social distance diaries: days 310-316

in which I am trying

Day 310, Monday

Back to editing – mostly checking Spanish grammar because this book is very much a book of my heart and that includes Miami-isms and Spanglish. I recorded my first writing Study with Me, which was a good motivator to keep going, It gives me the sort of push I get from going to a coffee shop or the library – if I’m going to all that trouble, I might as well focus.

Migraine started in the afternoon. I could sense it coming – I was too energetic and had that frantic feeling in my chest.

Day 311, Tuesday

Took an impromptu morning trip to South Florida’s most popular strawberry and cinnamon roll destination… a two hour drive for a 5 minute delight, but it made for a nice treat. The drive, not so much. My migraine was much the worse for it and I had to log on for meetings as soon as I returned home.

Day 312, Wednesday

Took half the day off to take my mom to the doctor for a follow-up. Next time, I’ll have her text me when they take her in to the exam room because 2 hours in the sun did not help my head at all. I’m working on Saturday to make up the time and I feel regret coming on…

Day 313, Thursday

Barely slept as the pain worsened over night. I was dizzy, nauseous, seeing massive white spots of aura, and couldn’t lay down or close my eyes without making the pain worse. Spent a few hours with a cold pack over my left eye and a pillow pet wedged under my neck for support (migraineurs have a wide collection of weird pillow shaped things for this very reason). Felt a bit better after lunch, but the pressure still lingers.

Day 314, Friday

Felt ok this morning. Trying to catch up on everything I couldn’t get done this week.

Day 315, Saturday and Day 316, Sunday

Started working on the blurb and detailed plot summary for my current project. I struggle with writing a summary, not because it’s hard, but because I have to wind myself up to do it. It’s been especially hard to find the motivation after taking two weeks off because of my arm. Then, this week was a bust. Consistency is key for my to stay motivated and stop spiraling with doubt.

Worked the weekend chat shift, which was actually a very effective way to force me to focus on all those projects I needed to get to.

Went through my cookbooks for some additional inspiration and made two very nice dinners to share with the boy. I normally donate a lot of my review books, but I’ve built a stash of physical and virtual copies in the last year and they’ve served as a nice break from the norm. Tonight, I let the boy choose the protein and he turned up with skirt steak. Luckily, the latest book I’m reviewing had a recipe just for that.

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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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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 204-210

in which we go to all the doctors…

Day 204, Monday

Was in a meeting where folks were discussing their recent increase in meetings… meanwhile, I have three meeting-free days this month, excluding two days for an online conference. None of those include the two new committees I am now a part of, and none are related to the move to remote. If I was working on-campus, I would still be attending the same number of meetings.

Day 205, Tuesday

I took a look at my schedule and realized I had nothing pressing until after lunch, so I grabbed my ballot and headed to the elections office to drop it off. My vote is in. I hope some good comes of it.

Day 206, Wednesday

Off to the ob-gyn for my yearly wellness exam. She also thinks my arm pain is a knot in my muscle rather than something internal, but I’m still waiting on an approval for the MRI…

Day 207, Thursday

And off to the doctor again for my yearly physical. My OBG and GP are a husband/wife pair and both were open about their views on the current administration’s response to COVID and their personal bout with the virus. Both caught it, along with one their kids. His case was worse (he developed pneumonia and fainted several times), but his wife and daughter developed tremors after recovering. It sounded frightening but weirdly reassuring. Like I too might have a chance… Still, he told me, “keep doing what you’re doing if you haven’t caught it.”

Day 208, Friday

Back to the grind… I blocked out a few hours for a pressing project, but it still wasn’t enough. Spent the night reading so I could away from the screens.

My BF reached the let-my-girlfriend-give-me-an-undercut stage of not being a fool in a pandemic. It was my first time using clippers but it went well!

Day 209, Saturday

Mild migraine rolled in with the storm clouds, but managed to head it off with a low dose of advil. I started laying off the advil after I noticed it was making me retain water in a concerning way, but it’s one of the only pain killers that works for me with some success. Managed to get a few hours of writing in before it wore off, but no rebound headache yet fingers crossed

I used to have regular dessert dates on the weekends, just quick trips to a local bakery for treats and coffee, but those stopped at the start of the pandemic. Today, I took a chance and stopped at one of my old haunts for a small cake for myself and cheesecake for the boy. There were two people eating inside but they left shortly after I arrived, and it took less than 15 minutes, so the risk felt less dire than my recent trips to the doctor.

