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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

And Now for Something Completely Different

And no, it's neither the Spanish Inquisition (bet you weren't expecting that), nor the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Nope, this one is about allergies.

But wait, you might say, you've talked about allergies before, so it's not something completely different. I have, because usually allergies lead to sinus infections. Sinus infections lead to bronchitis. Bronchitis leads to suffering. Thus is the Power of Cottonwood Pollen the Dark Side.

This one is about the science of hay-fever-type (or "seasonal allergic rhinitis") allergies. In easily-accessible English, with lots of pop-culture references and links, because that's how I roll.

I know, as I have been doing this for a long time (since 1994 or 1995, the first time I got pneumonia and ended up with asthma thereby), that it's not what we think of as cottonwood (really one of several types of poplar) "pollen" (really seed pod puffs); they're just the visual sign that this has been brewing for several weeks.

See, the boy trees have been spreading their pollen around (isn't that just like a man?) for about three weeks. And by the time the girl trees release their pretty white puffs, those of us with seasonal allergic rhinitis have started hitting the overload point; our systems just go, "Uh-uh, that's a big nope!" We get all overreact-y to the stuff we've been breathing for weeks (and whatever else we can normally handle when we haven't been breathing boy-pollen for weeks, like whey for me) and the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, stuffy head, (but not usually aching or fever) begin. (As a side note, in tenth grade, my partner and I did that commercial in Spanish. We got an A.)

For those of us with asthma, it's even more exciting, of course, which is why my initial plan for today - to work around the house and yard until I reached my step goal - did not happen. Can't breathe easily, therefore can't walk much. So I did the dishes and some laundry and job-hunting instead. Indoor stuff. And I'm not even talking about food allergies, which as we know around here can be actually deadly, not just make you feel like death.

I did everything right; I've been taking the preventive stuff since March. But still and all, with a warm and dry (for us) spring, the system can still get overwhelmed. And as it's just a miserable allergy, not a serious one, Benadryl does well in a pinch.

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Morning in the Life of the Unemployed Mom

This may get a bit ranty, but I'll do what I can.

Here's how weekdays go at Chez GamersBabes. Example, this morning, May 21, 2018:

5:50: Make sure fifteen-year-old is awake so she can get ready for school. She takes the bus, and a trusted neighbor with a kid in the same school drives them both to the bus, as it's almost a mile on a country road with no sidewalks. At least this time of year I don't have to worry about it being dark, too, though there's always that niggling back-of-the-mind concern about them getting shot at school, these days. Yes, she can get up and going by herself, but the couple of times she has overslept her alarm made an impression; it's a pain to get her to school if she does this. And I was pretty sure she wouldn't have slept well, as she had a callback for a part at Studio East yesterday and was having trouble settling down last night.

Attempt to go back to sleep, but don't really relax enough to do so until front door slams on her way out. You have to slam it if the lock is engaged, so if I don't hear that slam by 6:25, I go out and check it. She's only forgotten once.

7:45: Get up and make sure ten-year-old is awake and moving. She needs more help, as she is a creature of routine, so we lay out her clothes the night before, in the proper order. From bottom to top of the pile, this is: top or dress, undershirt, socks (or tights if she's wearing a dress), pants or skirt (or modesty shorts if she's wearing a dress but not tights), undies. That way they're in the correct order for putting on in the morning. Today is a red striped top, black pants, pink and black socks (her choice, folks, not mine), and the underwear. She had a shower yesterday so she doesn't need one until tonight or tomorrow.

Mondays she has PE, so it's not a dress or skirt day, and - thank the god(s) of your choice - she's buying lunch today, so we don't have to negotiate that. But also, today is SBA (state testing), so she didn't sleep well; in fact she came out of her room at nine last night to inform me she was panicking a little because she couldn't sleep and testing is today. This is after telling me that this was the easy part of the test, because the writing portion is Tuesday, and she hates writing, but Tuesday is also Music, and she loves Music, so they should balance out. Plus on Tuesday, because it's Music and not PE, she can wear a dress, which makes her feel more confident. So it should really balance out, right, Mom? Right.

Also, today she informs me that she needs a "bigger breakfast than usual" (I don't starve her, I swear it, but it's sometimes a challenge to get her vegetarian self enough protein in the morning). So today she had oatmeal with nuts and berries, a banana, and some cheese. She says her plate looks like "a Cyclops talking on the phone," so we're all good.

I have coffee with creamer and a banana. I'm out of yogurt, and we used up our boiled eggs yesterday. The cottonwood is drifting like snow out there, so I should probably stay away from my allergens (like whey) anyway; why tempt fate?

8:45: Ten-year-old gets off to school, and Mom gets moving on her own stuff. I empty, reload, and run the dishwasher. The not-dishwasher-safe things are washed. I make a huge pot (gallon and a half) of iced tea (several tea bags, a ripe strawberry, half a cup of sugar, and a bit of lemon juice). Boil a dozen eggs in the Instant Pot. Throw in a load of laundry, as I didn't get all of it done Sunday with other things going on. Make ice and leave the trays out so I can rinse them before I make more. Make my first run of the day through LinkedIn. Nothing new, but then it's barely nine on a Monday on my coast.

