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Off Topic Thursday: Buying a House

30 Jul

I took a week off earlier this month, something I’ve only done before if I was traveling. But I needed it. I’ve been very stressed in my personal life and my weekends weren’t a time to relax like they normally are. They were spent looking at houses.

My husband and I decided about a year ago that this would be the time we bought a house. Our lease on our apartment ends at the end of October so we started looking in June and started looking at houses two weeks ago. In our area, there are not many houses and there are a lot of buyers so the process moved a lot faster than I would have liked. We looked at over 20 houses in a week and by Sunday night, we had an offer accepted on our new home! The inspection is over and our mortgage is being processed. We’ll close at the end of August and should take possession at the beginning of October.

This process has been extremely stressful for me. I tend to freak out over money and this exacerbated that more than I thought it would. I kept worrying we wouldn’t have the money for closing costs or the inspection or a million other things. It would keep me up at night. I stopped buying anything that wasn’t critical just to save a few dollars. I think I was driving my husband crazy. I had a few sleepless nights wishing I had studied something different in college so our income would be higher and we could afford a bigger home.

I’m still struggling with this, but I’m also getting excited. We’re figuring out where bookshelves go and if we can get our recliner into the basement by ourselves. I’m finding running routes and bike paths. I’m ready for somewhere else to feel like home. We hope this is our forever house and we’re excited to get into it.

This is our porch in front of our house on our street. I know we’ll grow it into the home we want. I just need to get over my anxiety and enjoy where life has taken us.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Club Reflection: These Women by Ivy Pochoda

27 Jul

I’m back! I took a week off due to some craziness in life, but it’s given me a chance to read more and get excited about blogging again. I’m glad to be with you all again.

Our book club had another successful Zoom meeting to talk about our latest book, These Women by Ivy Pochoda. We learned a lot about the author that I wouldn’t have guessed. Her other novels are more gritty crime novels, which wasn’t too much of a surprise. I was a bit surprised to hear she’d been a collegiate squash player and very successful. She was also working with Kobe Bryant before his death on a YA series called Epoca. She uses the pseudonym Ivy Claire for these books. The first was released in November 2019.

Pochoda lives in LA and has been there since 2009 but she wasn’t raised there. Her portrayal of the city felt very real to us like she’s been there even longer. A lot of the description reminded us of Detroit; a city run down and trying to revive itself but having a hard time of it.

Pochoda’s women are empowered and have the ability to change their futures and the outcomes of what they do. We never get inside the male killer’s head. He’s not the focus of the stories. One reader figured out the killer quickly since he was the only man in the book and she figured it had to be a man. It seems obvious to me now, but I didn’t see that at the time. The time jumps threw off a few readers who were reading digitally or on audio for the first time and weren’t used to the new formats.

It was very timely of this book to include BLM protests. You have to think Pochoda knew to include these before they became front-page news. She was tuned in to what was happening and put them in her book, making it feel like she could tell the future. The book felt less escapist than crime novels normally do because it felt so real and connected to the headlines we’re reading now.

Pochoda created some very memorable characters. Feelia’s section was raw and had a lot of course language in it. Those of us who listened to it enjoyed it more. Her language was coarse, but she was describing some beautiful things. Most of us liked Essie. She had some great quirks, like her gum chewing. We’d love to see her as the detective in more books. Her backstory felt a little rushed so more books would give us more into her character. We wanted to know more about the car accident since it didn’t seem fleshed out enough. We also wanted to know more about her former partner, Debbie. That seemed like a good story, too. All of the narrators ere the victims of something; Dorian of her murdered daughter, Jujubee of murder, Marella of a broken home life, Anneke of a bad marriage. Essie needed to be the victim of something, so maybe that misunderstanding is what made her compelling in this book.

Most of us felt Dorian was the least compelling of the narrators. It didn’t help that she started the story. We weren’t sure why we were hearing her story because it didn’t seem to connect to the larger narrative until much further into the story. She might have been more sympathetic if she’d been second or third. We started to care more about the characters as the chapters went on. They became deeper. Juliana is a dancer, but she wants to be an artist like Morella. Morella is an artist, but she’s having an identity crisis and ends up using someone else’s photos in her show. A few said they cared about Morella less at the end of her section. I think she lost the intrigue she had when she was nude and covered in blue paint.

