A Shitty Day…


Sophie and I at the vet the other day… enough said.

~ Tess




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My head is too full to rest

I’m sick – but my head is too full to stop doing.

I think it is the anti-inflammation diet – when I’m on it I feel really good, and when I’m not I go back to that horrid place where I have no self control, ambition, or energy.

Have some kind of stomach bug that is making me nauseated – I have anti nausea meds for when the nausea accompanies the migraines – but they aren’t helping or maybe they are are helping. Ikes! I don’t want to think about how bad I would be without them, if they aren’t helping (they usually do) I hate to think what is making me ill. Ikes all around!

My Boss, bless her, gave me a quickie acupuncture treatment during lunch that helped get me through the second half of the day but still didn’t really kick it.

So, being the new me, I’m cooking.

Tonight is Mung Dal – and unlike the other recipes from my Anti-Inflammation book – this one is not Tess proof.

I never really learned to cook although my Mother did try. I liked canning, and baking, but day-to-day cooking really wasn’t my thing. When I went back to school in my late 20’s to study science I found that I had what a roommate of mine called “good hands”. I did bench chemistry and biology rather well and really enjoyed it. I even (thanks to an ex-boss of mine when I was working in the lab) learned how to mix some pretty awesome martinis. Made one of my favorites for a friend’s birthday last weekend – (I was making her doubles because her birthday martini glass was really big which is bad for portion control but she wasn’t driving so it was okay).


  • 12 Bridges Gin (local distiller with distinctive cumber notes)
  • Dry Vermouth of your choice
  • Lemon (whole)
  • First – chill martini glass by filling with ice and water
  • Second – fill shaker half full with ice (crushed lightly or cubed)
  • Third – splash dry vermouth into shaker, then drain excess into sink
  • Fourth – add 4 oz of gin
  • Fifth – empty chilled martini glass and fill with gin/vermouth from shaker
  • Sixth – (or after first step, doing this quickly takes practice) make a lemon twist

And serve, cheers.

…just remember this is a double, a pour of straight alcohol is 1.5 oz (at least in our state) and although I used to know the max amount of alcohol in a drink I seem to have forgotten that information… and can’t seem to ask Google the right question… so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Oh, I digressed big time. I was talking about learning to cook.

The thing I found so difficult about learning to cook from books was all the hidden tricks – the things not said – like in this case did I use Mung beans at stage 1 (dry) stage 2 (after soaking overnight) or stage 3 (after cooked)?????  It was stage 2 but I figured that out after killing one cup of mung beans. I discovered, doing chemistry, that I could be very literal and I’ve never prepped from dry beans before.

This recipe called for sautéing and then simmering – my just cleaned kitchen is now trashed and the nausea meds must be working because I’m starting to get hungry.

(after a very long while)



The Mung Dal is done and surprisingly tasteless – granted I was missing a spice and substituted brown rice for basmati, but still. The recipe called for 6 cups of water and I just knew it was too much but I like to follow recipes exactly the first time through. I also think I will double all the spices (and make sure I’m not missing one) and read up on some other Mung Dal recipes if I can find any that don’t require a pressure cooker.

Truly starving now… so going to stop writing and eat.

~ Tess

PS if anyone has any hints for how to get this right (while obeying all my No!s) I would love to hear them.

PPS I really need to get a camera – or a smart phone – would have loved to have pic of 12 Bridges and the Martini in the beautiful birthday glass!

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Why yes, I am insane

That is what I felt like telling everyone I encountered on my shopping spree this evening.

Not for clothes, or shoes, or makeup, or jewelry but for food.

Yes, food.

Yesterday was to be my cooking day – I’ve only been trying for months to make Tuesday the cook-for-most-of-the-week-day. Tuesday is usually a short day for me. Unlike my other days when I get home around 7 pm or so. It also isn’t Sunday which is dedicated to DJ and laundry, or Friday (my other short day) because it just seems wrong to make Friday a cooking day. So Tuesday it was supposed to be.

Except this Tuesday was decimated by a migraine… so out went that plan.

But damn it I wasn’t going to keep me from doing what needed to be done, thus shopping for food at 7 pm on a Wednesday night so I could cook till dawn.

