Doing the Covid thing…

Disclaimer: I’m suffering from a bit of brain fog, so if the below post doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I apologise in advance…

After a year of being careful and socially distancing and all that good stuff, covid has finally arrived in our home. I’ve had this feeling right from the start of the pandemic, that before all this is over, every single one of us will be touched by this diseased whether directly or indirectly. Everyone will know someone who has been seriously ill. Everyone will know at least one person who maybe didn’t make it. In a way, I’ve been waiting for this, which might have been the biggest reason I’ve felt so out of sorts mentally all year.

It all started two weeks ago when my husband developed a low fever. We didn’t think anything much of it, because we were (mistakenly) under the impression that covid caused a high fever. It doesn’t.

After a few days of that, he got tested, and it came back positive. My test came back negative at that time. Fine, no problem, we’re young and relatively healthy, so instead of thinking too much of it, we contacted our doctor, who gave us a list of medicines for him to take and instructed that everyone at home should self-isolate to stop spreading it further to other family members. We live with my elderly in-laws, who had luckily already received their first vaccine a month earlier.

For the medical nerds out there this is what my husband was prescribed: Ivermectin, Doxycycline, (3 days each), Favipiravir, Dexamethasone, Paracetamol, Aspirin and a bunch of vitamins and Zinc. Yes, it’s quite the list.

Camping in my home office, away from my husband, was the hardest thing ever. It made me so anxious to know he was right there, but I just wasn’t allowed to be around, so I couldn’t make sure he was ok. I felt that if only I could *see* him, I’d know.

His symptoms were relatively mild, until the side effects of the medications kicked in, and even more medications were required to get that under control (he developed dyspepsia and constant hiccups). We were advised to get baseline blood work done, which revealed quite a few abnormal results, so that was a concern as well and he’s a lifelong asthmatic, so we knew we had to be careful.

But, the medicines we got were the best we could get, and apparently it would take time for this thing to pass, so we could do nothing else except wait. That’s what we did. We waited, in stasis. Just about twenty feet apart. I only saw him when he occasionally stretched his legs outside, or I had to come in fully masked and holding my breath in order to use the bathroom.

Still no real symptoms for me except a mildly raw throat, and a general feeling of something being wrong, which both of us put down to seasonal allergies and anxiety. It wasn’t that. I tested positive 3 days later, with a temperature of 99F, a headache and some mild post-nasal drip.

And so I moved back into the room, thrilled that at least we were together and I could keep an eye on him. My blood work came back largely normal and I did not get the mountain of drugs that were prescribed to him.

But my feelings of relief that at least our individual isolation was over did not last. On day 9 of his symptoms, he got worse.

The fever, which had subsided for a day or so came back even higher. The cough became more persistent. His oxygen levels were starting to fluctuate a bit. The doctor ordered a follow-up blood test which revealed that the infection had gotten worse. I have to add that our doctor is absolutely amazing and I don’t know what we would have done without him. He took time out during his lunch hour at the nearby hospital where he works and examined my husband, putting his own safety and health at risk, just to satisfy himself of what was really going on. He was not happy with what he found.

We had him admitted with covid related pneumonia on our doctor’s advice. His blood test results (CRP and liver markers) were terrible. Though his blood oxygenation was quite alright when he reached the hospital. I feel this is in part thanks to the comprehensive cocktail of medicines he’d received up to that point, and the strict discipline with which he’d been doing breathing exercises since his initial diagnosis.

No visitors or outsiders are allowed inside the Covid ward at the hospital. And because I’d already tested positive, I stayed in the car rather than enter the emergency room as well. I didn’t want to expose anyone else unnecessarily. We’re lucky to have phones and internet and all, or else things would become unbearable pretty quickly.

It’s day 3 now of his hospital stay, and finally things seem to be looking up, beit slowly. His oxygenation dips down occasionally but not so much that he has to be put on supplemental oxygen. His CRP reading skyrocketed until yesterday, but is showing a downward trend today. His liver function is still very abnormal. Luckily his CT scan came back “not too bad”. Whatever that means. Not to bad generally, or not to bad compared to people seriously ill with Covid? His fever has finally broken on day 12 of the disease.

And I’m still at home, alone in our bedroom and away from everyone else and even the confused and heartbroken puppy, because I might still be contagious. My symptoms are mild, mainly just a headache, a runny nose and burning eyes. Fatigue is setting in and my brain, which is normally full of ideas and stories feels like a pool of drying cement.

I would have liked to be part of the way through my next book by now. Instead, I’m sleeping roughly 16 hours a day and staring blankly at my phone the rest of the time.

Counting the days and hours until my husband comes back home.

This isn’t a joke. Please wear a mask. Take all precautions. Get vaccinated. Nothing is fullproof, but at least you’ll know you’ve done what you could.

x, Lorelei

So, I went to therapy…

*Cross posting with my newsletter*

It’s been a while since I wrote to you all. I haven’t posted on my blog, I haven’t sent out any newsletters, I’ve just been sort of getting swept up in all these other parts of my life that didn’t have anything to do with my writing. It’s not the first time this has happened, and I can’t promise it will be the last time. It’s been a bit of a struggle, to be honest. If you want to know more, then read on…

The lockdown which started at the end of March didn’t help. The constant fear mongering in the media; the daily changes to the rules and advice, all that was enough to drive anyone up the wall. On top of that, my mother-in-law’s health has been keeping us all on our toes.