Women are viewed as sexual beings in Western culture and those in power are disrespected and brought low so they can be objectified and seen as sexual beings. They’re not listened to; Dorian keeps the dead birds to show people so she can be believed. Feelia reports her stalker for years without anyone taking her seriously. Anneke, unfortunately, buys into this view of women as sexual beings. She says that the women are at fault for their deaths, causing the killer to want them and kill them. She blames them for what happens.

We’ve got at least one more virtual meeting in us before we can meet again. We’ll see how soon that comes about. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Taking it Easy

16 Jul

I try not to take days off from the blog. I try to post for you all Monday through Thursday. With COVID, it’s been a bit harder to find things to post about! I’m reading as fast as I can, but I still struggle to come up with enough posts for the week.

This week, I’m going to take today off rather than give you a lame post. I could have stayed up late last night to write something, but none of us want to read that.

Are there posts you would like to read from me? Any topics I could cover, or bookish news I could reflect on? It would be great to give you what you want to read, so let me know.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Libraries Re-Opening

7 Jul

Today is supposed to be a writing check-in post. However, I haven’t written in the past month and this would be the third month in a row where I post about how I haven’t been writing and it’s starting to feel old. I’m trying to think about how I want to re-set my goals for this year after they were disrupted by COVID but until I figure that out, I’m not going to drag you through the mud with me.

So, I’ll focus on something else. My library is starting to reopen!

I’m sure most readers here were more than a little disappointed by the closing of libraries when COVID struck. Our library closed its doors but did an amazing job of keeping their digital offerings running. I utilized Hoopla, CloudLibrary, and Libby to keep listening to audiobooks and read ebooks throughout COVID. My book clubs moved to Zoom and we kept meeting. It was wonderful to keep enjoying library services, but I miss going to the library. Well, things are starting to change. Slowly.

We began curbside pick up yesterday. You can place a hold online and then once your book is ready for pick up, you visit the library and they’ll bring your hold out to you. There are some movies I’ve been wanting to wash and I’ll soon want to borrow some physical books as well so I’m really looking forward to using these options. I think it’s even more critical for parents of young children who need some books for learning or entertainment! I was always in the library over the summer; it’s the best time for reading!

I’m super curious how other libraries have been able to reopen so please tell me! How have you been able to access library resources? Have you been able to get material from your library? I’ll be really jealous if anyone is still able to visit their library in person, so let me know.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Happy Independence Day!

6 Jul

To my US readers, Happy (Belated) 4th of July! I spent the weekend with friends and thusly did very little reading and blogging so I’m going to take today as Independence Day Observed and take a break from blogging in order to get caught up for the week. I’ll return tomorrow.

Happy reading!

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Club Reflection: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

29 Jun

I think it’s safe to assume my book clubs will continue to meet online until the fall. I can’t say I mind. I like being in my athletic shorts and having a beer. And finishing dinner five minutes before it starts. We were able to attract a lot of new members this month, too. I’m not sure if it’s because the book was available easily online, people are bored, or this was an interesting book to more people, but I didn’t mind. As with my last group, we also had to find some COVID connection. This time, it was how Charlie’s brother’s PTSD seemed to jump to her as if it were a virus that could be transmitted. But we had a lot more to say about Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network than that.

There were a lot of great characters for us to discuss in this one. Eve was a group favorite and we spent a lot of time on how she changed from 1915 to 1947. We talked about two things that seemed to change her. The first was her relationship with Rene and the intimacy she engaged in with him. She seemed to start feeling strongly about herself and what she was doing when she enjoyed their intimate forays. She wanted to hate it because of who Rene was, but she found pleasure at times. What he did to her hands brought out her bitterness toward him. The second event was when she thought she’d betrayed Lily. She saw herself as a failure and couldn’t realize that she might be guiltless. Her job really changed who she was at heart. One member brought up how glossed over her abortion decision was, but felt that it changed how she saw her job and her commitment to it.

Rose’s story was hard for a lot of us to process. We thought it wouldn’t end well but were still wishing for a happy fairy tale ending. We hadn’t heard of the massacre. Besides Finn’s story of the gypsy girl, the survivor’s story was the most haunting moment of the book. One member had done more research and found that there was an elderly survivor in the town who stayed and she had the same name as the character in the book. History shows that there was a woman in the church with a baby who was killed in a similar fashion to Rose. It’s even more horrible when you know it’s true.

