Life Stuff

Pax Asteriae's July 2020 bullet journal title page, with a distinctly nautical theme and a natty purple life ring. "You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water."

July 2020 Bullet Journal

Only 17 days late!  It took me a little time to find a quote I liked — I’d done the rest of the pages on the 2nd or 3rd, I think — so it’s a very delayed set of pictures.

It didn’t take a long time to create though, what with the not needing any extra pages thing; it’s not like I can go anywhere that might require more exhaustive info.  Strangely therapeutic though, it was the closest to enjoying mindless doodling I’ve come.  (I don’t much enjoy aimless drawing.)

And no writing-related things, because although it’s Camp NaNoWriMo — not that you’d guess, most of the emails have been about the Young Writer’s Programme — my writing progress, as you can see from the habit tracker, is distinctly spotty.  Uninterrupted writing time is hard to come by, even (especially?) when you’re trapped at home.

Colours again provided by the Zebra Mildliners, in particular the gold, smoke-blue and magenta pens from the Deep & Warm set.

If I was in any way organised, I’d already be considering what next month’s theme is.  As it is… well, maybe next time I’ll manage to share the pages before halfway through the month!

Does anyone else bullet journal?  I’d love to see your pages, so drop a link in the comments if you want to share.

Status Update July 2020 - Of Renders, Awards, and Not Writing (featuring handsome naked Alex) - Pax Asteriae Fiction

Status Update July 2020 – Of Renders, Awards, and Not Writing

A 3D image of a naked Alex Jaska, created by Pax Asteriae for their cellphone. (Not this image, obviously; this one's far too small.)

The bank’s sorted, although not without my getting angry. They say they locked my entire account — in the middle of a global pandemic — because I hadn’t logged into online banking in 6 months. Which I would have known, they say, if I’d logged into my online account. But I hadn’t. And they failed to inform me of this in writing so unsurprisingly I had no idea.

I am genuinely considering contacting one of the financial pages in a newspaper to ask if this kind of asshattery is considered normal. I’ve banked with the NatWest for a depressing 20 years (the same amount of time, funnily enough, that I’ve had this mobile number). I can’t see myself banking with them for another 5 now, let alone another 20.

Corporate stupidity aside, life continues much as normal, which is with a fair bit of work and not much writing. My wildly self-indulgent project named itself last night. Peculiar, given I can’t get actual projects to name themselves, but there we go. It’s called The Bastard and the Deep Blue Sea (and I can call it that because it’s wildly self-indulgent and no one else is gonna see it~) and I can even see how the cover will look. I drafted out the text layout last night.

Now I just need to write more than four and a half chapters, when work and home life will allow.

Thing is, I got back into the 3D work I used to do a long time ago, and it keeps distracting me. At least this kind of procrastination is productive, though. To your left there is Alex, one of the Radial main characters. I can now finally render fairly realistic looking versions of my boys. (And that is my new phone background!)

And, bonus, I can now render smutty pictures of them, which amuses me vastly.

The strangest thing about it is, even though it’s procrastination — you can lose hours without even realising just from tweaking skin settings and minutely adjusting lights — it’s a little like digital colouring for me: it forces me to think. The wildly self-indulgent project came about from a render I did for a challenge: I fiddled around, created a character, and suddenly he had a plot and back story and was demanding I write about him. (He may now have changed his mind on that.) A weird but fun post-Fourth Arc story for Radial turned up in my head while noodling around with one of the aforementioned smutty pictures of Milos and Alex.

And, slightly more weirdly, another render I did for that challenge was an Honourable Mention and won me $5. Which I was happy about not for the cash, but because I really enjoyed setting up that render. It almost came together by itself and the end result both came out how I’d wanted and rendered very quickly (not a guaranteed thing!) so I was on the whole very happy.

Not sure what to do with all the renders. I’m having fun creating pictures of Alex and Milos’s everyday life to a certain degree — there’s a sparring picture from the Fourth Arc, and one of Milos training with his long-suffering martial arts instructor (who turned out to look a bit like Sean Bean). I should probably add them to Patreon, free for the ones I already shared elsewhere, and maybe figure out a tier (or add a new one) for the smutty stuff. I don’t know.

So… not dead yet. Still coming up with stories, even if I’m still struggling to actually write. Even when I remind myself that no one else is gonna read TB&TDBS, sometimes I still freeze up. I’ll get over it soon, at least for that. And I’d like to be able to figure out where the story’s going for this intriguing Radial story that seems to start with an unexpected romantic getaway under the guise of work, and then actually turns into work.

We’ll see how things go.

