Autumn in August and other moderate feelings of discombobulation

Good evening! Is autumn creeping in where you are? It is here, as I listen to the new Lorde record and try to figure out how many edits I can make to this before my fingers are ruined for the weekend. Just a scent on the air, really. A hint of scarves to come.

How are you? I rarely leave it this long without coming by here, but in the last few weeks and months I’ve found that when I reach for words, they just… aren’t there. There’s two types of writer’s block: the one where you stop because you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere in the depths of what you’ve already written, or not planned a piece thoroughly enough. Then there’s the one where it’s not really about writing at all, it’s about the person doing the writing. For the first one, you just have to retrace your steps. For the second, you have to figure out what’s up with, well, you. There’s a little bit of both going on here, I reckon.

Are you superstitious? I’m not, usually, but lately I’ve felt that I might like to wear my evil eye twenty four-seven, throw open every window and do my level best to improve the atmosphere. Maybe it’s because the seasons are turning more obviously than they do in midsummer, or maybe because we are Back to Normal but not really here in the UK. I think I have written about this lately, but so many people I know are just feeling… wonky. Out-of-balance. My instinct regarding this very first world problem of creative apathy is that I need to go into hibernation. Turn off the internet, mind my own business and get on with things that are more practical than creative. Autumn is good for that, isn’t it? Most creatives work in cycles as a matter of working practice. Create, promote, wind down, hibernate, observe, create, promote, wind down, hibernate et cetera. Maybe I didn’t leave enough time between projects back in spring and summer, and now my brain needs me to piss off and do some boring life stuff. Finish my accounts for the last financial year, deadhead my house plants. I don’t quite know how this ties into my desire to cleanse my bedroom with a homemade herbal infusion to improve the vibes.

As for the rest of the world, that’s just going to keep spinning into oblivion, isn’t it? Can’t change Afghanistan. Can’t change Haiti. Can’t change that climate change report. Might as well turn it all off and focus on what’s in front of my two eyes. Except that I do have a tiny bit of power over the rest of the planet, because I run a website that helps people find ways to support causes they care about. My desire to remove myself from Twitter forever lest the washing machine of news sends me mad is at war with the necessity of running a Twitter account focussed on the washing machine of news. (Please follow the Do Something Directory on Twitter.) Perhaps that’s what’s buggering up my creativity: the push-pull of the me who wants to communicate with my readers entirely through a newsletter and live in a cabin in the woods before all the forests burn down, and the me who wants to stop the forests catching fire in the first place. Not a metaphor, since the Mediterranean is on fire. But also a bit of a metaphor, ha.

I don’t have long before Solar Power finishes, or before my hands say ‘enough, Francesca, or we will wake you up at night.’ This was not the cheery note I envisioned when I was planning this year’s blog posts! But I wanted to pop in, say hi, feed the algorithm gods just in case those ads finally pay up. Let you know that I might stay a bit quiet for a while yet. Does anyone even write blogs anymore, or is it all YouTube and TikToks? I don’t talk about politics or social issues too much anymore, which are the main reasons I first started this page. I don’t need to discuss them here, because I write stories and have the Do Something Directory instead. That makes this space a personal blog, and I don’t want to write one of those either. So we’re at an impasse, reader.

Perhaps I will see you again around Halloween, or the autumn equinox. I like those definite seasonal markers, they make me feel grounded. Until then, look after yourselves!