Run through Facebook. Block someone making racist and misogynist comments on a friend's wall. Snooze someone who thinks that school shootings are because of medication for depression; wish that everyone in the country could take a Logic 101 class and learn the difference between correlation and causation. Commiserate with a friend who is having a "my baby is growing up" moment. Friend someone who really likes the profile pic I designed (I had stickers made!). Get the heck away from Facebook for the morning, because between the constant school shootings and Mad (in more than one sense) President Tweets and picking apart the royal wedding, I need a break.

Start writing a blog post.

10:45(ish): Lookit that, I'm almost ready to post. Cool. Now, for the rest of my day, I will write textbroker articles (probably netting me a grand total of ten bucks for the day), continue the job search now that the job market has had its coffee, fold the laundry that I threw in, empty the dishwasher, do some tidying up, figure out how to hang up Lizzy's chalkboard in her room, figure out how to hang a pretty ornament thing she got from her grandma, and work on organizing the shed a bit (if I can take the pollen count). I'll get a shower in at some point; my water heater is not capable of showers and the dishwasher at the same time. Lunch somewhere in there. At 4:15 I get Lizzy from the bus and go to my mom's for dinner. Vegetarian tostadas, yum!

A day in the life. I'm unemployed. I'm fat. But I'm not (although I have my moments) lazy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Writers Write (Reposted from LinkedIn)

I write. It's what I do. I'm good at it, I enjoy it, and it's my go-to self-therapy. I keep a personal blog, a work-safe version of that personal blog, and I spend a fair bit of my social media time writing. I play with tropes and I write fan-fiction. I teach my children about etymology and literary devices and whether cops-in-donut-shops is a stereotype. I talk about writing (and reading, and editing, and grammar, and the Oxford Comma) with my friends. I write for SEO companies, but at a few cents a word, that's generally enough for my Seattleite Coffee Snob self to have a daily latte (non-dairy, one pump of whatever the flavor of the day is... as long as it's not macadamia or white chocolate, because bleah).

So yeah, I write. In these situations, I write colloquially, but I'm certainly capable of using whatever style guide you like or need me to use. I can proofread and edit, too. I have a Bachelor of Science in Intercultural Communications, an open mind, and the ability to work with people (the last few months of my time at AT&T was an aberration; I was not in a good mental place to work in a customer-facing position immediately following the death of my husband). And I don't want to work retail or call center or hospitality hours anymore; I'm a widowed mom of two and I want to work when they're in school as much as possible.

It's really that simple. A position where I can write, during standard business hours; that's all I'm really asking for here. How hard can that be?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Rejection, Grief, and Depression

Depression comes in several flavors for me, and it's a fairly comprehensive list. The types are very entwined; some of it is just my brain's chemical makeup, some is grief, some is situational-but-not-directly-grief, some is body-chemistry-but-not-brain-chemistry.

It's not a good mix.

Please don't suggest meds, meditation, weight loss, Vitamin D, melatonin, counseling, etc. We're doing these things, and doing them appropriately. They've helped a lot; I can now use the phrase "widowed mom of two," for instance, without curling up into a ball. People offer to help, and although those offers (especially from family) often make me feel like an incompetent-at-life-preadolescent, I do usually take them, especially if they directly benefit the kids. Swallowing my pride over and over is not helping with depression.

But these things don't actually help a lot with the current underlying issue, which is that I need a job.

I'm working a bit on a freelance basis; textbroker.com is terrific. I've tried delivery services, though there are some technical snafus going on with that. But these are not a living in and of themselves. I don't qualify for assistance (except the food bank, according to my research) because the death benefits I get for the girls means I make too much for that. And I wouldn't want to do that anyway; I want to work. I'm not disabled, not enough to be unable to work anyway, though if you read my blog regularly you probably know that temporary emotional disability due to a death in the family was certainly a big part of the problem at my last job.

In any case, this is not meant to be (yet another) post about that whole mess; suffice it to say that I'm better now, and as long as I don't have to deal with retail or call center hours and bottom-line-only-screw-the-worker employers or irrational-Veruca-Salt customers on the daily, I could work. I could work full time and be happy and productive in it. Because the daily rejection is adding to the depression in a big big way, and as well-meaning as it is, so are the offers of help.

So here goes.

Requirements: standard work week or telecommute ability, 25 to 40 hours a week, $16+ an hour, in writing or editing or communications or software testing or even plain old data entry.
Wish List: the above, plus a few dollars an hour, close by (to northeast of Seattle) or with commute subsidy, full benefits for me and Lizzy (Abby has her own through her dad), and writing about video games (at which I'm actually pretty good, thanks, Atari/Humongous).

