Book Review: Unheroic

Posted by Katrina Roets at 9:30 AM

Friday, April 29, 2016

A vampire owing child support . . . A law student stranded in a war-torn fantasy world . . . A trigger-happy collections agent who repossesses unpaid gadgetry . . . . . .and these are the good guys. Why should it be natural to read tales of valor, carried out by heroes who are brave, noble, or even good? Why can't the villain save the day once in a while? Or maybe the damsel in distress? Or perhaps a disinterested third party? Within this collection are thirty-six dark little stories wrapped around the odd theme of "unheroic" individuals making a difference. This twisted, eclectic mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror tales will leave you looking at the real world through different eyes. Should the hero's journey only be reserved for the pure of heart? You be the judge.

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You be the judge...famous last words? Nah..nothing quite that dramatic. I met the author at an indie comic convention a couple of weeks ago and picked up this book for some hotel reading. Bonus for me, dinner plans came up so I didn't get a chance to read it at the hotel. Next bonus for me? I did get some extra reading time over the weekend and had this on hand.

Let's start with the good... the stories are enjoyable and easy to read. In fact, this is one of those books that you intend to sit down and a few minutes later, you find yourself picking it back up again.

The bad - The stories read more as if they're prequels to full length pieces. For someone who likes some closure to their stories, this can become very frustrating. Also, while it's nice to be able to envision as scene in your head, there is such a thing as too much description and this author tends to cozy up to that line quite a bit. He doesn't stop over, but he gets close.

The Summary - I know I listed more bad then good, but at the end of the day, I would happily recommend this book to anyone who loves SciFi, fantasy, and just a great quick and easy read. My bad only out weighs the good because I wanted more from each and every story. With any lucky, the author will decide to expand on the stories and create at least novellas for each of them. With even more luck, he'll also decide to let me review his other works so I can let you know how they stack up against this one.

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Anxiety Lies

Posted by Katrina Roets at 1:53 PM

Friday, April 22, 2016

I don't know how many people read my post earlier today, but this is a follow up to that. What I wrote earlier was based purely on anxiety and emotion and was logical in its own way, but not in the way it should have been.

I want to start out this post by thanking people for either giving me hugs, coming up with options, reminding me of legalities, or in the case of one just plain telling me that I was wrong.

Was I wrong? Not entirely. Like I said, there was some logic in how I was thinking. I really do love it here and don't want to lose this house because of my own hoarding issues. I'm also proud of me that I know that I deserve to live in a house that has things like hot water, something most of us take for granted these days.

Was I right? Not entirely. I never should have let the anxiety take over. I should have taken a deep breath, looked around at the work I had already accomplished, created a plan to deal with the rest and then contacted the owner of the house. I have a problem with overreacting before thinking clearly. I usually come around to the right side, but it's not always my first response to something. On top of that, I'm still forgiving myself for things getting how they were. So my instinct was to go into a mode where I felt ashamed and didn't want to let anyone in.

Nick was right. I was letting the anxiety make decisions for me and that isn't me taking care of myself. It's not me standing up for myself, even to myself.  I guess I'm still learning. I've come a long way but the journey isn't over and I know that I'm blessed to have someone who is willing to say hey, you're wrong. Even if it makes me defensive, it usually makes me stop and think too..because who likes being wrong?

So what's next? An email will be going out to the owner of the house about the water heater. She's always been good about getting things fixed when I let her know something was wrong. I need to keep working on shutting down the anxiety I feel about being on a month to month lease. I know we've been good about paying rent on time, we're rarely a problem and it is her responsibility to make sure the house is in livable condition.

After that? Well, I've started tackling the dining alcove. Who knows, maybe by the end of the weekend, it will be complete and the boys and I can sit at the table again to eat and play games. Won't that be a lovely thing? For now though, I have about 30 minutes before I have to go pick up the boys and I don't have a shopping list yet! Time to create one!


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Why things are how they are...

