My First Book Club Meeting! (Mostly Dead Things, By Kristen Arnett)

Mostly Dead Things
By Kristen Arnett

My sister’s family visited DC from Texas not too long ago. After a very hot morning wandering around Mount Vernon (the historical site, not the neighborhood), John and I took them to Virtue Grain and Feed in Old Town Alexandria for lunch. My sister suggested we check out the bookstore right next to it afterward, and I am SO glad she did!

I discovered three things on that visit. 1. Old Town Books is cute and fun. 2. They have book clubs! Which I decided immediately to join. and 3. They’e hosting an Emerging Writer’s Festival in August (that I knew I HAD to be part of).

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I’ve actually been meaning to read more fiction for a while now. I generally gravitate toward nonfiction books, usually history or self help. If I DO read a fiction book, it’s probably a Tamora Pierce novel or historical fiction set around the English Renaissance (Tudor Times are MY JAM), or maybe Jane Austen. I also regularly act in Shakespeare plays, although I’m not sure how much that counts towards reading. But since I’m writing fiction now, I clearly need to read more of it. I wasn’t sure where to start though, which is why I was so happy to learn about Old Town Books’ book club! I figured this was a perfect way to discover new fiction and make new literary friends while also overanalyzing stories (which is one of my favorite things).

My first meeting was this last Saturday! This is the first book club I can actively remember going to, honestly. And it was delightful! We discussed “Mostly Dead Things,” by Kristen Arnett. It’s a wonderfully wacky book about how a family moves on after their paternal figure’s suicide. He was a taxidermist, as is the narrator Jessa-Lyn, and the book explores this craft in a really fascinating, realistic, and occasionally gory way. The narrator’s mother starts to work through her grief by making art in the form of sexually explicit taxidermy scenes, which leads to her meeting an art gallery owner and creating her own full art exhibit. The narrator ends up in a twisty relationship with the gallery owner, Lucinda, and shenanigans continue from there. It’s also a beautiful exploration of the nature of grief and family. It’s a tough read at times, just because it’s so emotional and raw, but I really enjoyed it and I greatly enjoyed talking to other book fans about it. My friend Arielle came along with me and we had a good time!

Also there was a dog. A DOG. All bookstores need dogs.

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The author Kristen Arnett joined the meeting after a bit and we got to ask her some questions! She had some really thoughtful answers. She also talked about how she fit her writing into her life with her full-time job as a librarian - basically, she committed to writing 1,000 words every day Monday-Friday. She didn’t have to write on the weekend, but if she did, that was cool too. I’ve found this mindset really inspiring and have made a similar commitment in my own life (using the Momentum habit tracking app).*

Afterward, Kristen signed books for everyone. She had the coolest way of doing so too - she put hearts into various portions of the title on the title page! I really appreciated the extra effort she put into making the autograph experience more unique and it gives me ideas for the future. :)

I can’t wait for next month’s meeting! I haven’t figured out what the book is yet, but I keep checking their website obsessively and someday I’ll know!

*I previously used the Habitbull habit tracking app, but I switched to Momentum to save money. It’s a very similar set up and only cost $5-6 instead of the $20 per year for Habitbull.

Feeding the Kitties + DIY Reusable Wet Wipes for Cleaning Up After Them

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I currently have three cats residing in my house. Two are mine (Schrodinger and Ziggy Stardust) and one is a long term guest who’s hanging with us until his owners find a place to live where they can have him back (Martok).

Every morning, I feed them two cans of wet food (generally Friskies). One or more of them had some diarrhea issues earlier this year, so I now mix a scoop of probiotics into each can (I do all this prep work in the basement bathroom with the door closed so they don’t try to eat it while I’m serving it out!).

I then divide this food up into an automatic feeder (linked below) which goes off numerous times throughout the day and one extra bowl (so that they all don’t just scramble at one serving). I’ve been using this automatic feeder system for a few years now; it ensures they get some of their favorite food throughout the day at various times and also keeps them from associating me /too/ much with food. This has really helped reduce early morning wake up meows. I also take care not to feed them /immediately/ after I wake up.

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I should note that they literally always have some dry food so it’s not like they’re starving. I put a cup of dry food into their food tree every morning. The food tree (linked below) works really well for slowing down their eating and reducing “scarf and barf.” It also provides a bit of a challenge for them so they’re not just mindlessly eating all day.

Right after putting their wet food out, I put one of Schrody’s pill-pocket-and-capsule-covered-Prozac pills into whatever container he’s scarfing that day. I also put a squirt of salmon oil over his food, to help him with his senior cat joint pain.

As an ADHD cat owner, I’m not always the GREATEST at remembering to do things like, clean the cat bowls (they’re nowhere near the kitchen and I use them daily so it’s a little inconvenient to figure out when to do it). It’s much easier for me to remember chores when I make it super convenient and simple for me though, so for quite a while now, I’ve kept some wet wipes down stairs in the cat room to wipe out all the cat bowls and containers on a regular basis.

Recently though, I’ve been really trying to reduce the amount of waste in our house (thanks to the By the Book podcast episode on “Zero-Waste Home”), so I decided it was time to stop buying wet wipes. They’re really not good for the environment. Adam Ruins Everything did a segment at one point on why these “flushable” wet wipes are actually TOTALLY NOT flushable and how they wreck havoc on our plumbing systems. They also aren’t biodegradable.

So I made my own reusable wet wipes! It was super simple and they’ve worked really well as a replacement. In addition, the vinegar in it disinfects the bowls and helps keep the kitties healthy.

DIY Reusable Disinfecting Wet Wipes

Materials:

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Bambooee towels (we’ve actually used these for years now; they’re a great replacement for paper towels. John still insists on keeping power towels in the house for SUPER big messes, but we rarely use them at this point; our use has gone WAY down). OR Extra cloth rags
White vinegar
A container with a lid to keep them in.

  1. Use scissors to cut the bamboo towels/rags in half, so you have a nice little pile that’s approximately the size of your usual wet wipe.

  2. Stack the rags all in a Tupperware container.

  3. Pour white vinegar over them all. Ensure all the towels/rags are completely soaked. If there’s a bit of excess vinegar in the bottom of the container, it’s not a problem.

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And that’s it! I’ve been using them for weeks. When they’re dirty, I just throw them in the laundry and then stack them up for the next time I need to make new ones. The cat bowls and containers do need to be properly cleaned in the dishwasher or with dish soap regularly, but this definitely helps reduce the mess in the meantime.

The vinegar wipes work great for wiping down general cat room messes, cat bowls, their food mats, and the floor around them, when they’re being particularly messy eaters. I have found that they’re not a good replacement for wet wipes for litter box or poop mess (I completely clean out the litter boxes once a week or more, but it can be useful to have these on hand for in-between time messes) so I still use paper towels for those occasionally, but I’ve /way/ cut down on my waste for this.

My Deviated Septum is Trying to Kill Me With Pain, but At Least I Got a Diagnosis Quickly

WELP. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had pretty intense sinus and headache pain that I believed was sinusitis for over a month now. On top of that, I’ve had various bouts of nausea, lighteheadness, and eye blurriness, which I believed were all related at the time. After I tried three different antibiotics and a round of steroids from my general practitioner with no relief, I ended up going to an ENT, Dr. Sharma.

I took this in the waiting room because my hair looked cute. I really like the new yellow, orange, and salmon colors I added in last weekend!

I took this in the waiting room because my hair looked cute. I really like the new yellow, orange, and salmon colors I added in last weekend!

On my first visit to his office, he put some drops in my nose to dilate something inside it and scoped out my nose with a camera (this was all weird-feeling, but not painful or anything). He quickly determined that my facial pain was NOT in fact, the result of sinusitis. My sinuses were totally fine. This was mildly confusing to me, as my GP had previously said that my sinuses looked irritated (something I should address with him at some point).

Dr. Sharma initially suggested waiting a few weeks before getting a head CT, but once I explained how much of a toll this constant pain has been taking on me, he ordered one right away. I’m really glad I got it done sooner rather than later, as I was starting to get pretty freaked out over what might be the problem.

I got my head CT yesterday. Easiest medical test I’ve had all year! Yes - this is…at least my fourth, maybe my fifth, medical test to figure out mysterious pain this year. LUCKY ME. But this one didn’t require any fasting or medicine prep or anything. I just made sure I wasn’t wearing anything metal around my head, lay down, stayed still during the CT, and then left. It was awesome. I must admit though, I was pretty nervous and keyed up about it all afterward, just waiting for those results and hoping I didn’t have a tumor or something terrifying.

In the past, it’s taken several days for my doctors to get back to me with results, but I actually got a phone call from Dr. Sharma’s office first thing this morning asking me to come in and bring my CT CD so he could look at it and tell me what was up. So less than 24 hours after actually getting the CT - I had an answer. My sinuses are still totally fine. It’s a deviated septum that’s causing my facial pain. My nose looks totally straight and non-distinctive from the outside, but on the inside, it apparently is super wavy. So I’m going to get surgery to fix it and hopefully that should solve the problem.

