Monday, March 26, 2018

Fun With Kidney Stones

In an earlier post, I mentioned how I'm using the Agile Framework to bring some structure and accountability to my writing time. It's been working well so far, though I still have a long way to go before becoming an expert at planning and managing my life in a predictable manner.

I had hoped to make this past two-week sprint an example of efficiency and productivity so I could blog-brag about how great I am becoming.

Unfortunately, my body had different plans.

Monday night as I was getting ready for bed, I raised my left foot to pull on my pajama pants. Suddenly it felt as though someone were stabbing me in the back. I said some words that were probably not appropriate for a family-friendly blog, and crumpled to the floor of the closet.

Alyssa was on my bed; she asked if I was okay. I said I was, believing the pain was from a muscle cramp that would soon diminish.

It didn't. Every time I tried to move, more pain shot through me. And I probably said more bad words. So I lay on the cold tile closet floor, pajama pants around my knees.

The third time Alyssa asked if I was okay, I finally had to admit that I wasn't. I asked her to go and get Kara, since my phone was on the opposite side of the room.

Alyssa failed to convey the seriousness of the situation, and the sight of me lying immobile on the floor came as quite a shock to Kara.

With much wincing, moaning, teeth-gritting, and word-saying, she helped me get my pants up all the way, stand, and hobble to the bed.

Heating pads and pain pills allowed me to sleep through the night, though with every movement the pain continued as intensely as ever.

The next morning I consulted with my sisters, and they agreed with my diagnosis: I was having a kidney stone attack. They've all had stones of their own, and felt it was about time I took my turn. Sisters.

Our dear friend Danyelle came and helped get Alyssa to FOCUS, and Kara took me to the Urgent Care place. They agreed with the kidney stone diagnosis until they analyzed my samples, and noted that there was no blood in my urine. Without blood, they couldn't make a positive diagnosis.

So they sent me to the ER for a CT scan. This scan showed a small stone, though not really in a place that normally caused pain. I was prescribed a very small quantity of pain meds and sent home.

Interestingly, once the meds they gave me in the ER wore off, the pain did not return. I'm grateful, of course, but also a little concerned. I've been drinking like a fish, watching for any further sign of the stone, but haven't seen anything. Hopefully it has dissolved and this little misadventure is now behind me. But not knowing for sure what happened to the stone has me more than a little nervous that another attack could be imminent.

I'll be honest; that little episode rattled me pretty hard. One second I was pushing through the normal aches and pains of midlife, and the next I was crumpled on the floor, unable to move. I repeatedly tried pushing through the pain, wanting to believe that I was strong enough to block it out and make my body do as commanded.

But I couldn't. I felt weak and helpless. And I hated it.

I suppose part of the reason was knowing that I didn't really need to push through the pain. Help was available, and though embarrassing, the situation was not dire. Had I been completely alone, or been in danger, or a loved one threatened, I like to think I would have the strength of will to ignore the pain and do whatever needed to be done. I like to think that's the kind of person I am.

Hopefully I will never have the need to find out for sure.

Monday, March 19, 2018

FOMO and The True Meaning of Delusion

I want to do All The Things. The internet generation as a name for this: FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out.

My FOMO is bad. Really bad.

Now that I've hit fifty, I've had to finally accept that I will never have it all. I will never do it all. Even if there were a hundred of me, each with access to a fortune, I would never be able to do everything I want.

Opportunity in our modern life is an embarrassment of riches, apparently.

Yet there are still things I want to do. Lots of them.  I'm not deluded enough to think that I can do everything. I have limitations. I've even accepted a few of them.

But I refuse to accept all of my apparent limitations. I refuse to let go of all my hopes and dreams and crazy ideas.

Instead, I choose to believe that, with careful planning, determination, and a bit of luck, I can do the things I need to do, and still have the bandwidth for some of the things I want to do.

Stop laughing. I know it's deluded. I'm going to do it, anyway.

Part of this plan involves applying the Agile framework - a set of powerful management tools - to my personal and professional life. (You can learn a little more about my efforts in this post here.)

I have divided my efforts into a bunch of different projects, and given these projects exciting names like Project Sisyphus and La Vida Lulu. Over the next few posts, I'll introduce some of these projects to you, and then share my progress.

It might be an inspirational journey to productivity and bliss. It might be a total train wreck.

Most likely, it will be something in between. Without a doubt, it's going to be an adventure.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Big Five-Oh

 I have a lot to say about the philosophical implications of turning fifty, but that discussion would take far more than fifteen minutes. For now I'll content myself with simply sharing a little bit about the big day itself.

