The bestest present

I received the bestest Christmas present ever this year, and I'm so happy my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

The boy proposed to me. Of course I said yes. And then bawled.

And I can't stop smiling and staring at my ring. It's perfect. The day was perfect.

I hope you all had just as wonderful and happy a day as I did. :)

How to stalk a wily bag of coffee beans

I was cleaning up my Myspace blog and came across this post from almost two years ago, and remembered all over again the silliness and fun of it, so I thought I'd share it here. It's complete nonsense and oddity, with a twist of Animal-Planet to it, for the overly- (or underly-, if that's a word) caffienated. Enjoy.

Random silliness in an otherwise decaffienated world

I have decided that, in my copious free time here at work, I'd like to spend the next few moments being silly. You have been warned.

And so:

Rather than sit like a sack of semi-wet clay slowly molding from the butt up to the shape of my chair, in front of a computer that derives sadistic glee out of crashing at me just to see me twitch, I'd rather be stalking a bag of coffee beans at Starbucks.

Now, understand, coffee-bean bag stalking is not nearly as casual as most coffee-drinkers would have you believe. To the untrained eye, the coffee-drinker who casually strolls up to the shelf in the coffee isle at your local grocery store and grabs a bag with little or no consideration to the vast array of options is being sly and economic, putting forth as little energy as possible in the gathering of the caffiene-bringer. This is, supposedly, in deference to a lack of energy due to the lack of caffiene (hence the gathering action.)

This is, utterly and unabashedly, wrong.

These casual grabbers are simply inexperienced. They're amatuers slogging loudly through the sacred (and oftentimes dangerous, as I'll expand upon later) jungles of coffee-stuffs and coffee-stuff-makers. They stomp upon hallowed ground with no regard to their wrongdoings! I very much hope that the following description of a proper coffee-bean bag hunt helps to awaken them to their sins and prevent future mishap in the form of foil cuts, bag-shaped bruises, and other, more myserious, coffee-stuffs related injuries.

How to properly choose and stalk a wily bag of coffee beans:

1. Finding the wily coffee-bean bag’s territory.
This is the easy part. Finding the hiding places of coffee-bean bags is like finding wet in the rain. To keep things at their most simple, there are two main ways to go about finding coffee-bean bag territory:

A. Follow your nose. When you catch the rich aroma that speaks undeniably of fresh little pellets of caffiene wrapped in devine flavor, walk in a somewhat straightforward manner until you’ve come to the entrance to the bag’s hiding place (this entrance usually takes the form of what we domestiocated beings call a ‘Door;’ however, as in grocery stores and malls wherein a coffee-kiosk is set up, the entrance may well be no more than the imaginary line drawn across an isle determing the boundary between the coffee-kiosk and ‘Everything Else Un-Noteworthy.’)

B. Find a group of other coffee-drinkers. If you can find a large group of coffee-drinkers, whose members shift and change every few minutes as they get their fixes and leave and others arrive to get their own fixes, you can be assured that you have found a ‘watering hole,’ otherwise known as either ‘the coffee isle’ or ‘(Instert Preffered Coffee Shop name here).’ Now, do not balk at the thought of trying to identify other coffee-drinkers; it’s not a challenge at all. Just keep an eye out for the jittery people and those who talk too fast (these would be the ones who’ve already gotten their fix), or for those who are shuffling along half asleep with no regard to traffic and who cannot come up with a response more intelligent than “mmrmmmphhhrguhhh....mmmmn,” to anything said to them (these have not yet had their fixes, and it is best to avoid them until such a time as they can be safely moved in status to the jittery group.) As with following your nose, make your way to the entrance to the coffee-bean bag’s territory, and after scoping the area for stray beans (nasty buggers, those - completely unpredictable!), cautiously enter.

Note: For the sake of space and time, I’ll continue this lesson with the Coffee Shop scenario rather than going over both that and the Coffe Isle scenario, as it is by far the more dangerous of the two, and far more likely to occurr on a daily basis. You may proceed.

2. Getting the lay of the land.
This is absoluetly necessary! I’ve heard too many horror stories of overly-confident hunters who, after finding the territory, refused to take in whatall was *in* said territory. Their bold, blind death-chases left them with chilling wounds, the likes of which are far too graphic to divulge here (but I will tell that not all the wounds were made by cornered coffee-bean bags; quite a few were the results of other coffee-drinkers driven to insane acts of defense when the foil hit the fan. Can’t say I blame them, really. Poor sots.)

Upon your entry to the territory, it is advised to do a walk-about. This is the act of appearing to casually stroll - seemingly without a care in the world - around the territory, all the while taking in every detail, from the direction of the hand-formed squish-crinkles in the (seemingly) unwitting coffee-bags to the grain of the wood anywhere that wood appears. You have *no* idea how important the grain of wood is when it comes to beating a hasty retreat from a mob of enraged coffee-bean bags. Remember that they are much smaller than you, and so these things make a difference. I’d explain, but we’d be here all day (it reads like a cross between high-school physics, Voodoo, instructions for building a go-kart made out of toothpicks - in French - and the unfortunate recipe for Cinnamon Cod Latte.) Please, please, for the sake of photo-journalistic deceny, pay attention to the grain of the wood!

In your walk-about, take note of the placement of possible obstacles in the form of shelves, signs, chair-and-table combos, and other coffee-drinkers and their offspring. All of these things will play a crucial role in your chances of coming away from the hunt not only successful, but with as few java-caked wounds as possible. After you’ve a reasonably clear layout in your head of the territory, carefully and still with an air of carefree-ish-ness, walk quietly to an available chair and, once again scanning for stray beans, sit.

3.Choosing a likely bag.
As I mentioned before, simply going for the nearest bag of coffee beans without taking a look at what all is available is, to put it mildly, a horrendous mistake. I’d say unforgivable, but I’ve been told I’m a bit opinionated and so am attempting ot lighten up; so, ‘horrendous’ will simply have to do. But I digress.

You will have made a seat choice which will position you in such a way that, with minimal movement, you can scan the shelves and display tables around you, thereby observing without being observed (bags are drawn to movement, you know). Get comfortable. You may wish to use props to appear non-threateing; books, newspapers and laptops have proven time and again to be satisfactory in this area. If you do use props, make sure you don’t over do it; yaks, leashed or loose and no matter the time of year, do not make coffee-bean bags feel safe. This has, unfortunately, been proven. I’ve seen the photographs of the resulting carnage, and they ween’t pretty (if anyone tries to tell you that yaks have itchy trigger-hooves, tell them they’ve no idea ... and then slap them.) Please, keep it simple.

Now, after deciding which species of coffee-bean bag you would like, take the time to choose a likely candidate within that group. If needed, carefully re-position your chair so that you are almost facing your target group, but do not face it directly. Bags often see this as a challenge; however, if you don’t look directly at them, they’ll usually ignore you.

You will be looking for signs of weakness. Yes, weakness- although the popular myth is that you want strong, bold coffee and so must have strong, bold coffee-beans, this is simply an ignorant oversight: if enough coffee-beans are ground and brewed in proprtion to the amount of water used, you can make any coffee as strong and bold as you can stand it, and then some. And so, you look for the weakest, remembering that you are in very, very dangerous territory, hunting a being that has caused more psychological meltdowns than any other thing in the world, year after year. (These meltdowns are not reported due to the fact that such reports would upset and unsettle coffee-bean bags worldwide, and the possible uprising of said bags that this could result in is, quite frankly, a harrowing thought.) So, weak is good.

Now, the problem with this is that, like most herd-animals, coffee-bean bags tend to keep their weakest members safely surrounded by those stronger and more able-bodied. It is not neccesary to watch re-runs on the Discovery channel of herds of wildebeest and antelope on African plains, but it helps. Remember: You are the lion, but even lions can fall with an appropriately placed hoof or horn (or in this case, price tag or waft of aromatic caffienated coffee-scent.)

In an act of complete selfishness, you may want to allow other amatuer coffee drinkers to thin the ranks a bit by casually walking up and grabbing just any bag; although they may be harmed through their ignorance, this will drastically reduce the amount of danger you will find yourself in later when going in for the kill. If an amatuer coffee drinker is indeed attacked, do not, under any cirmumstances, interfere. This is nature’s way, and if we were to help them, they may grow used to it and so would never learn to fend for themselves, and no matter how cute they may be, we have no right to sway the path that their futures may naturally take. Even if they cry out to you, weak and looking pathetic, please restrain yourself. In order to distract yourself form any hero-like thoughts that would only result in more pain, try actually using whatever prop you brought along for it’s originally intended purpose: catching up on the news or surfing the Net for pictures of your neighbor in a wet-boxers contest. It’s not heartless; it’s self-preservation.

4. Going in for the kill.
Once you’ve chosen your bag, you must prepare yourself for the kill. This is no small matter; have a care for what you’re about to do. You are about to embark upon an epic journey across vast feet of man-made flooring to stand right at the edge of the beast’s herd. Not even Ceasar would do so without pause for adequate contemplation of his possibly impending death.

I suggest a quiet meditation to center yourself. Remaining nonchalantly in your seat, slowly but dramatically yawn and stretch. The stretch will cause your spine to bend ever so slightly to one side (which side is your preference) and your arms to reach way up over your head, fists clenched. The yawn will do what yawns do; namely, to stretch your face in a rather unflattering manner. The combination will serve two purposes:

A. To reassure the coffee-bean bags that you are harmless and/or too sleepy to be at the top of your game and so are not an overly worrisome threat.

B. To remind you of all those muscles in your torso and arms which, if things go wrong, you may never feel again, or at least not in the same way or placement. Morbid, but there you go.