I’ll get around to sharing pictures of my bullet journal at some point too.

Image of a padlock on top of three debit cards beside a keyboard, by TheDigitalWay on Pixabay

Banking woes. Basically, I’m fucked.

On the stroke of midnight 1st July, the NatWest locked my account. I found this out, also on the stroke of midnight, as a Kindle preorder failed to process.

On logging in to my online banking account, I found out this was to force me to give them my mobile number for 2-factor authentication – despite the fact that when I rang customer services last month to enquire when my replacement card would be sent, their system recognised my phone number.

They don’t actually have to take such a heavy-handed approach, but the NatWest will never not take up an opportunity to lock my account.  I can’t ring them now to complain, because my rolling PAYG contract, which I usually top up by £30 every three months in an O2 store because, surprise surprise, they lock my account when I do it online, has run out of money because, thanks to COVID-19, I can’t get into Nottingham to do it.  And now I can’t even top up online because… they’ve locked my account.

Additionally, I can’t just log in and give them my phone number because they’re demanding I use the card reader authenticator they sent me a decade ago, and have never once before required I use.  Since this was, y’know, ten years ago.  I have no idea where it is, so they said they’d send me a new one.

Four days later… no sign of it yet.

So yes. I’m fucked. I have all of £10 in my PayPal account, that I won on the Postcode Lottery of all things, that will go as soon as one of the monthly debits comes in.  I can’t access anything else.  In the middle of a global pandemic.  While I’m a full-time carer to a disabled person.

Because the NatWest have been, yet again, frankly stunning in their incompetence.

Although it shouldn’t be a surprise, coming from an organisation that once encouraged me to use a credit card to pay off my overdraft.

I’m at a loss, I really am.

Although I have a Ko-Fi, I always feel… weird and twitchy asking people for money – that kind of all-over skin-creep, like the thought of someone prodding tiny needles into your shoulders – and anyway, I had to step back from social media for my mental health.  I’m not about to return solely to beg for money.  That’s just insulting.

Let’s hope I can get it sorted by the 8th, or the home-delivery shopping I booked half a month ago (yes, it really is that hard to get delivery slots still) won’t be arriving.

(Incidentally: yes, I have contacted them by email. You can only do it through a contact form, and only once you press send does it say they won’t bother actually answering, but they thank me for the positive feedback. Because they’re an embarrassment.)

Pax Asteriae's June 2020 bullet journal page, showing a qute on the left and red rocks on the right.

June 2020 Bullet Journal

After neglecting my poor bullet journal for a few months, a sudden burst of energy came over me and I actually managed to produce this month’s pages!

I’d actually intended to use this theme for one of the previous month’s filler pages (since it’s been a while since I last did it… so much for it being able to help my ADHD!) but I started doodling it on the month page without thinking, then it kind of ran away with me.

Why pink?  Good question.  It’s because just over six months ago, I selected all my colours for each month on my year-at-a-glance page.  It seemed like a smart idea at the time.

Pax Asteriae's year-at-a-glance spread for their bullet journal

There’s June, looking all… pink.  Handily, I have some Tombow ABT pens that match up almost perfectly with the Zebra Mildliners I created that spread with, so that worked out quite well in terms of colour range.

It’s only simple this month, because I don’t think I’m going to be needing a weekly planner, all things considered.  I might add something more writing-related than my usual tracker though, since it’s JuNoWriMo and I’ll be using it to try to make a serious dent in my Singer/Songwriter story.  Maybe even find a title, who knows?

…Of course, I’d have started making that dent if I hadn’t spent a couple of hours working on this.  I had intended to do this yesterday, but life does like to get in the way a lot for someone who barely gets to leave the house.

If anyone has any great ideas for writing-related spreads I’d love to see them.  Failing that (since I know it’s all crickets round here), if I find any good ones I’ll edit this and add them for future reference.

One hand raised above the waterline. Not waving, just drowning.

Because If You’ve Not Written A Novel In Lockdown You’re Just Not Trying

(Or: why applying your life to other people’s is a moronic thing to do)

I keep seeing people complaining about how unproductive they’ve become, writing-wise, since the world went to shit and entered lockdown some five or six weeks ago.  That it’s difficult juggling working from home with a home life that suddenly decides it’s going to intrude at all kinds of random times (usually while they’re working) and fitting both the motivation for and the action of writing into all that.

So let’s try a little thought exercise.

Health & Life Update

In short: even in these pandemic-ridden times… no, I’m not dead.