I’m actually a little surprised that my septum ended up being the issue! That was not something I expected at all. My nose is straight and pretty non-distinctive - not really too small or too large or anything. I’ve never had a problem with it because it’s just…my nose. I’ve also never had trouble breathing out of either nostril and I don’t breathe through my mouth, so I really don’t display most of the classic deviated septum signs. The facial pain I started having at the start of July is really the only trouble I’ve ever had with it. If I hadn’t had that, I literally would never have known my septum was anything other than totally completely ordinary. I don’t actually mind it too much, but it definitely wasn’t the diagnosis I was expecting! (I thought my CT would be totally normal and I’d probably have migraines or something, which would be a pain in the ass to treat. :/)

Dr. Sharma actually was trying to get me in for the surgery tomorrow, but because I’m in a play next weekend and going to a writer’s conference the weekend after that, I elected to put it off for a while. From what I’ve read online, recovery from a septoplasty can be pretty grody and you can look pretty awful for a few days after it. I don’t want to risk messing up my performance or my face right before a theater production we’ve been working on for months. I also don’t really want to go to a writers festival that I intend to use as a learning AND networking opportunity with a giant bandage on my nose. So as bad as the pain is, I’ll just tough it out for a few weeks and then get the surgery. I feel like I can handle it now that I know what’s going on and I’m not just flailing around for a diagnosis.

This picture of my head CT results is blurry because I was trying to take it without being too obvious, but it’s the only pic I have documenting this whole diagnosis experience so, here it is.

This picture of my head CT results is blurry because I was trying to take it without being too obvious, but it’s the only pic I have documenting this whole diagnosis experience so, here it is.

All in all, the whole experience hasn’t been too bad. Considering it took me YEARS to get a diagnosis for my osteoarthritis/neck pain and over 8 months to get a diagnosis for my more recent chronic pain issue (which I’m choosing not to name, as it’s…of a slightly more private nature, and I am Southern, after all. I gotta have SOME boundaries.), getting a diagnosis for my new fun facial pain in just about a month really isn’t so bad. AND I’ve got a solution for it which is likely to remedy the pain entirely; in contrast, my neck pain and unnamed chronic pain #2 are continuing issues that I’m going to likely have to take active measures to battle the rest of my life. :/

I think the fact that I have a good ENT who believes me, takes my pain seriously, and is willing to work with me to get that pain addressed ASAP is a huge factor here. Dr. Sharma and his office followed up with me on my medical test faster than any other doctor I’ve ever had, and they were literally ready to get me in for surgery within 24 hours! That’s seriously quick for a relatively minor outpatient procedure that isn’t life threatening in any way. I am very very grateful for his work and his office and am very happy to have an answer!

I’ll have more updates later as I actually go through the septoplasty and recover from it. I had trouble finding straight answers online on what the recovery for an outpatient septoplasty under local anesthesia and without rhinoplasty would be like. The doctor’s office estimated 2-3 days, while accounts I was reading online and heard from friends was more like a week or two. But everything I read was also for in-patient procedures, under general anesthesia, or also included a rhinoplasty. So I definitely want to document my exact experience for anyone else who might want to get some answers in the future!

How I Get My Cranky Anxiety-Ridden Old Man Cat to Take His Damn Prozac

This is an older photo of us. My hair hasn’t looked like that in a while!

This is an older photo of us. My hair hasn’t looked like that in a while!

I’m starting to experiment with Amazon affiliate links, friends, so you’ll start to see links to products I personally use and love now. :)

Schrodinger Beethoven Dickson-Lorenzen is my first and most favorite kittyface. He purrs when he sees me, naps on my lap for hours while I’m working, and meows at me to turn on the bathroom faucet for him every night.

However, dude’s got some issues. He is pretty terrified of people and has a lot of anxiety. Now, some cats are shy naturally, but I don’t think that’s the case with Schrodes. He really loves people and loves being cuddled and pet, but he seems to be held back by his fears. He also still hisses at my husband John on a regular basis, although they’ve lived together for over two years now.

Based on my knowledge of his backstory before he was given up to PAWS (out in Chicago, they’re amazing) and his current emotional and physical health, here’s what I think probably happened. His previous owners got him declawed in his front legs. This resulted in his feet being really hurt by the cat litter, so he developed cat litter issues and ended up peeing basically everywhere else (the surrender papers were pretty awful to read). I’m guessing his previous owners got very frustrated by this and abused him in an effort to train him to stop doing it. He’s got one kidney that’s larger than the other, which probably means he was kicked at some point.

He stopped eating when he was at the main PAWS facility in Chicago, so they put him in a foster home with my bestie Holly. I met him through her and fell in love with him. For a long time, we had to put puppy pads in the litter box for him so he had a soft place to put his paws when he used the box. He hasn’t needed that in a couple years now, but it really helped him at the beginning when he was still recovering from the declawing and his previous owners’ abuse.

He was a pretty anxious cat who seemed lonely when I wasn’t around, so I adopted Ziggy Stardust pretty soon afterward so he’d have a friend. They’ve been great bros since and get along really well. He’s much happier now, but he’s definitely still got anxiety issues.So finally, last August, I went to the vet, explained the whole situation, and asked if we could get him on some anxiety meds. He’s been on daily Prozac ever since. He’s been on these meds for the past year now, but it took a LONG time to get him to take the meds regularly and consistently.

My Initial Attempts:

First, I just gave him the pills in his food. He quickly caught on within a week or so and refused to touch them.

Second, I put the pills in pill pockets, which i then hid in his food. I got a few weeks out of that before he refused to touch it anymore. :/ (I later discovered that he greatly prefers the tuna and cheese pill pockets to the salmon ones! Picky animal.).

Third, I got fancy tuna-flavored liquid meds for him and tried putting it in his food, then just squirting it into his mouth. Each time, he caught on and struggled and fought against it even more.

I resorted to getting some flavorless gelatin capsules online to put his pills in (I bought a pack of 1,000 capsules on Amazon, which should last me a couple of years!). I do have to cut these down to a more cat friendly size, but it doesn’t take too long if i just do a whole bunch of them at once. I had to experiment with the best ways to use these capsules - for a while I actually was putting the capsules into a pill pocket and THEN covering it with tuna to get him to eat it, but I FINALLY FINALLY found a method that works. I’ve been getting him to take his medicine consistently in this way since April! HALLELUJAH.

It only took me NINE MONTHS to figure out a system that consistently works!

So. What I do.

My Foolproof Method of Getting Schrodinger to take his damn pills:

  1. Cut a flavorless gelatin capsule down to a cat friendly size.

  2. Put his pill into the capsule.

  3. Put the capsule into a tuna and cheese pill pocket, Schrody’s favorite.

    [I actually work in batches and put a ton of pill/capsule/pill pockets together at a time. I store them all together in a bag so the pill pockets don’t dry out. The capsules soften up a little within the pill pocket, but Schrody doesn’t seem to notice or care.]

  4. Once Schrodinger starts eating his morning wet food, I put the pill pocket into the food immediately next to where he’s scarfing, so he eats it up without even really noticing it. It works every time!

Just look how pleased he looks with himself.

Just look how pleased he looks with himself.

I’ve also started squirting a little salmon oil on the pill pocket lately, as he’s been walking stiffly lately and I’ve read that it can help relieve joint pain in senior cats (he hasn’t been taking it long enough for me to really tell if it’s working, but he does lap up EVERY BIT OF IT, so clearly it tastes good).

The pills combined with more exposure to friendly people on a regular basis (because of the theater troupe that’s been rehearsing in our basement all summer) have REALLY helped him. He’ll actually come out to greet my friends now! He seems much more relaxed and happier.

He still hates my husband John, but that seems to be pretty mutual. Not sure there’s anything I can do about that at this point! But

"Purr Like an Egyptian": Inspiration from Daphne Du Maurier and Ancient Egypt

Have I mentioned that my cats-taking-over-Memphis story "Purr Like an Egyptian" will be in Grumpy Old Gods Volume 2? It's open for Pre-orders now and will publish on August 9! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VJZVM5C

This was the first short story I’d written since…high school? Junior high? I just heard about the submission prompt and I was instantly captivated; I HAD to write a story for it.

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GRUMPY OLD GODS: SEEKING

We’re looking for stories about mythical Gods who are waning, reborn, retired, or otherwise AWOL from their assigned post.

We invite you to re-imagine old myths, mine your local retirement home for things that tickle your fancy, and invite your Muse to go wild.  The only requirement is that the god or goddess in question (or whole pantheon if you so choose) must be retired, retiring, waning in power, or ignoring their responsibilities. Bonus points for good humor.

I mean, how amazing is that? I came up with the idea to use Bastet, the Egyptian Goddess of cats, pretty easily, and I knew I wanted her to run a cat cafe. The idea of all the cats migrating to Memphis to be near her developed more slowly over time.

Once I did get that idea though, I knew I wanted to look to Daphne DuMaurier’s The Birds, which has a similar premise, only much more frightening. I tried to get across a similar, but more modern, depiction of animals taking over a town. In addition, my intro was a direct homage to the story’s beginning.

The Birds:

On December the third, the wind changed overnight, and it was winter. Until then the autumn had been mellow, soft. The leaves had lingered on the trees, golden-red, and the hedgerows were still green. The earth was rich where the plow had turned it.

