27 October 2017

And then, this happened...

It was just like this...minus the fur and claws, though.
So as you may have surmised from my previous post, yesterday was not one of my better days. I haven't come that close to just handing in my notice and going home in a long time.

I was mad all evening. I had a fabulous night out with the girls, incredibly scrummy Italian food, everything I needed to cheer me up. But it didn't. I was still walking the line between pleasant fun-time Nancy and will bite your face off for looking at me Nancy. I'm sure that my girls were tired of me complaining, and I'm forever grateful to "Whiskey" for hanging around in the parking lot to listen to me rehash my day. Again.

Got home and watched some telly with Hubs. No longer angry but still annoyed. Firestorm on my FB timeline sort of burned itself out. Still annoyed. I just couldn't seem to shake the WHATEVERITWAS that was driving my blood pressure up and making me twitchy and just generally crabby. I went to bed and woke up several times with a stuffy nose and painful ear (which just reminded me of how I "never get sick and never call out of work" and set me off again). But the last time I managed to drift off, I had a fabulous dream that I'm going to chalk up to equal parts my brain looking for something happy in my miserable Thursday and the universe reminding me that I am loved.

As often happens, I don't remember the exact circumstance, but I was in Savannah, Georgia, and I was in a restaurant and somehow, my oldest friend (that I still maintain contact with, met him when I was 13) Robby and his beautiful family were eating there. I haven't spoken to Robby on the phone or in person since I lived in Alabama in '06-'07, but I heard his voice in my dream as clear as day and followed that sound - the sound of his laugh - over to the table where they were sitting.

I approached the table and immediately he was on his feet, looking down at me with concern. "Are you okay, Lil' Britches?" his voice rumbled and I began to cry and shake my head no. With the care of a parent comforting a child (or, a bear picking up an orphaned child in a Disney movie), Robby hugged me tight and whispered to me that whatever it was, he loved me anyway. As the dream began to fade, he was shaking hands with Simon, I was hugging his wife Kim, and I just felt so much better. It carried over into today, and I have felt...not happy, but content.

While I know that it was my mind that created that scene, I think it's important who my mind picked to be my comforter in whatever storm was brewing in the dream. Let the work-related hurricanes blow.

Look for the bare necessities 
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
That's why a bear can rest at ease
With just the bare necessities of life

Love you, Baloo, to the moon and back. -LB

26 October 2017

I got nuttin...

Sorry, what?
So I was asked the other day why it is that I never miss work. "How are you never out sick?" Coincidentally, it was asked by someone that is out of work A LOT, but that is sort of not the point. My answer was that I have to do my job, and in my office now there isn't anyone else that can do what I do (caption and especially not interpret) so what choice do I have? I come to work, even when I'm sick. Though I will say that days like today really do test that theory.

A series of events kicked off today that led me almost to run my mouth to the point that I can't take it back, and now I am stuck in a seemingly endless self-assessment loop that is led by my (as of yet undiagnosed) anxiety mind so you can just imagine what a trip to the seaside THAT is turning out to be. Ugh.

 It started off with a rant (from me) about people that work in higher ed that seem to only be in it so that they can host events and attend conferences and present on VERY IMPORTANT TOPICS rather than to focus on the students that we are here to serve. That's a big pet peeve of mine in the field of disability/accessibility services, and it is a struggle with myownself not to call those people out on a daily basis. Listservs and conferences are important, but they are not the real life day to day experience of students with disabilities. Some grounding is needed.

The day progressed until we ran into the second in the series of unfortunate events: a discussion about the exercise of 1st Amendment Rights, the perceived (and often real) persecution of people in specific minority groups both here at my institution and in the United States as a whole, and the use of one's public figure status to speak out against injustice. In case you're keeping score, the answer is that to do that is inappropriate.

"So, you're saying that a person that is in a minority group should not aspire to higher level public office in order to have that platform to speak out against social injustice?"


At that point, I was done, or so I thought. I started thinking...well, overthinking if I'm honest, about interpreting the national anthem. Opened up a firestorm on my Facebook wall because in all that overthinking I didn't think it through and got my feelings hurt.

I think I'm done. Or else I just have nothing left. Maybe I just need to go to my room.

19 October 2017


#nofilter #goodhairday
Yep, that hashtag in the title means what you think it means. But that's not what I want to talk about today.