Francesca

PS As I was writing about creative apathy, I thought ‘didn’t I used to call this creative constipation’? When I was typing into the tag box, I discovered that yes, I did. Say hi to 2015 for me.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Quarterly Income Round Up (April-June 2021)

How are we already in a new financial quarter? What is time? Anyway, here’s the juicy details of my eclectic income, including book royalties in double figures:

  • Book royalties: £41.41
  • Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon: £142.07
  • Income from miscellaneous writing/blog work, e.g. Kofi and PayPal one-off donations, WordAds on this blog, Amazon affiliate links: £0
  • Shop ‘royalties’: £60
  • Freelance work: £162.45
  • Total: £405.93

In the first income round up, I explained all the various streams, so this month I only have to say: this wasn’t too bad. Better than last quarter, when I was chained to my desk writing essays about leadership theory. I mean, I’ve paid out more in website fees than I earnt in royalties, but all in all… not bad. I was a full time student for about half of the quarter, and spent several weeks after I handed in my final project with brain fog, so I reckon all things considered, I did a fair amount of work. My shops are quieter this time of year but still open – well, until I close on 1st September – so I can still skim a bit off the top for wages. I should add that I didn’t pocket all of those book royalties – some of it goes to one side for business expenses. Obviously I’d prefer if there were an extra digit on the numbers, but I’m still pleased that they are higher than they were in Darkest Winter of 2021. And they’re better than they were when lockdown first hit. Freelancing and making art in the pandemic feels like rebuilding a Lego building when the previous one was knocked over, several bricks were stamped on, and you don’t know if you want to recreate the previous building or try something new.

I don’t know what to expect from this summer quarter. Probably fewer royalties because I don’t have much of a promotion budget and the sparkle of a new release has worn off. I don’t think affiliate linking will suddenly increase either? But the No. 1 Readers’ Club always has room for new members! Come and join us if you like magicky stories and tarot readings! This is what I look like when I’m writing a story with a patron’s name as a character’s name:

Kermit the frog typing manically from Giphy
from giphy

Speaking of, I am meant to be working on the next story RIGHT NOW. I’ve done something to the little finger on my left hand that’s making typing feel a bit weird; I might do some edits. I’ve typed this sans little finger and it’s not impossible, but it feels disloyal to my fingers to say that I might not need all of them. I LOVE YOU ALL EQUALLY. PLEASE WORK.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Chilling out with Lorde and a lil chat

Good evening lovelies,

I hope you’re all well. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, so here’s to another five years of national stability!!!

(Seriously, though, did that go very quickly or very slowly?) I do not have any news or suchlike for this post; I am working on some bigger ones and today thought ‘it’s been a while, let’s say hello.’ Again with the wonky time, but it feels strange to have already passed midsummer. I usually feel more awake and generally more alive and plugged into nature this time of year, but this year it hasn’t really happened. I’m consistently swinging between insomnia and excessive sleepiness. I don’t think the weather’s extreme changes has helped, or the constant yo yo-ing of Covid restrictions. Everything feels a bit unbalanced at the moment, even though this time of year usually feels very together.

Still, Lorde is back! With a song about the sun, no less (she gets it). I’ve helped several bees leave their accidental prison of the kitchen window. My remaining courgette plant has survived the latest deluge of rain. I had Christmas dinner with some extended family last Saturday. We ate in the garden; it drizzled. It felt weird but also right to be eating Christmas pudding on an overcast day in June. My friends are getting vaccinated by the dozen. Things are… finding their way towards an equilibrium? Maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on Lorde as the saviour of 2021. I mean, I have also been listening to Månneskin and although they are sonically quite different to Lorde, they give me hope for the future of rock music. I think they might be as good at bonkers music videos as MCR are.

I‘m going to overlook that they are all in their early twenties and I am no longer in my early twenties and am, in fact, racing with alarming speed to what could be considered your late twenties even though we should all be allowed to take at least two years off our age to account for the time lost to Covid.

I am getting tired and distracted. The Great British Sewing Bee is finished so I don’t know what I’ll do with my evening – I guess I could… try sewing? – but it’s time to turn off the internet and look at the sky now it’s not hidden by several thousand clouds.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

A Week in the Life of an Author/Freelancer/Stationery Shop Owner ft. Chronic Pain

When I was doing the quarterly income post I remembered that the life of a creative person/student (well, not a student now my work is handed in) is a bit opaque. I’ve had people tell me I don’t have a job, or don’t work, so I figured, let’s keep a diary of a week in my life. This was a good week to record, because it’s the first I haven’t had a single college commitment since I started my diploma back in September, so I was trying to figure out a new routine. I had Patreon work, stationery shop work, and writing. Well, Continuing Professional Development, in the end, more than actual writing.

