A blog for all things personal, informational, educational, and fun.
Here at my personal blog Thoughts & Things, I share a wide variety of, you guessed it, thoughts and things. Anything that sparks my interest is up for discussion. For those who are uncertain of what that might cover, I'll generally talk about reading, writing, books, movies, music, games, history, current events, and feminism. I talk about my personal emotional and health struggles from time to time. I'm also a big fan of lists.|
This is the place here at WDC where you can get to know me best, as I talk about the things that interest me, impact me, and amuse me.
|As someone with a host of unexplained health issues, it can be rather difficult dealing with medical professionals. Being sick doesn't mean I get more help from doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and so on. People fail to take me seriously in my serious health struggles, and it can often feel like seeking medical attention is a waste of time. I would give anything to feel healthy again, but medical professionals often assume that I'm faking, I'm lazy, I'm drug seeking, or it's a mental health issue rather than a physical one.
I thought it might be worth my while to share some of the incredibly hurtful things that have been said to me by medical professionals. Remember that just because you can't see a person's illness, doesn't mean it isn't there.
Aren't you bored?
This was asked of me because I am on sick leave. I don't have the health to be bored. Being at home instead of work means that I have the energy to do things I need to do, like housework and doctors' appointments, and do things that I enjoy. The rest of the time is spent sleeping, or wishing I was sleeping. When I was working, I was at risk of losing my job, and I was so busy sleeping when I was at home that everything else was left undone. So no. I'm not bored. I was pretty bored of my life being nothing but work and sleep though.
Take more walks.
This one killed me. After describing neurological symptoms to a neurologist, he did no tests, and told me it was in my head. More walks would help me feel better. Except I have been falling down, fainting, getting confused, and having trouble breathing. I am not safe to walk far, and I am never safe to go to far alone. But more walks would help me feel better.
Medication won't help you.
The same neurologist as above. The same appointment as above, even. It was psychological apparently, but medications were not the answer. I got the impression he thought I was looking for more drugs. I was just looking to be taken seriously. I also feel this statement was incredibly dangerous, as I am already on medications to manage my symptoms. I take medications for my depression, pain management, and gastric symptoms, but what if I had taken this as an invitation to stop my medications? These medications allow me to function in life. I am bedridden without them.
It's probably nothing.
I went into the hospital for severe, sharp abdominal pain. The ER doctor had me wait seven hours, barely looked at me, and told me "it's probably nothing" based on my previous fibromyalgia diagnosis, even though I have never had this abdominal pain until recently and have had the fibromyalgia for years. She then gave me tylenol and sent me home. I honestly wish I had stayed home that day. I had stronger medications at home if she assumed I was drug seeking. I certainly didn't wait seven hours for something that was "nothing."
I'm already doing too much for you.
This has been said to me every time I ask my family physician for another referral or test. Asking her for help leads to another lecture about how much she has already done for me. We have no answers yet, and my symptoms carry on, but apparently asking for more help is just too much. She tells me that if she helps more, an investigation might not look kindly upon it. I feel the opposite. But I'm desperate for answers.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-Eight. Six days of leave taken total.)
|Here at WDC, I think many of us feel the typical artists' struggle. We write away at our poems, short stories, articles, novels, and even our blogs, and all we can do is hope that people are reading it, that people are enjoying it, and that maybe we could make a living off of it (although I am certain some of the lovely folks here are already profiting from some of their work, but I also think they still have those hopes too).
Knowing how hard I work on my own projects, I think it's incredibly important to support the little guy when it comes to artistic endeavors. Whether it be written word, music, visual art, clothes, craft work, movies, TV shows, video games, and so on, it's important to support those who might have a harder time getting that support. I think finding and supporting local businesses and artists is one of the best ways to ensure that we're giving our hard earned money to folks who would appreciate it as much as we ourselves would.
While it's always a wonderful thing to be able to reap the benefits of the world being at our fingertips, sometimes it's good to just take a step out your door, and enjoy whatever might come across your path. I think a lot of people are simply not thinking about where their products come from, and where their money might be going, but thinking about those things can promote feelings of community, promote the community itself, and help you find hidden gems you might not have found otherwise.