I was cruising around on Facebook the other day and was overwhelmed by the number of posts in my timeline that said, simply, "Me too." Blown away. It is the nature of this particular beast that we are certain that we are the only one, especially if we have the opinion that the trauma was of our own making. But that's not what I want to talk about either.

What I want to talk about is the legacy that it leaves, and how I'm looking back at my life now through the #metoo filter. Y'all that know me know what I do for a living. If not, I'm a sign language interpreter. Sign and the Deaf Community have been a part of my life since I was a kid, and it is often my go-to when, as I am want to say, I lose my English. But it is also my go-to when English, specifically auditory English, is too much. My second language has led me through two tours of duty in higher education and a decade of working in mental health, and if I'm honest I have no idea which is scarier, more dangerous, or more triggering.

Enter the self-reflection stage. I posted awhile back about how I feel like I navigate a great deal of my life with my eyes closed. Why do I do that? Fear? Uncertainty? Perhaps because it is just nicer inside my head than out? I think I found out in something that I felt led to respond to another #metoo-er on Facebook. She had posted that there are those creeper moments that you feel you have been violated in some way, nothing has really happened that could be reported, but the icky feeling is still there. My response was this: "In my day job I get this creeper feeling sometimes and I can't put my finger on what is causing it. I try to remind myself that it is not me in the situation, but the two people that I'm interpreting for, and my past creeps in and wrecks my compartmentalizing. That's different...that's me...but when I feel like I'm being addressed directly by a look or inflection then...well, this. Ugh. Throw in the vicarious trauma that just comes with what I do for a living, and I am just never sure but always hyper-aware and it is EXHAUSTING."

I'm not going to detail what happened to me or with/by whom or any of that, it does no real good at this point to rehash all of that. No one has been or will be reported, at least not by me. But I guess I need to talk about the after effects. The hyper-vigilance. The destruction of my ability to trust...not right away, oddly enough, but over the course of the 30+ years since, as I follow the same path over and over and am reinforced in my belief that if someone is kind to me, there is a price tag on that kindness. I'm lucky beyond measure to be married to someone (now, not the first time around for certain) that, if he has a price tag on his love for me, has hidden it so well that I will never find it. I have friends in my life that I adore that I'm fairly certain will have my back, but the little nasty voice is always there telling me that I have to do whatever I can to keep them there.

It's the little stuff too, that this #metoo has made me stop and pay attention to that led me to this post, to share what's in my head in the hopes that it will make a difference. The after effects are real and are at times harder to manage than the actual event. "Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder."

11 October 2017

On nostalgia and panic attacks...

When I was younger, and an elf, apparently.
So I'm sitting here at my desk, minding my own business and thinking it is about time to heat up my lunch when I hear a sound that immediately takes me back to being a kid...a kid during the Cold War.

Clemson is right up the road from the Oconee Nuclear Station. On certain Wednesdays, they test the emergency siren, and that happened again this morning. The emergency siren is an unmistakable sound, and you can hear it for miles and miles. It's also a reminder to me of how my life is different because I was born well before the end of the Cold War.

Hubs and I have been talking more and more about this, possibly spurred on by our viewing of an 18 hour documentary on Vietnam. Our perceptions and remembrances of historical events and people are going to be different because he is British and I am American, but I contend that some of my reactions to things are different because I grew up American during the Cold War. The images we were exposed to of "the enemy," the Communists, were different than those shown to people in other parts of the world.

So I watch as the Clemson students continue their day as though nothing is happening when that siren sounds...and I fight the urge to panic or hide under my desk for a few moments until I remember that the Cold War is over and Duck and Cover drills are no more...for now, at least.

Blogging Face Deployed

Or why I was almost late to the bus on Monday
My "this is getting blogged" face doesn't really work when there's no one around to see it, as happened this morning. I was leaving home and traveling up the big road that connects to our road.

A bit of explanation for those not from the South: a "big road" is one that has fast moving traffic on it and leads to an "even bigger road." For those familiar with Greenville, South Carolina, the "big road" in question is Keith Drive, in the Overbrook area.

So back to me traveling along the big road on my way to the four way stop at Lowndes Hill Road. Y'all, four way stops are the absolute bane of my existence because NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO USE THEM. You get to proceed based on WHO GOT THERE WHEN unless you all, miraculously, arrived at the same time. There was no such miracle this morning.

I got there first, then the car in the oncoming lane and THEN the car to my right rolled to a stop...or so I thought as I proceeded into the intersection. Car To My Right pulled out in front of me and turned right, I suppose, because I was moving too slowly for conditions. That condition seemed to be late arrival at work at the Greenville Humane Society, if the next few minutes were any indication.

