Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 3)

Missed A Couple Days

Quilt Blocks!

Kaleidoscope Quilt Blocks!

I missed a couple days, and I’m not going to bother going over them. They’re in the past. Besides, I can’t really recall exactly what I did during them, especially Tuesday. That’s way too far away, and on the opposite side of an exhaustion day for me, and I had to think too long to remember what I did Wednesday as well. All I do know for sure is that I forgot for the second week in a row to post a chapter of Discordant Harmonies. Oh, well, there’s always next week. I think I wrote too, but beyond that, I’m not sure, though I probably paid MTG with some friends and I know I painted D&D minis with Kit at some point.

So, Thursday. It was a good day.

Got up in time for my friend Katie to pick me up so we could do some quilting at her place. Spent a good 4-5 hours there working on my first quilt and making plans for it. Originally, it was going to just be a Kaleidoscope Quilt, but today we discussed other options for it. Things to make it more fun for me to do and more visually interesting. It’s greens and blues with black, and for a while I considered adding reds and yellows to it, but Katie suggested laying out the blocks I have already, and when I saw them together, I agreed with her—it’s going to look good with what I’ve already got going into it. After that, we got to debating other options for it, and finally settled on making a kaleidoscope pattern center with some borders: 1 inch of solid black; 6 inches of some other pattern, like perhaps a multicolored stripe of some sort; another inch of solid black; and finally a row of kaleidoscope blocks with I think we decided on solid black trim. It’s going to look fantastic, I think.

We also discussed the Block Of The Month Quilt she suggested we do together for me. We’ll be using fabrics I bought years ago for it and a Block Of The Month pattern she’s used herself. That quilt’s going to be wild. LOL I’m looking forward to getting started on it, and Katie seems enthusiastic too. Katie also said she’d teach me how to cut fabric to size with the Block Of The Month Quilt, and I’m excited to learn how.

I also took the first two fabrics I got for the Puff Quilt I’m making for my niece to show Katie. She liked them. Then I bowed to the inevitable and asked Katie if she could store the fabrics for me and told her the facts of my apartment and how long it’s going to take for me to get everything I need for quilting here at home. I think if I get a bin for the fabrics, I’ll have someplace to store the ones for my niece’s quilt, but I need to get a full-sized ironing board and figure out a place to store it (I have some ideas). This was aided by a chat with Mom earlier tonight, where she suggested I cut the fabrics downstairs in the auxiliary room my building has for tenants to use, which I thought was a good idea. So I’ll be able to tell Katie I’ve come up with some ideas for how to work around the limited space in my apartment and such, which I’m sure she’ll be happy to hear. LOL

And I wrote a little bit. Less than 500 words, but I’m glad I was able to write at all today. The opening to an Urban Fantasy Gay Romance. We’ll see where it goes.

Earlier this month, I got some of those glass bead/gravel things people put in aquariums for character tokens for the D&D campaign I’m making for my friends. I’ve been meaning to bring ’em to a mini painting session with Kit, but forgot. So tonight I remembered I had some acrylic paints my friend Anita gave to me along with some other painting equipment—paintbrushes and something to use as a palette. So I put Hendrix and his accessories in my bedroom, fetched my art stuff, and set to painting designations on the beads with different colors of paint. Took maybe half an hour or so, and though it’s kind of sloppy, they’ll serve until I get minis painted up for them. So glad I remembered those paints. Was wondering how/when I’d get a chance to paint them with Kit because I don’t think we’ll be able to meet again until after he gets settled into his new job, and that might not be until after I run my first D&D session.

I Wrote Today!

10-sided dice!

The dice we use in Vampires.

Saturday was an all-round great day.

First off, I got my grocery shopping done. I think, of all the chores I have to do, I hate this one most. But I got to see a couple of friends and got my food. Yay.

Then on to gaming. I have longtime friends I’ve gamed with for years. We’ve played Vampires: The Masquerade for most of about ten or so years, so meeting with them is a regular thing. Recently, we’ve added Magic: The Gathering to our gaming habits, then there’s me making a D&D campaign for them, and if we can get the books for it, we’ll start the Rifts system. But today we played Vampires. It felt good to play it again, as we haven’t for a while.

