All's well

I don't have breast cancer.

Just a cyst, which was gone by the time I had my follow-up appointment with my doctor. Needless to say, I was relieved.

And I zipped over to the nearest coffee shop I could find after leaving the doc's office and quickly quelled the week-long angsty headache that had gripped me, screaming for caffeine. The good thing is, I don't need as much of the damn stuff to wake up now, nor to stay awake, but really I'd have rather just avoided that whole "let's see what happens when we make the caffeine fiend go decaf for a week" experiment.

Between that scare, the lack of caffeine, and the increasingly stressful and uncertain situation at work, I decided I need some time off from school to get my head straight and relax. I was doing pretty good in this class, but leaving everything until the last minute, and I wasn't retaining what I was learning. So I'll be retaking this class when I go back in February. Till then, I'm not even gonna think about it. I'm just gonna relax and see how the work stuff pans out.

And make Snickerdoodles. Lots of 'em.

Happy holidays, all.

Fondled (by a machine!)

I have been officially inducted into the world of mammograms and all the fun worry that accompanies them. Oh, joy.

I had my yearly physical last Friday, and my doctor found a lump in my left breast. She quickly assuredme it was probably nothing - most likely, in fact, just a result of all of the caffiene I've had lately - but said I'd need a mammogram and ultrasound to check it out.

Oh yeah, and no caffiene for a week until I go back to see her again this Friday for test results and follow up exam to see if the lump is still there.

The mammogram wasn't so bad, aside from having another woman fondling me in places I don't particularly want just anyone to fondle. The squishing wasn't horrible, just weird.

And from what I gathered from the tech who took the pictures, there might not have been anything found with the mammogram (I have yet to get official results, so that could be wrong, but she seemed to be srtuggling and squinting to find anything at the time).

The ultrasound, however, found one black blob that I know about for sure, because by that time I'd gotten bored staring at the ceiling and so craned my neck aroudn to watch the screen. This dark spot (a lump, I'm guessing) was located, however, in a different place than where my doctor had found the original lump, which is ... disconcerting ... I belive this was the second dark lump/spot found with the ultrasound, however, because while I was still staring at the ceiling before that, the ultrasound tech had paused and clicked and tapped on the keyboard in much the same manner near where the original lump had been found.

So I might have two lumps. Maybe more? I tried not to pay attention until I got bored and had to see what was going on on the screen. I mean, it's not like I was thrilled to be there, ya know?


I have told myself repeatedly, "I'm not going to freak out. It's probably going to be just fine. This kind of thing runs in the family. Lumps (cysts) are apparently common for my age anyway. I'm NOT going to freak out."

And so far I haven't. But I have been pretty put-out and a bit depressed, and no matter how much I rationalize and read soothing things about breakthroughs, I've been worried, too. Not full-on, wringin my hands worried, but just that general unease taht tickles the back of yoru brain constantly, just beyond reach but there enough to taunt you and make you shiver a bit and turn away.

I don't feel particularly peppy right now. I'm not scared at this point - at this point there's nothing to actually be scared of - but I'm leery and dark and sluggish and unable to really concentrate on anything. Which is bad because I had an internal deadline for my group project today, which I will be missing to turn in my part tomorrow. It's not a bad thing, per se; the group can easily wait one day to review and comment on my presentation, which is the actual "group" part of the project, with plenty of time to spare even if I turned it in Friday instead of tomorrow, but I still feel bad about missing the deadline. They want to finish this damn project early and I don't blame them - I do, too.

And that just makes me feel a bit cruddier. I haven't been very into this class this term, focusing too much on work instead. I'm lucky this has been so far a fairly easy class, or at least a subject that comes naturally to me. I've gotten all A's except for one B+ (which would have been an A but I turned the assignment in one day late and so suffered a 5% mark down), and my intructor leaves comments as to how exceptional my work is. Makes me feel good, but I keep feeling like I don't deserve the grades, because I'm putting everything off till the last minute.

I need some good news on Friday. Or at least promising news, even if I have to get cut up for further inspection. I can handle being cut up. I can handle a not-so-great diagnosis, even, because it's not the end of the world these days like it used to be.

It's the waiting that's wearing on me. It's the not knowing, one way or another, what's going to happen next.


Kitteh-Zombeh Cheeks (no exploding spiders this time)

Remember my long-ago post (in fact I think it was just about a year ago) about Matt's blocked salivary gland, complete with warning to would-be spider smashers to always use a smashing device larger than the body of the spider to be smashed?

Well, now Goblin's the one with a swollen cheek that looks like it's about to burst and wriggle out tentacles or some such.

His swelling is not a blocked salivary gland, however. It's swollen glands along the edges of the corners of his upper lips, swollen so horribly as an overreaction to something. To what? Beats me. Like blocked salivary glands in humans, it's apparently fairly common, and not too terribly worrisome, mostly.

This happened to him once before, in late August, and when I took him to the vet for it then he got a steroid shot that cleared it up completely within about two days. This was good. What is bad is that cats generally can only handle four of said steroids shots in one year before those same steroids start messing with their systems, giving them diabetes and other nasty conditions. Since his shot for the first time this happened was only a short two months ago, I was a wee bit worried about having him need another so soon. What if this kept coming back, and he reached the four-shot limit for the year and then it came back again? What then?

When I took him back to the vet today, she expressed this same concern even before I could (she's good). So instead of a shot, Goblin's on similar steroid pills (lower dosage, but still kinda up there). One pill twice a day for the first five days, then one a day for the next five, then one every other day and at that point I need to try to cut the dosage - by halving the pills, and possibly even skipping two days between, until either he doesn't need them anymore or we find the lowest dosage needed to keep his lips normal cat size and shape. The hope of course is that he will not need to stay on them forever, but the vet said that if for whatever reason he does, the pills are not likely to do damage the way the shots would have. Apparently these same pills are given to cats with asthma, who need to take them daily, and there are (usually) few ill side effects, if any at all.

