Jennifer Brozek | August 2019

Declutter Monday, Round 2, for 26 Aug 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 27. August 2019 09:34

Declutter Monday for the 19th was a bit scattered. The first task was to gather up all the cat toys, beds, and stuff that the cats don’t use but clutter up the floor. The second was a round 2 on the family room. It was a lot of editing down of big furniture. Not that exciting.

Declutter Monday for the 26th was actually a Round 1 for me; I tackled the rarely talked about digital decluttering of my phone, my desktop, and my computer file structure.

Thought 1
: Decluttering my phone was hard…and easy. I deleted all the shortcuts of programs I never use. Moved like items into their own folder (IE: social media, businesses, games, and office programs). Then examined and removed unused programs. One of the most annoying things is that there are programs you don’t use that you cannot remove from the phone. The only thing you can do is remove it from the start screen.

Thought 2: One of the hardest things for me in decluttering my phone was hiding/grouping all my social media apps and all my game apps. I'm so use to going to them out of habit—a habit I want to break—that putting them one layer down will make me stumble. One day later and it’s annoying, but I’m twitching towards my phone less. So, that’s good.

Thought 3: Desktops are like dining room or kitchen tables: prone to collect things. Decluttering my desktop turned out to be surprisingly easy. I pulled ALL of the shortcuts, images, and files from my desktop into a single folder last week. If I reached to click on it, I pulled it out. I decided that if I hadn’t wanted to click on it in the last week, I didn’t need it on the desktop. I moved the one picture and two PDF files to their appropriate places and deleted the folder. No muss, no fuss.

I’ve never seen my desktop so clean. I now have 10 shortcuts on my desktop: 4 social media, 3 programs, my dowloads folder, trash can, and my main computer. Note: I do have a number of programs on my taskbar at the bottom of my screen and a notes app on the right side with a list of dates and tasks coming up. This is how I actually use my desktop. I like the minimal look.

Thought 4: You need to be thoughtful on your clean up, declutter, and re-organization of your file structure. I made the tactical error of moving a large folder with 8000+ files in it. That took 90 minutes and seriously interrupted my flow. Start small. Declutter/delete FIRST then organize. As a writer, I have way-way too many old files, novel versions, and redundancy options for “just in case.”

Thought 5: Decluttering your file folders and modifying your file structure is going to reveal emotional landmines you didn’t remember were there. (Terrible) Old, half-finished stories. Letters. That folder of ECC LARP admin stuff? I will say, as much as it is a pleasure to shred, it is also a pleasure to delete. I’m an intellectual magpie, but I’m old enough to know that I don’t need a lot of this hanging around.

Thought 6: If you think it will embarrass you, or your family, should the worst happen…and you don’t actually need that file or folder or story or information or letter…delete it. It’s not worth the mental or emotional baggage.

Thought 7: You may have to keep unpleasant stuff: stalking/doxxing proof. Bad contracts. Stuff that you need a history of. Put them in their own purgatory file. You’ll have them, but you won’t run across them unexpectedly.

I think this ends my official Round 2 of decluttering. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. I can let my things and stuff rest for a bit. I suspect I’ll do a lot of random little decluttering here and there as time/emotions permit. I’ll try to keep track of them for a round up Declutter Monday.

Note: I know I haven’t done any sentimental decluttering. At all. I’m feeling a bit fragile right now with the death of my father. It’s probably going to have to wait until next year. Until then, the sentimental drawer can sit where it is: cluttering up the bottom of my nightstand—where it is out of sight and mostly out of mind.

 

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RIP John Allen Brozek

by Jennifer Brozek 20. August 2019 07:52

Dad died yesterday. Born: 14 May 1946. Died: 19 Aug 2019. He was 73 years old. I’ve been mourning him since my last visit over Memorial Day weekend. It was the last good time he had. His health declined rapidly after my visit, then plummeted after my brother’s visit. He was diagnosed with IPF 4 years ago. It started getting bad about 14-18 months ago. It’s been the worst for the last 3 months.

I sent him this letter after I got home. Mom said he cried over it and reread it many times. I sent him a post card or greeting card every week since then. His favorite gift from me was a subscription to LetterJoy. He loved non-bill mail. It was the least I could do to try to brighten his day as the end neared. This letter says everything I could say as a memorial to him.

