Nerves on strike

Oddly enough (though I'm certainly not complaining) The Itching Time has passed me completely in the tattoo-healing process this time around. My snake is almost done with the first and most important and noticeable part of healing, where the dead top layer of skin peels away (or scabs and then peels away form some people, but not for me), and so far, nary so much as a twitch has come from the fresh new skin revealed.

Usually by this time I'm damn near mad with the desire to scratch the bejesus out of the newly inked skin, or hack of whatever hunk of flesh bears it, whichever would be faster. The itching of a healing tattoo isn't like a mosquito bite that itches cnstantly but generally dully so; it's a driving, needling, sharp and firey painful itch that strikes at random moments and leaves you desperate for relief. It makes you twitch and squirm and snarl and try to come up with as many ways as possible to scratch it without actually scratching the skin (I've found that a paper towel placed as a barrier between nails and skin works well.)

This time, though - nothing. I have not once suddenly gone rigid, with clenched teeth and bulging eyes. I haven't groaned piteously. I haven't leapt up from my chair and run to the lunch room for a paper towel, knocking down anyone and anything in my way. My nerves have been oddly quiet. I think they're on strike.

I think that the nearly five-and-a-half hours of constnt tattooing was too much for them, and now they're rebelling, refusing to tell my brain that my arm is really one firey, jabbing, throbbing mass of itchiness.

I'm not saying my arm is numb - the nerves aren't dead; I can feel everything in that arm perfectly well except itching.

Not that I'm complaining. In fact, I'm thrilled. I didn't throttle anyone this week; this is a good thing. It would be a completely different story had The Itching Time commenced as usual; Sarah is getting married next Monday and so has been out all week and David and I have had to scramble to make up for it (it figures than in six months of drudgingly slow work, the one week we're down a person is when all the big stuff comes pouring in.) I'm counting myself (and everyone around me) very lucky indeed.

Maybe getting so much work done that the part of my body being tattooed goes into a sort of shock is a good thing ...

Kidding. Sorta. I know, I know; shock is bad. But damn if it isn't ocnvenient at times, too.

Photos soon. Promise.

Of fish and flames

As Mama Wren wrote in her post today, a large fire has been burning in the Lake Tahoe area, not terribly far from both her home and mine. They're calling it the Angora Fire, and photos of brown and grey devastation riddle the pages of both our newspaper and the Sacramento Bee. The numbers alone are staggering: over 200 structures - many of them homes - have been destroyed, and it's not over yet. Further, its destroying forested areas whose terrain are pretty unique to the area. Being as it's 40+ miles up the hill from Mama Wren's nest, and there for about 50+ miles up the hill from me, I'm not packing up and heading to Grandma's yet, but I wonder.

There is a story that will be running in our newspaper tomorrow about the Nation Fire Protection Association recommending that everyone have a good fire escape plan, and to practice it. This is, of course, because of the Angora Fire, but the angle of the story is that it's a good way to celebrate Fire Prevention Week 2007 ... which is taking place in mid-October, with the Great American Fire Drill.

In October. After the worst of the fire season has already passed and left whatever devastation it will leave. And that's when everyone, country-wide, should practice it. You can even download your very own "I Did The Drill" certificate. You know, just for that extra bit of protection/forewarning/speed that might save your your life as you run for it.

Fire Prevention Week is held in October to mark the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. You'd think that in the 85 years the Association has been observing Fire Prevention Week, someone would have tipped them off to the fact that while yes, fires can occur in October, there are a hell of a lot more of them in summer. When it's hotter and drier.

I love stupid people. Really. It's free entertainment, right? Sigh.

I'm pretty sure that the boy and I won't have any trouble getting out of our home if a fire starts up. We're in a tiny little one-room apartment, with a bathroom and kitchen both so small that we have to take turns standing in them. There's really not much to plan there: if a fire starts, grab the necessities and run out the door. If the door is blocked by the fire, hop up onto the bed in the bedroom and climb out the window. We can pack a few bags of basic necessities and keep them in our vehicles, away from a home-fire, so we don't need to try to find them and drag them out of harm's way at a critical moment. Things like computers and CDs and such would suck to lose, but they are replaceable, and not necessary to day-to-day survival, so we won't worry about them (too much).


What I wonder about is what I'll do with my three pet fish in case of a fire.

Oh sure, laugh. It is kinda funny, or at least a funny thing to worry about. Harry will be taken care of; he has a cage that he can be transported in, and extra heating and lighting equipment to set up wherever we may end up after fleeing a burning home. But the fish? I don't have an extra tank lying around, and ten-gallons of water isn't something you can just tuck under one arm and run with. So, I wonder: should I leave the fish in the case of a fire, hoping that the flames are put out before things get so hot that they shatter the glass of the one, ten-gallon tank and melt the plastic of the other, two-and-a-half-gallon tank? Should I dump both large-ish fancy goldfish (Fred and George) into the two-and-a-half-gallon with the tiny lil' betta (Maedeiu) and try to take that with me? Should I dump both tanks into the bathtub or kitchen sink and hope the water doesn't evaporate in the heat?

These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night. I know the boy and I will be ok, but damn if my pets aren't my kids, and I worry over them if they so much as move a bit more slowly than usual one morning when I feed them. I can't help it; I love the lil' stinkers.