Lily was also a historical figure. She was often overlooked during the war because she was a short woman and wasn’t suspected of doing any spying. We were split on if we thought woman would be as effective as spies in modern times. On one side, women are more involved in military activities and are seen as more likely to engage in risky activities. Still, they are a bit more conspicuous than men, but the difference is much smaller than it was 100 years ago.

Rene was hard to read about. He was evil and cruel, seeming to have no respect for human life. One reader felt he was so moralless as to be almost unrealistic. Others felt that there were, unfortunately, people like him in the world. Even worse, we still have people like this in our world. We saw a parallel between his moral hardening between WWI and WWII parallelled with the German its change. We debated if Rene should have faced legal justice, or if the vigilante justice Eve inflicted was right. We weren’t sure that the public would have had the stomach for it at the time after the Nurenberg Trials had been carried out. He was a man of violence and a violent end seems appropriate for him. It was even more appropriate that the statue of Boudelaire was used.

Finn was a welcome character in this book. He was also damaged by war and was very non-judgemental of Eve and Charlie for how the war had affected them. He was parallelled well with Captain Cameron. Eve’s affection for Cameron and Charlie’s affection for Finn were both rooted in mutual trauma but blossomed into something beautiful.

The women in this book had some strong friendships. Eve and Charlie started as enemies but grew to become very trusting and reliant on one another. Lily and Even started as friends and their friendship carried them through some hard times. These friendships were strong like family ties and the women passed no judgments for what had to be done. Charlie’s pregnancy and Eve’s abortion were never questioned on a moral level. These women were thrown together in very intense situations which can help strong relationships form. You understand someone and how they think quickly. They were also fighting the same enemies which gave them something to bond over quickly. Eve, Charlie, and Rose all had overbearing mothers as well. That may be generational, but it’s something that would have helped them bond, too.

This was a great discussion and I’m only sad that I read the book so long ago that I didn’t remember the details well. I’m looking forward to connecting with the group again soon. Maybe we can see each other again in the fall. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Off Topic Thursday: When Your Big Race is Cancelled

25 Jun

I’ve had a Langston Hughes poem stuck in my head since last Thursday. It’s called Harlem and it’s short and sweet:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

I got the email that USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships was canceled for 2020. My race was scheduled for August 8th and the city wouldn’t guarantee the event could go on as planned so USAT canceled. I’m still reeling a bit from what that means. In short, the event I’ve been training for 12 times a week since April 20th is no longer happening. I felt crushed and hopeless for a few days and I’m only now starting to gather my feet back under me and figure out where I go from here.

I still have four triathlons scheduled for this summer: one in mid-July, one in early August, one in mid-August, and one in early September. The first three are sprint distance (about an hour and twenty minutes) and the final one is an Olympic (just under 3 hours). They’re all smaller, local races. Nothing big like Nationals. So I’m honestly not as driven to train for them as hard. I was using this Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide which offers plans levels one (easy) to ten (intense) and had been at a level 8. In light of the smaller events, I’ve decided to drop back to a level 5. I should be able to make a strong showing at this lower level and it will give me more time for things I enjoy during this unusual lockdown period. I picked my plan up where I need to be for the later date and I’ll keep pressing forward. This plan is 9 workouts a week so I’ll be getting a lot of my time back!

I’m also considering a race I had written off before. I’ve done two 5K swims in the past and I adore them. There’s something about open water swimming that is so peaceful to me and I’m looking forward to the training involved for a distance event. With so many pools closed, lakes are almost the only option. Right now, there is supposed to be a 5K race on August 16th. If I start now, I should be able to be trained up for it by then. It might not be my best showing, but I’ll enjoy the journey.

At this point, they’re not offering refunds. I paid about $300 for the event. The only options are to defer to either 2021 or 2022. At this point, I’m thinking 2022. I wanted to back off of triathlon a bit after this year. My husband and I are looking to buy a house and I want to get more involved with swimming which means backing off the running and biking.

So what happens to a dream deferred? Right now, it’s sagging like a heavy load. The registration feels like a burden at this point and I’m almost dreading the training I’ll have to do to get back into this shape again. It hasn’t quite dried up, since it would still be fun to finish the race and compete in such a large competition. Maybe I’ll revisit this question later. I have until September to decide what to do. For now, I’m trying to retrain my focus and keep moving forward.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Interview with Author Veronica Kirin

22 Jun

I posted my review of Veronica Kirin’s Stories of Elders last week. As I mentioned, I know Kirin personally and am good friends with her brother. I asked her if she’d mind doing a brief virtual interview with me and she agreed. So I’m happy to present you with the following interview diving more into Kirin’s book and her experiences along with it. Enjoy!