I recently stopped in at a local store that sells lots of nerdy odds and ends in my city, and there happened to be a local artist doing anime style caricatures in there. My boyfriend and I had a couples caricature done. It was a lot of fun, I have a really cute hand drawn image of me and my partner, and I got to support local talent while I was at it.
My city also has comic-cons that feature a lot of local artists and writers, selling all kinds of products. Local comics get sold by the artists and writers themselves, and get sold by a couple of our local stores there. People sell handmade clothing, gorgeous art prints, and cute little ceramic items. Local stores often showcase their products at the comic-cons as well.
Local stores tend to be a goldmine for supporting locals. Not only are you giving your money to a small local business, but many small independent shops will sell products made by local creators. Shops will feature artists doing caricatures, or will display locally made products in an easily accessible way. One of our local comic shops is the main place to get locally made comics from an independent press that happens to be run by one of the shop's employees. Even the local library will feature film screenings for locally made films, and full shelf displays of authors based within the city.
Every summer, my city's downtown park actually hosts a free festival quite literally every other weekend for most of the summer. These include a lot of music and arts festivals that feature many local businesses, anything from food to crafts to music to art to clothes. Some of the talents come from a little further away, but most are still based in Ontario or Canada. I've never gone there without collecting up business cards and trying a few new local things. I've gotten some of my favourite loose leaf tea and naturally made shampoos at the summer festivals, both of which were made by businesses based locally.
Sometimes it can be hard to come up with the money to shop locally and support local talent. I certainly don't always have the cash to support the businesses I want to support, or to own the arts I would like to own. A big part of it is just looking. Looking is usually free, and it never hurts to see what you can find without even leaving town. Sometimes it can be nice to just come across other local writers, artists, and so on. It feels good to know you're not going through it all alone.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-Seven. Six days of leave taken total.)
|If you're anything like me, you find it much easier to sleep if there's some form of peaceful music playing. Silence is distracting. Silence means I'm thinking about something, imagining a conversation, writing a book in my head, pondering world peace, and so on. Music helps keep my mind focused, whether it be for sleep or work or mental activities. Of course, certain music can be too distracting. The last thing I want is to attempt sleep, and get caught up in a pop tune solo sing along fest.
Over the years, I've found some really handy music to sleep to. Albums of instrumental songs, piles of classical music, and the odd bit of relaxing folk rock. Since I started using Spotify this past winter (I'm late to the party, I know), I've found some playlists that are perfectly engineered to help get you relaxed enough to sleep. Here are my five personal favourites.
Sleep is filled with just over five hours of music, and was made specifically to help ease people into sleep. It's mainly a melodic ambient focused playlist, with enough length to it to help get you to sleep and keep you there. There's lots of soft, piano-based sounds, and it is all soft and soothing.
Sleep Tight is similar to the Sleep playlist. It clocks in at five hours, giving it just enough time to keep you in bed even after you've fallen asleep. This one is changed up on a semi-frequently basis, which means you get fresh picks of contemporary classical and melodic ambient streaming through your speakers.
Calm Vibes is another similar playlist, but it certainly stands on its own. If you're looking for something a bit shorter, this one is only a bit over the two hour mark, which leaves you with a bit less if you have an easier time at falling asleep. It has some lovely contemporary classical, occasionally blended with some post-rock and some ambient.
Mellow Beats is made up of relaxing hip hop instrumental beats. It's just under five hours in length, giving it time to ease you into unconsciousness. It has beautifully constructed music that was meant to be heard as instrumental only, as well as the instrumental tracks for tunes that normally would have vocals. A great playlist to relax to if you enjoy hip hop.