I wrote in my last blog post about her short stint in hospital due to sodium imbalance. Though we were all back home in time for the lockdown, things were far from over. Due to her ongoing health issues and in large part probably also the major upset in her daily routine due to the lockdown, she suffered from depression throughout the first couple of months of the lockdown. For me, the main surprise in all of this was that her depression did not even manifest as being in a bad mood, necessarily. We were all in a bit of a mood, to be fair. For her, she has just been ill constantly. If it’s not the stomach, then it’s a toothache, if it’s not the toothache, then it’s a dibilitating headache. Throughout there’s been nausea so bad, she couldn’t eat, so we were trying to coax her to eat smaller meals throughout the day, because otherwise she would just not eat anything, which makes everything even worse. After a few weeks, she ended up showing signs of vitamin deficiency as well, for which she’s still taking a big pile of supplements. And even when things were fine for a few days, she would be so fearful of the nausea returning that she still refused to eat.

It was almost constant. For going on three months, I would wake up every morning already exhausted, worrying about what would go wrong next. Only once things started to open up a little bit around May/June, and she saw a few doctors about it who put her on mood stabilisers did things improve. That’s not to say things are perfect now. Up until last week, she’s had recurring headaches, for which we’ve seen a bunch of specialists. (The latter concluded it was still depression/stress).

So yeah, it’s been hard. And I’ve found myself defeated, with nothing left to give. My marriage has suffered. My own health has been giving me trouble. (Yeast infection that refuses to go away, anyone? Ugh. I’d never even had a yeast infection before this year!)

And in all of it, there has been no room for writing. Basically no room for any mental space or activity that would allow me to recenter myself and figure out what I should be doing next. My writing – although difficult and frustrating at times – gives me a sense of satisfaction in life which cooking meals and cleaning the kitchen does not provide. Without it, I’m lost. But every time I sat down and tried, I found myself frozen and unable to start.

For me, it all fell apart sometime over this last month, when I would burst into tears without knowing why or how to stop it almost every day. I’ve never felt so low in my entire life.

I’m an introvert, you see. I need my space and time apart from people just to function. But there hasn’t been a lot of time for that lately. As a result, I’ve been crabby, impatient, short tempered and still utterly exhausted.

So in the end, my husband and I ended up having a massive fight. The kind that makes you wonder if everything is going to be over forever. And during the aftermath of that fight I booked an appointment with a relationship counsellor nearby, because I didn’t know what else to do.

On the day, I was nervous and also a little excited. I knew that going to counselling by myself wasn’t a perfect solution, but my husband just wasn’t going to go, no matter what. If I couldn’t change ‘us’, at least I could figure out myself, right? That’s all I could aim for.

I arrived exactly on time, was greeted by a receptionist who asked me questions about myself, my life, and what I was struggling with. That nearly made me cry again, because I couldn’t express what was wrong, exactly. I just knew I was deeply unhappy and things in my marriage weren’t going so well. She emphasized that next time, my husband should definitely come, to which I told her that that was not going to happen… She said something about today being a consultation and if necessary I would be prescribed a test, which would cost extra. Whatever. I just wanted answers, so I agreed to everything and sat down.

And then I waited for the therapist. They gave me a bottle of water. I finished it.

And I waited. They gave me a cup of tea. That finished soon enough as well.

And I waited some more.

I’d carried a book, just to pass the time – you might have already read it, but if not, I highly recommend it: Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski PhD.

Half an hour turned into an hour, turned into one-and-a-half hours. In between I would ask the receptionist how much longer. She’d say: “Oh, only about five to ten minutes more. I’m sorry, we’re really busy today.” And I’d open my book again and carry on reading.

But right around the one-and-a-half hour mark, I lost it. Another patient had come in after me as well, and had been waiting for about half an hour already when I finally got up. I told the receptionist if they didn’t have time to fit me in today, they should have given me an appointment for another day. I got a bunch of apologies and assurances that this wouldn’t happen again, and it was just a really busy day. She rebooked me for the following Monday and once again ensured that they’d make time for me and shuffle some other patients around. (Okay, so then they’ll screw some other sucker instead? Nice!)

I reached home nearly two hours since I’d left. My husband of course wanted to know what had happened and if it had been helpful. I barely got a sarcastic AF remark out (“It was super enlightening, I learned so much about myself.”), before – you’ve guessed it – ugly-crying my eyes out.

In the end, I suppose I did learn something. I enjoyed the book I’d read in the waiting room, and that I was never going back there. Indeed, I cancelled the rebooked appointment shortly after. Instead, I decided to take the money I would have spent on that session, and bought some more self help books.

Even now, I’m still wondering if I should try someone else, or I should just forget about the whole thing.

At least my husband was there for me when I came home. He was kind and compassionate and let me cry and complain as much as I needed to. And although he wasn’t in favour of therapy anyway (he wouldn’t even go, remember?), the words “I told you so” didn’t pass his lips even once. In turn, I’m trying not to be so snappy and impatient all the time. We’re doing better than we were last week.

Oh, and we’ve taken up cycling together. Exercise is an anti-depressant too, isn’t it? Let’s see how that goes.

