Preptober

NaNoWriMo 2021 Playlist

Here is my NaNoWriMo Playlist. These are songs that make me think of my story. Whether that’s the title of the song, the song lyrics or just the general mood of the song. You might be able to guess the direction I’m taking my story just from some of the titles.

I love closing my eyes and listening to music. It really inspires story ideas – I highly recommend it.

Anyway, it’s another fun tool in my NaNoWriMo toolbox – and something else I can cross off my Preptober checklist.

It was a chilly 40 degrees this morning – Fall is finally here!

I’m currently brainstorming and working out character kinks – stayed tuned!

Remember, you can find me on the NaNoWriMo website at take2max if you want to message me or join my Write Away group! Let’s support each other during this writing challenge!

Preptober

Preptober: Time Management

So I’ve been daydreaming about my NaNoWriMo project. I know the kind of story I want to write and I have a pretty good idea who my protagonist is. Which is a win for me because I usually don’t have any idea what I want to write, which of course, means I have no idea who my characters are and then NaNoWriMo comes around and I’m left floundering.

It’s a Dystopian Fiction story. I mean, if you’ve been reading about my work struggles in healthcare these past few months, you won’t be surprised by this. It will also give me a chance to vent my frustrations and air my “conspiracy theories” as well. It will center around a vaccine but my vaccine will be a lot more nefarious and the “United” States of America actually secedes and is at war with each other. Sort of like Hunger Games meets Dr. Fauci kind of story.

I figured out my writing schedule – sort of. Here’s what I have:

Let me talk through my calendar with you.

Mondays and Wednesdays are clinic days with Dr. M. I have to get to work pretty early on those days so writing in the AM is OUT. No way that’s going to happen. I put AM on a few Thursdays and honestly, I don’t know if that’s going to happen either as I will have to get up at 4:00 AM to write an hour before getting ready for work. We’ll see. The bottom line, I want to get at least 1000 words on those days. There is simply NO WAY I’m going to have the energy to write any more than that. My brain is already taxed, I won’t have anything left over for the story.

Which leaves the weekends. As you can see, I plan on writing the bulk of my words on Saturdays and Sundays. You will notice I have 4000 words on the 11th, and the 15th. I have some time off from work and I’ll have more time to put in more words those days. I hope. We’re actually planning on taking a short camping trip so we’ll see how much writing I actually get in on those days.

Overall, if I stick to the plan, (And let’s be honest, I probably won’t), I will have written about 54,000 words by the 28th. I left the 29th and the 30th free because I will likely need some extra time to catch up – it’s my cushion, if you will. Of course, the 25th is Thanksgiving and no writing will be done that day.

I bought Natalia Leigh’s Preptober workbook. If you would like to buy it you can get it here. She has it set up so that it’s a donation-based product, meaning you can pay whatever you can and think it’s worth. Technically, you can get it for free, but Natalia has worked hard on this workbook and offers a version of it every year so she deserves some compensation for it.

She also posted a video of her working some of the pages and I enjoyed working my pages alongside her. It also gave me some additional ideas for my story as well. You can watch that video here.

Anyway, one of the pages in the workbook is my writing schedule.

You can see, at a glance, what my day looks like and when I plan on writing. Again, the weekends are set aside for writing and on the week days I will try and do some writing after work. I planned to relax right after I got home from work so that I have time to eat, watch a few videos, rest my eyes, (cat nap), and then I should have some energy to write a few hours after that before bed. I think the key, for me, will be knowing WHAT I need to write during the week. So I really want to stay on top of my outline so that I can sit down and actually write something as opposed to just staring at a blinking cursor. This will be the first year I’ve really done outlining  so we’ll see how that goes. I just don’t want to waste those few hours and be as productive as I can possibly be.

I’m taking Thursday evenings off to decompress and recharge. And Saturday nights are reserved for the Right From Us podcast that Kevin and I film together.

And in case you’re curious, yes, you’re reading the schedule correctly. I get up at 5:00 AM every day, get ready for work, then I take some time to cool off, relax and chill before actually finishing my routine and going to work. To me, it’s worth getting up an hour early in order to relax and fully wake up before heading off to work. I could try and get in a few words in that time period but again, it will depend on where I am in the story and whether I have anything to write.

I also filled out the Self Care Bingo page in Natalia’s workbook. This is a game of bingo where I do various activities to decompress and once I get a Bingo, I will reward myself. With what, I don’t know yet. But some of the activities on my self-care bingo page are:

  1. Read
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Take day off
  4. Lie in bed and listen to music (this really helps with story ideas)
  5. Watch YouTube
  6. Blog
  7. Buy one Starbucks coffee (Fall tradition. I love Starbucks products but can’t stand the company and the fact their coffees are so expensive, so, one it is).
  8. Podcast
  9. Buy a protein drink (a nurse at work told me about a protein drink place nearby and I want to try it out).
  10. Meditate
  11. Nap
  12. Camp

Anyway, that will be fun to “play” and will force me to relax and recharge which you honestly need during NaNoWriMo because the experience is really fun, but intense.

I’m now going to focus on starting my outline and trolling Pinterest to start boards for my characters. I did that last year and it was fun to put a face with a name.

I’m also Take2max on the NaNoWriMo site if you want to look me up. Once you find me, go to groups and you can join my Write Away group. Writing is lonely and it’s fun to have someone to talk to throughout the experience.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, what are you doing to prepare?

Bullet Journal

October 2021 Bullet Journal

I’ve gotten a little lazy on posting updates on my bullet journal. But to be honest, these past few months I haven’t done a whole lot with my bullet journal. I’ve been keeping track of my sleep, steps, weather and the books I’ve read, but that’s about it. So it felt boring to post anything about it. However, I’ve had a few of you ask about my monthly covers and as always, you’re welcome to use these if you wish. These covers fit an A5 journal. I use Rhodia notebooks, if you’re interested. These are great notebooks if you’re using your journal to write in, not so much if you’re planning on doing fancy artwork or painting in. I like them because they have soft covers and I like the way the paper feels – it doesn’t feel scratchy whenever you write on it.

