21 Mar

This week I learned the importance of pacing and balance

I’ve been a bit absent on social media and at the blog. And it’s been due to the high amount of work I’ve been attempting of late. Getting the last details of this novel I’m about to write nailed down, freelance work, a large coding project, and more was occupying mental space and time. I’d lost weeks of work due to being drugged when I messed up my back, so I was also frustrated and trying to catch up. Add that to feeling very down about being housebound, and an ugly winter, and I’m just out… out of whatever it is I need.

Cal, one of my twin daughters, went in last week for routine surgery to remove a cyst. Still, even though small, she was fully put under for it. Scary for me as a parent to watch her get the mask and get wheeled out. She was a trooper, but the couple of nights leading up to the event I got very little sleep. Nervous dad.

Last Thursday, we were up before six in the morning to get her ready and to the hospital, then drop her sister off at daycare. Spent the morning in the hospital with her.

Everything went super.


But between that and all the work, I was starting to get a bit wobbly. Saturday found me in a state of general malaise due to a head cold, that added to the exhaustion, and I found myself unable to control my pulse. As the rate kept remaining high none of my methods to control it worked, and I felt rest and balance, what I needed, were already out of my control.

I didn’t want my pulse to be racing because I had a flight on Sunday to catch. But late Saturday, I realized I couldn’t get my rates under 115bpm and I was really uncomfortable. I called it, and we packed the kids up at 2am and went into the ER. I felt horrible about doing it. Disrupting Emily’s sleep, scaring the kids a little. But I was unable to control it and scared.

After getting hooked up to the EKG machine and my blood tested, they also ran an additional cat scan. It was a low-key affair, I had a feeling it was mainly stress and exhaustion triggering the event. And by early morning, the doctor had run enough tests and monitored me to come to the same conclusion. Acute anxiety plus exhaustion and a head cold. I took a picture of me smiling for the camera that night as a selfie and a mark, just to look back at:

Photo 1

I asked the doctor if I was safe to travel. He cleared me. The next day, late in the night and still dog-fucking-exhausted, but no longer with a racing pulse, I checked into a rental house me and some writer friends had gotten for a week of writing.

Over the next few days, I didn’t set an alarm clock, I enjoyed good company, ate clean, and sat in the sun and soaked up the rays and tried to shake this nasty headache and sinus pressure. I swam in the pool each day. I wrote as I felt like it, and still have blown away my usual daily average. I’ve taken naps at random.

I feel like a hundred pound vest that I didn’t even realize I was wearing has melted off.

And today I took another selfie, so I could compare my face with what I looked like on Sunday:

Photo 2

The last time I was in the ER was in 2009. Since then I’ve slowly lost 35 or more pounds, (over 35 of fat, gained some muscle), gotten more active within the confines of what my heart defect allows, and gotten more hours I can work a day back. But I’ve loaded myself up, and I’ve worked hard this winter, and for the last year. I’ve just been go. I’ve gotten more accomplished the last 18 months than I ever accomplished at any point in my 20s.

But I do need to remember that not taking a moment to take care of me has consequences still. I’ve gotten way healthier, but I can still burn out. And my burn out has health consequences.

Each day I’m getting stronger and my reserves are refilling. Which is good, I have a novel ahead that needs done on a tight schedule. I will need to pay attention to myself and not throw myself into the wall too much while writing it.

There’s still a little bit of stress. I’ve paid of a ton of debt (why I’ve worked so hard this last 18 months) and am trying to secure a brighter future here. Getting a kid in for a minor surgery and myself in for a catscan and heart-related emergency visit will have some big repercussions on the pocket book. It’ll slow some of the speed I want to pay off debt with.

But I’m glad to be kicking still. And I’m grateful to be here in Phoenix, writing for a living, in the sun after a shit winter, and that I’m able to refill those reserves.

And I’ve learned I need to pay just a little bit more attention to how I’m doing. Something I knew I might be screwing up when I first set out on this mad dash of working as much as possible 18 months ago.

08 May

New data tracks hospital procedure prices openly


“When a patient arrives at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for the respiratory ailment known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she faces an official price tag of $99,690.

Less than 30 miles away in the Bronx, N.Y., the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center charges only $7,044 for the same treatment, according to a massive federal database of national health care costs made public on Wednesday.”

(Via Hospital Prices No Longer Secret As New Data Reveals Bewildering System, Staggering Cost Differences.)

I wanted to add, yeah, there was an incredible difference between what I paid for my Canadian ER visit in Montreal versus the bills I got for Allen County, Ohio. Canada was 1/5, and I paid it all in one go at a bursar’s office, versus the 15-20 bills I get in the US for a visit…

17 Jan

Back, if a bit wobbly…

I’ve been down for the count almost all week long with a strain of whatever flu has been running wild. Yes, I did get my flu shots (every year, cardiologist thinks its a good idea as my heart does not like being dehydrated), but still succumbed.

Fortunately today I seem to up and out and looking at my email inbox in horror.

