Becoming Human Again

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while but had my doubts (or maybe I was just going in circles about it in my head). I wanted to write it once I had something positive to say instead of just whining further than I’ve done on FB and Twitter.

Then my husband woke up saying “I hate waking up and feeling like I’m a 100 years old.”

Have you heard of Chikungunya? If not, here’s some info.

We’ve been dealing with it for a month now and it’s been a relentless attack on our bodies. While everyone’s freaking out about ebola, in the Caribbean we’ve been taken down by the thousands by this mosquito transmitted virus with symptoms that include fever, rash (and subsequent itch), and most of all: arthralgia (horrible horrible joint pain and swelling).

My rash got pretty nasty at one point; hubby’s not so much.

I’ve dealt with arthritis my whole life, Carpal Tunnel for most of it, but this shit feels like someone’s breaking your bones. For real. The first night my husband and I spent with fever and chills and pain (we got it both at the same time, isn’t that splendid) he says I kept screaming in my sleep. He might have been confusing my extreme whining with screams thanks to his fever-induced hallucinations (he spoke incoherently for a while) but all I was asking for in my head was for whomever was trying to break my legs to go ahead and do it already so we could be done with it.

That went on for two nights but the pain in the joints, mostly hands and feet, has stayed with us. And the best part? Scientific papers I’ve read around say this thing can last for 2-3 years with coming and going symptoms. I’ve spoken to people that have been suffering from sporadic bouts of the rash (which I still get whenever I stress my body being either getting super angry or exercising) and the swelling and pain for six months.

Of around 17 people we know personally around our neighborhood, 10 have gotten it. The rest are waiting patiently to get bitten since an epidemiologist said we’ll all get it sooner or later. Everywhere you go there are people talking about it or physically unable to do stuff because of it.

I still can’t close my hands in a fist, my fingers feel numb all the time, and even when I’ve gone back to doing mild crossfit, fatigue sets in pretty quickly and I have to take longer rests than before. To think the whole island population will be going through this at some point (since there’s no vaccine or treatment other than pain killers and lots of vitamin C) and that it can last for so long scares me to no end.

Local singer Glenn Monroig said on TV: this is a crash course on getting old. I’ll add it’s a crash course on feeling fucked up and unable to continue with even the most basic daily stuff.

As a writer I’ve always been afraid of losing the ability to use my hands. It reminds me of that scene in the movie Modigliani after he’s beaten up and keeps asking about his hands and I must say that after a long writing session it feels like someone’s stepped on them several times but I’m pushing through and almost done with that sci-fi fantasy manuscript I was supposed to send to my editor that same week this shit started. :P

So that’s it for me. If you live in the island please try not to get bitten by this evil mosquito. If you don’t live in the island then now you know there are thousands of Caribbeans suffering from this chickenshit that you’ve probably haven’t even heard about.

On Self-love, CrossFit, and Writing

This post is going to deal with a topic that even when it isn’t directly related to writing, in a way, it is.

This last week The CrossFit Games happened and last night one of my favorite athletes, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet got crowned as Fittest Woman on Earth. I was super excited to be able to see her win this because she’s been a huge inspiration and I’ve been following her career ever since I started getting involved in CrossFit.

Which isn’t too long ago but feels like a lifetime away. Why? Let me explain.

At the beginning of the year I fell into a depression that crippled the one thing that worked when I needed to channel my feelings: writing. Christmas 2013 was horrible and it stuck with me for months on end during which I’d find myself not even able to finish my dinner plate because I’d burst into tears. The same thing happened when I reopened the manuscripts for the books I’d been writing before then. It was terrible and exhausting to try and push out words when my whole body was giving up on me. I thought I’d never get out of that slump. That until I remembered a birthday promise I’d made to myself last year that involved gifting myself at least the start of a new body for my 30th birthday. So I started visiting the track and running sprints (which I love) and started feeling better, awakening from that dormant state I was in.

But I can’t just run and run forever, it’s not me.