It was also an up-and-down week in terms of my health – I’ve spoken about my chronic pain before. This is it in action! I have fun little spells of depression, too, which I wasn’t initially going to include but then I thought, fuck it. We should talk more about this stuff, if only because it gets in the way of the rest of my life. I left out some details, because this isn’t a gossip column, but otherwise this is a pretty accurate look at the menagerie of work I do on a daily basis. I’ve split the days into sections so you don’t have to scroll forever. Enjoy!

Monday

6:30am

Awake. Ish. My new year’s resolution was to spend an hour every morning ignoring the rest of the universe, aka not using the internet. It’s evolved into making a cup of coffee to take back to bed, doing some meditation on the Headspace app and maybe having a read. Then I make more coffee and go for a walk. I’m on chatting terms with multiple neighbours. I can’t tell if the whole routine is very pretentious or very hippie, but I don’t care. It’s nice to go to work with a clear, news/social media-free brain. Also, today I saw some ducks.

8am

Sit down to some writing. I’ve been working on this one story for months and I’m not sure if it’s dragging because I need to focus or I’m dragging because the story lacks focus. Give in trying to figure out which is is, have breakfast.

9am

Remember I have not showered. Shower.

9:30am

My hands are aching so I do some very exciting physiotherapy with some putty and a squishy ball. Physio gets boring quite quickly, especially when you have been doing it for eight or nine years, so I have a read – Bertrand Russell, get me – while I’m using the ball. I learnt the hard way that putty requires your full attention, or it gets everywhere. It’s like the ectoplasm in Ghostbusters meets playdoh.

10:15am

Walk to my nan’s for coffee with her and my mum. Three of us are inside! Having coffee! So weird.

11:30am

Do some freelance work for a long time client.

11:45am

Work on my next newsletter and some blog posts. Break for lunch and come back rejuvenated. Well, less hungry. Post today’s blog, about getting the second Covid vaccine. Work on this post.

2pm

I’m trying to build in more breaks and not sit at my desk for long periods, so I list some clothes for sale online and organise some laundry. Between 2pm and 5pm I’m mostly useless, so I try and make that the time I do non-work things.

3pm

Work on the Do Something Directory. Trying to figure out a new page. It’s going to look great.

3:30pm

Take a walk, because it isn’t raining.

4pm

Fuss about online for a bit, checking sales for the paperback of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes. They could be worse! My biggest fear was that no copies would sell. End up on a YouTube Q&A with a mortician (verdict: I’m not sure I fancy being embalmed). Poke about on Goodreads, because I’m smug I’ve read a lot of excellent books this year. Find the page for my favourite novel of the year so far. Some of the reviews are terrible. I don’t mean to be rude, but what did these people read? It was a masterpiece. Read the book in self defence.

4:30pm

Do some physio – knees and back this time. I live large – and pack an order from my stationery shop. Read the news: apparently a man in Spain has been found dead, trapped inside a papier-mâché dinosaur. It’s thought he dropped his phone inside, climbed in to get it, and got stuck. How appalling.

5pm

I lied. I’m not productive yet. Do some ironing in front of A Place in the Sun. What is one without the other? Read the news (terrible). Get an email from my critique partner (good). Give up on the day and make dinner (better).

7pm

Waste time chill out on YouTube, which is almost productive because I’m also messaging a friend, S, who’s working on the Do Something Directory with me. Fuss about on writing groups.