I texted hubs to ask if he knew of anyone there with a vehicle matching that description and he didn't, so we moved on...sort of. Y'all...it is not hard to wait your turn. Not hard. The fact that you didn't make it out of the house on time to get to work is not a Go Through Every Intersection First guarantee. Sorry. I'm just glad I was moving slowly or else I would have known for sure who was driving that car because it would have become part of the front end of my car.

So, happy Wednesday, and if you haven't already, review the rules on four way stops. This is why our country can't have nice things like proper roundabouts...there would be carnage.

04 October 2017

Coming soon...but not THAT soon.

So you may have noticed that the book I last blogged about was touted as "the first in a trilogy." As my mother-in-law said, that's a lot of work, doing three books instead of just one! It was, and it has consumed a great deal of my life over the last decade. See that picture over there? That's how my books begin their life, as word documents that may never, ever see the light of day. The fact that this one has clip art on the alleged front matter you see there means either that I needed some inspiration or I was trying to hide from the revision process. Or both.

I have a wonderful friend that is serving as my reader and editor. He is not the first to read the manuscripts and give me feedback - the first reader was mostly looking for plot holes big enough to fit a dragon through and story arcs that dived off cliffs, never to be resolved. I'm so grateful to him for his work, too - when you have spent this long looking at a bunch of words on the screen and you know what plugs the holes and ferries the plot back skyward it is often hard to see those issues.

I have an unfortunate tendency to think that everyone knows what is in my brain and therefore does not need to slog through what I think is boring exposition. Not so, advised my second reader/editor. It was his suggestion that some readers like to make organic discoveries about the story universe as they go along that led me to take out a large and unwieldy chunk of Wanderer and rehome it in the novel it was meant to be in all along - Prequel To Be Named Later. These are things that I simply cannot see in my own work, and makes me understand why normal authors that do this for a living have things like agents and editors to help them along.

Second editor (that sounds a bit like second breakfast, doesn't it?) also helped me with the cover design. This led to major revelation number two: I can let go of control of the Novel Process without letting go of the novel. I don't need to go full Elsa on it. I need to admit to what I cannot do, and gratefully accept help from those that can do. When I do, I get stunning book covers like the one on Wanderer, and hopefully on the rest of the Orana books.  The swooshy looking thing up there will be replaced by something much better.

So Tempest is away with Second Editor, and once that process is done I will do the revisions needed and hopefully get this beast into the hands of my readers by the first of the year. Impatient Nancy says THAT IS THREE WHOLE MONTHS FROM NOW AND FOUR WHOLE MONTHS AFTER WANDERER WHAT GIVES MAN? But rational me knows that while I say first of the year it will most likely be February if not later. And that's okay. Mostly. Excuse me while I put Impatient Nancy back in her box.

If you haven't checked out Wanderer and you have a Nook or a Kindle, give it a go and then let me know here or on Facebook what you think. If you have checked it out, see the previous request for feedback. It is a scary thing to send a piece of work out into the wide world and to have no idea how things are going...if it is drinking or doing drugs, or needs bus fare, or has a mountain of laundry. So while you are discovering Gin and Sath, I'm going to go ring my mother.

02 October 2017

Remember all those times I added author to my NYE resolutions?

Granted, I have already published all of those books in the Proud Racer and Clobberpaws series about my dogs, but this little baby here is the product of a decade worth of writing, editing, revising, crying, hair-pulling, and re-writing. This is the thing that has kept me up at night. This is what I simultaneously feared and longed for most.

The Nature Walker Trilogy is the first part of what I hope will become a series of novels set in the world of Orana. Imagine Tolkien turned on his finely pointed ear. Imagine elves and dwarves and gnomes fighting side by side with giant humanoid cats. Imagine shapeshifters and magic and dragons. That only scratches the surface of what Orana has to offer, and what I am so pleased to be able to bring to my readers.

Wanderer is currently available here on Kindle, here on Amazon in paperback, and here on B&N Nook. If you have purchased a copy I would love to hear what you think, both in the comments here and in the reviews on whatever platform you prefer. I also have a Facebook page (as an author, y'all, can you believe it?) here, and you can leave me a review there as well.