The goal – 4 recipes all from The Anti-Inflammation Diet book (Mushroom soup, Garbanzo Curry Salad, Turkey Meat Loaf, and Quinoa Chicken Salad) I finished three of them (Turkey Meat Loaf will have to happen tomorrow) and the Mushroom soup (the only one I’ve tasted so far) was ummy but not really exciting – although with my diet restrictions exciting might be out of reach.

After 3 hours of cooking....

I’m tired, my kitchen is trashed… but tomorrow I will have food. Which, if I’d thought I would have the energy to post anything tonight I would have taken pictures of but it is now stored away in my fridge in mismatched containers, so no pictures.

Funny, that doesn’t look nearly as bad as it looks from here, Oh well. Time to head to bed, do a little writing or reading and slow my brain down.

~ Tess


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AKA the Crouching Woman from The Gates of Hell

Apparently I’m in denial.

Big huge, hiding under the sheets, denial, about of all things… my migraines.

At lunch on Saturday my best friend Jo, and I were discussed our migraines. A very common topic since we both suffer chronic migraines. Jo said (as we sat down at Laughing Planet with our gluten free, corn free, dairy free, sugar free, but very tasty meal) that I was really good at forgetting how often I have migraines. She said it with such authority that I was a little stunned. I’d always thought of myself as a very scientific person – being an unreliable narrator to my own life seemed very un-me. Then she pulled out several specifics and I had to admit my self-reporting sucks.

Always nice to have friends good enough to call you on your BS.

I probably would have filled this under interesting but not actionable if I hadn’t just come in late for work that Thursday after a migraine hit so hard at 8am (the office opens at 9) I ended up shooting myself with imitrex and vomiting until I dry heaved (sorry graphic I know) thanks to modern meds I made it to work by 10:45 am unsteady but on my feet.

It just days after my conversation with Jo when my Boss mentioned she was convinced she never saw me out of migraine space the year I’ve been working for her. That one hit hard, since I’d just missed work and I hate missing work and overall I thought I felt better. But two Level 10 migraines in a month is even a lot for me.

I thought about this for awhile.

As animals we really aren’t good at remembering pain – the obvious painful memory comes to mind childbirth – and our brains are wired to keep us going and keep us reproducing, protecting our families, and so of course distinct memories of pain would be an evolutionary liability. I also know that my daily optimism is rather insane – that fact that I can work at all, that my co-workers not to mention my Boss put up with the days when I say blue for green or say Wednesday and mean Friday is a constant joy to me. Even writing this, coming off a migraine by the grace of drugs – I have trouble word finding.

Not to mention that a Canadian study showed that chronic pain may hamper memory creation so there are probably huge pieces of the last three and a half years I don’t remember anyway. So in addition to not remembering to survive the pain I also don’t remember because I can’t form memories because of the pain. This study also showed a problem with spatial relationships which is the beginning of understanding how I could have gotten lost in a part of Portland where the streets are numbered up from the river and in alphabetical order from B for Burnside on. I’ve lived here all my life.

Thought about it for a bit longer and realized I need to remove my memory from the self reporting process…

I remembered a few studies I read where researchers were using apps to ping people at various times of the day to report on everything from health to happiness. Apparently having an app that asks you a series of questions a few times a day is less arduous than putting pen to paper. Not having a smart phone (I know, I know, sometimes I am so ahead of the curve i.e. beta user of Hulu – and sometimes so behind it is laughable i.e. smart phones and NCIS) I decided that maybe Google docs would be good enough – available from just about anywhere, permissions based on email user names, and I can sort data, build graphs et al.

I’m a week into my trial and it’s working pretty well.

I report to myself 4 times a day: Morning, Noon-ish, 5-ish, and Night. If I don’t have the computer handy I walk myself through the questions and seem to be able to hold that information until I can log it in. There are a lot of variables, and I’m in the process of changing several key behaviors, so I’m not sure if the data will really provide anything more than my non-scientific self-remembered reporting but I’m sure my Neurologist will be excited to see the data mid year.


There are two interesting things that have come about since this epiphany 1) I’m giving myself a break – If I’m really in migraine space all the time (prodrome to hangover) then I’ve decided I am a kick ass woman just for surviving and holding down a job. 2) I made a deeper commitment to the anti-inflammatory diet that I started two weeks ago. I’ve tried just about everything else so it looks like it is time to really commit to trying something new.

~ Tess


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I’m Back.

Writing in bed...

