summer 2017.

As the second half of August descends upon us, I can only sit here in a bit of disbelief. Seems like it was JUST June, and Aidan had just arrived, and we were ready for a fun, busy summer. The problem with fun, busy summers is that they speed by.

We kicked off the season with a trip to the Once Upon a Time Convention here in Chicago. Aidan is not into the show, so he hung out in the hotel room and played video games. I attended a billion panels and Q&As, autograph sessions, concerts, and photo ops, and even got to chat with some of the actors in the bar. Michael Coleman is a sweetheart to the max. In fact, most of the actors were amazingly gracious and open and friendly. A few of them seemed exhausted. I sprung for the GOLD package, which wasn’t cheap, but was worth it. I got 9 autographs, had an assigned seat in the auditorium, got free admission to the concert and karaoke, and got to attend special panels. I also sprung for a few photo ops. Those were cool, but I managed to look stupid in EVERY SINGLE PICTURE. *sigh* Anyway. Very amazing experience but also EXHAUSTING. I don’t think I’ll be able to do that again, but we’ll see. I’m glad I did it.

Once Upon a Time Photos

At the end of June, the ALA conference came to Chicago. Rena and I hit up the exhibition hall and got to meet/see a lot of great authors, load up on free ARCs, and network. It was tiring but worth it! And right after ALA finished, Aidan and I went to see Aladdin, which SUCH A GOOD SHOW!! We went to Stage Door and got to take pictures with most of the main actors.

Here are some of the ALA pictures:

ALA Annual 2017

July, Aidan and I headed off to the beautiful and peaceful mountains in Salt Lake City, UT. A writing retreat for me, and just relaxing for Aidan. We were there with Rena, Traci, Nia, and Anna and it was a really great week. I hammered out a lot of my revisions, got to be in a nature, and got to zip line!! It was a great trip, I did not want to come back to the hustle and bustle of Chicago.

Utah 2017

The next day, Aidan’s best friend Benito came to town to spend the week with him, and that was great. Benito’s pretty cool, and we did things like go to Navy Pier, go on a Shoreline architecture tour, and eat dinner at Sakura. Then Rena and I trekked out to Naperville to write and to attend the Angie Thomas/Becky Abertalli event!

Summer 2017 Collage

We had a week of regular life. I turned in my revisions to my agent on July 30, and spent the rest of the day packing for Disney World! We stayed in the Polynesian, my HOLY GRAIL resort, and had a wonderful time!

MK_MSBRCART_20170731_404057053973

One last week of summer, and then Aidan headed back to Ohio on August 12. He started high school on the 14th and seems to be doing well so far. I spent Sunday at the Four Seasons getting pampered, then spent the rest of the day shopping on Michigan Ave. It was a perfect Ronni Day.

In the midst of all this was working, dealing with a sick Fi, raising a rambunctious Charlotte, writing, and freelance. Trying and failing not to overdo things—I’m still technically recovering from surgery and I did feel the sting somedays. I really need to chill out.

Now, I am gearing up for a very busy fall. Travel, freelance, work, writing. September is going to be amazing, October is going to be busy, and then it’ll be time to plan for the holidays. 2017 is flying by and it’s bittersweet. But life’s good, and I’m so excited about what’s to come!

More soon….

that time we randomly got a new kitty.

It started off as a normal Wednesday. I was tired and cranky because of having to wake up early. I had meetings at work, and work was busy busy busy. And freelance work came in. I was so glad when the workday was over. Adam suggested we hit the Noodles & Co. for dinner. That came from the fact that we needed to get the kitties a new bed—their oldest one was falling apart and really gross. So we picked the Noodles & Co. by Petco.

Dinner was yummy—I went for the spaghetti & meatballs instead of the mac & cheese + crusted parmesan chicken I usually go for. We had our food, and then headed to Petco, where I picked up a new bag of food, and then we headed (in the wrong direction) to find the dog beds. (Cat beds are just too small for our fine fellas.)

We ended up passing a set of four cages that housed three kittens. Adam and I fell hard for one named Tweetie and Tweetie seemed to like us too. He was two months old, seemed calm, and seemed taken with us.

But there were a few concerns:
1. We had just lost Helena, and honestly, going through a pet loss SUCKS and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it again
2. Did we *need* another kitten, with Fi being so sick and fragile?
3. We were no longer outnumbered by cats; the household was fairly stable despite Fi’s health issues (which we are working on managing with diet and probiotics, puppy pads, and lots of cleaning and patience)
4. Tweetie is FIV+
5. Kittens and elders? Would that work? (Crookshanks just turned 16. Fi will be 18 in a few months)
6. The adoption center was closed

So we decided to talk about it. Go home and sleep on it. (But by this point, Adam had already named him so…). Thursday morning, as I logged in to work, he said, “We don’t need another cat,” and I said, “I know.” And he said, “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get another cat.”

