My Unfair Lady

I imagined when I joined the marching band, that everyone would be weird or geeky. I guess I’d watched too much TV by then and saw too many plumed hats and garish uniforms to know any better. I didn’t expect to meet so many cool kids. They were all way too cool for me. I stuck out like a sore thumb around them. The girls were wearing sports bras and sunglasses. Their hair was cut super short. I was wearing long skirts, baggy shirts, and I could legitimately sit on my hair it was so long. I looked like some preacher’s daughter.

They pitied me. Hell, I pitied me!

When the band club raised money for a trip to San Antonio, I tagged along on my first adventure away from home, sharing a room with three other girls, all all-knowing seniors. Under the less than watchful eyes of the chaperones, the trio took an interest in me. One evening, they convinced me to let them do a makeover. My hair was amateurishly cut to my bra-line (it was not a straight cut), makeup applied, a new outfit purchased from Gadzooks, and a much needed eyebrow wax. I was like Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Dolittle!

I glanced at myself in the mirror and beamed at what I saw. I looked kinda like one of the cool kids.

The girls walked me down the halls of the condo we were staying in, making sure to stop me at every room, every small congregation of teens, to show off their handiwork. There were no cat-calls, no whistles; it was almost complete radio silence, but I did get a “looking good” from my crush and that sorta made up for the general lack of interest.

Still, as I finished my dawdle, I realized this was the best I could hope to get. I was fifteen when I realized that I was un-pretty, unpopular, and a little bit socially awkward.

I’ll let you know when that feeling goes away.

A Year in Review – 2019 Edition

I started making a list of what I achieved in 2019 in preparation for this post, and at first, I was a little bit disappointed in myself. But then as the list continued, I realized the year was actually pretty good, for everything except my writing, but I’ll get to that.

This post is probably a bit more for me than anyone else, but I’ve been so poor with uploading new pieces that I thought I may as well make it public.

Lifestyle, Health, & Career

I ended 2018 on a roller coaster. My career at a major telecommunications company came to an end in mid-November, due to redundancy, but two weeks later, I received news I was successful in obtaining a role at another company. I worked one week at said company before 2019 rolled in, so I would say that that qualifies as a new job in 2019, really. It took me more than 20 years to successfully move from retail and customer service to where I am today, a corporate systems compliance advisor. It’s been a very long road, and this year has shown me that this was what I was meant to do.

The role itself is challenging, but in a good way. I have always called myself a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none, and that is exactly my current role. I do everything from analytics to training to system data integrity to auditing. I couldn’t be happier.

Admittedly, it has meant that 2019 also saw me so hyperfocused on my work. I am now lead auditor qualified in both quality management systems and information security management systems.

Thanks to the redundancy and winning a position so quickly, my payout for over five years at the telecom helped hubby and I move house. Back in 2011, our house flooded during the big Queensland floods, and the value of our property dropped nearly 100k. I was eager to get out of the house, hoping that we could get a bigger place with no fear of floods again, and we finally were able to this year. We nearly doubled the size of our house, but our yard is significantly smaller. Still, it was a big upgrade.

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The move and the house haven’t been all sunshine and daisies. We had to paint the majority of the house before moving in, had to change the lighting and the locks, needed to install a safety fence around the outdoor spa, and needed to change the insulation in the roof because it was unsafe. Houses always cost money, so despite the surprise of most of these things, it is usually necessary in the first year of a purchase anyway.

Health-wise, I started 2019 in a great fashion. I did the Whole30 Challenge, which was a massive success. I lost around 5kg, and I felt great while doing it. But it didn’t last. After that, I continued to yo-yo through eating well and then eating poorly, working out, then not working out at all. It was my worst year yet with health, really, and I’m now the heaviest I have ever been in my life. In the interest of transparency, two years ago, I was around 60kg (132lb); last year I ended the year around 68kg (150lb); and this year, I’m ending it at 82kg (181lb). I’m disgusted, but I’m trying hard to just focus on being healthy and damned the weight thing. I know it’s all about just healthy habits, no diets or fads. Just water, good food, good exercise, and good sleep.

Entertainment & Gaming

Due to what I assumed was work swallowing up my creativity (more on that later), I spent a great deal of my time this year consuming media and for a while, playing video games.

I haven’t spent a great deal of time over the last years playing any games, and I had to resign myself to say that I was a casual gamer at best. That hasn’t completely changed, but I can say I finished five games this year (Ni no Kuni II, Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV, Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Super Mario Odyssey), played through an expansion on another (Monster Hunter World: Iceborne), and am currently playing another game (Control), which I assume I’ll finish early 2020.

