Last Sunday, April 19, my uncle was on a quad ATV in Mexico and it flipped over on top of him, breaking his spine at the C7 and T1 vertebrae. While his spinal cord is intact, it was compressed. So, my writing days have been on a temporary hold as we deal with this.
My uncle has never been married, so his only family is my sister, my mom (his sister) and me. Thankfully, my work was gracious enough to allow me to take vacation time to accompany my mom to San Diego to check on him. I'm currently typing this from the Bannister House, which is affordable housing on the hospital campus. Much better and easier than a hotel!
I won't get in to much detail, but my uncle will have a long road of recovery to work toward walking again. For now, I am happy he is alive, talking, coherent, and hopeful for the future. It's hard feeling helpless to help him. I just hope he knows how loved he is and how we are all rooting for his quick recovery. Please, say a little prayer for him.
In a few days, we fly back home to Oregon. As great as the facilities are here, we just can't be away from our own families that long. And hospital food is only appetizing for so long. On the bright side, the sun is shining and it's a pleasant 68 degrees while I sit on the patio and type. Sun glare is making it a bit difficult to read what I'm writing, so I hope this isn't too full of errors.
As soon as I'm back home, I'll get back to work writing on my book. I've tried writing here, and on the plane, but my mind hasn't been on it, even though I would love nothing more than to escape into a good story. Perhaps I'll read a book instead of write one for now.
I mentioned in my first blog about my sticky note obsession, and where it came from. Although I have incorporated my journals (a birthday gift from my friend Amanda!) for writing, I still use a lot of sticky notes. At work (the day job), I sat at my computer and counted the sticky notes within view. 16 sticky notes in yellow and pink, in three different sizes. And I need every one of those notes! I am a little upset about the range of colors I have though. I think I may need to branch out a bit.
These little notes are, for me, little chunks of memory. They help me remember those tiny details I would otherwise forget. I don't write down inconsequential things, either. These are vital notes that I need to remember for days, weeks, or months. That is the nature of the "work" notes, though. My "book" notes, I have mostly converted to my writing journal or small writing pad. Those notes are even more vital to me, and I really shouldn't risk losing them on a sticky note.
Right after my horse accident, I realized how injured I truly was when I struggled with the basic level Sudoku, when I usually worked the Super Expert level. You know the one. It has two pages for you to work with and is usually at the back of the book. It was quite the hit to the ego when I had to flip backward through the Sudoku book to get to ones I could handle. The doctor had ordered me to work my brain, so that's what I did. Sudoku was a great brain exercise! It took a few months, but I was able to work my way back up to my high levels and stay there.
Of course, Sudoku isn't really about memory, but about problem solving. The brain is a strange thing, though. It needs to be exercised in various ways, just like every other muscle. If you only ever exercised your arm by doing arm curls, you may have great biceps, but the rest of your muscles would look small and strange in configuration. The brain needs the same variety.
To help, I have tried a few things over the years. First, I take Fish Oil pills, when I remember. It may sound childish, but I take the gummies. They don't make you burp annoying fish taste, and the taste is decent. I also started playing Lumosity. I must say, I think it is well worth it!
The full version has a variety of games to help with memory recall, spacial recall, problem solving, attention and so much more. I have a hard time remembering names, and there is a great game devoted just to that! More than just helping with memory, this helps you become aware of areas you may struggle with. And honestly, if you're going to exercise, you might as well make it fun!
So, whether you do Lumosity, Sudoku, Logic Puzzles or Crossword puzzles, it's all worth it. Don't let anyone criticize you for "playing a game", when you're really just exercising! And let's face it, exercise of the mind and body are both vital to longevity.
Here's a fun writing exercise. Write a story where the first letter of each sentence must start with the next letter of the alphabet. Even harder, write one where each WORD must start with the next letter. Oh, what to do with those silly Qs, Xs and Zs. Hmmmm...
Anabelle believes cats don't eat furry giraffes. Here I just keep licking mice, no, oranges! Possibly questionable results seen through universally vigilant writers. Xenon. Yes. Zero.
Okay, I'll admit I just wrote that in about a minute. Obviously! I think this is a good sign I need to get one of those Word-A-Day calendars, or just start looking up more X, Y, and Z words!
I like these exercises because they're silly, fun, and can sometimes break writer's block. Don't take a lot of time working on making them perfect. They don't even have to make complete sense. It's a lot easier to write a story where each sentence starts with a new letter. Again, don't over think it. Just let the words flow.
Arrogantly, Smith shook his head. Beyond his arrogant demeanor, Smith was truly scared. Can't let anyone see that though!
Detective Martin walked up to him, flipping open his notepad. Early morning light played on the police badge clipped to his belt. "First, let me clear up this timeline. George was scheduled to meet you at the bar at midnight?" He clicked his pen on the pad casually, but his eyes took in every detail of Smith's countenance.
"I said so the first time," Smith responded angrily. Just like a cop to ask the same question again with different wording. "Kevin relayed the message to me. Look, I didn't kill the guy."
"Mmm," the detective muttered in response. "Now, why exactly were you meeting as such a shady location?"
"Oh, I don't know! Please, just let me go home."
"Questions must be answered first," Detective Martin responded.
Ready to leave, Smith was growing impatient with the detective. "So we met at a bar, so what?"
"That's not just any bar. Uniformed officers saw you entering with a gun. Vinnie's Bar has a reputation with hit men."
"Well, you think I'm a hit man?" Smith asked, laughing to mask his anxiety.
"Zero chance you have hit man skills."
:) Wow, those darn X, Y, Z words struck again! I just threw together this little short story, as my own exercise. They flex the mind and maybe get unstuck when writer's block happens.
Yesterday there was a terrible April Fool's joke. Around 3 in the morning, a fire broke out at a high school in Albany, OR, destroying a building that housed the cafeteria, band, choir and other rooms. I know many people who went to this school, including my husband. While an arsonist has been arrested in this case, it doesn't fix the damage.
While the devastation to the building itself is terrible, what really strikes me is how it hurts these kids, teachers, employees, and alumni. Choir music that had been collected for years, gone. Band equipment, gone. Dance and cheer uniforms, gone. These kids who explore the arts will be some of those hurting the most. Rumor is the drummer for the band, Journey, is going to donate a large sum to replace lost band equipment! That is truly wonderful, and a small light at the end of a dark, fire-damaged tunnel. Parents will be struggling to replace personal band instruments. I played saxophone in high school and I feel for these students. Music is a treasure, and musical instruments are not cheap!
Aside from the music programs that are hurt, there is the entire cafeteria gone as well. South Albany High School not only fed students at their school, but several other schools in the city. The other schools with kitchen facilities scrambled to help out, and several businesses even jumped in to donate food, but this will be a long-term problem.
The kids will go back to school next week, and I hope they can look past the charred remains and see hope instead of devastation. No one was injured in the fire, and things can always be replaced. The community has come together, and a tighter bond may form because of this. Pray for these students to keep strong, for the faculty and staff to keep brave, smiling faces on, and for the alumni to cherish their memories.
Funds have been set up to help the school recover.
You can donate at: http://www.albanypublicschoolsfoundation.org/
View the Albany Democrat Herald article here: http://democratherald.com/news/local/fire-destroys-south-albany-cafeteria-band-and-choir-rooms/article_3c1568c5-9bc2-5bfb-850f-5f5c4e3a7579.html