28 May 2019
Dear Dad,                           

I’m on the plane home from our visit. I thought, since you enjoy real letters so much, I would write you one. I’m so glad I visited. I’m glad you were having a good week and we got one last chance to spend time together. I’m glad I got to share
“700 Sundays” with you. I knew you would like it.

It is both wonderful and terrible to know that you are probably speaking the last in-person words to your father you will ever speak. When you said that you were “on your way out.” I said, “I know.” I thought I had it all together. I didn’t. And I didn’t realize this until we spoke our probable last good-bye. Not everyone gets that chance.

As soon as we got in the car I thought of so many things I meant to tell you. Little things like the fact that I still have the Christmas letter you wrote me in 1980, giving me the gift of Charity. I have it framed and hanging on my wall. It’s something I will never forget. I cherish that letter. I think it changed me, changed me for the good.

There is so much of you in me. I know you don’t always approve of my actions—my tattoos, some of my personal opinions, my language—but I am your daughter through and through. I am grateful for many of the lessons you taught me early in life. Things like doing a job well, considering the consequences of my actions, taking responsibility for my successes and my mistakes. Fixing what I can and passing on what I can’t.

I remember dinners when we were growing up where you’d entertain us with jokes and stories. I remember the good times. The tough times have faded into an indistinct blur. We say that you are the sentimental one in the family. I think much of that has been passed on. I cherish our football watching days and times you would tell me about a particular stone I got for you.


I want you to know that you’re in my thoughts and always will be. I will never forget that you always tried your best with me, Shannon, and Scott. All I want for you now is peace and contentment. I hope you get it. I want you to be happy. I don’t know how to make that happen, but that thought is always on my mind.

You told me that you loved me and to remember that you’ve had a good run. I’m glad of that. Not every family gets to say such while they’re together. It will make Memorial Day that much more important to me. To remember you as a veteran, as my father, and as our last visit together.

Of course, “end stage” IPF means so many things. 2 months to 2 years on average. You’ve never been average a day in your life. If you live to see Memorial Day 2020, I will rejoice. But I’m never going to regret telling you these things. Some things are meant to be heard by the living and to be remembered after death. I wanted to make sure you know and understand how much you mean to me, how much of you lives on in me, and how grateful I am to finally understand this.

Sometimes a child has to grow up to understand the adult their parent has been all their lives. I love you. I will see you when I see you.

My favorite picture of me and Dad, Monterey Bay, 1992

If you would like to donate in his name, your local animal shelter would be good. Dad loved dogs and rescued many over his lifetime. Or PBS. He really liked PBS. Please send all cards to:
Jennifer Brozek
6830 NE Bothell Way, STE C #404
Kenmore, WA 98028


 

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Literal Deathbed and Other Phrases I Never Wanted to Understand

by Jennifer Brozek 16. August 2019 08:30

My father is ill. Very, very ill. He probably won’t last out the year. More likely, he’s already seen his last holiday season. I’ve been dealing with this on an intimate level for months. My writing and my mood have suffered. My sister and Mom have been dealing with it up close and personal for much longer than that. They’re suffering, too. But we’ve all been taught to “do what you have to do when you have to do it.”

My father has end stage idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis AKA his lungs don’t work and he’s not a candidate for a transplant. I visited him over Memorial Day weekend. Despite how he looked shocking me, it was a good visit and he was doing great for the time I was there. Once I left, though, he went downhill bit by painful bit until “worse” became the new normal. He was put on palliative hospice care.

Last week, Dad was moved to a hospital bed in the house. The last bed he will ever be in. His literal deathbed—and figuring out if that was one word or two really sucked. He can’t really walk anymore. His blood oxygen level fluctuates too wildly, too low. Even when he’s just sitting there. I saw him have coughing/panting fits. I thought they were bad. According to my family, no, they weren’t. At all. They say watching him in a “real” coughing fit is like watching him drown in slow motion (another phrase I never wanted to understand). It also sounds like dementia (it runs in my family on my father’s side) has kicked in.