So, in very-early recognition of Fire Prevention Week, I'm going to attempt to figure out what the hell to do with the fish if a fire breaks out at home. Maybe I'll just take them all to work; it's located just aroudn the corner and up the road from the fire station, so response time would probably ensure their survival in their respective tanks there. But then I wouldn't get to enjoy them at home ...

Sigh. Ah, the constant worries of the pet-owner.

Folks, do be smarter than the National Fire Protection Association — plan for and practice your fire escape plans now, not when it may already be too late. Your kids, furry and scaled and human alike, depend on it.

I know some people like this ...

A picture of Olivia and Elena

This was a birthday present from Mama and Papa Wren. A cute little doggy with a pen shoved up his ass. (I love you, Mom, but cut it out with the subtle warnings to never under any circumstances move back into the nest, mmm'kay?)


Hello, my name is Sausage Woman

That oughtta get this blog some hits ...

So. I'm 26 now. Feels an awful lot like 25. Two days ago - the day before my birthday - I finally got the horned viper tattoo on my left arm colored in. It's beautiful, if you can see past the swelling. No, there's nothing wrong with the tattoo; no infection, it wasn't done poorly, the artist didn't have a heavy hand, etc. It's simply a big fucking tattoo, going from my wrist to half way up my upper arm. That's alot of ink, and a lot of pain.

At just under five and a half hours straight this was my longest ink session yet, and I'm now paying for it. I wanted to get the whole thing done all at once, so that I woldn't be walking around with a half-finished tattoo, and now pride is biting me in the ass. Or rather, the arm. Although I seem to tolerate pain very well, my body doesn't; due to having so much work done in one area, my arm is in shock, so to speak.

Although the only pain right now is a sort of pulling ache when I stretch that arm, that arm is pretty swollen, and has been since Saturday. Holding both arms up side by side, it almost looks like the arms of two differemt people: I have a fat person's arm on a non-fat person's body. The swelling goes from elbow to the first finger knuckles, so my hand looks wierd, too - all puffy and pudgy looking, with nice slim fingers. It's kinda creepy, actually.

Now, before you go and get all worried-parent-ish on me, let me tell you know that it's perfectly ok. My arm is not going to fall off. I am not going to lose feeling in it. It's not going to grow pussy sores (har, har) and leak gross stuff all over the place. I am not going to die. I promise.

This reaction is a natural one. Most tattoos swell; the amount of the swelling is usually proportional to the size of the tattoo and the sensitivity of the tattooee's (is that a word?) skin. Being all manner of Irish and Scanadanavian, all you have to do is look at me hard and I bruise, so needles jabbing over and over again is definatley going to made my skin mad and as I said before, it's a big tattoo, so my arm never really had a chance.

It's not as swollen today as it was yesterday, though, so it is calming down. And 800 mg of Ibuprofen have tamed the aching joints in my wrist and hand (just for shits and giggles, my arthritis kicked in yesterday all of it's own accord, and due to the swelling either wouldn't or couldn't go away.) So, virtually pain free, I'm enjoying the easy time I have until the healing kicks into high gear and the dead top layer of skin starts to peel off and itch like a motherfucker. Once that gets going, I'll be damn near rabid and my coworkers may well have to restrain me so I can't find a way to scratch it and thereby screw it up.

As a warning, any posts made during The Itching Time will probably be senseless and full of odd profanties and dire threats to just about anyone who happens to wander into my line of sight or thought, but I won't actually mean any of it (and I will realize this and apologize once The Itching Time stops in about a week ...)

All that said, I'm ridiculously thrilled. I can't stop looking at all the pretty colors. I'd post photos of it, but it would look better to wait till the swelling is gone and it's fully healed. Look for photos sometime next week and until then, have a great week and stay away from sausage-armed small people (especially if they're twitching spasmodically.)

To make up for yesterday's grossness,

here are some kitten toes.
Kitty Toes!
I love It's fuzz-therapy to the max.

Cleanliness in the workplace

DISCLAIMER: If you have a weak stomach, or can visualize things vividly — or worse, if you have a weak stomach and you can visualize things vividly — you probably shouldn't read this post. Really. Most especially if, like me, you can't seem to control what you do and do not visualize when reading or listening to something.

(Disclaimer #2: I'm going to sound like the most heartless and awful of bitches in this post, but I really am not trying to be such; it's just the result of a horridly disgusting situation. Bear with it and you'll see.)

What I'm about to describe is the epitomy of human filth combined with what I can only guess is a lack of ... whatever you would call all those basic common sense/instinctual things that you either do or don't do in order to function as a non-vomit-inducing member of society. There are certain things that you just don't do if you expect the people around you to view you as a respectable human being and not some lowly dirty animal that doesn't know not to eat it's own feces. (See? That sounds pretty goddamned bitchy, but imagine the voice to be ... say ... that of a scientist on Animal Planet — which is how it sounds in my head — and it's not the same.)

Moving on. Remember my post about the reporter with the puss-y hands, Masturbation With Other Peoples' Computers Is Still A Sin? This is about her. Only, my coworkers and I aren't laughing now.