And just for you, my faithful Lettuce-Heads (told you I was keeping it...now I'm hyphenating it!), here is an excerpt from Wanderer, the first in the trilogy. We have one wood elf that is basically afraid of her own shadow (Gin), another who hasn't the good sense to have ANY fear (Elysiam), a dwarf who is the warrior everyone needs (Teeand), a gnome who is the warrior no one expects (Hackort, who hopefully has you on his list of people NOT to kill), and one of those humanoid felines I mentioned who has more than enough secrets to keep (Sathlir). What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

[Excerpt from Wanderer: Origin of the Nature Walker]

After what seemed like forever in the dripping, dark cave, the light at the exit that led to the Outlands finally came into view.  Bellesea Keep, where they were headed, was the ruin of an ancient dragon stronghold, said to be inhabited by ghosts.  It teetered on the edge, between the Outlands and the mountain home of the dwarves.  Gin had kept up her silence as they walked; only making a sound when she tripped over one of the giant roots that surrounded the walls and floor of the cave.  She blinked into the near blinding light that reflected off the alabaster snowcaps just past the Outlands.  Suddenly Elysiam’s hand appeared in front of her face and Gin nearly fell over onto her sister-druid.  “A bit of magical camouflage might be in order, don’t you think?” Elysiam said with a grin.  Gin nodded.
“That and maybe some levitation and a bit of speed?” Gin asked.  She began the chant in Elvish and soon each of them felt their feet lighten, ready to zip across the desert plain.  Elysiam joined in just as Gin was finishing and soon the five of them faded from view.  “Well done, my sister,” Gin whispered to Elysiam, who smiled.  The group moved out into the boiling sun of the Outlands and made their way toward the imposing stone building just before the gentle slope of the mountains.
“That’s the entrance, there,” Sath pointed just before he realized that no one could see him.  “The two stone structures with the statues in front of them.  They are guarded by wyverns, but most of them cannot see as well as they can smell.  If our invisibility drops, then…”
“If it drops?  BAH!  My spells don’t drop, Cat,” Elysiam snapped back at him.
“All I was going to say was that if it drops, run toward the entrance and don’t stop.  Tee and I will take care of those minor dragonkind if needed,” Sath whispered back, making Gin jump.  If he was imposing when she could see him, Sath was much scarier when she could not.  She took a deep breath.  “They walk upright though, and are bigger than I am.  Don’t worry.  Those things are nothing new to me and Teeand.”  The dwarf chuckled.
“I can take them too!” Hackort wailed from the back of the pack.  “You always forget me because I’m shorter than you two! Oof!”  A giggle from Elysiam told the rest of the group that she had managed to kick the gnome even though she could not see him.  “I’ll get you for that one, Elys, once I can see you.”