I am excited for this month’s bullet journal spreads, though. I’m trying the rolling weeklies for the first time and I’m digging them so far. I need something to keep my tasks organized. I’m one of those people that are like, “Oh, I’ll remember that later” and of course, I never remember and it frustrates me. Anyway, Plant-Based Bride gave me the idea for the rolling weeklies, in case you’re interested.

Also, there are a TON of really fun bullet journal stickers and other useful tools on Etsy if you’re looking for stuff for your bullet journal. With the new year coming up, journaling seems to be on a lot of people’s minds and I highly recommend it. Not only do you have something to look back on years later, because let’s face it, like is short and it’s nice to have something to remember the little moments, but it’s cathartic as well. It’s nice to have someplace to write down your thoughts and get things off your chest.

Bullet journaling is what you make of it. You can get fancy, or you can keep it simple, it’s really up to you. There are no rules and part of the fun is figuring out what sort of spreads you want and will work for you and your lifestyle.

I personally use stamps, stickers, and stencils for my journal. I WISH I could draw and get fancy, but alas, that is not my forte. The covers you see, I get them from Unsplash, slap a month/year on them, size them to fit an A5 in PhotoShop and then send them off to Staples to print. They literally cost a few bucks which is worth it to me as opposed to buying a color printer, then the color ink, etc., to do it at home.

Anyway, I’m not sure why I felt compelled to try and sell you the idea of bullet journaling, but it is nice to have some creative outlet in these stressful times.

I wrote in my rolling weekly a reminder to myself to post pictures of my journal at the end of the month so you can see what I’ve done. Nothing earth shattering, but I’m liking it so far.

Peace.

Reflections

September 2021 Reflections

Sept 2: I was out of my head today. I just couldn’t think straight and was very distracted. I know part of the reason is that it’s allergy season for me, I have a hard time with Ragweed, but part of the reason was because I was so distracted thinking outside my job that I couldn’t focus. For you see, in my mind, I’ve moved on. Not physically, but mentally. I applied for a banking job last night and I received a confirmation that they received my application today. Just that small acknowledgement has me nervous. Who knows if I get the job but it’s the first application I’ve submitted in ten years and the thought of going through the interview process makes me want to vomit, but this is what I need to do to move on. It’s gotten so bad that I FANTASIZE about putting my two weeks notice in. I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. I’m planning on submitting some more applications tonight. I would rather not say where, but suffice it to say, I’m not too proud to work ANYWHERE at this point in time. I would prefer to make at least as much as I’m making now, (which shouldn’t be too hard since I really don’t make that much, to be honest), but again, I’ll take just about anything if it means getting out of this environment. It’s so bizarre working at the hospital because it’s COVID all the time, and then you leave hospital grounds, and it’s like COVID doesn’t exist. That should tell you something. 

I have to confess, it’s sort of fun to look through all of the job openings on Indeed.com (not sponsored). I’m opening the door to something new and different and I’m excited but really nervous at the same time. 

Sept 3: Had a talk with the nurse I work with. Her and I are on completely opposite sides of this COVID agenda, erhm, topic. I know she’s desperate to keep me at the clinic, I get her heart is in the right place, but the fact that she doesn’t know half of why I have no intention of taking the vaccine and doesn’t really listen to the few reasons I’ve given her without allowing me to fully explain myself is proof positive that people like her are not truly interested in what I’m saying, only in that I do what her, and the others at the hospital, do. The fact that we can’t have a conversation about this very important issue and that the vaccine is THE only solution to this COVID problem, is a problem. The more my questions are pooh-poohed, or the more trying to talk about alternative treatment options for COVID are immediately shut down and censored, the more I’m suspicious that it’s not really about the disease but about something else entirely. I don’t know what that something is, but it’s creepy and disturbing how adamant the vaxxed have become about this topic. 

Not to mention, don’t you think it’s weird timing that the Delta variant came out and was so “contagious” shortly after half the country was vaccinated? I find that coincidence a little timely, don’t you?

Anyway. I semi-promised I would try and file a religious exemption. I heard that about 2,000 people filed an exemption. I don’t know if that number is accurate and I’m betting a large portion of that 2,000 will cave and get the injection before the deadline but whatever, I don’t care what other people do – you do you. For me? I’m moving on. I don’t want to stay someplace that is going to treat me like a 2nd class citizen. No job is worth that stress.

I need to stop telling Kevin some of things that people say, it just makes him angry and he WANTS. ME. OUT. He told me when we were at dinner tonight that he feels so sorry for me when I go to work in the mornings. Apparently, I look super sad and defeated and it crushes his soul. I didn’t realize I looked that way but I’ll be honest, that’s how I’m feeling right about now. 

Sept 5: Kevin is working on a “religious” exemption for me. He’s so sweet. He doesn’t really want me to continue working at the hospital, but he knows I want to at least try and see what happens with the exemption. I don’t know even know if you could call it a “religious” exemption though he is combing through the Bible for supporting verses. It’s more of a philosophical exemption, if you want to get technical. At this point, I really don’t care, I just want to give them something and if they take it, great, we’ll go from there, and if not, then I’m out. I’m not really invested in this attempt, I’m sort of going through the motions more than anything else, but at least if I try I can say I tried, you know? We’ll see how it goes. 

The boys are heading over shortly to have enchiladas and tacos. We haven’t seen the boys since Brandon had his wisdom teeth removed so I’m looking forward to catching up with them. 

Sept 6: Boys came over and we had enchiladas and tacos for dinner. Enchiladas are so much work but worth it in the end. Brandon’s face is back to normal and he’s feeling good so that warms my heart. It was nice to see both of them and catch up. 