While stretching and yawning, chant in your head the following: “Isko-orchie dowge ooble itskee ra noorbe.” The translation of this chant was lost long ago, but it is believed to be, in the ancient language of the legendary Java-Javainians, a prayer for quick deliverance in the case of impending death, as well as something to do with opposable thumbs and percolation. I find it quite calming and quietly empowering.

After the completion of this simple meditation, slowly lower your arms, close your mouth, shift in your seat and look around, never letting your eyes rest on any one object for more than a few seconds. This will give the illusion that you are growing bored with your surroundings and so are getting ready to stand up, gather your props, and leave the territory unscathed and peaceful. Glance once more at your chosen bag and mark any changes in placement within the herd, and stand.

Before we continue, I must once again stress the importance of the grain of wood. Take a moment to visualize the depth and texture of the grain, as well as its direction.

Become one with the varnish, and you will suceed.

Now, speed is of the essence, but do not ignore standard agility and flexibility. Looking at an object near to, but not directly next to, the herd of coffee-bean bags, stride forward with a look of curiosity lighting your face. Do not look at your chosen bag except in quick sly glances consisting of a momentarly sliding of eyes under the lids. Do not slow as you approach the herd - slowing will alert them to your act and give them ample opportunity to strike.

As you pass the herd, still looking at your chosen random object of distraction, very quickly reach into the herd and grab your bag very firmly about the midriff and, before any of the bags has a chance to react, withdraw and speed your pace up to an-almost skip for the last few steps to the object of distraction. Keeping a tight, two-handed hold of your bag, turn scan the area for signs of unrest.

If you’re lucky, and your wrist was limber enough and your pace smooth eneough, the bags remaining in the herd will not challenge you, deferring to your obvious dominance in a show of stillness. A few might crinkle nervously, but if you make no more sudden moves their submission will hold.

If you’re not lucky, the ensuing battle will be one you’ll never forget. As all coffee-bean bag herds are different, and follow different rules, I cannot adequately warn you of what may or may not happen. Allow me to observe then that you should immediately make good use of your knowledge of the grain of any nearby wood, grab a sign to use as a shield, and run like hell, overturning tables, chairs, ond other coffee-drinkers in your wake as obstacles for the rampaging bags.

Note: If you are attacked, drop the bag you grabbed immediately! Not only will this possibly pacifiy the other bags, it will prevent you from ending up in the very awkward situation of attempting to explain to the local law enforcement just why you ran out of the Coffee Shop with an unpaid-for bag of coffee-beans.

Assuming that you have sucessfully snatched your chosen bag and not been attacked, calmly follow your normal routine of proceeding to the check-out counter and paying for the bag. Be very careful not to set the bag down, however, even if it means an extra ten or twenty seconds of rummaging one-handed through a purse or wallet for money. Once you’ve set the bag down within its home territory, all bets are off; it is then assumed that you have had second thoughts as to your own strength and resulting ability to hold the bag hostage, and so you will be duly attacked in vengeance for making the bags feel subissive to you even for those few minutes.

I never said they were not beasts of honor and integrity; I simply said they’re highly dangerous. Head-hunters are highly dangerous as well, but that doensn't mean they’re bad people at heart.

So, now that you have sucessfully hunted and taken down a coffee-bean bag, collect your props and leave in a timely manner in respect for the dead and those left to mourn. Have a heart. Go home, or to work, and make a proper sacrifice to the coffee-bean bag’s spirit by promptly grinding the beans and brewing a rich, flavorfull pot of well-earned coffee. Then with all due ceremony, repeat the chant you chanted with your earlier meditation (it is also believed to mean Thank-you in Java-Javanesian) and, finally, drink.

And don’t forget to toast the glorious dead.

Harry holidays



Himself, posing for Christmas cards.

Be good and he'll leave chocolate-covered crickets in your stocking.

They might even be pre-chewed, if you're really good.

The Corpse Artist

So, yeah, this Christmas will be pretty good after all in terms of being able to get presents for everyone I'd like to. I still can't splurge and by tons of stuff for each person on my list, but that's ok - that would just be icing on the cake. The boy and I just got back from our second (and hopefully last) round of christmas shopping, and I figured now's a good a time as any to update the ol' blog. So, without further ado:

School
Managerial Finance (the class I'm taking this term) officially sucks, and I now have one more occupation to add to the list of occupations you couldn't convince me to have even if you had $100 billion in one hand and a gun in the other, and gave me the choice. I will never ever be a financial analyst.

Part of this is the tediousness of the tasks. Part of it is that my brain wants to (and usually does) shut down after one simple formula becomes twenty simple formulas, all of which are needed in order to calculate twenty other simple formulas, all of which are needed to get one lousy percentage that will tell potential investors if they should buy stock in a company.

Part of it is my professor. She's been in the financial business for longer than I've been alive, and so knows what she's talking about. The downside of this is that after the first week she began teaching us as if we, too, knew what she was talking about, and for most of us this is only our first or second class that has anything to do with financial data, period. On top of that, she's one of those people who, smart as they may be, should not be teachers, because they don't know how to teach. I have been exceedingly frustrated and at times downright pissed off with her lectures and the incredible lack of information, which we are left to figure out for ourselves.

Don't get me wrong - I know that learning things on our own is part of the deal, but this is the equivalent of telling a three-year old they can't breathe underwater because that's not how the human body works, then leaving them to figure out the major details of creating a high-tech underwater living system for the entirety of humanity in less than three days because a meteor or somthing is going to hit the earth and cover it in water.

No, really. This woman gives us point A and expects us to find points B through Y to get to Z.

I have accpeted the fact that I may not be on the Chancellor's list when this term is over. That's not to say I am now or will fail the class - I just highly doubt I'll be getting an A. It's sort of a bummer, but I'm not the only one having troubles with this professor, so I know the lack of an A won't be because of my lack of trying or intelligence. That helps, and I'm not really upset anymore about it, but it still sucks. I've been on the Chancellor's list from my first term, for the first time in my life. I'm sort of proud of that.



Work
It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people can be. I know, I've said this before. But really, I'm astounded on an almost daily basis at work by the stubborn dumbness of some of the people there.

Take Crack Hen, for instance. This is the woman who works at the front desk, and I call her Crack Hen because her personality is that of a mother hen on crack cocaine. Go ahead, giggle. The image this conjures is a funny one. Unfortunately, the reality isn't.

Just a quick example of her amazing tencaity when it comes to not grasping the obvious:

Just the other day Crack Hen came back to the Production Department with an obituary to be typed up (the coordination of obituary publications is one of her many tasks, but the real work - typing it all up - of course falls to us). There was, as is often the case, some something about this particular obit that she felt required deep explaination, and since my boss is usually the one to type up obits she asked if he was at work that day, as he wasn't at his desk. I gave my daily reply that yes, he is at work today, just not at his desk at the moment. As she walked over to his desk to put the obit on it, she asked if I would tell him when he got back that she had put the obit on his desk.

Because, you know - when he returns to his desk, and sits down at his desk, and picks up the obit to move it off of his keyboard so he can type, he just might not see the obit that was placed on his desk, on his keyboard where he can't miss it, which he had to pick up and move to be able to continue his work.

I nodded.

I watched her leave the room, and when she was gone, looked at both of my coworkers who rolled their eyes as I rolled mine. We shook our heads, sort of laughed soft, amazed, derisive laughs, and muttered in soft astounded voices.

This is an almost daily occurence, by the way.

About twenty minutes later, my boss returned from lunch and we all had a sarcastic laugh as I informed him as soon as he sat at his desk that Crack Hen had put an obit on his desk, and that it was right in front of him. He sarcastically pretended not to see it. We sarcastically told him that's because he was soooo stupid. He sarcastically agreed, rubbed his eyes, and searched for the obit.

Not long after this bit of fun at Crack Hen's expense, she called my boss, at his desk, to ask him specifically if he had seen that she had put an obit on his desk.

Seriously.

More eye rolling and amazed and sarcastic muttering followed.

I had a small victory with her the next day, though. My boss worked a half day that day so that I had to put together page A-1, and we had a story that would be late and caused our press deadline to be pushed back an hour. Now, at the new deadline, when I and the editors were scrambling to get that last big story and all its photos to fit in the space alotted and I'm snarling every time the phone rings and it's the press wondering where the pages are (even though they knew of the later deadline for days, but planned their Christmas party for that evening anyway), Crack Hen walked in, obit in hand.

Crack Hen, seeing that my boss wasn't there, turned to me. At the time I had an editor standing at my shoulder watching and directing me as I pulled the story and photos together. Obviously, I was just a wee bit busy at the moment. Still Crack Hen stood like a good little junkie yardbird, at the end of my desk, obit clasped in hands, looking at me.

I ignored her, not just out of sheer irritation at her very presnece but due as well to the fact that, well, I was just a wee bit busy at the moment.

Crack Hen cleared her throat and opened her mouth to speak - probably to explain that she had an obit that needed to be typed up (nevermind the fact that the inbox for obits that need to be typed up was right next to her).

I held up one finger (not that one, though I'd have liked to) and said, quick, simple, and to the point: "On deadline right now."


Case closed. End of discussion. Go away.



And she went away.


It was ... beautiful.



Medical stuff
Remember my mentioning in my bitching about finances that all the medical bills I had were for simple little everyday things that just kept adding up, not for big bad scary stuff? Irony just might be the end of me.

The boy and I are doing much better than I had expected we would at this time of year, and just two days ago I paid off, in full, my last medical bill. Big relief that was, as yesterday was my yearly check up. You know, the girly check up? With the special equipment and lab tests? Yeah, that one. Oh, joy, thought I, and the lab tests will cost an arm and a leg and I'll be right back where I was and speaking of legs ...