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:31 AM

The plumber came. The plumber went. Nothing is repaired. Why? Because it's worse than anyone realized. Someone installed shoddy plumbing and pipes need to replaced. The good news is that it's only for the kitchen drain, not the whole house. The water heater wouldn't light and the gentleman who came out only does line snaking. The furnace and water heater vent together and the vent is rusting out. The water heater is ancient...and on and on it goes..

I'm not going to lie to you. I'm currently sitting on my couch with tears running down my face. Not because any of this is impossible to get fixed, but because I worked so hard to get the house to a place where I could let someone come in to fix these things and nothing got fixed. On top of that, I posted my frustrations to Facebook and while I'm thrilled that a few people jumped in to remind me of leases and laws, I feel a bit as if I'm being lectured as if I don't know that I ought to contact my landlord when something breaks...I do know..but I haven't and I won't. At least right now, I won't. I can't.

You see, I'm a hoarder. Remember? Maybe my landlord can't remove me because an ancient water heater breaks, but she can if she doesn't feel as if I'm caring for the property and having to wade into a room isn't caring for anything. I've worked really hard these past few months and I have four rooms that are functional spaces (except for what's broken). That's huge progress and I'm proud of it..but it's not enough. If I call them and tell them there are problems, they'll send someone out...that someone could be a spy for them. I know that sounds paranoid, but it's happened before. Until this downstairs is 100% , I cannot let them in here.

And it's hard...it's so damn hard. Everyone is acting as if I can't take care of myself, as if I'm not taking care of myself and they don't understand. I'm trying to protect myself. I'm trying to fix things. I'm trying to undo years and years of trauma and habits to reclaim my world, to make things better. This isn't about the fact that I don't know the owner should handle these repairs. This isn't about me not knowing my rights as a tenant. This is about me. It's about me trying to fix me. It's about me having the space to do those things and I can't do that if I'm sitting here worrying that someone might report back to her that the place is a disaster. The bipolar brain looooves obsessive thoughts, after all.

So yes, if me paying a plumber god knows what to replace a section of pipe will buy me some peace of mind then I'm going to do it. Is it going to frustrate me that some owner in the past 100 years went with cheap fixes instead of proper repairs? Hell yes it is. I hate half assed done things. Are there going to be tears? Yep. Sometimes I just need to cry out the frustration and the feelings of being ashamed so that I can reset and go on to tackle the next thing.

I say this to remind myself ....I can do this. I am doing this. I am being the change I need within my own world and if people don't understand, all I can do is try to help them to. I know people think I'm crazy (and I am..it's been certified, check my medical records), but this is what I need to do for me. Who knows...maybe I'll whip through these last 2 downstairs spaces and then be comfortable contacting the owner. Maybe I won't. I need to do this in my time to prevent setbacks.

I'm working hard at this and what I need is for people to try to be understanding that if I don't do things the "normal" way, there's probably a reason for it. I haven't been as public about some of my issues as I have about others, but one by one, I'm knocking down mountains and support is always appreciated. Remember those goals that I posted yesterday? Today is another day to chip away at them.

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Book Review: It Was Me All Along

Posted by Katrina Roets at 10:00 AM

A young food blogger shares her inspiring story of incredible weight loss--a journey from nearly 300 pounds to losing more than half her size--and establishing a healthy and confident relationship with food.

On her twentieth birthday, Andie Mitchell stepped on the scale and discovered that she weighed nearly 300 pounds. At 5' 9"--even knowing that she was big and hating herself for it--she was stunned. How had she gotten there? Without following wild diet trends, she lost 135 pounds over thirteen months and has kept it off for six years.

It Was Me All Along shares the at times heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting and motivating, story of how Andie kicked her habit of binge eating, which she developed during a traumatic childhood, and developed a healthy relationship with food, which she still loves to cook and enjoy.

Her story is at once familiar and inspiring to millions who have struggled with weight and self-image issues. Andie is a powerful motivator who bravely bares all to help others.

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When I chose this book, I had no idea if I'd like it or not. Honestly, I get a little touchy about bloggers who have made it big. I haven't the slightest idea why. Perhaps I ought to look into that at some point. For now though, let me tell you about this book and the impact that it had on me.