I watched a lot of silly TV while in a state of shivering stupor at the wee hours of the morning. I can’t remember half of it. But I do remember two of them, both on Netflix streaming.


One For The Money was the adaptation of Janet Evanovich’s novel starring Katherine Heigl. Panned by critics and slow at the box office I decided to watch it because I figured I had nothing to lose.

Maybe it was my feverish state, but I was quite charmed. It suffers from following a more novelistic pattern than a summer blockbuster one (two finales and two, or maybe even three, mini-ends) all throughout, which I could see might lead to some finding it meandering. The Jersey characters veered toward stereotypical that might not have been in the book [and Racalicious could probably write a doctoral thesis on the portrayal of the two black prostitutes]. And, the male lead, Jason Mara, while he has a pseudo-mid-career Mel Gibson sort of vibe going, just doesn’t quite match the badass of Daniel Sunjata (perfectly cast) leading to a mis-casting feel. Further, I’m wondering if female audiences who went to see it were hoping for a little more steam than the ads might have promised, it’s all very PG-13.

Nonetheless, Katherine Heigl made for a plucky Stephanie Plum. And unlike most movies with a strong female lead, she has agency and resolves the final threat to her own life, so I enjoyed that. She spent so much time being tutored by Daniel Sunjata I was worried the books would flip to, something that bugs me in too many (but not all) urban fantasy/female gumshoe novels I read where the heroine gets protected by the love interest. This movie avoided that silliness. After spending the whole movie learning the tricks, she uses them. Hurray for that.

This movie cost $40 million to make and didn’t earn out.

Seeing as that District 9 cost $30 million to make, I really don’t understand how it was possible for One for the Money to cost that much, unless it was mostly for the price of Heigl’s acting fee. In which case, she wasn’t acting Jersey all *that* well.

It seems to me they could have done 4 of these at $10 million dollars a pop with a slightly less famous actress and recouped their money on syndication or iTunes rentals. But what do I know? I just struggle to earn a living writing novels.


The other movie was Gunless. A Canadian take on the Old West mythology. Again, panned by critics. I think because it is less a ‘comedy’ than a movie that pokes back at the myth of the Old West from a Canadian perspective, which means it actively clashes with received wisdom from Gun Culture, which tends to rule in Pop Culture. For as much as the NRA is demanding that we not look at the man behind the curtain and instead look at video games and movies, I imagine Gunless is not the response they want, but it’s actually the direction you go if you’re playing with the assumption.

Now, what I found interesting about the movie was that even though I found the theme one I basically agree with (shotguns, rifles are tools, and the Canadians in the film own these kinds for basic self defense and hunting, but other kinds of guns are only for killing and mayhem, and they find them and the gun culture around them, as embodied by the gunslinger who shows up, both repellent in the damage it does [embodied by having their stuff casually shot up and their blacksmith challenged to die for no big reason that they can see] and fascinating at the same time [myth, manliness]) and cutely argued, I found the film ‘preachy’ initially, but as I self-interrogated I realized I found it ‘preachy’ based mainly (not entirely, there are 3 mini-preachy pieces of dialogue in there, to be fair, that I would have cut, audiences are not as stupid as we sometimes believe) on my own immersion in gun culture, which presumes Clint Eastwood’s pro-gun Dirty Harry/Westerns to be the base standard.

But Clint’s world is actually one pole. Just because it’s the pole I am constantly exposed to doesn’t mean anything. Gunless felt preachy mainly because it sat somewhere in the middle of a conversation about guns as tools (as I said, a middle position of one where it had rifles and shotguns as tools for farmers for self defense as hunting, but not for killing over insults, it was not anti-gun, though Clint-steeped gun fetishists would call it anti-gun it clearly isn’t) where a movie about Ghandi or no guns at all is the farther side of the continuum. My ‘meh’ feeling had more to do initially with my own pop culture experience.

That’s not to say Gunless was high art or an amazing movie. I’d pick 3:10 to Yuma or Unforgiven over it anyway, they’re just better pieces of art. Done. But Gunless was a cute, fun film that I’m glad I finally got around to watching after having had it in my queue for a year now. It had a lot of negative reviews, but I wonder if some of them were because it moved against a grain that people couldn’t quite express.

I probably wouldn’t have been able to self-interrogate if I wasn’t on an intellectual journey regarding my own assumptions about gun-fetishm that came from visiting England in November. That began a research quest that challenged many assumptions and wrapped up with Sandy Hook.

So that’s some of what I did while I was sick. Not my favorite way to spend a week. Hope your’s was better.

16 Aug

Driving Is Why You’re Fat

There’s an awesome graphic that puts together the rankings for how fit people are on a state by state ranking and how these people move themselves around to demonstrate that Driving Is Why You’re Fat.

Not exactly surprising.

I’d be more interested in seeing a county-by-county layout of this however, I suspect it would be more dramatic. Something similar to those county voting maps you see around.