After I had been thoroughly prodded in places I really don't wish to be prodded by just anyone, my doctor wrapped up the session with the typical question, "Is there anything else you need to have checked out?"

I was about to give my usual answer of "No," but then remembered something.

This summer I gave in to fashion a bit and bought shorts and a of couple skirts. This required that I either A) get a serious tan, because my skin could put Snow White to shame, or B) wear nylons. In summer. In California.

Needless to say, I opted for a tan. However, having been thoroughly scared shitless about the dangers of skin cancer at a young age, I loathe being out in the sun unless absolutely necessary (part of this is just that it's fucking HOT, but skin cancer doesn't sound fun either). This left me with the classic dilema: to tan or not to tan?

I opted for a nice spray-on tan. Go ahead, laugh. I did. But, it beats being hot for a long time just to cook your skin to a darker tone because someone somewhere said that's what's pretty, and risk skin cancer to boot.

Tanning-spray in hand, I stared at my unfasionably white legs, sighed, and began the process of spray-painting myself beautiful. Now, anyone who has tried spray-on-tans can attest to the mess, the streaks, the splatters, and the overall aggravation and humiliation that results. In the end, I think I only wore each pair of shorts and each skirt once, just so they wouldn't end up being a complete waste.

My legs - tanned, most definately - were streaky, slightly orange-ish, and bore random spots of darker tan where the original spray didn't take so I sprayed again, and it turned darker than the rest (of course). I hid my monstrosities in pants and just dealt with the heat, fashion-craze firmly snubbed.

After the fake tan had faded I noticed one of the darker spots didn't fade with the rest. Remembering those additional spritzes where it had appeared necessary, I didn't think much of it until a few months later when the spot was still there, just as nicely tanned and more noticable now against my whiter-than-Snow-White leg. I wondered a bit about it, but still wasn't much concerned. I wrote it off to the spray staining my skin more than it was supposed to - perhaps permanently - and with a sigh promtly forgot about it again.

Since then I've occasionally noticed the spot in the shower, still tan as it was in summer. It's approximately four inches around, and still fades nicely at the edges to my normal white skin. Each time I'd notice it, and notice that it wasn't any lighter, I'd wonder a bit more, until the wondering bordered on worry. Being as I'd forget all about it within a few days, worry never actually kicked in.

However, in the last month or so I've begun to wonder if I shouldn't worry about it, and have it checked out. These tanning sprays aren't supposed to permanently stain your skin, and the rest of it faded completely long, long ago. There's just this one strange area that never faded, leaving me to ask myself in a disquieting voice if maybe the spot wasn't from overzealous spraying at all, but something else.

So, when my doctor asked me the usual "anything else" question, I mentioned the spot and showed her. And my heart sunk a little when she nodded and said "Yes; it is very definately darker than the skin around it, and it's a big patch of skin too."

She said it might be a good idea to have it checked out.

In two weeks, I go back to my doctor to have a chunk of that nice, tan skin removed for testing. A week after that I'll go back to have the sutures removed. I don't know how long it will take to get the test results, but I'm hoping not too long because while I'm totally calm about it now, I might not be if I have to wait and wait and wait.

I'm actually suprised I'm so calm about it. I'm not usually the type to be calm about medical stuff. I tend to worry myself sick, usually over nothing. Now that there may very well be something to actually worry about, I'm not. Maybe it's because the patch of darkened skin doesn't hurt or feel weird to give me something to pay attention to, so that it's easy to tell myself it may very well be nothing more than accidentally permanently stained skin. And there's nothing scary about that - I'd just feel like the ultimate fashion dork.

It doesn't look suspicious at all. No lumps, or bumps, or spots or patches. It just looks like I have a nice tan - not even a dark one - only in that one place on that one leg.

In two weeks, it will be one patch of a nice tan with a chunk taken out and replaced with sutures. I could say I'm going for the Corpse Bride look, so that I'm still utterly fashionable. You know - pale as death, stitches ... It could work.

Ok. Maybe I'm worried a little. But only a little. I mean, it doesn't hurt, so it can't be that bad, right? (Here's where you humor me by nodding and saying "right.")

Sigh. Time for an abrupt subject change.


Hair
It's official: my hair is now the longest it's been in seven years, and it's mostly healthy, I think. Not fried. Not dried out. Dying hasn't killed it this time. It's a bit frizzy if left to it's own devices instead of being tamed with leave-in conditioner, and I have a mysterious chunk that is much much shorter than the rest -right on top of my head, to the right a bit. Looks sort of like someone cut off a lock of it and didn't tell me. Nevertheless, it's usually not noticeable, so I don't feel the urge to break out the clipper and buzz everything down to an eighth of an inch again.

Amazingly, that urge hasn't hit for a long time now. It used to be a frequent thing (hence the seven years of short hair that I'm only just now getting past). I can pull most of my hair back into a (dorky, admittedly) little ponytail, with only a bit tucked behind my ears falling loose. It works, actually. I think if the urge to buzz rises again, all I'll have to do is grab a hair tie to remind myself how long my hair is getting, and the urge will pass. But I doubt the urge will rise again. It usually only did so when I was outraged at the total unruliness and mess of my hair, due to the fact that it was just long enough to need taming (styling), but not long enough to be tamed. Now it is, barely, so the "fuck it - just shave it off," urge has no reason to rear its ugly head (and bare mine, heh heh ...)

Ok. I've promptly run out of things to say, and dorky attempts at wittiness to drag out simple things. So, goodnight then. And happy holidays.

- The Corpse Artist

A translation of last night's blunken drog

Apologies. I don't drink much or often, so when I do I have a tendency to crack myself up by attempting to type while drunk-ish. It doesn't matter what's being typed, or if it has any real reason to exist - if I can amuse myself to no end with misspellings, random punctuation marks that appear in the middle of words depsite their distance on the keyboard from the letters I meant to use, and the simple admission that "hey, I'm kinda fucked up right now!" - I will.

It's a weakness.

The story behind last night's whiskey-induced blunken drog is simple: It was the night of the company Christmas party, and as I had to re-word the assignment due that night just a wee bit and so had to leave the party early-ish, I promptly and early on took advantage of my own and the boy's one free drink ticket (that's two free drinks for me, because he rarely drinks) and then allowed myself to be convinced (without much resistance, I'll admit) to indulge in a shot of straight whiskey with the small handfull of other workers under the age of 50 (there aren't many of us, so we have to stick together). Note that my two free drinks contained whiskey as well.

I like whiskey. It makes me fell sort of fuzzy, and raises the hilarity level of simple things - like walking, and door handles.

It also makes it a wee bit hard to write, and read, but that ends up being pretty damned funny too.

Now, no tsk-tsking. I had no problems re-working that assignment (all I ended up needing to do, actually, was delete a sentence that wasn't really necessary anyway) and got it turned in on time. And I think I did a damn good job on it, to boot.

The assignment was completed before I went to the party, but with online schooling there is a thing called originality verification - a tool which compares papers and discussion board posts to those of other students' sumissions, myriad websites, and e-books to ensure students aren't cheating. To determine the level of cheating or not-cheating, this verification tool gives each assignment a similarity score from 0-100%, and anything over 25% is unaccpetable, period. My score was 26%, so some cleaning up was needed, and deleting that one sentence that contained the monetary values used in the assignment that were also used by every other student doing the assignment fixed it.

The originality verification is aggravating to those students who are not cheating, because so often good references will be used by so many others simply because they are easily found (everyone uses the textbooks given for the course as one of the two minimum required references) and are so useful, and they will be caught in the scoring. Also, some things - like key terms and ideas whose definition and discussion are the entire assignment - simply cannot be reworded, or so many students have tried different words that there are no more left that have not been used before, and so are once again caught. The same is true of numeric values needed for the assignments, which this one utilized. Every spreadsheet I created using the monetary values metioned and the excel formulas specified by the instructor match 100% those of every other student who did them as directed as well. You can't fudge numbers. So a good half of my sim score was from those spreadsheets, which have to use those exact numbers and exact formulas, or of course I'd get the whole damn thing wrong and get an F.

Aggravating, to say the least, but usually it's easily fixable. Well, words are anyway. With numbers you're either screwed because you did it right and so did everyone else, or you're screwed because you did it wrong, so you get a lower grade anyway because you're dumb.

Further, certain strings of words that are required for every individual paper are caught. What I mean is, for my school the words that absolutely must appear on the title page - "Colorado Technical University," and the class code and instructor name - are caught every damn time. Because every damn student uses those required words on their title page, every damn time. Because they're required, and no re-wording of them is allowed. We are given a report template and if papers do not use it, we lose points. So at least one "caught cheat" for every single paper assignment submitted by every single student will be the school and class information.

Lazy cheating fuckers.

Sigh.

But returning from my rant, whiskey was no obstacle to deleting the sentence that explained what the yearly monetary forecasts in this assignment were. And since those same numbers were used in every spreadsheet, explaining them in the text was not necessary, so that the loss of that sentence didn't take away from the quality of my work.

I was responsible before, during, and after my whiskey-indulgence, so all's well, and I amused myself greatly with my blunken drog. Sure, it's not really funny now, just sort of ... well, a drunken blog stating just that. But I giggled helplessly at the time.

Forgive my easily-amused nature and its antics. And drink some whiskey - it turns walking into a wildly thrilling adventure, and the act of turning one's head into a sort of personal roller-coaster, but without the throwing up and screaming (well, unless you've had too much to drink, but that's another story).

Let it be known ...

... that wihisket at the company chrismats party ix goood. Bu tit kinda makes it hard to type. An dfix school stuff. (No worries- tha paper was already written, just need t fine tune it for a lwoer similarity score. Still, kinda hard tottype.)