S: What was the most surprising thing you heard during your interviews?
VK: I had just watched Interstellar before conducting the national interviews.  I was surprised to hear several elders describe scenes from the movie, except they were describing the dust bowl.  I didn’t know the power lines would interact with the dust and spark into the sky.  I didn’t know that the dust was so thick that it came into the house through any crack possible.  It was amazing to talk to Hal Royer and hear him say he still wipes out a glass before he fills it with water, 70 years later.  These conversions made clear my own ignorance about our history, despite being an anthropologist.  I want to note that each interview was approximately one hour long.  I couldn’t include the entire interview of each person in the book, and so I created a podcast for those who want to go deeper and hear more from the elders.  They can find it here:  https://storiesofelders.com/podcast-2/

S: How did you choose the topics to cover in the book?
VK: The chapter topics were those that came up the most often across interviews.  The goal of the book is to highlight the major areas of our culture and society altered by technology.  As an anthropologist I acknowledge my own ignorance on the topic, and looked to the experts I interviewed to highlight what was most changed.  That ultimately led to the areas of focus for the book.

S: You share some of your personal stories along with the Elders stories. Why did you choose to do this?
VK: Some have criticized me for this, but I had two major reasons to include myself in the journey.  The first was to create a relatable narrative to those who were undoubtedly curious about how I executed the project.  Even those that have read the book ask what it was like, how did I meet people, and how have I changed.  The publisher thought that including some of the journey in the book would help carry the reader from one narrative to the next and humanize the work that went into the creation of the book.  The second purpose of my narrative is to connect younger readers to the stories.  I wrote this book because I think understanding history is critical, especially as we live through a major paradigm shift, but I worried that Millennials and Gen Zeds wouldn’t be interested unless they heard themselves in the story as well.  My personal evolution throughout the journey bridges that gap.

S: Why do you think you were uniquely positioned to write this book?
VK: My degree is in anthropology, but I live my life as an entrepreneur.  It took every skill of an entrepreneur to build and execute on this project.  I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for the travel and publishing.  I had to network to find supporters as well as interviewees.  I also leveraged my network to find a publisher who could see the vision of the book and would help make it a reality.  My skills as a former website developer helped me create an online presence for the book and promote it years after its initial publish date.  The anthropologist is the visionary, the one who can see societal change and how critical this narrative will be to future generations, but the entrepreneur is the one who made it a reality.

S: What gave you the idea for using Kickstarter to raise funds to finish this project? What did those funds cover? How did you reward your donors?
VK: I didn’t personally have the cash to take time from my business (as a solo-preneur, time off doesn’t just cost money, it also costs income) to travel for the research for this book.  But I knew I had to go in person to meet the elders, as that is what was expected of an interview in their generation. Kickstarter would not only create the funds needed for the project, but also create a following.  It took an enormous amount of work, but it was a success and I’d do it again.  Donors received a range of rewards, from signed artwork quoting those interviews I’d already completed, to a signed copy of the hardcover book when it was published.

S: Can you please describe the publishing process you went through? Did you have a proposal or a completed book when you started looking to publish?
VK: I met my publisher on a podcast I co-host shortly after I had a completed manuscript draft.  They specialize in unique non-fiction, which is perfect for my work.  Shortly after the interview, the publisher flew to meet me at my home and discuss the project.  We signed a contract a week later.  This is not a conventional story, but it makes clear how critical my network as an entrepreneur was to the success of the book.

S: How did you decide to do an audiobook? Can you describe the recording process?
VK: My publisher demanded I create an audiobook.  They had the stats to back it up.  Audiobooks are very popular, and being able to offer that format has certainly boosted my sales.  I didn’t love the process of recording, but I had a great team.  I can’t recommend enough having both an audio engineer AND a reader to follow along as you record to ensure you don’t misread or mispronounce words.  What we hear in our minds is often different than what is on the page.  Having a reader made all the difference in the process.