Kevin did a REALLY good job putting some stuff together for me for the religious exemption I plan on turning in tomorrow. He found quite a few verses that back up what I’m trying to say. Now the question is, will my employer accept it? I read an article today that companies are challenging religious exemptions and I anticipate quite a few lawsuits around the country as a result, but for me, they can take it leave it – I don’t care enough to put up much of a fight. I will halt my application process in the meantime though if the bank I submitted an application to calls, I will go on that interview for a few reasons. 1. I’m curious to see what they offer and the bank itself is gorgeous – I’d like to have a reason to see the inside of it and 2. I need to practice my interviewing skills because it’s been a HOT minute since I’ve been on an interview. At any rate, we’ll see what the hospital says. I’m hoping they are so desperate to keep people that submitting an exemption is just an excuse to please the people out there that are pressuring the hospital to pay the mandates and keep the people who are vehemently opposed to it, like myself. We’ll see. 

Sept 9: Why are short weeks so long? I feel like I’ve worked two weeks in three days. 

Dr. M saw a patient in between surgery cases today and we had the patient in a room and waiting for him when he arrived. He seemed to be in a better mood today and he actually smiled and talked to us today. I hope this means he’s getting over his funk. It was nice to see a glimpse of the old Dr. M. I felt like saying, “There you are! I missed you!”

Talked to my manager today and told her I submitted an exemption on Tuesday. She was relieved. She said she had received a list of all of the people in our clinic that submitted exemptions and she was worried when my name didn’t appear on that list. She said that from all of our neuroscience departments, there were about 36% of employees that filed exemptions, which could mean, potentially, 30% of our staff leaves by the deadline. So – to give you some perspective – we have 24 employees in our clinic when we’re fully staffed. We’re currently down to 20. She said that if we lose the people that she’s projecting to lose, that will put our clinic down to 14 people and there is no way we can run our clinic on that few people – they would have to shut the doors and our physicians would only have enough staff to run one clinic per week instead of two. Maybe. For some strange reason, I’m lifted up by that information. Not because I want to see the clinic fail but because I’m proud of the people that are against mandatory vaccines standing strong and not giving in to bully tactics. 

In addition, my manager told me how much my hourly wage would go up after the hospital announced it was raising the minimum wage – over $2.00 an hour!! Um … that’s pretty good. Not good enough for me to get the vaccine, but definitely good enough for me to consider being subjected to weekly COVID testing, assuming they accept my exemption request. My manager said the hospital will be mailing something to me soon letting me know if they accepted, or rejected my request. In the meantime, I’m in limbo and again, just taking one day at a time. We ended up canceling our upcoming camping trip – partly because of the crap that is going on at work and partly because Kevin’s truck is at the shop.

Speaking of Kevin’s truck – we haven’t heard a peep from the garage. They have had the truck for two days now and they haven’t reached out once to give us an update. Kevin is starting to suspect they are scamming him. He’s driving out to the place tomorrow to find out what’s going on. 

Biden announced he’s pulling an executive order to mandate all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate the vaccine, except for Postal workers and illegal aliens. Biden is an evil man and showing his true colors – a dictator. I hope if you voted for Biden you have buyer’s remorse because this lunatic is going to go down in history as the worst president we’ve ever had – and we’ve had some really bad ones!

But hey, no more mean tweets, right?

Sept 10: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse …

The dictator in the White House, aka the weasel in charge, the yellow-bellied cockroach, the dog poo on the bottom of my shoe, made an announcement that “his patience is running thin” and it’s time to take the unvaccinated by the short and curlies and FORCE them to get something they don’t want. And because these lions won’t bow to his idiocy, he is going to hit them where it really hurts, in the pocketbook. 

He is mandating that ALL employers with more than 100 employees (why the random number?) will be forcing their employees to either take the experimental injectable or get tested weekly for COVID. 

I don’t even have words to express my anger and frustration right now. And that’s saying a lot coming from a person who is generally pretty wordy. 

On top of that, the first round of religious exemptions came back today – DENIED. I can’t help but wonder if they were emboldened by the DICK-tator’s announcement. And if that’s not bad enough. I was called into my manager’s office and told I was getting $2.66 more an hour beginning October 1st, because you know, the disease is not serious enough for me to get the vax, so now they’re trying to bribe me. 

I admit, I’m SORELY tempted. 

So I don’t have much faith that my religious exemption will be accepted. And that’s fine. When I get my denial letter in the mail, Kevin and I will look it over and determine whether it’s worth fighting for an appeal. Or, more likely, if I have to get a weekly COVID test anyway if the exemption IS accepted, I won’t waste my energy on an exemption and just go for the weekly test. However, I WILL fight to use a test that is NOT a PCR test, since those things are faulty. 

Why don’t I just go ahead and quit? Well, I still might, but I’m hanging on to this job by my fingernails and giving them every opportunity, other than taking the poison, to work with me here. Also, I can’t help but be nervous – if I quit the hospital, who’s is say I won’t be expected to take the vax and/or test weekly for COVID somewhere else and if that’s the case, why did I quit a job where I will make decent money, am familiar with it, good at it and is easy for me as opposed to taking a job in a new environment doing work I’m not familiar with and getting to know a whole new team of people and personalities. 

I have so many emotions right now I have a migraine. Truly. I don’t know my head from my ass right now because I want to fight but I don’t even know where to start. Not to mention, I HAVE to work. We need health insurance and we have bills to pay, though Kevin assures me we would be fine if I had to quit and wasn’t able to get another job right away and there’s always, *gulp* Obamacare if push comes to shove. 

AARRGH. I can’t STAND not knowing what to do or where to go from here. This whole thing is just insane. Sometimes I wonder if WE’RE just making a mountain out of a molehill and why not just get the damn thing, you know? But no, I will not comply. 