Back in 2006 I had taken on the idea of getting into bodybuilding. It was something I wanted to do since I was a little girl (yes, I did). My love for lifting heavy things took me to try my hand at this, so hubby helped me purchase some weights and protein powders and shit and, even when I did get some progress, I started bulking up due to not knowing how to tweak workouts to meet my goals. I used programs from T-Nation.com, participating in their forums, reading everything about the subject I could get my hands on, but kept doing heavy sets with no cardio that made me bigger and not leaner. Then I got a full-time job and stopped working out completely.

Very very bad because then the weight started piling up, who knew?

Now, 50 pounds heavier me had to kick her own ass in order to get her gears in motion. I’d wanted to go back to the weights ever since but didn’t really know how. Then I came across CrossFit and thought hey, this looks like all my dreams come true, let’s try it! So I did. At home. No box for me since the fees are out of my reach, so I researched and researched and back in March found this 30 Day At Home Crossfit Challenge over at Life Made Full and started with that, complementing it with some strength training with my old but not forgotten weights and more running.

It was the best decision I’ve made this year so far. It not only got me up and about but I’ve been writing like crazy again. And when I say crazy I mean that some days I can put 2k words into a story, no big deal.

So, what’s up with that renewed energy when it comes to the craft? I think it goes hand in hand with the fact that practicing CrossFit has led to a more confident me. It has taken the blob of emotions I had become and made me blossom into someone I never knew I could be, someone that went to the beach the other day and felt sexy in a swimsuit (until this girl came with her six-pack abs and I told hubby “we’re leaving!” Haha. Nah, I just thought damn, that’s gonna be future me). Even back when I was 50 pounds lighter I never felt this good in my own skin.

It’s because I’ve fallen in love with what my body can do and not with how it looks. Self-love is a word I’ve had to relearn.

Christian Thibaudeau wrote over at T-Nation in his Bodybuilder Goes CrossFit article:

I walk differently. I look more fluid and am more confident. I look like a different person when you see me approaching and it’s not even from the physical changes!

I feel the same way. Even hubby has noticed a little something in my walk that wasn’t there before. I haven’t lost tons of weight but I feel tighter, leaner, stronger, and more importantly, capable.

Of course, I’m not the only one. There are lots of posts out there where people talk about how CrossFit has helped them love themselves, see themselves in a different more positive light. For me, it hasn’t been only about that, it has been about reclaiming what I had lost for a while. Depression was affecting my craft and I couldn’t let that happen. I’m a writer, goddammit, I can’t just stop.

Exactly like when you’re half-way through a WOD, feeling like you’re dying, but you don’t stop, because you’re not stopping until you’re done. I’m not letting anything stop my writing, no sir, I’m not even close to done with that.

Biting the perma-free dust

For some time I had been trying to tell Amazon that the first book of my series The Caregiver was free over at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc., but they kept ignoring me until yesterday morning when I woke up to find my book not only price-matched to free but with over twenty downloads.

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I had no idea I was in for a very very bumpy ride.

Since writing is a task that requires the use of, guess what? The brain! I was in for a day with no writing because of this new shiny thing that was happening over at my KDP dashboard called sales. Free units, yeah, not exactly sales but it kinda feels like it. It’s more of an ‘I’m broke but yaaaayyyy!’ kind of rush that it sometimes feels like a betrayal to all the hours spent and tears I’ve shed writing that thing that people seem to only care to take notice of when it’s free even though before it was only 99¢ and it has, like, 11 reviews with a 4.3 stars rating and a lot of them are from people I don’t even know and those from people I actually know got no money for them and no, none of them is my mother (she’s still asking where she went so awfully wrong that her daughter writes about gangsters and murder).

Now I don’t know if I want to smile or cry, or do both at the same time.

But that’s life in general.

Now, for the smiling part: The Caregiver got 238 downloads in 24 hours which is more than what it’d get during a 48hr KDP Select promo with me running around in circles all over the Internet promoting it. I did no promo whatsoever because I had no idea that would happen so that’s pretty pleasing. Oh, and it escalated to the 18th position on the Top 100 Free Crime Thriller list thingy.

My mother’s proud of me, the hubby is proud of me, my editor is proud of me, my friends are proud of me.

I’m still working on being proud of myself.