Happy holsidays all. And ghoodngiht.

Note: Yes, thia hS BEEN AN ACUTAL ALCHOLOL RWELATED RDUBNKEN POST FROM dRAGIN LAUGH,

pSS THAT WAS SUPOSED TO BE APERIOD. Crap, capslock ws stil on. K, goodnight for real this time. (Holy shit I actuall;y p[elled most fo that sentecne corretly,.)_

Feelin' it

I'm in a considerably better mood today than I was a few days ago with my Christmas card to the void post. Actually, I wasn't really in an actively bad mood that day, it's just that when I began to write all this angst bubbled up and poured out, sort of unexpectedly. I think it was necessary, though, to get it out so I can get on with things.

Have I mentioned that Mama Wren rocks? She called me after having read the post to make sure I was okay and reassure me once again that it really is the thought that counts (and I really do know that, but I like giving gifts to people, regardless) and that actually the subtle rejection I'd felt from certain family members wasn't in my head; it really is just how they are. That helped, because I was beginning to feel like maybe I had imagined it and was being all pouty and whiny. But no; it's just life with these people, and Mama Wren learned long ago and I'm slowly learning now that it doesn't signify dislike, per se, just different views, and I'm learning to begin to let it go. I still have bitter moments crop up now and then - sometimes unexpectedly - but really for the most part, it's all good.

And after having spoken with Mama Wren for a while about the holiday spirit in general I began to feel it, a little bit. She's a smart lady - have I mentioned that? - and she has a great way of explaining things that makes you realize why things feel as they do. Of course I wasn't feeling too Christmassy - I'm working full time, doing school the rest of the time, trying to make ends meet (and succeeding where it really matters, but stressing anyway on the things that could wait but cost more to do so), etc., on top of having little room to decorate to remind my inner six-year-old that Christmas is coming soon. No wonder I felt a little bah-humbuggish. I don't have much time for anything else. So she said she'd look for one of those little table-top Christmas trees that we could put on the end of the coffee table or a shelf, so we'd have a tree at least. Or, I could put ornamnets on the fake treee (I think it's a ficus tree?) that I got for Harry to climb around on outside his cage so he can sit and watch TV with the boy and I.

He really does watch TV with us, given the chance, and his cage is placed so that he can see the TV from it, and there are times when we'll hear him clamber down from a branch and scramble over to the front of his cage. When we look over, he's staring intently across the room at the screen, mesmerized. This usually happens when there are lots of explosions going on in whatever show or movie is on, which amuses me in terms of male stereotyping. Even lizard boys like the idea of blowing shit up.

So Christmas will be just fine. I still want to get gifts for everyone, if I can, and I was just approved for my first ever "real" credit card (I have one already through my bank, but had to pay for it, so it doesn't really count, IMHO). I don't planning on splurging with it, of course (I'm a little cautious of the temptation of credit cards) - I don't even plan on using it unless I need to. In the end we'll be perfectly ok with the bills that need tp be paid right away, and those medical bills can still be slowly paid off, at least for now, without too much in the way of late fees, and will still be able to get at least little things for people. But it's nice to know that if I find something really amazing that I know someone has been looking for for a long time, I could get it for them for Christmas, just because it'll make them smile.

The boy and I will actually have two Christmasses this year - the aforementioned early one with my family and the actual Christmas day with his family. The conflicting work schedules that make essential the earlier gathering actually makes the timing perfect - this way we won't have to split up one day between two families (and two dinners). Further, the boy's parents will be picking up Phoenix that day and bringing him to town, so that he'll be part of that day too. He has a Chrsitmas break from school, and will spend several days with the boy and I before going back home. I know the boy is excited about that, which makes me excited too.

This year really will be more about family than previous years, and I like that. I've alwasy understood the importance of family, but took it for granted. Then I'd read books by great authors (specifically Anne Rice) that outlined long family lines and secrets and events and closeness, and I began to understand what it meant in a way that made more sense than the general vague knowledge of blood ties. And I began to want to know more about my own family. And now, I have the possibility of learning more than I'd vere realized there was to learn, and in the midst of it I've gained a second family - the boy's.

When I let go of the stress of bills and time, I'm really actually pretty damn excited. I just need to remember it. Somehow, I imagine six-year-old-me won't let me forget again.

Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

You must check out http://dailycoyote.blogspot.com. You simply must.

This is one of the most wonderful blogs I've had the fortune to come across, and (of course!) I found it through Cute Overload. This is the photo journal of a young coyote named Charlie who was saved by a woman in Wyoming when he was mere days old, orphaned when his parents were killed. Charlie lives with this wonderful lady and her cat, Eli, and oh, you must see this! The photos are wonderful, the "Notes on Charlie" are wonderful, the whole thing is wonderful. No, Charlie is not a pet, and this woman understands that and has accepted that Charlie alone will decide what happens when he "grows up", so don't get your hackles up - she's not going to try to keep a wild animal captive against its will. And really, that's one of the greatest things about it: despite realizing the possibility that Charlie may well one day decide he wants to take off and brave the wide world on his own, she cherishes the time she has with him in this amazing relationship between human and wild animal. Check it out. You can even subscribe to get a daily photo of Charlie as he grows and learns.

Oh, you must.

Christmas card to the void

This is not a happy post, though it has everything to do with the holidays - family, thoughtfulness, giving gifts not because you have to but because you care for someone and want to show that you do and make them smile for half a moment. This is a bitter post, frustrated with some things, angry with others things that I've kept to myself for years.

This Christmas season, I'm just not feeling it. Here it is, the second day of December - the second day that I by rights and tradition should be giggly and full of childish glee and wonder, counting down the days, decorating, planning - and all I can think is "I wish this were over already." I think part of the reason is that there are no decorations at The Dragon's Den, since a) neither the boy or I own any of our own Christmas decorations yet, b) said decorations cost money that we don't have, and c) even if we could afford to glitz up the place, there's no room for miscellaneous "stuff." No, really. It's that small an apartment.

No tree, no wreath, no holly or ribbons or bows or pretty multi-colored trinkets. The only candles we have are the regular every-day ones that almost never are burned because they end up in the way, and we have no available electrical sockets left for plugging in Christmas lights we might like to run around the edges of the ceiling. Ok, I could put up a wreath, but really, without everything else what's the damn point? Not even the weather feels Christmas-like. Sure, it's cold as hell at night and in the mornings, but by the time noon rolls around its usually blindingly sunny and hot again. It's pretty much still summer here, during the hours that count for wakefulness.

There's a Christmas tree at my work, but it's not in the front lobby - the most logical place to put it, so that customers can see it - or anywhere else that makes sense. It's shoved up against the grey cubicle-wall that edges the graphics department, taking up a huge amount of space in the walkway between that wide blank grey cubicle-wall and the little desk area for the courier and the lady who used to be the courier but who now does a bunch of scheduling and dummying. It's not even a department in and of itself. Behind that desk area is a big open space with a few rarely used tables, and beyond that about half a dozen ad reps, all the way on the other side of the room. Whoever put the tree up this year wasn't thinking very well.

Christmas sucks anyway when you're constantly broke and owing on medical bills (which just keep getting bigger because the medical company keeps tacking on huge late fees, even if you make regular - and fairly large - payments on them). I mean it really sucks. I've bought a whopping total of one present so far, and already I'm grinding my teeth at the fact that I really could have used that money for gas. Or for another payment on a medical bill (and these aren't bills for horrible awful things, just run-of-the-mill viruses that make you wonder if you've got lung cancer or some such but then clear up on their own as soon as the doctor tells you they will and charges you for that "duh-advice.") Then I feel shitty for thinking that, because I'm supposed to be thinking about other people this time of year, right? Not myself? But I do think of others, and see all sorts of great stuff they'd love to have and that I'd love to give them, but can't really afford. Or I could afford to, but then I couldn't pay all my bills, or at least not make enough payments on them to pay them off before the next $30 fee is tacked on. So I see stuff to buy, and I feel like a tightwad for not buying it, but then hours or days later I'm glad I didn't because I end up needing that money that I didn't spend on someone else. So I feel relieved, then wonder what he hell I'm going to get for gifts and how, and bitch about the fact that my family's Christmas is taking place several days early this year because of conflicting work schedules, so that I have even less time to buy stuff. Then I feel like shit all over again.

And do you know how much I hate the saying "it's the thought that counts"? Because I know that, really, but I also know how excited everyone gets about both giving and receiving gifts, so if I can't afford to buy someone something, even something small, I feel like I'm not playing fair, because gods know they're going to buy me something, even it if puts them over the limit on their credit card, and damned if it isn't going to be something nice and thoughtful and probably expensive to boot. And, just to make me feel even smaller, they'll probably get me three or four gifts, even though they insitsed I should only get them one, or not worry at all. Can you believe the nerve of some people? (Yes, that last bit was sarcastic.)

My family has tried the no-gift-giving thing. Not long at all after the no-gift rule was established, my aunt whined and begged to have it changed to one-gift, as in the whole white-elephant deal with drawing names so each person only buys one gift, period. So we caved, and we all bought one gift, until not too terribly long before The Big Day this same aunt admitted to having splurged and bought something for everyone - actually, several somethings for everyone. Everyone else was vastly disgruntled, because that meant we'd all have to do the same, of course. It's not that we didn't want to give each other nice things, but it would have been nice to know this tidbit of information a wee bit earlier so we could have budgeted appropriately and spent time finding thoughtful gifts rather than dashing out madly to find the first thing - regardless of price or quality - that might in any tiny way appeal to whoever we were buying for at the time.

I doubt this experiement will ever be repeated.