My family and I played the Pandemic Legacy game for a chunk of the year, and in the last half of the year, we started our own D&D campaign (of which, I’ve always wanted to play but never could because I was scared of being judged for having never played it).

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I signed up for Audible this year, as I spend a lot of time riding on the train to work, and I get motion sickness if I read.

According to Good Reads, I finished ten books this year, which means I hit my goal for the year! I know it’s not much in some eyes, but it’s actually much more than the previous years combined.

  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

I watched a lot of TV and a fair number of movies this year too, too many to actually list out today, but I’ll list a few faves. My TV favorites were The Mandalorian, Russian Doll, The Good PlaceThe Dark Crystal: Age of ResistanceChernobylThe BoysThe Witcher, and Watchmen. I haven’t been able to see a lot of the movies I want to, thanks to release schedules in Australia and because my hubby doesn’t watch what I consider “film”. So my top ten list won’t be until end of January, probably. At the moment, though, I can say that I loved these popcorn movies of the year: End GameToy Story 4Zombieland: Double Tap, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Happy Death Day 2U. Other movies I saw this year that were released previously but flew under my radar and are completely underrated and should be seen by everyone, included The Invitation, UpgradeTrain to Busan, and Good Time. They probably aren’t for everyone, but I thought they were great!

Creative Stuff

According to my WordPress stats, I published 38 posts this year, which I thought was low until I noticed that in 2018, I only published 17 posts. So hooray, it wasn’t a total loss!

20190216_210921This year I fell victim to the imposter monster. At first, I thought my creativity was zapped because of my new job, but I started building Gundam models, reading/listening to books, and making handmade crafts and quickly realized that it wasn’t the case. It was that I was scared that I wasn’t really a writer and that I didn’t deserve to be one either. I made no major submissions this year. I started a movie review challenge and lost it not even a quarter of the way through.

In August, I tackled the monster, though, and I started writing again. I spent September planning another large revision of my book for NaNoWriMo, and by November, I was ready to begin anew. I finished my 50k words in a record (for me) ten days! I was close to the end when the monster reappeared. I vanquished him, but I realized something. It was time to put that book away.

I have spent the remainder of 2019, occasionally writing, occasionally editing, planning, reading, etc, but for the most part, December has been my great holiday craft month. I made DnD dice trays for my stepson and his girlfriend (I have a whole post planned for that). I painted some models. I made a pompom notice board for my niece, and a photo wall hanging for my other niece.

The Verdict

All-in-all, 2019 has been a decent year. I’ve made some major strides in the right direction, and I hope to build upon them next year. I will always have competing interests. Crafting, crocheting, reading, watching movies/tv, gaming, writing, exercise, etc. That won’t change, and I have no desire to stop any of them. But maybe next year I will finally find the balance I need across all. And maybe by the end of 2020, I will feel a little like myself body and mind.

The Experiment

He was excited to see 150 new emails in his inbox. The dates on the emails dated back ten years to five years. He clapped his hands and laughed a most gleeful laugh.

He picked up his phone and called Layla. A weary voice answered, “Rob, do you have any idea what the time is?”

“She’s done it!” Rob cried, ignoring her drowsiness.

“Who’s done what?”

“The experiment, Layla! The experiment was a success!”

She gasped. “She emailed you? How many times?…. wait! Don’t tell me. I’m coming over.”

Rob paced around his laptop resisting the urge to open all of the unread messages. When he created this account fifteen years ago, he had only just begun his research. It had gone unused and unopened all this time.

Layla arrived ten minutes later. Her jaw dropped as he showed her the number of emails.

“Imagine the implications!” he said. “Man could never travel to the past. But a ghost, the spirit of man, can. This…  is truly amazing!”

“What are you waiting for? Open the emails!”

He clicked the oldest email first.

“Happy?” it read.

He continued to open the early emails, but they were all similarly short. Rob glanced over at Layla. He saw a flicker in her eyes.

“I cannot hold the subject for more than a few minutes at a time. I will continue to try and gain more control,” the next message read.

“Of course. That explains it,” he muttered. He moved the mouse down an email two years later.

“The subject has begun to accept me as herself. I can spend days in her before she takes back control, but it hardly seems to bother her anymore.”

Rob swallowed back a lump in his throat. Layla grabbed his hand as he moved the mouse and dragged it across the screen to the last message.