So, I feel better about the pills. Even if he starts lifting weights and meowing in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice (heh, heh, funny mental image), I'm ok with it so long as the poor lil' guy can rub his poor lil face against things without suddenly stopping and squeezing his eyes shut because it hurts.

And, giving him the pills is not a horrible, dangerous feat (how many of you have seen that viral e-mail "How to Pill a Cat" that keeps popping up and no matter how many times you see it, still makes you laugh so hard you're afraid you're going to pee yourself?), thanks to the fact that he loves to eat, period, and the pills can be easily hidden in a glob of wet cat food. He just scarfs the glob right down, either unaware that there's a nasty yucky little pill in it, or not caring because dude, it's food! So I won't be blogging anytime soon about my harrowing experiences with bullet-fast spit out pills and claw marks that will forever scar me, and I'm pretty sure I'm cool with that.

Right now he's curled up on the couch beside me, sleeping kitteh-zombeh sleeps and occasionally twitching. After his two pills today, his cheek is noticeably less swollen already, and about two hours ago he actually rubbed his face (the less-swollen side, anyway) against my hand without stopping from pain. Sweet lil' bugger, he is, at least when he's not living up to his name.

So my heart is happier knowing I won't have to worry about shots for him that can do harm, and knowing that, just like the shot, these pills are clearing up his adverse reaction to whatever is is really fast.

In other news, Matt is out of town working on music and various odd jobs with a friend up in Northern-Northern California, and I miss him. He's been gone since last Thursday, and won't be back till sometime next week. This is, by far, the longest we've been away from each other since we met. No, really, It's weird. He's become such a part of my life that while I have enjoyed the silence to catch up on some reading, I find myself more often than not restless, pacing the house because I'm bored and have no one to talk to or at least be bored with. Goblin has been doing his part to make me feel better, sleeping either between my knees or on the pillow above my head most nights.

And I finally got my last grade for the class I just finished. All A's, baby! And next week it's on to the next one ...

Grumble-worthy news: Sacred 2: Fallen Angel was released Tuesday, and supposedly shipped out to stores that day. Due to the holiday, however (and btw thank you vets and currently-active soldiers! You rock!), there was no mail service that day, so while I was originally supposed to pick the game up today, I have to wait ... one ... more ... day ... *gasp, shudder*

Oh, the agony. I'm sure I'll live, but it won't be a happy living. It will be a loooong 24 (maybe even 48 - oh, the horror!) hours till I get my grimy lil' paws on it and promptly spend most of the weekend glued to the computer ...

Yes. We can.

Aaaaahhhh! And Yes! We! Did!


Meme for whomever wishes to waste some time.

Are you talle​r than your mom?
I think we're about the same height.

Have you ever been on a blind​ date?​
Nope. Never trusted my friends' judgement on who my Mr. Right might be lol

Have you ever peed while​ on the phone​ ?
No. Well, ok, yes, sorta. I mean it was a really important call I was waiting for so I took my cell into the bathroom, and of course the call arrived right at the worst moment. I "held it" and ended the call as quickly as possible, but was getting a bit desperate toward the end. It's kinda hard to do the pee-pee dance while actually sitting on the pot.

What do you have pierc​ed on you?
Earlobes, once, and right nostril. Considerably more conservative than a few years ago.

What do you have tatto​oed on you?
A koi on my right arm, a horned viper on my left, "So" on my left wrist and "Ha" on my right ("So, Ha" is a meditation), Eyes of the Buddha on my right inner forearm, dragon on my chest, two dragons on my back, a dragon on my left leg (inner calf), and the bust of a unicorn on my right hip. I did the last two myself with a disposable insulin syringe and india ink in my first run through college years ago. And they did not get infected.

When is the last time you saw firew​orks?​
4th of July, at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.

Do you remem​ber your first​ favor​ite song?​
Ah gods, yes. And no, you're not allowed to laugh. "I Swear" by All 4 One.

Favor​ite fruit​?​

Corn! On the cob! Raw!

What was your first​ scree​n name?​
Shimmer, way back when AOL was cool n' stuff, and I snuck into "Teen Chat" even though I was only actually 12.

What are you plann​ing on doing​ after​ filli​ng this out?
Well, I should get started on the assignment that was due tonight but that I didn't do because I was glued to the TV watching the election updates (omgYAY!1OBAMA!!1!), but after a very long past week and a half at work combined withthe victory shot of Gentleman Jack I'm sipping now (omgYAY!1OBAMA!!1!), it is entirely likely I'll just go to bed instead and whip out a kick ass paper tomorrow.

Do you sleep​ on your stoma​ch?​
Only when I've just had more work done on the tattoo on my back, which means rarely. And then, not so well.

Are you datin​g the last perso​n you kisse​d?​
I'm engaged to him! :D

Have you ever broke​n someo​ne'​s heart​?
My ex said I did (even though he broke up with me), but after much wise thought I've come to the conclusion that he never really new his heart in the first place, so I couldn't break something that was never really given in the first place. And, well, he broke up with me. Out of the blue. Because the two times per year we saw each other took up too much ofhis time which could be much better spent getting shitfaced and fighting in bars. *eye roll*

What are you liste​ning to?
Keyboard taps and our upstairs neighbors taking a shower.

Next time you will kiss someo​ne?​
Probably as soon as I finish this survey.

Have you ever injec​ted a drug?​
Myself? No. But the anesthetic that the dentist injected into me when I got my wisdom teeth removed about 8 or 9 years ago was fucking awesome. I (literally - no, really I swear) became one with the chair as I melted down into it in a very slow, Nirvana-like blink.

When was the last time you felt like your heart​ was actua​lly break​ing?​
'Member that ex I just bitched about? Yeah. I was young and naive and it was my "First Love" and I had not yet gotten to the "wise thought" stage yet.