I've made my Christmas-money woes for this year known to Mama Wren, who nods sagely and tells me not to worry about it, that no one in the family is going to either really feel like and/or be able to afford lots of presents this year. And although I realize she's smart and she's working on logic, I've discovered that our extended family and logic does not mix as expected. Yes, we've lost two members of the family this year, and another the year before that, so that the holidays are somehow less than they were. Yes, the economy sucks right now so none of us really has much "splurge" money.

No, this does not mean we will all act accordingly.

Those who do have just the tiniest of financial wiggle room will splurge because they want to, which means the rest of us have to, because that's just the way it works. No one actually tallies the gifts to see who has one or two more or less. No one says anything if they don't receive a gift from one person. But it's there, unspoken, invisible and guilty. We all have to give equally, doncha know? It feels like a chore, not fun like it's meant to be.

And to top it all off, I'm really not that into big family gatherings. I know how that sounds: like I'm some heartless or careless person who only gets together with said family at big events, and only because I have to. You'd be half-right, but the first half of that is directed at me from said family, and so causes the second half.

See, although I try my damnedest (and I think I usually succeed) to be a good, kind, friendly, caring person, I have tattoos. And piercings. And I'm more comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt than pressed, feminine slacks, a nice floofy blouse and a sweater vest. And my hair is short, but not fashionably so. And I like things like dragons and demons and monsters and stuff. And I don't like kids much.

For most of my teenage years and past up until very recently (see: I went back to college and am actually getting all A's) I have been a disappointment. Despite my creativity and sense of adventure, humor, fun, and overall cheerfulness, I was never up to the expectations of my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles. This was never voiced, of course, but I'm not stupid. At family gatherings (Christmas was always the worst for this, just because it's supposed to be all about family) all the "grownups" would be gathered around talking, talking, talking, and us "kids" (that's despite actual age) would be off in our own corners of the house, quiet and out of the way. It was ok with the grownups if we peeked in every once in a while for a minute or two - it gave them a chance to check up on us, and then we'd be off again on our own, or could stick around if we didn't do or say much.

I began to understand what a disappointment I was when I began trying to contribute to conversations. At first I was indulged with various questions about my life, but the answers I gave were never the right ones. Those answers (which seemed perfectly ok to me then and still do to this day) always brought half-frowns and serious looks and further questions as to "why" this and "why" that, like I was wrong. If I didn't like my PE class, that wasn't a perfectly normal thing for some kids, it was a serious concern and a sort of dull shock to my elders, especialy when I explained that it being so very hot all the time in California was half the reason I hated that class. Who wouldn't like the sun, and to be out in it? Ignore the fact that "being out in it" meant running around in 95+ degree weather, without breaks, without the freedom to go sit in the shade for five minutes to cool down wihtout that day's participation points suffering for it. If I was still drawing dragons and unicorns I really should try to draw more acceptable things like portraits or landscapes or still lifes. If I played card or video games that centered around magic and adventure, I needed to grow up and understand that magic wasn't real (I learned that little fact of life when I was still a child, but I still like the idea of it - what's wrong with that?); I should instead get a real hobby, or perhaps a job mowing lawns or babysitting.

More exasperating questions were things like why didn't I know what my friend's father did for a living, or what another friend's mother liked to do in her time off? Like I should know these things because not for sheer curiosity's sake but because they were dreadfully important and I was irresponsible or a bad friend for not knowing. So sorry about that, but these things just never came up in conversation with those friends, and I couldn't see why I should be naturally curious about them to the extent that I would sit my friends down and have a lengthy discussion about all the ins and outs of their families. I still can't. It's not information that I need to know to determine whether or not someone should be considered a friend, so unless it relates in some way to me or that friend, like if a friend's aunt happened to be a librarian or their brother loves tattoos, why is it necessary for me to fill me head with meaningless titles, hobbies and quirks?

As the years passed, I didn't change much, and neither did my extended family. It got to the point in my early 20s that if I attempted to join a conversation, said conversation suddenly ended after a strained and tense last few exchanged words which didn't much include mine. This would result in a group of "grownups" and one "trying to be grownup but still obviously only a child" sitting around a table or living room, quiet, and no one much looking at me, until I'd finally get uncomfortable and leave. It was never long after I'd leave that the conversation would pick up again and the "grownups" would be laughing gaily and loudly while I tried not to feel rejected, instead once again turning to those bad, childish, worthless worlds of fantasty through either reading, writing, drawing or playing a game. And it wasn't like I simply wasn't on a level with them in terms of conversational ability - what I had to say was legitimate, appropriate and would have added well enough to the conversation. I "got it." I "understood." I could have chatted just fine, given the chance.

Needless to say, this realization made me rather bitter. What had I done to make them dislike me, or feel as if I wasn't good enough to be included in a simple conversation? Was I really so freakish with my books and my drawings and my preference of fantasy genres over mystery or romance or good old fashioned Civil War documentaries? Did my tattoos and piercings really make me a bad person? Because I didn't feel like one, and I certainly didn't act like one. Did the fact that I didn't know every detail of my friends' families make me unworthy of being a part of my own?

I eventually gave up trying to participate in family life at family gatherings, instead making sure I had a good long book to read or a pad of paper and full set of colored pencils to pass the long time on my own.

Events wherein family gathers have not felt very family-like to me since I really was a "kid," and I hate that. I've hated it for years. But I never said anything that might make my family more uncomfortable - I just went off to another room where I wouldn't be seen or heard much.

Maybe I should have given them an earful, stood up for myself, because damnit I am a good person. I always have been. If my younger half-sister (no blood relation to the side of the family in question), never much trusted before and now an ex-con, could be welcomed with open arms and cheerful invitations to sit and talk awhile, why couldn't I? What had I done wrong in simply existing?

Lately, as mentioned above, this has changed. Now I'm the Golden Child. It started very tremulously when I stated I had applied to a college to get my Bachelor's degree. The realization that I had "finally grown up" and was making a decision that my family approved of came slow and with much doubt as to whether or not I'd actually go through with the decision and the responsibility. Now, keep in mind I'd made this decision of my own volition, withough my family pushing me for it - they gave up on convincing me to go back to college years ago, so that it had become a non-topic, pointless to argue and frustrating to form the words for. I made this decision without consulting any of them, because I had to understand that it was I who wanted and was ready to return to college. Why then was my decision - even the fact that I'd gotten the ball rolling and actually applied before mentioning it - not immediately taken as the good sign that it was? Why was my announcement met with caution, not of the college itself but of my decision, period?

Again just to make clear, none of this relfective of Mama or Papa Wren. They've always included me and were thrilled about my decision to go back to college - mom even chortled over the phone when I told her. No, this distrust came from my grandmother foremost, and from other various extended family members - the ones who made family gatherings inclusive only of those they deemed "appropriate" or "acceptable."

It wasn't until I had finished my first term and could boldy announce that I was not just on the Dean's List but on the Chancellor's List that my decision was finally, fully accepted as a good idea that I had come up with and acted upon. And now I am included in conversations, despite still giving answers that I know are not liked, with very few uncomfortable silences. I am finally part of the family, albeit still the strange one, still the wandering one who doesn't know any better but who's trying, you know. I enjoy the conversations I am now allowed to fully participate in without scorn to the extent that I feel like a half-starved person suddenly given bread and water that was there the whole time but held just out of reach. A part of me wants to forget all those years of subtle rejection and embrace the family I'm finally allowed into, especially now that it's shrunken by one grandfather, one aunt and most recently her husband, my uncle, so that I feel I'm running out of time to connect. The bitter part of me - the part that holds onto hurts and indignities and injustices almost like they're bread and water themselves at times - is flat out disgusted with my enjoyment of these conversations, knowing full well that it's only a small part of me that's really being accepted.

Having been alienated - however unintentionally and perhaps without realizing they were doing it - for the latter half of my life has made me cautious. I want to know all the things about my family that I never knew because I was never allowed to learn them. I want to talk - really talk - about the things in life that matter to me, that matter to them. But I'm still afraid to fully speak my mind.

I want them to know I know they didn't see me for who I really am, but instead saw only what was different from them. I want them to know I know that those differences scared the hell out of them because they couldn't relate. I want them to know I think them cowards of a sort for not trying harder, but then that makes me a coward too, because I could have remained in their uneasy silence until I broke it and forced them to see and understand and accept me, and I didn't. I want them to know I don't hate them for it, but that I do think less of them for it, and that I think less of me, too.

I want them to know that the straight-A student they now hold so dear became that without them, and I want to see what they think of that idea - that despite their rejection I finally, somehow, became in part what they wanted me to become. I want them to know that whatever they thought of me to cause such rejection, they were wrong.

I'm not really looking forward to Christmas with my extended family this year, because even though I'll finally be able to talk with them I still can't say what needs to be said. It's not the right time, if ever there will be one. I'm beginning to get over the fuzzy-warm feeling of final acceptance, and the bitterness is beginning to eat at me again. I am still in a sense alienated from those family members, and maybe I always will be, because what they may not realize is that I haven't changed, only my actions to get to where I've always wanted to be in life. I still have my head in the clouds, dreaming of winged scaly things and worlds that only exist in books. I still draw fairy-tale pictures, and darker things that I don't show to most people. I still believe (though that belief is tried mightily at times) in the basic goodness of people, and that this belief does not make me weak or prone to be taken advantage of by bad (see: real) people. I still believe that if I try hard enough (and yeah I think that straight-As is hard enough, damnit) I can find the means to make a career with my artwork - even if it's not my full-time, every-day job. I still get lost in books in a way that I can't in any other aspect of my life, so that someone can be speaking to me, trying to get my attention for several minutes before I realize they're there, and I still love it. I still wish on stars, hoping beyond hope that the world is wrong and that magic does really exist, somewhere, if I find the right star and speak the right words.

