“L” is for “Losing Sleep” – An A-to-Z Blogging Challenge Post


For the A-to-Z Challenge 2017 I’m writing all about myself. Every post will be some random fact or bit of information about me that you may or may not have already known. Maybe you’ll learn something! Feel free to let me know! ^_^

I know the way this one sounds, but it’s actually not going to be about anxiety or stress or anything like that (although they may play a part, depending on how you look at it).

I lose a great deal of sleep on a regular basis, and it’s all because my brain evidently refuses to switch off. Now, I have no problems actually falling asleep. Unlike my husband – who needs something like a TV show to distract his brain so he can just zone out and eventually fall asleep – I can go from fully awake to out cold in just a few short minutes. Falling asleep has never been my problem.

My problem is the dreams. 

Now, I’ve never had a sleep study or anything like that done, so I can’t rightly say that the dreams themselves are the problems, or if they’re just a symptom of my body refusing to sleep properly, but one thing is clear, and that’s the fact that I spend a very large amount of time in REM sleep. I’ve complained for years that I spend all night every night dreaming, and subsequently had people scoff and inform me (as though I’d never heard this information before) that we only actually dream in the few minutes that we spend in REM sleep, but what I’ve learned through specialized devices and apps that monitor your sleep, that “few minutes” for me is more like “a third of the night”.

I have blockbuster full-length motion picture dreams, you guys, and I’m not even exaggerating. My dreams feature a huge number of characters, intricate plots, and a flurry of emotions. They are extremely detailed and extremely vivid. I’ve written down dreams that took a dozen pages to fully explain, and I’ve woken up from dreams absolutely devastated by the events that unfurled because I was absolutely convinced they’d actually happened. I’ve had dreams that made me feel like weeks passed in the time I spent asleep, and I’ve had dreams that absolutely exhausted me, both emotionally and physically, to the point that I’d swear I never slept at all.

The best part, however, is that there’s basically nothing I, or anyone else can do about it. Sleeping pills are a common suggestion, but those drugs are specifically designed to put you to sleep. They do very little to actually keep you asleep, which is where my problem lies. I drift in and out of my sleep cycle, spending more time in the “practically awake” phase than in the “deep asleep” phase, and I’ve been told flat out that there is nothing currently available that addresses that particular issue. So I guess, for the foreseeable future I just continue to lose sleep on a regular basis.

At least the dreams are good writing fodder. 🙂

How do you sleep? Any troubles at all? Any outrageous dreams? Feel free to leave a comment!

Goals and Aspirations in Review – February 2017


February is the shortest month in the year, so one would be forgiven for feeling as though it just up and disappeared in a breath and a blink. Therefore I won’t spend too much time talking about how I swear to puppies it was February 1st just yesterday. Instead, let’s jump right into the details. How did February go for me?

I hate that I’m having to admit this again, but February was an even worse month than January for writing. Looking back at last month’s post I realize that I didn’t even give you guys any numbers, so I’ll rectify that now. In January, during my epic, EPIC writer’s block episode, I wrote a grand total of 4396 words, most of them for a handful of blog posts. During February, I wrote a grand total of 1468 words, ALL of them for a handful of blog posts. That could hardly be more pathetic if I was actively attempting to be pathetic.

THAT SAID…I’m giving myself a bit of a pass for this month, because it’s not like I wasn’t doing anything. I spent a large portion of the month going through final edits for “The Other World: Book One”. I took all the notes from my beta-readers, fixed a number of typos and small issues, and began a final read to make minor changes where I felt they were needed. Because of this work I am currently only a couple of chapters away from having a completed manuscript, and as soon as my cover artist has his bit ready, I’ll be prepared to upload everything to CreateSpace and order my personal copy to ensure that everything looks good.

So yeah, I’m gonna let myself off for this one. JUST for this month, I swear.

Mini-Goal #1.a. Publish more erotic fairy tales.
This mini-goal has been put on a temporary hold, in part because of that huge stint of writer’s block in January and in part because of everything I just previously wrote. I haven’t got back around to finishing the current story I’m working on because I’ve been focusing my energy instead on “The Other World”, which I consider to be much more important. Be assured, however, that I’m very close to finishing another of these tales, and I’m confident that I’ll have half a dozen or so up by the end of the year. *fingers crossed*

Mini-Goal #1.b. Start writing blog posts again.
No excuses for this one; it simply hasn’t been happening. I do still want to start writing blog posts again, but for now, since I’ve got more important stuff I’ve been working on, I’m just worrying about catching up on sharing my YouTube videos. Once I’ve actually got to a point where I’m sharing the videos as they’re being posted, there will be lots of empty days available where I can possibly start writing actual posts again. *fingers crossed again*

Mini-Goal #1.c. Find ways to promote the book.
This is not going well. Someone help. Please. Seriously. I have no idea what to do.

In all seriousness though, I am at a bit of a loss. I can’t afford to spend money on things like advertisements and the like, and other options I’ve found aren’t currently available to me (I’ve been patiently waiting to be able to do a Goodreads E-Book giveaway, but it’s still only an option for those in the US). Any suggestions would seriously be deeply appreciated.

