Excuse me, my faux pas are showing

definition from dictionary.com

I have recently discovered that I have committed a couple of wedding-related faux pas. However, I am also of the opinion that the behaviors deemed terrible by some are merely violations of unwritten rules, which begs the questions: who decides which unwritten rules are important and if the rules are unwritten, how is everyone supposed to be aware of them?

Two of the unwritten rules I grew up with are:

  • You shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day. I think this one is finally dying a quiet death, but seriously? Who even decided this? Why did everyone else go along with it? Disclaimer: I never wear white. I am not accident prone or messy – until I wear white. Once I don white, something will happen to that article of clothing requiring it to be disposed of. But, if I do decide to wear white again, I will make sure it’s after Labor Day just to be annoying.
  • Redheads shouldn’t wear red. I heard this one all the time and always thought it was stupid. When I asked why, I was told “It will clash with your hair.” What? Why is it okay for blondes to wear yellow and brunettes to wear black and brown? I have always blown this one off and, I look fabulous in red. Just sayin’.

So, what are my wedding-related faux pas? No, it wasn’t the ultimate sin of wearing white to a wedding because that’s the sort of thing that destroys friendships and breaks up families. (Why do weddings come with so much drama?) My mistakes deal with the color of the dresses that I chose. At one point, black was not to be worn to a wedding because of it’s association with death and funerals. Apparently, it’s now acceptable – at least in some circles.๐Ÿ™„ I have no idea whether or not it was deemed acceptable when our oldest son and daughter-in-law married. However, I wanted something special to wear in my role as the mother of the groom and was excited to find a beautiful black dress with gold embroidery; I loved it and felt beautiful in it. Some would believe that by wearing black to the wedding, I was making a dig at my daughter-in-law and expressing my dislike of her. Some would need to get a life. I adore my daughter-in-law and always have. There was no ulterior motive to my choice other than that feeling of “this is the one” when wearing that dress.

My black faux pas wedding dress circa 2008

My most recent wedding faux pas was last October. Did you know you’re not “supposed” to wear a red dress to a wedding? Neither did I.๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„ The dress code for the wedding was “cocktail attire” which meant a shopping trip since Kenn needed a new suit and I own exactly two dresses, neither of which qualify as cocktail attire. I visited several stores with no luck and then… I found it. The perfect dress. I even bought it without trying it on since the store dressing rooms were still closed due to COVID. Once I got home and tried it on, I knew that I had found my dress and proceeded to wear it to the wedding. No one passed out,but who knows? They may have been gossiping about me behind my back.๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ(It was also a Halloween wedding and the bride wore a white dress with a black veil and the decorations included skeletons and sugar skulls so I think my red dress fit right in.)

I still think I look fabulous in red.

Oh, why aren’t you supposed to wear red to a wedding? Because red is the color of harlots. (Who even uses the word harlot these days?) And, apparently in some cultures, wearing red to a wedding means you had sex with the groom. (Ew!) I would have lived the rest of my life without knowing these “rules” without reading some wedding related posts on Reddit.

What are your least favorite so-called rules?

Talking in Your Sleep

I woke up with Talking in Your Sleep by the Romantics playing in my head – probably because I’ve been planning to write a post about somniloquy. Of course, I had to take a few minutes and watch the linked video and I have to say it – there’s no hair like 80’s hair.

Kenn has always talked in his sleep. He stopped for several years but over the past year or so he has started again. It’s not uncommon for me to be awakened by one of his middle of the night conversations. Unfortunately, it’s usually just a few words here or there, not enough for me to determine what he’s dreaming about or who he’s talking too. He rarely has a recollection of any of these nocturnal chats.

Image courtesy of depositphotos.com

The weird thing is, I’ve started talking in my sleep as well. Prior to the past few months I might cry out in my sleep if I were having a bad dream and Kenn would wake me up, talking to me long enough to (hopefully) keep from going back to the same dream. (I don’t often have bad dreams, but when I do, they usually involve spiders.) Several times in the past few months I’ve woken myself up while yelling at someone in my dream. (I rarely yell in real life. I guess I get it out of my system in my dreams, LOL.) Last week I dreamed that I was pregnant (!) and that Kenn had intentionally made plans to be somewhere else when the baby was due. I woke myself up telling him quite clearly “If you aren’t here when this baby is born, I don’t think I can forgive you.” My pronouncement did not awaken Kenn, who would like to go on record as saying that he would never do anything so terrible.