Not that I think anyone will notice…

Actually I’m kind of hoping no one will. I need to find my feet again… It’s been a year. So many of the stories belong to other people, I don’t feel comfortable telling them so I’ll stick to my own. My unemployment was ending (as some might remember) and I got a reprieve when a friend offered me a job (think that is here).

And then there was the novel… oops the Novel. Once it became Novel with a capitol N I should have know I would be in deep shit.

Between all of my stuff, family stuff, and friends with family stuff and never forget the migraines – I curled up inside myself and really didn’t accomplish much.

The thing is (and yes there is a point to this post) I discovered that it is nice to feel done. The long haul of a novel is just too damn long. I discovered some solace in cooking. Don’t laugh – I know I’m as far from a domestic goddess as one can get but I found a strange sense of joy in preparing a meal, enjoying that meal with friends or lovers, and then it was over… done.

It was the done part that I loved.

Succeed or fail – it was over.

In short, the novel is on the back burner, I’m reworking two pieces to see if they can find new homes (yes, short pieces) and I’m committing to the blog for the same reason I’ve started to learn how to cook*, once it is up it is done**, so I’m back.

I’d toast you all but I had to give up my scotch – but that is for another post.

~ Tess

*Yes, classes and everything (there might even be pictures).

**okay after the 4-8 edits that I do when I obsessively check the published post.


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I came across yet another reference to the Cinderella myth.

A writer dissing the erroneous Disney-fied idea that Cinderella was saved by an outside force (okay the horrid word with no bark on it – saved by a man after being saved by a Fairy Godmother) that I rail against so often.

That version of Cinderella is a product of the last century and not indicative of the versions before it. In fact one of the most interesting things about European Myth is the pattern repeated again and again where young people (both male and female) go out and find adventure as a way of finding themselves. But I digress… As I was lying in the shower forming my rant a completely different take on the Cinderella myth – both ancient and modern – fell into my mind.

It isn’t about being saved – it’s about being seen.

Cinderella has spunk, in almost every version, she has values and a work ethic. The dress, the shoes, are all superficial. It is that moment when she is seen – for who she is – and accepted – that is the magic of the enduring romance. Not being saved – since that implies debt and the idea that we couldn’t have done it on our own – both concepts that I reject.

But being seen….

Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen by someone for our flaws, our brilliance, our strengths, and our weaknesses and to still be loved for who we are not what we are. This is the Myth – and it is a good Myth.

So, now when I think of Cinderella – when I hear people talk about Cinderella Complexes I’m going to remember that it isn’t about being saved. It isn’t about something outside ourselves swooping down and fixing our lives. It isn’t about something outside ourselves at all. It is about what we are inside.

It is about the desire to be seen as special and unique.

Wanting to be seen is a wondrous thing – worthy of myth and not a bad complex to have.

~ Just Tess

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The Bend in the Road

They say that change is constant. The only constant we have.

They also say that chaos moves to order – and that one day the universe will succumb to entropy.

Entropy: a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature.

In my house – my personal tendency towards entropy leads to chaos not uniform order. So much for Cosmology!

Over the course of the last year my writing has changed. In form, structure, and content. I thought I had more control over this than apparently I do – so it took me longer than normal to figure out I wasn’t obeying my first rule of business… Fail Faster!

When something doesn’t work – try something else.

I didn’t get here by myself. It took my best friend – who’d been holding her tongue for months – to say it out loud. “You gotta kill Emma.”

I don’t know if that is really what she said but it is the summation of her intent. And I did it. I killed her. Wrote a nice Emma-ish goodbye on her blog and walked away from the majority of my publishing history. You see, Emma wrote sex, and sex sells. I, well, I write crazy children’s poetry, non-fiction articles, and 3-Day Novels – and I’ve made more as me than I made as Emma – but Emma wrote fiction that sold. We’ll sold for a while.

I need to stop mourning Emma and just get on with it.

Emma is Dead! Long live Emma!

So, what now?

I’ve been asking myself that for days now – and gotten some flack for how I’m dealing with this change. I’m a plan person – I feel uncomfortable without a plan. And not just a “What shall I do today plan?” I need a today plan, project list, all of which fit into a 5 year plan. Emma had one – and now I need one.

  • My writing friends said – just write!
  • My friends said – just write!
  • My Sig-Fig said – Just WRITE!

My best friend said – do what you need to do.