#2. Get healthier.
Um…what? Why do I do these things to myself? lol Okay, okay, I’ve been trying, I have, but more in little stints than reasonable leaps. I’ve been trying to drink more water, although I can’t cut out the coffee and tea without passing out multiple times a day, and I’ve been attempting to eat more fruit and veggies, but god DAMN candy is so tempting. 😀 I’m not complaining or making excuses, I swear, I’m just…not very good at being healthy. lol I’m trying though, I promise. I really am. I’m even starting a 30-day program this month that basically trains you to be able to do long stints of push-ups, squats, crunches, and lunges. Wish me luck!

Mini-Goal #2.a. Walk/run 10k 8k 
steps per day.
If you read last-month’s post, you’ll know that I’ve lowered this particular goal from 10k steps to 8k, as suggested to me by my saucy, saucy FitBit. Unfortunately it seems as though lowering the goal has only served to create a situation in which I lower my output as well. Throughout February I only had four days on which I hit the 8k goal, and my overall average for the month was only 6635 steps per day. That’s sad, really.

Now, in my defense, there were a few days on which my steps were not recorded properly because my stupid FitBit has been dying a lot quicker lately for some reason, and occasionally I won’t notice that it’s conked-out until I’ve lost half a day’s steps. But even considering that, I doubt my true average was any higher than 7000 steps, which is still frustrating. So with that said, this month I’m going to do my best to take an actual walk each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes of going up and down my street. I have got to get those numbers up before I become a completely sedentary blob.

Mini-Goal #2.b. Take daily “me time”.
I’m actually wondering why I bothered to include this as a mini-goal, since I’m not actively attempting to record anything for it. I have nothing to report, really, other than that I think probably succeeded for the most part? I’ve had several nice baths, some solo shopping, and usually I spend at least a few minutes a day just laying down and watching a couple of YouTube videos, so I think we’re pretty good with this one.

#3. Work on my online presence – specifically, YouTube.
This is another one that’s hard to quantify, particularly through February, because there was a lot going on, some stuff to catch up on, people to talk with, packages to send, and so on and so forth. We didn’t film and upload as many videos as I’m sure Jason would have liked us to, but I don’t think it was as bad as all that, considering a number of different factors. That said, I’m still working on a few things, and if I could get my mood under control it would be a lot easier to focus on this goal in the future.

Mini-Goal #3.a. Learn to respond immediately.
This is one for which I can honestly say that I’m getting a lot better. There are still the occasional times when I’m out shopping or driving and can’t get back to someone immediately, but I’ve been putting a lot of focus into making sure I get back to people asap before I forget about them. I’m regularly responding to emails, personal messages, YouTube comments, and so on as soon as I catch wind of the opportunity, and I’m happy with the progress. Now if only the people I’m talking to could manage the same courtesy. ^_~

Mini-Goal #3.b. Focus more on daily social media.
I’m still working on this one, but I’m definitely getting better. I’ve been focusing mostly on Twitter, but also trying to throw a few extra things on Instagram here and there. Facebook is still slow because, honestly, having a Facebook Fan Page is a little extraneous when all your followers have you on the more active social media outlets as well, but I’ve been trying to throw some extra fun stuff in the Basement Geeks group as a way of socializing more. Still a bit behind on SnapChat though. I just can’t get really INTO that one. 😛 

Mini-Goal #3.c. Come up with new video ideas.
And last but not least…you know what? I’m not even going to try to bullshit you guys on this one. I have absolutely not been coming up with new video ideas. I’ve been focused too much on the other fifty things going on. So let’s just not even bother. I’ll try harder in the future. 😛

So that was my February, and honestly, as I was writing this post I realized that it wasn’t all that great, but I’m okay with that. February had a lot of issues, but I still managed to get a fair bit done, and it has served to steel my nerves for March. I’ve got plans and determination, and I’m confident that next month’s post is going to be a much more positive one, so I’m going to focus on that. 🙂

How was your February? 😀

August Goals in Review


We are into September, ladies and gentlemen, and although I do have a few good things to mention, I’m going to go ahead right now and admit that it has been a stressful, headachy month, so let’s just jump right into it, shall we?

Goal #1. Take good care of myself, specifically by walking 10,000 steps per day and taking at least 15 minutes per day to do something fun/relaxing.

This, right here…just no. This was a really, really bad month for this goal.

Okay, I’ll admit that the steps part wasn’t all that bad. I did manage to have nine 10k step days and about a dozen other days that were extremely close to 10k but just didn’t quite make it. On the average I walked 8509 steps per day, although that number isn’t exact because my FitBit actually crapped out on me and I ended up losing two days, so I had to estimate based on what I remembered seeing those days. (Sidenote: after a long and arduous troubleshooting session with FitBit they did, in fact, send me a replacement tracker).

The other stuff though? Man…I did not take care of myself this month, and to be honest, I was a ball of stress most of the month. I only managed 21 days with “me” time, and most of that was just watching Sailor Moon at the end of the night at camp while half falling asleep. And it wasn’t actually for lack of trying so much as it was completely forgetting to even try. I’ve been so busy, so tired, and so supremely stressed out (have I mentioned that yet?) that on several days I just flat-out forgot to try to have a few minutes to myself. It’s been absolutely ridiculous.

One thing that I’m trying for September is just to write a few paragraphs in a journal every day. It’s not going to be a useful journal with anything that will ever be shared; the whole point is basically just going to be to get stuff off my chest, even if it’s just to my computer, so I can hopefully breath a little afterwards.

So that was that.

Goal #2. Build more readership/viewership by putting more focus and energy into my blog posts, shooting more fun YouTube videos, and putting more effort into self-promotion.