My subconscious must have been working overtime. In addition to my morning mental musical selection, Kenn said I woke him up this morning talking in my sleep. He said I was carrying on a full conversation with someone. I didn’t wake myself up this time and don’t remember what I was dreaming so I have know idea what I was discussing.

It seems there is no definitive cause for somniloquy and while it is definitely not anything to be concerned about, I do find it interesting that both Kenn and I are now sleep talkers. I wonder if this is one of those ways in which long-time partners take on similar characteristics?๐Ÿค”

Do you talk in your sleep? If so, is this a lifelong tendency?

Crunching The Numbers

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I used too, but I never stuck to them which then caused me to beat myself up for my presumed “failure”. (Don’t worry. I used to be the Queen of Negative Self-Talk. Nowadays, I’m more like a lady-in-waiting.) The only exception to this rule is setting a goal for the number of books to read in my Kindle app.

I am an avid reader and have been as long as I can remember. If you had asked me several years ago if I would ever make the change from physical books to ebooks, the answer would have been a resounding NO. However, the transition began slowly before I retired. Trying to juggle a purse, lunchbox, and book among other things when going from the car to the office and back was a pain. Since I’ve always got my phone, converting to reading using the Kindle app was sort of natural. Eventually, I noticed that the app tracks what I read (duh) and prompted me for a “reading goal” at the beginning of a new year. Not having any idea how much I actually read, my initial goals were guesstimates at best.

According to my Kindle app, my reading stats for the past few years are as follows:

  • 2019: 41 titles read (no goal set)
  • 2020: 160 titles read with a goal of 45. It seems I don’t estimate well, LOL.
  • 2021: 156 titles read with a goal of 100. Better estimation, but still on the low side.
  • 2022: 114 titles read with a goal of 125.

2022 is the year I learned that the Kindle app does not give you credit for re-reading books. (Seriously Kindle? What’s up with that?) Since I did a lot of re-reading in 2022, it’s time to crunch the numbers and find out how many book I actually read in 2022. *cracks knuckles*

  • Two new books came out in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, so of course I re-read the first 13 books in the series in preparation.
  • A new book came out in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling Trinity series so I re-read 14 of the 15 books in her Psy-Changeling series and the first 5 books in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. (I skipped one book in the original series because I really don’t like the hero in that book.)
  • A new book came out in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series so I re-read the first 12 books in the series.
  • A new book came out in Faith Hunter’s Soulwood series so I re-read the first 5 books in the series.

Side note: I don’t always re-read a series when a new book comes out. It kind of depends on how long it has been since I read the series or since a new book released.

So, let’s see:

  • 114 books counted by the Kindle app
  • 13 Guild Hunter books
  • 14 Psy-Changeling books
  • 5 Psy-Changeling Trinity books
  • 12 Mercy Thompson books
  • 5 Soulwood books
  • 163 number of books actually read in 2022

Booyah! Take that Kindle app! Yes, my competitiveness is making itself known, LOL. Just for giggles, I set my reading goal at 125 titles again this year. However, based on the computations above I may bump it up to 150.

So, are you a reader? If so, do you set any sort of reading goals? And, ebooks, physical books, or both?

Well, Darn

Well, it has taken almost three years, but Kenn and I finally contracted COVID. As with many couples, Kenn and I are opposites in many ways. Our recent illnesses have brought some of those differences to the fore. Most notably, when I’m sick, I want to be left alone – just check on me every now and then to make sure I’m still breathing. Kenn, however, wants to be babied.