Andie Mitchell and I could be food issue twins. As I was reading, it was as if I had sat down and just started writing. The difference is that she's already lost the weight and I'm still at that I eat to feel full..emotionally full...and finding ways to come to terms with my past so that I can move on to the future.

Honestly, this whole review could turn into a post about my own relationship with food and the people in my world, but I don't want that (stay tuned though, that post is most likely coming). What I want to say is that Andie writes like a real person. She's honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly. She doesn't pull punches or spend an entire book making excuses or feeling sorry for herself. She's real and that clicked with me.

There aren't enough words in my vocabulary to tell you just how much I think you should read this book, especially if you've ever (or currently) have food issues, eating disorders, or are struggling. Andie, in her realness, gives her readers another kernel of hope and sometimes there is nothing more valuable.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

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Hoarding Update

Posted by Katrina Roets at 2:16 PM

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Three posts in one week! We're all going to get spoiled if I keep this up! It's been a while since I posted here about the house and what it's been like so I decided that it might be time to give y'all a bit of an update.

I'm not going to lie. I haven't done much over the past couple of weeks. I had hopes of a massive kitchen clean up over the boys' spring break, but life just plain got in the way. Their grandparents were in town (at their dad's house) and then I went out of town for the convention at the end of that week. In the middle, it was just plain busy. Then, when I got back from the convention, I had a bit of an emotional crash that took a bit to recover from.

That all sounds super negative, doesn't it? I promise that I'm not writing this post to bring you all down because absolutely nothing got done. Things have, just slower than I had hoped. Ben went into the kitchen one day and just did 5 minutes of tidying up. Both boys made a conscious effort to make sure that trash went into the trash and that things got put away. I've been incredibly proud of them for how they've jumped on board and are working with me to keep things going.

As for me? Well, I have a tiny bit of news. Tomorrow we have a plumber coming to look at the kitchen drain. It hasn't drained properly at all for over 2 years and not at all for the past 6 months or so. Some of you may recall that I was doing dishes in my bathtub. Then, the hot water stopped working a few months ago. I've been snagging showers at the community center and we've gone to all paper products for eating. It's also meant that I haven't been able to properly cook because I couldn't do dishes afterwards. It's been rough on all of us, but there hasn't been anything that we could really do about it due to finances and the state that the house was in.

Well, two days ago, Justin called and found a plumber who could come out to the house tomorrow. For me, that meant that the living room, kitchen, and laundry room had to be in good enough states
that the plumber could come in and access anything that he needed to and that I wouldn't have a complete meltdown over having him in the house. I'll admit it. I looked around and had a minor panic attack. Everywhere I looked, I saw something that needed to be done. The living room needed cleaning, the laundry room needed to be swept and to have the litter boxes changed and on and on and on the list went in my head.

But, guess what! It's just before 2pm the day before the plumber will be here (between 8 and 10am) and I'm relaxed on my couch, a candle lit, and Deadliest Catch running off the dvr. Why? Because I walked into the kitchen and in 5 minutes had the left side sink cleared and the new bookshelf box moved out of the way. I walked into the living room and in 20 minutes had everything tidied up and the floor swept. I walked into the laundry room and in 15 minutes or so had the floor swept, the litter boxes changed, and any/all litter mess cleaned up. I even cracked open the window in there and lit a candle to help with that icky cat litter smell that happens sometimes.

Did you do the math? In less than an hour, I had those three rooms at a level that I don't care if he walks into them. Sure, the dining alcove is still a disaster and we haven't touched the office/studio.
Oh well. I will. This is a journey..and each and every step counts. Each and every step is a step towards reclaiming this house, reclaiming my life and making a better world for myself and my boys. The best part? I've proven to myself that the work I started 4 months ago has been mostly maintained. I didn't backslide to a point where I wasn't 15-20 minutes from clean.

