Fighting The Bear

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything of real meaning here. (As in March of 2018. I told you, it’s been awhile.)

It’s not that I haven’t had things to say or stuff to talk about, it’s just that blogging hasn’t been a huge priority for me. Then 2020…

Let’s not talk about 2020.

I’m here today to talk about fighting the bear.

Once long ago I was talking to a friend about my annoying bitch of a disorder and how most people (50%) who have had MS as long as I have (15 years this year) develop a secondary type that is relentless. Over the next 10 years, that risk increases to 90%.

Now, we all know I’m evil and a fighter. No, not that kind. A literal fighter. Combat-trained, street brawler, knife fighter. It’s a long story, but I’ve said before my upbringing was unique. My first knife-fighting lesson was at age 6, and I loved it. But I digress.

Before this autoimmune nonsense, I was also a bodybuilder. Not the ripped Cory Everson type, but I spent a lot of time in the gym with weights and drinking protein powder. I still use some of what I learned from the Body-For-LIFE book back in the 90s. (I also have the Women’s version of the book and the cookbook.) I give my training and pre-diagnosis physical condition credit for how well I’m doing right now.

And I am doing well. You have no idea how lucky I am to be in the condition I am for this late in the game. Many, many others are in wheelchairs or are unable to drive or get themselves to the toilet. For all my limitations (and there are several; don’t get me wrong), I can still do those things. I need things like a shower chair and a cane to walk outside, but I can still feed and dress myself and hug my cats.

But one day, that won’t be the case. And when that day comes, that’s the day I fight a bear.

Fighting The Bear Art

Dina vs. The Bear by artist Doruk Golcu

Yes, that is me. My Friends of Awesome commissioned this custom piece of art from the amazingly talented illustrator Doruk Golcu. They gave the artist the gist of the scene (okay, a lot more than the gist; there were some specifics that the brilliant artist didn’t bat an eye over, proving he is One Of Us) and some procured reference pics of Yours Truly, collaborated with Mr. James, and surprised me with it for my birthday. I absolutely adore it. Beyond adore. It’s my desktop wallpaper, my iPad screen, and the framed print they ordered and sent to me will be hanging in my living room.

Here’s the reason I’m fighting a grizzly bear, and what the painting truly means.

As I told my Friends of Awesome, when I am diagnosed with secondary MS and am at the point where my quality of life has deteriorated to an unacceptable level, I will take my Tank Chair (because I’ve been promised, when I need a wheelchair, it will be Tank Chair) out into the wilds of Canada to knife fight a grizzly bear. A male one, at midsummer, just before he gets super fat for the winter but has had enough time from the last hibernation to pack on the pounds so he’s not starving. Now, I will either win the fight and return home dragging a bear carcass behind my chair, or I will lose and they will never find my body because Griz ate the tiny Goth girl who came for him with nothing but a knife.

That piece of art means more to me than you might think. It’s a huge metaphor for my daily outlook. Because every day for me is a bear fight. Seeing that painting on my desktop or my iPad or in the frame reminds me of who I am. I fight bears. There are some days when the bear wins, and some days I win. As time goes on, the bear will win more often, but as I’m fond of saying: today is not that day.

via GIPHY

Some days, when just getting out of bed costs more spoons than I have, I remember I still have knives.

If this is your art, please let me know so I can credit you.

If I still have knives, I can fight. Maybe not as hard as I used to be able to, but I can still do damage. (And, in all fairness, my worst day is still better than many people’s best, so there’s that to take comfort in, I suppose.)

So why am I here, right now, blogging about knife fighting a bear? Because I said I’d tell the story behind the art. And that’s the story. It’s a gift from people who care about me that shows how they see me, even on my worst days. It helps me remember (because with MS, sometimes you need a lot of help to remember things, as it’s related to Alzheimer’s disease) that the bear fight is (probably) not this day. It’s been an uncomfortable week for me with my condition, and for awhile there I thought it might be time to find a bear soon. I did some Googling and found out the reason behind my bad week (here’s a hint: when the answer isn’t “you have cancer,” it’s “move your ass” AKA “get some exercise and you’ll feel better”), and I think (hope?) that I’m coming out of the spin I’ve been in.

Turns out, exercise really DOES help! But it’s a vicious cycle. When I feel like crap, I don’t move, and because I don’t move, I feel like crap. That means the only way to deal is to power through, but when you’re out of power, that can’t happen, so…yeah.

via GIPHY

Now it’s late and I’m tired, but I have written a blog post, which is more than I’ve done in months. Not quite ready to fight a bear, but I’m working on it.