I made light of a disgusting situation in that post, commenting only that this woman "hasn't the cleanliest of habits," and leaving you to your imaginations on that. Since then, many unfortunate discoveries as to the depth of her uncleanliness have been made, and combined with her personality we now dread both her presence and the women's restroom in the main building (there is a second restroom in the warehouse that will from now on be the one that I use, as I don't think this woman knows of its existence).

To begin, I'll stick to personality and intelligence. This woman has all the personality of a rock. A bloated rock, at that, if such a thing is possible. Now, while this alone would normally not bother me (not everyone is a charmer, and there's nothing wrong with that), it is only scratching the surface of this particular individual. This woman has dead, almost hostile eyes, and a voice and manner of speaking to match it. One the biggest pet peeves of a production artist at a newspaper (or magazine) is when a reporter barges into the room and splutters out something like, "Her name's wrong," and then expects you to know what the fuck they're talking about without any further explaination.

As if we would know (perhaps through our closely-guarded secret mind reading abilities) just which female individual — human or animal — in which story, on which page, in which section of the newspaper we're currently building, they're referring to.

Other mindless splutterings include "Who has it," — who has what? — "So the age is in," — the age of who, or what? — "It was in the briefcase," — Wha-??? — and "Nevermind; the mill is off of it," — Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up ...

This seems to be the only way this woman can communicate; in chopped, broken fragmented sentences with no preamble or explaination, with a mostly dead but slightly hostile stare, as she stands, arms limp at her sides, head slightly down, shoulders slumped — like a golem; a being that has no mind of it's own whatsoever, resulting in a virtually inanimate lump of flesh blocking your escape to fresh air and sanity. She is also rather overweight, which in and of itself is not disgusting — hell, I've seen some drop-dead-gorgeous heavy people — but added to all the horrors of this woman it only makes the whole package that much worse.

As if her lack of communication skills wasn't irritatiing enough on it's own, add to it the fact that she blatantly interrupts everyone in the room, other reporters and editors included, to loudly and nasaly splutter these things because she has no idea (and makes no attempt to discover) just which of the three of us production workers she needs to splutter at about her particular correction or addition or whatever. Then there's her manner of entering the room. Again golem-like she thunders in, swaying and stomping, and while most people will stop a decent distance away from the person they want to talk to out of an instinctual respect for personal space, this woman will stand less than one foot away. And then she leans in.

And here's where the filthiness come into play.

Some people forget to wear or possibly don't believe in wearing deodorant. Some simply have a naturally strong aroma, so that they could be covered in prescription deodorant and still clear a room. Still some others seemingly don't bathe on a regular basis, and don't wear deodorant. She is fits into that third category, if my nose is any judge. And keep in mind that 90% of the time I can't smell most things due to fucking outrageous allergies, so the fact that I can smell her so clearly really says something. You'd think that daily bathing would be a requirement for a job where you're interacting the public, but sadly it is not. Or at least it's not enforced, no matter how bad the smell gets.

So, here's the scene: You're sitting at your desk with an oaf of a woman damn-near plastered to your side, and she stinks. You lean away a little bit, trying to be casual about your search for fresh air. She leans in, towering her sweaty bulk over your shoulder and head. The more you casually lean away, the more she comfortably leans in, until you're as sideways in your chair as you can get without falling, and save for her feet being planted on the floor she's in your lap.

And then there's her breath.

I know people with bad breath. I've had some pretty harrowing encounters with rampant Halitosis. This woman's breath, however, is an abomination. When I say her breath smells like shit, I'm not using 'shit' as a hip way to describe something bad; I mean it literally smells like fecal matter. Imagine someone following around a dog bloated from a steady diet of beans and boiled eggs, scooping up the inevitable foul explosion, and eating it. Daily. That is what her breath smells like. Further, it's no little waft that drifts by your nose on occasion; this woman is a full-fledged mouth-breather, and due either to her weight or some anatomical oddity, she's also a hard breather.

So, as she all but climbs into your lap to splutter at you about whatever correction needs making, she's forcefully and loudly exhaling viscous clouds of dog shit at you, and unless you're going to be a complete asshole by shoving her away and running, you cannot fucking breathe.

You dare not breathe.

Oh, but wait! It gets worse!

The women's restroom in the main building, which is used by most of the women who work here, has been tainted beyond all hope of salvation for my production coworker and me. It has been deemed The Badlands, and we dare not enter even for the purpose of quickly purchasing feminine products from the machine on the wall. (There is no such machine in the restroom in the warehouse.)

Now, I can't be sure of this unless I were to run a test involving every living perosn in the United States and several other countries, but I would assume that most people would rather keep their urination and defecation issues to themselves. Hence, in a larger restroom with several stalls (like the one in the main building) when you hear someone walk into the room, you would probably stop making any bodily noises, in extreme cases possibly even "holding it" until the other person leaves.

This woman has no such qualms, much to the dismay of my coworker and me, and probably most of the other women who work here. I have known for a long time, through experiences that haunt me, that this woman is not just smelly, but uncleanly in her womanly parts as well, to the extent that the whole left side of the restroom (which contains three of the five stalls total) she usually uses is now by unspoken understanding her side, and hers alone. Suffice it to say that before said understanding I made the grave error of walking into one of those three stalls just after she had used it one day. The profuse pubic hair, runny fecal matter in, on and outside of the toilet (how the fuck do you get shit outside of the damned toilet?!?), many and large drops of dark urine swirling with something partially solid on the seat and the floor and an unknown crumbly substance of a greyish color smeared on the seat had me reeling and stumbling as I hurriedly backed out and fled the restroom, bladder unsatisfied.