Purr Like an Egyptian:


On March 10th, Tennessee finally realized it was spring and the temperature rose 20 degrees. Everywhere in town smelled damp, like fresh sod, green and expectant.

So my opening is a bit more folksy to bring across the humor of the piece, but you get the idea.

I also specifically picked out names for everyone in the story that had an extra layer of meaning for anyone who bothered to look into it. In the story, Bastet’s human form goes by Nenet Elmasry. Nenet means “divine, spiritual,” and “Elmasry” literally means “The Egyptian.” Her husband, Sef, is the human form of Ptah, the god of craftsmen. His physical description matches Ptah’s - hairless and wearing a skull cap. “Sef” literally means “yesterday.”

I also used to have a cat character named Aten who was intended to represent the divine cat aspect of Ra, who was strongly associated with Bastet, but I ended up cutting him out during the editing process. We just didn’t need another cat around, particularly one with more of an obscure origin. Aten means “sun,” which referenced Ra as the sun god.


On Being Ill, with Rachael and Virginia

While on the subject of chronic pain, it appears I might have an even newer, funner type. :/

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been feeling pretty terrible for the past ~5 weeks at this point. I’ve been having a ton of painful sinus pressure, headaches, and fatigue, along with fun spats of dizziness, lightheadness, blurry vision, and nausea. I’ve seen my general practitioner twice in the past month; he said my sinuses were inflamed, so we assumed it was a sinus infection. I’ve tried three different antibiotics and a course of oral steroids.

This photo meme of my cat wearing a tie has nothing to do with this post but look how charming he is!

This photo meme of my cat wearing a tie has nothing to do with this post but look how charming he is!

I still feel awful, so I went to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor yesterday. Dr. Sharma looked around in my nose with a scope and told me that there’s actually no sign of a sinus infection at all, or any sign of what is actually causing the pain. He posited that it might be a side effect from one of my medicines, so he started looking around online for those, but didn’t find anything that seemed to fit. His next suggestion was to wait a few weeks before I get a head CT, but it’s been so long and this is really affecting me so badly at this point, that I just asked if we could do the CT now. I’ve got an appointment next Wednesday.

This constant pain in my maxillary sinuses and head is really starting to take a toll. I’ve had way more trouble this month focusing on work than I usually do. I’ve taken off more sick days than I have in years (although of course not as much as I’d like, because I can’t actually afford to take off that many days), and I haven’t been writing as much on my short stories or on this blog as I’d like. And now on top of that, I’m worried about what it might be that’s causing all this. It might be like, sinus headaches or something simple I can treat relatively easily and quickly. Or it might be something more serious (my mother helpfully informed me shortly after I relayed this information to her that two members of my family have died from brain aneurysms in the past. So comforting, right?).

I’m rather nervous about it all, and my nerves are already frayed from ~35 days of sinus pain and headaches, but I’m trying not to google symptoms any more and just be patient. I may need to meditate and read a lot more over the next couple days to keep my mind off of it. Because even if the CT doesn’t give me a definitive diagnosis, it will at least be helpful for ruling out options.

It all makes me think of Virginia Woolf. In 1925, when she was in bed recovering from suffering a nervous breakdown, she wrote “On Being Ill, a beautiful essay on the nature of illness that was published by T.S. Eliot in The Criterion. In it, she asks, how can something so common and universal be so little written about?

Her opening sentence can be a little hard to read, as it just keeps going and going, but it is so beautiful when you actually parse it out and examine it [line breaks mine]:

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings,

how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us in the act of sickness,

how we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers

when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist’s arm chair and confuse his ‘Rinse the mouth—rinse the mouth’ with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us

—when we think of this an infinitely more, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

Then she continues:

Novels, one would have thought, would have been devoted to influenza; epic poems to typhoid; odes to pneumonia; lyrics to toothache.

But no; with a few exceptions De Quincey attempted something of the sort in The Opium Eater; there must be a volume or two about disease scattered through the pages of Proust—literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear, and, save for one or two passions such as desire and greed, is null, and negligible and non-existent.

And so she continues. You should go read the whole thing, it’s great.

I would like to write such wonderful odes to sickness. I think I will at some point. I feel I am getting better at writing all the time; already, just looking at stories from a few months ago, I see the things I would change or phrase differently now. I see how I would tighten a chapter or make a story beginning more interesting. I will write such things soon, but for now, I am behind on a short story I wanted to have finished, polished, and published online by now, so I should go work on that. But yet my head aches so, even with loads of ibuprofen and sudafed, and it is difficult for me to remember from moment to moment what I should be doing.

The “On Being Ill” essay was actually the first one to really get me to understand “creative nonfiction” as a concept. I learned about it from “Reading Like a Writer,” by Francine Prose, which helped me really start to think about the craft of my writing. That section actually helped “Estate Sale,” which was my first real attempt at creative nonfiction. I tried to emulate a lot of the imagery filed sentences and careless grammar that Woolf uses. This book also fed into my short story “The Caterer,” as it was what inspired the first and second person POV.

I don’t exactly know where I’m going with this post. I’m essentially saying I plan to write something epic and beautiful about illness someday, but not right now. This is but a Tribute .

An ADHDer's Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 2

 If you haven’t read the other parts of this series yet, here they are!

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Getting a Diagnosis

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 1

4. Make Simple Adaptations in Your Daily Life to Reduce Your Pain

If you’re still having pain issues after getting treatment from a doctor and/or a physical therapist, look at what else is going on in your life that might be exacerbating it. Even if one thing isn’t /causing/ the pain, doesn’t mean it isn’t a factor in it. There are often a lot of small changes you can make to your life to reduce your pain level.

For example, sitting on a couch can actually really make my neck pain worse. It promotes bad posture and doesn’t give me the support I need. So I pretty much never sit on couches these days. I use a floor chair, which offers me a lot more support and still allows me to “chill out” in a way that a straightback chair doesn’t. Heavy purses also can make my pain worse, so I usually use a backpack if I’m carrying anything significant around. If I do use a purse, I make sure to regularly clean out anything that could make it heavier.

If you have neck or shoulder problems, like me, make sure you’re using a mattress and a pillow that properly supports your neck and body. You spend so much time sleeping that you NEED to have a good setup or you’re going to just undo all your pain relief work every night in bed. People have different opinions on pillows; I have, gosh, probably 3 that I’ve bought specifically for my neck? One that has water in it, another that’s got microfoam beads in it, and another one that’s memory foam. I’ve tried them all and the memory foam one works best for me personally, but you should try them out and take notes on how you feel the next morning to figure out what works best for you!

Finally, I’ve done a lot of research on home office ergonomics and made sure that my workspace actually fits right for my body. I recently discovered that my desk and chair heights were completely wrong for me! I’m so short that the average measurements for a man just aren’t accurate, so I had to modify a few things and add in a foot rest to make it all work. I also use a headset while making or receiving phone calls so I don’t have to crane my neck in weird ways to hold a phone.

5. Massages and Home Tools for Muscle Pain

Massages have never “cured” me of my pain, but they do tend to really loosen up my muscles and prevent them from “fossilizing” or getting overly stiff. I have a Massage Envy membership and go in once a month as a maintenance measure.

I wish I could afford to go in more often, but since I can’t, I also have numerous tools at home that I use for massaging or relaxing my painful neck/shoulder muscles. I leave little reminders for myself to use these tools in a mass to-do list note I keep on my phone and in my journal. Alarms can be good for this too, but if you’re setting an alarm for medicine and stretches and pain relief tools, you might just get to the point where you have so many that it doesn’t even register for you, so be careful with that.

Me using the acupressure mat and pillow while guest cat Martok nests in my hair. He LOVES my hair.

Me using the acupressure mat and pillow while guest cat Martok nests in my hair. He LOVES my hair.

One of my favorite tools currently is an acupressure mat and pillow, which has tiny plastic spikes all over it. I don’t entirely know how it all works, but lying on this really relaxes my neck and shoulders and make them feel like they’re “melting” and less stiff. It’s a relatively cheap option, but you do need to lie on it for 30 minutes + for it to have any effect. In addition, for best results, you probably want to be shirtless. So it’s not the most convenient pain treatment.

Another cheap and easy options are tennis balls and pressure point tools. I keep a Back Buddy Jr. by my desk and pull it out to work on my neck when it’s getting really stiff. It’s great for pushing on stiff areas you can’t quite reach on your own. Lying on a tennis ball or putting it in between your pressure point and a wall can be really effective, if initially painful. With these tools, you can either just apply pressure straight on, or you can rub the tool or ball around and on the stiff point; both techniques work pretty well.

I also have a massage machine that works really well when placed between my neck and a wall, but its fabric cover has come off over time, so it’s more painful to use than it used to be. I can’t use it too often without really irritating my skin.

6. Use Over-The-Counter Medication and Treatments

If you have chronic pain, you’re probably very familiar with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. These can be really valuable tools in reducing your pain, but remember to watch your dosages and not overdo it; you can definitely screw up your stomach or other parts of your body. Also remember, no aspirin if you’re under 18!