S: Can you talk about your next project, Stories of COVID?
VK: Stories of COVID™ falls right in line with Stories of Elders, but instead of documenting a 50-year paradigm shift, I’m documenting a 5-month shift.  Furthermore, the interviews are worldwide, rather than focused on the United States.  I’ve interviewed 73 people since the end of March and, as you know, there’s no end in sight.  I look forward to writing this book.  It will be a challenge, but I already can see it forming.  Those that are curious about the stories I’m gathering can hear them on the podcast:  https://anchor.fm/stories-of-covid

 

Thanks again to Veronica for granting me this interview! It’s always interesting to learn more about writers, what inspires them, and their process. You can pick up a copy of her book on Amazon.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Off Topic Thursday: Cross-Stitching

28 May

One of the things I’ve found a lot more time for with the lockdown has been cross-stitching. It’s something I’ve found relaxing for a long time and I wanted to share it with you all. Mostly it’s because it makes pretty pictures which I think we’ll all enjoy.

I don’t have pictures of my first cross-stitches but they’re coasters with hummingbirds on them. My mom had gotten four as a set and asked if I’d be interested in making one or two. My husband and I still have these on our bedside tables. I remember learning about backstitching (outlining) and messing up by using two strands to outline instead of one. It’s a much thicker line and not as good looking in the end, but you probably wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t say anything. I made a few small samplers after this that made for good ornaments but I gave those all away.

I’m not sure when I started it, but this is the oldest cross-stitch I could find and I think it’s the first full-sized one I did. I believe I did this in the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college. I loved all of the purples in this pattern and I remember working with mixed colors, half stitches and the dreaded french knots. I think I almost gave up on it when it came to decorative knots even though I was almost done. This fit simply in a frame from the craft store. I had it displayed in my first apartment but I packed it so well when we moved that I didn’t find it until years later. It’s displayed in our office now.

These two are hanging on the wall in my living room. I believe the top one of the butterflies was the next one I did. It’s a nice, small size and I was able to do it pretty quickly. I stopped for a while in the middle and came back to it much later but I think it turned out okay. I learned that cross-stitch patterns are odd shapes and it can be hard to find a frame that will fit them well! I believed I ordered this one on Amazon from China. The one below it was a pattern my brother picked out. I think it’s supposed to be a Christmas angle but I hang it up year-round. This one was the most involved technically. There are beads and sequins that decorate this one and make it shine. She’s holding up a charm on a chain which meant I had to learn a few new techniques. I had to make the chain that involved my husband holding one end of a string and lots of twisting. I then had to do some couching which means having the long string lay on top of the fabric and then tacking it into place. I’m not happy with how this one is framed. It’s not pulled very tight and you can see the wrinkles in the fabric.  Part of that I could fix. The other part of it is because I left the hoop that I used to keep the fabric taught on it when I wasn’t using it and it left lasting kinks in the fabric. That was a hard lesson.

This was a gift from my Italian Mother in Law (very appropriate) that I have hung in my kitchen (even more appropriate). Nothing too special about this one but it was really fun to do. I like all of the lettering and how it used different fonts, colors, and thicknesses of floss to create such different effects. I was able to finish this one rather quickly.

I don’t have a lot of pictures of the next few I want to talk about. I have two nieces and a nephew, all through my husband’s sister. We weren’t dating when their first daughter was born. But for the second daughter and their son, I made birth announcements. The first one was pretty small and the second was a bit larger. The picture I have is from when it’s unfinished. During quarantine, I wanted to get a head start on a forthcoming niece or nephew so I’m working on another one which I’ll leave blank and add a name, date, and weight when I know one. That’s nice and quick to do! I might start another one soon.

View this post on Instagram

Making progress!! #100happydays #day83

A post shared by Sam Ann Elizabeth (@samannelizabeth) on

What I’m most excited about is a project I’ve been working on for years. I ordered these Harry Potter Hogwarts House Crests patterns off Etsy. I’ve finished the Slytherin one (my husband’s house) and I haven’t started the Hufflepuff one (my house). That’s probably my next project. I plan to hang these above our beds and I’ll make a small one that says Sam & Jay to hang between them. It’s a really fun project but I’m not a fan of the patterns that I bought, I wish I’d looked into them more.

It’s a nice thing to do to pass the time. I tend to watch TV or movies while I work on this. It’s hours of work but I love the feeling of making good progress with it.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday: My Life Under COVID

30 Apr

I didn’t talk about this last month in hopes that when I talked about it this month, I could say that it’s over. It doesn’t look like that’s the case or that this will be ‘over’ and things will be ‘normal’ again anytime soon. So I might as well talk about it now.