Back at home, I got on my computer and idled for a while. I idle a lot. But this time, in searching for a specific story on my thumb drives, I found some writing I thought lost for good! A bunch of Urban Fantasy stories I’d been working on. Boy, I was glad I found it all.

And, last of all, I wrote today! So happy to have written. It felt great!

Did it Again

Plastic Xylorian

My new mini!

Well, I did it again. I went to bed without posting before shutting down. So I think I’m just going to go with the flow and post whenever I get a chance to, even if it’s the day after.

Friday was a fun day. I didn’t do anything really notable writing-wise, but I did get to hang out with a friend. We went out for breakfast, then to a craft store. She got a haircut, and I made an appointment for the same with her hairdresser, whom she says does an excellent job. I’m looking forward to my haircut, ’cause I can’t ever get hairdressers to do what I ask for. Honestly, it’s gotten to the point where I’ve stopped trying to convince them. But my friend says this one will listen and give me exactly what I ask for. So here’s hoping.

At the crafts store, I bought several skeins of a multicolored yarn that I’ve always loved and a fabric bin to hold it in. Started to do what I call a Granny Rectangle blanket with it when I got to my friend’s. Meant to get a pic of my progress with it, but I forgot and by the time I remembered, I was already home, so maybe next time.

When I came home, I found my Xylorian mini in my mailbox. I was very excited to see him there. HeroForge did an excellent job.

Depression and Writer’s Block

In a way, I don’t know where the past few weeks have gone, though I can tell you what I was doing for most of them since my last post here. The essential thing is that I’ve been in a depressive funk and struggling to do pretty much everything from rising every day to writing on anything to indulging in hobby activities like crocheting. I’m not out of the pit yet either.

What I’ve been doing is getting out of the house a lot. Between Christmas and the beginning of last week (the 7th). Most of the time, I’ve either been going to the offices where the Utah Pride Center moved their therapy services, or, even more often, to Oasis Games, which bought the pride center’s old building and fixed up the first floor. I’ve been going there mainly to read Dungeons and Dragons books; I finished reading the Player’s Handbook and have been making slow progress on reading the Dungeon Masters Guide since about the first week of January.

I’ve also been continuing crocheting. My primary project is now complete, and I’ll be giving it to my friend who I decided to give it to soon if I get an opportunity. To be honest, I’ve done most of the work on it at the pride center’s therapy offices.

But even with those things, I’ve been in a depressive funk. The main reason is because I received a decision from the VA on my Compensation claim. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last year, but I started the claim in order to try and connect my bipolar disorder to my Naval service. Well, they didn’t even bother opening a case; they simply denied it without investigating. I’m fairly certain that is what threw me into this depressive funk.

It’s still with me. And, unfortunately, it’s not a state of mind I’ve been able to simply write through. I’ve tried. The first 4 days of this month, I wrote at least 500 words a day. Managed to complete, I think, 2 scenes on Unwritten Letters. But I didn’t feel like writing. Even with plot cards, I had trouble grasping the ideas. I felt no joy in getting the words down. Even though the quality was up to my standards, I hated what I’d written because I’d written the words when I felt bad. Gah, talking about it is dragging me down again. Enough.

Anyway, I haven’t touched my writing to do more than read stuff since then. Most days, I haven’t even been able to read my writing. I will not go into detail about how that makes me feel—it’s even more depressing than my description of writing, and I really don’t want to get as bad as I was last weekend over it all.

So, I foolishly thought writer’s block was a myth. That people who had it were undisciplined and lacked initiative in their writing. Well, since September or October, I’ve seen what it’s like to be undisciplined and lack initiative. And now I’ve been treated to my own grand case of writer’s block thanks to this depression.