I am not the only unfortunate woman to have witnessed this total and complete lack of not only basic personal hygiene but respect for the other women who have to use that restroom as well. My coworker has regaled me on several occasions as to the condition this woman leaves those stalls in, and I'm sure others have seen it as well. It's sort of hard to miss.

However. This is not the worst of it. Not only does she bomb those stalls on a daily basis, but anyone unfortunate enough to walk into or already be in the room as she does her duty is treated to a virtual concert of sounds. Not only are there the typical sounds of urination and defecation (you learn to get over that) but she makes sounds herself. Seeming to have issues especially with defecation, she gives over to grunting, groaning, sighing, moaning (yes, she hs been heard to flat out moan) and possibly worst of all, she mutters to herself. The muttering sounds very agitated, desperate even at times — sometimes angry. And the diatribe continues no matter how many women come into the restroom, which is all the more harrowing for one reason: This is your typical public restroom. The floor is not carpeted, the walls are not covered in some soft wallpaper. It's all tile, plastic and metal, which means there is no way, even over her own sounds, that she could not hear someone come into the room. This means, of course, that there is no way that anyone walking into the room cannot hear her. But, she doesn't seem to posses that little voice in her head that most of us have that would be screaming at us to shut the fuck up when someone comes in; she just lets it all out.

I was flat-out shocked the first time I heard it, and it is very, very hard to shock me. I continued my day after that in a state of quiet horror, repulsed that such a display could come from a being considerd to be both civilized and socially aware of other civilized beings. I mean, people don't do things like that, right? Right?!?

Good god. I'm still horrified, and it was weeks ago.

And as if that were not traumatizing enough, she doesn't wash her hands after using the restroom.

NOTE: I actually stopped writing this w few weeks ago at this exact point and had decided that I wouldn't post it, because after having re-read it, I felt bad. Since then more disgusting tings have happened, and no matter how bitchy it makes me seem, I have to post this. It's like a therapy to write out all the bad stuff, ya know? I have neither exaggerated nor made up any of this; it is all pure truth, but I really really sound like a bad person in this post. I'm not. I have attempted to make friendly chit-chat with this woman in the past, realizing that most people here have the same reaction to her as my coworker and I do and so attempting to make her feel welcomed. But always there is something to make me end the conversation as quickly as possible.

About a week after I started writing this post, she walked into the room and — thankfuly, as you'll see — stopped a good five feet or so away from my desk so that she could re-read something on the page she was bringing back. As she stood there, she passed gas.

Being my father's daughter (see Mama Wren's post Sweet Cheeks), I'm not usually fazed by such things. However, coming from this woman with her lack of cleanliness, it made my skin crawl. What made it worse was that it wasn't a loud fart — it was one of those soft ones that, muffled through fabric, makes a sort of low popping sound, which can usually be mistaken for something else. In fact, in most instances when such a soft fart has occurred, the farter usually says nothing, trying to pass it off as some other sound. And most of the people in the room with them either don't hear it, don't realize what it was, or are mature enough to say nothing about it themselves. After all, they're not that invasive.

This woman, however, proved once again that she lacks that little voice of reason that most of us have. Instead of saying nothing, even though she and I are the only ones that heard it and I hadn't said anything, she loudly proclaimed, "Excuse me," thereby bringing attention to it. It's hard to ignore a soft fart when attention is brought to it, especially when the farter is someone as hideously filthy as this woman.

I honestly felt nauseous, and was glad when she didn't stay to splutter something at me but rather just handed me the page and walked away.

This Sunday, she had pretty bad allergies, as did most of the people I worked with that day. However, again the lack of that little voice of reason assserted itself. Even though there are a good twenty or thirty boxes of tissues scattered throughout the building, a dozen or so of which are rightin her department, she chose to deal with the allergy-induce dripping nose by wiping it with her hand. Right in front of me. Right after she had handed me a page with that same hand.

I don't want ot think about how many times she had wiped that dripping nose with that hand before she handed me that page.

Further, there was a big, fat, white booger on her upper lip. A wet one. The kind that's so wet you can't not feel it plastered to your skin. And she just smiled a dog-shit-scented smile and stood there.

Shoot me.

I'm not going to attempt to make friends with her anymore. I won't be mean or anything; I'll stay civil, cheerful even, in work-related conversation. But I absolutely positively want as little to do with this woman as possible. Since I started this post weeks ago I haev had several other unfortunate experiences in the restroom. I now cannot stand the thought of using the main restroom at all, even if I keep to the two stalls that I don't think she uses. My stomach turns simply walking into that room.

Even though it's farther away, I will from here on out use the restroom in the warehouse, and hope to every god ever imagined that she never discovers that one.

I can usually get past people's eccentricities and even moronic tendecies. I can even hold my breath for Halitosis and fould body odor. But I cannot endure such a deep lack of cleanliness. I honestly feel that for sanitary purposes alone, this woman should not be working this job. She's a reporter; this means that she sit and stands next to , talks to, and shakes hands with the general public.