Do you get along​ bette​r with the same sex or oppos​ite?​
Generally, the opposite, likely from long, fun childhood years of being a tomboy. Who wants to play dress up when you can climb trees and scare the shit out of each other with dares to walk - slowly - through basements you just know are haunted?

Have you ever kisse​d someo​ne whose​ name start​ed with a Z?
No, though I did have ahuge crush on a Z-named person in Jr. High and so would have kissed him, given the chance.

What is somet​hing you disli​ked about​ your day?
Ya know, despite work and school and finances and stuff, today fucking rocked.(omgYAY!1OBAMA!!1!)

Have you ever liked​ someb​ody and never​ told them?​
Pfft. Duh. I am only human, after all.

Do you have a best frien​d that knows​ you insid​e and out?
Three of 'em, actually.

Do you curre​ntly hate someo​ne?​
Yeah, but let's focus on the positive right now (omgYAY!1OBAMA!!1!).

Would​ you ever dye your hair blond​e?​
Sure, but it would have to be professionally done. Bleach and I have a bad relationship.

Have you ever gotte​n a sunbu​rn so bad it hurt to move?​


What is bothe​ring you right​ now?
Thanks to Gentleman Jack (and only one shot, jeez!), naddadamnthing.

Have you ever read an entir​e book in one day?
Yes. Oh, yes. Oh, glory days, that I miss so much ...

If you could​ move to Afric​a would​ you?
Sure, if it would be a smart move for future plans.

Prete​nd you'​ve had 10 beers​,​ descr​ibe what you'​d be doing​ right​ now?
Drooling and snoring and not moving much from whatever position I happened to collapse into.

Whats​ your favor​ite day in the month​ of march​?​
Saint Paddy's Day! Yay for leprechauns!

Does anyon​e have a crush​ on you?
Not that I'm aware of. Unless you do and you're not telling.

Do you like Batma​n?​
I want to be Batman.

Is your birth​day on a holid​ay?​

Where​ did you get the shirt​ you'​re weari​ng?​
TJ Max.

Do you use an alarm​ clock​?
No. I use an alarm ringtone.

Do you ever snort​ when you laugh​?​
Yep. And squeak. And pee a little.

Did you kiss or hug anyon​e today​?​

What was your first​ thoug​ht this morni​ng?​
Something profane, most likely. I'm not a morning person.

Would​ you rathe​r talk on the phone​ or chat in IM?
Depends on who I'm talking to.

Did you have a dream​ last night​?​
Probably - I usually do - but I can't remember it if I did.

Do you have a faceb​ook?​

Are you curre​ntly frust​rated​ with someone?​
About half the people at my work. But it's all good. Things are a'changin', they are ...


I would give just about anything for a long, deep claw-foot tub right about now, and on-demand hot water. And super-duper-bubbly bubble bath.

I have the entire bottle of champagne, unopened, to drink myself into oblivion with when I happen to chance across said claw-foot tub. I have novels waiting, unread, making long faces and puppy-dog eyes at me from their dusty perches on the bookshelf, to read (see: escape) when I find that tub.

Hell, I even have all manner of super-soothing, beautiful music to blare at ridiculous levels while I pretend I don't have neighbors or that said neighbors are deaf already so who cares how loud the music is anyway? when I discover that wonderful tub ...


The work situation is scary right now. Like, really really scary. People are being laid off left and right (although I've been assured several times that my job is totally secure) and one of my co-workers in the production department just got the axe today. That leaves me and my boss as the only two people in our department now, and while we are both damn fucking good at what we do, we're not that good. Even with energy drinks ... Even with energy drink IVs.

Sigh again.

To make up for the now re-goddamn-diculous understaffing issue in our department as well as the graphics department, the two departments are being merged. This will help, definately, but with the graphics department hurting just as much as we are, we still won't be able to keep up the pace we have been. Tasks will need to be reassigned, and that is always like pulling teeth around here. Or more like squeezing blood from a rock. Because we've been so damned fantastic and amazing and machine-like for so many years in the past, we are apparently thought to actually be machines, or minor gods, or just plain perfect in every way except for an annoying habit of demanding that other people do their jobs on time so we can do ours (imagine! The nerve!).

We're not perfect. We are only human, and we have human limits. Even with energy drinks (even through IVs!) we cannot cram 18 hours worth of work into 8 hours, even skipping lunches and breaks, much less do it every day and not get a wee tiny bit snippy about it. It's just not possible.

But we're expected to do it. And to smile about it, no matter how obviously fake and hate-laced the smiles are.

I'm perfecting my "happy-sneer." I've learned how to bare my incisors and make people think I'm still a darling little angel.

Oh, where oh where is that beautiful, claw-footed, double-bubbly oblivion? The thought that the master's degree I will earn someday after getting my bachelor's (which may now take me even longer to get, as I may have to change my schedule to maintain only one class per term all the way through, instead of taking two each for the last three terms) will allow me to have that claw-foot tub is the only thing some days that keeps me happy-sneering like a sweet thing, when what I really want to do is




Meme from Mum.

What is your favorite thing to wear? I have this pair of really great pajama pants that are bright blue with cartoon ducks all over them. The kicker? They're angel ducks and devil ducks. With those, an overly big T-shirt and no socks or shoes is just heaven.

Last meal you had at a restaurant: Old-fashioned spaghetti with meat sauce at The Spaghetti Factory in Citrus Heights, hearty portioned and split with Matt, with a scoop of Spumoni ice cream for dessert.

Name one thing that scares you: Spiders (see said "I hate Spiders" post a few down from this one).

Who was the last person in your bed? Matt, this morning, because he always gets to sleep in ...

What were you doing at 7:00 a.m.? Sleeping.

Last person you hugged? Matt.

Does anyone you know want to date you? Besides Matt? Not that I'm aware of.