Let me go over this again, to make it clear. Reading my writing depresses me, primarily because I see all its potential and am not actively capitalizing on it. Writing on anything depresses me any more because it’s not THERE—the ideas are vague, no matter how well-prepared I am for writing, and I hate the act of writing, and having done so makes me feel horrible because I didn’t enjoy doing so and I think I should. So it’s easier to just not write. I’ve gotten to the point where I dread writing, and I figure when it’s that bad, there’s no point in torturing myself.

Oh, I won’t be this way forever. I have faith in that. Maybe I’ll tuck myself into the inpatient mental ward at the VA, maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll get by and this depression will pass. It’s already started to lift—a little—the past few days. I have a good long-distance friend I can chat about this with, and if that doesn’t help, I can always call the Veterans Crisis Line, and I’ve already notified my mental health care team about where I stand emotionally. All I need to do is stick it out long enough for the clouds to pass, and I’ve done that before and know I can do it again. In the meantime, I’m getting out, cuddling with my cat, and doing what I can to distract myself from my depression so I don’t do something stupid.

2017 Writing Goals

Well, last year, I outlined some goals for my writing in January. This year, I wasn’t quite up to it. At the time, I was struggling to come to terms with the new, lower, level of my Creative Mind’s functionality. I honestly was in no way prepared to establish any even tentative goals for my writing then. My Creative Mind still isn’t functioning even half as well as it was last year, but I’ve finally gotten used to its new lower level of productivity.

Allow me to amend that. I’ve gotten used to its new focus of productivity. While I haven’t been making as much forward progress on actual new words for stories this year, I have been extremely creative. I’ve conceived several new stories and magic systems, and I’ve been doing a lot of editing and prework stuff. Also, I’m doing much better, on a mental and spiritual level with regards to my writing. I think, if I’d had a deep downgrade in new-word productivity before 2016, my spirit would have suffered a great deal more than it is this year. Not that I’m happy with this lower level of new-word productivity, but I’m actually handling it well. This is a very, very good thing.

With my acceptance of this situation, I think I’m now ready to set some goals. They are as follows:

  • Write 300,000 words in 2017. This goal may not be attainable, even if I am able to complete November’s Nano with 50k or more words. LOL
  • Outline every story I work on or begin. This means creating an outline of 15-16 cards ahead of where I’m writing and then outlining one card per scene written. This also means going through stories I haven’t outlined and doing reverse outlines on them (ugh).
  • Make some sort of writing-related post to AEP regularly. To meet this goal, starting June, I’ll post once a week, probably on Tuesday.
  • Share some of my writing on AEP. I’m thinking these posts will fall on Fridays, and I’ll also be posting these stories (and others) on Wattpad.
  • Do prework on DH4—this story is fighting me and has been for a couple of years now.
  • Do prework on TPOV2—this story is just complicated. So far, I’ve had to add about three or four plot cards to the middle of what I have of the outline because I keep on realizing I need to include different things so that later events in the book will make sense and won’t seem to come out of the blue.

Reading Goals

I used to be an avid reader. Literally any book had a chance of catching my attention. I checked out books from the library, bought books, borrowed books from friends, picked them up at flea markets and from FREE BOOKS bins and boxes. Recently, though? Especially the past several years? I haven’t been as avid for books. I don’t know what changed in my psyche, but I now spend more time reading my own work than I do reading others’ writing. This is something I don’t like.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for books, I do want to read more. This is more a conscious decision than anything else. I’m in a place where I have to be conscious of my reading habits, since they aren’t natural to me any more.

So this is what I’ve done:

Right now, I’ve got a number of books I haven’t finished readin. My goal this year is to finish reading at least some of those books. There are eleven books I need to finish reading, but I’ve set my reading goal on FM to twelve. One book a month is doable, even for me.

My sister got me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas this past year. I’ve already added some new books onto it, and I’ll be taking it with me wherever I go. These, I’ll start reading after I finish a few of those incomplete novels. Also, I’ve set up an Amazon Allowance of five dollars a month to use for getting more books. In addition, I’ve created a Goodreads account since it sort of “comes with” the Kindle, and I’ll be reviewing books I’ve read there. For those I’ve purchased at Amazon, I’ll be reviewing them there too—basically copy-pasting my review.