She knows me best.

When change happens, disappointment, or failure physiologists think of fight/flight or avoidance activities – but two woman researchers wondered about that. When things went wrong in the lab their male companions would escape to exercise, home, drink, et al. But they wouldn’t leave. They would stay in the lab and organize, clean and talk. Eventually – after much research – this behavior was labeled Tend & Mend. It is typically a female trait – and really, think about it – incredibly advantageous evolutionarily. You don’t want Moms running off and leaving the source of their stress behind – the screaming child for example.

My working style is messy – I create chaos around me – piles of books, research materials, mail, crap, random cords from peripherals I no longer use

– you get the idea.

I’ve found that when I find myself in a blind alley – or under crazy stress from projects or deadlines – I clean my office. Silly I know – and probably you could label it a form of procrastination (many people I worked with did) or avoidance (really some of my coworkers thought I was mad) but I go though the piles and somehow by organizing my physical space, simplifying the clutter, and throwing away what I no longer need – I clean and air out my own head. Suddenly there is space for the work – the writing – and best of all for the joy.

Now I just started – the desk was the priority since the arrival of my Mac nothing worked well ergonomically – and there is much more to do. I don’t even want to think about the closet – but it has begun and I feel so much better.

I have no idea what is beyond the bend in the road. But I’m starting to feel like I can handle it. I’ll figure this out…and the next thing…and the next.

So hear is a picture of my beautiful new writing environment!

Inspiring, don’t you think? Best of all no more neck pain from looking up at the monitor! Back to the job – I have a short story to get submitted today.

~ Just Tess


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Day 1 – Yet again

I always hated the line “the first day of the rest of your life” but for today it works.

There are watersheds: days that bring so much change you use them as milestones defining everything that came before and since. It is amusing to think of today as a milestone – but it is.

Today I go back to work.

Not a full time job – not a career job – just a part time job to help pay the bills and keep me financially viable. So crazy! I knew I needed to find something and to have it fall into my lap is still delights me. Yesterday I had nothing and today I have something. Some place that wants me! That is the most surprising point. I hope they won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and for the record. I found out about the job a few days ago, didn’t even think about doing it until yesterday afternoon, and by 9 pm had the job. Did I mention insane? Crazy?

In addition to starting a job today – today was the first day of my 21-Day Yoga challenge. So I got up, made a cup of green tea, and hit the mat. And was humbled. I was once in great shape – now I’m not – the class for the morning was insanely difficult for me. Spending a week learning how to ski didn’t help much either. There are muscles that are hurting like hell still. But I was disappointed when I realized that my major muscle groups weren’t up to the challenge – so did 20 minutes rather than 45 and will keep going. The big thing is to focus on doing something every day rather than worrying that I’m not strong enough, flexible enough, or fit enough.

But I’m working through it, which is the point…. Right?

The universe is being very kind to me – needed work, got work – needed accountability for my exercise program, got accountability in a Sunday check in with my friend D – needed accountability in my writing goals, got that too!!! J – sent an email out asking for volunteers to be part of an accountability group. Working in threats of chicken dances and other humiliations so I joined on.

I’ve read so many books about changing behaviors – most for business – and one of the things that I find interesting is how sometimes you can be open for change in such a way that it just flows through you and at other times you can avoid it, bemoan it, and fight it every step of the way. It always amazes me how easy it is to stand in your own way and the courage it takes to own up to the fact that you are your own worst enemy.

So, I’m taking my evil twin out for an airing and will see if she enjoys it enough to leave me alone because the next several months are going to be interesting.

~ Tess

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Happy New Year’s!

Nothing like starting the New Year a week late – but I went on vacation with my sweetie (I don’t actually remember the last full week vacation I had, so this was an event) and decided that I would really take the time off. No writing – Not much thinking about writing – and lots of reading.

Didn’t get much reading in, what I did was learn how to skate ski.

Well – I didn’t actually learn it, or rather I’m very far from mastery, but I gave it a try and only said Fuck! a few times. I’ve never been on skis before – and learning something new at my age (okay I’m not that old but I am wiser and more careful at 40 something than I was at 20 something) is difficult. Not because old folks can’t learn but because my brain wouldn’t let me just do – it wanted to comment all the time. I taught dance for 15 years I know better, yet my brain was having a very good time commenting on my actions and giving me lots of good advice. But in order to learn I needed it to shut up.