When was your last encounter with the police? My Mom's answer: "About four years ago a young neighbor from up the street failed to make the turn at the end of our cul-de-sac and zooped headlong in his Toyota pickup down our short, very steep driveway. Apparently he forgot where his brake pedal was. He reached the bottom of the driveway at roughly 30 mph, where he crashed through the chain link fence dividing our property from our next-door neighbor’s. After taking out her second fence and heading into the forest, his Toyota finally stopped when it got stuck between two pine trees. The poor guy was, as you might have guessed, very drunk. Miraculously, he wasn't hurt, but he was dazed and disoriented. I helped him into our kitchen, gave him a cup of coffee and called the sheriff while he sat there alternately apologizing and complimenting the decor. The officer who showed up arrested him for driving under the influence. I felt bad – the guy was young and obviously messed up – but what do you do? There'd been damage done to our neighbor's property, and it was just sheer luck that I’d happened to park my own car up on the street the night before. Normally, it would have been right at the bottom of the drive, and he’d have crashed right into the back of it. At the time of morning this happened, my daughter and I could well have been getting into the car to go to work. We just happened to be running a little late, so we weren't walking up the driveway when he flew down it. So ... yeah. It was an interesting encounter. It was made even more memorable when the officer, who was sorta cute, flirted with me."

Yeah. That was creepy. While Mom got the glory of being flirted at by the cute cop, I got the anti-glory of being flirted at by the drunk, fence-crashing neighbor himself. I was not impressed.

Have you ever driven without a license? Nope.

What time of the day is it?12:36 p.m.

Who/What made you angry today? Not so much angry, as just disgusted at the ever increasing stupidity of drivers in general: Being cut off by some dick on Broadway this morning. He was stopped a a stop sign, and I was going straight on Broadway. He was not supposed to go ahead and pull onto BRoadway until it was safe to do so ... i.e., not when someone is only ten feet away from him and closing, on Broadway, without a stop sign (yeah, that'd be me). Dumbass pulled out right in front of me, slowly, and didn't even seem to notice that had I not slammed on the brakes and come to a complete stop (again, no stop sign for me) I'd have t-boned him.

Oh, sigh.

Do you want anyone? I want The Vampire Lestat. Badly.

Do you like birds? Yep. I still fondly remember waking up to the soft, sort of alien sounding coos of morning doves in the trees outside my window at the apartment where we lived in Bremerhaven, Germany, as a kid. I'd love to have a pair at home.

Do you download music? Occasionally, through iTunes. You should hop on iTunes and find my fiancee's new album: The Injured AERM Army, by Noisepsalm.

Do you care if your socks are dirty? Only when I don’t have any clean ones handy. In which case I’ll put the dirty ones on, wrinkling my nose, but I soon forget all about it. <-- Ditto, Mom.

Opinion of Chinese symbol tattoos? Unless you're Chinese or have some other meaningful connection to the Chinese culture, why not have words in your own language tattooed? At least then you'd be sure to get "Sweet Hunny Bunny Princess Grrrrl" inked on your butt, instead of "Prostitute."

What are you doing tonight? Working on and hopefully finishing my group project for school.

Do you like to cuddle? Yup.

Do you love anyone? Yup!

Whose bed did you sleep in last night? Mine.

Have you ever bungee jumped? Nope, and I don't care to, though I would like to try skydiving and base jumping.

Have you ever gone whitewater rafting? Nope, and I really don't care to, as I've never really relished the idea of bashing my brains in on a huge boulder after being dumped unceremoniously off of a silly little floating device that some crazy ass thought would be fun to ride down raging torrents of very fast, very strong water, just for the adrenaline rush and the hope of getting laid by a probably unimpressed girlfriend. I'll stick to swimming in calm waters, thanks.

Has anyone ten years older than you ever hit on you? Yes. Kinda creepy.

How many pets do you have? One Chinese Water Dragon named Heironymous, two kittens (Goblin and Sister), and a bunch of fish: one German Blue Ram - nameless, one (grape? grapevine?) Knife Fish named Tiger, one Parrot Fish named Peaches, one Gold Gaurami- nameless, one Betta named Asher, 27 tetras (13 blacklight, 13 neon, and one white cloud) - all nameless, at home. At work, I have a much smaller tank with four goldfish and one tiger barb.

Have you met a real redneck? I am a redneck myself.

What's the weather like there?$@#$%?!$%#!! hot. In #$%@$%?!$% October. $%?!$$%?!$?!!! damnit.

What are you listening to right now? Office whitenoise, fish tank filter, and coworker talking.

What was the last movie you watched? The Happening last night. M. Night needs to work on his casting. The story itself was fantastic, but much of the acting sucked very, very badly, which unfortunately killed it for me. C'mon, M. Night, you can find much better actors than Mark Walberg, and, well, most of the cast actually - only the guy who played Raul or Julien of whatever his name was did a good job. Even Zooey flopped in this one. Go back and watch Sixth Sense and see what you did exactly right with that one, then try to mimic that great casting in your next movie, cos seriously, you've got the gift for story telling, but you need to choose better people to portray them. Seriously.

Do you wear contacts? Nope. At least, not yet.

Where was the last place you went besides your house? The bank. It was more than a little depressing.

What are you wearing? Jeans, a pretty, flowery/artsy-type blouse, and my black slip-ons wit the little white, silver, and pink hearts all over them.

What’s one thing you’ve learned this year?


What do you usually order from Starbucks? Chai Latte with soy milk.

Ever had someone sing to you? Heh. Yes. Matt sings lots of questionably-humorous songs completely at random (often while showering), usually about turkeys, Jesus, Santa, and/or various parts of the human anatomy. They're not usually sung for or to me, but on occasion he'll come up with one for me and have me rolling.

Have you ever fired a gun? Yes, once, at targets at my friend's house long ago. Her family lives literally on the side of a mountain, and enjoys collecting and training in all manner of weaponry. While I'm not so great with guns or throwing axes, you might be nervous if I have a throwing knife on me and I'm mad at you, and if I'm mad at you and I've got a compound bow, well .. you're seriously fucked then. I have moidah-lized many, may soda cans and numerous buckets full of water on the first shot.