Strangely this was probably the best goal of the month. Jason and I did lots of fun videos, including a Facebook-only live event that we called “Pops & Shots” (spoiler alert: I got really, really drunk). I also began contacting possible sponsors/partners in an attempt to make the YouTube channel more viable and have new content, and I’ve already managed to hook three subscription box companies into sending me a free box to review. One of them is even running a giveaway along with the video, so hopefully that’ll bring me some new views and subscribers.

On the book side of things, I finally got the new cover and summary up for “Nowhere to Hide“. If you’re looking at this blog from the actual blog and not the WordPress Reader, you’ll see that I’ve updated the theme to reflect this fact. I’m not sure I like it, but I wanted to have my one published book be a defining feature of the blog, so feel free to tell me what you think. And, of course, check out the book! I’ve been sharing it on different social media, and several of my lovely Basement Geeks have already picked it up, so that’s pretty awesome, although it looks like sales are stagnating again. I’ve set up my first ever ad campaign through Kindle, so fingers crossed that that goes somewhere.

Goal #3. Write as much as I can, including writing an entire novel from start to finish.

And finally, there’s this goal, which is almost never where I want it to be, but on this particular month it was just absolutely pitiful. There was just no time! I couldn’t find moments to write, never mind genuine chunks of time. All in all I managed to write a grand total of 3279 words this month, which – I’m not absolutely positive, but I think – is my worst month so far this year. That in itself is extremely depressing, and is definitely one of the subjects of my stress. At least most of the words I did write were fiction, but still, that’s so pitiful. Most serious writers have that kind of word count in a DAY, never mind an entire month. Gah. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore.

So yeah, long story short, that was my month. It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, although I’ll definitely admit that the marketing side of things isn’t going half bad. But seriously, if anyone has any ideas as to how I can get 2-3 fewer hours of sleep each night without turning into a howling, emotional wreck, that would be extremely helpful because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

And with that said, I’m off to try to relax for 15 minutes. 😛 What was your month like?

Horrible Bosses

Memoir Mondays

I was thinking the other day that, while the majority of my job gives me a raging headache and makes me want to leap off a bridge (don’t worry, I’m just – mostly – kidding), it’s also really nice to have a boss (my immediate lead) who I can joke around with and say pretty much anything to. He’s the kind of guy who, if I think he’s being a raging moron, I can actually tell him so and his response will pretty much always be, “Fair enough.”

Unfortunately we’re not always lucky enough to land with the kind of boss whom you can consider a buddy. Most of the time we end up with the most rotten apple on the tree, or at the very least, people who are vastly overestimating their importance in the grand scheme of things. Today I thought I’d share a few stories about some of those bosses – the ones that make you wish you could go back in time and kick them in the shins.

The first one who comes to mind was the woman who was the manager when I worked at the ferry terminal restaurant during high school. Now, I’ll grant that at that age most of us are whiners who don’t even want to be working in the first place, but this woman was completely unreasonable. She was the kind of boss who expected you to always, always, always be doing something productive, and if she caught you standing around for more than twenty seconds she’d flip out. The real problem with this was that whether or not we had any customers relied entirely on whether a ferry was coming in or going out, so there were long periods of time when there was simply nothing that needed doing. I can remember one day washing every table and window in the place twice because there were simply no customers, and still getting scolded for leaning against the ice cream counter for a minute or two.

This same woman also asked me to stay late one shift because the ferry had been delayed and the rush would be coming in right after I left. I explained that I couldn’t because it was already 11:30 pm and my “new driver” license didn’t permit me to drive between midnight and 5 am (something she damn well knew). She threw a total hissy-fit about how I was abandoning her and wasn’t taking my job seriously, so I asked her if she honestly expected me to risk getting a ticket or losing my license for a temporary, part-time, minimum-wage job. She said yes. I didn’t stay.

Another power-mad nut that I worked for was the manager-to-be of a new Walmart. We were basically given an empty building and the task of putting together the store, and this woman made the job as miserable as it could possibly be. Whenever anything went the tiniest bit wrong, she basically called us all morons, even thought it was often stuff that was completely beyond our control. For instance, the shelving units didn’t fit right because the person who’d designed the inner layout hadn’t properly measured the dimensions of the building. Somehow this was our fault and we were berated for being to stupid to pull several feet of floor space out of our asses.

She would also yell at us for doing things the wrong way, but usually couldn’t explain how she expected us to do them instead. For instance, she once screamed at me for stepping up onto a pallet to grab a box of product. She said it was a safety issue and that if I fell between the wooden slats and broke my ankle she’d deny worker’s comp. But, she couldn’t offer me an alternative method of retrieving the boxes. If I’d stood outside the pallet I couldn’t even reach them, and even if I’d had longer arms, picking up a 30-40 lb box with your arms fully extended is definitely a recipe for back failure. I tried to explain this and she just stalked off, screaming about how I wouldn’t be getting worker’s comp.

But the worst thing I ever saw this woman do didn’t actually involve me, but a coworker. This seventeen-year-old girl’s cousin had just died in a car crash, and she was asking for a couple hours off in the afternoon to go to the funeral. This evil woman replied with, and I quote: “A cousin isn’t a close enough relative to be asking for time off. You’re staying the full day.” Considering that I grew up so close to my cousins that they were like brothers and sisters, I never forgave her for that comment, and I still hope someone snapped and punched her right in the goddamn nose after I left.