Here’s another trick though: taking a pain reliever with a small amount of caffeine can actually reduce your pain further. It’s unclear how much caffeine can do on its own, but it does appear that it can reduce joint pain and headaches as well. This article on Disabled World explores that topic if you’d like to know more.

There are a few natural supplements out there that can really take the edge off pain as well. I’ve tried turmeric and capsaicin pills before and had some good results. I also take vitamins, fish oil, and probiotics, which all play different roles in keeping my body healthy and reducing inflammation. WebMD has a great overview article of different supplements and how they treat pain.

Finally, don’t forget topical treatments! Lotions or rubs containing menthol or camphor create a cooling sensation that can really distract you and make you forget the pain. Capsaicin lotions can also really help joint pain or nerve pain, although it can also irritate your skin if you’re not careful. In addition, you’ll want to use gloves to apply this, as it can be pretty difficult to wash totally off your hands. I’ve accidentally got capsaicin in my eye before and it really hurts!

 

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Thank you for reading. I hope this helps!

An ADHDer's Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 1

If you haven’t read the other parts of this series yet, here they are!

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Getting a Diagnosis

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 2

I wrote this whole post and then realized it was over 2,000 words and should probably be split into two parts. Oops! Here’s the first one!

I’m a young adult with both ADHD and chronic pain. These two issues can often work counter to each other and cause a lot of frustration, but over the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to get better about dealing with both of them. This blog post series will hopefully help other people dealing with the same issues- the first post addressed getting a diagnosis, and the second and third posts will address day to day management. 😊

The first post also summed up my background with both ADHD and chronic pain, so this post will go ahead without recapping that much.

I tried a LOT of different things to treat my chronic pain before I actually got a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, but I’m going to focus on the time /after/ I got a diagnosis, just for simplicity’s sake. If you are having chronic pain, I do think it’s important that you get to a doctor to figure out what the underlying issue is, if at all possible. If you don’t have the insurance or money for a doctor though, there are a lot of options out there for DIY relief, which I’ll cover further down in the post.

A lot of this advice focuses mostly on painful muscle treatment, because that’s what I deal with and am most familiar with, but hopefully the general headings and tips are helpful even if you have non-muscle pain issues! I’m not going to discuss opiates in here because I personally have very little experience with it and don’t feel fully qualified to cover it in depth. I do have friends that use opiates for pain relief though, and I plan to interview them for this blog soon!

  1. Follow the Treatment Your Doctor Prescribes.

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I currently undergo radiofrequency ablation about once or twice a year; this burns off my arthritic neck nerves and really reduces my pain. However, 1. this procedure never COMPLETELY erases my pain, 2. the procedure itself is very painful and expensive (even with insurance) and 3. the nerves grow back and I have to go through it all again.

But it’s still the best option I have for actually treating the root cause of my chronic pain, so I undergo it. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for using what’s available to you. A lot of people out there say “Oh why don’t you just do X?” or try essential oils or whatever and downplay your pain; ignore them. You, as the owner of your body, get to decide what’s best for treating its pain (in conjunction with your doctors)

If the treatment you’re getting isn’t helping as much as you thought it would, or if it’s giving you bad side effects, let your doctor know! A lot of times you can follow up with your doctor without actually coming in for an appointment. My pain doctor actually is cool with me emailing her, which can be VERY helpful, as I’m bad about remembering to call her office and setting follow-up appointments.

2. Try Physical Therapy and/or Daily Exercises/Stretches!

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So after I told my pain doctor that the radiofrequency ablation wasn’t completely getting rid of my pain, she wrote me a referral for physical therapy. I then ignored that referral for like, a year and a half, because I had some strange idea in my head that PT wouldn’t help me. I had gone through some basic stretches with a chiropractor years before and that didn’t seem to do much, so I didn’t believe it would help this time either.

However, earlier this year, I managed to pull a muscle in my leg badly enough that I was still in pain a few months after the initial injury. I did actually go to PT then (after getting a referral) and it REALLY helped me. I was out of pain before my second appointment. That made me a believer and encouraged me to finally sign up for physical therapy for my neck! I did about a month-ish of PT and it made SUCH A HUGE IMPACT on my pain. It really reduced my every day pain level and reduced how many tools I had to use to manage the pain. My therapists taught me various exercises and stretches and had me do them daily; they also did a few dry needling spots, massages, and manipulations on them. I’m now capable of treating a lot of my own issues at home. It’s pretty awesome.

So I highly suggest Physical Therapy - when you get that referral, set up an appointment with a PT right away so you don’t forget it or lose the script! And once you start doing the exercises and stretches, put an alert on your phone or computer so you remember to do them daily. I’ve got a “neck stretches” one that goes off every night at 9 pm. And if you’re not as connected to your phone as I am and need a different reminder method, a post it note on your bathroom mirror or by your daily medicines can be a good method.

3. Pay Attention to Your Mental Health Too

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Honestly, chronic pain can be incredibly disheartening and it can really mess your brain up. For a while when I was younger, I developed a certain fatalism and would often say things like “oh I don’t think I’m going to live past 30,” because no one I knew had the same pain problems I did. I clearly remember asking my parents at one point if they had chronic pain issues. They said no, and I was seriously so depressed by that. I was 24 and having more pain problems than my almost 60-year-old parents.

When you have chronic pain issues, that does become the focus of a lot of your medical visits. However, be sure to talk to your doctor about your mental health as well. If you’re experiencing mood swings, feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, irritability, persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings, a loss of interest in things that were once pleasurable to you, and/or major changes in your sleeping or eating habits, get to a therapist as soon as possible. Talk Therapy can be incredibly helpful for sorting through a lot of these thoughts and you may be able to get a prescription that could help you as well.  

Walking outside can also be a great tool for helping your mental health. It’s low-level exercise that gets you moving and makes your brain release serotonin, which can be a mood lifter and a pain reliever. There are also studies that show that just being outside under the sun can have a huge impact, so if you’re not up for walking or doing anything else, just sitting or standing outside for a bit can be helpful as well.

Don’t forget to read Daily Management Part 2 as well!

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 2

Don’t Lose Your Novel!: Responsible Computer Maintenance and Backups for Writers

Don't lose your novel! (3).png

So I have a tiny little Lenovo Yoga I use for all my writing. It’s kind of beaten-up, as I’m fairly clumsy and good at dropping things. It actually has tape covering some broken glass in the corner (I added a protective hard cover after I did that, lol). And my husband says it’s a computer for ants. But it works beautifully for my needs. It’s small and light so I can carry it around anywhere easily; this is particularly important because of my chronic neck pain issues.

I’m not great at remembering to maintain my laptop or backup my files (with ADHD, remembering any regular but not daily activities can be pretty hard for me!), but as a writer, I’ve REALLY got to get better about that. I keep my works in progress on my computer and it would be devastating if I lost all my work due to a computer crash. It also can be really frustrating when my computer is lagging during my precious writing time. So I took some time this morning to fix it up a bit.

Cleaning Up the Computer

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Since I have a Windows computer, I first launched Disk Cleanup and ran it to get rid of a lot of unnecessary files. This app offers numerous suggestions for what extraneous files to delete. This includes temporary files, things in the recycle bin, etc. I managed to get rid of several gigabites of excess files on my computer this morning! (I took this snip after I’d already run it). This should help my computer run quicker and more smoothly.

There are a LOT of computer cleaning apps and software out there, but my Google research indicates that they just aren’t necessary. As How To Geek says:

PC cleaning apps are digital snake oil. The web is full of ads for applications that want to “clean your PC” and “make it feel like new.” Don’t pull out your credit card — these apps are terrible and you don’t need them.

If you do want to “clean your PC,” you can do it for free. Windows includes built-in PC cleaning tools that can do almost all of what the average PC cleaning app will do for you.

That full article explains a lot about what Disk Cleanup actually does and why it’s just as good as add on softwares. It’s a good read if you’re interested in learning more.

I also went through and manually deleted several Chrome extensions I don’t use. While I was at it, I also reorganized the extensions I DO use to make sure they’re most visible, like my Pinterest button (which I use to post links to this blog) and the Honey button (which shows me when there are coupons to go with whatever website I’m on). There are some fun extensions I use that just don’t need to be visible all the time, like the one that turns all pictures of Trump into pictures of kittens (Make America Kittens Again). That’s great, but it works whether or not it’s showing up in the corner of my browser.

I also fixed up my bookmarks and organized them. This isn’t necessary for the computer to run well, but it makes the browser a lot nicer looking and also makes it much easier for me to find resources!

I have a tendency to have a ton of Chrome tabs open all the time, but that really does waste memory and results in some major lagging. As How to Geek says in yet another super useful article:

In Chrome, each tab opens in its own process on your PC. This is a good thing, because it keeps those tabs isolated from one another. A crash in one tab is not likely to bring down your whole browser. But, of course, each open tab uses up some resources, and when you have a lot of tabs open at once, it can slow things down.

The easiest way to fix this is just to close Chrome regularly and don’t keep 30 tabs open on your computer at once. That article also offers a few extensions that can fix this problem without closing the browser.


