Nope, taking care of the dog did not, in fact, kill me

Or at least I assume so, as I seem to still be corporeal. (Though my body is disintegrating at an alarming rate now I’m this close to being 30. It is possible I am a zombie.)

It occurred to me today that I hadn’t posted here since December, and that I should probably remedy that, as my last post was about how taking care of Tyee was slowly murdering me and some readers might think I did actually die-by-doggy-daycare (actually, that sounds amazing). At least one might think that if one doesn’t follow my Facebook page, which I’ve been updating more frequently.

Anyway. I survived.

I’ve had some time to reflect on things the past couple of months. I’ve realized some things about myself and how I work, and how I don’t work. One thing I realized is that I do not work well with a set subject for a blog — at least, not with this blog. Every time I try to set myself to write about a certain thing here, I end up not posting for approximately forever. Obviously, this isn’t sustainable.

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting rid of this blog altogether and just posting at my LiveJournal about author-y stuff, but I don’t like that idea for one big reason: I like keeping control of my content. Yes, I write over at Medium now, and I continue to place my writing in other places on the web, but at any moment my writing can disappear from those places. This site is self-hosted, and the only way it’s disappearing is if I forget to pay my bills. (Which, ok, not without the realm of possibility, but still. My writing is safer here than it is anywhere else.)

The trouble, I think, with trying to keep to a certain subject matter here is the same trouble I have with “branding”. Being an indie author means I’m supposed to constantly be thinking about my “brand”, but truthfully I find that exhausting. As exhausting as I find most social interaction. I’m not going to cultivate a brand anymore; I’m just going to be myself, and write what I want, and say what I want on social media, and let that be my ‘brand’. I summed myself up as “author, poet, menace to society” and honestly that’s as close a label as I can come to sum me up.

So this blog will remain, and I’m going to go back to posting whatever the fuck I want to post about. I’ve been blogging for 12 years now; you would think I’d figured this stuff out, but I’m a slow learner.

On that note, some writing news!

I took a huge hiatus from writing fiction — about 6 months — but I’m back on the horse again. I had to chase down the horse first, of course, because the fucker had wandered into a nearby saloon and holy hell was he drunk, but everything’s all good now, even if I am riding a very soused horse. I haven’t yet gotten back to my big projects — been dipping my toes with little bits of short prose — but that’s on the table for April. Next month I plan on writing 30K on Anala, Book 3 in The Third Age, and hopefully getting it closer to being finished; I’m using Camp Nanowrimo to help me with this. This means March is dedicated to Camp Nano prep — there’s still a lot of world-building work I need to do for Anala, as well as sitting down and plotting out that book and the book that comes after.

I never set out to write a series with Bellica, and now that I am I’m wishing I’d planned ahead more. But then again, if I had, I wouldn’t be Starbuck in real life.

I don’t know when Anala will be done, but I am aiming for this year, and a publication date of the end of this year or the beginning of next. I’m trying not to rush things though I know people are eager to read the next installment. I’m eager to read it too, to be honest. I’ve got a bunch of scenes in my head of Anala kicking all sorts of butt and I really want to sit down and write them. But I need to respect my process, and how slow I am, which I’ve learned is about as fast as a sloth on downers. So I — and my readers — must exercise patience.

The other big project I want to get to this year is the next book in The Borderlands Saga, From the Ashes. I have a good 30K written on it already, but I need to go back and rewrite and re-plot it out, as well as doing more worldbuilding and planning for the next few books. However, Anala is my current priority, so that book comes first.

I also have a bunch of smaller projects this year — short stories, new Atherian myths, and the like — and I’ll announce them as/when it becomes appropriate. And besides the fiction, there’s my poetry and creative non-fiction as well, so this is a busy year, writing-wise, for me.

That’s the news for now. I will be writing here again, though about what I really cannot say.

Have a great Saturday night (what’s left of it), and I’ll see you soon!

-Katje

Thoughts I had while walking the dog yesterday

While driving up to the mountain: please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window GOOD BOY

While walking up the mountain: it’s DECEMBER WHY IS IT SO WARM

Where’d he go? Oh there he is.

Mountain for first dog walk since before broken leg = bad choice.

Why did I decide to veil? There are zero other humans here and it feels like I wrapped my head in a basting bag.

A person takes a selfie in a bathroom mirror. The phone occludes part of their face. Their head is wrapped in a headscarf. They are wearing a wrist brace.
Pretty, but oh so warm.