So yeah, this is my post-lockdown update. The one time I went to therapy (or tried to).

How are you doing?

Corona Lockdown in Progress (Day 2)

OMG, how much can change in a week!

On the 13th, I sent out a newsletter (which I posted here on my blog as well) outlining the situation in India with regards to coronavirus at the time. We were all aware of it with varying degrees of paranoia as a result, but not imminently affected. Nationwide cases were fewer than 100 people, of which not even one in my local city. Well, that has certainly changed! Numbers are up in the mid/high 500s, not sure how many in my city because we’re not getting the local paper anymore. India has reported the first cases of community spread now as well. Add to that personal upheaval and health issues, and I’m only now finally getting my head around what’s actually happening at home. Bear with me while I update you all.

When I last wrote to you, I mentioned coming back from Delhi on the train, and feeling a bit crap afterwards. Next day: fever & bodyache, and my husband got it too. Day after that: severe diarrhoea and zero appetite. By the day after that both my husband and mother-in-law developed diarrhoea as well. Since nobody had any cough or other cold/flu type symptoms I might have blamed some kind of food poisoning, but all we ate during the previous days was fresh, homecooked food. Stomachflu, maybe?

In the meantime, the Prime Minister of India announced a voluntary curfew for Sunday, so we got some warning that measures would be taken to ensure people don’t go out so much. We stocked up on fruit & vegetables in addition to all the dry goods I’d already purchased last week.

Well, whatever flu it was, the end result was that after a couple of days of suffering through it and taking various medications prescribed by our family doctor, my mother-in-law developed severe nausea, weakness and fainting spells. All signs of dehydration/electrolyte imbalance. We had to admit her to hospital, because despite taking electrolytes, her sodium levels had fallen so much and her stomach issues were not getting under control either, meaning she could barely eat.

Luckily my husband and I recovered without the need for any medication, but it’s been a trying week for everyone nonetheless. I stayed with her at the hospital for the 3 nights she was there and only made the occasional trip back home during the day to pick up clothes, toiletries, and stock up on whatever food items I hadn’t purchased yet before we got ill.

Thankfully things have calmed down at home, somewhat. My mother-in-law was allowed to leave the hospital day before yesterday. Right in time for our city’s strict lockdown (in force since yesterday). And as of midnight, the entire country is locked down for the next 21 days, not just select cities/districts. Only essential services are exempt; that means medical, fire/police, people who work for utilities (water/electric), select public servants, select food vendors and that’s it! I understand a lot of people all over the world are facing lockdown scenarios of various types, but we’re currently facing one of the strictest type except for China.

No leaving the house. Period.

No grocery trips. No work. No walks. Nothing. Police are strictly inforcing the lockdown, and even at times arresting people they find outside who doesn’t have special permission. A plan has been proposed to get food and medicines delivered home, but so far I’m not seeing practical evidence of it in our neighbourhood. There is no such thing as takeout food or online shopping anymore since Sunday. If anyone doesn’t know how to cook, now’s the time to turn to youtube and learn!

We have to make do with whatever we’ve got in the house until the systems are set up.

The outside world is quiet, except for the birds you normally can’t hear over all the noise, and the occasional barking dog. All of yesterday, maybe half a dozen cars passed by outside, presumably the doctors and other essential workers who live on our street, who are still on duty throughout all of this. Other than that, it’s been eerily quiet. If you’ve ever visited India, you’ll know what I mean when I say that silence in this country is normally hard to come by.

Despite all these limitations, we’re still staying positive and carrying on with life as much as possible.

I’m thankful that my mother-in-law is feeling better, and despite everything we still managed to stock up on food and medication last week. I can tell you I feel a whole lot less guilty about buying additional supplies now that we’re cooped up in the house for the foreseeable future. We’ll be fine for these 21 days, even if the home delivery grocery plan fails. Sure, we’ll start to miss fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy, but we won’t go hungry for quite a while. I hope the poor and those people who do not have a big stock of food for whatever reason manage to get what they need from the government.

All we can do is sit tight, enjoy family time, read (write!), play some boardgames, and wait for the proverbial shit storm to blow over. I try not to think about how all of this is affecting the economy, or if 21 days is going to be enough to stop the spread of the virus. These are not things I can affect in any way, so why waste time fretting about it now?

Are you also facing a lockdown? Do let me know how you’re coping, or if you just want to vent, that’s also fine. It’s a tough time for us all, but I think it helps to reach out and talk about it. If you feel like emailing me instead of commenting publicly, you can do so at info@lmoone.com.

Take care and all the best!

Lorelei

Corona-confusion – What I’m doing about it.

(This has been cross-posted here from my Newsletter)

Dear Readers,

Over the last seventy-two hours I must have received at least a dozen or so emails from large companies outlining their Corona virus response, how it might affect us all, or whatever it is they wrote about. I can’t be certain what was in all the emails, because my first impulse when faced with an inbox full of unread big business newsletters is to delete them. So, I did. Bad, I know.

Even worse is that I’m adding to the barrage of email with my own newsletter today. I promise, I have a valid reason (a new release), which has been on the calendar since mid January, before the situation was as out of control as it appears to be right now. Sorry in advance.