Backing Up the Computer

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This is a simple but really important step! I’ve had a computer crash twice before without a backup and it really sucked. The first time was in 2009, and the computer had ALL my photos on it from my study abroad trip to Europe, so I ended up paying a recovery company way too much money to get my files off the hard drive. The second time was a few years ago when I got some ransomware via email. That time I just restored my computer completely and lost my files; I really didn’t want to pay someone $1,000 to get my own data back. Be wary of opening links in emails, friends, even if they come from your dad!

IDrive is running a deal currently where you pay $6.95 for a year of backups. I can set it up to automatically back up both my laptop and my phone as often as I like. I’ve personally got it running twice a week, but if you are really paranoid about your computer crashing, daily might be a better idea.

Story Ideas from History and Dreams

So I keep a note on my phone called “story ideas” that I just fill with different ideas as they strike me. Sometimes these are from dreams, often they are from books or history podcasts, some are just thoughts that come to mind that I have to get down on a page /right then/ or I’ll forget them!

Numerous of these scribbled ideas have turned into future stories. I had the idea for Most Horrible probably…a year and a half before i actually started turning it into a one act play? The entire concept of “Big Dave’s Goliath” came from a simple fact I had scribbled down- that various popes had ordered the removal of all the penises from the nude statues in the Vatican museum. When I came across the call for submissions for “Big,” which asked for stories around something or someone gargantuan, the idea of a giant replica of Michelangelo’s David, and the shenanigans that ensue when someone vandalizes the statue by cutting off its genitalia, came into being. True, it’s totally absurd (and that story was HIGHLY influenced by the over the top style of Carl Hiaasen), but it was really fun to write! And now it’s published in Colp: Big. :)

Here you can see notes on one of my history story ideas and one of my dreams!

Here you can see notes on one of my history story ideas and one of my dreams!

The Caterer and the Vanguard (current work in progress) both were inspired by historical legends chronicled in “100 Cats Who Changed Civilization,” by Sam Stall. John gave it to me last December just as a fun gift; he had no idea what it would lead to! Hah. I have numerous other ideas for the AntiquiCats series originating from that book and other cat history sources online.

Here’re two snippets of my current “story ideas” note, featuring a few of my favorite ideas.

So Leichenhauses were WAITING MORTUARIES for people who were scared of being buried alive (circa 1800s). After death, the bodies would be set out and have like, strings tied between their bodies and either a bell or a harmonium or whatever. Then someone would sit up with the bodies and listen for movement noises. Bodies actually move a lot while they’re decomposing, so it must have been quite frightening! They were also viewed as a common tourist destination? It sounds utterly fascinating. I REALLY want to write a story set in one at some point and just haven’t found the right plot yet. I first heard about these from the brilliant Stuff you Missed in History Class podcast called “Not Dead Yet - Safety Coffins and Waiting Mortuaries.”

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I’ve also gleaned several ideas from a book I’m currently reading - Black Tudors, by Miranda Kauffman. It’s very good but very dense and academic, so I’ve been reading it off and on for MONTHS. I’ll finish it some day.

How I Got Back Into Writing Seriously

The Lifelong Dream

Honestly, I cannot remember a time when I have not wanted to write and be an author. Some of my earliest dreams and goals as a child involved writing as a career. My family LOVES books; literally every room in my parents’ house except the bathrooms have bookshelves and books in them. It was a wonderful place for a child to grow up. I eagerly read as many books as I could; they fascinated me and brought me to a whole other world. I wanted to make those worlds myself.

And in elementary school I did. I was always writing stories or poetry or songs or whatever. My output turned into mostly just poetry over time, as I discovered journalism and imposter syndrome. For a long time, I felt that nonfiction journalistic writing was the only thing I could do. Fiction seemed too hard. I tried doing National Novel Writing Month several times and never managed to finish; this made me feel like a failure. I had lots and lots of ideas written down in various places, but none of them ever came to fruition. I’d start and stop and get distracted and frustrated. For a while I had resigned myself to not really being a writer. I did do some writing and research on marital surnames, and had an inkling to turn it into a nonfiction book, but I wasn’t following through on any of it.

I usually write at the kitchen table these days, surrounded by books and journals.

I usually write at the kitchen table these days, surrounded by books and journals.

The Turning Point

So fast forward to my 30th year of life, when I finally got on a combination of treatments that actually treated my depression successfully. This really changed my life in so many ways. I had a focus and a determination that I hadn’t had previously; my depression was no longer a barrier dropping in front of me, but a curtain pulled to the side. I could see it and respect it and treat it carefully, but I could walk through it without a problem.

When my beloved Shakespeare troupe Britches and Hose announced that they were holding a New Works Festival and needed submissions of original one acts, I decided that it was time to take one of my favorite ideas and turn it into a play. That’s how “Most Horrible,” a one-act prequel to Hamlet set in Purgatory began. I was so excited and motivated by this success that I continued on - and turned the play into a project for National Novel Writing Month in November. I finished up the novel by the end of January (I have, of course, decided to add in a whole new historical context and many more subplots, so I have major edits and revising coming up, but that’s another issue).

Since NaNoWriMo had worked so well for non-depressed Me, I decided to set monthly goals for myself. January’s was finishing the novel, February’s was working on my nonfiction book proposal. I didn’t really have any plans to write short stories until I came across a fascinating writing prompt on the Internet - calling for short stories about Grumpy Old Gods, gods that in some way were shirking their duty. I was so excited about this concept that I outlined and wrote “Purr Like an Egyptian” fairly quickly, in only a week or two! And it felt so good to have a project wrapped up and submitted so quickly, that I decided I’d dedicate March to writing more short stories and poetry to submit to various magazines and publications. That’s how I also wrote “Big Dave’s Goliath” and “The Caterer.”

Currently

So here we are now. “Purr Like an Egyptian” was just accepted for publication in Grumpy Old Gods Vol. 2 and will be coming out later this month. “Big Dave’s Goliath” was published recently in Gypsum Sound Tales’ Colp: Big. I’ve also had a few literary nonfiction pieces published as well - on Talking Soup and The Drabble.

I also tend to write with my own personal demigod in my lap. (I’m writing a lot about ancient Egyptians lately- cats WERE their demigods)

I also tend to write with my own personal demigod in my lap. (I’m writing a lot about ancient Egyptians lately- cats WERE their demigods)

“The Caterer” was rejected, but I invested a lot of time into revamping and revising it to make it better, and then published it myself on Kindle Direct Publishing as an experiment. I’ve enjoyed the writing and promoting process for my own ebook so much that I am now writing another story in the series, with plans for more! Once I finish and publish my second volume (“The Vanguard”), I plan to get back to “Most Horrible” and revise it to add in the Danish reformation (no biggie, right?).

It’s a lot of work, as of course I have a full time job as a trademark examining attorney at the USPTO, participate in Shakespeare plays with my friends, and occasionally like to have some downtime to spend with my husband, but it’s been so worth it. I don’t know if I’ll ever make much money from it or if it will ever be my full-time career, but writing brings me so much joy on a regular basis that I don’t know if I even care anymore. I love coming up with titles for my stories. I love outlining a plot. I love all the research - from Egyptian goddesses to drones, to Ancient Persia and the Tower of London.

I just love writing. And I won’t let myself forget that again.

"The Caterer" is Free on Amazon July 16-17!

So my ebook short story The Caterer: How a Cat Survived Richard III is free today and tomorrow (July 16-17) on Amazon. You can get that here at http://tinyurl.com/thecaterercat . So if you haven’t downloaded it yet, now’s a good time to do so! It really helps drive up the ranking of the book and get it more exposure and attention. Reviews are greatly appreciated as well. :)

The next story in the series is called "The Vanguard: The Cats Who Conquered Egypt" and focuses on the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BCE, through the eyes of two cats. I plan to publish that in late July! :)

Wedding Craft Tutorial: Shakespeare and Glitter Flower Girl Scatter

Glitter and Shakespeare Heart scatter! I also painted the flower girls’ baskets bright sparkly red.

Glitter and Shakespeare Heart scatter! I also painted the flower girls’ baskets bright sparkly red.

We decided not to have any real flowers at our wedding. I have a great love for paper crafting, so I ended up making all the bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages out of paper flowers. I’ll write about that more later. :)

Anyway, my two nieces were our flower girls/ring bearers and I really wanted them to have something special to scatter down the aisle - something that actually represented me and John .

I got two little paper punches - one heart and one cherry blossom. The cherry blossom punch didn’t work too well - it was too complicated and I could never get it to cut any paper cleanly. So most of our scatter was heart shaped.

I did cut a lot of hearts out of various covers of glitter paper and other pretty papers, but I wanted something more personalized as well, even if no one would even really notice except me.

I wanted to incorporate Shakespeare somehow. I’ve been part of Shakespeare productions on and off since 2010, and was a founding member of the Britches and Hose Shakespeare troupe. John also loves Shakespeare and one of our first dates was going to see Julius Caesar at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Our wedding ceremony included Shakespeare quotes from Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, Julius Caesar, and Henry V. I even walked down the aisle to a version of “Sigh Not So” from the 1992 Kenneth Branagh film of Much Ado About Nothing!