Benches. Benches would be amazing. Why don’t trails have benches? It would be a great for those of us who are disabled enough to need them but still want to go for hikes in the woods on occasion. Or who are forced into it by circumstance, such as the circumstance of dogsitting for your mom.

Holy shit this hill is steep.

Where the fuck is the dog?

I did not have enough coffee today.

Ok seriously if there are not going to be any benches WHY ARE THERE NO BIG ROCKS? Like a mile up this hill and not a single fucking rock; come on, this is BC, we’ve got rocks coming out of our ears. WHERE ARE THE ROCKS. And I don’t meant the tiny ones under my feet that pose a tripping and slipping hazard.

Upon reaching the almost-summit: I am not going up those goddamn stairs, you cannot make me, I choose life.

Hey, a rock. Finally a place to sit.

Ok this rock is not that comfortable. In fact it is super uncomfortable.

I’ll take it. It is closer to my butt than the ground.

~watching the dog wander up the stairs to the actual summit~ yeah you can go up there bud but don’t expect me to follow. I am good with this rock. This pointy rock. This pointy rock…that is also soaking wet. And I in my yoga pants.

Still better than standing. Or stairs. Anything is better than those stairs. They are made of eroded death and will surely send me plummeting to the rocky embrace of Mother Earth (FINALLY, ROCKS).

~dog stops halfway up the stairs, looks at me expectantly. I tell him nothing doing, but he can go on if he wants. he sighs, turns around and trundles back down.~

A large wolf-dog walks down some stairs that are set into the side of a wooded hill.
“Sigh. Katje is no fun.”

While walking back down: jesus this hill is steep. HOW DID I WALK UP THIS THING?

A trail through a forest leads steeply downwards.
Ok I know it doesn’t look *that steep* in the pic but trust me, it’s steep.

Hey, my ass is so numb from the cold rock that I can no longer feel the wetness from said rock. Bonus!

Where the fuck did the dog go? I hope he doesn’t get eaten by a cougar.

I hope that spider I just flicked off my arm lived.

Man, I’ve made it all the way up to the almost-summit and almost all the way to the bottom without slipping on a rock and twisting my ankle—ACK.

Spoke too soon.

Oh hey, there’s the dog. And the car. Thank gods, the car. Can I nap now?

On the drive home: you know I bet my thoughts would make a pretty funny blog post. I should write them up when I get home and post them.

please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window at those rabbits please don’t jump out the window GOOD BOY


And then it took me until tonight to finish writing them up because taking care of Tyee is a big job and I am so tired.

In other news, yes, I am currently dogsitting for Mom. This means I am up in Powell River and trying to view the seclusion as a retreat for writing and knitting. More of the latter than the former at this point, but I’ve only been here 2 days.

And I had more to say, I think, but Tyee just came up and pawed at me insistently, so I am off to take him for another walk, despite being exhausted.

ETA: I could not post this before the walk and am in fact posting it after the walk. Now it is hopefully sleep times?

~Katje

Wolf-dog Wednesday

I mean, I don’t know if this will become a thing here, but here’s a picture of Sila, the wolf-dog who used to guard me in my crib.

A white wolf-dog on a wet sandy beach tries to drag a very large piece of driftwood.
Sila, what r u doing. that stick is too big. stahp, Sila. stahp.

Because it’s Wednesday, and seeing pictures of wolfies on Wednesday is always a nice perk in the middle of the week.

~Katje

An Open Letter to the Man Who Called Me A “Retard” Today

Dear Sir, whomever you may be,

I hope you feel good. I hope that you are sitting in satisfaction at never having made a mistake in your entire human life. I hope that you know that you must be perfect, that the gods shine love down upon you and bless you in ways they do not bless other mortals.

This must be the case. I can’t fathom any other reason you would feel it necessary to scream “Nice fucking parking job, retard. Next time stay in your own fucking lane!” at me for a parking job that, yes, while not perfect, wasn’t as bad as you describe.

I’m tired, you see. It exhausts me to leave the house. But I did so with some excitement today, heading to the post office to pick up what I hoped was my wedding dress (it was). I parked in the only spot available — one between a tiny red sports car (yours) and an empty handicap spot.

