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Updates all around

Here, a selfie apology. (Ignore my hair. It’s a mess.)

Alright, so I know things have been quiet here, but it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride this past month/two months.

First, I had a tooth that decided to go abscess. For those of you who don’t know what that’s like – it sucks. And the pain makes it damn near impossible to sleep. I’m used to going without sleep, insomnia has been a lifelong friend, but combined with the pain…ugh. To make it even better, that was the week when a big paper for class was due. I ended up having to text my professor, letting her know that it was going to be late, and why. Fortunately, I had a very understanding teacher, and she gave me an extension, but I hated to do that.

Then: the company my roommates (and I, by extension) work for had an issue with the fire alarm/sprinkler system, so we were all on fire watch for almost two weeks. Basically, every hour, one of us had to do a round on the property to make sure nothing was on fire. Every. Hour. On top of working – and in my case – schooling.

Add in the end of the school year, both kids being home, finals week, the author interview from the other day, and various other issues that have popped up…it’s just been a nightmare. (Still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my Mondays now that “Lucifer” is gone until next year…)

Not saying there hasn’t been good to go with the bad…I’m finally figuring out Instagram, I’ve rediscovered my love for VIXX (seriously, I’ve turned into a complete teenager over these boys. It’s a bit ridiculous),  and I started work on the proper sequel to Say “No!” to Zombies. 

Ladies and gentlemen, and everything in between or out, I would like to introduce you to Book 2 of “The Survivors Chronicles” (name may change): “Don’t Feed The Trolls.”

I even made you something…um…pretty? Ha. Enjoy. And scroll down for a very short preview. As always, when it comes to Shelly, there is a warning for language.

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Eye can see clearly now…well, damn…

Hey, 1. You can’t say I didn’t warn you people about the eye puns, and 2. Just be glad I haven’t decided to be extra rude, and change all of my “I”s into “Eye”s. I am that much of an ass, I am not even going to pretend otherwise. 3. Dammit, I should’ve used this eye pun for the post about my glasses!

I said before that I would eventually talk about the accident that left me functionally blind in one eye, and I even went over in briefly in another post, but those of you who want the full scoop, here you are.

 

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“Stubborn as a mule” doesn’t even come CLOSE to covering it.            

First off, let me explain: I’ve always had a stubborn streak – and, perhaps, even more importantly a contrary one. Tell me to go left, I’ll go right. Tell me to stop, and I’m gonna run right up and over you. It’s a running joke that I am so contrary, I couldn’t even be born on the day the doctor said I would be. I ended up being born two weeks late. Contrary. And it was the contrariness that ultimately caused me to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

I was sixteen months old when the accident happened. My sister was fourteen at the time, and my brother was eleven. My father was at work, and my mother had been sick all day, so mom put me to bed, and then went to lay down, herself. My siblings were in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher.

Now, here’s where the contrariness comes into play. My mother put me in my crib, and told me to stay thereThree guesses what I did not do. (I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “stay” and ends with “there.”)

The minute they left the room, I was up and running. Climbed out of the crib, and ran right out of my bedroom, into the kitchen. My brother had just taken a glass mug out of the dishwasher, and seeing that a few drops of water remained inside, he did what any 

Image result for old glass mug
The cups were like these, but instead of alcohol, we used them for rootbeer floats.

one of us has probably done in our life times, and tried to shake the water out. He was holding it by the handle, he didn’t swing it wildly, he didn’t smash it against anything, he just gave it one good shake. The cup part of it detached from the handle and shattered…just as I came running around the corner. A piece of the glass cut through the eyelid of my right eye, and went into the eye itself.

 

 

My mom was a huge fan of the old show, Rescue 9-1-1. If it was on, the television was on, and the family was watching it. I’m not a fan of television, in general, but I can’t complain too much about mom’s obsession with that show. The last episode the family had watched happened to feature an eye injury, and thanks to this, my sister knew to grab a cup and place it over my eye, while someone else called for an ambulance.