The Liquor Store was actually a half-century job, and the boss wasn’t so bad, but there was one thing he did that I’m still annoyed about even ten years later…he just stopped scheduling me for shifts. He didn’t fire me, he didn’t lay me off (so I didn’t get employment insurance), and as far as I know he had nothing against me personally, but he just…stopped scheduling me. And I never got any explanation. As far as I know I could still actually be on the books as a part-timer if that particular location was still there. The whole thing really frustrated me though, because at the time I was going to university and had to pay rent and bills, so I had no choice but to find another job, and I never got any kind of closure as to why.

My boss at the call center wanted us to flat-out lie to customers. Our contract was with a particular satellite radio company, and whenever the customers had questions about the products or service quality she would expect us to fabricate complete BS to make the company sound flawless. For example, if a customer asked about coverage in big cities like New York (spotty at best because the high-rises block the satellite signal) she’d expect you to cheerily insist that the radios will work without fail anywhere in North America. My personal favorite moment was when I got a caller who’d had not one, but two radios completely crap out on him. He had a lifetime plan (one-time charge of about $500) and the way those worked was you could only replace your radio (for any reason, including breakdowns) up to three times, and then the plan would be void and you’d have to purchase a new one. This guy was justifiably upset because he’d already used up two of those replacements in less than a year, so he asked me if other people were having the same problems. I told him, honestly, that the particular model he’d been dealing with seemed to have the highest number of issues across the board and that perhaps he’d like to try the slightly-more-expensive model that seemed to be a lot sturdier and more reliable. He agreed to try it out and thanked me for my honesty, but unfortunately it turned out that this particular call was one of my monitored ones. Within seconds of disconnecting the call my boss was at my desk, scolding me for daring to speak ill of one of the company’s products (despite the fact that I’d gotten him to purchase a more expensive one instead). She went on to explain that I’d probably lost the company money by saving this guy from having to repurchase his lifetime account sooner when another radio inevitably died on him. I thought that was one of the sleeziest things I’d ever heard, although since this particular company’s billing system would double-charge people at complete “random”, I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised.

And finally, a more recent boss (who shall obviously remain nameless) once told me, in more roundabout terms, that he kept me around through the previous round of layoffs because I make a damn fine secretary. Now, I’ll grant that this guy comes from a culture in which women are inferior, and a superior’s underlings are, in general, considered to be “lesser”. But, I still thought it was pretty damn inappropriate considering that I’m a red-sealed instrumentation technologist with a university degree and ten years experience who just happened to be helping out a bunch of slobs who couldn’t keep track of their paperwork for more than ten seconds. So…yeah.

Honestly, I could probably easily make this post twice as long, but I think I’ll stop there for now because you don’t want to use up all your good stories at once, right? Right.

So what do you guys think? Do these bosses deserve a boot in the arse, or am I being too sensitive? Have you ever had any bosses like these? Have you ever snapped and told one of them off? I’d love to hear about it! Help me to retroactively live vicariously through braver employees than myself! 😅


Doctor Knows Best…But Not Necessarily

Memoir Mondays

What are you experiences with doctors?

When I was a kid, up to when I was a teenager, I had the same general practitioner as my mother. First it was a doctor who was well-meaning but occasionally a little scatterbrained (he once gave me an antibiotic that I’m allergic to and I reportedly got one hell of a rash), but I barely remember him because we switched doctors before I’d had too many reasons to visit one. The second guy was pretty great, to be honest. He was the type of doctor that figured a lot of things were best solved via exercise and proper eating, but he was also intelligent enough to understand that sometimes there actually is something wrong with you that requires drugs. I liked him a lot.

When I moved for my first post-university job, I didn’t have a doctor at first because they’re not easy to find in Nova Scotia (too few of them to be able to handle the aging population, never mind the rest of us poor schmucks). Luckily, the paper mill had a doctor who came right onto site once a week to allow us the chance to see someone if required. I spoke to him a few times throughout my time at the mill, although it was mostly just for simple stuff like a common cold or needing my birth control refilled.

However, eventually, I went to this particular doctor with a couple of complaints, and it mostly went downhill from there. I had a short list of things that had been bothering me, and without pretty much any preamble at all he concluded that I was depressed and handed me a prescription for antidepressants. I was a bit shocked, to be sure. First off, this guy is a general practitioner, not a psychiatrist, so the fact that he came to the conclusion of “depression” after a five minute discussion was more than a little surprisingly. Not to mention the fact that I was pretty certain myself that I was not depressed. I had bad days, sure, and there were the few things that I was complaining about, but “depressed” seemed like a major overreaction to me. I tried out the antidepressants anyway, because at the time I figured what could it hurt, but I didn’t find they had any kind of reaction what-so-ever, which helped cement my belief that I had never actually been depressed in the first place. Soon after I was planning on trying for a baby, so I just stopped taking the meds and didn’t think of them again.

After my daughter was born I had another frustrating run-in with that same doctor. At about four or five months old she had become constipated, which is always a big concern for new parents. After a few days had passed I brought her in to see the doctor and after confirming that she wasn’t apparently in any kind of pain or anything he told me to “just give her some prune juice”. A few days after that I brought her in again because she still hadn’t gone and he repeated the advice without barely even looking at her. The third time I brought her in it had been over a week since she’d gone and I was justifiably getting very concerned. He told me the same damn thing. I actually almost lost my mind and practically screamed, “She won’t swallow the goddamn prune juice, so what f*%ing good is it?!”