I could barely concentrate on work as we waited for lunchtime to arrive. And once it did, we hopped in the car and drove back to Petco. Adam had the carrier out and everything. He was ready to bring home that little guy.

When we got to Petco, they directed us across the street to PAWS, as they were the ones officially handling adoptions.

We’d adopted through PAWS before (that’s where we got Helena in 2008), so we kind of knew the drill with them. PAWS is a no-kill shelter, and the cats are not in cages—they are together in rooms that are filled with toys, things for them to climb on, and friends.

We filled out the application, and then got led to the back…where they informed us that they did not allow people who already had cats to bring home one that is FIV+. The worker had to have seen the disappointment on our faces. It was really sad because we’d already gotten attached to the little guy. But then she said that eight new kittens had arrived that morning, two months old, would we like to take a look?

So we went into the little kitten room to see what would happen.

Some of the kittens were terrified and growling and hissing. One was in a basket with a blanket covering her, and she sang a constant chorus of distress. Some of them would not stop fighting, and a few just lay low, but recoiled if I reached my hand out.

But then, as I was watching and waiting and chatting, a tiny grey tabby kitten played beside me and kept bumping my leg while she was playing. Then she sniffed my fingers and went back to playing. Suddenly, she was climbing into my lap. She hissed at any other kitty who tried to get near me. And then she fell asleep as I stroked her little back.

Adam was becoming partial to a little black and white kitty named Kit, but this little grey one, whom they called Zig Zag, didn’t even have a collar, stole my heart as she napped on me. Adam asked if he could hold her, and so I passed her over. She settled right on him and dozed again.

But now even more roadblocks were coming up. There was talk about us needing to have Aidan with us before we could take her home. There was talk about us needing to have a copy of our lease. But we explained that Aidan is away at school, and that we already have cats. So those were easily taken care of.

They asked if we’d like to move forward with her, and with a tiny nod from Adam, I said YES.

And Adam immediately started thinking of names for her. He was considering Halsey, which would have been cool but didn’t seem to really fit her.

When we left the room for our adoption counseling, she looked around like “but but but where are you going?” And once the counseling was over, we went out to pay. She cost $125, came with all her up-to-date shots, is fixed, and is in great health. They also gave us a bag of Merrick kitten food which she loves.

When I went to pick her up, she was in another person’s lap, which says to me she is affectionate and cuddly. And she IS. On the way home, I sat by her in the back seat, and she showed us she is also very talkative! And when we got her home, she was not having any “safe room” nonsense. She was all over, establishing her place here. She tired out quickly. She’d had a big day! From foster, to shelter, to forever home in the span of hours!

She slept a lot her first afternoon here, curled up in my arms for the most part. If I needed to go to the bathroom or something, she was right behind me. She hissed and growled at the other cats (and she still does). Fi takes it in stride. He’s always been chill like this, and couldn’t care less as long as he still gets his share of the loving and food. Crookshanks is a more sensitive soul, and his feelings were hurt. He gives her space when she needs it, but he really wants to be her friend!

By the evening, I’d picked out a name for her. Because with all the cats I’d had, I’d never gotten a chance to name one. I ended up picking Charlotte, which suits her more than I even anticipated. And she answered to it right away.

This sweet girl was the most random impulse I’ve ever given in to, but she’s already enriched our lives in a million ways. She’s brave and curious and astonishingly smart. Her little mew is the cutest thing I’ve heard in ages. Her purr is powerful and strong, and she is so very affectionate. We are very excited and happy and grateful to have Charlotte as part of our family.

angel kitty.

Beautiful Helena

I lost my precious Helena Tuesday, March 14, 2017. I was out of town, so Adam found her. He said she was acting drunk the night before, and she was gone the next morning. The vet thinks it was as a stroke.

Helena came to live with us July 12, 2008. She was a special case. She’d come from a hoarder’s house, had dental issues, and obvious psychological issues. She’d been returned to PAWS, a no-kill shelter, numerous times.

But her first night, she and Crookshanks bumped noses and got along right away. She also trusted and loved Aidan from the first moment she set eyes on him. It took her a minute to warm up to me, and then to Adam.

Pretty Helena

Helena was a naughty kitty. There is no way around it. She peed everywhere, she bit people, she was always on the counter or stove. She would use the litter box only if we were watching. And sometimes she wouldn’t even go then. We’d considered taking her back, but we just could not. I simply refused to give up on her.