The parking lot of this particular post office, located in a Pharmasave, is kind of shitty. It’s rather hard to do a good parking job there, and to be honest I’m still getting used to my minivan. It doesn’t handle the way my old car used to and it’s much bigger. So I parked, and got out, and saw that it wasn’t the best parking job. My rear right tire was on the line, yes. But there was still plenty of room between my car and the little red sports car — perhaps not enough room for someone sized like my fiance, Mr. Katje, but then he wouldn’t be able to fit in a car that size anyway. So I felt safe assuming that whoever was driving that car had enough room to get into it. And I was so tired. So, so tired I didn’t get back into my car and spend several minutes reparking, trying to get it perfect.

Besides, I figured, I’d only be a few minutes inside picking up my dress and then I’d be gone. Probably before you even came back to your car.

Obviously I was wrong on that count. Dress in hand, allowing myself to feel happy today despite the crushing weight of depression an anxiety on me, I headed back to my car and saw the space beside me empty once again. I hope they didn’t have any trouble getting back into their car, I thought, and yes, I felt a little guilty for not fixing the parking. It was a mistake on my part.

I make lots of mistakes, being human. I guess you don’t have that trouble. You must not.

It wasn’t until I got back into my car and, sitting still with the door open, arranged my things on the seat next to me that I realized you hadn’t left at all. I guess you had circled in your little red sports car, waiting for me to come back so you could shout obscenities at me.

Don’t mistake my slack-jawed face as I stared at you for a lack of thought (though I’m sure you did, considering the slur you flung at me). I was simply in shock.

I get road rage. I do. I understand feeling that people in other cars are idiots. I understand rage over shitty parking.

I do not understand what would drive someone to lie in wait, hidden, just so they could scream at another human being and call them a “retard”.

I guess I don’t understand because I’m human, with human empathy, and you’re obviously so much higher above me, on your cloud of never making mistakes, not fettered by annoying things like caring about other people.

So, Mr. Red Sports Car, I hope that you felt better after calling me a retard. I hope that, if you have kids, they never get put into Special Education for having learning disabilities and spend their school years being called a retard not only by their fellow classmates but by their teachers as well. Trust me, that sucks. I know from personal experience.

I hope you had a better day than I did, as I got to drive home holding back tears and thinking that I was so worthless I should just go kill myself. I hope you didn’t have to feel terror that an angry stranger might follow you home and attack you for one mistake that you made — as I did, because I honestly never know what angry men will do to me. I hope you find joy in berating a stranger for one mistake that they made. I hope that ruining my day made yours a little better.

I hope you’re still able to leave the house for reasons other than necessity, because after today I don’t think I can even make it to the library to pick up that book I wanted to read. After today, it will take all my strength to go to work, and come home. I don’t know how I’ll complete any wedding-related errands this week, seeing as the first one was such a fiasco. I can’t even open the package my dress is in to look at it. I feel too awful. I feel sick to my stomach.

Mostly, I hope that red sports car does its job of bolstering your self-confidence, so that maybe you don’t also feel the need to scream obscenities at strangers to prop up your manhood.

And I hope that this letter reaches you, so you know exactly what kind of impact you had on this stranger’s day. You’ll know it’s about you when you see it — after all, you saw my face, which is all over this blog.

Cordially,

-Katje

PS: Comments are disabled for this post because I don’t have the spoons necessary to moderate them.

Praying for Wellness for Wolffy

You know what’s terrifying?

Hearing that your mom “might have cancer again” 6 months out from your wedding.

Putting it that way seems selfish, I guess, but I’m not trying to say that I care more about my wedding than I do my mom. I’m saying that having my wedding being so close puts things in starker perspective than the first time I heard my mom had cancer.

A young woman with short ash-blonde hair holds an infant with dark hair. The young woman's face is pointed away from the camera; she sits cross-legged and is dressed in a white dress covered in colorful embroidery.
Me and Mom.

The first time I heard my mom had cancer, my radar was clear of any major life events that I wanted her to be part of — so the bone-deep terror that struck me, paralyzed me, didn’t get a chance to really extend to “What if she won’t be at my wedding/see her grandkids?” beyond vague thoughts of such far-off, seemingly fantastical events. The only event that I thought she could possibly miss would be my graduation from University (though, honestly, if she’d died 5 years ago I doubt I would have graduated last year, or at all).

I remained worried, terrified, until she recovered from surgery. All her assurances of “They caught it early; it’s just a few polyps at this point. They’ll just snip them out and I’ll be fine,” did nothing to calm my fears. All I could hear was “Mom has cancer. I’m going to be alone.”

I have abandonment issues. They’re deep-seated; I’m aware of them; I don’t have the money to get therapy to try to work through them right now. I have coping skills to get through the common triggers.