(P.S. She did eventually go on her own, in the middle of a Shoppers Drug Mart over half an hour drive from home, but that’s another story.)

Eventually I began traveling out West for work, and with that came a whole new team of medical staff because each oil sands site has it’s own med center in case of emergencies and the like. While at a job in Cold Lake I developed a bad cough and took myself up to the med center. The guy who saw me told me that I’d probably developed it as part of a cold, that it was viral, and that I’d just have to wait for it to go away on its own. This was a little frustrating since the major part of my job was talking on a radio to the rest of the crew, but I figured there was nothing for it. By a few days later I had all but lost my voice – I had to practically scream into the radio in order for anyone to make me out – and I began coughing so hard that I twice had to sprint to the bathroom because I was starting to gag and almost threw up all over the control panel. When I returned to the med center I saw a different doc, and this one was aghast at how horrible my throat looked. She told me it was basically raw, was definitely bacterial, and that there was no way it would have gotten better without a round of antibiotics. The first guy is lucky he’d gone on his days off because I was ready, willing, and able to murder him.

Around the same time as that fiasco, I’d begun to develop my stomach problems and anxiety. I’d always had minor stomach problems, but they’d begun to grow exponentially as a result of the anxiety, which was growing exponentially as a result of the travel situation for my job. Our camp was an hour (one way) away from the site, and the bus they provided us with was this crappy refurbished school bus…in other words, no toilet. I spent two hours a day on a bus, surrounded by about forty coworkers (ALL male), without access to a toilet. And it wasn’t as though we could just stop any time I needed to…about five minutes down the road from the site was a gas station, and from then on it was 50 minutes of wide open fields. There were barely even any trees on that drive, never mind somewhere with a restroom where I could get the bus driver to stop. So I started developing this major panic-attack reaction to the bus. Whenever I knew I was going to have to get on it, I’d wind up running to the bathroom three or four times, only to sit my ass on the bus and immediately feel like my innards were just going to come pouring out of me. I did this every day, twice a day. Sometimes, when we were sitting in the bus line waiting to leave at the end of the day, I’d actually have to get up, run off the bus, sprint to the nearest building, and then try to move as quickly as possible to make sure I got back before it was our bus’s turn to leave. Eventually my worst fears came true and I actually did have to ask the bus driver to stop in the middle of the road in the middle of the drive because there was simply no way I was going to make it back to the camp. I was extremely lucky that we just so happened to be right outside some of the only trees on the entire drive, so it wasn’t nearly as mortifying as it could have been, but believe me when I say it was still pretty mortifying.

After that incident I went to see my GP again – the same antidepressant-and-prune-juice guy and explained the situation and how my guts had been reacting as of late. The main thing he told me? “Well, you’ve clearly got IBS, and it’s just something you have to learn how to deal with. Don’t worry, I’m sure the bus driver will stop for you whenever you need to.”

Yeah…sure. Never mind that the overwhelming majority of that drive is wide open field without so much as a road sign to hide behind. Never mind the humiliation of a bus full of coworkers knowing exactly what’s going on. Never mind the fact that, a few months later, it would pitch black during those bus rides and we were driving through bear country. Yeah, never mind all of that.

I had a similarly tear-jerking situation when I went to see a gastroenterologist about these same stomach issues. After extensive testing he concluded that there was physically nothing at all wrong with me and that my problem was that I was panicking myself into stomach issues, and that I should just learn to calm the hell down. It’s really quite amazing that I managed to step out of that particular meeting without blood on my fists.

Since then I did manage to get some anxiety medication out of my GP, although in the end I found it did me more bad than good (ironically, it seemed to be negatively affecting my digestion), and I’ve had several smaller annoying run-ins with different doctors in the outpatients department at our local hospital. Long story short, one of them scolded me for not blowing my nose enough when I got a sinus infection (at the time my nose wasn’t stuffed, so what the hell was I supposed to be blowing?), and three separate doctors all tried to give me antibiotics that I’m allergic to, despite the respective triage nurses always being careful to write that info in the admissions forms. I’ve come to the conclusion that all the doctors at that particular hospital have gotten together and are actively plotting my death.

So, you see, over the years I haven’t had the greatest luck with doctors. I was very lucky during childbirth…although none of the regular doctors were available at the time I ended up getting one who really knew what she was talking about and was very skilled with the forceps, which prevented me ending up with a Cesarean section…but that was the exception to the rule of “try to screw over Tracey as much as possible and/or make her cry tears of pain and rage”.

So you might understand why I’m not particularly looking forward to the appointment I have with my GP later today. See, lately I seem to be like a strange science experiment, ridiculously prone to infections. Since August I’ve had eight of them; four different types, with two of them being recurring. Antibiotics help, of course, but they come with their own sets of problems and shouldn’t be overused due to the possibility of developing antibiotic resistance. So the short version is that I’ve got to figure out why I keep getting infections so that I can stop them instead of just constantly treating them. And that’s a conversation I have a bad feeling about, since antidepressant-and-prune-juice GP loves to jump to conclusions within the first two minutes of the appointment.