Are you missing someone? My Grampa and a few close friends (one of them the above-mentioned who who introduced me to the compound bow).

Favorite TV show? If I must, then pretty much anything on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel.

What do you have an obsession with? Reading good books, which I have not been able to indulge in for quite some time now (damn school).

Has anyone ever said you looked like a celeb? The singer of the Cranberries, in junior high. If I actually did look like her then, I certainly don't now.

Who would you like to see right now? My Mom, my friends.

Ever had a near death experience? Zooming backwards off of a 15-foot cliff on an ATV is not fun, especially when, after landing on your back you look up to see said now-upside-down ATV just about to land right on top of you. To this day, the fact that the ATV landed some 10 feet away from my friend and I, right-side-up, still give mes chills and makes it impossible for me to not believe in paranormal stuff.

It should have landed on us. It didn't. I am awed.

Are you afraid of falling in love? Not anymore.

Have you ever been caught doing something you weren’t supposed to? Yeah, but it was never anything that I had considered bad, or that was done with the intention of being bad. The roof of the bowling alley in Germany was just far too intriguing for an 8-year-old to not explore when some bowling alley staff left the door to the roof, at the very top of the very long stairs, behind a door that customers weren't really supposed to go through, unlocked. I was just pretending I was lost in a jungle full of booby traps somewhere and being hunted my scary, flesh-eating, jungle-natives, that's all.

Has anyone you were really close to passed away recently? My Grampa died in 2005, and my aunt and uncle died, several months apart, in 2007. Usually I'm ok with it all, but occasionally it will sneak up on me, like when I'm at my Grandma's house and I suddenly realize it's too quiet because my Grampa isn't whistling or singing softly to fill the silence.

What’s something that really bugs you? Hypocrisy. Arrogance. Stupidity. Pointless cruelty. Take your pick.

Taco Bell or Burger King? If I must, Taco Bell.

Next time you will kiss someone? Whenever I get home from work today.

Favorite baseball team? You assume I like baseball. I don't.

Ever call a 1-900 phone number? Nope. I read Laurell K. Hamilton for that. ;)

Nipple or Nose rings? My nose is pierced, and Matt's nipples are (which he apparently flashed for shock effect at a family get-together last weekend ...)

What’s the longest time you’ve gone without sleep? Everyone has these great stories about having stayed awake for x amount of days and hallucinating from sleep deprivation and stuff. I'm not nearly so thrilling and adventurous. I can't remember ever having stayed awake for even a full 24 hours. I think a friend and I tried to once, just to see how many cartoons we could watch in that time, but of course we fell asleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning while Bugs Bunny forgot to turn left at Albuquerque.

Last time you went bowling? Just a couple years ago, actually. Strangely, I bowl better when I'm drunk-ish.

Where is the weirdest place you have slept? Again, I'm far too dull to have a good story here. Weird for me is anything other than a bed, couch, or floor, so I guess camping would be my "weird" sleeping place, and even that's not really strange at all, actually.

Who did you last speak with on the phone? A teacher at a local high school wondering about the finer details of using a new program to out their high school newspaper together to send it to us (my work) for printing. I've never used said new program, and my boss - who has - is on vacation, so no progress was made.

What does your last received text message say? “Call when u can" from Matt.

What’s the closest orange object to you? A can of goldfish flakes.

Fun kitten video + Noisepsalm music

Ha! I figured out how to use iMovie! This movie is made from various early videos of Goblin and Sister doing what they do best, with the song The Villain Theme by Noisepsalm in the background, plus a few sound effects. I think it's pretty spiffy, m'self :D

I hate spiders.

Have I ever mentioned that here - that I hate spiders? I do.

Well, ok, Daddy Longlegs' are ok, and I actually think that jumping spiders are pretty damn cool, but those are the only two exceptions to the rule. Now, if a spider is small, I'm usually ok with it until and unless it crawls on me.

If I know it's poisonous, or if I don't know whether its poisonous or harmless but it's really fucking big, I revert to a little sissy girl and shiver and shake and squirm and wring my hands and wish I could just die or that I had a really big fucking gun or something to properly threaten it with.

When it's a really fucking big spider, and I don't know whether it's poisonous or not because I didn't get a good look at it because it was 1:30 in the goodamned morning and I was sleeping ok? until the damn thing decided to skitter across my elbow under the edge of my pillow and after freaking out and turning on the light and looking and not seeing it and then feeling it at my elbow again just on the inside of my shirt sleeve and squealing I'm sure and GRABBING IT and throwing it at the bookshelf right next to my bed only to freak out further because oh my fucking god the thing was big enough to GRAB HOLD OF AND THROW, well ... I have a tendency to stand in the middle of the kitchen, damn near naked because the fuckers can hide in clothes, arms folded tightly and fingers digging into my arms hard enough to hurt, terrified to even sit on the couch because if a spider can crawl on me while I'm sleeping peacefully in my bed why the heck can't one crawl on my while I'm sitting on the couch at 1:30 in the morning trying not to cry because I'm so freaked out?

Yeah. The wee early hours of this morning sucked big time.

I eventually ended up sleeping on the couch (the logic that bed or couch made no difference really in terms of easy spidery access tossed aside defiantly ok not so defiantly but because I really had not other choice) wrapped as tightly and coccoon-like in the covers as possible so as to leave absolutley no possible bit of space where a spider could crawl in, and of course I laid there for a good two hours staring at every corner and at every bump on the walls or ceiling that I could have sworn wasn't there mere minutes ago, rigid and trying to ignore those horrid little tickles you get on various limbs and such that feel like little insectle legs but aren't and you know this because you just not long ago HELD IN YOUR HAND something with real insectile legs so you know the difference between real spiders and the heebie jeebies but damn if you don't twitch and swipe and wimper at the heebie jeebie-tickles anyway.