There are no coping skills for hearing “Mom is really sick and we’re pretty sure it’s cancer again.”

And the thing is, it’s even scarier this time. *This* time, we’re not sure it’s cancer, not right now. *This* time, we are waiting for a firm diagnosis. *This* time, mom is _visibly sick_ in a way she wasn’t 5 years ago. 5 years ago you never would have guessed cancer was setting up shop in her colon. Now? I look at her and feel icy claws close around my throat because she’s definitely ill and _we don’t know why_.

Two women smile at the camera. One is older, with short ash-blonde hair and a toothy smile. The other is younger, with a closed mouth smile and red hair. She rests her chin on her mother's shoulder, and it's clear she's holding the camera for both of them.
A more recent picture.

All we know right now is what’s working and what’s not. Mom’s taking a bunch of her supplements to deal with the weakness, which is caused by iron anemia (supposedly probably related to cancer “somewhere in the gut”), and the pain. She’s sleeping a hell of a lot more than she used to, and down in the library, on the guest bed that has a remote to lift her partially upright in the morning. She’s unable to work. She’s lost so much weight she doesn’t really look like herself anymore — not like the woman I’ve known my whole life, who raised me.

I look at her and my heart skips beats, my breathing becomes short, and the terror descends. I have been paralyzed with this terror for almost two months now, feeling helpless and out of control.

The truth is, we have no idea what the next few months hold. I’m trying desperately to keep it all together, to keep our lives going as normal as possible, but it’s the most difficult thing I can think of right now. All my spare energy is twisted up with praying that she’s okay; that it’s not as serious as they think; that in a few months she’ll be back to her old self. But I don’t let myself cling to those ideas, because that sort of hope can be deadly.

Mom’s sick, so my life is on hold. She doesn’t want it to be, of course; she doesn’t want things disrupted for me. But the very fact of her illness means things are emotionally disrupted for me — and these things are fucking dominoes. Everything else comes tumbling down.

My mom is sick and all I can think about is my wedding, wondering if she’ll be there to down the aisle with me, to give a toast at the reception, to have fun with family and friends, to witness me making one of the best decisions of my life.

All I can think about is my wedding, and all I can feel is fear.


We’ve set up a fundraiser to help support Mom during this time. If you’re able to give anything to it, it’s greatly appreciated. If you can’t give monetarily, we totally understand, and just ask that you pass it on. Alternatively you can give my mom’s blog a read as she chronicles what’s going on in her life.

I should probably post something here

Just so you all know I’m not dead.

I know, I haven’t posted in over a month, and now I am posting it’s just a boring general update on my life, not something fascinating about the backstory of Athering.

I apologize.

I’ve been fighting off illness, physical and mental, for most of February and March, and been finding it really hard to keep my focus. Even now I’m getting distracted, looking away, letting my attention wander, obsessively checking Kitten Clicker to see if there’s a new astronomical event I can observe and make a star chart from (there isn’t).

Yesterday I decided that cleaning up and reorganizing my office/the guest bedroom would help me focus better, because the mess has been distracting. It’s true the mess has been distracting, and I do feel better now that I’ve taken the first step to cleaning. Of course, there are still a million steps, and I’m sitting here trying to convince myself to do some actual work before tackling the mess again. It’s going to take me several days to finish it, so there’s no need for it to be the first thing I work at every day.

All this is to say: I have no idea what to write about here. Or, I have ideas, I just haven’t had the focus to sit down and get them done.

I don’t know where my focus went. I wish it were something simple, like I’ve been off my meds and just need to start taking them again, but that’s not it. I’ve been taking my meds faithfully for a while now. I just…can’t concentrate. It might be a symptom of absolute overwhelm. Whenever there’s too much on my plate (as there is now) my brain just sort of…shuts down. It won’t focus on what needs to be done, what’s priority; it’ll just grab onto random passing thoughts and run with them. Which is why I find myself doing low-priority things first, because they’re easier, and I can convince myself I’m being truly productive because hey, that thing I’m doing is on the list. Somewhere near the murky bottom, but still on the list.

So I think what I’m getting at with this post is that I need to reduce my stated posting schedule here until my current state of overwhelm is relieved a bit. Posting once a week would be awesome, but it’s apparent I just can’t manage it at the moment, and every week I miss I feel guiltier and guiltier until I’m stuck in a shame-spiral that won’t end. Well, time to end the shame-spiral because it’s not doing anyone any good. I’m going to post here once a month, on a topic related to the worlds I write in — character snapshots, backstory, maybe unpublished myths, who knows. Stuff like that.