So This Is Sithmas

Wait, no. I won’t do that to you. Still, whatever holiday you celebrate (or don’t…that’s totally fine too), it’s that time of year. Pretty lights, trees, red, green, holly jolly, and so on. Also, presents.

And, like I did this spring when the nightmare that is coronavirus locked us all in our houses, I have something shiny for you.

If you’ve already gotten it, yay for you. But, if you know someone who might appreciate a little holiday happy, give them this link and tell them there’s a nice present waiting for them under the Sithmas tree. All they have to do is enter the code HOME4HOL at checkout and everything is free.

What’s with the code? Oh yeah. We’re still dealing with A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, and you can do your part to keep me and my family (including the cats, because pets also get COVID, in case you didn’t know that) safe from this lethal infection. We’re all immune-compromised and depend on you to keep us safe. (If some of this post sounds familiar, it’s because I shamelessly copied and pasted from a previous one. What? I have cards to finish!)

I am literally quarantined inside my house (yes! still!) along with Mr. James, and have been since March 5th. I’ve only gone out for absolute necessities, and the rest of the time we are practicing social distancing and self-isolating. It’s driving the extrovert in Mr. James mad, but me? I’m loving it. This is pretty much how I live my life as it is (hi, writer and kitten rescuer*), so nothing’s really changed for me, except how often I go out to eat/visit restaurants. (Thank God take-out is still a thing! For now, anyway!)

I know this is hard on a lot of people. We’re all demoralized (I’ve even written multiple threads on Twitter about morale boosts and their importance in these nightmarish times). and the idea of staying home for the holidays when you’re used to sharing them with family and friends is difficult for a lot of you. (I mean…not me…this is my jam. I don’t need a reason to stay home and ignore my relatives.)

As I’ve said before, my darklings, I adore it when people cope with their issues. I am here to provide you some tools to cope with your own quarantine/self-isolation. You ARE doing that, right? Wearing a mask when around others, washing your hands, disinfecting surfaces, social/physical distancing? Good. Keep it up. This is almost over. You got this.

So, the present!

This spring I uploaded my previously published/out-of-print books in ebook format to Payhip. I offered them free for a few weeks to get you through the isolation/lockdown period then. I’m doing the same thing now to get you through the holiday season.

They are free to download with the coupon code “HOME4HOL”. Just put that in at checkout, and everything is free.

No, seriously. Everything. The Destrati Series, the Stranger Things books (1 & 2 – there is no 3, despite rumors). Go.

Click this link to get your FREE QUARANTINE READS!

If you’ve wanted the out-of-print Stranger Things series, now’s your chance.

I don’t have to tell you all how uncomfortable I am offering those books for sale. I have my reasons.

However the world is forever changed, and we must change with it.

Because that’s how you survive.

Go. Get your free reads. Everything of mine is there for free. If you enjoy, leave me a review somewhere. If you don’t, well, I didn’t force you to read it. Keep that opinion to yourself.

Stay safe, stay vigilant, stay healthy.

Above all, STAY HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

— Dina

P.S. I’m plotting some theoretical eviltry that I may release after the New Year. It’s in the planning stages still, so there’s still a (fair/good) chance it may come to nothing (translation: I may get involved with something else and let it sit – again), but stay tuned. I’ll let you all know if it makes it out of the Lair.

*We have decided to suspend our kitten rescue until this pandemic is over. Not only are newborn kittens already immune compromised, shelters are limited on their space, and many veterinarians in our area are limiting the amount of spay/neuter surgeries in their clinics. It was in the best interest for everyone involved to suspend our efforts until it’s safe, especially for the kittens.

General Updatery

*cough cough* Whoa. Bit dusty around here. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t update your website for nearly a year. Meh. I’ve been busy. Mostly fostering kittens, with some writing thrown in for flavor now and then.

I’m still over on Twitter for near-daily updatey things, but I really don’t have a whole lot to blog about here on the DJ website. This is really just the New Year’s post to assure those people who still read this thing that I’m alive and working, just not as visible here as I used to be. I’ll blog something when there’s something to blog about, but for now, most of my online presence is on Twitter or over at BeeBee’s House.

Because kittens.

If something new and exciting happens on the writing front, I’ll be sure and post about it here. Until then, kittens.

Happy 2019!

That’s My Cue

I admit to shamelessly copying/pasting this from another post I made on the subject. I do this every year. It should come as no surprise to regular readers. So…kthxbai!