“Thank you, dear Rob. Your efforts will not be forgotten. We can live a life eternal in our new bodies. Sincerely yours, Layla.”

He gasped and tried to pull his hand from Layla’s grasp. A chill crept from the touch and up his arm.

“How many did you send through the portal?” he asked.

“Hundreds,” Layla said, her grin seemed otherworldly.

He jerked back, but her grip was too tight.

“But why? You could have used it for good!”

“Ghosts aren’t good or bad, silly. All we want is to live. And now, we can.”

He shivered, goosebumps covered his skin. His heart raced, and his breath became labored.

“Thanks for life eternal,” he heard in his mind. His vision darkened, and he watched, as if in a chair in a theater, as another consciousness took over his body.

“I’m home, my love,” his voice said. He leaned in and kissed Layla.

 

Accelerated Reader Prize Day

I walked along the large, wide cafeteria table and scanned the assortment of electronics, games, and age-appropriate toys. Above me, there was a banner flapping in the biting December wind. In bright, bold letters, it announced, “Accelerated Reader Prize Day.”

My heart leapt when I saw the off-brand CD Walkman near the end of the table. I snatched it from the pile and made my way to the facilitator.

“And what’s your name?” she asked in an affected voice. I tried not to ignore the condescension.

I’m thirteen, lady.

“Melony,” I answered. She lifted her eyebrow. “Foster. Sorry.”

She scanned her clipboard of names and points. I wanted to tell her I was in the top five of the school, but I kept my mouth shut.

“Oh, here you are!” she said glancing up from the page. “Do you like reading?”

“Yes, ma’am. Very much,” I answered.

“You have so many points. You must read alotta books.”

“I do,” I said with a slight hint of pride.

It was almost a month since the school librarian told me about the chance to win double points in the Accelerated Reader Program. The school had tested poorly in literature, and they were looking for ways to incentivize the students. My end-of-the-school-year goal, a thousand plus point prize, was within reach. I only needed to read several small books or five big books to reach my target.

“What type of books do you read?” she asked.

“A bit of everything,” I answered. I didn’t want to admit that to earn enough points for this prize, I forced myself to read Babysitter’s Club, Fear Street, and Nancy Drew. A book and a half a day and four on the weekends. But it was all worth it for a prize my family could never afford.

Earlier that school year, I wouldn’t have been caught dead reading 4th grade reading level books. House of Seven Gables, Heart of Darkness, The Screwtape Letters, Lord of the Flies, All the King’s Men – these had been my standard reading fare before the announcement.

“Well done!” she said, glancing at my spoils. “You deserve this.”

She deducted the points for the Walkman. I thanked her and pressed the package against my chest as I made my way out of the cafeteria. I couldn’t wait to show my friends and started thinking about which CD would go in it first.

I wondered if this is how rich people felt all the time.

NaNoDoMore 2019

November is the month of writing without barriers towards a fifty thousand word goal in NaNoWriMo, but at Yeah Write, my favorite writing community, it is also called NaNoDoMore. For the past two years, they have hosted a 30-day scavenger hunt for writing. I missed it in 2018, but this year, I’ve managed to do a few of the things, so I wanted to show off my successes. 😊

30 days, 30 goals, is how they frame it, and I managed to do 7 of the 30. The ones I missed were generally because of time or money. Here’s what I did do:

4 Post a darling from your current WIP in the Coffeehouse – done! Though I have since decided to shelf that particular work, but I’ve already talked about that.

13 Updated your author page – In the last week of November, I updated my entire blog including my author page.

14 Read a book that you feel like everyone has read but you – I totally read Jane Eyre last month, which I had had on my to-read list since I was a child.

15 Beta read for someone – I regularly do this for my writing friends, and that didn’t stop in November.

16 Revise an old story – I have this apocalyptic comedy that I spent some time last month polishing. I’m still working on it to send to a paying market.

22 Participate in NaNoWriMo – I won this year! See my badge somewhere on my page.

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Said book!

30 Buy a book for a child – This one caught me by surprise, because I literally did this in the last week of November. My office is collecting toys and books for disadvantaged children, and so I bought and donated said book to the cause.

 

I printed off the list so that I can work towards ticking more off next year. There are a lot of great DoMores in the list, and I intend to make 2020 my best writing year yet. I already have a goal of reaching 200 rejections by end of year, and some of these will help with that goal. Check out more about NaNoDoMore here.

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Here’s the PDF I made for it.