And despite my bitterness, I still just want my family with me during the holidays, gifts or no gifts, decorations or no decorations. I just still don't feel much like family, yet.

And now I may not be able buy gifts to participate in this yearly family gathering in the only way I was ever fully able to, so that talking may be all I have to give this year. Mama and Papa Wren are great for talking, but I can talk to them anytime (not to make that less than it is - I cherish it). Some of the people I want to talk to but at the same time dread talking to are those I see only during this time of year, for one or two weeks, or a few days. They are people who I consequently don't know very well because of that and the fact that I was not allowed in for so long, so that speaking to them now will be an uncomfortable thing - for me at least, if not for them as well - and partly forced.

I'm not saying that presents will make everything better - I know that's hardly the case. I'm just saying I wish I could give them something they like so that when conversation runs dry there will be something else - something safe and acceptable - to talk about, so that I don't feel the need to leave and hide, again. A peace offering of sorts. It's taken years to get this far, and bitter as I may be I'll be damned if I'm going to let go of this tiny foothold. Family is supposed to mean something, and with those parts of the family we've lost to death and those we worry about I'm ready to sit in the silence as long as it takes to get to know these people before they're gone. I won't hide anymore.

I just wish I had something other than uncomfortable converstation to give to make it go a little smoother.

Charlize Theron, with a duck head



That's right. You saw it here first. Charlize Theron, with a duck head. This rare shot was captured - probably with much danger to himself - by Patrick Hillman over at Blowing Shit Up With Gas. He's good at that kinda thing - discovering all manner of strange and head-shake-inducing secrets of celebrities, and then posting them for the world to see, for it's own safety. Rarely do we see such "Candid Camera" shots as this, though. This is a real treat. I mean, who knew her mother was of the feathered persuasion?

Actually, what I want to know is, how the hell does she manage to cram that long neck and bill into a full-head human-mask all the time? Talk about cramps. And ruffled feathers. Still, I think she should be proud to show the world her true face - it's actually quite pretty. And she doesn't even need makeup, the lucky bitch. Look at those eyes! I'd kill for those eyes ...

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Ok, any other takers on the sticky-note exchange? This is the first response (thanks Patrick!) and it was fun. Send 'em in, peoples! Mum? Patrick B.(co-worker dude)? Hot Lemon? Anyone? I'll post this week's sticky tomorrow (meant to today, but forgot, and I'm at home now while it's at work).

Sticky-note Art Exchange

My previous post, "Pebble Drop, Phase One," garnered some great feedback, along with the idea of a sticky-note drawing project that just sounds like fun. So, I'm going with it.

Here's how it works:

Every week I'll post a quick, very much unfinished and basic sketch on a sticky-note, any anyone and everyone who wishes to can grab it to use in their own creative drawing (by hand or with a computer program, or both) using the sketch as the basis of the drawing, and including it in all its pale-yellow glory somewhere in the drawing. Take a look at my Pebble Drop post to get a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Once you've finished your masterpeice, e-mail it to me at dragonlaugh[at]comcast[dot]net and I'll post it here for all to see with proper credit and a link to your site.

Or, you can send me a sticky-note sketch to expand upon myself. Just e-mail it to the above address, and once it's done I'll post it and credit (and link) you with the idea.

This promises much fun.

And you don't have to be a fantastic, award-winning artist to participate. I'm not. Just doodle, or sketch, or draw stick figures, or go all out and play with oil paints or computer art programs if that's your thing. Use any style or technique you want, color or black and white, or both. It's just art - fun is what matters.

Come and play, and spread the word!


Here's the official first sticky-note sketch for you to expand upon - make of it what you will:

Sketch 1

Pebble Drop, Phase One

Pebble Drop 1
© C. Vandever, 2007

This started as a quick random sketch on a sticky note, which was tossed aside and ignored for an hour or so before I decided I actually kinda liked it. It just sort of spread out from there. I'll play with it in either Photoshop or Alias Sketchbook tonight or towmorrow, so keep an eye out for whatever final version of it emerges ...

Streeeeeetchingks, yaaawningks ...

One more day. Juuuuust one more day. One more small assignment (piece of cake, baby). Then I can slaughter creepy crawly scaly stinky things in Sacred. Or in The Witcher (which the boy just convinced me to go ahead and buy the other day, insiting that I deserve it ... I love that man.)

One more day. Then I can sleep. Then I can read. Then I can draw.

Then I can drool on myself for a little bit, becuase no one's looking to see how smart I am.

(And I am, really ... * slurpk *)



One more day, then one whole week of bliss.


P.S. check out The Witcher. You'll like eeeeet. I promeeeeese ...






* snort *


* wipes drool off of chin *

Bad omen, or typical class structure aggravation?

Should I consider it a bad omen that the very first actual marketing class I've had (Marketing and the Virtual Marketplace) I hate? Should I be wary of the fact that marketing - my concentration for this degree - seems to me to be basically a whole fuck of a lot of explaining to higher-ups just why they should ok the spending of any money at all in order to create high-profit advertising campaigns?

Or is it just the school aspect of it that has me having to explain and account for and legitimize every step, time and time again? I mean, that does show that I'm learning, but is the class structure based on making sure we understand the concepts, or a horrid reality (or - dear god please no - both?) Do marketing directors have to inch their way through red tape at every turn in order to explain to numbskull chief financial officers that yes, we really do need to spend X amount of dollars in order to draw in new customers and keep our current ones happily returning? Are CFO's really that dumb? Will the vast majority of my career consist of explaining myself? I mean, I'll be the one with the fucking degree in this, after all - shouldn't they just do what I say with a minimum of bitching and toe-stepping?

Is money really that much of a moron-maker of people who, by their rank and title alone, should know that it takes money to make money?!?

Should I be disquieted at the thought that I may have signed up for something that will drive me batshit for the rest of my too-young-to-retire-yet life? I'd make a better (and much much happier) manager, based on my other classes (all of which have been about management of some kind or other).

... If I were a manager, I could fire stupid people. Or just make them explain themselves for my own amusement. If I'm a marketer, I may be the amusement, even though it would be my research and decisions which would make the company sucessful.

These are not good thoughts to go to bed to.

I'll see what my future marketing classes are like, and hope that they're infintely better than this one. I loathe this one. I'm so glad it's almost over. If future marketing classes turn out to be just as hideous, I'll switch my concentration to management. I wouldn't even have to take any extra classes, because the classes for marketing and management concentrations are the same all the way up till not quite three-quarters of the way through the program (I know because my boss is concentrating on management and we compared our classes.)

I could switch concentration as late as summer of next year without having to backtrack and make up classes, so I have plenty of time to decide, but for now I'm a little ... well, disappointed.

Zombie cheeks and exploding spiders: How I spend my Sunday evenings.

Did you know that your salivary glands can become blocked, completely randomly and with no warning signs? Did you know, further, that a salvary gland blocks are similar to kindey stones, in that not only are the blockages tiny little "stones" naturally created by the body, but that in order to get rid of them you have to wait for them to just pass through? Difference being, of course, the location of the passing - in the mouth rather than, well, you know - down there.

See, you have more than one set of salivary glands, but the major set are the ones in your cheeks, right where the mandible meets the skull (lower jaw with upper, in other words), right in front of your ears. Each gland has a tube running from the gland to the mouth, and that's what those tinsy little salivary stones need to pass through. Of course, tiny as they may be, they're bigger than those tubes (hence the blocking action.)

Did you know that if one of those major salivary glands gets blocked, within fifteen minutes of blockage that side of your face will swell horribly, from your temple to a good two inches down your neck, with a huge bulge right in front of your ear?

Have you guessed by now that this hurts like an M-Fer?

Now, do you know the truly horrifying part? Let me tell you. In order to get those stones to pass, you need to - obviously - salivate. Profusely. Being as the tube to release the saliva produced is blocked, this only creates more swelling, and an incredible amount of pain. If you don't salivate, and keep a heat pack on your cheek, the swelling eventually goes down to a slight puffiness and the pain subsides to a more tolerable level of constant agony. But if you're not salivating, there's nothing pushing against that blockage to get it out, so it just stays there, and the issue remains (and so does the pain).

I had to rush the boy to the hospital last night. A short five minutes before dinner I walked into the kitchen to find him rubbing his right cheek with a look of alarm. In response to my knee-jerk, "Are you ok?," he responded, "NO. Something's wrong. Something's really wrong." His jaw hurt a bit, but more importantly it "felt really weird," whether he moved it or not. But it was on the other side of his mouth from the molar that occasionally bothers him, he had not been hurt at work in a way that might affect his jaw, and he hadn't eaten anything hard that might have cracked a tooth.

Neither of us knowing what was wrong, we went on with dinner, hoping the issue would turn out to be some mysterious something that would go away on it's own. Cause, you know, sometimes that happens. I grabbed my plate and headed for the bedroom to eat and work on school assignments, and the boy sat down on the couch to eat and watch TV.

Ten minutes later, I heard the boy yell out, "Oh my god, sweetie! Come here!"

Now, last time he yelled this it was because an enormous spider had just walked in the front door like it owned the place, and needed dispatching (we're both creeped out by spiders, but I have a bit more guts when it comes to getting close enough to kill them, or catch them and let them go outside.) In response to that last yell, I had picked up a hammer and smashed it onto the back of a spider whose body alone was about the same size as the hammer's head. (Note to spider-smashers: Always use a hammer bigger than the spider you wish to smash. If you don't, they don't smash. They explode. Really.)