Reducing my posting commitment here, for now, will lower my stress levels and allow me to finish other projects — like proofing the paperback copy of The Jade Star of Athering, which really should have been done this week, and would have, probably, had there not been a TON of errors for me to correct (because I apparently misplaced my brain when I did the layout). New goal: end of the month.

Other projects I should be focusing on? Writing the third book in The Third Age, Anala, as I have a self-imposed deadline of April 12 to finish the first draft. Going to have to pull out the big guns to make that happen: coffee IVs and huge sacrifices to the Mousai. (Only half-kidding.)

Then there’s this month’s episode of Fifty Shades of Drinking; finishing the cleaning of the office; finishing last year’s taxes; re-organizing my pantry and cleaning my kitchen; doing my filing (a Sisyphean task); and oh, did I mention, wedding planning? Yeah. Getting (officially) married in 7 months and am super behind on that. Go me.

Adulting is super difficult and the benefits don’t always outweigh the costs. If you’re a kid reading this, take my advice: don’t grow up. Run away to Never Never Land and just stay a kid forever. MUCH BETTER CHOICE.

Anyway. I’m off to work some more on The Jade Star of Athering, and if I don’t post again this month (with something actually about Athering or something) then I will see you in April.

-Katje

Happy New Year!

Road subject to flooding.
I couldn’t find a picture to encapsulate my year, so I just picked one at random. Though I guess “Road Subject to Flooding” does it pretty nicely.

I am writing this from the past, because I know myself well enough to know I would never be able to write this and post it on time for when I want to post it (11:59pm, December 31st 2014). That, or I’m trapped in the past and this is the only way I can communicate with you. Help! Rescue me! GET IN THE DELOREAN AND SAVE ME BEFORE I FADE AWAY

Anyway. My best wishes are going out to all of you for an awesome New Year’s, with partying that suits your personal levels of introversion/extroversion and midnight expressions of affection you are comfortable with. If 2014 was good, I hope 2015 is even better. If 2014 sucked donkey genitalia, then join me in wrestling 2015 to the ground and making it our minion.

2014 was a mixed bag for me. On the upside, I finally moved in with Mr. Katje, and he’s pretty great to live with. On the downside, I broke my femur, requiring long months of doing absolutely nothing followed by more months of not being fully recovered yet — see above note about donkey genitalia.

Hooray, just got a big shipment from Barefooot Books! Continually impressed with the quality of these books.
Some of the things I sell.

On the upside, I started a new business in selling Barefoot Books, which I’m enjoying and I am really excited about. (You can read about my exploits on my business blog.) On the downside, I’m fucking exhausted: starting a new business is a LOT of work and I have, yet again, overestimated my capabilities. (As downsides go, though, this one isn’t huge. I’m just whining.)

On the upside, I wrote almost 120,000 words this year. On the downsides, I didn’t make my goal of 150,000 and over half of what I did write was on blogging because I allowed myself to count blogging words for word count. That skewed my writing heavily in a way I did not like.

I also had a bit of a breakdown in November with regards to my writing. The stress of releasing The Jade Star of Athering was so great it broke something in me, and I was pretty close to calling it quits with this whole writing thing.

I’m glad I didn’t. I decided to take a step back, give myself a hiatus, and take it easy on myself. I’m feeling better now, and I hope that very soon I’ll be back in the saddle. However, what this means is that I won’t be releasing any books in 2015. If I try, I might have another stress-related breakdown and then all bets are off. I’m sorry, I know how much it sucks to wait a long time for the next book in a series. I really do. (10 years.)

On the bright side, it should only be about 13 months before my next release. I hope to get the next book in The Third Age out in February 2016. That’s assuming everything goes to plan, so cross your fingers!

Blog changes in 2015

You might have noticed the changes to this blog already. New theme, new name. Mind you, I came up with “Quillscratches” when I was loopy from lack of sleep so no telling how long it’ll stick around.

What is sticking is the change to what’s being posted here. I’m not going to quit posting about mental illness, smashing the kyriarchy, or the weird things that happen in my life — not completely. I’m just shifting focus.

Starting next week, on Wednesday, I will be posting bits of backstory, character profiles or interviews, and other bits and bobs from my writing that doesn’t make it into the final books. I’ll be posting every Wednesday, all year.