My symptoms began on New Year’s Eve and I wound up in the doctor’s office on January 2nd with a severe ear infection. Since January 2nd was a federal holiday, Kenn didn’t work and was available to take me to the doctor. However, he was back at work on Tuesday and Wednesday leaving me to my own devices. I stayed on the couch (with a variety of felines) with an assortment of tissues, cough drops, and cold medications scattered in strategic locations throughout the house. Kenn’s symptoms began shortly after he got home on Wednesday evening. He decided to test Thursday and… duhn, duhn, duhn

Yep, it’s positive

We didn’t even have to wait the whole fifteen minutes; it was showing positive within about 3 minutes. (Had this been my test, Kenn would have said that I was just being competitive.) Friday morning he called the doctor who, in turn, called in prescriptions for cough medicine and an anti-viral. Cue the difficult part of this process – picking up the medications. I was now on Day 6 of my illness which meant I no longer needed to quarantine and while I was feeling better, I was still weak/washed out but I pulled on my big girl panties and made the drive to the pharmacy. (Yay for small towns, short distances, and drive-thru pharmacies!) I did not burst into tears when I was informed that they only had the cough syrup; the anti-viral was out of stock and they didn’t know when they would get more. I made it back home where Kenn made a call, found the anti-viral at another pharmacy, and made the arrangements to have the prescription transferred. Afterwards, he went to bed for a well-deserved nap.

An hour or so later, I went to check on Kenn. He was awake and feeling pitiful. He was glad I had come to check on him because he needed to cuddle. I am not cuddle-averse, especially when I’m already sick and not going to be exposed by said cuddling. (Long story.) I cuddled Kenn until it was almost time for me to go pick up his second prescription. He was feeling miserable so I hoped to encourage him by telling him that, since his illness was progressing much as mine had, he would probably be feeling better by the next day. His response? “I’m not going to survive that long.” Siiiggghhh.

Now, Kenn has said on more than one occasion that I’m not very sympathetic – and he’s right. I’m great with empathy; sympathy not so much. At this point, my already limited sympathy was running low. “Are you serious? You should have said something earlier so I could take out an insurance policy on you. And, you do realize that I survived on my own while you went to work and I’m here babying you and you’re not going to survive? I’m going to go get your medication. I hope you’re still alive when I get back.” Spoiler: he was. He was also contrite and apologized for “irritating” me; he said he was just kidding around. Whatever. I’ve been around him long enough to know that the drama gene is strong in his family and it’s always strongest with Kenn when he’s sick so I take his “just kidding” with a grain of salt.

Personality differences aside, I’m thankful that our COVID experience has been easy. The absolute worst part for both of us has been the lack of energy that we’ve experienced. It has now been ten days since my symptoms started and today is the first day I’ve been able to be up and around for more than a few minutes without needing to sit down and rest. Also, I’m a night owl so it’s not unusual for me to be up until midnight; while I’ve had COVID, I haven’t been able to stay awake past 10pm. My plan is to go into work tomorrow. Weevil counting isn’t strenuous and if I don’t have the energy to stay all day, I won’t. Even more importantly, I’m planning to cook supper tonight. I haven’t cooked in over a week because standing in the kitchen for 30 minutes to an hour has been a no-go. Wish me luck! (Edited to add, I survived both cooking dinner and my first day back at work!)

Are you a good patient when you’re sick?

Huh. When did that happen?

I have had body image issues for as long as I can remember. I think it came to a head in high school when I started getting “teased” about being pudgy. Looking back, I know that weighing 159 pounds at 5’11” tall really isn’t pudgy; it’s well within the normal weight range for my height. I worked hard and got my weight down to 135 pounds and began what became a lifelong habit of counting calories.

By the time I went to college, I think I was dangerously close to developing an eating disorder. I decided I needed to lose even more weight. My goal was to get down to 120 pounds. My body decided that was a no-go. I started working on losing weight and I got so sick. There are a couple of weeks that I don’t remember. I was somehow still going to at least some of my classes, but I’m not sure how. Once I got better I decided to let my weight stay where it was.

The next hurdle was pregnancy. I worried about how I would deal with the weight gain that goes along with pregnancy should I decide to have kids. I honestly wasn’t sure that I would be able to let myself gain weight. However, when I actually got pregnant at 24, my body once again took control. At that point in my life I was skipping meals or just eating something like a pack of crackers. Once I got pregnant, I had to eat every two hours or my stomach would be growling loud enough for others to hear. My body basically forced me to take in the nutrients that both my baby and I needed. I gained a total of 28 pounds during my pregnancy and was able to lose it all within 6 months after giving birth. The fact that I gained weight and successfully lost it seemed to change something in me. So much so that with my second pregnancy, I actually gained 40 pounds; I decided that if I was going to gain weight anyway, I may as well enjoy the process. I ate a lot of peanut M&Ms, LOL. However, I was once again able to lose all of the weight within 6 months. I also did not throat punch the coworker who commented about me “still carrying all of that baby weight” when I returned to work after my maternity leave. At that point, I only had 15 pounds left to lose. Sigh.๐Ÿ™„