I also own a Nook, and it’s got a number of those books I’ve not finished reading on it. This year, I’m going to read those books, and review them on Barnes and Noble’s site, as well as on Goodreads.

Also, I’ve signed up for a Wattpad account. In part, this is to post some of my own writing, but it’s just as much to expand my reading. Since there was a smartphone app, I downloaded it to my phone. I’ll start reading the books I’ve selected on Wattpad after I’ve finished those I need to finish reading.

Lastly, there are a number of print books I need to read. They’ve been sitting on my bookshelves for years in some cases. I haven’t read them in part because my hands cramp and grow tired with holding print books these days. So I can read them, I must set them on a table or my desk—something that holds the book for me. Doing this requires me to bow my head over the book, which in turn causes a tension pull headache, where a muscle at the back of my skull tightens until I have difficulty moving my head. As a result, I don’t often read print books. I think I’ll be looking for them as ebooks and purchase them as I have the funds.

In this way, I’ll never be without a book at hand. So far, it’s worked this year. I’ve read more of others’ books than I did by this time last year.

Eye Exams and Glaucoma Test

Back in April, I had an eye exam. It was one of the more thorough ones I’ve undergone since becoming eligible for optical care at the VA, and I spent at least an hour with the doctor who did the exam.

This exam included a pressure test. Basically, the eyeballs are numbed, then they’re tapped with a little machine that measures the pressure in the eyeball. Eyeball pressure is an indicator of the possibility of glaucoma, and the pressure in both eyeballs was high—which isn’t good. On further examination, she also discovered pigment from my irises had been scraped off by the tiny filaments on the back of the lens, which also seemed to be an indicator of the possibility of glaucoma forming later on.

They had me come back in a few weeks ago for a baseline glaucoma test and a further eye exam. The glaucoma test is pretty simple, if a bit uncomfortable. It involves the use of a machine that flashes lights in the patient’s peripheral vision. The patient sits close to the machine, which is shaped like a hollowed-out box with a computer incorporated into it, and props their chin on a chin rest facing into the hollowed-out portion of the box, and holds a little remote to click the button on when they see a flash of light anywhere in the machine. The examining doctor uses the computer to make the flashes.

The first part of the test for each eye involved me staring straight ahead at a steady light so the doctor could get a measurement. I can’t remember of what, but this step was absolutely necessary. I had to stare straight ahead through a lens that corrected my vision for my eye, and not blink. This didn’t take too long, though. Following this part of the test, the flashes began. Each time I saw one, I clicked the little remote. If I remember correctly, the doctor’s advice was for me to click the little remote even if I wasn’t sure I’d seen a flash.

This part of the exam took at least twenty minutes. About halfway through, I started hallucinating a green haze filling the box, and my left eye dried out. The right eye went much better; I blinked more often, so my eye didn’t get so uncomfortable.

When I finished the baseline glaucoma test, we went back to the exam room and she performed another eye exam. A pressure test was done again, then they put special lubricating eye drops in and placed an exam magnifying glass directly on my eye ball. This sounds uncomfortable, but it was actually one of the most comfortable parts of any eye exam I’ve ever had. The lubrication made my eyes feel fantastic. In this exam, they discovered more flakes of the pigment from my iris collected in the groove where the lens sits in my eye, which is apparently another indicator of possible glaucoma.

Still, even with all these indicators, they need another glaucoma test with the box. The one I’ve already undergone was a baseline, so they have something to compare the second test to, in order to determine whether the results from the first test were simply because I was undergoing an uncomfortable new type of eye exam, or the results from the first test were accurate.

Unplanned Hiatus

My bipolar disorder has dictated that I lose interest in keeping up with my websites. There’s more to it than that (there always is), but I won’t go into the details beyond saying my bipolar, as I think I’ve mentioned, can be pretty randomly selective in how it effects my mood. Right now, I couldn’t care less about either of my websites, and I know better than to attempt forcing myself to attend to either one, thanks to awful experiences with writing fiction when I had no desire to do so, or I’ll end up a moody, depressed wreck. As a result, there will be no updates, after today’s post, to this site until further notice. I’m hoping this will pass quickly, but so far that hope hasn’t been met, so I’m at last announcing what the issue is.