“How do we know if they can see us?” Gin said as they stopped directly opposite from the entrance to the ruin that had once been a magnificent castle.  Wyverns stalked back and forth in front of the entrance, still adorned with carvings depicting the once powerful human empire that had dominated most of Orana.  Giant statues of the conquerors, names long lost to history, stood like sentinels, ready to spring into battle against their enemies.  Gin shuddered as she gazed up at the stone figures, and remembered seeing Dorlagar for the first time in Aynamaede. 
“We don’t, until they do,” Teeand replied in a whisper.  He sounded like he was right in her ear due to her inability to see him, and she backed up a step involuntarily.
“Oof, careful,” Sath whispered.  Gin could feel his fur up against the back of her neck and she shuddered before moving away from him.
“Sorry,” she mumbled.  She studied the guards at the door for a moment.  “No sense in all of us having to waste energy on those wyverns is there?” she asked suddenly.  “I mean there are two of us druids, so…” She broke into a run, straight up to the front door, only stopping when she nearly ran headlong into one of the wyverns, a large bluish-skinned one.  Back at the group, the other four made various gasps and noises of disbelief and irritation at her apparent dash to the front door.  Gin scampered back to where she thought the group was and skidded to a stop.  “They can’t see us, I ran right up to them and nothing happened,” she said, grinning from ear to pointed ear.
“What in the Mother’s name was THAT, Gin?” Elysiam hissed as Gin hung her head.  “Well, clearly they didn’t see you, so let’s head inside.  This air is starting to make my hair frizz.” The five of them headed toward the entrance and slipped past the guards and through the massive stone doors.  Once inside, they took a collective sigh of relief and as if on cue, their invisibility faded.  “See, I told you, Cat, my invisibility spell doesn’t fade until it’s time,” Elysiam sneered.  Chuckling, Sath took a swipe at her, missing her by a mile.
“Right, so where is this Gaelin?” he asked, looking over Teeand’s shoulder as the dwarf rolled out the map.
“Here, in the cells on the top floor,” Teeand answered.  “Or at least that’s where Ailreden believes him to be, from…past experience.”
“Aye,” Sath said, his countenance grim.  “We know right where those cells are, don’t we?”
“You’ve been a prisoner here before?” Gin asked, wide eyed.
“Aye, Gin,” Sath said.  “It was during a darker time, wasn’t it Tee?  That was before Elys here found us and dragged our sorry hides back to the Fabled Ones.”
“Not that long ago,” Elysiam said. “I came to get Tee out and got this fur ball in the deal.”
“You…brought Sath…?” Gin stared at Elysiam.  It was too much to wrap her mind around.  
“Ginny, you are so wonderfully na├»ve,” Elysiam said, a look of genuine affection on her face.  “When I was exiled from Aynamaede, I broke all my ties to our home and its people…well, save you of course because you were kind to me.  But then some time in another prison made me…shall we say more understanding of the flaws of others?”  She looked each of them in the eye in turn.  “And if you ever dare repeat what I’ve just said I will not only deny it; I will probably kill you.”
“Probably?” Hackort said with a chuckle, and then dodged the business end of the staff that Elysiam was carrying.  “Right, lead on, Tee!  We’ve got wyverns to kill and wizards to save!”  His axe swung up into his tiny hand as a wide grin split his features.  With a nod, Teeand led the way into the dark ruin of a castle.
At the end of the shadowy entryway, they turned a corner and found the entrance to the castle proper, the actual Bellesea Keep, bounded on all sides by a moat.  Two larger wyverns, both red-scaled with golden eyes, stood on either side of the drawbridge.  “Do we sneak past them too?” Gin whispered.
“No,” Sath replied, grinning as he noticed that she did not jump when he spoke. “We could but there are undead past them that pay no mind to our magic.”
“What about the moat?” Gin said.  “Can we just swim around to a better entrance?”
“Well, even if our feline friend here liked the water, that moat doesn’t go all the way around,” Teeand said.  “It is very slight, but we are actually moving downhill the further we move into the castle.  It’s built into the ground and the moat just leads around to a wall.”  He swung his own giant axe into his hand and gripped the handle, cracking his knuckles as he did so. “Unless anyone here speaks Elder Dragon, I think we have to fight our way in, flower.”
Gin found herself shrinking back to the rear of the group.  All of the bravado she had before when she had charged at the wyverns guarding the door was gone now that she knew they could see her.  She glanced over at Elysiam who had already unsheathed her scimitar and was clearly itching for the fight to come.  Why hadn’t she been born like that?  “I guess I’ll hang back and be the healer, then?”
“You’ll have to, Pet,” Teeand said.  “We don’t have a proper cleric with us, but I trust you and your magic to keep us alive.”  He leaned in close to her, indicating Sath with a nod of his head.  “All of us.”
“Of course,” Gin stammered, flustered.  He was part of the team and he was just as responsible for her safety as she was for his. Just then, Sath glanced around at her, the smile that parted his feline features spreading up and into his teal eyes.  Gin looked away, speaking magical words that summoned Beau, her preternatural pony, and was soon sitting in the saddle, her hands fiddling with the horn as she always did when she was nervous.
“Right!  Elys, if you will, use your magic to slow these things down so that Hack and I can have at them at our own pace?” Teeand said, returning his gaze to the target.  “Then once we’ve engaged, Sath, your pet can join us and you can work your own magic to deter their attack.”  Sath nodded and Elysiam moved to the front of the group.  She looked back over her shoulder at her sister-druid, mouthing the words You got this, Gin, in Elvish, and then charged ahead of them.

“HEY!” Elysiam cried out as she ran toward the drawbridge.  The guards sniffed the air and then looked down at her, snarling.  “Come and get me if you’re not all talk!”  She spoke ancient Elvish words as the two pounded across the drawbridge with heavy feet, turning to run only when her spell was complete.  Though slowed down by magical tangling roots, one of the guards was quicker than she had expected and it managed to get a good swipe in on her before she could get clear.  The hit sent her sprawling into the dirt in front of the advancing wyverns and sent Hackort surging out ahead of Teeand, his axe swinging madly over his head.

Upcoming Appearances, 2023

At 742 North, Rock Hill, Fall 2022 So I sat down the other day and looked at my travel calendar for this year. Whew! There is a lot coming u...