My heart goes out to those out there in the same boat. I understand and I empathize. We MUST stand strong and not allow this DICK-tator crap all over this country. 

And just think, we have THREE more years of this hairy, disgusting pig scrotum. 

Sept 14: My religious exemption was DENIED. I’ll be honest, I really hoped the hospital would accept it. I was thinking maybe the hospital would want to extend an olive branch, maybe use the exemption as a way to please both side of the aisle – show the public that they are taking steps to protect people and yet, find a way keep all of their employees. So when I received my denial, I was a little surprised and disappointed. I was also mad at myself for once again holding out any hope that it would work. I hate being disappointed. That’s why I’m a realist. I would rather be prepared for the bad and surprised by the good than hope it turns out good and it’s bad. 

Does that make sense? 

Sept 15: I turned in my resignation. I was so put off and disgusted by the hospital’s response to my “sincerely held belief” that I just ripped that bandaid off and took the plunge. I couldn’t justify, in my head, sticking around a few more weeks, until the October 15th deadline, when I. WAS. DONE. I’m tired of thinking about it, worrying about it, feeling like people are looking at me differently, almost with pity … No. It was time to move on. Why prolong the inevitable? 

Sept 17: I had no intention of telling anyone anything until the very last minute. And the reason I wanted to do it that way was for purely selfish reasons – the EMOTIONS of it all. I didn’t want the whole clinic to come to me and make me rehash my reasons why I was doing what I was doing. My leaving is NOT A HAPPY THING. I’m angry, bitter, sad, disappointed, disgusted and all the feels, honestly. I can’t believe it’s come to this. I can’t believe I’m going to leave a job that I truly love, and am confident and thrive doing, because I won’t succumb to an injectable that has been out less than a year and no one knows a whole lot about. 

Anyway, you can read all about my resignation and the day I told my peeps at work here

Sept 19: Happy work anniversary to me! Today is exactly ten years since I’ve worked for the hospital. It’s sad that I won’t be there another ten years, which is what I had planned on happening, but in some ways, it’s a new beginning. I’m closing a chapter in my life and at the same time, I’m starting another chapter. It’s scary, daunting, but somewhat exciting, as well. 

This month has been hot and mostly sunny. It’s been beautiful actually. I’m glad for the beautiful weather as that has made this past month at least bearable. I can’t imagine having to endure the stress of this past month with dark and gloomy weather on top of it. I wish we could have gone camping, it’s perfect camping weather but Kevin’s truck is still out of commission and it’s looking like it’s not going to get fixed any time soon. He’s thinking about selling it, as is, which is less than ideal and we won’t get as much money for it, but he’s a little out of his league when it comes to a diesel engine. It’s not that he couldn’t figure it out, but the way the truck is designed, it needs to have the cab lifted off in order to get to the area that needs to be worked on and he obviously doesn’t have the tools necessary to do that so … plan B is to sell it and buy an F150, or maybe an F250 gas truck so that we can pull the cargo trailer. I think he should get an F250 as that will EASILY pull the trailer and since we are wanting to spend some time in Colorado we won’t have to stress about the truck not being able to navigate the steep mountains. 

Brandon came over to get their water today. He’s pretty dissatisfied with his job. Not because of any vaccine issue, (yet – and thank goodness), but because they have scheduled him for the next eight Saturdays in a row when they are supposed to be rotating with the other tellers and his third anniversary came and went without a review and potentially a pay raise. I encouraged him to speak to his manager as it could have been an oversight and his manager deserves to know how he’s feeling as I’m sure they don’t want to lose him, too. In addition, he talked a bit about how he’s fed up with cranky, difficult customers and he’s tired of being yelled at. I get it. People are on edge and stressed out right now but you can’t take it personally because it’s most likely it has nothing to do with him. But still, I get it. It’s exhausting dealing with jerks. So – reminder – please be nice to your fellow humans. 

Sept 20: I had been dreading this day for weeks. This was the first day of clinic that I had to work with Dr. M and H since I announced my resignation date. I knew it was going to awkward but I tried my best to keep a smile on my face and not allow it to sour my mood or my work performance. The morning was underway and I had a brief break between patients and I sought out another girl, M, is was in the same situation as me to just blow off a little steam when she told me something that literally changed my life. 

Her religious exemption appeal had been approved. 

. . . . . . . .

I was literally gobsmacked. I had to sit down because I suddenly felt weak. 

What??? How???

She explained that she talked to a friend who encouraged her to submit her appeal and to use certain keywords/phrases that would increase her chances of getting accepted. So she did, and it was. She said she submitted it the Thursday before and had an answer by Friday. She was actually out of the office that Friday so I had no idea what was happening otherwise I wouldn’t have put myself the emotional torture of announcing to everyone in the clinic September 29th was my last day.

Now I know what you’re thinking – keywords? Really Karen? But that’s not that unusual. When I was a scheduler and I dealt with insurance companies concerning authorizations for diagnostic testing, I knew there were certain keywords they were waiting to hear before they would approve something. And as long as those keywords were SOMEWHERE in the doctor’s documentation, I could use them and had great success getting things approved.  So when she told me there were keywords the hospital was looking for, it didn’t sound too far fetched to me. 

I immediately emailed Kevin and forwarded him an example of what M submitted to give him ideas. I would have done it myself but I was working a clinic and didn’t really have the time to just stop what I was doing and write something. So Kevin, being the awesome man he is, went to town and put together an appeal. I read it over when it sent it back to me and made a few changes and hit send. 

Now, it was a waiting game. I was truly hoping I would find out, either way, the next day since M got her answer to quickly, but you just never know with this kind of stuff. All I knew was that it wouldn’t hurt to try. I hadn’t planned on trying before because I didn’t think I had a snowballs chance in hell that it would be approved and I didn’t want to give myself false hope – again. 