I work to be there for my sister. She vents to me. We cry together. We support each other. I let her (and Mom) know they’re doing a good job. As much as it hurts to hear the latest update—he can’t work the TV remote anymore, he has a hard time following conversations, he gets angry and confused, he’s lashing out physically—I want to hear them. It helps me process the current and forthcoming pain. It’s giving me a thicker skin. (poetic words here about salt from tears building a scab…)

Yesterday, my sister let me know that we’ve gotten our last StoryWorth story from Dad. He needs to be medicated to such a degree that makes it impossible  for him to continue. If he’s awake and aware enough to answer questions, he gets upset because he doesn't understand what's happening. He doesn’t want to answer questions and he doesn’t form many coherent sentences. Still, we got 18 stories from him. 18 out of 52 is better than 0. I’m glad I discovered StoryWorth before it was too late. I have 18 stories and a bunch of pictures that will be put in a book. Memories for the future.

My grief comes in waves like the tide. My father, who has always been one of the strongest people I know, is failing. The man I grew up with is hidden within the shell of a little old man and only comes out to visit on rare occasions. I’m happy he still finds joy in small things…his Neil Diamond CDs, his Astérix & Obélix comics that we were introduced to when we lived in Belgium, my sister and mom bringing out his silly side. But I’m sad, knowing how near the end is.

I’m limiting my time online these days as much as I can. I only have so many emotional spoons to give and they are reserved for my family and my writing. So, that’s my life for the moment.

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Immortal Perfumes Sample Set Review

by Jennifer Brozek 14. August 2019 13:12

I bought the Immortals Perfume sampler set when it was on sale for $35.00. I thought it was a good buy for trying out series of perfumes from a local small business. I was right. All of the scents are high quality and well wearing (even if I didn’t like the scent). My sensitive skin had no reaction to the oil at all. Bonus!

Based on how perfume oils react with my skin and smell on me, I predicted that I would probably like about 20% of the perfumes I tested. I was right at 22%. That means I have 6 out of the 27 scents tested to consider for purchase. They are:
•    Dead Writers.
•    Death in the Afternoon: A Cologne Inspired by Hemingway.
•    Madame Moustache: A Perfume of the California Gold Rush.
•    Persephone: A Perfume of the Underworld.
•    Sylvia: A Perfume Inspired by The Bell Jar.
•    Untamed Lady: A Perfume Inspired by Gloria Swanson.

I want to buy 3 of the six. I think it’s going to be a hard choice to make. The number one scent—right now—is vacillating between Untamed Lady and Madame Moustache. Four of the six have a note of vanilla. Not surprising as it is a favorite scent. Three of them have a note of tobacco, which is surprising. Four of them have musk or Egyptian musk. I used to think musk was too much for me. Guess I was wrong or my tastes have changed.

Over all, if you’re looking for a new scent to try, I think the Immortal Perfumes sampler set is a good one to try. 

 

Name

Notes

Y/N

Dead Writers.

Notes: Heliotrope, Tobacco, Vetiver, Black Tea, Musk, Vanilla, Clove.

Me: This perfume is the whole reason I got the sampler set and I’m not disappointed. It’s sweet, warm, comfortable. Unisex. It’s a yes.

Y

Death in the Afternoon: A Cologne Inspired by Hemingway.

Notes: Bay Leaf, Tobacco, Fennel, Bergamot, Champagne, Sandalwood, Egyptian Musk, Clovebud.

Me: Quite nice. Androgynous and warm. I may have to keep this one for the Husband. (Tested on the Husband, too sweet.)

Y

Madame Moustache: A Perfume of the California Gold Rush

Notes: tobacco pipe, vegan Egyptian musk, fire, and vanilla.

Me: Alluring in the bottle. Fire comes on strong with a sweet undercurrent. Very nice. Fades nice.

Y

Persephone: A Perfume of the Underworld

Notes: Ylang ylang, sweetgrass, white musk, sandalwood, and pomegranate.

Me: Lovely out of the bottle. Sweet but not cloying. Fades to powder. We have a winner. Untamed Lady is still #1 thought.

Y

Sylvia: A Perfume Inspired by The Bell Jar

Notes: Cedarwood, Black Tea, Vanilla, Clove, Cassis, Fig.

Me: Me: Sweet with a dark undercurrent. I like this one a lot. A sweet woody scent as it fades.

Y

Untamed Lady: A Perfume Inspired by Gloria Swanson

Notes: Almond, Ylang-ylang, French Vanilla, Carnation, Peach.