I am now facing the prospect of trying to sleep tonight, and the thought makes me want to go stand in the middle of the kitchen again with all the lights on. Sigh. Good thing I don't have work tomorrow. I doubt I'll be getting much sleep.

No time. No point?

Total and complete edit: Yeah, never mind.

I just got moody, as I sometimes do. I'm over it ;) New posts soon.

Obligatory kitten photo blog

Kittey Kassells and PlayStations.

This is Phoenix’s last week with us. We take him back home on Friday. I’m kinda bummed.

He’s a cute kid, and while he has his moments at times that leave me a bit grumbly or eye-rolly, I’ve had fun with him. He keeps trying to get me to play Soul Calibur # with him on the PlayStation, which he’s been glued to since we got it two weeks ago. I promised I’d do battle with him again before he goes, which with him means setting aside several hours, because a few little versus rounds simply are not enough. He wants to unlock new stuff – weapons, armor, playable characters – as well as build and modify new custom characters, and of course he has to excitedly explain all the cool stuff he’s learned and show me cool new moves and awesome, skull-crushing new swords which are as long as the characters are tall and about as wide, with wicked looking spiked and eyes and stuff on them. Which is all well and good with me, it just means I’ll be locked into it and unable to escape for awhile, so I need to wrap up school stuff and errands a little earlier this week.
I’ll miss having him around.

Matt and I took him to the Rockstar Mayhem Music Festival on Monday, as a sort of early birthday thing; he’d never been to a rock concert of any kind before that. Despite it being amazingly hot, he had a blast – we all did. We gathered stickers and autographs, and Phoenix was thrilled to have the Metal Mullisha (daredevil motorcyclists screaming up one ramp to spin, flip or give the devil horns in mid air before screaming down another ramp) sign his shirt. We had to get their autographs well after their show, as their normal signing was right as one of our favorite bands was playing, and when they walked over with a sharpie in hand, the wide-eyed, sheepish-grinned look of admiration on Phoenix’s face made the day.

Despite having fun with him, I will enjoy getting my usual peace and quiet back. Being almost 10, he’s chock full of energy all the time and if he’s not glued to the PlayStation, he’s creating things with boxes and such for the kittens. Which is cool and all and who am I to curb creativity, but the little bits and pieces left laying all over the place are a bit overwhelming, and the constant, “hey Cary, come look at this!” interruptions to show me new windows and drawbridges in the “Kittey Kassell” is only charming the first dozen times or so in one evening.’

And, ok, it will be great to once again not have to bother with getting dressed before going to the bathroom at night. It’s too hot for clothes, but he sleeps on the couch so if I need to pee (and I do, like ten times every night) I need to shove on clothes and sweat and grumble before I can do so. Which wakes me up more than I’d like to be. And makes me hot, which makes me grumpy.

Still, I’ll be looking forward to his next visit. He makes me remember my own childhood days (something I love to do), and I can’t help but smile even when he’s showing me the updated new wing of the Kittey Kassell and how it attaches to the main part and how the kittens get into it and how it’s so cool and where he’s going t o make a new window for it and how he’s going to create new string-toys to attach to it, all while I’m trying to read for a school assignment due that evening.

He’s a good kid.


I lurv this photo.

Bleargh. Braaiiiiiins (and shoulders).

It's 3 in the morning and I am wide awake. And grumpy.

I can't sleep because of being so ridiculously wide awake, which I think is making up for the night before. Last night I slept like the dead. Literally.

I slept much more soundly than I usually do, and during the few times that I woke, I was so very sleepy and muzzy and out of it I felt almost drugged, zombie-like. I was slow and extremely clumsy in my movements, to the point that my balance was so badly off I had to be very careful walking to and from the bathroom, and kept running into and banging into things. Blinking was not a quick matter - my eyes kept wanting to stay closed, even as I was up and walking. Despite such good, deep sleep, I slept in until almost noon yesterday, and that's despite having gotten to bed at a very reasonable hour. When I finally got up around noonish (because I really felt absurd sleeping that long, not because I couldn't sleep anymore) I was still fuzzy and zombie-like, scraping my chin across the edge of the bookshelf next to my bed and my back and shoulder against the bathroom door handle when I bent down to gather clothes off the floor to wash them. My balance was still badly off, and I remained in this alarmingly sluggish state until I dragged myself down to the gas station at the bottom of our road and got an energy drink. All was well then, but I'm still sort of weirded out by the whole thing.

This has happened before, several times, all within the last few months, and I hate it every time, feeling clumsy and weak and out of it. This was the worst experience of it, and I really really don't like it. It scares me that I can be that out of it. It truly felt like I was drugged - like when you start to wake up from anesthesia.

Tonight's (and into this morning's) total and complete inabaility to sleep must be making up for it. I'm tired. I want to sleep. I just can't.

On top of being so awake I'm also dealing with another thing that has me weirded out and I think on Monday I'm finally going to call my doctor about it.

All my life, I've been a side-sleeper. Doesn't matter which side (although my right side seems to be even more comfortable), but I can only easily sleep on my side. Sleeping on my back has always been very hard to do (I just can't get comfortable), and remains so to this day. Forget about sleeping on my stomach. Way too uncomfortable.

For the last three or four months, I've been having strange shoulder pains, and it feels like they are slightly dislocated. What really grosses me out is that if I shift a bit while on my side, whatever shoulder I'm sleeping on will actually pull partially out of socket with a pop and a slide. I can alwasy just shift back and pop it back in, but it freaks me out, and over the months it has begun to cause pain in whatever shoulder I slept on during the day. Now it hurts after just a few minutes of lying on my side.

I have tried (and tried, and tried) to train myself to sleep on my back because of this, putting a pillow under my knees for proper back alignment.