Coronavirus. Everyone’s talking about it. And for someone like me, who flatout refuses to panic about anything at all, it’s becoming harder to ignore. So, why not take a moment and talk about it?

For those of you that don’t know, my author bio is a little bit out of date. When I started writing, I lived in the UK (Greater London, to be precise), but that’s no longer the case. For the past few years I’ve been living in India to be closer to the in-laws, who are getting on in age and need more support than they used to. I’ve never updated the bio, because I like my privacy, especially now that I’m in a country which still judges steamy fiction quite a bit. For that reason, I won’t share exactly where I am even now.

It’s a weird place to live at times. The media is quite insular, so you don’t tend to hear much about the wider world, unless it’s really newsworthy. Upon opening a newspaper in India, you might be fooled into thinking that there are only a handful of countries that matter outside our borders. The US, and perhaps the UK, occasionally the Middle East. On top of that, we don’t tend to follow the news all that religiously, adding to our isolation. In a way, we’ve been mentally self-isolating before coronavirus made it popular!

While the whole world seemingly has been consumed by coronavirus panic, we’ve mostly been shielded from it all. Sure, there’s a shortage of hand sanitiser and face masks, but we’ve been spared the toilet paper apocalypse other countries have had to deal with. (Also, on the whole, Indian people don’t care for toilet paper, so I doubt it’ll ever sell out completely, which is great, because as a European, I can’t do without it.)

Long story short, the news has finally trickled through into my own stubborn brain as well. I had to travel to the capital yesterday to pick up my new passport from the embassy, and the trains were overrun with people wearing masks. If anyone coughed, the whole compartment would steal a suspicious glance at the culprit as if to ask: ‘have you got it?’. Even if published Coronavirus cases in all of India add up to just 81 people (out of 1.3 billion), the paranoia is real. I guess people naturally assume that the figures must be inaccurate and the situation is much worse already.

Today, perhaps due to fatigue following my intense one-day up-and-down train trip, or the general Delhi-effect, I’m feeling a bit worse for wear myself. For a moment, I even asked myself ‘do I think have it?’ I’m going to go with ‘no’, unless I start developing a cough or runny nose over the next few days.

Anyway, all of this got us thinking. If things do escalate, as they have been abroad, are we prepared? My husband and I are likely going to be fine, but his parents are at risk on multiple fronts. Age, pre-existing conditions, generally being frail and susceptible to any old cough or flu that passes through; all these factors apply to them.

We can’t stop breathing, and as such, we can’t avoid potential exposure altogether. But we can avoid going out so much.

So, in the interest of prepardness, I have gone into hamster mode. Because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s shopping.

No, I haven’t purchased every last roll of toilet paper in the city, but I have stockpiled essential food items in larger quantities than I normally would. My pantry is full of rice, wheat flour (required for the traditional flatbreads North Indians tend to eat at almost every meal), dried lentils and beans, pasta, sugar, cooking oil and other shelf stable items. I had already canned a dozen or so jars of pasta sauce back when tomatoes were cheap, so that will also help. It’s still a work in progress and I’ve tasked my father-in-law with compiling a list of medicines to keep in stock as well, but I think we’re well-positioned to have enough food for the four of us to last very comfortably for at least 2-3 months. Our stock of toiletries is looking about the same. That’s the target I’m shooting for, anyway.

As for other essentials; we don’t have much power back-up (no generator), but since we use bottled gas for cooking, and always have some spare, we’re okay on that front. Our house is set up in such a way that we have 10,000l of water collected at any given time, so we’re good there too.

So, on to my big question to you: what are you doing (if anything?). Are you concerned? Have you been stockpiling food and other pantry items? Or are you going with the flow and waiting for it all to blow over on its own?

I still refuse to panic, frankly because I’m too exhausted to after yesterday’s ordeal. And compared to previous major pandemics (like the big ones you read about in the history books), this is not going be nearly as serious, I think. It may not even kill as many people as regular flu does, anyway. But, I like the feeling of being at least a little prepared. This is one of those times I’m proud of myself for ‘adulting’ for a change. Also, while I’m not going out for grocery shopping in the foreseeable future, or socialising as much as before, imagine how much reading and writing I’ll get done!

Please, do share how you’ve been coping. I’d love to hear from you!

Oh, and I’ve got a new book out. More about Beauty (Coffee Shop Girls #3), here.

Love,

x, Lorelei

Growing up Foreign – Thoughts about Language & Culture

My ongoing efforts to streamline and consolidate my various writing and publishing activities have inspired me to to think of 2019 as the Year of Authenticity. It occurs to me that a lot of people who read my work have very little idea of who I really am, except for whatever I share in my bio. That’s about to change.

So, here goes. The first in what I envision to become a series of posts about random thoughts and situations that make me, “me”. As a perpetual foreigner, I think about national identity quite a bit, so this first post is about that.

I’m German. I don’t mean that in the “I did 23 and me, and guess what, it says I’m German!” sort of way. I *actually* am, and have the passport to prove it. But, I’ve never lived in Germany, which is kind of weird, I guess. Still, I’m more German than anything else, so I don’t really have a choice. The “Lorelei” part of my pen name is a nod towards my German heritage.