Mixed Phases

Every so often with my mixed-state bipolar disorder, I’ll go through a very mixed phase. I’m in one right now. Whereas someone with more typical cycling bipolar—someone who isn’t mixed-state will have definitive periods where they’ll experience and present symptoms of either mania or depression, I commonly have phases where I present and experience symptoms of both.

Most typically with me, the depressive side will manifest as letting my housekeeping falter or fail, while the hypomania turns me into a moody, bitchy, temperamental person. These mixed phases I do not enjoy. It takes a lot of effort to do anything around the house and I hate doing it the entire time. When I’m in a state like this, the slightest thing can set me off. I have thrown fits, and probably will again, over such minor things as untying my shoes, or the fact I let my tea steep too long and now it’s cold when I wanted it at least warm by the time I’m done mixing the sweetener and milk in, or opening one of my bottles of medication. Simple things a person without bipolar disorder wouldn’t be inclined to stress over, I have a screaming temper tantrum over. When I’m enduring this sort of mixed state, the temper tantrum state is just on the edge of my mood at all times, and the depressive side makes me not care about housework.

But on occasion, I enter a slightly different type of mixed-state phase.

Right now, my depressive side is manifesting as a desire to sleep the day away, no matter how early I go to bed. I’m much inclined to remain in bed until after noon, frequently until as late as two or three pm. I see no reason to get up, even though my writing is going fairly well right now. I wouldn’t call myself suicidally depressed, but I definitely don’t want to get up to face the day until most of the day is over. When I’m like this, getting up even for an afternoon appointment or activity (even if it’s fun) takes a great deal of effort.

This depressive phase, y’all, is why I habitually get dressed in a full day-clothes outfit each and every day, even when I’m physically ill. Being fully dressed is a mood booster. If I sat around in sweats or in pajamas all day, I’d be depressed. How do I know this? Because I used to “dress down” if I had nowhere to go during the day. This was way back when I was younger, and I noticed a propensity for my mood to grow gloomy over the course of the day, so I started dressing in day clothes every day regardless of whether or not I expected to go out. And, in fact, after forcing myself out of bed when in a mood like this, getting dressed takes little effort—and the mood-boost payoff is incredible. I’ll admit it doesn’t throw me into raptures over being awake, but once I’m dressed in day clothes, I feel much more interested in being up and about. So, quite literally, some days putting on a full day-clothes outfit is like putting on armor—armor against a low mood. It’s one of the simplest and quickest ways I know of making myself feel capable of facing the day.

But at the same time I’m feeling so “hopeless,” I’m also much more interested in household things. I spent about two or three hours cooking tonight, purely because I wanted to. I was in the mood to cook. And while cooking, I enjoyed it (I don’t when this particular mania isn’t functioning—cooking is a chore and I do as little of it as possible). Then, after I ate, I cleaned the kitchen. Other housework is on the agenda, but some of it involves disposing of boxes, and I’m not going to do that at night when the chute abuts the bedroom of the neighboring apartment. LOL

To be honest, I’ve been working up into this mood over the past couple weeks. I’m coming up out of a phase where I was experiencing no particular phase—a stable phase, so to speak. I cooked when I felt like it, cleaned when I felt like it, got up with little difficulty, but didn’t keep up with personal hygiene as well as I perhaps should have, though dental hygiene was going really well. For the most part, a typical stable phase for me.

I don’t think this is something I need to notify my psych doc about. It’s not pronounced; it’s an average mood swing, one of those I expect to have over the course of time. Eventually, I’ll swing back into either another stable phase or into a different combination of my mixed state.

No Post for Friday, 11 December, 2015

I’m sorry, but there will be no post this evening. I rose late, and I was unable to devote any time to coming up with a topic this afternoon/evening.

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