A friend of mine had an awesome master document of Shakespeare quotes for various situations; I took that doc, put all the text in a pretty cursive font, and removed all the lines and paragraph breaks and such until I had several solid pages of Shakespeare text. I printed that document out on both sides of some nice leftover resume paper I had lying around. And then, all I had to do was cut the remaining white margins off the paper and bam - I had my own personalized Shakespeare stationery. I used it for the flower girl scatter and also for a few of the roses in my bouquet and my bridesmaids’ bouquets. :)

Again, it was a tiny detail and I’m not sure anyone else noticed it at all, but it made me very happy, and it was super simple. When I walked down the aisle, my cathedral length veil ended up catching the scatter and pulling them along with me. People started laughing and it was amazing; it resulted in one of my favorite photos from the day!

Anyone else is welcome to use my Shakespeare stationery as well! You can download a pdf of it on Google Drive here.

Taking Medicine with ADHD: My Attempts to Remember

The evil steroid pack

The evil steroid pack

I’ve had a pretty bad case of sinusitis the last two weeks and finally broke down and went to my doctor on Tuesday. He prescribed some antibiotics and steroids.

The nice friendly purpley-pink pill planner that usually helps me remember all my meds.

The nice friendly purpley-pink pill planner that usually helps me remember all my meds.

When I picked it up, I was dismayed to see that my steroid pack required me to take several doses throughout the day! AND the dose changes every day! Curses! With the help of a weekly pill planner, I’ve finally gotten to the point where I consistently remember to take my meds daily in the morning, but I hardly ever remember to take doses throughout the day. It’s my ADHD kryptonite! (The pills themselves also taste godawful and like, stick in the throat. I’m trying to drink and eat different things to remove the taste but it’s still hanging about. Ick.).

My medicine alarms for the day! Hopefully these work. If I actually do force myself to stop what I’m working on and immediately go take my meds when i hear the alarm, it should.

My medicine alarms for the day! Hopefully these work. If I actually do force myself to stop what I’m working on and immediately go take my meds when i hear the alarm, it should.

I’ve set alarms throughout the day to remind me to take my meds, and will place my steroid pack right by my pill planner so I remember to set new alarms each day to account for the adjusting doses. Hopefully that does the trick.

Figuring Out My Style with The Curated Closet

So my fave podcast By the Book covered The Curated Closet a while back. From what I’ve heard, the book really focuses on helping you define your own style. I don’t have the time to read the whole thing, alas, but I’m working through some of the tips on my own, bit by bit at time.

The first part is to actually look at your style and figure out what you like and don’t like. You can also come up with a descriptive name for your style, which I would love to do at some point, but I’m not quite there yet.

A snippet of my pinterest board.

A snippet of my pinterest board.

I made a Pinterest board of some of my favorite styles. I actually incorporated some of my own outfit selfies into it so I could get a better idea of what I actually wear and enjoy. That full board is here, if you’d like to check it out.

By looking through that and various articles on fashion styles and clothing articles, I’ve started making a “Style List” and a “Not my Style List.” It’s been really interesting scrolling through pictures and trying to figure out whether I like something or not and why.

Here’s a snippet of my lists so far. It’s becoming really illuminating!

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The next step is to go through my clothes and pull out anything that doesn’t fit into things I know I love. That part may take longer, because I don’t think I’m going to have time for that until at least this weekend, maybe next. So - to be continued!

How Community Theater Changed My Life

This article was originally Published in the Trademark Department newsletter at the USPTO.

One day in fall 2010, my roommate Grace turned to me and asked if I wanted to audition with her for an all-female Shakespeare troupe she had found advertised on Craigslist. I immediately said yes. I had no idea then that that one “Yes” would end up changing my life.

Twelfth Night in 2011. Photo by David Seidman.

Twelfth Night in 2011. Photo by David Seidman.

I had always loved theater; my parents took my siblings and me to plays at Shakespeare in the Park every summer. My mom’s favorite movie was the 1993 version of Much Ado About Nothing, and it quickly became one of my favorites as well (my wedding processional was the movie’s main theme). As a child, I did not always understand the words or their meaning, but I loved the excitement, the costumes, and the soothing flow of the rhythms and rhymes. Those performances stuck with me, so much that I can still remember details of plays I saw when I was 10. One production of Twelfth Night particularly enchanted me; it concluded with a song that I can still sing today, 20 years later.

Despite that love of theater, I never really considered getting into acting. Sure, I participated in church choir productions and class shows in elementary school, and I sang solos in talent shows, but I never took a theater class or auditioned for a community or school play. I was a perfectionist child, utterly terrified of failing at anything, and trying out for a play meant I could be rejected. I stuck with activities that were comfortable for me, like band and newspaper.

That’s how I went through my primary school years and college years, doing fine, but not really taking many chances. But then after college, I became roommates with Grace. Grace was bold and brave. With her hammered dulcimer, she had formed her own wizard rock band, writing songs and touring the country with her fellow Harry Potter loving friends. She took up the ukulele on a whim and wrote an entire album with it. She took part-time gigs instead of a full-time job so she could continue to tour regularly. I thought she was the coolest and wanted to be more like her. So when she found that Craigslist ad, I jumped at the chance.

Antony and Cleopatra, 2011. Photo by David Seidman.

Antony and Cleopatra, 2011. Photo by David Seidman.

That troupe would become Britches and Hose, a theater company and community I love dearly founded by a woman and now close friend, Arielle Seidman. That first play-Antony and Cleopatra-brought out sides to me I didn’t know existed. I learned to enunciate, to memorize lines, to project my voice, and emote. And despite having zero training, I wasn’t half bad at it! The hard work we put into the plays and the pride I felt in the final product helped me grow so much as a person.

I gained the confidence to admit my post-college job wasn’t working out. The journalism career I had pursued since high school was not making me happy; in fact, I was pretty miserable. I was an editor running a local news website out of my house for a rapidly growing company. My website was going well, my boss seemed happy with my work, but I was bored out of my mind, despite being incredibly busy. My experiences with theater gave me the courage to face that fact and finally deal with it.

She Stoops to Conquer. Photo by David Harback of Harback Photography.

She Stoops to Conquer. Photo by David Harback of Harback Photography.

In summer 2011, I quit my job without another position lined up; I would end up working various nanny and office jobs to cover my bills. I applied to law school. I auditioned for the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and spent many glorious weekends wandering about in a Tudor court costume, talking in a British accent to visitors. All the while, Britches and Hose continued rehearsing and performing; that fall, I was cast in my first lead role as Viola in Twelfth Night, which shocked and delighted me. B&H founder Arielle and my roommate Dave (Arielle’s partner) also worked at the renaissance festival, so we would road-trip together for work and then race back for Sunday night play rehearsals at our house.

During the lead-up for our third B&H play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, I made the heartbreaking decision to leave everyone I knew in DC behind and move to Chicago for law school. However, right after driving all my belongings out there in August 2012, I flew back for a single weekend; I couldn’t miss performing in B&H’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.

The courage I gained from B&H enabled me to participate in law school in ways I never did in college. I signed up for clubs and ran for elected positions. I did better in my classes, made friends with my professors, graduated cum laude, and received a service award at graduation. During those years, I missed my theater community, but carried the strength it gave me every day; all my actions were impacted by it. I took the bar exam, got a job as a lawyer at a medical cannabis company, became engaged to the man I’d been dating throughout law school.

Much Ado About Nothing, 2012. Photo by David Seidman.

Much Ado About Nothing, 2012. Photo by David Seidman.

Then, in December 2016, I flew out for my interview at the PTO, coming out a day early so I could attend a B&H rehearsal. The troupe was no longer all-female, but still cast whatever actor was best for the role, regardless of gender. I remember sitting in that rehearsal, watching actors perform original one-act plays, feeling so pleased and awe-filled by what our ragtag group of thespians had become.

The rest is history. I accepted a position as a Trademark Examiner, moved to Virginia, and got immediately back into Britches and Hose. I’ve been in four B&H productions since then, worked with another community theater company on a gender-swapped production of Hamlet, and even submitted my first play for an upcoming festival. Our incredibly supportive group of actors has had a group message on Facebook going for over a year now, covering every topic imaginable, up to and including debating the Hogswarts houses of various Shakespeare characters. Arielle stood up as my bridesmaid in June; I just served as hers in October. Life is good.

And it all started with a “Yes.”

Twelfth Night, 2017. Photo by David Seidman.

Twelfth Night, 2017. Photo by David Seidman.

An ADHDer's Guide to Chronic Pain: Getting a Diagnosis

If you haven’t read the other parts of this series yet, here they are!

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 1

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 2

I’m a young adult with both ADHD and chronic pain. These two issues can often work counter to each other and cause a lot of frustration, but over the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to get better about dealing with both of them. This two-part blog post series will hopefully help other people dealing with the same issues- the first one will address getting a diagnosis, and the second will address day to day management. 😊

First, a little background.