Other posts might come up outside of Wednesdays — maybe snippets of my personal life or those rants I love to get into — but they won’t be a focus, and will only show up as and when I’m inspired to write them…which is basically how my posts here have been done for a while, anyway. I want to change that.

(If, by the end of the year, I’ve kept to the once-a-week schedule, I may consider upping it to twice a week because I, too, like to live dangerously.)

And, despite the subtitle of this blog, these bits and bobs will not be solely Athering-related. Any world I write in is fair game.

If you have questions for me you’d like me to answer with one of my weekly blog posts, please send them to me at this email address: katjevanloon AT gmail DOT com. Put “Blog questions” or something similar in the subject line so I know what it’s about.

Fifty Shades of Drinking

This has been on hiatus for an unduly long time, and I am sorry. I was going to get back to it in October, but a bunch of events sort of took over my autumn and then I was planning on doing one as a surprise Christmas present to y’all but then I slept a lot and then Christmas was over and then I slept a lot again and now it’s basically the end of the year, so.

It is coming back. I’m not going to give an exact date, because I won’t keep to it, but expect a new episode in January. Hopefully before the last day of the month. Honestly, I plan on doing this vlog series for as long as I humanly can. The broken leg just threw a wrench into a LOT of things for me…including my leg, which was wrenched when I fell. A wrenched leg wrenches plans!

I’ll stop typing ‘wrench’ now.

Anyway, it IS coming back. Sometime in January you will again get to enjoy the slow destruction of my liver, punctuated with many vicious swear words and rants against misogyny.


 

Welp, that’s the news. I will see you all next week.

Sending wishes to banish the morning’s hangovers!

-Katje

ETA: Apparently I set this post to publish at 11:59 AM, not PM, so. Uh. Not the new year for me yet. But maybe for you! HAPPY NEW YEAR ANYWAAAAAAY

Perfectly Broken

Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression, anxiety, and self-loathing, and I figured I’d talk about it here, because chances are other folks go through this too and it’s always helpful to know one is not alone. General content warning for the post.

So, first: I want to say that objectively, my life is pretty great. And subjectively, too. I’m engaged to a really awesome person who respects me and my career. We live together in a nice place, in a nice neighborhood. I’ve started a new business and my career as an author is going pretty well. Overall our life is a nice thing.

But of course this does not preclude shitty things happening to us, and of course our lives are not 100% great. There are definitely areas that are causing some long-term stress and, for me at least, depression, anxiety, and all those other fun things I get to deal with already for no particular reason. Except now they’re being given a reason, and I’m finding my already fragile mental state being poked at constantly.

The main thing that’s poking the bear of mental illness for me right now is my physical state. Some of you know that almost 3 years ago I suffered a spinal injury. That’s actually not entirely accurate; the injury itself happened in 2009. It didn’t flare up like a fireworks show, however, until 2012, leaving me bedridden and unable to walk for weeks. After a lot of hard work in physiotherapy, I slowly was able to walk with a walker for short bursts, and then longer bursts, and then finally upgraded to a cane. I’ve been walking with a cane since 2012, though there have been times when I’ve been able to go without for a short period of time.

Likely, had I continued with the physio after getting to that state of wellness, I would eventually have gotten to a point where I could walk without a cane, and probably get somewhere near the state of health I was at before the injury knocked me down. Even in the years I had the injury but it hadn’t flared up I was doing pretty well, despite the new, sharp, knife-twisting pain in my lower spine that I had chalked up to “Another weird permutation of the chronic back pain I’ve had my entire life because genetics is a shitty lottery.”

But I didn’t continue with the physio. I quit in 2012. This wasn’t because I wanted to, or because I thought I was done: I wanted to continue and knew I needed more. But I could not find a new physiotherapist when I went back to Nanaimo after staying in Coquitlam for several weeks, and not only that — the price went up. You only get a few visits at the reduced rate with a doctor’s prescription, you see, and I would need to continue to go every week to see progress.

Fifty dollars a week is too steep for me. Then, and now.

So for 2 years I have lived no where near what “normal” is for me, just dealing with the pain, taking a strong painkiller on the days when I can’t move without it, and continuing to do things that are probably contraindicated for my spine’s condition but hey, what else am I going to do? My social life has dropped off considerably and my ability to do a lot of things in a short period of time has gone to zilch, approximately. I now need a few days to recover after an event that wouldn’t have left me winded 3 years ago.

It has been an adjustment, to say the least. I still overextend myself because I am used to a body that can handle more than it can. And though mentally I have gotten better since it first happened, I still have dark nights of the soul.