Born in the Netherlands (colloquially: “Holland”) during the 80s, to a German mother (and a Dutch father, who sadly did not live long enough to see me grow up), I’ve always been aware of my roots. She made sure of that.

I’ve also always been aware of how Germans are viewed by a lot of people in other countries across Europe. The kids who would call me a “Nazi” while growing up made sure of that. And that made me a bit prickly when it comes to how a lot of people deal with “foreigners”.

It’s a weird situation to grow up in. An in-between child. Stuck between the culture, traditions (and language) at home and the wider world we lived in. On the outside, you might think our white, Protestant Christian household, would be much the same as the white, Protestant Christian households of the native Dutch populace. Still, the difference – though subtle – were very obvious to me.

This feeling of “in-betweenness” of course wasn’t helped by the fact that my mom sent me to a private German school for the first few years of my education, because she was considering moving back “home”. We didn’t move though, and I switched to a regular Dutch school at age 11, which brought with it its own host of challenges (as well as more kids calling me a “Nazi”).

When people talk about migrants, multiculturalism and integration, it’s often aimed at people who *look* different. People with a different skin colour and religion compared to what is the norm in any given country. When I pipe up with my own thoughts, it’s often waved away. “No, not you. You’re different.” But I don’t bloody feel different. (I mean, I *do* feel different, which is kind of the point I’m trying to make).

Of course, growing up bilingually had its benefits, so I don’t regret any of it. Generally, growing up in Holland had its benefits too. Had we ended up back in Germany, I probably would have been writing this blog in German, not English. I wouldn’t have been able to express myself quite in the same way. I wouldn’t have had the experiences that formed my persionality and my thoughts as an adult. Life might have turned out very differently indeed.

I don’t want to get into politics, but I do feel people are often quite harsh about “foreigners”, “coming over here” and “wearing their weird clothes” or “speaking their funny language out in public”. The justification is often something like this: When you’re in xyz country, it’s your responsibility to speak in xyz language and do stuff however the locals do. Speak whatever you want at home, behind closed doors, if you must. Etc.

These are all things I’ve heard over and over again, often in the same breath as some statement about how that somehow makes our “multicultural society” better.

I call bullshit.

Sure, I was a weird little kid and I knew it. Initially, I spoke Dutch with a German accent, because that’s what I’d learnt from my mom. That was until I started interacting with more of my peers on the playground and in school, and then the accent went away. I obviously faced some prejudice, because *clearly* the holocaust was entirely my fault, even at age 6. Still, I’m fully aware that whatever shit came my way was nothing compared to what people who *look* different have to go through on a daily basis. White privilege is a thing regardless of nationality.

But just because I *looked* local, didn’t mean I was just going to agree to the cultural homogenisation many people like to advocate for. It didn’t matter to my mom and I that in the Netherlands, Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December just like in the UK or US. For us, Christmas Eve (the 24th) will always be the bigger holiday. That’s when the gifts are given in my house even to this day.

Obviously you have to learn the local language, no matter where you live. You can’t function properly otherwise. But to expect that people communicate 100% of the time in a foreign-to-them language, even when interacting with their own family is utter madness. The idea that they have to cast off their traditions, embrace only the local holidays, ideally convert to a new religion, just to fit in, is insane.

Sure, some people take things too far and favour their own traditions over the local laws. That’s clearly wrong. But I think the way that this topic is dealt with by many people is so black & white that it just pitches the two groups against each other harder.

Think about it. Have you learned a foreign language? It’s hard, isn’t it? Fumbling over your words, messing up the pronunciation, trying your best to speak one broken sentence, but forgetting that one crucial word and thus not being able to get your point across at all. Practice makes perfect, as they say, but it’s still super tiring.

Now imagine you’re with your family, after a day of doing all that. How much of a relief it will be to slip into your native tongue and express yourself freely.

Language is what makes us human. It allows us to communicate and exchange thoughts and ideas. And most importantly: it allows us to express our feelings; our love for one another.. Expression is a bit pointless if nobody acknowledges it. Why anyone would advocate to take the most important form of communication away from people, just because they decided to move to another country is beyond me. It should be up to that person to decide what they’re comfortable with. Is there really a downside if their kids learn the local language in school, and a second or third language at home? I think not.

I still speak to my mom in German, though we try to switch to another, more suitable language in case someone else is present. Since she’s the only one I get to speak German with nowadays, I’m not getting much practice. Still better than my Dutch, because although I can still pass as native during short visits, I’m super rusty and often the right words evade me. It’s because I don’t speak it much anymore, or at all.

My husband and I speak English, and the in-laws speak English and Hindi (which I am somewhat conversational in now as well).

After years and years of speaking English day in and day out, it has become my language of choice. That’s why I write in it. Language skills are fluid. It’s really amazing how preferences can change over the years. Should we ever move to Germany for any length of time, perhaps that’ll become my language of choice again. Who knows?

But the point is, it should be *my* choice what I’m comfortable speaking and writing in. Not anyone else’s. And that goes for every immigrant equally, no matter the colour of their skin, or where they’ve decided to settle down.

2019: The Year of Authenticity

A couple of months ago, I “came out” and consolidated my pen names. It’s been a work in progress, but there’s no turning back now. My main goal for doing this was openness.  Although anonymity gives me the freedom I need to write freely, I didn’t want to hide anymore either.