8pm

Remember that today is the anniversary of the day my littlest dog, Adonis Wheezeface Bean, passed away. It’s somehow worse than last year. Also, the news is still shit. Someone’s body washed up on Southend beach this morning. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. Today becomes is what we in the mental health department call a Bad Day. There’s not much to do when one of those descends, so I spend the rest of the evening on a clothes swap group – bye my purple jumpsuit that doesn’t fit, hi to a new wrap dress that hopefully will – and on Reddit. Learn that David Yoon, the author, is lovely.

10pm

Do a Pilates routine I found on YouTube because I’ve been sitting down for ages. Bed.

photograph of a webpage with squares showing photographs and words overlaid, including 'LGBTQ+', 'Children & Young People', 'Environment & Climate Change' and  'Mental Health'

On Getting the Second Covid Vaccine (Side Effects, Getting AstraZeneca, Long Term Impact)

Ah, the end of a series. And the beginning of long term immunity! Hopefully! (For anyone new, here is my post about getting offered the vaccine and having a small existential crisis over it, and here is my post about getting my first dose and the side effects.)

I had the second dose on Friday morning and it was all right, all things considered. I got a bit headachy and tired later in the day, but I didn’t just go to sleep like I did last time. My arm didn’t feel as heavy as before, either, which was nice. Now I’m feeling physically normal and mentally… more relaxed? I know I’m unusually lucky with the timing, but I do feel a bit more confident about socialising in groups now. I think I’d be very anxious about the lockdown easing if I hadn’t had at least one dose. Last week, pre-second dose, I hugged about five people. Five! And I sat indoors in a café! Twice! (Aside: how weird is it being indoors with people you’ve never seen before?) I was a bit nervous, but between the first vaccine and a negative Covid test, I felt prepared? And now I’m fully vaccinated I’m definitely happier to mingle.

Well, not happier. I didn’t like mingling before all this. But now I’m not worried that I’ll accidentally kill a vulnerable person if I breathe too closely to them.

So what have we learnt, reader? Other than reaffirming that I am constantly anxious about all things? Well, if you’re hesitant about getting the vaccine because you’re worried about side effects, I’d say take a deep breath and just do it. A couple of days of feeling shitty is nothing compared to a stint in intensive care, or long Covid. If you’re worried about blood clots due to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, then I hear you. I don’t think the risks of AZ were known when I had my first dose; I did panic when I saw the news. But I’m fine – I think I’d know if I had a blood clot? – and the risks really are low, especially when compared to the chances of dying from Covid. Plus, young people are getting a different vaccine now anyway.

If you’re bad with needles, I’d say tell the nurse you’re bad with needles. I’m fine with them as long as I look away and talk incessantly while they’re administering the thing. But it was genuinely more of a scratch than anything else. I’d say it’s less uncomfortable than having blood drawn, but your mileage may vary depending on how you feel about needles and your experience with blood tests and surgical stuff. I’ve had multiple hospital stays and my hands are covered in needle scars, so I’m probably more relaxed than most people.

filled-in vaccine card for Oxford AsteaZeneca vaccine

All in all, I’d say the whole experience has been all right. The two vaccine centres I visited were forensically organised (shout out to my mum, who used to work at one of them). The staff were lovely. I’ve been thinking back to side effects to past vaccines and feeling grateful that this jab was pretty much the same as previous ones: I felt rough for a few days, but that’s it. It’s more than worth the hassle for the peace of mind.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 that I qualified for an early vaccine; I was simultaneously so relieved and guilt ridden. When the blood clot thing happened, I wished I’d been in a group that didn’t qualify yet. I’m still not completely sure why I did qualify, but on balance I’m grateful. I was never particularly worried for myself in all this – well. I was worried, but not paralysed with fear twenty four seven. Just in those moments when I let myself think about it. I was worried twenty four seven for all the vulnerable people I could potentially infect. Knowing that I’m contributing to the nation’s general immunity is nice. I can’t remember how much the vaccine reduces your risk of spreading the disease, but knowing I’m potentially less infectious also gives me peace of mind. I’m still hand washing and mask wearing (although I will be honest with you that I am still finding it hard to keep track of what is and isn’t allowed. If hugs are still illegal, ignore everything I wrote earlier).