Lack of basic intelligence and social grace aside, this woman is fucking disgusting. I don't know how she got this job, but I honestly wish there was something I could do about it. As it is, how do you approach such a subject?

I am so very glad I'm getting my Bachelor degree. I am so out of here at the very first opportunity. I've always had complaints about this place, but this is just fucking disgusting.

Is it Saturday yet?

Fingers tap, feet shift,
A dance: anticipation.
Dreams of ink pervade.

Time trudges slowly,
Mockery made of schedules;
Is it Saturday?

Not the toys your grandma gave you

Some of you may already know that I work at a newspaper as a production artist. This means that aside from the main job of pulling stories and photos onto the pages, I also have a shitload of smaller tasks to do on a daily basis. Most of these other tasks are menial and boring, such as typesetting drunken letters to the editor and converting quark documents to either .eps or .pdf format, depending on what they're needed for.

One task, however, has the suprising potential for amusement. This is the task of typing up legal documents to run in the Public Notices section of the Classifieds. While some forms of leaglese could be used as a form of torture with better results than bamboo shoots under the fingernails, some other wording on legal documents can be flat-out tongue-in-cheek, albeit accidentally so. I'm talking about the Fictitous Business Name Statements (FBNs), which anyone who owns a business has to file with the county that business is run in, and the wording I'm speaking of is the business names.

Some people are creative with their names. Some just don't know how to spell. And still others really shouldn't try so hard. Several years ago I began compiling a list of "Odd Business Names." Some examples are Little Tadpoles Day Care (maybe I just have a dirty mind, but tadpoles and children really should not be compared, IMHO), Mi Amigas Big Ones (do I really want to know?), Banshee Courier (where they scream tidings of death at you from outside your window), and Intuitive Web Solutions (if I'm gonna pay you to fix my internet problems, you damn well better know what you're doing and have the credentials to back it up, not just go on a "feeling." I can blow up my computer just fine on my own, thank you.)

My all-time favorite odd business name, however, is Hold Me Urns. That's right. Hold Me Urns.

Can you hear the soft insturmental music of the commercials now? Can you see the elegantly dressed elderly lady walking with a sentimental smile through a golden-lit garden? Can you see her thoughts as she imagines her grown children, her grandchildren, laughter, happiness, memories, joy? Can you see her smile waver as she entertains thoughts of her own impending death, and the horrible sadness this will cause her family? Can you hear the music take on a more somber tone?

Then, can you hear the music suddenly perk up to a light, airy melody as the lady's smile returns, brighter than before, as her thoughts turn to that wonderful company, Hold Me Urns? Can you feel her relief to know that her ashes will be not just shoved in a jar in a closet, but will instead be held dearly in an elegant, possibly 24-karat gold, beautiful urn that her whole family will ooooh and aaahhhh over, fighting over who gets to polish it each day?

Can you hear the symathetically happy, soothing woman-announcer's voice at the end saying in a trembly, tug-at-your-heart-strings voice, "You can rest in peace, knowing you'll rest with ... Hold Me Urns?"

I mean, come on. Hold Me?!? Because, you know, you're holding my lifeless ashes?

I have been amused by this for years.

I had every intention of writing about the general oddities of the misspellings, bad handwriting, and just plain lack of good sense when filling out an FBN, and thought it might be nice to link to any businesses on that odd business names list that happend to have a website, pruely for amusement's sake. As it's my favorite, I googled Hold Me Urns first, and yes, they do have a website, and at first glance I groaned at how the name had evovled: Huggable Urns.

Please, check it out. I insist; it's worse than I originally thought.

Instead of a nice elegant urn that, by it's very beauty, demands that you pick it up, it's teddy bears.

Upon seeing the photograph of a cute cuddly teddy bear with a black bag upon which, in gold lettering, are the words "Eternal Love," I cringed and tried to stifle a giggle (a combo which probably looks painfull to passerby.) Then I read the introduction, about how a woman began this ash-bearing teddy bear business solely because the spirit of her dead father spoke to her and told her he wasn't happy about being "in some ugly, hard container."

Now, don't get me wrong here; I'm a believer. I've had too many strange things happen to me to not believe in paranormal things like ghosts. Hell, I had one walk down the steps in front of me and my setp-dad from the attic right to my apartment door when I was a kid. But.

Being a business owner, wouldn't you sort of shy away from telling stories that might make you sound crazy to someone who doesn't believe in these things? Especially if it's the story of the whole reason you started the business? Maybe I'm wrong, but it just doesn't sound like a smart business decision to me, and here this person has it right on the opening page of heir businesses official website.

I found myself thinking, again, "Are you serious? Really???"

But, I read on. And I clicked. And then I saw that there is a link to actual customer testimonials. Testimonials about teddy bear urns, for goodness' sake. I had to see it, and so I clicked.

Being the Cancer that I am, and therefore irresistably drawn to sentimental stuff and prone to cry at the drop of a hat, I found myself blinking back tears within seconds, and my whole attitude about this odd business changed. People have not only sent in letters of gratitude, they've sent in photographs of their bears, some of them with a remaining family member. There were even photographs of family dogs snuggled up to teddy dogs, wherein I'm guessing were the ashes of another family pet.

