A Phone App Intervention

I’ve never been a big gamer. In fact, with the exception of a few early-nineties Mario games, I never played video games at all. My brothers were/are all obsessed. So I had access to multiple gaming systems until I was fifteen, and often my brothers tried to get me to play but I just wasn’t into it.

I’m not into Anime either.

I point these two things out because it seems like if someone has an addiction to their electronics beyond stellar texting ambitions or social media, it’s some sort of game or anime, and I dodged the bullet on both.

So, imagine my surprise when I realized last month, I may have become addicted to my phone. It’s not just one thing. There is a Trivia app I’m all about, and Pokemon Go (though I’m more on the outs on that one), and then my latest craze: Sudoku. I have long prided myself on not having any sort of electronic vice. Seeing how much time my younger brothers wasted on games (when you can’t enjoy a vacation because instead of enjoying the sites you stay up all night playing X-Box and don’t want to do anything besides play X-box, it’s wasted time), I am like, “Phew, I missed that one.”

Then one night two weeks ago, I realized that for the fifth night in a row, I was playing Sudoku and Dots and the Trivia app simultaneously while watching TV. And I was playing these things because, “Why not?” Like it made perfect sense to pay more attention to my phone’s screen than the program I was watching.

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To Write or Not To Write

When you’re a writer, the people you have relationships with soon realize they could very well end up in your writing. If you write fiction, then there is always “I swear it isn’t based on you!” Funny thing, most fiction writers I know say that reactions are never what they prepare for. They could write something based on their mother and their mother has no idea or at least pretends to have no idea. Meanwhile their BFF from high school will call them in a rage, “How could you write THAT about me?”

When you write nonfiction however, it’s clear who you’re writing about – for better or for worse. What’s more, you can’t actually avoid it – ever. When I’m working on my memoir I’m telling my life’s story or at least part of it. And since I wasn’t isolated in a dark room without human contact for years, that is bound to include relatives, beaus past and present etc. It’s the same when writing a personal essay. Personal essays are just snapshots of an experience or collection of related experiences, but it’s bound to include others. You can’t not include someone central to your story because then you’re lying. You can’t portray them exactly how they’d like because this isn’t a press release about how wonderful they are. You have to be fair and truthful, but being the person holding a mirror saying, “look at how I honestly see you/your actions” is not going to make you the belle of the ball.

While I’ve been a writer all my life (it’s a calling more than a profession), I’ve only started submitting pieces in the last year, so instead of having decades of experiences, I have less than a year of dealing with hurt feelings, passive-aggressive actions and at times, ultimatums. And ironically, the pieces that have elicited reactions are the tamer “how did you manage to make this about you” projections. It’s not like an abusive ex has stumbled upon my writing. Or my mother. Now that would be it’s own kind of awful.

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The Relationship Notebook

You know how sometimes it’s the small things that mean the world? Well, in some ways a notebook has been the best thing to happen in my marriage for awhile, but let me back up a bit.

My husband and I have been working on our relationship. Not like the everyday “relationships are work” thing, but actual extra-credit kind of stuff.

My husband and I are total opposites so sometimes it feels like we need to be that much more aware of each other and our dynamics because our communication styles, personalities, likes and dislikes and even political ideologies are often at odds. I’m a literal person who chooses their battles, but when I say, “Let’s do this,” I want to do it now. Not because I’m impatient but because I want to rip the Band-Aid off so everyone can just move on – the end. My husband avoids confrontation and is not literal, he often tries to interpret everything he’s told and doesn’t speak literally. He avoids confrontation, and while I don’t like it, I’m a “power through it” kind of person. Just do it, get in and get out, etc. I’m Type-A, he’s Type-B, he’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert, even our food preferences are opposite (my favorite foods are the only ones he hates and his favorites are the ones I hate).

Right now, we’re in a good place and we’re taking advantage of that by working on “relationship strengthening”. Like, think a retreat in high school that involved the “fall back” trust exercises and that’s where we are, though we already have trust down.

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That Piece: A Publishing Milestone

Last week, I wrote an essay that was different from a lot of what I’ve written before. First off, it was personal, but also the most political piece I’ve written. Second, it was current and extremely timely. Usually, I’m behind. Even if I know something is coming up, I can’t force my writing process. So while I might know about it in advance, by the time I am struck with inspiration, write, revise, polish and submit, whatever I wrote about is no longer upcoming as much as it is “just passed”.

My piece last week was about the Affordable Healthcare Act. I wrote it last Monday and it went live early that Friday morning on The Huffington Post. What makes it special is that being “ahead” of an issue means that I have the opportunity to affect real change, be a part of it. My essay is about my death (both past and future). I died on my 25th birthday, and a large part of that death is owed to my not having health insurance. I didn’t have insurance because I was deemed uninsurable due to preexisting conditions. So when I woke up with a high fever, I tried to treat myself with fluids and Gatorade (electrolytes and all). Turned out not going to the hospital was a mistake. I had two major strokes, several grand mal seizures and my fever reached 109.6. And then at the hospital, being packed with ice, I died for several minutes (ballpark it at twelve).

Obviously, I came back. Perhaps that’s what makes my story special to people, because I didn’t just die, but I returned. But without the ACA, I will die again. Because I still have all of those preexisting conditions though now I’ve accumulated four more including an autoimmune disease that ravaged my kidneys and a bone marrow disorder, courtesy of chemo used to treat my autoimmune disease. Private insurance has lifetime caps that I would blow through in a week. I am as uninsurable as ever, and any GOP proposed plans do not protect people with preexisting conditions (look at the plans themselves, not what political salesmen are saying). So I died, and I will die again if the ACA is repealed.

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I Died When I Didn’t Have Health Insurance

I recently had one of my essays posted on the Huffington Post. Please check it out by clicking the link below.

For a list of my other Huffington Post pieces, please click here.

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