I’m off to bask in my vaccine status. By which I mean, do some work and, most likely, make a cup of tea. OH THE EXCITEMENT. If any of my posts have inspired you to look into getting vaccinated, or have helped you feel more informed or less anxious about the vaccine, let me know! I wrote the series to add to the voices encouraging vaccination. It’s infuriating that vaccine hesitant people can so easily become anti-vaccination when prayed upon by those with political goals and persuasive branding. It’s devastating that vaccine hesitancy can lead to deaths, not just with Covid but with things like measles. But a conversation about those things is for another day. I reckon we’ll come back to it time and time again, though.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Pre-Empting Burnout and Turning Off the Internet for a Bit (except not here, here is nice)

This time a month ago I wrote about feeling like we were all living in the Nine of Wands. I still do, but the end is in sight. Or if not sight then it’s around the corner and down the road a bit. My diploma is almost finished. This stage of lockdown is almost finished. I got my eyebrows waxed yesterday and I feel like I can finally do my sarcastic eyebrow raises with precision. My final hand in date is the same day the lockdown eases up, which I only realised last week. It’s all a bit… soon-but-also-not-soon? Time has moved so differently since the pandemic began. Except for my eyebrow hairs, which have continued their mission to become one single eyebrow. (No shade to the Frida Kahlos of the world; I wish I had your gumption but I was brought up in a time of tweezed brows and the societal damage has been done. Also I really love that slightly sharp look that comes with a well defined brow. All the better for expressing my distaste for idiots without saying a single word.)

Point is, I’ve got a few important things to do – finish my final project, reread the entirety of the Raven Cycle and the Dreamer Trilogy before Mister Impossible comes out, repot some of the more substantial courgettes – and I reckon it’s time to do the smart thing and go on an official holiday, so I can focus properly and not collapse into a heap when something minor sends me into a tailspin. If you’re a colleague and you’re expecting to hear from me next week then ignore this completely: I’m a) not going anywhere and b) really just turning off my social media. I can’t afford to stop working. I’m thinking of this as more of a break from other people’s voices, even if those voices are really funny on Twitter. I’ll pop in a few times a week to check my messages but otherwise I’ll only be posting on this blog, my Patreon or sending out my monthly-ish newsletter. This blog doesn’t feel like work (and I have lots of posts I want to write up!) and Patreon technically is work but is also mostly me doing tarot readings and telling short stories. Which I will have more head space to do once I’ve turned off all the Twitter voices, handed in this soul sucking, brain eating final project and remembered what it is to be a human being again. I might… go to the shops. WITH NO PURPOSE EXCEPT TO BROWSE.

The thought makes me dizzy.

If you need me urgently, hit me up at francescaswords [at] outlook.com. I’ll get back to you within three business days. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to posting regularly on social media: maybe June? July? I will set up some posts to feed the algorithm, but if you need me… check back here, I guess. Here is a picture of my life post-diploma:

spine photograph of Maggie Stiefvater's UK editions of 'The Raven Cycle' series plus 'Call Down the Hawk. Partial showing of Iris Murdoch's 'Existentialists and Mystics' and Brandon Sanderson's 'The Final Empire', also in paperback.

My darlings. I haven’t read The Raven Cycle since 2019, since before Call Down the Hawk came out. Soon, my precious, battered, non-Insta-friendly paperbacks, I will inflict more spine damage and probably use you as coasters. Can’t bloody wait.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Living in the Nine of Wands

Morning lovelies. (It is not might not be morning by the time I publish this, but I’m trying to stay optimistic.)