But it occurs to me that a lot of “me” is still hidden.

I have a Facebook page, but it’s purely about my writing. I don’t share photographs or intimate details; not even my real name or my face.

While that’s going to stay that way, for a variety of reasons related to privacy and mental wellbeing, I am going to make an effort to be more open. More real. More authentic.

Why? Because there’s really no reason not to. It feels more honest and freeing as well. I miss the freedom of expression that comes with blogging; something I’ve dabbled with occasionally over the years and which I wanted to start again with the launch of the L. Moone name and website. And I’ll have nothing to write about, if I can’t share stuff about myself.

Here are a few things that you – especially if you’re a relatively new (2015 onwards) reader – might not know about me, and which I would like to get out of the way before I add more personal blog posts.

  1. I’m not British – I’m actually German.
  2. I don’t live in London (anymore).
  3. I don’t have kids, but I do have a family.
  4. The awkward goth phase I went through as a teenager never really passed, even if you wouldn’t know it by looking at me.
  5. I self-identify as a motorcyclist, but it’s been a while since I actually rode one. (Scooters don’t really count, do they?)

 

Of women’s health and choices

I said I would start blogging occasionally, so here I am. With a topic I’ve dealt with in my personal life for a while, but only really decided to tackle a few months ago. The catalyst? Being diagnosed with hypertension. If you’re on my Lorelei Moone mailing list, you’ll already know about this last part.

I’m 33 and I have high blood pressure. Sure, my weight isn’t what I want it to be, and I have too much of a sweet tooth, but I have always been relatively healthy. Or so I thought.

I’m also married and do not have (or want) children. Birth control has been something I’ve always had to think about. For more than half my life I’ve been using hormonal birth control methods. Save for the implant thingy, I had tried just about everything and found that every single one I had tried, was basically shit.

We all know about the potential side effects, right ladies? We know we might get cranky, we might get fatter, develop pimples we didn’t have before, etc. For me, a major side effect was that my libido became non-existent. It doesn’t matter what I did, I just wouldn’t want sex. Ever. I realise that this is a weird thing to admit when you write what I write.

All the methods I had tried threw my hormones off. But what’s the alternative, really?

Six or so years ago, I got really fed up with my birth control and went off it for a while. They gave me a “cap” to use instead. What a load of rubbish that is. Condoms sound great in theory, but once you’re used to what things are supposed to feel like naturally, it’s hard to go back to those. I know some people successfully monitor their fertility to prevent pregnancy, but I wouldn’t know where to begin and was never given the knowledge or tools to track any of that. And having had an unwanted pregnancy before, I would rather not risk going through that again.

Well, once the hypertension diagnosis came in, it came as a shock to me. I was so ashamed of myself. Sure, when you’re taking the pill, your GP will want to check your blood pressure perhaps twice a year or so. Heightened blood pressure is a known side effect, and yet I always thought it wouldn’t happen to me. Certainly not at this age.

But it did. And now I’m taking pills for it every day.

That same day I got my diagnosis, I made a decision. I couldn’t go on like this. I wouldn’t accept that I would be on medication for the rest of my life. I decided to quit my birth control immediately. As luck would have it, my period had just come on. I insisted that along with blood pressure pills, I would get a prescription for a non-hormonal IUD – something I had shied away from all these years, because I’d never heard a good thing about them. I was told that because I was on my period, this was the right time to get it inserted.

Spurred on by shame and desperation, I went for it.

Without going into too much detail, it was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. Afterwards, I had to see the doctor again for aftercare instructions and nearly passed out in her waiting room.

Now, 4 months later, my periods are still brutal. At least one day every month the cramps are so bad I can hardly bring myself to leave the house. This was something I had never experienced before. If there’s one thing hormonal birth control is very good at, it’s lessening PMS and period cramps. If my period was coming at an inconvenient time, I could simply postpone or skip it. That, obviously, is no longer an option.

And yet, I’m glad I did it.

You may wonder why. I can share a few reasons with you right now.

  1. I am done for the next 10-12 years. No condoms, no caps, no pills to remember to take. As long as the string is still there, I’m protected.
  2. I’m taking control of my life and my health. If the hypertension was caused by the contraceptives I’ve been taking, perhaps I can reverse it. Even my consistent weight gain over the years, I’m hoping to undo now. Estrogen can make you ravenously hungry, so it’s harder to keep your diet in check. And so on.
  3. I feel like a real woman. And I don’t mean that in any mystical, floaty sort of way. I have my sexuality back. Like a frog, slowly being boiled in a pot of water, I hadn’t noticed all the parts of myself that had gone missing. All the things I hadn’t truly felt all these years.

Sure, it’s annoying to deal with painful periods. But pain can be managed. Hot water bottles and ibuprofen are my new best friends during those days.

And I’m pretty sure that if men were the ones getting pregnant, there’d be a whole lot of better methods of prevention out there. But what can we do? These are the cards we’ve been dealt as women.

So yeah, I’m glad I took the plunge. The only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner, before the hypertension issue had even come up. Would I have done it, though, if someone had encouraged me years ago? Probably not.

I knew it would hurt, though I did understimate it. For future reference, when a doctor casually asks you about your pain threshold before a procedure, fucking brace yourself!