ADHD: I was diagnosed with ADD (now referred to as ADHD) in my junior year of high school when I basically had a depressive breakdown due to stress from my undiagnosed focus issues. I went on ADHD meds at that time (Concerta) and remained on them through college. I eventually stopped taking them for a couple of years, not really for any good reason that I can recall. I went without them for probably 5-6 years, but got back on them after about 8 months into my current job. My job can often be repetitive and unexciting, and these things set my ADHD off like crazy, so I really needed to have the meds to function. I’ve been at my job at just over 2.5 years now, so clearly they’ve helped! My main ADHD symptoms are forgetfulness, time blindness, focus issues, and impulsivity. I use a lot of different techniques to keep focused at work, which I blogged about here.

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Chronic Pain: I have experienced some degree of stiffness and pain in my neck since at least high school. I cannot recall exactly when it started. I was officially diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my cervical joints (neck joints) in 2017 shortly after I turned 29. I’ve tried a TON of different things to help my pain, but currently, I get my arthritic nerves burned off with radiofrequency ablation 1-2 times a year, I get massages at least once a month, and I do daily physical therapy exercises and stretches. The PT is a really recent addition, but it’s been WONDERFUL; these exercises have really improved my symptoms!

I have also had some other recent chronic pain issues that are of a slightly more private nature that I’d rather not discuss in too much detail. However, I handled getting the diagnosis of this pain MUCH better than I ever handled my osteoarthritis pain, so I’m going to use that process as an example for a lot of my tips here.

Getting a diagnosis of your chronic pain can be a complicated and frustrating process even if you DON’T have a mental condition that reduces your ability to remember symptoms and advocate for yourself. But hopefully this guide helps!*

(*Quick note: this guide doesn’t address money and insurance issues because that’s a whole complicated issue on its own that I’ll try to discuss in the future.)

1.     Pay attention to your pain. Don’t ignore it; your body is telling you that something is wrong! It almost certainly won’t go away on its own, and ignoring pain can lead to exacerbated symptoms over time.

I ignored my chronic neck/shoulder pain for YEARS, to the point that I literally can’t remember when exactly it started. Part of this was ADHD forgetfulness – I’d intend to go to a doctor and forget to put it on the calendar and part of this was just not wanting to make a fuss. Women in particular in our society are often taught to just grin and bear it, and I think I honestly took that too much to heart. I didn’t want to be annoying or a burden. In addition, when something is chronic, you often get so used to it that you don’t even consider it something abnormal or worth reporting. So I said nothing and I did nothing about it until it became too painful for me to ignore. And that’s sad, because honestly, if I had received treatment and physical therapy years ago, I probably wouldn’t have developed the level of osteoarthritis I have now. This is not a reversable condition, so it’s just something I have to manage from here on out.

Let me emphasize something here. Chronic pain is not normal. I don’t care if the pain isn’t too bad or if it’s manageable. It needs to be addressed.
Fortunately, when I developed New Fun chronic pain this past year, I started addressing it much more quickly and scheduled a visit with a doctor right away.

2.     Document Everything. As someone with ADHD, I’m really bad at remembering things. This led to some trouble when I tried getting my neck pain diagnosed, as I’d get asked if there was any inciting incident, or exactly when it started, and I had to say that I genuinely didn’t remember. That was fun.

When I developed my New Fun chronic pain, I started writing down when my pain appeared and where it appeared. I initially chronicled this (unintentional pun!) in the notes app on my iPhone. Eventually I downloaded the Cara app, which allows me to track a LOT of different things and symptoms – pain but also what food I was eating, when I was working out, etc. This was really helpful in tracking down what my actual issue was.

3.     Persist in Advocating for Yourself. The first doctor you see for your chronic pain may not be the right one. Pain in any one area can originate from several different places! And the doctors or health professionals you see may not be terribly helpful in giving you next steps to take in figuring out your diagnosis, so you’ll have to keep working on your own to get there.

In my 20s, I talked to my primary care doctors several times about my neck pain. One of them thought it might be just due to stress, and told me to stress out less (that was helpful). She also briefly put me on anxiety medication, which didn’t help my pain at all, and made me feel like I was losing control entirely (I got off it really quickly). I saw a pain doctor in Chicago who put me on some prescription strength NSAIDs, but said he couldn’t do anything more for me without an MRI, which I couldn’t afford at the time (my insurance was….really bad at the time and my deductible was sky high). So I had some pain relief for a while, but then I ran out of refills and went through minor withdrawal. I also saw masseuses, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, etc. – nothing worked. This was over the course of YEARS. Once I got my current job and got good insurance, I went to my current pain doctor, who diagnosed my arthritis with one X-ray and started getting me treated immediately with radiofrequency ablation. After a couple years of that, I was still having more pain than I liked, so I went to physical therapy this last May, and finally got my pain really reduced!

A screenshot of the Cara app I used to track my symptoms.

A screenshot of the Cara app I used to track my symptoms.

For my New Fun chronic pain, I initially thought it was due to one specific issue, and went to specialist A for it. Twice. Specialist A ran tests on me twice and said they were clear, but didn’t give me any idea what else it could be or any guidance on what to do next. She DID however help me, because she made an off-hand remark about “oh there are thousands of things that can cause X,” which made me realize I really needed to go to my primary care doctor next. I went to PCP, he ran some tests, those tests were also clear. By that time, I had done a decent amount of research online and talked to my family about their various medical histories and come up with a hypothesis as to what was causing the pain; so after the third test came up without any problems, I went to specialist B, he ran a test, and FINALLY, I got a diagnosis and got put on some meds to get rid of the problem.

I had to do a lot of work by myself. I had to continue booking appointments with doctors until I got a diagnosis, google a lot about my symptoms, gather information from my family, come up with ideas as to what the issue might be, and keep track of what it definitely was NOT so I could relay that to my doctors throughout the process. It was kind of exhausting, and not cheap (even with my very good health insurance). I highly suggest ZocDoc for finding doctors in your area that take your insurance and setting up appointments; I know my ADHD brain always procrastinates making a phone call, and just being able to book an appointment online was a huge weight off my back.

 So that’s what I have for getting a diagnosis. Next blog posts in this series will deal with pain management for ADHDers. You can read those here:

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 1

An ADHDer’s Guide to Chronic Pain: Daily Management Part 2

Hey Look, I Can Write Biographical Sketches!

So I researched and wrote two bio sketches about DC-area suffragists affiliated with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) for a crowdsourcing project, run out of the Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender, Brighamton University, SUNY, is collecting biographical sketches of women supporters of woman suffrage campaigns in the first two decades of the twentieth century for an eventual online publication of the “Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States.”

Here are my sketches! They took much longer than planned because I had to comb through SO many 1800s newspapers online. I had a lot of fun though.

Ellen Powell Thompson, courtesy of NPS

Ellen Powell Thompson, courtesy of NPS

Biography of Ellen Powell Thompson, 1840-1911

President of the Women’s Suffrage Association of the District (1895-1896, 1897-1900); Washington, D.C. Representative who spoke before the Congressional Committee on Woman Suffrage in 1896

Ellen Louella (Nellie) Powell Thompson was born in 1840 in Jackson, Ohio to John and Mary Powell. She became a teacher at the age of sixteen. She married Prof. Almon Harris Thompson (1837-1906) on July 8, 1862 in Wheaton, Illinois.  She continued to work as a teacher and when her husband entered the army, she took up his position as a superintendent of schools. She spent the summer of 1863 at Cairo, Illinois caring for sick and wounded soldiers while her husband was stationed there.

Thompson (and her dog Fuzz) also accompanied her husband on an 1871 Colorado River expedition led by her brother Major John Wesley Powell. Prof. Thompson served as Major Powell’s chief assistant on the expedition. The expedition made maps of several western territories, often traveling on mule or horseback. On her journey she befriended some of the native American tribes and collected botanical samples. Three of the plants she discovered are named for her: Thompson’s Dalea (Psrothamnus thompsoniae), Thompson’s Penstemon (Penstemon thompsoniae), and Thompson’s Woolly Locoweed (Astralagus mollissimum var. thompsoniae). On the trip, Prof. Thompson named the summit of the Henry Mountains Mount Ellen after his wife. Her plant collection is preserved in the Gray Herbarium at Harvard University and her diary from the trip is in the collection of the New York Public Library manuscripts and archives division, along with her husband’s diary.

They moved to Washington, D.C.in the early 1880s when Prof. Thompson began to work for the U.S. Geological Survey under Major Powell. There, Thompson became active in a number of groups. She served as President of the Women’s Suffrage Association of the District from 1895-1896 and from 1897-1900 , served as chairman of the bust fund committee in 1898 (raising money to create busts of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony), and served as the organization’s delegate to the Annual National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention several times.

She notably spoke as the Washington, D.C. representative before the Congressional Committee on Woman Suffrage on January 28, 1896. In her speech, she specifically noted that arguments against granting the vote to women due to lack of political experience and education made no sense, as first, women lacked the ability to gain experience (stating, “We cannot swim without water to swim in”) and second, girls had actually gained significantly higher levels of education than boys over the previous 20 years. Articles describing her suffrage work in the District of Columbia appeared in a variety of newspapers across the nation. She was quoted on more than one occasion quipping that she was gratified that in Washington, D.C., men had no more political rights than women (due to lack of voting representation for the District in Congress).