This. Is. So. Damn. Frustrating.

I’m sorry if I’m being too damn sincere because I’m trying to be as logical as I can with this thing since I did maths for it. Yeah, maths! Me!

framed280inbruges

*sigh*

The math was done last November and posted here:

My novella, The Caregiver, keeps hitting the Top 20 and Top 10 in its category when I do the promo thingy. Then, when the free ride is over, it plummets back to the shadows. Meanwhile, The Caregiver Vignettes 1-5, with no reviews, no nothing, doesn’t hit lower than 30,000 in rank in its category. Why? Because it’s free.

As of right now the book has been downloaded 33 times today and that’s an effing record in itself. What’s the thread I’m hanging by? The fact that some people I have not paid or stabbed to get them to read my book have gotten hooked and bought books 2 and 3. I’m crossing my fingers these downloaders actually read it and that they then may or may not want to buy books 2 and 3 and the soon to come prequel and 4th book.

Of course, the fact that books 2 and 3 are already out there was a big part of this whole scheme. I give a little something, they give a little something.

And even if they don’t give me anything I’m sitting here after having not slept well because of OMG OMG OMG ALL THE DOWNLOADS and pondering if hubby will behave during fancy dinner parties surrounded by celebrities. Jaysus, I have to practice how to smile so it doesn’t look like I’m having a full-fledged spasm!

The writer and the photographer

One of the many things I’m grateful in life is my husband. Yes, as cheesy as it may sound, that man is the best thing that’s ever happened to me (aaawwwwee).

Okay, enough of the pink stuff.

Of the many things I wanted to be in life (rock star, marine biologist, stripper, architect, etc.) there were two that were always on the top of my list: writer and photographer. I met my husband thanks to the photography classes I took during my B.A. in Audiovisual Communication. He, a photographer with 20+ years experience, me a student with an expensive camera and what everyone called ‘a good eye’. I love photography and I’m not that bad at it. However, the art that I’ve focused on the most as of late is writing and it has, apparently, taken over the rest of me.

Why do I say this? Let me give you an example:

We have a 6 month old doberman puppy-pony that could give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money. She’s goofy, she’s curious, and she can’t leave our cat alone, no matter how many times Jin-Jing slashes her, she’s always coming for more. One morning hubby walked out to the terrace and saw Carola, the puppy, staring at JJ up on a tree branch. The light was beautiful, the tree leaves looked so green and vivid, Carola’s pose was perfect, you could see JJ clearly through the leaves… “Astrid come out here!” I heard him and, after thinking ‘what does he want now?!’, went to check on what was happening. I was mesmerized by the scene, it was so beautiful. “Where’s the camera!” Hubby cut through my thoughts and my instant reply was “WHY?!”

Why? Because he’s a photographer! He needs to press the shutter on scenes like that to validate its existence. I, on the contrary, assimilate it and store it in my head so I can replay it later.

That’s why I know I’ll never be another one of those things I wanted to be at some point in my life: a photojournalist. Because I’d rather tell you what I saw (write about it to be exact) than show you a photographic reproduction of the moment.

And, to tell you the truth, as long as my readers are okay with that, I’m also okay with that.

So hubby better either carry his own camera or learn to store those images in his mind (and maybe learn to paint?). Yeah.

Read and E-book Week

Read an Ebook Week

You’ve still got today and tomorrow to get 50% off TORN, THE BEAST, and AT THE CORNER OF MARS AND NEPTUNE!

Head over to Smashwords and use code REW50 at checkout: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/artistikem

Or get them from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=artistikem

Happy reading!

Why you must read Astrid ‘Artistikem’ Cruz’s The Caregiver @ Indie Author Land

I was lazily reading my Twitter timeline when I stumbled upon a tweet from Indie Author Land about their author interviews and thought, why not give it a try?

It was super easy to fill the interview form (it’s not one of those super long ones I tend to avoid because they overwhelm me midway) and I love what they did with it. And the best part? It was FREE!

Check out the interview here: www.indieauthorland.com/archives/7299

And go give them some love!

Their website: www.indieauthorland.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/indieauthorland

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IndieAuthorLand