Once she realized we weren’t going to take her back, she relaxed and warmed up to us big time. When I came out of my bedroom, she’d run to to me and rear up on her hind lets so she could get pet. She howled when she was ready for her canned food, or simply a head rub. She followed me into the bathroom almost every time I had to go, and she’d lie on the floor and roll around meowing until I rubbed her belly. She loved cat treats and she loved eating.

She also loved us. She’d cuddle with me every chance she got. She wasn’t a lap kitty, but she loved to lie behind my head when I was working. She’d roll down my back when I leaned forward. Or, she sat next to me, purring like a purring thing that purrs. I got the long blinks from her, and she licked me a lot, which meant she thought I was part of her family. She trusted me, and that’s a big deal for a cat.

Beautiful Helena

She was also so beautiful. Female orange cats are very rare. So she was special in more than one way. I did love her, idiosyncrasies and all. And I miss her every day.

I hope where ever she is, there is a lot of canned food, cat treats, and pets for her.

RIP my second sweet angel kitty.

Now I have two.

post op.

Last week I had major surgery on 1/10. I was walking on 1/11 and they let me go home 1/12. The pic of me lying down is now 1/15. Recovering with my bear and relaxing. 😊 #lilrongal

I sit here in a haze of narcotics, which is probably a bad time to be blogging, but ever since I had my surgery, my night owl mode switched back on big time. I guess there’s no fighting what’s meant to be.

So yes. The surgery! Some of this entry might be TMI, so feel free to skip it if you don’t like reading medical stuff.

I had a TAH BSO—total abdominal hysterectomy bilateral salpingo oophorectomy—which is the removal of the entire uterus, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix. It was to get rid of fibroids and a cyst on my right ovary, and to alleviate what had become the norm for me: long, heavy periods with a lot of pain and migraine headaches.

The procedure took place Jan 10, and the lead up to it was interesting. I finished my last Berlitz assignment on Jan 4, finished Humana Jan 6 (just for 90 days), and that weekend I started cleaning and organizing my recovery area in the bedroom. A stack of books, notebooks, easy access to snacks and my computer. I made a pile of easy to wear clothes (soft leggings, big t-shirts, running pants, ALL the nightgowns). Jan 9 the hospital called with my arrival time (7am) and other instructions about where to go and park and stuff. I had a cleaner come and do the bathroom, kitchen, and living room. The cleaner was due to come at noon, which was the time I was to start the prep. Well, her car broke down and we couldn’t get a new one until 2. This was going to be kind of tricky because I also had to do my bowel prep that day. I had to start it at noon. A 4 litre jug with some sort of powder at the bottom. I filled it to the fill line and had Adam shake it up, and then I had to drink this stuff every ten minutes until it was all gone. IT TASTED LIKE A CUP OF WARM TEARS. Blech. I hope I never have to do that again!

Tuesday morning, I took a shower and then headed to the hospital. I was nervous about two things: the IV and waking up. But everyone was very nice and they all put me at ease with their soothing manner. Even getting the IV in wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I was expecting, and the nurse explained why they used the needle they used and all the stuff she was doing. I had to give a urine sample and a blood sample, and I had to answer a lot of questions.

Eventually, the questions were done. Adam got escorted back to the waiting room. I felt a burn in my IV which surprised me, but they were like “You’ll be loving this really soon.” The mellowness of the drug kicked in fast. I remember turning a corner and going through a door—then waking up to a lot of pain and wondering if they were still operating on me! But no, turns out that I was actually waking up. I heard the glorious word “morphine” and somehow understood that I was to be given one of those lovely buttons. There was a lot of rushing around and me thinking “hook up the drugs already!” I clicked as often as I could until I finally started feeling relief. Then they took me to my room.

My initial room had a roommate—an old lady who wouldn’t listen to any directions. I remember thinking “well crap, I won’t be getting much sleep,” and also “I thought I was getting a private room?” I remember Adam coming in and sitting down at one point. But then she fell asleep and I fell asleep. But even under heavy drugs, I’m a light sleeper, so anytime someone came into the room, I came alert. But then there was good news: a private room had opened up for me. Hallelujah!

The first afternoon and night was a blur of nausea, pressing that magic morphine button, being REALLY thirsty but only allowed to use a sponge, loving the catheter, and these things that squeezed my legs all night to keep me from getting blood clots. My nurse was named Young and she was very good. A lot of tough love. I did come alert enough at one point for Adam to tell me:

1. What they thought were fibroids was actually an astonishing amount of endometriosis. There were fibroids there, and the cysts were there but the amount of endo was clearly unexpected and large.
2. There was so much that they called in the gyn-oncologist to make sure it was ONLY endo.
3. My appendix was also affected, and therefore removed.
4. The doctor said I was a “tough tough girl” and she didn’t know how I managed it for so long.
5. There were photos.