The funny (frustrating) thing is that the docs who first diagnosed the first infection I got back in August are really awesome ladies. They work at the med center at my current job on the oil sands, and they’re super smart and super good at what they do…but, unfortunately, the med center isn’t equipped to deal with everything. They have painkillers, stuff to wrap cuts, some equipment for monitoring purposes, and that’s about it. In a real emergency you have to hop in the ambulance and head off to town, which is not something you have the choice to do when it’s non-life-threatening. So, long story short, there’s nothing they can do for me there, other than suggest things that I should do when I get home. The question is, when I go in to my GP today and tell him I need these tests, is he going to go ahead with that or try to shove another totally random prescription at me? I guess we’ll just have to see, but I have to tell you, at this point my hopes aren’t all that high.

What’s in a Name?

Memoir Mondays

Today’s post comes thanks to The Daily Post, whose “Say Your Name” prompt asks us: Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

The story of my name is pretty simple and boring, to be honest. My understanding of it is basically that my parents hadn’t settled on a name, but when I was born my dad officially chose “Tracey”. My middle name – “Lynn” – is the standard go-to attachment for a first name that ends in “-cey”, and there you go. Tracey Lynn Clarke is what I was for the first 25-ish years of my life.

What is a little more interesting is how I felt about my name growing up, and how it has affected me as an adult.

I wouldn’t say that I hated my name when I was a kid, but like many other kids I wasn’t particularly fond of it. Kids just tend to dislike their names for some reason…I don’t know what it is, but I guarantee you the majority of people reading this agree with me. I always felt that my name sounded boring. I was a kid who read a lot, played video games, watched lots of TV, and “Tracey Lynn” just seemed terribly unoriginal to me as a result. I would have preferred something more regal, or something that sounded heroic. I’m sure I thought of a thousand other names I would have liked to have instead. Or, sometimes, I would think that perhaps I could add something to my name. I already had a middle name, but I knew several kids who had four parts to their name and I thought that maybe I could add something to make the name in general sound more interesting. Once, on a school project in the third grade, I even signed my full name with an extra bit: “Tracey Lynn Marie Clarke”. I couldn’t possibly explain to you why I thought “Marie” would make my name sound cooler, but I’m sure it made sense at the time.

There was one other reason that my name made me twitch when I was a kid: for years I was known as “Tender Loving Care” because of my initials, and that drove me nuts. I was fortunate enough to go through most of elementary school with a classmate with those same initials, but his annoyance didn’t exactly damper mine. I wondered more than once if my parents had picked those initials on purpose, because it seemed like the kind of silly, cutesy thing new parents would do, but I’m quite confident that’s not how it went. It was just the luck of the draw.

Eventually, once I’d grown up, I learned to love my name and I began to realize that wishing for a more “unique” name was a bit silly. These days there are lots of “unique” names out there, and the kids who have them are often much worse off than I ever was. I’ve known kids with names that no one would ever possibly figure out how to spell, kids named after popular characters who have since fallen out of pop culture (thus the name just sounds weird now), and kids who are named after ever day objects, places, or events that sound nothing like a goddamn name.  And it’s kind of a sin. I’ve often wondered if some parents even take two seconds to consider the ramifications of the name their choose for their child. Such as a young girl my cousin taught named Abcde. No joke. It’s pronounced “Absidy”, and I would have accepted that spelling, but her parents chose to use the first five letters of the alphabet instead, and so that poor kid regularly has people staring at her name in confusion, like it has to be a typo or someone forgot to delete the “template” name on a form.

Anyway, I’ve gotten off track. The point is that these days I’m perfectly okay with my name, but there is one small annoyance that still pops up on a regular basis: my first name, which is what I’ve always gone by, is androgynous, and in the work world that means that everyone automatically assumes I’m a guy. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve checked in to the work camp that I live in while I’m on shift and had them line me up to share a bathroom with a man. This wouldn’t be an issue if the bathroom doors locked properly (they purposely made them easy to jimmy in case your neighbor accidentally locks you out while they’re gone), but it’s also a simple matter of logic. They may book me thinking that I’m a guy, but month after month they neglect to actually, you know…LOOK at me when I’m checking in. Eventually I had to call up our booking agent and have her permanently change my name in the system to “Tracey-Lynn” to avoid this issue, but believe it or not it still occurs on occasion, because I work in a male-dominated field so everyone’s mind defaults to, “Tracey is probably a guy”.

Maybe I’ll change the spelling to “Traci”. Pretty sure I’ve never met a guy with my name whose spelling looks like a porn star’s. 😛

Dear Asshat:

There will be no “Flash Fiction Friday” today because I felt like getting this out of my system. Enjoy!


Dear Asshat on YouTube,

It’s a bit humorous that you appeared on my channel only about a week after my blog post about dealing with people like you on YouTube. Humorous enough, in fact, that I thought I’d go ahead and write this little letter to you to share the mirth with my loyal (and significantly less asshat-ish) followers.

You swooped in on one of my videos like an emotional time bomb, not content to simply rage directly at me, but also intent on spreading shrapnel to my viewers via rude replies on their comments as well. You were quite worked up, it seemed, about my decision to purchase 15 of the GameStop Black Friday Funko Mystery boxes back in November. That’s nothing new; plenty of people got a bit frustrated with the fact that I’d chosen to buy so many of the boxes (despite the fact that, as I’d explained, my particular store STILL had boxes over a month later, so I didn’t exactly keep anyone from managing to get one). However, while some people definitely got upset, defensive, and sometimes even a little mouthy and rude, your comments were a new kind of ridiculous.

