’s likely benign but may be a wait-and-watch or a get-it-out situation. I have another MRI scheduled for Monday and a follow-up right before Christmas, so all possibility of quarantining/testing in time to spend a day with my parents is out the window. I’m not willing to risk it for their sake.

Late in the day, I learned that my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He doesn’t know the stage yet, but he has several chronic health conditions and clinical depression, so this is sending him into an understandable spiral. I won’t know more until he has further examination. I just hope they caught it early and it’s not advanced.

I bought sushi and rugelach for lunch and dessert. That was the small bit of joy I found in my day.

Day 248, Tuesday

A day of meetings and trying to cope. I took the day off writing; I just couldn’t get into the right headspace.

Day 249, Wednesday

Intended to catch up on missed writing, but managing one block was all that I could do. There have been so many emotional setbacks this year, it’s been hard to celebrate the progress I have made when there is so much yet to be done.

Day 250, Thursday

Cases are ridiculously high in the state, and my county in particular. My mom has to go to the doctor’s office for a required checkup next week (medicare requirements), so I’m going to have to visit despite my wish to stay away until I’m through with my own medical needs. Sigh. My gran needs someone to watch her, but I plan to keep my distance while I’m there. Another pandemic complication.

Day 251, Friday

All my meetings got cancelled, making it the perfect end to my week! Set up my auto-reply and called it quits by 3pm. I’m on vacation next week, which really means I’m going to be writing without worrying about emails or meetings for 5 days.

Unfortunately, my MRI appointment was also cancelled… well, put on hold at least. Stuff happened and paperwork was missing, so my approval was delayed. I’m desperate for a real diagnosis and the fact that our hospitals are overrun is not reassuring.

Day 252, Saturday

Started my morning with a latte. I impulsively ordered a milk frother/warmer earlier this week and it arrived on Friday. It was a lovely start to my break.

I haven’t made as much progress with my edits this month (so far), but I also realized that two of the 5 chapters I planned to edit were EXCESSIVELY long and needed to be split. I’m about half-way through the book and just about to hit the second part of Act II, so my pace might start to pick up along with the action (I hope!). Regardless, I’m on track to finish by January at this pace, making it through 3 drafts by the end of the year and getting ready for betas note to self: recruit betas.

Day 253, Sunday

Today turned into a life reset day. Trying to get all the errands out of the way so I can focus on my writing goals this week. I normally write for an hour a day before settling down to work, and two hours on the weekends. Sometimes, I manage an extra hour in the evening, but evenings tend to be for movement and self-care (re: avoiding migraine triggers). My goal is to clock in for 4 hours every day this week. fingers crossed It’s been a long time since I’ve had the stamina to revise for 4 hours.

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social distance diaries: days 240-246

in which there are distractions…

Day 240, Monday

Woken at 5 by one of those horrifying weather alerts. Nothing to get you out of bed like an alarm blaring by your head. The first time I ever heard one of those, a tornado swept down the road, so I respect the warning.

Tried to get back to bed after feeding the cats, but a second alarm came an hour later. Gave up and got my hour of writing in before my energy flagged.

Had the day off from work, because storm days are South Florida’s version of snow days. TBH, it felt like the storm days when I was a kid and got to stay home from school. Obviously, I’ve been home from school for a while, but the lights are on and the flooding isn’t as bad in my town as it in others, so it was a nice break from the grind. One city reported 17 inches of rain overnight and power was knocked out for thousands; I’m grateful I didn’t have to deal with more than an alarm.

Day 241, Tuesday

Back to work and catching up on projects before meetings. Managed to get my laundry done between the rain storms.

Day 242, Wednesday

Had the day off for Veteran’s Day, but ended up having to take one of my mom’s cats to the vet. Luckily, nothing major, just a UTI, but there went my day.

Day 243, Thursday

Every fall for the last 5 years or so, I’ve hosted a high school class at the library and taught them how to do research. Because of covid, this year’s session was online and I had to adapt my resources to freebies only, since they won’t be allowed to visit the university. About 30 minutes before the class was scheduled, I started to feel the first warning signs of a migraine. Managed to keep it at bay with some advil and a cold pack, but it rebounded with a vengeance.