Awwww, crap. Cancer moment. Pardon me while I blubber for a second here; I can't see the damn screen through the damn tears. Damn photographs.

Ok then. So now my whole view of this business has changed; instead of being amused, I'm touched. It's sappy, yes. Almost disgustingly cute, yes. But, these urns have helped families through some of the darkest times a person can face. Being able to hug the memory of your loved one instead of just looking at "some ugly, hard container" is really an awesome idea, at least for those of us with overly-sappy hearts (like me.) So, converted teddy bear-urner that I am, I want my ashes, whenever I may kick the bucket, to be housed in a damned teddy bear, so that someone who loved me can still hug me when they need to.

And since you can accessorize the bears, mine better have a pierced nose and a pencil behind one ear.

Only the best of intentions

I woke up this morning and thought, "Im going to blog about something smart today. Or at least, you know ... something interesting."

Yeah. I don't know what happened between then and now, but all I can think is, "Is it Saturday yet?"

Goddamned ink addiction. Upcoming tats leave me useless until the day after the tat is done. Every damned time.


What with my last blog about my snake tattoo and how much I've blathered on about it to anyone who'll listen, the boy decided to suprise me today. My birthday is next Sunday (24th) and he and I have been trying to figure out what to do to celebrate. I'll be taking that day off from work, and the boy will be taking both Saturday and Sunday, so that we can do something together (camping, gambling at the nickel slots in Tahoe, something, ya know?)

Today we had a late lunch at Quizno's on Main Street (we had breakfast with Mama, Papa and Grandma Wren.) Quiznos happens to be conveniently located right next door to Starbucks, which in turn is located right next to one of the local tattoo parlors with the only local artist I know and trust so far, having had some work done by him before. So, being the ever-optimist that I am, I strolled over to the parlor after eating just to get a price on coloring the snake on my arm (see post below.) You know - just so I could kinda-sorta start to possibly-maybe plan on saving up for it.

My artist there - his name is John - quoted me "about $300," which is much better than what I had anticipated. I was expecting somewheer around $500 or so (it's a big tat), so my expectations on when I could possibly have it done suddenly got better. A lot better.

Then the boy suprised me. He asked John if he had any openings for the 24th. I probably looked like one of those Greater Drool-Lipped Dipshits I ranted about a week or so ago with my mouth hanging open and a dumbfounded look on my face. I have often asked for tattoo money for birthday and christmas presents, but never had anyone take me seriously on it, so I sort of stopped expecting anyone to.

Well, I have an appointment for 10 a.m.on Saturday the 23rd (the parlor is closed on Sundays) and am hoping to get most, if not all, of the snake colored. The boy can't pay for the whole thing, so I'll be dishing out some cash as well, but that's fine with me. I had always only asked for money toward a tattoo as a present, never for someone to flat-out pay for the whole thing; that would be too much. But this means I'll have to come up with less cash myself, and with what I have left over from this paycheck and the fact that I get paid again on the 22nd, I've got it covered. And I don't have to feel guilty about having it done now because I have help paying for it.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled!

So I dug up the outline for the snake (which is on tracing paper) and ran over to work to make a few copies of it onto white paper so that I can get to playing with colors ... And now, my friends, I'm going to do just that.

P.S.- Yes, I will post pictures of it once it's finally colored in.

Itching for ink

Viper Tat

This is the horned viper on my left arm. It's been over a year since I had the outline done, and I still haven't gotten it colored in. I really, really want to get it colored in. As in, I can't stop thinking about it and trying to figure out when I could possibly afford to have it done.

Part of the problem is that my tattoo artist works in another town, which is about an hour-and-a-half of driving ... on a good day (so usually more like two hours, with city traffic.) I've been checking out closer artists, but until I actually sit down and have someone else ink me, I'll be leery, because being an artist myself I'm extremely picky. I want someone who (like my current artist) can and will tattoo exactly what I draw, as I've drawn it, right down to the tiniest, seemingly inconsequential squiggle.

But going to my artist requires a hefty purchase of gas as well as the tattoo itself, and then food and drink of some sort(because when I do go to him, I set up an appointment for as long as I can afford since I don't know when I'll be back), so I really want to find someone closer, at least for the majority of my tats in the future (I'll still go to my current guy for the big/complicated stuff.)

I also want tattoo money, because I don't have any at the moment (nothing new there, really) and now need to save up for a new bed. Maybe I'll put a jar on my desk and label it "Tattoo Money" and offer to take evryone's unwanted pennies ...

You know, mom, I am turning another year older in eleven days ... ;)

Turkey ... sorta

I'm going to consider this my official first day of not indugling in Starbucks. I can usually go a day or two before I start to twitch, and I'm starting to feel twitchery, so this is the real first day of no-caffiene. Well. Ok, I'm not totally cutting out caffiene, because I do like tea and chocolate, but I can do without a five dollar latte every or every other day.

Wish me luck. I'll try not to drool on the keyboard or strangle anyone.

Budgeting is a real eye-opener

... Well, when you actually do it completely. For years before I actually moved out of Mama Wren's nest, people were advising — nay, warning — me to budget, explaining how very important it is to know how much money you have versus how much you need to spend. I thought well, duh, but never really buckled down and did it, figuring that the estimates I made in my head were budgeting enough and would keep me above water. And they did, albeit barely at times.