Me: The peach and carnation is fresh, lovely. Older woman but not little old lady. Fades to vanilla. I like it.

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beatrix: A Perfume Inspired by Peter Rabbit

Notes: Spanish Moss, Chamomile, Dragon's Blood, Fire, Blue Spruce.

Me: Quite nice over all. More of a scent I’d like a sachet of for my sweater drawer though. Not for wearing on me.

N

Capulet: A Perfume Inspired by Juliet

Notes: Tonka bean, white patchouli, amber, pear, and magnolia.

Me: It’s nice. I like it. Tier 2. Not an everyday scent. More like a character scent.

N

Ka'iulani: A Perfume Inspired by the Last Hawaiian Princess

Notes: Hawaiian Sandalwood, Tuberose, Fern, Pink Jasmine, Coconut.

Me: Nice, but nothing special. Vague sense of being on vacation in Hawaii.

N

La Reine Antoinette: Marie Antoinette Inspired Perfume Oil

Notes: Moss, Rose, Bergamot, Jasmine.

Me: It’s quite nice. Sweet and warm. But not for me.

N

Lady Day: A Perfume Inspired by Billie Holiday

Notes: Tonka Bean, Opium, Hawaiian Sandalwood, Lily of the Valley, White Peach, Gardenia

Me: Nice but nothing special on me.

N

Lenore: An Edgar Allan Poe Inspired Perfume

Notes: Dragon's Blood, Clove, Oak Moss, Moroccan Rose.

Me: Pleasant with a strong rose scent, but not my thing.

N

VIII: A Tudor Cologne Oil

Notes: ambergris, belladonna, clovebud, tobacco, bay leaf, fire, and Peru balsam. 

Me: Very strong out of the bottle. Fades to a woody smell. Nice but not for me.

N

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archibald: An Explorer's Cologne Oil

Notes: Egyptian Musk, Blood Orange, Oak Moss, Tobacco, Fir.

Me: Definitely a more masculine character scent. Not for me.

N

Aleister: A Cologne Inspired by The Wickedest Man in the World

Notes: Spice, Night Queen, Opium, Palo Santo, Egyptian Musk, Sandalwood, Cypress, Bark.

Me: Way too strong out of the bottle. Not for me.

N

Baby Vamp: A Perfume Inspired by Theda Bara

Notes: Tonka Bean, Dragon’s Blood, Smoke, Labdanum, Orchid.

Me: The smoke comes on strong. It’s rich. Almost too much. I’ll see how it fades. Night scent only. Fades weird.

N

Boylen: Queen Anne Boleyn Inspired Perfume

Notes: Vegan Civet, Champagne, Dragon's Blood, Violet

Me: I don’t like the way it smells on me.

N

Catherine: A Perfume Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Notes: White musk, amber, English Ivy, frangipani, rain, white patchouli, and heather.

Me: Nice. I especially like the scent of rain, but not one for my regular rotation.

N

Dharma Bum: A Kerouac Inspired Cologne

Notes: Sage, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Opium, Coffee, Clove, Bergamot.

Me: Wonderful scent from afar but way-way-way too strong on me.

N

Duchess Georgiana Cavendish Inspired Perfume Oil

Notes: Black Tea, Lavender, Jasmine, Amber, Bergamot

Me: Based on the notes, I should love this. I don’t. I think it’s the bergamot.

N

Fairbanks: A Cologne Inspired by Douglas Fairbanks

Sassafras, Cuban Tobacco, Opium, Teak, Vanilla, Sandalwood.

Me: It comes off as weirdly cloying on me. Had to remove it

N

Heathcliff: A Cologne Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Notes: Amber, leather, labdanum, white patchouli, cedar, myrhh, saffron, and chocolate.

Me: More masculine than androgynous. Nice but not on me. Too strong.

N

Hades: A Cologne of the Underworld

Notes: Belladonna, amber, oak moss, orris, opium, cypress, and narcissus.

Me: Interesting in the bottle. A bit too mossy on my skin.

N

Montague: A Cologne Inspired by Romeo

Notes: Myrhh, labdanum, dark amber, and Moroccan Rose.

Me: Strong rose scent. Don’t like the myrhh. Fades to something sharp and unpleasant. Not for me.