It’s that time, all. You know the time. The bright thing is in the sky for way longer than I’m comfortable with, and the Fahrenheit temperature outside is flirting with numbers starting with 7. (Shut up – it’s a big deal where I live!) The tourists are lurking, the shrieklings will soon roam unchecked, and it is time for me to go to ground until my beloved September returns.

DOg Drags Blankie Bed

So that’s it for now. Go forth. Do shiny things. See you in September. (Possibly sooner. I have been tempted out of my reverse hibernation before, so you never know.)

I bid you farewell until the darkness returns.

Crow Pets Cat

Foundations of Stone

I admit it. I took the title of this post from a random song on my Pandora station, because believe it or not, I suck at titles. It’s true. I’m a writer and I suck at titles. We all have our burdens, and that’s one of mine.

It’s not the only one I’ve been chosen to bear, either. More on that in a minute. I’m going to cut here for those who might not want to read this, as it’s personal and highly sensitive in nature. There are things in this post that might be difficult for the more sensitive amongst you to read, so if that’s you and you want to read on, you’ve been warned. Put on your Big Person Underthings and cope. Here we go. Continue reading

A Lull In The Crazy

So things have been a little busy around the Lair of late. I went to California and spent time with the lovely Audry and David, and have been up to my usual no good offline. The crazy should keep it down to a dull roar through the weekend, but the way things have been going lately, that’s not likely, so I’d best write this while I can.

I want to tell you all about this awesome thing. I should also note here that I have not been paid in any way to endorse this product. This post is made of my own volition, and I write it with those of us whose lives are insanely busy in mind.

Writers, especially, are notorious for neglecting their health, whether or not they’re busy. That’s what makes what I’m about to tell you about so freakin’ awesome. The last thing crazy, busy people want is one more thing to think about or take care of.

EMeals takes care of everything but the cooking when it comes to eats. Seriously. This service is the BEST THING EVAR and you all know I don’t give props to just anything. I don’t flog anything for anyone I don’t believe is worth it, and it’s taken me over six weeks to even consider telling you all about this. Why six weeks? Well, the first two weeks were a trial period (free), and I wanted to be sure we stuck with it.

Not only have we stuck with it, we’re really enjoying our nightly dinners. Dinnertime has become a highlight of our day at the James household, when it used to be a real chore. We had a set of about five things we would rotate through when we didn’t order a pizza or get something from a local restaurant. He Who Enables My Crazy (AKA “Mr. Dina”) is a fantastic cook and has an entire bookcase dedicated to his cookbook collection. He loves cooking. However, we’re both busy (also lazy), and our schedules tend to contradict more often than not, so dinner wasn’t really a meal. It was more a “we’re hungry, what shall we eat” thing, and it was always the same few ideas. Convenience was a big factor in our choices, also.

With eMeals, the guesswork and planning are out the window. Each week we’re emailed a list of seven dinner recipes, along with cooking instructions and a detailed shopping list. And you know what?

We fucking love everything.

The recipes are fantastic. There are over 15 meal plans to choose from (Budget Friendly, 30-Minute Meals, Vegetarian, Paleo, Slow Cooker, and more – HWEMC and I chose the Clean Eating plan), and they’re amazing. EASY, too. Aside from the slow cooker meals, none of the recipes have been over an hour cooking time, and you spend that much time waiting for a pizza to be delivered.

The shopping list. OMG. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the shopping list. So user-friendly.

Now, while they do have a 14-day free trial, eMeals is a subscription service, so it’s kind of like a gym membership – if you’re going to pay for it, use it! (If you change your mind after you sign up, they’re nice about cancellations though, unlike the gym.) You can also change your mind about the plan you select on sign-up. Depending on your location, some plans might not be available to you because they use specialty stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, which not everyone has access to. (Don’t worry – the plan you select will tell you if it’s specialized. You can also pick a plan based on which store you shop most at.) You can also tailor the service to plans for just one or two people, or more than four. It’s brilliant.

For those with small humans, they have (for an additional nominal fee) a packable 5-day lunch recipe option and a dessert option. We just do the dinner option, and that’s plenty for us. And holy…wow. We’ve tried some things I never even looked twice at, and once hadn’t even heard of before. And it’s been amazing.

We look forward to dinner every night now. It’s become “our time,” and we enjoy cooking and eating together. For the first few weeks, we ate in the living room as usual, watching a movie or whatnot as we tended to do. Then, at HWEMC’s suggestion (not mine, so that tells you something about the magical power of this service), we turned off the TV and ate at our dining room table like civilized people for a change, complete with black silk placemats and candles in crystal sconces and classical music playing in the background.