I thought I’d chat about things being not-quite-finished today. The Nine of Wands, if you will. I have a couple of meaty blogs in the works (a brick phone update and a post about the school work I found when I was clearing out recently. Some of the pieces I found are historic treasures aka completely ridiculous and deserving of photographic preservation for future generations. A one page biography of Frank Iero in French, anyone?) but they deserve a bit more polishing. I’m working on a couple of short stories too, and some dragonnovel stuff, but they too need more polishing before I can justify an entire blog post… or even a tweet, to be honest. Not-being-quite-done feels like a bit of a slogan at the moment. Lockdown is not-quite-done. Covid is definitely not done, but with a few bajillion more vaccinations we might be able to stop using the phrase ‘R rate’ with such regularity. My diploma is not-quite-done, but it’s close enough that I want to skip the final three assignments and be finished.

I don’t love that feeling where the end’s in sight but too far to see the details. Stop taunting me, deadline days! I overworked myself in spring term, spent all of Easter in a not-quite-sleeping-properly-because-I’m-still-stressed-from-the-last-deadline fog and now the deadlines are closer but I have no energy to open a document and talk about presenting business data.

It does not help that two of these last assignments are very boring (yes, one topic is analysing and presenting business data. The subject itself is quite interesting, but the assessment is a kind of academic vampire hellbent on sucking the enthusiasm out of it). One assignment is less boring but very long winded. Except you can’t spend too long on it, because the word count is absolutely miniscule, but you’re so limited with space that you have to decide which parts of your research are worth including and which aren’t when, actually, they are all worth including and the assessment criteria is nonsense.

Oops, I was not expecting to one-sentence that. I am not friends with these last assignments. I want to yeet them into the Suez Canal then spend approximately six weeks on a tropical island, eating noodles and doing Pilates outside. I want spring to come back! Why did it snow when we just had a heatwave? Why did I put away my big scarves? I’m not even sure if I’m on speaking terms with my career at the moment. Why can’t I finish a short story in forty five minutes and have it edited within two days? Why am I assuming that a forty five minute story is even possible for someone who uses 8,000 sentences in every piece of work? Seriously, what was I thinking washing and putting my woollen garments away after two days of sunshine? Oh, and the anxious bit of my brain is freaking out because I’m under 30 and had the AstraZeneca vaccine. The contraceptive pill I’m on carries a risk of blood clots and I’ve happily eaten that for several years, and the vaccine risks are miniscule compared to the ‘dying of Covid without immunisation’ risks , but does my brain know that? No.

So I think it’s fair to say I’m a bit overwhelmed. That’s the thing with Nine of Wands: it’s not the Ten. It literally represents being ‘nearly there,’ or ‘enough that you could stop now if you really wanted to.’ I don’t really want to stop now. I want to yeet those assignments into their respective upload boxes, smug in the knowledge that I’ve completed every part of my diploma, knowing I’ve polished each assessment until it shines. I want to stop using the word yeet as though I’m a 15-year-old who knows how TikTok works.

I think the solution might be a cup of tea. It usually is, innit. I know that in a few weeks I’ll have most of this diploma finished, those short stories will, for better or worse, be floating around my patrons’ inboxes and we might stop talking about snow? Oh, and we can go about beautifying ourselves again. I’ll probably feel better when my eyebrows don’t look like Troy Tempest’s and my fringe is cut properly. I just have to hang on until then, and try to find coping mechanisms that aren’t a) mindlessly reading Reddit or b) coming on here to talk about tarot. It’s just occurred to me that the whole of civilisation is sort of living in the Nine of Wands. There’s a route out of this pandemic, but the road is winding and some people are in cars driven by imbeciles. Some roads are tarmacked and some are full of potholes and bad lighting.

I’m going for a cup of tea. I can’t believe I’ve turned a post about ‘feeling a bit tired’ into a metaphor about governments as terrible drivers.