Earlier today I told a friend that I was ashamed to say that I hadn't been properly cooking for my family because of how I'd let the house get. I realize now that I was looking at things from my as usual skewed bipolar lens... Even when things are at their worst, nobody went hungry around here. It may not have been the healthiest food, but I made sure there was food and even if it was just throwing it on a cookie sheet, I "cooked". Two days ago, I looked around this living room and felt horrible about the way it looked. Turns out that it really wasn't all that bad. I need to remember the hours that I've put in and the changes that I've made. I'm happy to report that I'm doing okay and to give you a little sneak peek at my upcoming house plans...

Upcoming Goals:
1. Finish the dining alcove
2. Build/get the new bookshelf into place
3. Put the old bookshelf out by the curb for trash (unless someone snags it)
4. Clear the front porch & paint it
5. Repaint the front porch benches
6. Mow/trim the lawn and pick up any brush/trash that has arrived during the winter (this weekend!)
7. Repaint the tire planters
8. Refill the tire planters
9. Reclaim one flower bed
10. Start my seeds
11. Get a start on the "wall" aka the office/studio

Those are my goals for between now and the start of June. Will they all get done? Maybe, maybe not but we'll be doing them as we're able and before you know it, I'll have some new pictures to share with everyone! Keep your fingers crossed that the plumber can get the work done for $300 because that's the budget! If so, dishes will be on the agenda for this weekend too!

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When Did It Begin...

Posted by Katrina Roets at 11:49 AM

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Every once in a while someone will ask me when my struggles with bipolar disorder began. I never really had an answer but for whatever reason, the question popped into my head last night and I spent some time actually thinking back over my life and the answer surprised me.

Most people with bipolar disorder start showing symptoms in their mid 20s. I'm not sure if that's the case with me. I would say that I was showing warning signs a good decade before that. I was in high school when I sat on my bike on the side of the highway where we lived. Now, to most of you, that wouldn't be a big deal. If this were an infomercial this is where the sales guy would say, "But wait! There's more!" Let me tell you about that day...

It was a typical sunny day. There was nothing majorly wrong in my world. I had decided to go for a bike ride around town so I was sitting at the end of our driveway, waiting for the traffic to clear when it happened. I looked up and saw my school bus coming down the highway. She must have finished her route and was on the way back to the bus garage. With a sort of cold detachment, I looked down at my bike, back up at the bus, and wondered what it would be like to ride in front of it and get hit. Without a second thought, my feet were on the pedals and I was racing through the gap. I made it to the other side before she hit me. She told me later that I'd nearly given her a heart attack.

It should have been a warning that perhaps my brain didn't work the same way as everyone else around me, but nobody noticed when I would do these sorts of things. The only thing that was ever noticed was that my grandmother used to comment how I was the least compassionate person that she knew. She never noticed that it was only in certain situations.

Even now, I know that people are puzzled how I can be the woman that people say has the biggest heart and who is always there for people and yet at times, I am completely cold. It's not an uncommon symptom of bipolar disorder. Emotions can be crazy, no pun intended. They're always intense but sometimes they just disappear and you're left just feeling numb. As hard as it is for those around me, it's harder on me. I know I should feel something and the fact that I don't, even over something big, scares me. It makes me wonder if I'm not slightly sociopathic during those times.

There have been other times throughout my life where I've had that same detachment when it comes to pain or death, but there have only been two times that I have gotten to the point where there was no detachment and I had planned out how I was going to kill myself. I think that perhaps it was with that first time that I never truly recovered and the bipolar had set in. It was always there, but that emotional break gave it a chance to become something I no longer had the strength to fight against.

It would be another 15 years before I would get a diagnosis. In between I would watch my marriage fall apart (and always wonder a little if this played into at all), move away, be diagnosed with depression (which happens far too often because people with bipolar disorder seek help when they're depressed and doctors don't always think to ask about the other side), have my heart broken into a million pieces, move back to Michigan and lose at least one other person I loved intensely due to this disorder and his inability to deal with what it did to me.

So, if you asked me when it all started, it's still hard to say. I've lived with ptsd since I was a toddler so I will never know if those early days were that or warning signs there would be worse to come. I can only say that once you've been through hell and back and lost track of how many times, you realize that deep down you're a fighter and you will fight until you just can't anymore and you pray that when those times come, you have those who love you who will hold you up until you have the strength to stand again.