And I tried very hard not to have too much hope this go around but I knew that if mine came back denied I was going to march my butt into my director’s office and ask why. 

Speaking of my director – the director of Neurosciences summoned me to his office after clinic that day to tell me that he was sorry to see me go and gave me his card offering to give me a reference if I needed it at my new job. I thought that was SO SWEET! He said he could tell my entire team was stressed out and that things were tense and though he and I didn’t agree on the issue, he thought I was an outstanding worker and would be happy to offer his two cents if I wanted him to. I told him I submitted an appeal and he perked up a bit. 

I also told Dr. M that I filed an exemption but he didn’t act too enthusiastic by that news. He was probably thinking there would be no way I would be approved either. 

The rest of the day was sort of a blur. All I could think about was … what if?

Sept 21: The next day I worked Dr. S’s clinic, which I was really grateful for because I knew I would be on edge waiting to hear back from human resources about my appeal. Almost exactly 24 hours later, I heard back. 

IT WAS APPROVED!! 

I. Was. ECSATIC!! I couldn’t believe it! They actually accepted my appeal!! I immediately text Kevin the good news then went to find my nurse. She was in our office since she wasn’t covering anyone that day and I walked in, gave her a huge, goofy grin, held my arms out and told her she needed to hug me. She immediately screamed and we hugged, hard. I can’t even tell you the HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders by that news!!

I could stay! Which – on the surface sounds crazy that I had to fight for the right to say no to something pertaining to my body, but whatever – they approved my appeal! 

Now, for reality. It’s only good until August 2022. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but I guess I’ll deal with that when the time comes. Also, I will be expected to take a weekly COVID test. I’m not sure how that will work out, exactly, but again, I’ll cross that bridge when it’s time to address that. In the meantime, all I wanted to do was savor the moment, the small victory, though I guess to me, it’s not a small victory but pretty major, and BREATHE. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for months and for the first time I would BREATHE. 

You can read more about this here

Sept 22: Now that the COVID hurdle had been jumped, I still had another hurdle to jump – the flu vaccine. It’s time. So of course, I submitted a religious exemption for the flu vaccine. Who knows how this will work out. For one, I think I might have submitted it after the deadline to do so because when I went on our Intranet at work to fill out the form, it was no longer there. So, a co-worker searched for “flu vaccine exemption” and the form popped up. I filled it out, then wrote out my supporting documentation and submitted it to the same email address I received my COVID approval from. 

Maybe I’m pushing my luck, but I’ve NEVER felt right taking the flu vaccine and now that I’ve committed to not taking the COVID vaccine I feel hypocritical not submitting an exemption request for the flu vaccine. I have no idea if they will accept it and I have no idea what I will do if they don’t. 

I know I will be expected to do certain things, like get tested weekly for COVID and wear a mask throughout the flu season as a condition for my approval and I’m assuming that will be the case if they approve the flu vaccination exemption request.

But I don’t know. I’m not as worried about the flu vaccine as I was for the COVID vaccine, but again, I’ll just take every day as it comes and cross that bridge when I come to it.  

Sept 23: Kevin text me to say he needed a ride to pick up his truck after work. Which meant, HE BOUGHT THE TRUCK. He had been looking at a Ford F150 for a bit and he went to test drive it without my knowledge. Not that he needs my permission to buy a new vehicle but I think the reason he didn’t tell me he was seriously thinking about buying this truck is because he knew I would try and talk him out of it. 

And he’s right. I would have. 

He listed his Ford F250 diesel on Craigslist and had a few people bite, but no buyers yet. Now that he has this truck, he’s thinking of keeping the diesel and putting more research and effort into trying to fix it. He was told, by a guy that worked at O’Reilly’s, that the truck is likely worth $20,000 if it’s driveable. So now Kevin is on a mission to make it driveable. He has to be careful though, because he doesn’t want to put too much money into the truck because A. he’s not sure what he does to it will be successful and B. who knows if the $20,000 estimate is even accurate. But it’s a challenge and Kevin doesn’t shy away from challenges, so we’ll see how it works out. I have to admit, he got a pretty good deal on the F150 and it’s nice to see him smiling again. He’s just a man that NEEDS a truck given all of the projects he does and how he needs a truck to haul materials for said projects around. I get it. I just hope he can figure out what is going on with the F250 so he can sell it for a profit. 

It looked pretty nice when we picked it up. I drove him to the guy’s house to get it. He had already paid for it and had the key, so I didn’t even have to get out of my car when I dropped him off. 

Sept 25: I’m bummed. We were supposed to be on vacation right now and we had plans on staying at this super campground by Meramac River up by St.  Louis. But with everything going on at work, that sort of disappeared. After submitting my resignation, giving my two weeks, you can’t take vacation time in that time period so I had to forfeit the time. And when I rescinded my resignation I felt funny to turn around and demand my vacation time back. It felt a bit rude, truth be known. 

I asked off for some time in November, but who knows if it that will happen. I’m planning on being pretty stingy with my earned time off because if I test positive for COVID during one of my weekly testing sessions, (yes, I will have to test every weekend to see if I can come to work on Monday), and if I happen to test positive, then I will need some earned time off to pay for the time I HAVE to be off to give myself time to “get over it.” *eye roll* But whatever, I’m just thankful to have a job at this point. Talking about vacations seems pretty trivial when you think about it that way, but still, I am bummed about having to cancel our plans. 