Expecting another spider, I mentally prepared to pick twitching hairy multi-jointed legs off of my shins. Upon walking out of the bedroom and seeing his face, however, I knew a marauding creepy crawlie wasn't the issue and left the hammer in its place, instead running forward to see what was wrong.

The right side of the boy's face was hugely swollen, to the point that I wondered if, if the swelling got any worse, a different kind of small explosion might occur. He looked half normal, and half like something a Costume and Makeup Expert might create for some sort of zombie move where the victims grow strange pulsing lumps all over their bodies that finally explode and leak out greenish oily pus, eight before they turn into zombies themselves. (Gross visual, huh? Thanks!)

No, no. The swelling on the boy's face wasn't pulsing. But at the time and owning a wild imagination, I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if it started to.

We quickly ran through all the possibilities we could think of. Allergic reaction? No - he hadn't eaten anything new. Tooth troubles? Possibly, but he'd never had problems on that side, only the other. Bug bite? You'd think he'd have felt that, and seen it, especially on the face. Tonsil problems? Maybe. Lockjaw? Good god, but maybe. We were clueless, really.

The swelling got worse in the few minutes that we wondered what it could be, and the boy was scared. Hell, I was scared, imagination running rampant with all manner of believable and unbelievable possibilities. So, to the hopsital we went, the boy still hungry because he made my dinner first, then his, so I had already started eating and he'd had only a few bites before the swelling started.

After a too long but not nearly as long as it could have been (past experience speaking) wait, the boy was finally taken to a bed. After another long wait, a doctor came in, asked a few questions, felt around the boy's face and neck, shone a light into his ear and mouth, and pronounced that it appeared that the salvary gland on that side was blocked. She said this almost cheerily, then related (not quite as cheerily, but still with more smile than the situation warranted) the only way to fix it other than surgery: forcing profuse salivation, and alternating that with a heat pack. As she mentioned that the process would hurt, she kept that "oh, isn't the sun beautiful and the flowers gorgeous today?" attitude, and the boy merely groaned. I glared when she wasn't looking: Why are you so goddamned chipper about this, bitch? Can't you see that this pain you speak so lightly off has brought a six-foot-plus, used to hard labor and the bruises and cuts it entails, man to the emergency room, frightened?

I'm all for a friendly bedside-manner, but let's do please keep the smiles contained to smile-worthy news. Ok, I guess it's smile-worthy that his face wasn't going to explode or his head rot off, or that no surgery was required (yet) to fix the problem, but.

The prescription: the ingestion of "a bunch" of sour lemon candies. For a diabetic. Unfreakingbelievable.

So, duly released after this sunshiny examination, we headed home. I stopped at the gas station on the way and the boy bought Lemon Heads. Thirty seconds after popping a few in his mouth he almost yelled again and continued a loud chant all the way home; "Oh my god. Oh my fucking god. Owwwwwmygod." The swelling which had gone down considerably during the wait at the hopsital was back in all its angry force before we got home, which was less than five minutes from the gas station.

The boy spent the rest of the evening before bed sprawled on the couch with a heat pack and an angry look on his face, not speaking much and groaning occasionally. Later I (feeling horrible to have to cause him more pain) reminded him that the only way to get the stones to pass was by salivating. Giving a dirty look to existence in general, he sighed and grabbed the box of Lemon Heads.

Almost immediately the apartment was filled with the ride-home-"ohmygod"-chant. Feeling like a sadist, I quietly left him to his misery and went back to my school work. Eventually the chanting and then even the groaning died back down, but the generally murderous look etched on the boy's face whenever I tip-toed out to check on him told me that didn't mean the pain was gone. Bedtime saw not much of an improvement beyond a reduction in swelling.

This morning he looked almost normal again, but still hurt pretty badly. he sent me a text halfway through the day: "this is unbearable," and had to leave work an hour early because he was dizzy and so distracted from the pain that he was afraid he'd make a mistake and blow up someone's car (he's a lube tech at a local oil change and car wash shop). Right now he's busily shooting Hitler's paranormal hordes in the PS2 game Return to Castle Wolfenstien, which I think is helping to take his mind off the pain. The 800 mg Ibuprofen may have something to do with that, too, but he always seems to brighten up when he's killing things on the PlayStation. Sorta like me and demon-slaying in Sacred (did I mention I un-restricted myself and bought the expansion pack, Sacred Underworld? It rocks. And no I don't feel guilty, damnit. I'm still getting A's - all but one of them perfect scores on one class, even, so there.)

Sigh. The poor boy. If it's not one thing it's another. Less than a week ago he finally got over the nasty cold/cough bug that made its ugly way through every inch of town, and now this. Before that, it was his back. Before that, another cold. Before that, a strange heel thing (did you know that - also completely randomly - the bones that hold your feet together can separate, which causes all manner of pain, sudden loss of strength in that foot leading to falls, and permanent foot damage if not cared for properly and quickly?) Before that- I forget.

I almost hate to ask, "What's next?"

I think I'll go out and buy him a lucky rabbit foot. With a four-leaf-clover anklet on it. Chained to a horseshoe. With a tiny bottle of holy water attached to the clover-anklet (I don't know about lucky, but holy's gotta help, right?)

Thoughts

Introvert/Silen Depression

Should I try to sell my art online? Finished pieces, color, black and white, quick(ish) sketches like this?

coughcoughhackwheezecoughsnort

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K. so I'm not that sick. I don't even think I'm contagious anymore, but damn if my throat won't clear up and stop making me sound like I've the proverbial frog in it, or that I'm actually 70-something and still clinging to a 50+ year habit of booze and cigars.

The sneezing, I think, is mainly allergies, but mixed with this cold/cough bug I've been fighting all week, the allergy medicine wasn't doing much to stop it. Thankfully my nose stopped rebelling yesterday, so I'm not walking around today with "Sneezy Pooofs" crammed up my nostrils.

And to be honest, I don't particularly feel very sick. A minor headache, an overall sort of yuck-ish feeling, and a throat that demands a constant supply of cough drops, but otherwise, I'm just dandy. I actually just wanted to post something - anything - and came across this picture of Ewegene that I drew for my previous co-worker, Sarah, when she was really sick once. It's cute. And no matter how mainly well I feel, I am sick, so it works.

So then, Ewegene's Advice for the Day: Take lots of vitamins and stock up on Airborne, and be sure to never mistake a sheep for a convenient Sneezy Pooof - it could get you brutally killed, with only a few scattered hoofprints in the snow and on your forehead to tell the tragic tale.

(What? You don't believe him? Look at those eyes. Just look at 'em. He's dangerous, I tell you.)

I'm grounding me

My inner child is being a brat today. A whiny, snively, mewling, foot-stomping brat. Six-year-old-me-spirit refuses to "get with the program," i.e., do my schoolwork. I've been sick for the past few days, and so took today and yesterday off of work, and still haven't even started on the two assignments I have due tonight at 10 p.m. See? Right now, I'm blogging rather than researching such things as segmenting, targeting, positioning and differentiation.

Bad six-year-old-me-spirit. Go sit in the corner. (Wait. The computer is in the corner ...)

I feel rebellious this term. To date, I've bitched and frowned about every chat and assignment right up till the day it's due, then bitched and frowned till I had only hours left to do everything and get it turned in on time. Granted, I'm still getting fantastic grades despite this, but I think that's only because these classes are so very easy. If they were more challenging, I'd be failing.

And it would be my own damned fault.

I keep thinking about the future - what kind of job I want, what kind of house I want, where I want to live, etc. - and bemoaning the fact that I can't have any of that until I get my bachelor's degree. So, here I am, working on my bachelor's degree, and I'm completely fucking off this term.

The problem is, I'm mad.

I'm mad that until I get that degree, I'm stuck right where I am, which works but is very definately not desirable. I'm mad that the rent for this tiny, shitty, crappy, ass of an apartment with thin-paned, leaky windows and a screen door that's shorter than the real door, is being raised, starting next month. There have been no improvements, so why the fuck is rent going up? Oh wait. That's right - they re-did the tiny, crappy, open a whopping three months out of the year, swimming pool over the summer. No that we needed that. I'd be happy with better windows, really. Thrilled even.

I'm mad (still) that unless I do what I've been doing this term and blow off school till the last minute, I can't spend time with the boy. I'm mad that it's come down to doing my best in school or sitting on the couch and talking to the man I love. Or just sitting there, because all the words we have to say are bitching about work and we don't want to depress one another any more than we already are.

I'm mad that, knowing full well I'm being irresponsible, I still find myself mad at school and unwilling to read or reasearch or write any sooner than the day an assignment is due. I'm mad that no matter how mad I get at myself over this, it makes no difference. Oh, I'll sit there at the computer, logged into the virtual campus, staring at the task list. I'll even jot down a few notes on what to research and how to go about writing whatever paper is due. But that's it.

When it comes time to actually buckle down and do the work - in a timely manner, anyway - I just sit there. Stare at the screen. Grumble angrily. Visit cuteoverload.com. Visit mom's blog, my blog, your blog. Look at my school notes and get angrier. Get up, leave the room even though there's nothing else to do (because up till now I've blown off school by at least doing usefull things like washing dishes and doing laundry). Stalk the seven feet and back from hallway to kitchen (stopping to look in the fridge even though I'm not hungry, because eating isn't doing schoolwork) and plop down at the computer again.

And stare at the screen and cuss. Again.

And I'm mad on a purely prideful level, that despite this I'm getting great grades, so I can't even tell myself I'm messing up my GPA, in an attempt to get myself to just fucking do the work, now instead of later. At least if I were getting bad grades I'd feel the sting of my brattiness and quit it. As it is, I can bitch myself out over it all I want, but I have a bad habit of not listening to myself when I most need to, especially when I'm seeing A's. Worse - I know this but that doesn't change the fact. And that just makes me angrier.