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The Need to Belong...and Being Me...

Posted by Katrina Roets at 1:21 PM

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I've been struggling since Sunday night and while this wasn't what I had planned on writing about, I find myself needing to get this out of my head and out into the universe. You see, I'm not sure if my reaction to something is "normal". In fact, I'm fairly positive that it isn't and since a friend of mine has been trying to hard to understand what it's like to be me and live in my head, I thought maybe, just maybe this might be a good example for not only him, but for anyone who wonders what bipolar disorder can be like.

Some of you may know that for the past six months or so I've been absolutely blessed to be editor on a series of all ages comics. It's been so good for me. I've felt as if I have some value and perhaps more importantly, as if I'm a part of something. The group who works on these books is pretty set... the writer/letterer/owner, a cover artist and an interior artist. I thought that I was part of that group too, but now I'm pretty sure that I'm not. The writer was texting back and forth with me about upcoming deadlines and there wasn't one for me on the new book. To say I was crushed is putting it lightly. I cried myself to sleep and even now, two days later, I'm crying writing about it.

"It’s not very surprising that due to all these odd thoughts, due to all the extreme, obsessive and distracting thoughts that we overreact to situations. If your brain automatically goes to a catastrophe situation and then becomes obsessed with it, it’s really tough to have a moderate response – even when it’s a moderate situation."

I haven't spoken to him about it because I'm afraid that he'll tell me that he doesn't need me or want me working on this or any other project. It's been a long time since I've allowed myself to get so wrapped up in the anxiety. Still, I keep remembering how I was once told not to ask the question if you don't really want to know the answer.

"...people with bipolar disorder think in the extreme quite frequently. Everything feels like the end of the world (catastrophizing). We’re not upset, we’re depressed. We’re not suspicious, we’re paranoid. We’re not happy, we’re elated. And of course there are all the thoughts that go along with these things. If our boyfriend looks at another girl he must be cheating. If we have a disagreement with a friend they must hate use If we’re criticized at work we must be getting fired. It’s not that we don’t necessarily understand these things aren’t reasonable; it’s just that we can’t help the way our brain thinks, the way it leaps."

Part of me is 100% sure that I'm overreacting. Then there's the "dangerous" part that can list sign after sign that I've never been a valued part of things. It's so hard to have an ongoing battle within your own head and yet even harder to just put the fears into words to another person. I so badly want to be a part of this and I know that I've told him more than once how wonderful a thing it is for me to be allowed to work on the projects.

The reality is that I know that my work has value and has been valued. Still, I've allowed this insecurity to ride along with me since the very beginning. I respect the man in charge, but more than once, I've felt as if he lets me work on things as a favor to me and not because he truly wants me on a project.

"People with bipolar disorder are constantly trying to figure out what a “normal” and “reasonable” thought process and reaction would be in any given situation. We’re constantly trying to overcome how our bipolar brain naturally thinks in order to have healthy interactions and healthy relationships. We’re constantly trying to deal with the extremeness of our thoughts internally so we don’t thrust them on the external world."

I don't want to thrust my insecurities on him and so I sit here trying to decide what a reasonable reaction is...a reaction that won't chase him (because he is a dear friend) out of my world. I always worry about people leaving me. It's ridiculously hard for me to trust someone enough to let that guard down. Maybe I should just lay my "crazy" line of thinking out before him and run the risk of him getting upset with me. Maybe I should just stay quiet and convince myself somehow that I was never a part of things and that this amazing thing is now no longer a part of my life... or maybe somehow I could find a reasonable reaction..

"And this is beyond difficult. Trying to defeat the way a bipolar brain thinks is near-on impossible. Dealing with bipolar thoughts is a full-time gig and an exhausting one at that. But it is important. Because if we don’t moderate our own thoughts and deal with them appropriately, we can’t hope to have healthy relationships with others. And if that happens then all those pesky catastrophes we worried needlessly about will have come true."

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Quotes taken from: Bipolar Burble

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