Jazz Vibes is a little over three hours of jazz inspired chillout electronic and hip hop instrumental beats, and it is fantastic. I like electronic music best when it's inspired by non-electronic genres, so this suits my needs perfectly. Worth trying for anyone who relaxes to jazz, hip hop, or chillout. It is one of the shorter playlists on this list as well, making it ideal for folks who prefer something less lengthy to sleep to.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-Six. Six days of leave taken total.)
|As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I had to undergo a sleep study last night. Of course, it was my birthday, which isn't a joy, but I waited many months to get into the sleep clinic. Hopefully it helps us determine what exactly is going on with my body.
First, I had to go into the hospital. I had to be there for 8pm, which makes for a rather early night. I had forms to fill out, and had to change into PJs pretty early on. I got my own hospital room, which is probably for the best, as I am sure many sleep clinic patients snore. It was nice to get into an air conditioned room with a good book, and I got a pretty good amount of reading done while waiting to get hooked up and go to sleep.
After I was settled in, I got set up with a wide variety of hospital instruments. They hooked electrodes all over my scalp, face, chest, and legs. I had a tube set into my nose, with a microphone attached. I had two bands, similar to belts, around my chest. They put one of those clip things on my fingers, although I don't know what they are called. There was also a camera in the room. They monitored my breathing, snoring, eye movements and blinking, leg muscle movements, heartbeat, and brain patterns.
If anything is going on with my body while I sleep, we should find out about it. Of course, sleeping was rather difficult with wires and tubes everywhere, and I have skin irritation all over my face due to sensitivity to medical adhesive (because of course that, of all things, is a problem for me). I can actually recall a dream where I tried to leave the hospital, and woke up trying to take off the finger clip.
It wasn't the best sleep, but I hope it provides answers. I am sick of not feeling well and not knowing what's wrong with me. On the plus side, this is now a mundane life experience that I have and can describe, which I think is beneficial as a writer. Maybe I'll have a character undergo a sleep study some day. Probably not. But if I do, I can describe it!
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-Five. Six days of leave taken total.)
|Yesterday was my birthday, which is why I am a tad late on this post. I was a bit busy with birthday stuff. It was mostly a good day. I got to have all you can eat fajitas with my boyfriend. I got lots of birthday wishes. I couldn't help but feel a little bit down though.
This was my first birthday without my grandma. I kept checking my phone, expecting her to call. Then I would have to remember that I am never going to get another birthday call from my grandmother again. I would give anything for that one last birthday call. I think she knew she wouldn't make it to my birthday. She was always over planning gifts for everything, and normally she would ask me months in advance what I would like for my birthday. She never asked me once. I don't mind not having a gift. That's trivial. It's the phone call I missed.
On top of feeling sad, I had a rather unfortunate night. Not that anything bad happened, but I had to be part of a sleep study (because of my health issues), rather than getting to spend my birthday night doing anything. It was a Monday, so I didn't exactly have big plans, but it would have been nice to spend the night with my partner, rather than in a hospital.
It was a good birthday. I had a nice day. I just ended up feeling a bit blue. I wish I had been able to focus on the good. I think the heat must be aggravating my depression. I mean, who wants their birthday in the midst of a government issued heat warning? Not this girl. My A/C is broken. No wonder I was blue.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-Four. Six days of leave taken total.)
|There are a great many kings throughout history who have been named Charles. In fact, over the past twelve hundred years, there have been dozens of kings named Charles, as well as dozens more lower ranking noble men with the same name. Many of them used different versions of Charles, according to where they ruled over, however this list will use the anglicised "Charles."
Because there have been so many Kings Charles, a fair few of them happen to be rather interesting historical figures. Statistically, it would have to be so. I am going to share some fun facts about the kings named Charles that I have personally found most interesting.
Charles II of Spain
Charles II of Spain is a notable king, not for his significant deeds as ruler of Spain, but rather he is notable for the state of his body leading to the end of the House of Habsburg's rule in Spain. Born in 1661, Charles II was a product of the severe royal inbreeding that was considered socially acceptable at that time. Unfortunately, because the inbreeding had gone on for generations, Charles II suffered from severe physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities. He had a severe under bite that made chewing and speaking extremely difficult. He could not speak until he was four, or walk until he was eight. He was also infertile. Because of his disabilities and his caregivers subsequently treating him like an infant, Charles was an ineffectual ruler, and Spain suffered under his rule. After a severe decline in his physical and mental health, Charles II of Spain passed away days before his thirty-ninth birthday. As he had bred no heir, Spain fell into the War of The Spanish Succession.