N

Pemberley: A Jane Austen Inspired Perfume

Notes: Rosewood, Coriander, Cedarwood, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth, Peony, Vetiver.

Me: Way, way, way too sharp for me.

N

Weird Sister: A Perfume Inspired by the Witches in Macbeth

Notes: Apricot, Yarrow, Belladonna*, Labdanum, Wormwood, Dragon's Blood, Dark Amber, Mimosa.

Me: Smells terrible in the bottle. However, the apricot and amber are strong on the skin. Sweet, dark under currents. Fades to something cloying I didn’t like.

N

Voodoo Queen: A Perfume Inspired by Marie Laveau

Notes: Black Cardamom, Palo Santo, Sage, Saffron, Jasmine, Rose, Cedar

Me: Strong and sharp. I don’t like it out of the bottle. It mellows to a mostly woody scent. Not for me

N

 

 

 

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Declutter Monday, Round 2, for 12 Aug 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 13. August 2019 08:27

Declutter Monday started over the weekend with decluttering the art in my bedroom, bathroom, and office. I have a LOT of art on the wall. When I go to conventions, I need to know where art is going in the house before I buy it. The Husband is very good at moving around artwork and hanging it. He gets out a level and a tape measure to do it. It makes everything look fab.

Thought 1: In the past, I’ve bought a lot of artwork on impulse. I don’t do that anymore. Not only do I not have space, my tastes have changed. I won’t say it’s become more refined, but I will say I’ve become more particular. I no longer keep artwork I don’t love.

Thought 2: I’ve bought a lot of artwork from friends to support them and help their conventions be better. Artwork I haven’t particularly liked. It’s okay to get rid of it now. My friends have the money. They won’t be heartbroken because I no longer have the print of that sketch they’ve sold hundreds of copies of. Don’t keep artwork that you don’t love.

Thought 3: It’s better to leave an area blank than fill it with crap. I love artwork. I find my wall-full of artwork inspires me and makes me smile. It helps my mood. But, a piece of art I don’t care for has the opposite effect. It’s taken me a long time to learn this lesson. I no longer keep artwork I don’t love (I have to keep telling myself this).

Thought 4: Random revisits will happen and you will change your mind. After 10+ years of having a Keurig, we have given ours away. The Husband doesn’t really drink coffee and I’ve been drinking my instant, imported coffee. Less mess, less waste, better taste. I was happy to give the machine to a neighbor whose Keurig was dying and they were considering a new one.

Thought 5: Some of the most unexpected things need to be decluttered. Our game table, ubiquitous and ever-present, I was blind to it until the Husband said something that made me think we needed to look at our dice collection and he suggested we clean out the game table. 

Thought 6: I have a lot of dice. A whole lot of dice. A lot of very pretty dice I’m not willing to part with. I did bag up a bunch of dice to share with my D&D group, though. So I feel virtuous. Plus I only kept sets of dice.

The more I get into the general living areas, the harder it is to be concise on where I’m decluttering. There’s also a lot more organizing and cleaning in Round 2 of decluttering than there is of actual decluttering. I am not a minimalist. I just want to be more intentional about what we have in the house and what we use.

Next week I’m going to tackle the family room and the cat products.

 

 

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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a multi-talented, award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. She is the author of the Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy, both of which were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. Her BattleTech tie-in novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, won a Scribe Award. Her editing work has netted her a Hugo Award nomination as well as an Australian Shadows Award for Grants Pass. Jennifer’s short form work has appeared in Apex Publications, and in anthologies set in the worlds of Valdemar, Shadowrun, V-Wars, and Predator. Jennifer is also the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions, and was the managing editor of Evil Girlfriend Media and assistant editor for Apex Book Company.

Jennifer has been a freelance author, editor, tie-in writer for over ten years after leaving her high paying tech job, and she’s never been happier. She keeps a tight schedule on her writing and editing projects and somehow manages to find time to volunteer for several professional writing organizations such as SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. She shares her husband, Jeff, with several cats and often uses him as a sounding board for her story ideas. Visit Jennifer’s worlds at jenniferbrozek.com.

"I see story ideas. All the time. They're everywhere. Just walking around like normal ideas. They don't know they're stories."