Apparently skate skiing is much harder to learn for a novice than classic. Classic being what we all think of when we imagine cross-country skiing. Be that as it may, it was fun, challenging, and I only wanted to cry with frustration once. Then I walked back to the meadow and started working on my technique again.

I forgot how stubborn I could be.

My poor sweetie had to put up with my rejection of his good intentions – when I’m learning something for the first time I like lessons and I like working things out on my own. As usual, he was a brick. He is one of the most amazing people I know. But that is for another posting. Or maybe not… waxing poetic about my romance would get awful boring awful fast and I struggle with that. Which may be one of the reasons I haven’t written in so long.

But now it is the New Year and it is time to dig in and get my ass in gear. It is also resolution time. Usually I look at my life in November and December and try and figure out what I’ve succeeded at and what I want for the future. The last few years I’ve been spinning. “To Write for a Living” is great goal – but it is a 100,000 foot goal not a day-to-day, week-to-week, project to project, goal. I’ve spent the last few months fighting migraines and getting the flu – and now I’m mostly better so it is time to stop cosseting myself and really take a hard look at my habits.

I’ve become something I despise.

But I jump. I picked up my week of mail yesterday when I got home from Sun Valley and saw that I’d gotten my Romance Writers of America magazine. I just thumbed through it but one article caught my attention – “The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective (Has-Been) Authors”!

I didn’t have all of the traits but I was working on one – Laziness.

I’ve struggled to write the last few months and I’ve avoided the “just do it” mentality that used to be part of my character for an “I’ll do it when I feel better”. Or worse, “I’ll do it when I feel It”, “It” being some sort of drive or inspiration. I’ve always despised folks who waited for inspiration because that is hobby not craft. Craft is sitting at your desk day after day and slogging through the bad days and flying through the good, making progress no matter what. I forgot…

So this year is about Laziness.

Last night I was at a release party for Delilah Marvelle who’s been writing for 11 years – published one book then lost her publisher and agent, and then struggled to find a home for a trilogy that is just being released now, one book each month for three months. She’s amazing: the work, the perseverance, and the depth of her research. Delilah reminded me how hard you have to work to make it in this horrid/gorgeous business.

Cheers to Delilah and her Scandal books – Prelude to a Scandal, Once Upon a Scandal, and The Perfect Scandal coming out Jan, Feb, and Mar respectively.

And here’s to raising a glass of coffee to 2011 being a year of productivity for us all!!!

~ Tess


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Year One…

Thank You!

A year ago today I posted my first blog post.

How time flies…

I wish I could say that everything I imagined it to be it was – it isn’t. But it has served a purpose. It got me writing. Most days I write now. There are days when I write a lot, and days when I write very little – but most days I write – and I have the blogs to thank for that.

I’ve written about privacy issues and dealing with my migraines. I’ve publicly mourned the loss of relationships and quietly celebrated the beginning of a new one. I’ve bitched about healthcare and calls from the DNC. I’ve waxed quazi-poetic on the value of friendship and my delight in my new Mac.

I’m not sure where I’m going now.

The blogs have been adrift for awhile – it is a hard thing writing a novel. I tried to split my focus, blogs, and short stories, and novellas Oh, My! But I’m finding it harder and harder to multi task. I find that I sequester myself away to write. I can no longer work in noisy places (I used to love writing in pubs and coffee shops) I can’t even have music going in the house.

So what next?

This last year has been about learning how to do this job. I’ve written a novella, articles for AOL, a poem for Dr. Wicked, written and rewritten several short stories – even sold a few, and started a novel. Gradually I’m learning how this works and what doesn’t.

The migraines are a constant battle but I now have the most amazing support so I’m hopeful things will get better.

I always expect things to happen faster than they do. Just as I always expect that I will get more done than I do. But this is an industry that moves slowly – and writing a novel takes time. I’m a quarter of the way through my first draft and hope to have it finished by the end of November since I have two short stories I want to write and a novella to reedit.

So things are sill moving – but as for my blog I’m not sure where it is going or what shape it will take. It maybe that I’ll write more once I’m out of the draft stage – maybe even write up some of my research on mythology and the different types of multi-verses. Who knows…

Those of you who have checked in from time to time, thank you! There is something extremely nice about knowing you are out there.

~ Tess


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