It was delicious.

Day 210, Sunday

Alternated between writing, cleaning, and paying bills/checking my budget. Decent amount of energy too. Days like today me feel almost normal, which is kind of sad if I think about it too closely.

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social distance diaries: days 197-203

in which we reach the 200s

Day 197, Monday

Checked in with my folks and finally started to feel motivated enough to return to a work-related research project I’ve put off for an embarrassingly long time.

Day 198, Tuesday

And the hormonal migraine came back with a vengeance…

Day 199, Wednesday

What happened on Wednesday? I can’t even remember…

Day 200, Thursday

Wow. 200 days of Working from Home and trying not to lose my head every time I need to go somewhere.

Had an ultrasound this morning to look into a weird pain I’ve been having… preliminary review by the tech showed no lumps, so fingers crossed for the radiologist’s report. I didn’t want to take the risk and “wait and see”.

That said, waking up an hour earlier only made my migraine worse and I needed to lie down when I got home. I would call it rest, but there’s no rest, just an all-consuming need to lay down, slap a heating pad behind my head, a cold pack on my forehead, and a black-out mask over my eyes and lay as still as possible. I felt some relief, but I’m working in the dark now.

Day 201, Friday

Dr. called with my results. Ultrasound was all clear, but they can refer me to a specialist if the pain continues. I’m starting to think the pain is muscular, as it started when I was going to the vet on a nearly weekly basis… heavy cats, already injured, not a good combination. I’m going to try to get to the local orthopedic center to see if it’s muscular. No sense in seeing a breast specialist if it’s a muscular issue. I’d rather rule it out first, if it’s not. (really hoping it’s a simple strain, that would be the best case scenario).

Meetings in the morning, followed by a dentist appointment that I could put off no longer. I have TMJ and my teeth have been experiencing sensitivity. I’ve needed a cleaning since March and have been dreading it. This feels like the safest time to go (cases are down, but not staying down).

More news! The ortho believes I may have torn/sprained my Teres Minor, one of the four muscles that assist in shoulder mobility. He found the spot right away and the description that I found matches what I’m feeling. To err on the side of caution, he ordered an MRI, so I’ll be scheduling that as soon as I hear back from the imaging center. fingers crossed the pain will be the result of carrying too many fat cats with bad form and no worse.

While I was at the Dr’s, I received an appointment to another very important university committee… my second one this week. I like serving, but it’s getting to the point where I’m averaging 7-9 hours of meetings a week and it’s starting to affect my ability to do my regular duties. I requested a meeting with my dean to lay out some realistic expectations going forward, because I can’t see myself doing it all without crashing and burning.

I should also point out that these meetings are not the result of Zoom. TBH, Zoom is an improvement over the uncomfortable seating and lighting arrangements that generally trigger the tightness in my shoulders that starts my headaches.

Day 202, Saturday

Back to writing. I took about a week and half to prep and plan for round three of edits, now that the major developmental/revision round is complete. I started the morning with a migraine, so it wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, but I’m also willing to give myself grace. I worked for two and half hours and managed to stick to my plan, which is a a win.

Completed my vote-by-mail ballot, now I have to find some time to take it to the elections office between the 7.5 hours of meetings I have scheduled this week (so far).

Had a Netflix and tea night and was completely charmed by the Enola Holmes movie. I want more! And I want to read all the books!

Day 203, Sunday

Trying to shift my writing a bit earlier in the morning, so I started at 8 and pomodoro-ed my way through a 3 hour block with 10 minute breaks. I calculated how much time it will take to finish this round if I maintain this pace and it’s not bad. Obviously, that’s an idealized situation. Realistically, there will be at least one week a month when I’m knocked out by a migraine and there will be days when I’m too tired to write after a day of staring at Zoom, but allowing for a few days off, it’s still promising.

Took a quick trip to see mom and gran. We’re seeing a slight rise in cases, but still less than we’ve seen in months. I’m worried about the holiday season and trying to take the time I can to see them before we have to quarantine again. The drop in cases is the only reason I felt “safe” enough to get he care I needed this week without immediately locking myself down.

I made espresso for the first time in a couple of months… that may have been a tactical error.

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