You didn’t just get angry at me for buying so many boxes: you called my very character into question in the weirdest way I’ve ever seen. You called me a number of names and slurs and implied, to my complete and utter confusion, that spending so much money on my “stupid hobby” must mean that I get a huge baby bonus or that I’m on welfare. I can’t even begin to explain how stupid that sounds and how hard it made me laugh. Do you understand how things like welfare work? Also, did it never occur to you that, hey, maybe I can afford to spend a lot of money on my “stupid hobby” because I (*SHOCK*) have a good job? I know, totally hard to comprehend, right? Crazy-sauce, even. That totally couldn’t be it. No way.

I got a good chuckle out of your strange and unfounded accusations, and at first I was going to do what I usually do and simply ignore you, because there is clearly no sense in arguing with someone who jumps right from “she spends a lot of money on something frivolous” to “she’s totally on welfare”. But then I noticed that you continued your tirade on the comment threads of several of my more reasonable followers who weren’t being assholes. And in those tirades you implied that I am somehow a bad mother because I (*GASP*) spend some of my money on something that’s not directly related to mothering. THE HORROR. My daughter totally must be traipsing around in soiled hand-me-downs and subsisting on two crackers and a glass of water for each meal because I choose to purchase collectibles on occasion. That’s a totally reasonable jump right there. Excellent detective work, Sherlock.

Ah! Shit! Proof of my complete inability to love and raise a child! Get it away!   GET IT AWAY!

I could have left the comments up; I’m sure that either my husband or some of the followers whose comment threads you raped would have gotten pissed of to rip you a new one. Or I could have ripped you a new one myself, because lord knows you certainly deserve it for slinging unwarranted insults at someone you know nothing about. But you know what? It’s not worth it. It’s not worth letting the comment section of my video devolve into a bar-room brawl over this, because your poor attitude and strange, unreasonable slights show me that you’re clearly an emotional wreck who needed to take out a great deal of frustration and anger on a total stranger.

So, congratulations! You’re the first person to ever have not only one, but a large number of comments deleted from my YouTube channel, and if you feel like dropping by again I’ll be ready and waiting to report you for abuse. Cheers! And here’s hoping that you manage to find the anger management course that you so desperately seem to need.

Love and kisses,
Your Friendly Neighborhood “Stupid Bitch”

Write a Blog Post for Tuesday? Fine, Okay, Sure…

Traveling is exhausting. Who’s with me on this one?

I was majorly lucky to be able to take a large amount of time off over the holidays, but now it’s time to get back to work, and by the time you guys are reading this post I am probably already completely fatigued because of the damn travel. Let me paint a picture for you guys…

I have to leave my house sometime in the late afternoon/early evening on Sunday; kisses and hugs from the little missy and them I’m on the road for approximately two hours in order to get to my parents’ house, which is significantly closer to the airport than my house.
I have to wake up at 3 am. No one should ever have to wake up at 3 am.
At 3:30 am, once I’ve managed to make myself look somewhat human, I get a ride to the airport, which takes about half an hour.
I slug through security and a coworker friend and I try not to pass out while waiting at the gate.
We hop on the first plane, which is about a 2-1/2 hour flight to Toronto.
We’re usually in Toronto for a half hour or less before our next flight starts boarding, so no time for silly things like food; just a quick trip to the bathroom and a jog to the gate to board the second flight.
Said second flight is a 4-1/2 hour flight to Edmonton.
We arrive in Edmonton somewhere between 10:30 and 11 in that time zone (keeping in mind that Alberta’s time zone is three hours behind ours at home, so we’re three hours more tired than you’re imagining we should be). We then get to hang around in Edmonton until 3 pm.
At approximately 3:15 pm we hop on a charter flight that takes us on a one-hour trip North to land in the oil sands.
We arrive at an air strip in the middle of nowhere and have to wait anywhere between fifteen minutes and an hour for our bus to come.
The bus takes us on an hour drive down mostly dirt road to our camp.
If we’re lucky it takes about half an hour to check in and get our luggage and be in our rooms.
All total, from waking up in the morning until flopping down in a camp bed in the evening, it’s approximately 17 hours of travel, and since I had to get up at 3 am I’m running on something like 4-5 hours of sleep (IF I slept well, which I usually don’t).

And what’s really amazing? That’s not the worst…on the day we go home it’s a significantly longer trip, running approximately 22 hours from leaving site to arriving home.

The point is, traveling is exhausting, and I find it really rather amazing that I can think after one of these days, never mind write a poignant and interesting blog post. So you’ll excuse me if I just curl up and pass out on the computer right about n-


Can I Have a Do-Over Once My Body Stops Destroying Itself? (An IWSG Post)

IWSG badge

So here we are, with the first Insecure Writer’s Support Group post of 2016. I had plans for this post. I intended to talk about how I’ve got high hopes for 2016. I was going to tell you all about how I’ve learned from several mistakes, gotten myself a little more organized, and have every intention of kicking ass when it comes to my new goals. I was going to tell you about how I plan to finish a mostly-done novel this month before starting on a new one, which I plan to have completed by the end of the year. I was going to tell you guys that this is the year of Tracey. I’m going to get this nonsense figured out, and I’m going to be a mother, a wife, an instrumentation technician, and a writer, all at once, dammit.

I was going to tell you guys all of that. And then I got sick. And the truth is that I just don’t have the goddamn energy or happy-go-lucky attitude required.