But, childbirth hurts a lot more. And when you don’t want to become a mother in the first place, it’s going to be even worse.

It’s been a long journey to here

Today, on the 23rd of August, I’m writing this after spending the entire day so far sifting through my old blog posts. This is as good a time as any for some reflection and analysis.

I’ve been at this writing business for a while, you see. And my life and career have undergone numerous changes over the years.

Hedonist6 on Blogspot

Back in 2012, I had a little blog over on blogspot. Some of those ancient posts are still available here on this brand new website. They’re my history and I can’t part with them, so I’ve decided to take them along into this new phase of my life.

Those days were a tumultuous time in my life and marriage. If you’re curious, check out the following posts:

These are the humble beginnings of my writing journey. I started as many do, autobiographically.

Hedonist Six – Quality Erotica (or so I thought)

But I swiftly moved on to fiction. With the release of my first story, Ladies’ Day in the autumn of 2012, my fate was sealed. I would be an independent author. And I have been ever since.

My books from this time include:

  • One Night Stand (I think my first story, Just for One Night, was expanded into this novella)
  • Beautiful Stranger (evolved from that first story, Ladies’ Day)
  • Just Another Day at the Office (currently being reworked, for re-publication in October 2019)
  • The Rebound List (The first quarter of this book is included as the story Virgin, in Gratis: Midwinter Tales)
  • Only a Taste (the beginning of which is the story, A Day in Brighton, which is part of Gratis: Summer Fling)

For a few years, I was content writing these stories I loved, under the weird (and I think, wonderful) name, Hedonist Six. I was never a bestseller, and that didn’t matter to me, because I loved this new creative outlet I had found.

Lorelei Moone – Shifters, baby!

But come 2015, I was ready to up my game. I was ready to take this writing business more seriously, and try my hand at something that I thought could give me both creative satisfaction as well as some monetary success.

A brand new pen name, Lorelei Moone was born.

Under the new name, I published a whole bunch of paranormal romance novellas, organised into four main series:

I did quite alright with these books, and I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved as Lorelei Moone. I still write under this name today.

Hedonist Six – Spectacular(ly underwhelming) Relaunch

During 2016, I decided to look at those old, unloved books, languishing under the name Hedonist Six. I had grand plans. I would take everything I had learned about publishing and marketing, and professionally rework and re-publish all my existing work and hopefully capture a larger audience for them. I did relaunch everything. I got new covers and updated my descriptions. I built a mailing list using giveaways and swaps with other authors. And I basically broke even on my investment.

It was hard that those books which I began my writing career with were not getting seen as much as I wanted them to. I had good reviews, so I was reasonably confident that readers liked them once they found them. But I could not get these books in the hands of enough new people. This failure would put me off writing contemporary romance and erotica for years to come.

L. Moone – Time to grow the F up

I’ve come to the conclusion that during all these years, (seven years, coming up in October or so), I made one crucial mistake. I wasn’t being real enough. This old blog I’ve ported across to the new website was as real as I’ve ever been, but I’ve always hidden behind an abstract sort of a name. Going forward, I’ll be doing no more of that.

Another part of the same mistake was that I launched my paranormal romance books as a separate “persona” from my original work. Lorelei Moone and Hedonist Six were always completely independent from one another. Hardly anyone knew I was the person behind both of these “authors”. That wasn’t fair to anyone, least of all to myself.

You see, I want to be able to openly share my activities and my life with the world. But I can’t do that, if I have to hide what I’m writing, simply because it fits under my “other brand”.

2019 is the year that I put my old pseudonyms behind me and emerge as myself. This is the year I become open about all of my writing, not just the books you happened to come across first.

From now on, my paranormal and contemporary romance titles will be connected. This website will serve as the new home for my blog. And if Facebook et al will let me, I’ll combine my social media accounts as well. I’m done confusing the issue, and look forward to simplifying my interactions with the world. Most of all, I’m done hiding.

I’ve already updated a few of my books on Amazon, changing the author name from Hedonist Six to L. Moone. Next up, I’m tackling an old project that has been pending for years. My first novel, Just Another Day at the Office has been unpublished for years (I think probably 2016 or so), because it needs a rewrite and a good edit. That’s what I’ll be working on during September 2019. My planned launch date is the 7th of October.

And I could not be more excited about it.

Happy Monday!

This Monday morning, I feel refreshed. I may be at work, and have a ton of stuff to finish this week, but things feel right. It helps that I’m basically on my own today (a colleague who never speaks barely counts as company), so the peace & quiet is refreshing.

For those of you who don’t follow me much on Facebook, I’ve had a very trying few weeks at the day job. It’s been so busy I barely know what to work on first, and as a result my personal life and I suppose my writing has suffered. On Friday, I was so fed up with it all, I abandoned my long to-do list and went home at 5 sharp. I didn’t care anymore. If I stayed late and finished everything, there’d be more to take its place by Monday.

I thought once I get home, sit in front of the TV, complain about how tired I am and fall asleep by about 10 pm, I’d have two days of nothingness in front of me. Two days of sitting around, letting the hours pass by, before heading straight back into work for the last four days before a much needed holiday. That didn’t happen. This is probably a good moment to explain that I am boring as fuck in real life. So is the hubby. We usually don’t go anywhere and an “active” weekend means we’ve done a bit of home improvement or taken a vehicle to be serviced.