Charles I, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles I, Holy Roman Emperor, born in 742, was the King of the Franks and Lombards and Emperor of the Roman Empire. While you might not be familiar with him as Charles I, you have most likely heard of him under his better known name, Charlemagne. Unlike the previous Charles on this list, Charlemagne is remembered for his many great deeds, including uniting much of Europe. He was the first king to be recognised as emperor in western Europe in three centuries, since the fall of the Roman Empire. He first became King of the Franks in 768, and his later titles accumulated over the next several decades. He also founded the Carolingian Empire, and expanded Frankish state. Charlemagne was a known lover of books, and so encouraged so many monks in the way of recording different texts in a variety of languages, that many manuscripts from the time of Charlemagne have managed to be preserved over the years. Charlemagne had eighteen children, and his descendants included the dynasties Habsburg, Capetian and Plantagenet. He lived to be seventy-two years old, and died of pleurisy.
Charles I of England
Born in 1600, Charles I of England was not a particularly popular king, which is part of what makes him so interesting to study. As part of the Stewart house, he believed in the "divine right of kings," meaning he thought that his family had been designated by God to rule over England and that he should have absolute power. Charles I also married Henrietta Maria of France, who was Catholic, which most Englishmen of the time did not exactly approve of. He failed to aid the protestants during the Thirty Years War, Europe's deadliest conflict, and many of his views seemed to be too Catholic in protestant England. Charles I was also adamantly opposed to giving more powers to English parliament, which allowed for him to be viewed as a tyrant. All of this combined led to the English Civil War, where Parliament and the royals fought to determine who would control England. Charles I was executed in 1649 for high treason, and England went without any monarch for eleven years, and was ruled by parliament during that time. Charles' son, Charles II, was crowned in 1660, thereby restoring the monarchy.
Charles XII of Sweden
Born in 1682, Charles XII was not the twelfth king of Sweden. Charles XII was the sixth Swedish King Charles, however, generations prior to his day, kings named Charles in Sweden began using numerals in their titles based upon a mythological history of Sweden, beginning with Charles IX. Charles XII began his rule as King of Sweden when he was only fifteen years old. Denmark–Norway, Saxony–Poland–Lithuania and Russia formed a triple alliance in 1700 to attack Sweden, as it stood alone and was led by a young and inexperienced king. This was known as the Great Northern War. Charles XII exceeded all expectations, as he was a skilled military leader, and won many victories, despite his youth, and usually being outnumbered. By 1706, Russia was the only remaining power facing Sweden. Voltaire once quoted him as having said, "I have resolved never to start an unjust war but never to end a legitimate one except by defeating my enemies." The war took place for his entire rule as king, so he never had the time to marry or father an heir. Charles XII died in 1718 under mysterious circumstances. He was struck in the head by a projectile that killed him, however, it is unclear if this was an accidental hit, an assassination by his enemies, or if he was murdered by one of his own men. Charles XII has been exhumed three times to determine what would be most likely, but different theories still abound.
Charles VII of France
Charles VII of France was born into the midst of the Hundred Years War in the year 1403. When he was due to inherit the throne, invading forces occupied Paris and Reims, and his father had disinherited him and recognised the English monarchs of the time as his legitimate successors in his place. Charles VII did not have much in the way of political sway until Joan of Arc arrived on the scene. Charles famously tested Joan by placing another in position to lead her to believe he was not king, but she was able to determine who he was, and to praise him as the Dauphin. Charles had a great deal of respect for Joan, and was a believer of her connection to God. Joan fought to restore Charles VII to his place on the French throne. Eventually this allowed them to regain control of Reims, which allowed for Charles' coronation to take place in 1429. Joan of Arc overshadows the legacy of Charles VII, although credit is certainly due to him, as he was able to defeat the English and end the Hundred Years War, something that previous monarchs had been unable to achieve. Charles VII died in 1461, eight years after his victory at the Battle of Castillon had won him the Hundred Years War.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-Three. Six days of leave taken total.)
|The century old argument: was the book or the movie better. Some people seem to prefer the movie in every instance, as movies are far easier to consume. Others maintain that the book is always better. I disagree with both.