Day 244, Friday

Migraine all day. I took it easy because it was hard to look at a screen. Attended meetings and showed my face briefly when called, but not much energy to get involved.

Day 245, Saturday

Migraine peaked around noon and improved by 3pm. FINALLY. One of the weird side effects I get is uncontrollable hunger coupled with an upset stomach (fun), so I was starving all morning but also feeling nauseous. Good times. Anyhow, I was craving cake and went to my usual bakery, forgetting that it would be packed during lunch time because people keep eating in restaurants. It took less than 15 minutes to get to the counter, but I must admit, it felt riskier than anywhere I’ve been in the last few months. Hoping my mask/filter and the fact that I was there for less than the suggested time for exposure was enough.

Podcast recording in the afternoon, which was a real treat. For the curious, you can catch the minisode here.

Day 246, Sunday

Feeling more myself today. Caught up on sleep and spent the morning writing. It feels so good to be able to focus without pain stabbing at my head and neck.

Going to the oncologist tomorrow, hoping for some sense of direction.

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social distance diaries: days 233-239

in which we weather several storms

edit: I got the numbering wrong in the first post and have updated the days.

Day 233, Monday

I finally got some sleep after the cats started to tolerate each other. They’re not friendly, but no one will attack. Locked them out of my room and hoped for the best… woke up to find an unexpected victim: one of my jade plants was knocked from the sill, smashing the pot. Luckily, it was decorated with washi tape, which held the pieces close enough to prevent further destruction.

It was a long day.

Day 234, Tuesday

Kept busy all day to keep from thinking about the election… Obviously, received reports from my friends as soon as the numbers started rolling, but I disconnected fairly early and went to bed.

Day 235, Wednesday

Early start to my day with a visit to my endocrinologist for my yearly checkup. All is well and any weirdness with my headaches, cycle, etc, is unrelated to my thyroid (though, must admit, these have improved in recent months).

Still tensely watching the election results and hoping for something positive.

Day 236, Thursday

Waiting along with the rest of the world. This week has been extra productive as I a) hold the existential dread at bay and b) clear my to-do list for a partial day off on Friday to celebrate the boy’s birthday (and by boy, I mean my partner not some secret child, in case anyone is confused). He doesn’t know this (yet), but I’m making mini cheesecakes as a surprise. Making rather than baking because they’re pressure cooked! I’m so excited to taste them, but have to wait until tomorrow.

Trip to the doctor was not as reassuring as I had hoped. Need to see a specialist.

Day 237, Friday

The verdict is in! Instant Pot cheesecake was a success! It takes just like a baked cheesecake, except the crust isn’t crisp (that can be remedied with a blind bake, if you really like a crisp crust). I tried a piece (screw my lactose intolerance) and was very pleased. Will purchase a few more spring forms for Christmas treats. – for the curious, this is the recipe I used from Little House, Big Alaska.

In the process of scheduling a visit with an orthopedic oncologist. As per usual, I had to figure it out by myself because my doctor referred me to the wrong kind of oncologist.

Day 238, Saturday

Prepping for the story by charging ALL the things–laptops, switch, backup batteries, cute but surprisingly functional kitty lamp. I’m sticking it out at home because I don’t want to stress the cats and I’ve been to too many doctor’s offices to feel comfortable staying at my mom’s.

I’ve been finding joy where I can – celebrating Joe and Kamala, enjoying takeout with the boy, and sneaking up on one very alarmed cat.

Day 239, Sunday

Stormy weather started around 10 am. Brought all the plants in because the succulents DO NOT appreciate a soak.

All day rain and dramatic gusts, the scariest part has been the horrifying flood alert from the county. So grateful that this wasn’t a worse storm but the flooding is pretty bad based on reports.

On a side note, the weird foot fetish stalkers have emerged again. I post one shoe review and this nonsense starts.

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