Sept 30: Today was supposed to be my last day of work. Weird. I called a meeting with all the other medical assistants, (we have seven, we’re supposed to have nine and have been two short for a while – no applications – imagine that!) and we just talked, caught up on each other’s lives and talked about various work-related issues we want to bring up to management. It was nice to just get together. Our clinic is so spread out, our offices are so isolated, that it’s nice to just get together sometimes and SEE one another. It made me thankful that I wasn’t leaving them. It was an odd feeling, to work my last day, only it’s no longer my last day. I’ve never quit and then rescinded my resignation before. This is new territory and I still feel like I’m taking one day at at time. But at the end of the day, I’m just thankful to still have a job. I know there are a lot of people in the country right now that don’t and that just sucks. However, I’m also realistic – who knows how long my current situation will last. I would like to think I will be with the hospital until I retire in ten years, but with the way things are going, who knows. And especially for the next three years with the bumbling DICK-tator in the office. It’s been a roller coaster month and I’m ready to get back to boring, thank you very much. 

TBR

October To-Be-Read Stack

 

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You can tell which book I’m currently reading by the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

I’m all about Kindle e-books. I’m a hard core e-book reader. I haven’t read an actual book in quite a long time and I find that when I hold an actual book, it feels large and clunky. I much prefer my Kindle e-reader than an actual book. With that said, I get all of my books from Kindle Unlimited – I rarely, if ever, spend money on a book – it all goes into the $10 dollars a month I pay for Kindle Unlimited.

So, if you’re interested in reading lesser known authors and want to save a ton of money in books, join me!

I rarely read anything lower than a four-star review on Goodreads – I’ve come to trust the reviews of Goodreads readers. I stopped reading for a long time simply because every book I read was stupid, or disappointing and ultimately, a waste of time. (I feel the same with movies – haven’t watched movies, or TV, in about a year). I’ve had great luck sticking to this philosophy and most of the books I read are pretty good.

You can see my book ratings on my Goodreads account.

I have currently read 42 books out of 55.

Moving on, here is my October TBR stack:

  1. One Day Fiancé by Lauren Landish
  2. The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White
  3. Riley Thorn and the Dead Guy Next Door by Lucy Score
  4. Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover
  5. Dark Pattern (The Naturalist Book 4) by Andrew Mayne

Happy Reading!

Preptober

It’s Time for Preptober!

NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is an annual writing challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November, for those of you that may not have been aware of it’s existence. (NaNoWriMo also offers Camp NaNoWriMo every April and July. The camps are more laid back as far as “requirements.” They are just another tool to add to your writing toolbox to try and motivate you to write).

Here’s a good article to read if you’re waffling on whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Preptober is a term someone clever came up with to prep for NaNoWriMo during the month of October.

First of all, you don’t have to participate in NaNoWriMo if you don’t want to. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. But let’s face it, writing is lonely. And I personally need something to motivate me to write, whether it’s this blog, or my bullet journal because I’ve had a bad day and I need to VENT and PURGE my thoughts and feelings because doing so in real life could cost me dearly. *ahem*

You could prep … any month you chose to.  You are the king, or queen, of your castle. There are no rules.

First things first, what project do you want to work on?

  • Novel
  • Short story
  • Poetry
  • Non-fiction
  • Autobiographical
  • True Crime
  • Blogging
  • Other

Whatever you write, whether you’re published or not, YOU’RE A WRITER. If you can put words to paper and make them coherent and/or interesting, then you’re a writer. There are no requirements to this challenge, if you want to write and you’re up to a challenge, then you’re in.

You don’t have to be writing a novel to participate in this challenge. Maybe you want to write several blog posts. Or poems. Or your life story. Or short stories. (I did that one year for NaNoWriMo). Whatever writing project you want to do, you can participate in NaNoWriMo. It’s not about writing a novel, it’s about writing in general. It’s about pushing yourself to do the thing you’ve always said you wanted to do. It’s about unleashing your creativity and shutting down your inner critic. Your inner critic can be released at the end of the challenge. For now, it’s just you and your imagination. This challenge gives your creativity permission to be run naked and wild through the sunflowers.

(Figuratively speaking, of course).

Secondly, when you plan your writing, do you want to use:

  • The Synopsis Outline (a one/two page summary of your story)
  • The In-Depth Outline (the detailed outline that most of us [or me] run from)
  • The Snowflake Method (you expand your story, little-by-little)
  • The Bookend Method (figure out the beginning and the end and free-write the middle)
  • By the Seat of your Pants or Pantsing (little to no planning – you just start writing)
  • The Headlight Method (plan, write to the end of the plan, see where it goes, plan, write …etc)

I’m sure there are other ways, but these are the most common.

It’s important to know how you plan on writing before you actually write. For me personally, I love the pantsing method. I love to see where my characters take me. And they often take me to surprising places. It’s fun and I thoroughly enjoy it.

However ….

I inevitably get to a point in the story where I have no idea where it’s going, how it’s going to end and does it even make sense at this point? I then get frustrated/discouraged and just chock the whole project. This is why I love short stories because I can write to the point where I get stuck and then, well, it’s a short story, it’s SUPPOSED to end, right??

I’d like to flex my writing muscles a bit this go around. I want to combine both the bookend method and the headlight methods. I want a start, a general ending, and then loosely plan the chapters, allowing my characters to take me somewhere, but at the same time, put up road signs for them to follow along the way. I could write a full outline but ZzZzZzzz .. it sounds so boring. But then again, I said I would NEVER outline, in any form, a mere ten years (minutes?) ago, so, don’t hold me to that.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get to the Preptober stuff.

I’ve participated quite a few times in NaNoWriMo over the years, I’ve won a few years. But I never plan ahead and by the time the proverbial gun goes off at the starting line, I’m left in the dust blinking in confusion. Where to start? So. In an attempt to avoid that feeling, I want to actually be as prepared as I can be this go around.

Hence, Preptober.

Because I’m a big child at heart, I like to make things fun. So when I found this Preptober Bingo placard, I couldn’t resist to share it with you guys.