Then, along comes hypothyroidism. Even though I’m on medication to treat my hypothyroidism, it still makes it easier for me to gain weight and harder to lose it. Slowly, over an extended period, my weight crept back up to high school levels and I worked to lose 15 pounds. This left my final weight higher than it was for so many years, but I was okay with that. The cycle repeated again a few years later. I’ve been struggling to lose weight and have been frustrated with myself. However, once I started my part-time job, I’ve slowly begun to take the weight off. (Yay for being more active!)

So, why have I made this post with TMI about my weight? Well, now that I’m 60, aging and such have been on my mind. During the course of my musings I had an unexpected realization. For the first time in my life, I’m comfortable with the body that I have – cellulite, aging skin, and all. I’m not exactly sure when this acceptance occurred, but I’m glad it did. Always striving for some impossible level of perfection is exhausting.

I guess the change has been coming on for a few years. Prior to retirement, I wouldn’t leave the house without at least some level of makeup. I loosened up a little in the months after retirement… and then COVID hit and no one was going anywhere. Makeup kind of went out the window and pretty much stayed there. I now regularly leave the house with no makeup or minimum makeup. As a matter of fact, my coworkers don’t even know what I look like with makeup. Why put on makeup just to sweat it off?

Minimal makeup so I could try out my new lipstick

I’ve been a long time reaching this level of comfort with myself, but I’m glad I finally got here. How about you? Are you comfortable with yourself?

The Big Six-Oh!

As of 5:10am on Sunday, November 20th, I am officially sixty years old. Wow. How the heck did that happen?๐Ÿ˜ฎ Mentally, I’m still around twenty-five. Yes, my sons are in their thirties, but that doesn’t seem to have an impact on my mental age. Aging is one of those things that, until now, hasn’t really impacted me.

Kenn turned sixty in August. One day recently, he stopped and asked “Are you having a hard time with turning sixty?” I had to give the question some thought. The best answer I could come up with was “Maybe a little bit.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not huddled in a darkened room binging on Ding Dongs and baking shows, but turning sixty has been… thought provoking. Kenn said it was a little harder for him too – not necessarily his own age but the realization that our oldest son will be forty in a few short years. (My brain and fingers insist it should be spelled “fourty”.) Oddly enough, it was a similar situation for me in that it wasn’t my own age that was a bit of an eye opener. I’m the baby of my family; my sisters are nine and ten years older. In September of 2021, while we were on our road trip up the East coast, my oldest sister had a stroke. I was shocked to realize that she was only six months shy of turning seventy. Whoa. Before I know it, I’ll be the one turning seventy. (Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, as my Grandmama used to say.)

A couple of months ago, Kenn asked what I wanted to do for my birthday. My answer was immediate: I wanted to take the camper to Amicalola Falls State Park for the weekend. I was long overdue for a soul recharge in the mountains. Being the good hubby that he is, Kenn had gone online and made reservations before we finished our conversation. The trip was wonderful and relaxing, just what I needed. We did a little hiking and a lot of being lazy. We even caught part of a raptor show at the Lodge.

Scirocco the red-tailed hawk
This is what sixty looks like

Due to the temperatures (forties in the day, twenties at night), we weren’t allowed to keep the “city water” connected to the camper full time. Instead, we had to put water in our fresh water tank for use at night. (We have tank heaters to keep the water from freezing.) However, this was when we discovered that something wasn’t working right. Instead of a steady stream of water from the fresh water tank, we only got spits and spurts. In addition to being frustrating, it gave us a problem that we needed to figure out before we take the camper to the Asheville, NC area for New Year’s. Kenn informed me last night that the problem has been resolved. (Yay!) Fortunately, it was something relatively simple; one of the valves was in “winterize” mode. Once he switched the valve, everything started working correctly. Whew!

So, how well are you dealing with aging?