I'm being entirely selfish. I know it, I hate it, I want to change it. But six-year-old-me-spirit knows just what to say to make me enjoy the selfishness.


"Just one more story in that book of short ghost stories, then we can get back to school work."

"Take a nap (you're sick, for goodness sake) for an hour or three, then you'll feel better, revived, ready for school stuff."

"One hour - just one hour! - of playing Sacred isn't that bad. Go ahead- get it out of your system. Then you'll be better able to concentrate on school stuff."

"What's on cuteoverload now? Have they added any photos? Have they posted that photo of Pib you submitted?" (So far the answer to that is no.)

"You need a snack. Make nachos. Then you'll know where to start on this project."

"Shave your legs. They feel like sandpaper. Who cares that no one but us knows this? WE know it, and we don't like it. Shave them now."

"Scrubs is on. It's a new episode! Come on - it's only half an hour ..."



I think I need to ground six-year-old-me-spirit.

Sigh. And, now that I once again have mere hours left before two assignments are due, I'll go on to the freaking-out-because-I-didn't-do-this-earlier stage. Pardon me while I go and create two more really undeserved A-papers.

Someone tell me I'm grounded. No more Sacred till the term is over. No cuteoverload or I Can Has Cheezburger till assignments are done (before they're due). And no more bitching, period.

Possibly, maybe

Demon Looking Over Shoulder

The thought of creating a comic-book story for this demon of mine is intriguing. It keeps sneaking up behind me when I'm least expecting it, tapping me on the shoulder with one icy claw, and begging to be drawn. I may very well give in, though it would be a slow undertaking, what with school and all ...

Here's a fifteen minute sketch I scribbled out at work this morning, when the brain-nagging got to me. Hope he's satisfied. I'm still working on the red pattern over the shoulders, and considering having it only go down the one arm (the left one), not both.

Sigh. Choices, choices, and no time to play.

I love him



Once again, the boy made dinner. Since I have school from the time I get home from work till I go to bed, I rarely get the time to cook anything myself, or even to quickly toss together a salad or sandwich. So, the boy has been making dinner a good 95% of the time. Without complaint.

Yes, that's right ladies - without complaint. And - although it has taken a reasonable amount of loving nagging on my part - this is what he makes now, instead of mac n' cheese with hamburger, or pizza. And you see that pile of green things? Green beans. Of his own free will, without me saying a word about how we really need to eat healthier, so let's eat some veggies too with our chunk of cow. And - he ate some of them himself.

I love this man. He cooks, he cleans, he turns the TV really low or wears headphones so he doesn't disturb me while I'm doing school work. Even when he's watching football! Yes, he does give in to the occasional outburst of "whooohoooooo!" or "No! Nonononono! RUN! Run, fucker!!! Nooooooo!!!" when the Falcons are playing, but he generally blushes and grins and apologizes when I stick my head out of the room to see what the fuss is. Not that I get upset at such outbursts - I just find it amusing that he gets so into it. This, from the man who'll cook me a deeeelicious steak, baked potato, green beans with no nagging, and toast, and quietly bring it in to me at the computer with a kiss and the understanding that I'll probably not even eat everything he's given me because I'll be eating slowly - a bite here, a slurp there - and will feel full before I'm even halfway through the plate of food.

And he never complains that I spend all my home-time locked in the bedroom at the computer, away from him. He doesn't get upset when I have to work on school stuff all day Friday - our one day off together. He just encourages me, and tells me he's proud of me.

I love this man.

Hey Mom, how about this?

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Ooo it's so pretty!

I think I've outdone myself on the look of my blog this time, if I do say so myself. It's so, so ... animated-film-like, and stuff. And the red makes me think of Japanimation, which I'm a bit fond of. I may just have to make up a story to go with the demon-drawing. Maybe make a comic of it? Hmmmm ...

And to help celebrate the new look in style, here's a bird that dances better than I do (and is, coincidentally, the funniest damn thing I've seen in a long time; dude's so into it, it's cute!):



Snatched from Cute Overload.com, of course.

Name this blog - revised

K. so I decided on "Dream of the Dragon" for the new - and yes, final - blog name. I even have a banner for it.

However.

My stooopid POS computer at work (which notoriously hates blogger) will not allow me to properly edit the header at the top ofmy blog. Oh, I can upload the new banner, but the option to use the banner "instead of title" doesn't show up until I clcik on save, and no matter how quickly I check it then, it's too late. There is no possible way - with any of the three different internet navigators I have on this computer - for me to have the uber-spiffy banner show up instead of the plain, boring title you see now. So, I have to wait till I get home to fix it, and it's gonna bug the living shit out of me all damn day because it really is an uber-spiffy banner. Truly.

Stooopid computer.

Here's what the banner will look like, only bigger:

Halloween Nightmare

And yes, that's my artwork again. A section of a demon I drew several years ago and colored in Photoshop. The coloring and shading is what made it take years; it's a pretty damn big file. I'll have to post the full picture on here sometime ...

Nightmare

Halloween Nightmare

Only two weeks till' Halloween. Here's a fun little spook for you - my version of the beast of legend, the Nightmare.

Sweet dreams, kiddies ...

Inside-out Skeleton



Inside-out skeleton beckons, then speaks:
A dry rasp of sanity reaching for decency,
Reaching for something not known but needed.

“These bones are shivering, hard and too long-
All jutting angles and crossed lines, and
This skin stretched thin rips
With each shudder and readjustment,
Crumbles with each heaving of a sigh.
Don’t let it all fall away;
I’m not ready to bare my soul just yet,
But I need something to hold me in,
So stretch it.

Stretch it thin,
Shake it,
Make it rattle, dry and cold:
This is the last of my toughened skin
So make of it something stronger to hold
All those things that
I’ve been told I need,
Make of it something sacred-
A vessel, a cup, a heart or womb-
Make something I can keep with me.

Too many moronic voices
Idiot vices
Blind aces held in slippery fingers,
And I want to scream,
Just make the sanity in me go away.

‘Can’t stand it,’ I shudder.
‘Can’t do this
Won’t do this
Why must I do this all again?’
I shiver,
And
Rip the skin.

These bones are turning to stone, and
In the shadows, cool and dry,
I struggle to find just one ray of light
To warm me.

Damn the things that need flesh
The things that need to be held -
Damn them for making me shiver so, clinging
To this last bit of cover against the cold.
Damn this ache in me for decency and secrecy -
I cannot banish it;
It is now too much a part of me.
Damn it all.

If I could stretch it,
Stretch it all
Into some cloak to fit me,
Some bag to hold me in again -
If I could wrap this all tight around me,
Cover the bones again -
If I could bear the burden of flesh
Just one more time, I think
I’d find that ray of light
And dance
And dance
And succumb to the fire.”

Inside-out skeleton turns, and,
Crumbling, sifting, sinks down into the shadows,
Silent and stretched too thin,
Shuddering and reaching for
Something
Sacred
To hold her in.


Yes, both drawing and poem are my own creations.

Cursing the abyss

Thank god for Melatonin. Really.

Despite an angry/depressed fit of unrest yesterday evening about work and school and how I'm pretty much trapped into working a good 13 out of 24 hours of the day and how this consequently gives me little time to spend with the boy or even just relax on my own, I slept well. Depsite feeling hopeless and helpless and like I was chasing my own tail, I was not troubled with strange bad dreams.

Of course, crying to the boy about it all before bed helped too, but it was the Melatonin that kept me (mostly) blissfuly asleep through the night to wake relatively refreshed and over it today.

Sometimes I hate being a Cancer. Or rather, a smart Cancer. See, I know damn well that everything will be ok - hell, more than ok - in the end, and that while things seem to be going slower than a stoned slug in winter right now, once I do graduate a little over a year from now I'll look back and wonder just where the hell that year went. And I'll wonder what I was bitching about.

I know this. My emotions just like to conveniently ignore or refuse to accept it at times. Those times usually don't last long - an hour, two hours - but they leave me shaken and angry and feeling disgusted with myself for once again falling into a black hole of despair despite allll my firm logical reasoning with myself. This means that even once I'm over whatever dragged me down, I'm still feeling a bit ... yucky, and embarassed. So today I'm a wee bit disgusted at myself, but it's ok, because it will be ok.

I'm completely level-headed in so many areas of life. Why can't I be level-headed when it comes to stuff like this? Yeah, work sucks (really, really badly lately, so that even hours after I've been at home I'm still in a foul-ish mood) and school demands most of the time I'm not at work, but it's not that bad, and it's for a damn good cause.

I have a job. I have a place to live, and someone who loves me very, very much (did I mention we are talking about marriage, and have tentatively planned it to coincide with the break I'll be taking between graduating with my Bachelor's and going for my Master's degree? I'm excited!!!) I have amazing support for school from family, friends, and this man who will be my husband in a little over a year. I'm healthier than a damn good amount of the general population, despite arthritis, gastritis and a lack of physical fitness. I have a (mostly) level head on my shoulders, a pretty good grasp of financial matters, and aside from the rare Cancerian-nature-induced psychotic feeling, I'm usually a damn nice person no matter how much people may piss me off, disgust me, etc.

Life is good. It's jus really, really hard to see that sometimes, when the same nature that makes me so damn friendly gets in the way and makes me despair. I get over it, but it leaves me a little older and a little more worn each time.

I'm feeling kinda tattered, but I'm still in one piece. I just need to remember that when that yawning abyss of anger and helplessness opens up and beckons. The abyss will always be there and I need to learn how to get past it, or one day I'll fall too far and find I've lost my way back again. I don't intend to let that happen, so damn you, moodiness, and thank you friends, family, blogosphere and Melatonin.