You can find more fun cards at Ink and Times. (I put the free space on there. I figured, free space equals one day off to decompress). The site even offers ideas on what to put on your Bingo card. For example here are the ones that caught my attention from the site and from this site that I think will work for me:

  • Update NaNoWriMo Account
  • Logline and Tagline
  • Brainstorm Your Plot
  • Brainstorm Your Subplot(s)
  • Bookend Beginning
  • Bookend Ending
  • Get To Know Main Character(s)
  • Get To Know Supporting Character(s)
  • Get To Know Villain(s)
  • Get To Know Setting(s)
  • Find Location Inspiration
  • Find Character Inspiration
  • Create Inspiration Board
  • Write A Synopsis
  • Creating A Writing Playlist
  • Research Important Need To Know Facts (1)
  • Research Important Need To Know Facts (2)
  • Find Writing Groups
  • Preptober Workbook

I want to work toward some sort of reward, and I will DEFINITELY reward myself if (WHEN) I win NaNoWriMo, but for now, it feels weird to reward myself for prepping. (Yay! Good job, Karen! You prepared for your challenge!) Uh … no.

But, I thought it would be fun to make prepping for NaNoWriMo more fun. Feel free to copy this for yourself, if you like.

Here are some more helpful resources in planning for NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo? And How to Win in 2021

Helping Writers Become Authors has a good section on how to outline for NaNoWriMo.

I plan on using the SmartEdit program as my writing software of choice. I’ve been liking it so far and best part – IT’S FREE.

If you Google Preptober and/or use the #preptober hashtag on Twitter, you will stumble across many more resources – the ideas are endless. These are the rabbit holes I tend to get sucked into (hence the reason I gave myself two research days because I loves me some research, ya’ll!) and if reading over these ideas and resources doesn’t inspire you then … I’ve got nothing else.

I’ll try and remember to update you on my Bingo card throughout the month of October. I’d like to post excerpts from my NaNoWriMo project in November, too.

I think my biggest challenge won’t be the writing part – I can write/type fast and make my characters do/say all sorts of stupid things, no, I think my biggest challenge is going to have the energy to actually write. Working 40 hours, making time for family, holidays, and you know, SLEEPING, and then finding the energy and time to actually write something …. that’s going to be hard. The few years I won NaNoWriMo I wasn’t working so …. that should tell you something.

We are also planning a short camping trip in November, which we plan on vlogging, so it will be challenging to find time to write while doing that, too.

Anyway. I hope this information was helpful and that I’ve given you some places to check out and poked your writing beast.

By the way, my Wrimo username is Take2max if you want to look me up on the NaNoWriMo site and friend me. I even made a writing group on the NaNoWriMo site called Write Away if you want to chat. (Search for that name when you go to your NaNoWriMo account under “groups.” Send me a note and I’ll send you an invite).

I freaking love this time of year!

Work Stuff

Well. This Was Unexpected

So apparently, I’m still employed.

After updating you last week, (I sound like a soap opera – and this week on Write From Karen), I went to work that following Monday. I was dreading it. Like, DREADING it. Largely because I was going to see Dr. M and his mid-level H in clinic that day and I didn’t know if they knew I had put my resignation in. I didn’t want to have the conversation, quite frankly, and I was hoping they heard all about it and I wouldn’t need to say anything, but at the same time, I felt like I needed to say something.

The day started as usual. We only saw recheck and post-op patients last week because Dr. M is going to be out these next few weeks to recover from his surgery so I knew it was going to be an easy day, and it was. But if felt tense. I tried my best to paste on a happy face and just sort of pretend that I was never going to see these people again after September 29th, but it was hard.

Another girl that I work with, M, was going through the same thing. She also submitted her resignation but her last day was going all the way to the deadline on October 15th so she had a ways to go. I took advantage of a little break between patients and went to her office to blow off steam. She hadn’t been in the office the Friday I announced to the clinic I was quitting though I did text her. I plopped down in the chair next to her and after a few dozen words, M says to me, “I submitted an appeal and they approved it.”

*blink*

“I’m sorry, come again?”

“I talked to a friend of mine and she suggested that I submit an appeal making sure to include a few keywords in my submission and I did that on Thursday. I heard back from them on Friday and they approved my appeal.”

*blink*

I just sort of sat there and stared at her for a few minutes. I was seriously shocked. I honestly had NO expectations for the hospital to approve ANY exemptions and yet, they approved hers. My wheels immediately started turning. Could I do the same? Would they accept mine? Did I want to try? Why wouldn’t I try? Did I dare allow myself to hope?

I asked M to send me what she put on her form. It wouldn’t hurt to see what she submitted, right? And what were these magical keywords she spoke of?

Now, before you go and think I’m a sneaky b*tch, because, I sort of am, using keywords to get what you want is not a novel concept. Whenever I was a scheduler I would have to contact insurance companies to try and get diagnostic testing approved and before long, I figured out they were looking for keywords, or phrases, something that would trigger their process into giving me an approval. I wouldn’t make things up, that’s dishonest and illegal, but if there was any hint of a condition or a diagnosis, in the doctor’s note you better believe I took advantage of that and used it.

Since we were still in clinic, I couldn’t stay in her office very long to talk to her about what she did in too much detail and I needed a moment to digest what she told me. I went back out to the clinic and it took everything I had to force myself to focus on the task at hand. But as soon as I got M’s email, I immediately sent it to Kevin and said, “What do you think? Should I try this?”

He helped me compile what I wanted to say because honestly, I was in clinic and didn’t have the time to devote to it and time was of the essence now that my employment clock was ticking, and by the end of the day, I had taken what he had given me, finessed it up a bit, took out some aggressive language, (because Kevin has been even more fired up about this ordeal than I have been), and I submitted my appeal.

I was really hoping I would find out as fast as M did because again, the clock was ticking and I just wanted an answer so I could move on with whatever answer they gave me. But I had hope. Why would they approve M’s appeal but not mine? And if they didn’t approve mine, I was planning on marching my butt into my director’s office and asking him, “What gives?”