By the time night fell, I swear every machine in my room kept beeping. My night nurse Paul was very cool, as I had to keep calling him in to stop the beeping! He was also nice enough to dig out my earplugs and eye mask, which helped me finally get to sleep. I was so comfortable that I was able to sit up, which shocked him. The things on my legs felt like a massage, but then they started to itch.

Wednesday (1/11), I was allowed to have a clear liquid diet, but the nausea was like “nope not really.” Young got me up and walking and I walked a long time. My doctor showed up and told me all the stuff she’d told Adam, and then she showed me the pictures. Those things looked EVIL and I’m glad they’re out of me! I got upgraded to a full liquid diet but I was still feeling a bit nauseated, so I ordered clear for dinner. I slept through lunch!

Later, Young unhooked the IV which made going to the bathroom way easier! Once the morphine left my system, the nausea went away and my appetite was like HI! But the kitchen was closed by then so I had to make do with water.

I had a different night nurse, but she was also very kind. She asked if I was walking to the bathroom on my own and I told her yes. I was going every hour, 125ml every time. I think she wanted me to have someone with me but again, every single hour. The person next door to me was very high maintenance and very loud, and people were complaining about him. He was on speakerphone at 230am speaking very very loudly. And I was like “Can I not escape loud neighbors even in the hospital?” God he was entertaining though, when he wasn’t keeping me from sleeping.

Thursday morning (1/12) I was greeted with two bits of good news: I could possibly go home that day pending certain circumstances, and my diet was upgraded to general diet which made me really happy because I saw “wheat farina” (Cream of Wheat), applesauce, and bacon on the menu. Yum!

It turned out that I was allowed to go home, but not until later that afternoon. I had a hot dog and fries for lunch, then I had a nap. Adam left to take a walk and not long after, Young came in with all my discharge paperwork. I napped a bit until Adam got back, and then he drove me home. It was nice to change into my own nightgown and sleep in my own bed while he went to grab my medicines.

Now it’s 2 weeks post op. I spend a LOT of time in bed. Some days and nights are better than others. Sometimes I feel great and alert and good enough to sit up and type (like now). Others, I feel so sleepy and I get a bit sore. My incision, which is thankfully bikini cut, itches a lot sometimes. I have numb parts around my belly, and there are places that hurt if I push on them. I should probably not do that. My stomach is noticeably flatter. I sleep a lot—probably about 14–16 hours every day. I have to literally tell myself over and over that it’s OK for me to sleep so much, to rest so much, to take the narcotics, because my body just went through a major trauma and there is a lot of healing to be done. After working and grinding nonstop for months, it’s strange to lie here and sleep so much, or read, or scroll twitter. And when my brain gets tired, I shut it all down and sleep some more. I’m behind on emails, journaling, letter writing, my Self Love workbook, and brainstorming for my writing. However, I’m about 8 episodes from finishing Jane The Virgin on Netflix and I’ve read 7 new books this year and reread an old favorite already. I’m slowing down on social media posting, and taking my time responding to texts and chats. It feels weird to not jump on everything ASAP, but sometimes my brain just can’t deal right now. And it’s OK. It really is. I don’t believe it all the time, though. I have to tell myself, every single time I “save for later” or find sleep washing over me that it’s OK. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. I don’t need to be working all the frick-frackin’ time.

My appetite runs hot and cold. Sometimes I’m so hungry I want to eat my own arm, and other times the thought of food makes my stomach flip. Sometimes I think I’m really hungry then I start eating and I’m like “nope, try again.” And speaking of hot and cold…see, once upon a time I used to wish that menopause would hurry so I could get hot flashes since I’m cold All The Time.

Welp.

Hot flashes are intense, man. But I figure if I have to deal with them, the middle of a Chicago winter is a good time, right? And I still get cold too, so yeah. I’m constantly fighting with my blanket(s). Right now, I am stable, but who knows how long that’ll last? I’m on HRT. I’m not sure if this is a lifetime thing I’ll need or if it’s just until things stabilize. I have my post op appointment with my doctor Wednesday (1/25). I need to write down a list of questions to ask her while I’m there.

Overall, I am very glad I got the surgery. I’m relieved it’s all over and grateful that I have the time to rest and recover. I’m excited to no longer experience visits from Red Sister, and look forward to seeing how my tummy looks when the post op swelling goes down! And I’m super glad I got it done before some laws or crap gets passed that would limit my reproductive freedom. Now I have ULTIMATE reproductive freedom and I Regret Nothing.

Getting sleepy now. At 535am. Typical.

Till next time!

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