So when I broke my leg this summer — 3 months exactly as of this coming Saturday — I slipped into depression again.

Continue reading Perfectly Broken

Your Diet is Boring and Sad (and triggering)

ETA, September 17th: Comments are off for this post for the foreseeable future.

Trigger warning for eating disorders, diet culture, child abuse, emetophobia, and fatphobia.

I don’t know how to start this post, aside from the trigger warning. I know it will need it; I’m talking about things that are hard for me to even think about, let alone speak about. But I don’t know where to begin.

Do I begin at the beginning (for me) — when I was 2 and encountered severe trauma related to food? When I was screamed at for getting dessert on Christmas, when I was so upset I threw up all my food?

That is where it started for me, my rocky relationship with food. Imagine, being told by your loving mother you can have a fancy eclair because you ate enough of your Christmas dinner and it is, after all, bloody Christmas, and then having the other parent in your life unleash a torrent of his abuse on you both until your little body can’t take the stress and you just lose it, everywhere.

That wasn’t the only time my biological sire made me vomit with his anger, either (or his reckless driving). To this day, strong negative emotions and, especially, angry men make me sick to my stomach.

I suppose it’s strange I never developed bulimia, not really. There was a period of time when I was vomiting after every meal, like clockwork, and sometimes it was induced, but it wasn’t bulimia. It was me feeling physically sick all the time, and needing some relief. As suddenly as it appeared in my life, it disappeared.

No, instead, I developed binge eating disorder and, much later, anorexia.

My father didn’t stop when I was two, you see. He continued to abuse me in many ways throughout my childhood and adolescence, including at the dinner table, in restaurants — really, anywhere food was involved, he made sure to give me a complex about eating.

His excuse? I was being spoiled rotten by my mom and Oma, he said. Or I was getting too fat, or eating too much sugar. Or any other reason he could come up with to abuse me for daring to want food.

Abusers always find it easy to justify their actions. It’s for your own good. Always for your own good. It was for my own good when he took me to get a treat at Dairy Queen, said I could order whatever I wanted, and then took that food away from me when I had it and ate it in front of me, saying I couldn’t have it because I was ‘getting fat.’ It was for my own good when he screamed at me at the dinner table because I was ‘too fat’, making me cry and feel too sick to my stomach to eat — which he then yelled at me some more about, because I was a wimp who was crying and why wasn’t I eating? He’d slaved over the stove to make that food so I better eat it or he’d give me something to cry about.

It was for my own good when he made me sit at the dinner table until I finished my food, even though I told him I didn’t like squash, not at all, not a little bit, I had to eat it because it was good for me. And when my step-siblings came in from their after-dinner swim at the pool and saw me sitting there — I was determined to sit there all night, and hoped I peed on the chair, hoped for that small revenge — they told me to take the food and just throw it in the compost, and lie about eating it! I said no — he’d know, he always knew, nothing was safe — but they took it and did it for my anyway, and then dad came back into the room and pulled out squash covered in coffee grinds and other organic waste and force fed it to me, holding my mouth shut until I swallowed it.

It was for my own good when he force-fed me salmon and called me a wimp and weakling for not liking it. To this day, the smell of salmon makes me want to vomit and cry.

He was convinced that every time he put another landmine in my brain with his actions, he was doing it for my own good. He swore up and down that someday, I’d thank him.

Well, he was wrong about most things, so add that to the list.

The for your own good narrative doesn’t stop with my father, though. It continues on every day I am forced to interact with people who have bought into the propaganda of our fat hating culture. Shaming me for my food choices is for my own good. Constantly talking about diets is for my own good. Maybe, if they make me feel enough shame, I will magically lose weight. That’s the belief, so it’s easy to justify with for your own good.

This is all true, and it’s probably important background for this tale. But is that where I start? Is this the best place to begin for this particular story?

Let’s start again, maybe.

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Continue reading Your Diet is Boring and Sad (and triggering)

Getting a straight answer from a doctor

Post Doctor's appt selfie. This is my "well that was a depressing waste of energy" face.
Me, post-doctor’s appointment. My “that was a depressing waste of energy” face.

It’s not easy. I feel that’s one way The Doctor is very much like regular doctors — give you a straight answer when you ask a question? MADNESS

But, finally, I did. Yesterday, at my follow-up appointment at the cast clinic. After he told me that I’d probably have to be in the brace and off my feet until October, basically (so, a bit longer than originally thought), I finally got an answer regarding the possibility of ligament or meniscus damage:

They don’t know.