I told Dr. M that I was submitting an appeal, just to keep him in the loop, because I thought he might be wondering what was going on and then the director of Neurosciences approaches me after clinic and asks if I have a minute.

Normally, I would be swallowing hard and wondering what I did wrong, but since I had submitted my resignation, I honestly didn’t care. Do what you want – I have one foot out the door anyway.

But he was very sweet and told me he was really sorry to see me go and if I needed to use him as a reference, I was free to do so. I thought that was so nice of him to offer that! I told him that I submitted an appeal to my religious exemption request and he perked up a bit when I said that. We did talk about the consequences of having the exemption approved, which I’ll talk about in a bit, but they are consequences that I will be willing to do, if accepted.

Tuesday rolls around and I’m covering Dr. S’s clinic. I’m actually really glad I covered her clinic that day because it didn’t give me a lot of time to obsess about my appeal but I was on pins and needles all day waiting for an answer.

Clinic was winding down and it was about 1:00 PM when I got the email.

I was afraid to open it. This email would literally decide if I stayed or left. This email would decide my future in healthcare.

I clicked it open and quickly skimmed it.

APPROVED!

What? What???

I calmed down a bit and then re-read the letter in more detail:

Your request for exemption has been granted through August of 2022, or the date upon which______________ again considers requests for exemption from the Covid-19 vaccination policy.  Please note that individuals will need to reapply for exemptions each year, unless otherwise determined by ___________. 

Now that your exemption request has been approved, we will begin assessing what accommodations can be made for you to continue to work.  Accommodations are determined on an individual basis and depend on several factors including the essential functions of a job, interaction with high-risk patient populations, and ability to work under varying levels of supervision.

In all accommodations, employees will be required to mask when on __________ property. Additional accommodations may include, but are not limited to, weekly nasal or saliva testing at ___________ expense; a change in work settings; possible work restrictions; and being moved to an alternative role if working with high-risk patients. 

We will coordinate with your department director to determine your accommodation, after which we will mail you a notification confirming your accommodation.  Because your exemption has been approved, you are not at risk of missing the October 15, 2021 deadline to be vaccinated.

Once you have been notified, your supervisor will be able to provide additional information to you regarding your specific accommodations.  Please also pay careful attention to the Connect Daily, which may contain additional information regarding requirements for unvaccinated staff. 

____________ reserves the right to take any necessary and appropriate steps, including but not limited to, imposing alternative COVID-19 prevention measures and accommodations, to ensure that individuals do not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace.

Okay. My approval has been granted through August of 2022. What does that mean, exactly? I’m reading it to mean they are thinking about mandating boosters. Or, yearly vaccinations, same as the flu vaccine. At any rate, I will need to re-apply each year. Annoying, but okay.

I do not work with high-risk patients so I don’t think I have to worry much about being moved to a different department. I work in an outpatient clinic. I’m assuming my “accommodations” will mean I will have to test weekly and wear a mask. We all wear masks at the hospital now as it is and quite honestly, I don’t see that going away any time soon so I’m not overly concerned about that, but the weekly testing will suck balls. But it’s still better than not having a job. And I was relieved to see the hospital will incur the cost of weekly testing. I was worried they were going to make me pay for it. I know some employers are penalizing their employees if they do not get vaccinated and have to be tested – like Delta airlines, actually. And the country of Italy says you can keep your job, but we’re not going to pay you. So, it could always be worse.

I forwarded the email to Kevin and then text him the good news. I’m honestly not sure if he’s happy or not. I think he has mixed feelings. He just wants me to be happy and not be treated like a 2nd class citizen or be discriminated against. I can appreciate that. And though this whole thing sucks, I DO get where the hospital is coming from, after all.

After texting Kevin, I went to our office to tell my nurse. I walked in, opened my arms and with a huge grin on my face said, “You need to hug me right now.”

“It was approved?”

And when I nodded she screamed, sprang from her chair and hugged me. I think she was as relieved as I was!

A HUGE weight was lifted from my shoulders. I knew I was under a lot stress but I don’t think I realized just how much until that email arrived and I could finally breathe again.

I. COULD. BREATHE. AGAIN.

I then went around the clinic and told everyone my appeal was approved and then went to speak to my manager to see what we could do to rescind the resignation.

(Spoiler alert: the hospital rescinded my resignation).

Wednesday, when I worked Dr. M’s clinic again, I told him that the hospital approved my appeal and that I would be there when he returned from his surgery. His reaction was underwhelming to say the least. I wasn’t expecting him to jump from his chair and pump a fist in the air, but a smirk, a nod, something would have been better than his “okay.”

Alrighty then. His lack of reaction hurt my feelings but I guess shame on me for thinking he would be glad that I was staying. I think he’s glad, I just think things are weird between us right now because he and I are not even remotely on the same page when it comes to this vaccine nonsense. In fact, none of my team are really on the same page as me, except for our medical secretary. I feel like the odd man out but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. At any rate, it is what is and I still have a job, that’s all that really matters right now, I suppose.

So. It’s business as usual. I had to forfeit my vacation because it fell in my last two weeks and of course, you can’t take vacation during your final two weeks so I’m bummed that we weren’t able to go camping like we had planned. We couldn’t have gone anyway with Kevin’s truck being down for the count, but still, having some time off would have been nice. I plan on taking some time in November and we’ll likely go camping at that time. But I have to be careful with my vacation time because when I start my weekly COVID testing, if it comes back positive, I will be expected to be off work for about 10 days and I need to keep some vacation built up in case I need to use it for that reason. And the likelihood that it will come back positive is more than possible because remember the PCR tests are flawed and will be recalled at the end of year. So who knows how often I will be “positive.”

But we’ll see. For now, I’m taking one day at a time. I still have a job which is more than I can say for some other people and I’m grateful and thank God every day for looking out for us.

Now … let’s see if they accept my exemption request for the flu vaccine. And more importantly, how will I respond if they deny it?