My desktop PC went off due to a Windows update and has so far declined to turn back on again.  Currently eyeballing a mini-PC replacement, but the one I’d wanted is no longer available… and the one I want would come from Hong Kong, so I worry it’d get stuck in Customs with the global health issues just lately.  Shouldn’t do, but some Arax Pitta face masks went into Customs and never came out.  They were ordered before the outbreak, ironically, but probably hit Customs as the virus gained traction so… I suspect someone in Customs now has some fancy grey masks they didn’t go to the effort of buying.  (I bought replacements that didn’t come from overseas.)  A new PC is much pricier than a set of masks.

My mental health took a nosedive at the start of last month and has yet to recover.  For various personal reasons I can’t see this improving in the foreseeable future.

My physical health has started to decline further.  My main issue is a congenital hip disability I’ve (unsurprisingly) had since birth.  Ironically, the issue isn’t when I walk, it’s when I stop.  Standing still and upright for any length of time is painful; doing the recycling is agonising.  Sitting is no longer quite so great either: sitting for work yesterday put it slightly out its socket for most of the day.

Annnnd last night’s dream involved an all-girl pop band that turned into a group of eldritch horrors with long, glowing snouts and fantastic hearing.

It’s been an interesting time.

And on the subject of ‘interesting’ and ‘not dead,’ I’m not so much self-isolating from the coronavirus as I am just… going about my normal day.  I already work from home, and because my hours can change overnight I always get my shopping delivered.  Just livin’ that prepper life, apparently, only I’ve never felt the burning need to stock up on excessive amounts of loo roll.

We have two sets of neighbours: one to the side, one behind us.  The ones behind us have sent us xmas cards three years running now.  The ones beside us I’ve seen only once, a couple of years ago, when she came round to ask if we needed her to prune the hedge between properties — and she only did that because I’d already cut down all the overhanging leaves, which were a good three or four foot over my drive and shedding leaves over my mother’s car.  Aside from that, they mostly sit in their back garden chain-smoking and making it impossible to do anything in my back garden without needing a respirator, the stench is that bad.  Which in the current climate at least looks less weird, I guess.

They both know my mother’s disabled; today the ones behind us came round to ask if there was anything they could do to help.  Not seen hide nor hair of the ones beside us since the aforementioned meeting.  …And a good thing, really, because my mother’s desperate to chew them out over the incessant smell and the fact they keep driving over our drive’s drop kerb — which has a section of normal raised pavement between theirs and ours, so aside from being plain rude it’s also illegal.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Other than that it’s business as usual.  We already have plenty of hand sanitiser as my mother’s nurses weren’t always… reliable about using the sink (yes, really; one in particular never washed her hands unless prompted.  She was promoted, presumably out of harm’s way because her beside manner was atrocious) so we had to make it easy for them.  It’s just been a matter of using it even more often.

Not made writing any easier though, things have stalled a little, at least as far as actual words-on-page go.  Ideas?  They’re still bubbling along, including one loose end that might now be less so, and handy really because I couldn’t work out why my thoughts kept returning to it.  Obviously it wasn’t entirely daydreaming…

All in all, things have been just… meh.  Here’s hoping everything — and I mean everything — blows over soon.

Creative Goals: 20 – 26 January 2020

I’m actually enjoying having goals set out.  It gives me that odd feeling of accomplishment when I achieve them.  That’s why I tend to work towards smaller goals: if I announced big ones, I’d end up panicking and fail on everything.

I love my brain chemistry so much.


Writing

  • Finish the second chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story.
  • Start the third chapter of the Singer/Songwriter story (trying to take it steady).
  • Actually make an effort to try to come up with some names this time.  It might be easier now the characters have started sharing some more of the plot with me.

Reading

Short as ever.


Misc

  • Assemble a playlist for Singer/Songwriter.  It has all of two songs on it right now.  This is my favourite goal for the week, even if it does mean I’ll have to listen to some mainstream pop for Marcus’s song.  For the record, the last time I listened to the radio, Panic! At The Disco’s Mona Lisa was in the charts.  I stopped listening after an hour and a half, because I’d heard all the same songs at least three times by then…
  • Really, truly draw a sketch of Marcus this week.
  • 44 hours of day job this week.  I’m already 4 hours over the limit I’m supposed to be working through no fault of my own, so this time it better not change.
  • Actually manage to boot up my desktop PC.  It hates Windows updates and knows how to hold a grudge.  No featured images until that’s back up and running!

Fingers crossed for continuing small successes.

And by the way… the Spotify playlist for the story is right here.  Here’s hoping it expands / adjusts as I (slowly) add to it and fiddle around.

I’d love to center it but… yeah. WordPress.