Looking back, the first thing I notice is a major failure in the picture taking department. It was a big, busy day and I have almost no photographic evidence. Sad.
The first, best part of the day was going to the airport and collecting Anna! She's home from the University of New Mexico for spring break. And my birthday, of course. :-)

My grand dreams of celebrating this birthday with a Caribbean cruise were abandoned years ago. So were most lesser celebration dreams. But with the whole family together, even doing the weekly shopping trips and SportClips run counted as a celebration of sorts.

And of course, no Don birthday would be complete without pizza. Minsky's Pizza is a local pizza chain that has both gluten- and dairy-free options, so we were able to order pizzas that everyone in the family could eat.

Sure, we could have fed the family a steak dinner for what we paid, but it wouldn't have been pizza, so what's the point of that?

Sadly, again there were no pictures. But trust me, it was delicious.
I think it's going to take a while for me to decide how I feel about being fifty. But my family did a great job at making sure that turning fifty was an experience to be cherished. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Writing Update: Prime Regent and Graviton Rift

Today I will tie up a couple of loose ends on the writing front, starting with The Prime Regent, which I pitched last September to Lisa Rodgers at the ANWA conference. 

The verdict: she passed. This was not entirely unexpected. While there is much to love about this book, I describe it as a bit of a "hot mess." So much potential, but so many problems. I've put it on the shelf, knowing that I will need some time and distance in order to make the hard decisions that will make this story great.

Having to set aside a story that I have been intermittently working on for the past 8 years helped me set the course for my next project. I determined that whatever I did next absolutely had to be something that I could complete within a year. I've wanted to do middle-grade Science Fiction, and since MG tends to be shorter, a project in this genre would be a good fit.

Also, one of the things I struggled with on Space Corps General/The Prime Regent was describing the story. I didn't have any kind of high-level concept overview. I think I was trying to be too original, at least with my current skill set.

For my new project, I determined to come up with a concept up front, and stick with it. That concept is "The Parent Trap re-imagined as an interplanetary spy mystery."

With that concept in hand, I prepared for my first ever NaNoWriMo. I spent the whole of October analyzing The Parent Trap, developing worlds, characters, and technologies, and creating a whole series of outlines.

I won NaNoWriMo by writing 50,000 words in November, and finished the first draft in mid-December.

The thing about NaNo is that, at least for me, I spent more time writing about the story than I did actually writing the story. There were a lot of, "And something really cool happened." Now I'm revising, and I actually have to come up with those cool things.

I had hoped to have my first revision done by now, but alas I'm still going. I like what I have, though, and I'm still on track to pitch this story at the LDStorymakers conference this May.

Even if nobody picks this story up for publication, I will have proven to myself that I can finish a novel in a year. Given the 5+ years for each of my previous novels, and everything else that is going on in my life, I'll call that a win.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Midlife and the Return of Fifteen Minutes

My forties are drawing to a close; I can count the remaining days on one hand. I always thought I'd celebrate this milestone birthday with something large and loud. Maybe a big party, or a cruise. A trip somewhere fun and exotic and exciting. Hong Kong or London of Dubai.

I'd have settled for The Mall of America.

But the current of life has a way of taking us far from the course we have set in our minds. That has certainly been the case with me. Reality means there is neither time nor money for a grand celebration. I'll admit I'm pouting a little. I've threatened to boycott this birthday altogether as a result. Fortunately, my family is refusing to let me ignore it the way I want to.

I understand it's common to reach this stage of life and have a serious reckoning. We compare who we are and what we've accomplished with the dreams we had decades before, and often find ourselves lacking.

I know I sure do.

From my lofty post on this hill I'm about to pass over, I understand as never before how this midlife reckoning could devolve into a full-blown midlife crisis. I'd like to claim I am somehow immune, but I doubt that would be the case.

That's why I have a plan.

I have a lot of plans, actually. Family, work, writing, travel, home, and self. I have been working on projects in each of these areas, and while I am nowhere near where I want to be, I think I am headed (mostly) in the right direction. I need these plans to give me focus, and enough delusion to believe I might actually achieve them.

A little over a decade ago, I started a blog called Fifteen Minutes of Delusion. The idea was to spend fifteen minutes every day, writing a little something about my life, and what was happening. Blogging was a thing back then, and in the years that blog was active, I made some wonderful connections, in addition to meeting friends who are dear to me to this day.

As part of my Midlife Transformation, I'm bringing back regular blogging. I'm going to try daily; I commit to weekly. I need this blog to keep me accountable. I need a platform where I can brag so I can be motivated to do brag-worthy things. Don't judge.

There is so much going on right now, and adding time to blog will be a real sacrifice. Midlife transformations require a lot of time. But I need to make this connection. I need to share my efforts, failures, and occasional successes. And I haven't found anyplace to do that as effective as a blog.

It's good to be back.