Both books and movies have their own benefits. Movies actually show you what's happening, take less time, and generally trim the fat in any story. They give you something to see and hear, meaning you can relax and focus on the story. The books provide more details and worldbuilding. Books often have more intricate stories, and more detailed character information. Books also allow you to imagine the story and characters however you prefer.
Because they are completely different formats with completely different benefits, they both present different opportunities for those looking to tell a story. Because I think story is most important, I usually think the book is better. That said, blanket statements about the book always being better just rub me the wrong way. I can think of a number of incidents where the movie was actually better than the book.
The Princess Bride is one of the best movies ever made, but the book is just a good book. It has a lot of background detail the movie doesn't have, but none of it is really necessary or missed. It's a fun read, but it's a much better watch. The Lord of The Rings was actually far better in movie format. The epic scope suited a visual format incredibly well, and the films trimmed some of the really unnecessary fat from the book (*cough* Tom Bombadil *cough*). Holes was a really enjoyable book, but the movie brought a lot more to the table with the historical throw backs.
Of course, there are many more instances of the book being better, even than a good movie (looking at the entire Harry Potter series), or the movie being complete crap (looking at Blood and Chocolate). Overall, I just think that blanket statements regarding book to film adaptations are not really necessary, particularly given the very different pros and cons between the two.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-Two. Six days of leave taken total.)
|As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am in a long distance relationship with an incredible man who is currently here visiting me. When we had confirmed that he was going to be coming for a visit, I set to making him a present that came from the heart. A sock monkey. So I guess the present came from the feet?
I found a Make Your Own Sock Monkey kit at the dollar store. It provided supplies and instructions, without having any of it pre-made, which was super convenient. It also had a picture on the front of what the sock monkey should look like by the end. Fortunately, I have basic sewing skills, so it was all pretty straightforward. Well, mostly.
He mostly went pretty well. I didn't have any pushpins handy, so parts of him are a tad lopsided. I would say he has a crooked smile, but it's more like most of his face is crooked. I think it gives him character. Of course, they gave me about triple the cotton batting that I needed, which leaves me wondering if I even did it right. The poor guy is probably missing organs or something.
The instructions were mostly by picture, with basic written instructions present. Unfortunately I do much better with words than pictures, and I ended up fudging a pretty significant detail. He's kind of maybe upside down? I used the wrong end of the sock as the top. Rather than using the toe of the sock as his head, I used the opening of the sock as his head. I had already attached limbs before I realised that was why it hadn't told me to sew the top shut yet.
Fortunately my little mistake was straightforward to fix. I couldn't exactly go back from the cuts and stitches, but sewing his top shut was simple enough. My error gave him extra character in his unique hairdo. He looks like he has a flat top haircut. He came with a birth certificate, so I named him Gus, after Gus Griswald from Recess.
In the end he turned out pretty good looking. You can definitely tell he's not store bought from the lopsided face. My stitches turned out quite nicely, although the best stitches ended up being on his crotch. I presented Gus to my boyfriend the day he arrived, and he loved it. Handmade gifts are always a safe bet for appreciation.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty-One. Five days of leave taken total.)
|I only listened to my first audiobook last year. I know, I know, I took my sweet time about getting to it. I've always been more of a visual person, so I've tended to enjoy books more when I read them myself, than when people read them to me. I was the kid that didn't like to be read to because I wanted to do it myself. I wish I had taken more opportunities to be read to as a child. I missed out on too many lessons in pronunciation, and too much quality time with my mum. Regardless, I resisted audiobooks for years.