Yes, darklings…it’s exactly how you envisioned I always dined (sans bare-chested manservant – he wears a shirt).

Each week we look forward to what new thing we’re going to try, and each morning we peek at what we’re going to make that night. The shopping is done weekly, so we always have the ingredients we need on hand for that night’s meal.

Having sung the praises of this plan extensively, let me illustrate a few caveats:

1 – subscription service. This is a paid thing, and it’s worth every penny. The cost for a year’s plan (which we signed up for) is less than $5 a month, and that pays for itself in weekly savings on your grocery bill the first week. So, so worth it. The recipes also build on one another, so that container of grape tomatoes you bought will be used in more than one recipe, and that package of walnuts you bought last week will be an ingredient in this week’s recipe. Like I said – it pays for itself.

2 – a bit of effort on your part is involved. YOU have to do the shopping. YOU have to find the things on the list. YOU have to put them away properly and YOU have to prep and cook the ingredients. That said, it’s all made extremely easy. Each list has a little sidebar detailing what each meal requires in the way of “staples” (flour, spices, oils) so you can make sure you have those on hand as well. Each recipe is easy to follow (though they do have a gourmet plan that was a little more complicated), and some of the ingredients might be harder to locate, and you may venture into parts of the store you never set foot in before, but it’s worth it. One day of shopping is a whole week’s worth of meals, so minimal shopping effort there really. Most of us go shopping at least once a week anyway, and for those who shop daily, this will cut that shit right out if you’re looking to do that.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, go sign up for the free trial. They do require a credit card to sign up, but they don’t charge you until you activate your subscription after your trial is over. Some of the recipes might have ingredients you’re not keen on, and you can just alter those. There have been a few flops in our house, but those are the exception, and likely due more to operator error than any fault in the recipe. (We have learned we’re not fans of much thyme, so we substitute Italian seasoning for that, which has a little thyme in it.) There have also been a few recipes that we just refused to cook outright, but again – exceptions, not the rule, and those were a matter of preference. (I’m sure they were perfectly lovely for people who eat those ingredients.) We manage to make about five out of the seven weekly recipes (because again – schedules), but they’re staggered so that we hardly ever miss a day. We’ll finish up the previous week’s recipes before starting a new week, and so on, so there’s some overlap.

We love this service, and it’s become an integral and exciting part of our day. We’re eating better, eating well, and love all it’s done for us. We love everything about eMeals, and wouldn’t change a thing. Now instead of “what do you want for dinner” or “what do you feel like,” it’s “what are we making tonight?” “It’s Wednesday! New recipes today!” Dinner isn’t a chore any longer, but an experience. The meals are so easy, we use very few pots and pans, so clean-up is minimal. We have made meals you would pay top dollar for in a restaurant, and they were fast and ridiculously easy to prepare.

I admit, I’m spoiled now. We ordered pizza for the first time in weeks the other day, and neither of us enjoyed it. I don’t think we’ll be ordering pizza much anymore.

Go. Give it a try. I hope you love it as much as I do.

New Year, New Shiny Things!

I know, it’s been a bit since I’ve posted here. I’ve been busy, all right? Nothing terribly exciting…just mostly things offline. Well, and a few things online, like the

SHINY NEW DIGS FOR THE EVIL LEAGUE OF EVIL WRITERS!

ELEW_logo

Man, they’re awesome! It’s been a trick, getting things sorted over the ELEW’s annual holiday hiatus. We had to extend our launch by another week to get all the ducks in a row, but that’s over and done now, and look at all the shiny!

My co-founder, Bitchstress Dreamkiller Skyla Dawn Cameron is a graphics designer and website-sorting master. She made all the shiny happen. I just poked at some stuff and made it give me the webspace.

So yeah, the ELEW is still a thing and I’m still posting there every other Monday. Go see the new place! We’ve got all sorts of bits and bobs there now for your writing motivational and eviltry needs. We just launched this week, so the blog part of the site is a little sparse on content, but there’s a link to the archives for older posts. Also, it’s not as shiny as we’re planning, so new things will get added as we go along, but for the most part it’s there and done.

And it’s SO PRETTY!

My launch post for the new site is here if you’re interested in the read.

Hope you all had an awesome Sithmas (I did! Darth Claus brought me MINK YARN! MINK!) and that 2015 isn’t being rude to you.