Soul Searching

Fellow blogger Jessica at Jeweled Again By Jessica has had a couple of posts recently that have really resonated with me. While she’s been struggling to decide if she should continue with her art or throw in the towel, I’ve been struggling to make the same decision about my fiction writing. Writing has always brought me joy – or at least it used to. I’ve spent most of this year trying to decide how I want to proceed and am still no closer to a decision than I was in February.

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

I fell in love with creative writing in high school and spent years wanting to write stories. However, I didn’t actually start until I was 47 and discovered the world of fan fiction. I wrote several stories based in the world of Mass Effect, my favorite video game series. The positive feedback I received on those stories gave me the courage to begin writing original stories. I decided to write under a pen name, Isabella Norse, since I write romance and worked in IT which is still a male-dominated field. I knew if any of my coworkers were to find out, I’d never hear the end of it and I didn’t want to have to hurt anyone, LOL. The decision to write under a pen name is one of those things that I would change if I could go back in time. I don’t like having to be two people, especially since, as a writer, I’m pretty much expected to be on all of the social media sites and I hate it. Izzy has FB, Twitter, IG, and Pinterest accounts, and even has a separate blog – pretty much all of them inactive. Sigh. It would be easier if I could just be Linda. However, I haven’t figured out the best way to combine me and Izzy into one. Double sigh.

One of my biggest problems has been “finding my tribe”. As best I can tell, this consists of being really good at tooting your own horn on social media. Since I’ve already said that Izzy’s SM accounts are pretty much inactive, it’s a safe bet that I ‘m not good at this. As a matter of fact, it would be safe to say that I completely suck at the marketing portion of writing. The whole “look at me, look at me, look at me” aspect of marketing is completely anathema to me. Triple sigh. Honestly, I don’t care if I’m ever a New York Times Bestselling Author but I would like to have some readers, LOL. (Thanks for reading my stories Jessica!๐Ÿฅฐ)

I’m a hybrid author which means I’ve self-published a few stories and have others published with a couple of small presses. One of the small presses recently returned the rights to my sweet paranormal romance series; their business took a hit during the pandemic so they are downsizing. I wasn’t the only author published with them impacted. However, my feelings weren’t hurt. I was already planning to ask them for my rights back; my stories just weren’t the best fit with with their imprint and I wanted the ability and freedom to rebrand and advertise my stories as I see fit.

Honestly, I miss writing for the joy of it. Now, even when I’m working on a story I enjoy, part of my mind is wondering if it’s even worth the trouble, if anyone will ever read it. Kenn tells me I should just write for myself and not worry about readers, etc. I wish I could. However, my brain just doesn’t work that way. Quadruple sigh.

I’ve considered stopping my creative writing and just continuing with this blog. I get to interact with people here! However, the thought of completely giving up on my stories has caused more than one panic attack. I guess that, in itself, is an answer. I’ve just got to come up with a way to muzzle the part of me that likes to put a damper on things with its negativity.

Thanks for listening while I vented. It helped and I appreciate each and every one of you!๐Ÿ˜˜

Here We Go Again…

If you’ve followed me for any time there are a couple of things you may know about me:

  • First, I’m a writer. I write under the pen name Isabella Norse.
  • Second, I participate in the annual madness known as National Novel Writing Month where I attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days ( or less).

I debated not participating this year but decided on Oct 31st to go ahead and go for it.

I’m a pantser which means I don’t outline, I write by “the seat of my pants” . I’ve always been this way. Even in high school when I had papers to write and teachers expected outlines, I was baffled. How was I supposed to know what I was going to write until I wrote it? The outlines that I had to turn in in advance of the finished paper were complete works of fiction.๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธWhen I start a story I know who my main characters are, how the story begins and ends and random bits in the middle; the rest comes to me as I write. I’m pantsing a little more than usual this year because at this point my heroine doesn’t have a name, LOL. I’m also writing in a different genre this year. In years past I’ve been focusing on my sweet paranormal romance series. I decided I need a change so this year I’m going to be working on an urban fantasy with a middle-aged heroine. (Why should the twenty-somethings always get to save the world?) Since I always have to have a title when I begin a story this one is called Menopause and Mayhem. I even used Canva to create a book cover to use on the NaNo site. I’m looking forward to just having fun this month, even if I don’t reach the 50K goal.

Wish me luck!