Obviously, I was too young to remember all of this, and I’ve heard conflicting reports. One person told me I was flown from one hospital to another, and another person said that they drove me. From what my sister says, the paramedics who arrived on the scene wasn’t going to take me to the hospital, but one of them changed their mind, and I was originally taken to Franklin Square Hospital. I was then taken to John Hopkins Hospital (not sure whether it was flown or driven), where the doctors worked to save my eye.

When all was said and done, I had stitches on my eyelid and the eye itself. It’s been over thirty years, so my family doesn’t remember how many, but they believe it was at least seven or eight (maybe up to seventeen, total), and I wore an eyepatch for a while. Later, I visited the same doctor who treated me after the initial accident, and I found out that the reason I can’t really see anything on my right side, is because of a “trauma cataract.”

A cataract, for those of you who don’t know, is basically a cloud on the lens of your eye. 

Retina scans of my left eye (undamaged) and right eye (with trauma cataract). 

You can see it in the image above. The greenish mass that covers the right side of the lens is the cataract. I also have scar tissue, which complicates things a lot. I’ve been told that, even with cataract surgery, I  wouldn’t be able to regain complete vision in that eye, and I am okay with that. I’ve lived with my vision the way it is now for as long as I can remember. Honestly, if I had the surgery done, I think I would be worse off because the constant movement where none had been seen before would just drive my brain up the wall. Besides, the glasses I wear now bring what little vision I have in  that eye, from 20/80 to 20/30, I believe the doctor said, and that’s more than I’ve ever had. I put on these glasses, and I can actually read the clock from across the room with that eye alone. I’ve never been able to do that before. The only thing these glasses haven’t improved is my peripheral vision. Even if I look completely to my right side, I can’t see the edge part of my glasses. Meanwhile, on my left side, I can be staring straight ahead, and see the full rim and the left arm/leg of the frames.

Image result for peripheral vision

On the right side, everything past the Center of Gaze is pretty much gone. At  best, I can see to just before the “N” in “Near-Peripheral” is at. At best.            

Another side effect of the accident is a strong light sensitivity. My right pupil is permanently dilated. Have you ever had your eyes dilated? If you’re over 20, chances are, you have (or at least, you should have – eye health is important, folks!). Now, try imagining walking around like that all the time. That’s how it is for my right eye. Bright flashes of light on that side are physically painful. They’re also mentally painful.

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Left eye.
Normal pupil.

It’s not all bad though, I have excellent night vision. Unless the room I’m in is pitch black, I can easily read a book in a dark room, while everyone else is stuck stumbling around, trying not to trip over their own feet. Also, because I’m so used to the extra flood of light coming in on that side, if there’s a bright light on my left side, I can pretty much just brush right through it. It’s still annoying, but I can manage. On the downside, does the sun really have to be so flippin’ bright? (Kidding, guys, kidding. I science, I promise.)

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Right eye. Deformed pupil.

What’s interesting about this whole thing, by the way, is how the emotional/mental impact caused the accident overshadows my life far more than the loss of vision. Besides my own slight PTSD over the whole ordeal, my family also has suffered. I don’t speak to my brother much, but from what I’ve been told, he still wrestles with feeling guilty over the accident, even though he did nothing wrong. My sister was the one holding me during the call to 9-1-1 and keeping the cup over my eye, so she had my bloody hand prints all over her. She was also the one who cleaned up all of my blood off the floor and calmed my brother down, who was, of course, freaking out. I tried asking her about it, but she can’t put the feelings into words – and considering she’s a writer as well, that’s saying something. I do know she also has a strong reaction to the sound of breaking glass, and she gets jumpy when children are near things that are out of a person’s direct control (people throwing balls, slamming stuff around, etc.).

My mother…her version of the story completely contradicts what my sister and I both were told by our father, so whether she has it right, or due to the trauma of the accident on top of the very recent (at the time) death of my baby sister, she has gotten it all mixed up, I have no idea. Either way, the whole accident had a massive impact on my family that still affects them today.