I want to start off by saying that I’m very fortunate. I haven’t lost a loved one to the disease. I did not lose my job. I was able to find toilet paper at the store. So as far as major impacts, I’ve been OK. I wanted to detail my situation and hear from all of you how you’re coping.

I haven’t been to my office since I left for Greece on February 26th. When I came back, they asked me to stay home for two weeks since I’d traveled to Europe. By the time that was up, everyone was working from home. I’ve set myself up on my kitchen table. It’s not the most comfortable, but I’ve found a way to use blankets to make it work. My husband works from our office room so we don’t disturb each other during meetings or get too distracted from each other. We had an access issue when I first started but that was quickly resolved and I can do 95% of my job from home. I miss meeting candidates when they come in for interviews and it’s harder to track down certain coworkers who aren’t great at answering their phones, but it’s mostly the same. I do miss my coworkers fiercely, though.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading. It helps me relax and escape to a place where we don’t have to be six feet apart from everyone else. When I think, “I’ll just turn on the TV,” I pick up a book instead and tell myself I’m battling my TBR mountain. I’ve taken a sizeable chunk out of it with digital titles and my unread books at home. I’d say this is where I made the most progress during isolation.

I’ve been knitting and cross-stitching a lot, too. Anything to keep my hands busy. If I don’t craft while I watch TV, I tend to eat. That’s not what you want when your movements are restricted. I’ve already made two baby blankets and I’m working on a birth announcement cross stitch for a pending niece/nephew.

Athletics is what has been most notably impacted by this disease. I’ve had five events affected so far and I’m awaiting news on more.

  1. 5K/8K combo race. I picked a St. Patrick’s Day race that had me visit a new county in my state. I have a goal of running a race in every county of Michigan’s Lower Penninsula so this was a bit of a disappointment. I’ve deferred my registration to next year so I should still get to do it.
  2. Meters-pool swim meet. This was a small let down. In the US, there are not a lot of swim meets in meter pools so this is always a chance to get a National Top 10 time. I was having a great year in distance freestyle so I was trying for an 800M free and 400M free record. Oh well. I got a refund.
  3. Swimming Masters State Meet. This was a big disappointment. I’d had a great year and it was my last year in the 25-29 age group. Also, a good friend of mine had a birthday less than a week before me and the meet fell between our birthdays so she would be 30 while I was still 29 so we didn’t compete with each other. We could both win! Unfortunately, we’ll likely never have that chance again so I’ll resign myself to 2nd place. A bunch of friends had rented a house near the pool and I heard there was a joint birthday celebration planned for the three of us with birthdays that week. All canceled. Lucky the house and the meet fees were refunded.
  4. 5 Mile Trail run. I love trail running and I was looking forward to a chance to compete in it. I hadn’t trained too hard for this one so I wasn’t heartbroken to hear it had been rescheduled. I’m planning to run the new date.
  5. Sprint Triathlon. This is the latest announcement. It was scheduled for late May and they decided to move it to early August. It’s now scheduled for the same week as Age Group National Championships which is a huge issue for me. I know myself and I know I’d push to hard in the sprint tri and not be in the best shape for AGNC. I’m going to wait and see if AGNC is affected, but I think I’m going to take a credit for this one and let my husband use it to sign up for a race.

Probably the biggest impact has been on my mental health. I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental health condition, but I think I have some degree of depression or anxiety and this situation has made it trigger. I’ve had days where I cry all day and I’m terrified to go outside, even for a run or to walk to my car. The grocery store scares me. I’m very irritable and I’ve had many days I don’t work out because I don’t see the point. I hate feeling out of control and that’s exactly what this situation is for everyone. Working out helps so I try to make myself get outside and run even when it’s hard to find motivation. It helps to talk to people I love so I’m setting up Zoom meetings with friends to keep up. I’m trying whatever I can to fight melancholy and it works 95% of the time. But my brain will be so happy when this is over and I can make plans again.

I hope everyone reading this is well. I hope you all have been able to see your way through this quagmire and are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel like I’m finally getting a glimpse of. We’ll get through it, I know. I pray for everyone’s safety and that we can find our ‘new normal’ as satisfying as the last one.

Until next time, write on.

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