I didn’t write any fiction at all in the first couple of days of the new year because I was trying to get ahead of a few blog posts and get some other thoughts down on paper, but by day 3 I was intending to get hard to work on that almost-finished novel, before I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Runny nose, sore throat, achy body…your standard cold fare. I’d also not had that much sleep the night before, so I kicked hubby out of bed, sent the kid downstairs with him, and just melted under the covers for a while. I got little to nothing done that day or the next, aside from helping to put the Christmas decorations away in a half-awake medicated state. I thought to myself, surely this won’t last that much longer? Even though my throat hurt every time I swallowed I’d managed to keep myself from coughing too much, so I wasn’t destroying it like I usually do, and I’d been getting lots of rest and “relaxation”, so surely this was going to be over soon, right?

But then, yesterday, something weird added itself to the list of maladies: my jaw started to hurt. And I don’t mean it ached a little…I mean, there was this pain radiating up through my jawbone and right through all the teeth on the left side of my head. It felt like I’d suddenly sprouted half a dozen improperly-aligned wisdom teeth. I thought it was something I’d done without realizing it – maybe I’d been grinding my teeth or something? – but I didn’t think too much of it…until this morning. This morning I woke up with another, much worse, symptom: an earache that felt like someone had jammed a railroad spike through my head. Ladies and gentlemen, I consider myself to have a fairly decent pain threshold – I mostly just cursed like a sailor when I broke my toe, and I survived the first 13 hours of back-labor without any drugs – so believe me when I tell you this hurt a LOT. I shipped myself off to outpatients, where I sat for almost two hours goddammit, trying my very best not to burst into tears, until finally a doctor looked at me and informed me that my head is basically pressurized with fluids because my nasal cavities are so narrow that it can’t all come out unless I force it to. In other words, I waited for two hours for him to tell me to blow my nose…a lot.

That wasn’t the best part though. No, the best part was the after-effect of my head’s desire to hold in as many fluids as possible. Turns out I developed not one, not two, but THREE separate infections…simultaneously. And since I’m allergic to amoxicillin, the antibiotics I was eventually given (which I have to take for an entire week, by the way) are a type that are known to cause gastrointestinal distress. Because, ya know…I don’t have enough of that to deal with all on my own.

So, long story short, I’m feeling a little bit down in the dumps today, both physically (obviously) and mentally. I’d planned to start 2016 off with a bang, getting myself all organized, setting some perfectly reasonable goals, and finally sitting down to do some real writing, and now this has happened and it’s taken pretty much all of my energy to sit down and write this post (while snuggled in bed with a wastebasket of used tissues next to me and a mini-Magic Bag on my poor ear).

So you’ll excuse me if I don’t have much good to say today, no pearls of wisdom or hopeful, “fingers crossed” kinds of sharing. Mostly I just want to curl up into a ball, watch Doctor Who, and pray that this thing buggers off before I have to get on an airplane to head back out to work. -_-

Thoughts on the “War on Christmas”

A while back I made a post on my Facebook account that got a lot of “Likes” and comments, and one friend in particular told me that I should share the story in question on my blog as well. I thought that today would be an excellent day to go ahead and share that story, given that we are only one day away from Christmas and my household is all a titter with childish excitement.

So here’s what happened…
Several weeks ago, during one of my shifts out West, it just so happened to be the Indian holiday called “Diwali”. One of my coworkers – who is a Canadian citizen, born in India – took the opportunity to bring in a traditional Indian sweet to our team’s morning meeting, and then he handed them out with a cheerful “Happy Diwali! to each of us.

In the morning meeting that day there was a wide variety of people. There were mostly Caucasians, but also a few people from areas in and around India, not to mention one of our leads who is from Australia, and one of our DCS techs who is from the Philippines. The ages in that room ranged from 27 to approximately 60 years old. There were two Atheists, two non-practicing Catholics, a practicing Christian, two Muslims, and several people who don’t make a point of talking about their faith. There were men and women from different parts of the country, different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different belief systems, and different viewpoints on life.

And do you know how we reacted to the offering of a sweet and a “Happy Diwali”? We took the treats happily, enjoyed them, thanked our coworker, and then happily listened to him explain just what Diwali is all about. When our morning meeting was over we went about our day as coworkers and friends who now had a little bit more knowledge about someone else’s background.

It’s really as simple as that. No one screamed about the “War on Christmas”. No one shouted about how he was trying to convert us, or yelled at him to go back to his own country. No one rolled their eyes or said anything rude or called him names for pushing a holiday that we don’t celebrate on us. We acted like human beings, grateful for a treat and a request to have an excellent day.

The tradespeople have it, ladies and gentlemen, that’s what I think. Say what you will about us, but we’re decent human beings who accept one another and treat each other with respect.

So let me ask you this: can we not all adopt this mentality? Can we all not just turn off that hair-trigger-switch that wants us to get offended about anything and everything and just enjoy the fact that many wonderful holidays are being celebrated at this particular time of year? There is really no need – no need at all – to lose ours minds when someone wishes us the “wrong” happy holiday, or says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, or when a coffee shop changes their “holiday”cups (*cough cough*). A good wish is a good wish, no matter the exact word, no matter the exact denomination, and any decent person would never reply to “Have a great day!” with anything other than “Thanks, you too!”

So if someone wishes you a happy ANYTHING, maybe try smiling, shaking their hand, and sending the good wish right back at them, because there are a lot of things in this world worth getting upset over, but being wished a good day is definitely not one of them.


Happy Whatever-You-Do-Or-Don’t-Celebrate, everyone! ^_^<3