They won’t know until my fracture is healed up, because they can’t do an examination to figure out if the ligaments or meniscus are damaged without risking further damage to the fracture. So in several weeks, I may get an answer to that question.

I’m guessing it’s going to be “Yes, your knee is damaged,” mostly because my knee still feels like it’s been smashed with a hammer and I can’t bend my leg without extreme pain.

But apparently the reason they kept avoiding my questions about the knee was because they didn’t know and couldn’t tell me for a while. Which is all I wanted to know! Just an answer, any answer.

So now I know it’s still on the table, the possibility of more severe damage, and I just have to wait and see what happens. And in the meantime, don’t put any pressure on the broken leg.

This weekend we’re picking up a wheelchair for me and maybe getting me a proper shower at the in-laws’ place. If I’m up to it, Mr. Katje might even take me out for dinner at our favourite restaurant.

I’m honestly pretty excited about the wheelchair. Apparently it has a leg rest on the left hand side, which already makes it a million times better than those stupid hospital wheelchairs. (Yes, I totally have the muscle strength to just hover my leg straight out the entire time I’m in that thing. Not.)

I don’t mean to sound bitter about our experience with BC medical this time around. I’m getting the help I need. I’m just frustrated and tired of being cooped up in a chair 24/7, and looking at another 2 months of being cooped up like this.

Book has been proofed, as of last night. now to change the files and ship em off.
I think I went through 5 stacks of post-it notes.

So, I’m trying to set my brain to productivity. Namely, edits, rewrites, and writing fresh words (and, on the other side of the business: publishing). I’m just finishing up the work for a book by Kaimana Wolff, called Broken Sleep. It’s a really good book, even if the subject matter is hard for me to take. I said in my review that it’s a harrowing exposé of abuse, and I stand by that. It needed a lot of proofing, though, as you can no doubt tell by the picture. Right now it’s on round 3 of proofs. I’m waiting to hear back from the author, and then I can finish up work on it.

If you want to get an ebook ARC — advance reading copy — you can sign up for one here. They will be sent out as soon as I’m done with the ebook formatting.

Regarding my own writing, currently I’m working hard on The Jade Star of Athering. When I started re-writes there were 9 entirely new parts I had to write. Now there are 4, along with the various continuity edits and smaller rewrites within the finished chapters. For the record, editing and re-writing Jade Star has been like trying to marathon through a swamp filled with eels and unspeakable horrors. I am never doing vomit-out-words-and-fix-it-in-post writing again — after this, I’m going back to the much-more-natural-for-me edit-as-I-go style of writing. Fixing it in post is torture.

After I finish my edits and rewrites, I’ll be sending off the manuscript to my editor for the first round of edits. When she’s done, it’ll be time for beta readers to have at it. Once I’ve implemented beta feedback, it goes for its final round of edits, and then I start the publishing process. It’s at this point I release an ARC for advance readers. During the publishing process, we proof the manuscript several more times (and likely find more errors). Hopefully by the time release day rolls around there are no more errors left. (I say hopefully, because we are human.)

When Jade Star is off with the editor and beta readers, I’ll be focusing on finishing up the first draft of From the Ashes, sequel to Stranger Skies. I have a deadline of the end of the year to finish the first draft, but if I’m lucky I’ll get it done sooner.

I’ve got a lot of writing projects planned out for the next year or so. I really want to finish Jade Star and From the Ashes soon because I have another book I’m starting in November — Anala, the sequel to Jade Star and third book in The Third Age. It’s going to need to be outlined very carefully, however, as it happens during the same time period as Book 4 (which is so far untitled).

There’s a lot more on my plate, writing wise, but if I outlined my entire year’s plan here then I’d have no choice but to stick with it and I like to give myself some leeway for failure. (Insert winky face here.) Accountability is great, so long as I’m making myself publicly accountable for things I know I can accomplish.

So right now it’s just a matter of keeping busy with what matters to me, which thankfully is something I can still do while I have a broken leg. I have to be grateful for that — my passion doesn’t involve using my leg. I can still work on it even when injured and chair-ridden.

-Katje

PS: If you want to be first to hear about release dates, tours, events, etc for both my mother and me, then you should sign up for our mailing list. It comes out about once a month, and it gives you the opportunity to sign up to receive ARCs before anyone else can, or to pre-order first. Also, you get 2 free ebooks for signing up. July’s is set to come out in the next couple days, so sign up soon!