Thelma and Louise car driving off cliff gif
I don’t know where this came from but it feels relevant

What are your coping mechanisms for when you’re burned out and struggling with motivation? I know most students have some form of deadline approaching. Except for GCSEs and A Levels? They’ve cancelled those, haven’t they? Have they? God, no wonder I’m all over the place. Anyway. Tell me how you’re coping! If you have a work deadline on the horizon, or you’re barely clinging to sanity while you wait for lockdown to ease, I want to know how you’re doing. Let’s cling to sanity together.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

On Getting the Covid Vaccine (Side Effects & Fatigue)

Morning lovelies. Here is my part two to last week’s mild existential crisis over being offered the Covid jab.

I had the AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday evening and the process was as smooth as a Hozier song. My ‘hub’ was a church hall with a one way system, a human being offering directions every 20 feet and a wait time of about five minutes. I’m pretty good with vaccinations and blood tests as long as I don’t look at the needle as it goes in (I learnt that the hard way with the cervical cancer vaccine circa 2008), but it still felt like an easy process? One moment I was chatting about hay fever with the nurse, the next she was telling me to take paracetamol if I felt flu-y and pointing to the exit. I’ve spent longer making a cup of tea.

I wasn’t sure what to expect symptoms-wise. I had the flu jab last year and immediately got a dead arm, then spent the next day brain foggy and napping. I’d never had the flu vaccine before but I have had rabies, Japanese encephalitis, Hep A and Hep B for travelling, and something similar happened with those. I think the rabies one knocked me for six, but one day of feeling shitty while my body builds antibodies against a brain disease seems fair. Anyway, the same thing’s happened with Covid: my arm went sore and dead straight away and I spent yesterday in a brain fog, snoozing at regular intervals. I made a cake to feel productive (turns out you’re meant to filter the coffee in coffee cake). This morning I’m still a bit tired and my arm is still sore, but I feel all right. Enough to have another stab at coffee cake with-filter, although I substituted virtually everything and broke the mixer. I promise that would have happened without the vaccine, I am either very successful in the kitchen or a full on celebrity Bake Off nightmare.

To be honest, I’ve been fatigued recently anyway (I fell asleep in an online lecture on Thursday afternoon. Nodded right off. Thank god it was an extra work situation and not a live MS Teams call for college). I’ve also been a bit hay fever-esque for a week or so too (thanks, global warming), and I am a strong proponent of the siesta anyway. So it’s hard to know what’s due to what; I seem to get fatigued and brain foggy with a tiny cold, or if I’ve had more than one day of eating junk food, or if the moon is in Capricorn.

(I do not know if the moon being in Capricorn is a thing.)

So yeah, we’re all good here. Thoroughly recommend the process if you’d prefer a day or two of minor inconvenience to a stint in intensive care or several months of long Covid! If you’re worried about needles, I know my brother has to lie down when he gets vaccinated, because needles make him pass out, so mention that to the staff and they’ll sort you out. If you’re worried about taking the place of someone ‘more vulnerable’ when you’re offered the jab, please try not to. Having had a week to think on it, I’m grateful I can do my part to keep everyone safe and get us out of this hellscape as soon as possible, and I feel a certain responsibility to talk about the process and promote the science as far as I understand it (this WHO page explains how vaccines work with nice graphics and easy language). Coincidentally I read an article about vaccine justification yesterday and anecdotally, people with historic respiratory issues like mine are being offered the vaccine now. The ethics of deciding who should go where on the list is still complex, and I’m not going to flounce around talking about being hashtag blessed when we collectively have so far to go before everyone is safe, but if you get offered this vaccine, please consider taking it.

photograph of Covid AstraZeneca vaccine card on top of package leaflet information
I don’t know if I needed to cover the batch number?!

I promise the next post will be about something more relaxed/less Covid-y. I’ve been working on a blog about my misadventures in zero waste dental products – I promise misadventures is the right word – and I might do some more Read, If You Like posts. I’ve been reading some absolute gems recently! Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see, or if you’d like more chat about vaccines or suchlike. Or maybe a deep dive into how I managed to ruin a cake mixer?

Look after yourselves!
Francesca


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