Muse-ic

For as long as I can remember, music has grabbed me by the imagination and dragged me along for whatever ride the tune decided to take us on. I blame Michael Jackson’s music videos, honestly (looking at you, Thriller, Remember the Time, Moonwalker, etc. ), but the fault wasn’t his alone.

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Anyone else remember these things?

The Kingston Trio must also take some of the blame. Songs like Dorie and They Call The Wind Mariah still take me from this world, and into another where people dance with flashing eyes and wicked smiles around burning campfires. Gue Gue sends me drifting through the bayou, falling asleep to the sounds of frogs and singing crocodiles. I used to listen to Shady Grove/Lonesome Traveler, and think up stories of why the man left Shady Grove and became the Lonesome Traveler.

 

One song of theirs in particular, has always stayed with me, but not because of the music or even the voices, which is usually the case. No, it stayed with me, because it was the first song I could remember listening to that told an actual story. All of the other songs were about love, or losing a love. Little snapshots of time, captured in a tune. South Coast is different. Give it a listen sometime, and you’ll see what I mean (if I try to write about it here, I’ll end up writing a short story to go with it, and…let’s just not do that right now, okay?).

This fascination with music and writing still continues. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gotten more lost in a story I’ve created from the movie’s soundtrack than the movie itself. Even now, I find myself writing to music more often than not, though I have to be careful with what I listen to. If the lyrics are in English, then I get too distracted with the words to pay attention to what I’m writing.

Related image

Meet Gackt. He writes all of his songs, has an amazing way with words…and half the time, looks like he just    stepped out of an anime.                                                    

I’ve tried listening to classical/orchestra, but all that did was either make me sleepy or just tune everything out. A couple writing friends tried suggesting electronica, but yeah. That turned into a big pile of nope for me, too. Some of the music wasn’t bad, mind you, it just didn’t do anything for me, inspiration wise.

So far, the best music I’ve found for me to write to is basically anything non-English. Luckily, I listen to a lot of music from overseas – mostly older J-rock and K-pop, so I still have plenty of music for my playlist. Also, the J-rock singer I prefer tends to be a bit…dramatic…with his music videos. Often, they tell a story (or at least part of one), and that makes me itch to tell one, too. The only problem I’m having with this strategy is that I actually studied Japanese for a good couple of years, so I’ll be listening to one of the songs and I’ll start picking apart the lyrics I can understand. I don’t understand Korean, so the K-pop songs are still safe, but it’s hard to write zombie fiction to songs like “Ring Ding Dong” and “Bubble Pop,” you know? Especially with the death of ShinEE member Jonghyun back in December.

So, for all you TL;DR people: Music gives my stories life, and RIP Jonghyun.

#BatFiles 1 – Distractions

Ah, what doesn’t distract me from writing?

Right now, it’s this blog. And homework. And DC Legends on my phone, Criminal Case on Facebook, and Homescapes on my tablet. There’s also the new wall going up in my room (long story, will explain later), so there’s moving stuff out of my room, painting, moving the stuff back in.

There’s making sure the kids do their homework and chores before my roommates go on vacation, doing my grocery shopping for the week, and getting ready for my vacation next month (yes, I plan this far ahead). Let me put it this way: when I began writing this, my roommates hadn’t left for vacation yet. They’ve been gone a few days now. It has taken me two weeks to write two paragraphs. Oyvey.

Honestly, with life, it’s entirely too easy to get distracted, and we all know it. I try to make myself sit down and focus on just one thing, but unless I’m really feeling whatever it is, my brain goes “SQUIRREL!” and I end up going down the rabbit hole. On the plus side, I learn so much, because the rabbit holes are usually of the philosophical sort, but on the downside, my writing suffers.