Instead, the hubby suggested something crazy and out of character on Saturday. We should go clothes shopping. To illustrate just how insane it is for him to consider such an activity, nevermind to be the driving force behind it, allow me to give some examples of his attitude towards shopping and clothes in general:

  1. He NEVER throws anything away: some of his clothes actually belonged to his dad. 
  2. He is terrible at making decisions, in the rare event that he does buy an item of clothing, he generally can’t choose which colour to go for, so ends up with both.
  3. Online shopping was invented specifically for him so he doesn’t have to go out and deal with other shoppers, or inconveniences such as having to walk from shop to shop.
  4. He’s picky and never likes anything anyone else buys for him, but will generally wear it anyway because it’s a better option than having to go out and shop for himself.

So yeah. After I had already tired myself out trimming the hedge in our front garden (a convenient excuse to be outside spying on our new neighbours, who were just moving in – yep I’m one of those people, apparently), the simple phrase “I need some clothes.” got me disproportionately excited and off we went. Four hours later, our feet ached and we were on the way back with more stuff than I ever expected anyone to buy in a single shopping trip. It seems he caught a bit of holiday fever: the urge to go out and buy new outfits specifically to wear on holiday. And it’s contagious, because now I’ve got it too. 😛

Still feeling all enterprising and stuff on Sunday, we took the cruiser out for a lovely ride through the countryside. Amazing how sometimes a weekend of rest can make you feel more drained than one spent out and about. We’re travelling to Italy on Good Friday, and I’m hopeful that a similar thing will happen throughout the holiday. The plan is to mainly just see a lot of places, there’s not much room for downtime until we’re back on the 27th.

BTW: I’m not going to be online much from the 18th until the 27th, so if you’re going to get in touch during that time, please don’t think I’m ignoring you.

My Boring First Time

Since a fair proportion of my thoughts involve the subject of virginity, I figured it’s only fair to share my own first sexual experience. It’s possible I’ve mentioned it before, actually I don’t really remember and can’t be arsed to search through my older posts, so here goes…

In a time, about a decade ago, and a place which was in a different country from where I am now, I was 17 and somebody’s (online) girlfriend. We had known each other (online) for about one-and-a-half years and had met I believe twice before. I’m sorry in advance, it’s been a while and the details are very blurry.

The first time we met in person I was 16, and he was 21, and we made out and fooled around a bit but there was no sex-sex. The second time, at his place, there were too many parents and other such people around to be able to get away with anything much. My memory is trying to tell me he wasn’t that interested anyway, didn’t see the need to hurry and might’ve even liked the idea of waiting, but I’m not 100% sure now.

I on the other hand was not (and still am not) known for my patience.

So, upon seeing each other again around the time of my High School Graduation, we were messing about a bit in my bedroom and I decided it was time. Rather than jerk him off or doing a sort of strange dry humping type thing, I wanted to know what the real thing would be like. I don’t recall being particularly turned on, just sort of curious.

“Let’s try it,” I said. “If you don’t want to after that, we don’t have to do it again.”

He sort of shrugged and mumbled something about thinking we were going to wait, then agreed and I took my panties off.

After climbing on top and trying to figure out what the right angle would be (I’d practised with a vibrator before, but that’s different), I soon figured out a way and the initial stinging went away pretty quick too. I rode him, he came, I didn’t, and it was overall alright.

A little while later we did it again and that was also OK. Then we had a shower together and my insides were on fire and I wondered if that burning feeling would ever go away.

It did by the next day, so we did it again, and a few times later I figured out how to make myself cum. If anyone’s taking notes, he was quite slim, I was as well, and him sitting with legs crossed with me on top, grinding into him while hanging on with my arms around his waist did the job at the time. Sadly, now that I’m not so skinny, any sort of thigh fat gets in the way, plus the hubby’s thighs are quite muscular, so that technique no longer works. Thankfully others do.

I always found it quite amusing that at 17 I lost it at the same age as my mom (yes, we talked about issues like this). Though to this day I wonder if her experience was more exciting. I should probably ask her next time we’re downing wine in front of the TV and expect a blushy, awkward, response in between coughs that starts with: “Why do you have to ask me stuff like this?”

There may be people reading this now, thinking “OMG that sounds boring as hell, don’t you regret it? Sure, he was your boyfriend at the time, but don’t you wish your first time was more… special?”

No, I don’t really care. My virginity wasn’t precious and it didn’t need to be guarded with my life and handed only to my knight in shining armour. And let’s be clear here, that guy was no knight of any sort.

There had to be a first time, and I’m glad it was consensual, that’s all there is to it for me. It might’ve been better if I’d been madly and passionately in love with the guy. But really, the first time is going to hurt and you’re not going to be particularly good at it. The second time it gets a little better, the third, fourth, fifth times perhaps you’ll start to see the point of it. Or not, I’m pretty sure I got over the novelty of it pretty quickly- with him, anyway. I have zero patience for regrets and what-ifs.

I think when you’re with someone compatible enough and you do find that passion, you’ll have an awesome experience anyway. And if it isn’t your (boring) first time, at least you’ll have the frame of reference necessary to know how great it was, plus you’ll know what to do. Sounds like a double win to me.