Upon finally moving out, I got a bit more serious about it — about as serious as I thought was really necessary. I charted out, in Sharpie on a dry erase board on the fridge, all the bills I have to pay each month. I even left two slots open for any miscellaneous bills that might come up. I thought I was pretty damn smart, hot shit, you know? But for everything else like food and gas and the basic necessities like toilet paper, I still estimated. I was still keeping my head above water, and considered the paycheck-to-paycheck living just another part of evolving into a fully responsible, living-on-my own adult. I figured it's what everyone goes through, and that as soon as I got another raise or two, things would ease up. I wasn't stressed; things weren't so bad, really.

But, they could have been better, had I really budgeted.

Having never sat down and actually calculated everything from rent to gas to Starbucks, I had no clue just how much of the money I spent each month was unnecessary. I wasn't totally naive; I knew that each stop at Starbucks, and each withdrawal "just to have some cash if I need it" were adding up, but never really stopped to think about each purchase, each withdrawal, each non-bank ATM fee. I kept track of my purchases online and in a balance book, but didn't really see the amounts themselves, only the balance left until the next paycheck.

Having done this for so long, I was used to being slightly apprehensive for a day or so before getting paid. Not full-out stressed, just a bit of worry about "what if something big comes up tomorrow that needs to be paid right away, like rushing Harry to the vet? Will they tale a post-dated check for one day later?"

Recently, however, I've been considering some rather large purchases. The boy and I desperately need a new bed. The one we have too small (the boy is 6'1" and has gotten into the habit of sleeping in the middle of the bed, rather than his side of it) and it's old, and probably never was particularly fantastic for the back. The boy has a bad back from several accidents in his lifetime, the most recent being T-boned by a woman who ran a red light the evening before our first date (and yes, he still took me to dinner and amovie the next night.) while my back has no injuries, I am one of those lucky individuals that almost has Scoliosis; my spine is ever-so-slightly curved where it shouldn't be. It doesn't show and has never affected me, but doctors warned me when I was a teen to correct my posture and do back-strnegthening excercises or it could get worse and I could have problems later in life. So far so good, except that I have been waking up with a sore back and neck lately.

The boy, Mama Wren and I went bed-shopping a couple days ago. The boy and I are considering two different beds, one pretty damn good one for just under $1,000, and a Tempur-Pedic for a just under $3,000. Tempur-Pedic would be ideal, of course, but it does cost a heck of a lot, so I'm leaning toward the other (the boy is trying desperately to tempt me toward the 'Pedic, of course.)

So with the possibilities of purchasing that new bed — $1,000 or $3,000 — rolling around the back of my head, I almost cringed at the irony of the beautiful PT Cruiser that cruised into the lube shop the boy works at as I met him for lunch today. I love PT Cruisers; they always get me thinking about the real gansters of the olden days, the 1930s, 1940s well dressed men in suits and stylish hats, with a sub-machine gun hiding in the back seat. Why this image appeals to me, I don't know. I'm totally against crime, but there's just something about the image that's, well ... sort of romantic. Maybe I loved The Godfather in my past life, or was a gangster's wife or sister. Whatever — I love PT Cruisers, and have yearned for one since the day I first saw one, sleek and bold, gliding down the street.

This Cruiser is a beaut — tricked out with body treats, upgrades and a very nice sound system, and is in top shape, with a 100,000 mile warranty (and it's got only 39,000 on it now). The owner wants to sell it because he has other vehicles and almost never drives the Cruiser, and as he bought it less than a year ago, he still owes on it and so doesn't want a needless expense. The man who owned it before him did most of the upgrading, though he himself has put in a good $15,000 worth of upgrades on it. Now mark that; he's put $15,000 on it, on top of the expense of buying it. He would like ot ask $18,000 for it, but knows that in this redneck county, he'd never sell it for that.

So he's asking for $12,000. With everything that's been done to it, and the great shape it's in, that's beyond a steal; thats' friggin' ridiculous, and I'd be crazy to pass up the opportunity without at least doing some serious consideration.

And so I'm considering, but due to my Cancerian nature, I worry of course about that expense on top of the bed expense. I could get a loan to cover both, of course, and selling my car would take a chunk out of it, but still I'm not sure. So, I sat down today with my balance book and calculator, pulled up my checking and savings accounts on line to double check everything, and I figured out my finances, for real. I even added up all the unnecessary things I buy each month just to get an idea of how much money I may have if I didn't splurge.

To my shock, I spend approximately $350 a month on stuff I don't need. This includes things like Starbucks (by far the largest contributor to that $350), Togos, Walmart junk like a CDs, DVDs, the occasional shirt or hat, etc., withdrawals just to have cash in my wallet "in case I need it" (and somehow, I always do) etc. I had no idea I spent that much on junk. As stated above, although keep an eagle's eye on my accounts, I never really payed much attention to the amounts I was spending, only the balance afterward.

Suddenly, I feel like a dirty, materialistic creep. I feel wasteful. I feel ... irresponsible. I'm sort of ashamed.

But I didn't know, I want to say in my own defense.

But, I should have known; I should have paid more attention.