I’ve tried every suggestion I’ve been given to keep myself on track and none of them have worked. I have an app now called StayFocusd, and I plan on giving it a try next, but I already know I’m going to end up turning it off. I hate having limits putting on me. My brain goes all “Bring Down the House” Queen Latifah on me and by the time it’s done having its say, my ass is hanging from a bathroom hook at a fancy country club, and I don’t ever want to have that conversation again, either. So yeah, limits are a bad thing.

One day I will find a way to get my brain to just shut up and let me work, but I’m not holding my breath waiting.

#PhotoStoryChallenge – Lonely Roads

Photo by Radina Valova


 

“No.”

“Wait-what?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, have you forgotten how to English? Here: neinnyet, non, iie, bu. Are those any better?”

I looked at Sarah, sitting so prim and proper on the broken down doorstep of a former roadside shop, and sighed. “Fine.” I dropped down to sit next to her and instantly regretted it as my ass informed me that it had found a multitude of rusty nails and sharp pebbles. I grimaced but ignored the pinpricks of pain to focus on the more important pain in the ass. “If not here, then where?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah kicked at the ground, sending a plume of dust into the air. “Anywhere.”

“Anywhere, but here.”

She shrugged.

The customer is always right.’ I reminded myself. Leaning back on my hands, I stared up at the jagged hills lining the road. They tried so hard to look like mountains, but all I could see was a bunch of try hards and failed wannabes. I sighed again and stood up.

“Alright. You win. We’ll try somewhere else.” I shook my head at the grateful smile she sent my way, and headed back to my rental car. I could hear her footsteps as she scrambled to catch up with me. I waited until she was in her own car before pulling off the shoulder, leading her further into the country side.

I suppose, if I was going to pick a place to die, I, too, could think of better places to be killed than on this lonely road.

“Relation-shits” – I love it!

Some solid relationship advice right here.

Hiya friends, welcome back. I’m not really sure how to start this so I’m just gonna jump right in. No relationship is perfect, and the worst thing you can do is compare yours to someone else’s. Whoa, wait…maybe I should back up and start from the beginning. I have a friend who has a girlfriend, […]

via Relation-shits! — The Biblio Feels

New year, Old me.

It’s the New Year, so of course, everyone is making resolutions for the year. Some people are being smart about it, keeping it to things that are actually within reach (looking at you, Nikki ), and to you guys, I tip my hat. The rest of ya’ll are just crazy, and I wish you the best of luck.

Me? My only promise is to still be me. I know better than to try and make any sudden changes, and honestly, there’s not that much I want to change about myself. I’m not perfect, but I am me. I am the product of my life, and I am okay with that.

Now, I’m not saying there won’t be changes (in general), but the changes coming are about me finally getting off of my butt and getting serious about my chosen profession. That means more blog posts (dang it), more writing in general, and less Facebook games when I should be writing (really not liking that one…).

I’ve already gotten started on the more blog posts. I have two more posts about World Building in my queue to get finished, and I have another about Creative License vs. Laziness waiting to be written. There’s life working at a gas station (more exciting than you’d think, believe it or not), and life being a nanny of two kids who are characters all on their own.

For the more writing part, I’ve started work on “Storm Warning” again, and book two in my zombies series, “Blood Runs Black” went live on New Years Day. I’ve also joined the monthly writing challenge over at WritingChallenge.org , along with Nikki over at thebibliofeels. It’s only day 3, but we’re doing well so far. We just have to keep at each other, and that’s not exactly a problem for us.

The Facebook games…ugh. That is the tough one. I really only play one, but then I spend the rest of my time playing The Sims (4, of course) or DC Legends, and those…those are time killers like no other. In fact, I’m pretty sure Time sees those coming and just starts begging for mercy. It never gets any, but at least it tries. The other problem is that when I’m not playing those games…I’m playing Playstation. I don’t have the fancypants PS4, but PS3 has enough games to keep me occupied, and my roommate just added another one (more on that later).