I can't sleep on my back. I just end up twitching, shifting my arms and legs this way and that and back again, turning my head from one side to the other and back, trying to fool my body into thinking it's on it's side my turning just my hips to the side a little, and all to no avail. It is not comfortable, and I cannot sleep.

Now I can't sleep on my side either, because it hurts my shoulders too much.

What other sleeping positions are there to try? I guess I could prop myself up in a sitting position on the couch, but I bet that's all kinds of bad for the back, neck, and shoulders, too.

So, I can't sleep because I don't like pain. Even sitting here, a good fifteen minutes after having given up on sleeping, my shoulders hurt, and make sickening popping and grinding sounds when I move them, as if they are still just ever so slightly out of socket.

I'm beyond frustrated. It seems the only good (and pain free) sleep I can get now is the totally random zombie-sleep that freaks me out and leaves me in a bad mood because it's so damned freaky and I don't know what causes it. The rest of the time, I'm tossing and turning, trying to force myself to sleep on my back and giving up and just trying to ignore the shoulder pain so I can just sleep.

I have pored over everything I can find on the internet about sleeping positions and shoulder pain and all I can find is dozens of conflicting bits of advice about how to sleep to prevent back pain (and my back is perfectly fine), or the obvious advice to not sleep on an injured shoulder. But unless simply sleeping on them for 27 years can injure your shoulders, mine aren't injured. No matter my search terms, no matter what medical websites I try, there is absolutely nothing connecting sleeping position with shoulder pain and slight dislocation.

So I get to go back to the doctor I don't trust or respect (or like, the ignorant bitch) because I have so far been unable to find another doctor taking new patients, and see what she has to say about both the zombie-sleep and the shoulder pain. And I hope to god she actually listens to what I'm saying instead of hurrying me along, asking about my GERD (which I've never had, bitch, it's Gastritis) and what birth control I'm on now (the same one I've been on for several years now, look at the chart you're holding in your hands, dumbass) and generally just not doing anything at all to give me any faith in her as a doctor. If I'm lucky at least one of the two issues might be resolved, at least partially.

I think if I can figure out what's going on with my shoulders and fix that, the better sleep may well prevent the random zombie-sleep and the frazzled, muzzy, drugged feeling I get afterwards.

Cross your fingers for me, k?

And give me your braaaaaiiiiins ...

Burning the evening oil.

I just discovered yesterday that I could potentially be earning up to 15 hours of overtime per month - 20 hours even, if I'm really busting butt. This has me grinning.

I've always been very careful to either not accrue any overtime or to get as little of it as possible - no more than two hours per paycheck if I can help it. This is because over the years I've seen other people get warnings about their overtime and on the rare occasion recieved a warning or two about it myself. Our company doesn't like parting with money unless it absolutely positively has to. However, about six months ago I had a streak of staying late that lasted about three or four months, wherein I accrued two-and-a-half to three hours of overtime check after check after check, and no one said anything. Mildly encouraged but still fearful of some stern warning which could come at any time, I decided not to press my luck and stopped staying late unless I really had to to catch up on something I couldn't get to during my normal hours (previously I had been staying late to catch up on long-term projects which had no real deadline and weren't terribly important, just terribly helpful). For months now I've been either right at 80 hours or a few hours short. In fact I've been short anywhere from three to eight hours on many of my checks since then, what with school and doctor/surgery/physical therapy appointments and such.

With Matt not working and receiving a disability check for roughly half of what he made while he was working, finances have been just a bit worrisome. We always come out on top easily enough, but my savings has been steadily dwindling because once we've taken from that to pay a bill on time instead of paying late and paying more with late fees, when one or the other of us gets our pay check mere days later we don't pay back that savings withdrawal. We do things instead like going out to dinner, which adds up pretty quickly. In short, if we pull our heads out and stop doing luxury things like that, we will be just fine. Hell, we might even be able to slowly build that savings back up to more than it was before Matt's injury.

We've actually been talking about this lately - ways to save money, and even turn things back around to where we're putting some into savings rather than taking it out or just letting our savings sit and build on the interest alone. Having recently googled "money saving tips" I came a cross a good many sites - blogs, some of them - chock full of little everyday, easy things to do to save money. Some of them we're already doing, some of them we're working on, and some we will be implementing as soon as possible.

I just hung a clothesline in our yard for drying most of our clothes, since the washer and dryer we got from friends with this last move has increased our energy bill by a quick and painfull $50 a month, and according to our energy provider's website, it's the dryer that usually accounts for most (more than half) of such increases. So the dryer will be used only for unmentionables, and when it's time to wash and dry sheets and blankets, we're packing those into the jeep and taking them to the laundromat down the street, which has the biggest washers and dryers I've ever seen ever, all operated for about the same as, if not less than, the regular small, crappy ones at the apartment we lived in before. For probably around $5, we could wash and dry two comforters, our sheets, and our pillow cases - possibly even all in one ginormous load. That beats the at-least-four loads of washing and at-least-six loads of drying (because our dryer just isn't up to drying comforters fully the first time) we'd have to do at home to get them done.

Many of the money-saving tips are simple discipline things, like remembering to turn off lights and appliances (and not even using lights until and unless you really actually need them). Unplug the nightlights as soon as you get up in the morning. Don't leave the T.V. on when you leave the couch for a sit in the throneroom for a bit. Turn off things like DVD players, printers, etc., completely when you're done using them. You know - simple things that usually go untended.

Other tips are of a different kind of discipline. Leave your credit cards at home when you go out, so that you can only rely on the cash you have on you rather than being able to make spur-of-the-moment big purchases you don't really need, but that you suddenly decide you want. Make shopping lists and stick to them, buying nothing that isn't on the list no matter how tempting, because you probably don't actually need it (like we didn't need the pie and ice cream we got the other day ... but my gods is it tasty!) If you're out and something catches our eye, go with the "ten minute rule:" wait ten minutes before putting it in your cart. In that time you'll be able to think about why you really want it, or if you even do want it at all. You'll probably not get it in the end, most of the time. I can attest to this, sorta - I can't tell you how many times I've found something just absolutely wonderful and then about ten or fifteen minutes later, while still looking around, changed my mind and put it back. If I had bought it right away instead of continuing shopping, I'd be stuck with it, unsatisfied and with less money.