So my eyes are opened (a little more widely than I'd expected) and I now have a much better idea of what I'm spending, how much of it is necessary and how much isn't, and what I will be left with if I knock it off with the junk. I never imagined I splurged so much; in fact, I sort of prided myself on cutting down drastically on my play-spending, but I was way off the mark. Now I won't be.

Now, I know what I can reasonably afford for additional monthly payments like cars and beds. I know what will and won't break the bank, and where to cut things off to maintain a reasonable amount of back-up money, "just in case." I still haven't made up my mind on the Cruiser (hell, I haven't even made up my mind on which bed to get) and may not decide for awhile yet, but the man who's selling it is goign to Texas until about a week into July, and probably won't try to advertise the Cruiser until he gets back, since he won't be able to return phone calls or meet with anyone. But he knows that the boy and I are interested, and the boy has his number, so I have the luxury for a little while to imagine the possibilities.

And now that I have the stability of my brand-spankin' new budget, imagination has a better chance of becoming real.

When Dragons Laugh's new mascot

I figured it would only be appropriate that the very first blogger post ever to be typed up on my new computer be this one, reigning in the new look of When Dragons Laugh. I promise this is the real look, this time.

I gave Harry the honor of being the WDL mascot, since he is after all a Chinese Water Dragon. Well, that and he's just so damned cute, I have to include him. I can't stop taking pictures of him, much to his scaly dismay I'm sure.

So, everyone give Harry a big welcome. He can't read, so I'll just give him an extra cricket everytime someone says hello to him ...

(Also note that I have finally been able to update my Weyr Mates list. The computer at work really hates blogger, so I was unable to add/update pretty much anything, but all's well now.)

I will post more pictures of Harry at a later date, I promise. Well, probably several later dates. Hell, you'll probably get tired of seeing him so much, but I'll enjoy it!

Despairing for the human brain

It's amazing how simple it is to think. You just ... do it. Now, the effectiveness of thought is constantly affected by things such as caffiene or the lack there of, too little sleep, cell phones when used in vehicles, etc. However, the act of thinking is easy.

No, really — it is.

I only bring this up because for the last couple of years, I have become increasingly concerned about the seeming lack of thinking ability displayed by more and more people with each passing day. And no, I'm not exaggerating; it literally seems that just about every day someone, somewhere (usually here at work) says or does something even stupider than the previous day's "Amazingly Stupid Moment."

As an example I'll give you the run down on what just happened about half an hour ago. While this particular event is not all that terribly stupid, it shows you the minimum level of stupidity where I work, which is really the worst I have the patience to dwell on at the moment. Maybe after I've cooled off for a few years about it, I'll tell you about yesterday's stupidity. Mom- it involved the individual that you and I so fondly refer to as "Dipshit." 'Nuff said.

Half an hour ago:

Miss M walks into the production department and asks who is working on page A-3, as she has read the proof and has the usual corrections. I respond as I walk toward the printer to pick up pages A6, 7 and 8, "Sarah has it."

Miss M looks at Sarah's desk, which is empty because Sarah is outside on a smoke break, and after no more than one-trillionth of a second has passed since the realization that Sarah is not at her desk asks, "Is she here?"

Of course I didn't say what I wanted to. I was nice, cheerful even, when I answered with a simple "yes." What I wanted to say was:

"No. Sarah's not here. I just want you to put page A-3 on her desk so that David and I can ignore it, and not do those corrections. Hell, maybe we won't even finish it and send it to the printing press because we hate page A-3 with unreasonable passion. And then, tomorrow, no one will have a page A-3 in their newspaper because it will still be sitting on Sarah's desk because she's not here, but we like to fuck with people because we just suck like that, so we led you to believe she was."

Christ. It really doesn't take much effort at all to think, really. And really, there's a reason we often hear the phrase "think before you speak." People do take breaks here, and on a regular basis. Just because someone isn't at their desk doesn't mean they're not at work, especially if those of us who are at our desks just told you something that would, to an intelligent person, imply that the person in question is in fact at work that day.

And, this is the least of the stupidity I have to deal with every day. Everything else is worse.

I give up. Just drop me on my head a few times so I end up as stupid as so many others here, so I just won't care anymore. I won't be smart enough to know that the human race, instead of evovling into an all-powerful, advanced species capable of ruling the planet, is in actuality de-evolving into something entirely new: the Greater Drool-lipped Dipshit. (I hear they like shiny things ...)

And it was good

My computer arrived yesterday, as promised, and I left work early to set it and the internet connection up. I am proud to say that although this was my first time actually setting up a brand new computer and my first time dealing with internet service, I did not need to call for assistance once. I did have to call Comcast to activate my service so the modem would kick on, but that's not an assistanc ething; it's just something you need to do. I did the rest all by my lil' ol' self, and I didn't screw anything up!

I then promtly played Sacred until one o'clock in the morning, and let me tell you, this computer kicks ass. It's not top-of-the-line for gaming, but it's still damned good, and by far the best computer I've worked on, ever. I have no worries about my college stuff loading properly, either; being brand new, it's all nice and up-to-date on all the programs I'll need.

I kinda wish I was home right now just so I could be on such agreat computer.

I do need a better chair, however. The hard wooden kitchen chair reminds me of all those bones in the butt aarea that one usually doesn't notice ...

P.S. — Yes, you do want to check out Sacred.