Ellen Powell Thompson also served as the chairman of the congressional committee for the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention in 1898. She was a founding member of the Equal Suffrage Association of the District of Columbia, which combined several suffrage groups and was auxiliary to the American Woman Suffrage Association, in December 1898. She was also active in Wimodaughsis as a director in 1985, in the local committee on arrangements for the National Council of Women in 1899, and in the Junior Equal Suffrage Club in 1903.

Apart from her suffrage work, she was also a founding member of the Anti-Division Association (which promoted enforcement of criminal law) and the Woman’s Anthropological Society in 1896, and was also active with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of the District of Columbia and the Federation of Women’s Club of the District of Columbia.

The Thompsons had no children. He predeceased her in July 1906 after suffering from stomach cancer for several years. She died on March 12, 1911 of sudden heart failure. Ellen Powell Thompson is buried with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

Sources:

Almon Harris Thompson and Ellen Powell diaries, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. http://archives.nypl.org/mss/4152

A canyon voyage: the narrative of the second Powell expedition down the Green-Colorado River from Wyoming, and the explorations on land, in the years 1871 and 1872 by Dellenbaugh, Fredrick Samuel. Published 1908.

The Decatur Herald Jan. 25, 1896. P 4.

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 16 Feb 1898. P 7.; August 1, 1906. P 2; Dec. 23, 1898. P 9.

John Wesley Powell: An Annotated Bibliography Marcia L. Thomas. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.

John Wesley Powell’s Headquarters at Kanab. Lyndia Carter. History Blazer, December 1996. Published online at http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/trappers,_traders,_and_explorers/johnwesleypowellsheadquartersatkanab.html.

Press, Platform, Pulpit: Black Feminist Publics in the Era of Reform by Teresa Zackodnik. P 233.

Victorian Flower Power. Anne Merrill Ingram. Common-Place vol. 7 no. 1 October 2006. http://www.common-place-archives.org/vol-07/no-01/ingram/

The Washington Times, Jan. 17, 1896. P 5; 13 Mar 1911. P 2. (Obituary)

Weisheit, John. “The Powell Survey of the 1870s: Art & Science from the Saddle. On the Colorado.”


Biography of Mary Lucinda Rogers Talbott, 1832– 1921

President of the Women’s Suffrage Association of the District of Columbia (1904-1905)

Mary L Talbott was born October 24, 1832 in Waterloo, Illinois to Emory Peter Rogers and Eunice Ashley Ward Rogers. She married Henry Clay Talbott (born 1828) on October 24, 1850 in Monroe, Illinois. According to census records, she had five children, of which only Henry Talbott, born 1851, appeared to survive childhood. Her husband died sometime between 1870 and 1880.

Mary helped incorporate the District of Columbia Woman Suffrage Association in March 1901. The articles of incorporation stated, “The stated objects of the association are to secure for women citizens of the United States the full right of suffrage and the same rights to which any other citizens may be entitled; to build in this city a club house for women and to collect and to disburse funds for the purpose of erecting such club house and other appropriate memorials to the memory of women who have performed national or other meritorious work for the enfranchisement of women and the good of humanity. The association is also formed for educational, literary, and scientific purposes and for mutual improvement.”

She served as president of the District of Columbia Woman Suffrage Association from 1904-1905. During her tenure, the association performed a study of Fisk’s Civil Government of the United States, Laws affecting Women and Children, taxation, and other subjects of public interest. The association also supported a variety of bills proposed in U.S. Congress considered of special interest to women, including those for the protection of neglected and delinquent children, compulsory education, restriction of child labor, raising the salaries of public school teachers, and the establishment of a juvenile court. She was active with the committee on local arrangements for the meeting of the thirty-fourth annual convention of National Suffrage Association meeting twice.

Mary was also active in the Equal Suffrage Association of the District of Columbia, where she was elected auditor. In January 1908, Mary was an active proponent of a petition authored by the Equal Suffrage Association asking that women be permitted to vote on the question of abolishing liquor in the District of Columbia.  The ESA specifically stated at the time that it had no particular opinion on the issue of prohibition of alcohol, but were involved only to secure the ballot.

Mary also participated in the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Political Study Club, and the Women’s Beneficent Society of People’s Church.

Her son, Henry Talbott, became the secretary of the Interstate Commerce Commission (also chief of division of indices of the ICC, tariff expert). Mary was credited with assisting him with many reports of the ICC. Together, they started the Talbott Free Library in Waterloo, Illinois in 1892 with a donation of a collection of 2,000 reading materials. The library first opened in 1894 and relocated to a new location, the former home of Colonel William Rawls Morrison, in 1911. The city clerk at the time, J.W. Jackson, moved into the house and began a long tradition of librarians living in the home. After her son died of pneumonia in 1916 at the age of 64, she became the librarian, moved into the library herself, and spent several thousand dollars on remodeling the building.

She died on January 11, 1921 at age 89 from a fall in Waterloo, Illinois. The library she helped found still exists today under the name of Morrison-Talbott Library.

Sources:

Evening Star (Washington D.C.). March 19, 1901; Jan 30, 1904. P 10; Feb 10. 1904. P 10; April 2, 1904. P 24; Dec 1, 1907. P 72; Feb. 29, 1916. P 10.

Find a Grave (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed Jan 1, 2018), Waterloo City Cemetery, Waterloo, Ill., Mary Lucinda Rogers Talbott, Memorial #54571000.

“Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” Database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KF2T-3J9 : 4 November 2017), Henry C Talbott and Mary Y Rogers, 24 Oct 1850; citing Monroe, Illinois, United States, county offices, Illinois; FHL microfilm 1,006,355.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Pedigree Resource File,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:2:SP5N-X7V : accessed 2018-01-02), entry for Mary Lucinda /Rogers/.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Ancestral File,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:1:M751-2LR : accessed 2018-01-02), entry for Mary Lucinda ROGERS.

“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M858-84K : 12 April 2016), Mary Rogers in household of Barbary Schemberg, Waterloo, Monroe, Illinois, United States; citing family 1344, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

“United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6HJ-ZWX : 12 April 2016), Mary L Talbott in household of H C Talbott, Illinois, United States; citing p. 10, family 74, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 545,760.

“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXVY-F4S : 15 September 2017), Mary L Talbott, Waterloo, Monroe, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district ED 65, sheet 36D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0237; FHL microfilm 1,254,237.

“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMF3-TVH : accessed 1 January 2018), Mary L Talbott in household of Harry Atchison, Washington city, Washington, District of Columbia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 81, sheet 5A, family 88, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,161.

“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MK6R-MYR : accessed 1 January 2018), Henry Talbott in household of Mike Schorr Jr., Waterloo Ward 1, Monroe, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 81, sheet 8A, family 85, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 312; FHL microfilm 1,374,325.

The Washington Times. Feb. 3, 1902. P 6.

The Washington Post. Jan, 21, 1910. P 2.

Waterloo library celebrating 125 years. By Sean McGowan. Sept. 13, 2017. http://www.republictimes.net/waterloo-library-celebrating-125-years/. Visited Dec. 2017.


Elizabethan Ruffs for Shakespeare Cats - Out of Coffee Filters!

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So on Saturday, I found out that @barkbox did a #Shakespeare in the dog park toy/treat collection! I of course, had to look for photos of this, and spent probably half an hour just looking at photos of dogs wearing Elizabethan ruffs and playing with Shakespeare themed toys!

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Then I ended up making Elizabethan ruffs for my #cats out of coffee filters. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I literally just cut a hole in the middle of the coffee filter and a cut down the side, put it around their necks, and taped it closed. They didn’t actually seem to mind them too much, although Martok tried to eat his for a little bit.

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They stayed on their necks for a surprisingly long time considering how flimsy a single coffee filter is. It was super simple and fun and I may do this again for Halloween. :)

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Of course I had to match photos of the kitties with Shakespeare quotes. Did you expect anything less?

DIY Cleaning Tip for Clogged Toilets (ew)

I learned this past weekend that there aren’t any drain cleaning chemicals approved for use with toilets. At least none in my local grocery store. Apparently they just burn through the pipes or something? I don’t know. But there was a toilet that I couldn’t manage to unclog with just a plunger, so I had to come up with SOMETHING to avoid hiring a plumber.

I ended up pouring a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar into the toilet and letting it sit overnight. The next morning - voila! Working Toilet!

It’s not glamorous, but dear god I’m just glad it worked and we don’t have to worry about that anymore!

Now here’s a photo of a cat to make everything happier.

Guest cat Martok very ferociously grabbed a bag of treats and ran away with it, with Ziggy chasing after him. I ended up having to enclose the bag in a Tupperware container to get him to stop. He was LESS than pleased with me and hissed when I took the treats away, but then forgave me and used me as a ladder to get to a windowsill two minutes later, so we’re good now.

Guest cat Martok very ferociously grabbed a bag of treats and ran away with it, with Ziggy chasing after him. I ended up having to enclose the bag in a Tupperware container to get him to stop. He was LESS than pleased with me and hissed when I took the treats away, but then forgave me and used me as a ladder to get to a windowsill two minutes later, so we’re good now.