And for the sake of all you hold holy, please no "business opportunities." I don't have the wherewithal, financially or mentally, to start my own business or participate in your MLM.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Well, Crap

Now I've gotten that out of my system (so to speak), I'm going to talk about the more medical and dietary aspects of recovering from (fairly mild) illness.

Here's the thing; I have had a sinus infection, for which I needed antibiotics starting last Wednesday (and yes, I know how they make bacteria more resistant, etc. I only get the anti-bx when it won't go away using other methods). I am an old hand at this (I'm almost fifty, after all, and I have done the upset-intestine thing before), so I've been taking my probiotics as well (yogurt, acidophilus capsules). All was well until Monday evening, when the fecal matter hit the revolving blades. So to speak.

Uh, yeah, my body is not happy.

So I went to BRAT. Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. As I said, I've done this before.

But here's the other thing; my husband died of colon cancer about twenty months ago, so upset stomach and the treatment thereof makes me a little more panicky than it used to. Not panicky enough to go into the ER or anything, though, so I called the consulting nurse at the hospital.

"Do I need to take these last three pills? I know you're supposed to finish the antibiotics, but BRAT isn't good for long periods of time; it's to let your system have a rest, not as a replacement diet forever (besides, do you know how many Weight Watchers Smart Points are in rice and toast?!)."

The nurse laughed, congratulated me for calling in (most parents only call for their kids, apparently; for themselves they wait until it's bad enough to take that visit to the ER), said yes, I should finish the antibiotics as sinusitis is a stubborn beast, and explained that now I've done BRAT for a day or so, it's time to move to BRATTY Plus. More nutrients for the body.

"Terrific; what other things can I eat for the next...?"

The next oh... couple of days, Ms Kirkland; I'd stick to BRATTY Plus through Thursday, then start adding other stuff in one at a time.

Bananas plus: sweet potatoes
Rice plus: oatmeal and other cereals
Applesauce plus: apples and pears
Toast plus: saltine crackers, baked potatoes, plain pasta
Tea plus: chicken broth and gelatin
Yogurt plus: kefir and other cultured foods, small amounts of nuts, seeds, and egg.

Also, no fried foods, no gassy foods (ed: that's probably a bit of the issue for me; while sick I've been sucking down bean soup like water), and very little dairy and protein except the yogurt and kefir, chicken broth and nuts/seeds.

Well, goodness, with the exception of things like chicken and fish and produce, I hope to be able to stick to that after my gut feels better! Just adjust the ratios some. More like BrAtTY Plus Lean Meat and Produce.

As it is, I've lost weight in a NON-Weight Watchers-approved fashion over the past couple days.

And I'd rather do it the right way.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Past Times

I'm cleaning out my email and Yahoo chat logs, and I came across some things that came Out of the Mouths, things I never put here before.

Like this gem, from when Lizzy was four: "Mommy, why don't the star-belly Sneetches just get markers and draw stars upon thars?" Because honestly, little kids not only think outside the box, they don't even get that there is a box.

At approximately the same time, Abby (then not quite nine) taught Lizzy the very important fact that books are read left to right (in English, anyway). Although this has apparently not stuck in Lizzy's brain when it comes to writing; she tends (even to this day) to make cards and book covers on the wrong page, so although the book itself is left to right, the cover is what should be the back cover.


These pictures. Long, curly, nearly-dark-blonde hair on Liz (age four). Where the heck did that come from? And where did it go? Because in this year's school pic (age 10), she's a short, wavy brunette. I changed the length, but the rest... The bright blue eyes don't change much though.

Also, why did I get her two drinks (granted, one is clearly water)?

The first time Abby watched Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead, she loved it; I attributed this love to her Perky Goth-ness. She and a friend are watching it as I type, and she now has some Torchwood under her belt. She groks the Rift and how things may look supernatural but actually be alien instead. It's an interesting contrast.

And this entire scenario:
Abby just came into the apartment, flanked by neighbor kids, brothers who bracket her in age (so Ash is eight, Abby is nine, Tris is ten) whom she recruited to help her take out the garbage. I asked them to take the Netflix envelope out to the mailbox, because the next thing in our queue is Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest. Then the following conversation ensues:

Ash: You're getting something from Netflix? No fair!

Abby: Yeah, it's like a cartoon about the Doctor.

Tris: Doctor Who? (I tried really hard not to scream with laughter, and failed)

Abby: Yeah, Doctor Who. He's a Time Lord and he looks like a human, except he has two hearts and twelve lives and he travels in this blue phone box called a TARDIS that's bigger on the inside and he has friends and sees the universe and sometimes he saves it and there are lots of aliens and tonight are the aliens who use other people's bodies called the Slitheen.

Ash looks a little shell-shocked. Tris - who reads Ultimate Spider-Man - is a little more sophisticated in such things and takes it all in stride.

And they leave, taking the garbage with them (and forgetting the Netflix discs, but no worries, we're nowhere near the Infinite Quest in terms of what to watch next)

Abby is so freakin' troperrific.