So yeah. No new years resolutions, but a whole crap load on my plate anyway. Ah well. Fun times, amiright?

NaNoWri-NO!

I swear. Every other year, I see/hear about people participating in NaNoWriMo, and I ask myself “why not?” and I decide to give it a try the next year. Halfway through, my word count is at half of what it’s supposed to be (and that’s if I’m lucky), the feeling of failure starts sinking in, and I suddenly remember “oh, this is why!”

know we’re not supposed to get discouraged. I know that every single word, even if we only write five for the whole month is still five more than we had before, but it doesn’t help. Especially when there are people calling out their word counts, and you can’t help but compare theirs to your own and feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

I fell into the NaNo void this year. I am currently about 20k words behind, and Thanksgiving week, when the kids will be home from school starts on Monday. I also have two major assignments coming up that same week, and the week after, during the last week of NaNo. I’m not counting on catching up. I’m pretty much making this post to remind myself not to fall for this again. I’m still writing, don’t get me wrong, but I am refusing to let myself feel bad for not reaching the goal.

For those of you who are participating: Best of luck.

For those of you who are so far behind that you’re about to give up: grab a cup of coffee or tea (or whatever) and join me. We can sit together and enjoy the wooshing sound the NaNo deadline makes as it goes flying by.

The things we realize…

It’s interesting how a random thought can turn into a realization about your entire childhood. A couple weeks ago, someone on Facebook posted about how they liked horseradish, and it got me thinking about my grandfather.

In the entire time that I knew him, and I’ll grant you, it wasn’t very long, but in that time, he never asked me to bring him anything. He would ask my cousins, or my aunts and uncles, but never me, and I think I finally figured out why.

To borrow the good ol’ sports analogy, I was born with two strikes against me. Let me explain…

First, my mother.

My mother is easily the most kind hearted person I know. Sometime early in my parent’s relationship, my mom was helping make sandwiches for lunch. My grandfather asked for horseradish on his. Mom, never having horseradish before, proceeded to slather it on to the bread like it was mayonnaise, and gave it to him. Grandpa took one bite, and spat it back out, yelling, “You trying to kill me, woman?!”

That was strike one.

Then, my sister.

My brother and sister are both 9+ years older than I am, and grew up when my family was especially church orientated. When I say “church orientated”, I mean, my father was a deacon, and my mother was a Sunday School teacher. So it was church every Wednesday, twice on Sunday, and every single day during Revival. This might not seem relevant, but bear with me.

Now, my grandfather liked to drink beer. He also liked to sit in his comfy chair, which left him with a problem: how to get a nice cold beer from the fridge…without getting out of his comfy chair. His solution was to ask my sister to bring him a beer.

Remember the thing about the church? Here is where it comes into play, because, you see, the church taught two major things: respecting your elders…and alcohol is bad. So, grandpa’s solution…became my sister’s problem. Alcohol was bad, but so was refusing to do what he asked her to. Fortunately, my sister has always been smart and came up with a solution to grandpa’s “solution.” She brought him a beer from the fridge, alright. But first, she gave it a good shake.

He made it through the unexpected beer shower the first time. And the second. And maybe even the third, I don’t remember how many times she did this to him before his cogs started turning, but eventually, he stopped asking her, and turned to my brother instead.

I love my sister, let me just get that out of the way now. She is the usually the sweetest little thing. However, she has her moments. And when grandpa asked our brother to bring him a beer? Well, she had a moment. She got our brother, three years younger than her, in on Operation Respect Our Elders/Beer is Bad. It eventually got to the point where grandpa would look around, realize that they were the only two there…and get up out of his chair to go get his beer, rather than risk another shower.

That was strike two.

By the time I came around, grandpa decided it was better to change sports than to worry about any curve balls I might’ve thrown him, and – just to be safe – he also wrote my name on all of the benches…with permanent marker. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, of course, I’m surprised he didn’t take a knife and carve my name into the wood.

At any rate, it’s a childhood mystery solved.

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