Finally, I gave it a shot last year. I kicked things off with Yes Please by Amy Poehler. It was absolutely fantastic. As a book on its own, it was a really fun listen, and it gave me a lot of laugh out loud in public moments. As an audiobook, it was absolutely eye opening. It presented this whole new world of possibilities to me, and I wish I hadn't resisted in trying them out.
Because of my newness to audiobooks, and my sense of wonder being so fresh, I have decided to share some of the pros and cons I have found within the last year. While there are definitely some cons, I absolutely encourage those who have never tried audiobooks to give them a shot.
- They're accessible. If you have vision troubles, you can always hear an audiobook. As someone with chronic illness, I find my vision strains severely and causes headaches at times, and audiobooks are always an alternative to that discomfort.
- They can bring the book to life. Certain voices, individual or in a cast, can bring new life and light to a book that you would never experience from reading it yourself. Hearing Amy Poehler read her own audiobook, and with a guest backing cast, made the book miles better. Hearing Richard Armitage read love poems is a pure delight.
- They are portable. They can be carried around in a phone app, which means I can hear them on walks, I can hear them at the gym, I can hear them while doing chores. I've found myself extending walks when I am physically able to because I want to hear the end of a chapter. They have definitely made bus rides and dishes more pleasant.
- They can be cheap. Most libraries offer audiobook discs for loan. There are digital apps paired with libraries that offer digital audiobooks for loan. Sites and apps offer free books or discounted books.Even the major app Audible has a free trial, and occasional giveaways.
- It can be easier to lose focus. I know that when I am reading a book, my mind might wander, but typically I am focused on the page in front of me. When hearing an audiobook, I have the urge to do something with my hands/eyes. I want to be looking at something, which makes it a lot harder for me to maintain focus if I am not doing something like going for a walk. Once you've lost that focus, instead of re-reading a page, you end up having to back up the audio file, which can be even more tedious.
- A bad reading can ruin the whole thing. Just as much as a good reading can make the book, a bad reading can make it unbearable. Maybe their voice is annoying, their tone is boring and monotonous, or their telling of the story just falls flat. It can be hard to enjoy the content, even good content, if the delivery is sub par.
- You can't play music while listening. I like to read while listening to music, so this is definitely more of a personal note. There have definitely been times where I had the thought that I would be listening to music while reading it if only it were paper.
- They can be expensive. I know I already said they can be cheap, but it's a balancing act. The base cost for audiobook discs from the bookstore is often over twenty dollars, double the price for what you'd pay for a paperback. The base cost for digital copies is often in a similar price range. If you don't know where to look, or you are looking for a specific item, audiobooks can get pricy.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Forty. Five days of leave taken total.)
|Most people are quite familiar with procrastination. As writers, I think we are extra familiar with the concept. That said, we always have more to learn. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few possible ideas for things to do instead of thing you should be doing!
1. Make lists.
2. Sit on the toilet twice as long as necessary.
3. Think about all the things you could be doing instead of procrastinating.
4. Look in the fridge.
5. Open as many browser tabs of pages to read as you can without reading any of them.
6. Tell someone about the things you could be doing instead of actually doing them.
7. Google image search baby sloths.
8. Add fifty more books to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.
9. Read you own facebook or twitter page for the last year to remind yourself how funny you are.
10. Take a nap.
11. Look in the fridge again. It might have something that wasn't there five minutes ago.
13. Have a conversation with yourself about the things you could be doing.
14. Make a list of lists to make later.
15. Play a phone game.
16. Type in the URL for websites that should exist until you find one that exists. Procrastinate.com is not yet a thing.
17. Pick up a book. Stare at the page, willing yourself to read, without actually reading.
18. Read lists.
19. Make sure you remembered to close the fridge the last time you looked in it. Use this as an opportunity to look again.
20. Spend at least one hour deciding which productive thing you feel like doing in order to delay doing the thing.
21. Make a checklist. This is different from making other kinds of lists.
22. Sign up another website you probably will never revisit.
23. Shop online for things you won't buy.
24. Delete your junkmail without reading any of your regular email.
25. Stare blankly at the screen thinking about what to write without writing anything.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty-Nine. Five days of leave taken total.)