Another good tip is to not save your credit card information on your internet accounts (except for bills), for the same reason. As you're digging out your wallet and card and typing in the info all over again each time, you're giving yourself the chance to rethink the purchase. Sure, a pair of uber-comfy, gel-insole slippers with headlights on them so you can see where your'e walking at night and prevent stubbed toes and bruised shins is a fantastic and wonderful invention - but do you really need them? No. Do you really wanna spend $45 for that novelty luxury? I wouldn't, if I really thought about it.

So now, along with all these great tips - most of which we should be able to implement fairly easily - I've been given the official go-ahead by my boss to rack up some overtime to help out our finances. The only catch of course is that I have to be doing actual real, needed work, not the long-term, deadline-free, not so important projects (although some work on those is ok).

No problem. With so few people in so many departments now, I can always find something to do that will greatly help out with the daily goings-on. And the real kicker is I don't even need to stay too terribly late to do it. I've gotten used to eating my lunch at my desk, which means I stay clocked in during my lunch because I'm actually still working, so there's an extra hour a day right there. If I then stay only one hour later than usual, I can get an extra two hours a day, four days a week (Sundays are my odd days, where due to the workload I actually lose an hour, but I can stay an hour later that day too and just get a full eight hours.) So just with those simple changes right there I'll be getting eight hours of overtime per paycheck - 16 hours per month - if I so choose.

And it's all good. No warnings. No raised eyebrows. Only a pat on the back for being such a good little worker and some much needed extra money.

Yeah, I'm grinning.

Well, it's about time!

I think I've reached the point with my education that I'm ready to get the ball rolling on starting up my own business.

Blam. Just like that.

What I want to do is sell my artwork in various forms. Flat art will be prints (framed or unframed) of my art, or the originals for a higher price. I also want to put it on shirts, jackets, mugs, calendars, note cards, and the like. Now here's the tricky part, the part I might not actually jump into until I've actually had some success - custom artwork and design. Tell me what to draw, I'll draw it. Tell me what tattoo you want, I'll design it. Tell me what logo, advertisement, or event poster you want, and I'll design it. It's the custom part which will probably make me more money in the end, but will be harder to figure out, unless I get lucky with the Amazon Webstore option, which is how I've decided to run my business online.

Now, before you go all hogwild applauding me for finally (finally!) doing what you, me, and everyone else has always known I could do, just hold up a minute.

I'm not actually starting the business anytime soon. I've set a goal for officially "opening the doors" on January 1, 2009. I'm hoping to have all the pre-business stuff wrapped up by then and more importantly, have a good line of artwork to start selling. Right now I'm in the very beginning stages of planning it all out, and I'm still in the listing stuff stage.

I need to determine exactly what I'll sell first and foremost, research basic prices, find bulk sellers of some of the supplies I'll need, find a good printer, and amidst all of that is the fun job of researching all the legal angles - filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement, talking to someone about tax stuff, figuring out contracts (for custom orders) if it seems like I might need them, all that jazz. And I need to actually buy my own Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator programs, which will most likely be my biggest expense by far (although my grandmother did at one point tell me to let her know about "any of that stuff" that I might need for school ... I bet she'd consider it for business, too).

Once I've got all of that figured and filed, I just need to draw like a madwoman, then finally set up a Webstore with Amazon, and spread the word. And hope.

I'm going to try to find information online about starting up a business to make sure I don't forget anything important. I'll also (finally) talk to some of the other students in the enterprenuership club and the arts and entertainment club I'm in with my school, and get feedback and ideas from them as well as the professors who run those clubs. Those alone should prove to be immensely valuable, but if any of you readers out there have any tips, tricks, or can point me in the right direction for finding information on what all I'll need to do to start up my own business, I'd be forever grateful.

Ok, ok, you can applaud now, if you wish. The whole thing won't come together for some time now, but I'm getting started on what I need to, and when all is ready, I should be able to hit the ground running and really do this right.

Explosions-day, Star Wars style.

Phoenix is visiting with us right now. He's been here a week already, and will be here for three more. It's fun, but he's getting a little bored already. We're trying to figure out what to do for the Fourth.

So far it's sounding like it will probably be a Star Wars Monopoly day, with hot dogs (and maybe hamburgers) on the barbecue for dinner, then we'll head off to the fairgrounds for the Fourth of July Family Day and fireworks show. While I've seen the fireworks show a few time there, I've never shown up too early before dark and so have no idea what kind of "family" activities and booths will be set up. It should be a fun day, all in all.

What are you and your family doing on the Fourth? Camping? Fishing? Jet-skiing? Watching movies? Barbecuing? I'm looking for some more ideas to spice it up a bit, but since fireworks and all other manner of explosives and such are illegal here, we can't even play with sparklers, which sort of limits some of the more fun fun. We do have a bunch of small squirt guns we got for training Goblin and Sister (they were quickly set aside for a bigger, more powerful, more effective - and yes, I'll admit it, fun - Super Soaker), so if it's super hot I guess we could at least have a water gun fight. Until one of us grabs the Super Soaker and another grabs the hose, anyway.

Ideas, anyone?

Silver linings.

Sometimes you realize that despite life's best efforts to induce nervous breakdowns, alcoholism or hermitism, you're actually doing pretty good at keeping up and keeping on top, and that simple moment of understanding brings with it a big relief and a sort of new, resolute calm. I hit that moment this morning.

My grades for the Project Management Theory class I just finished triggered it. I got an A on every assignment, which means of course an A for my overall final grade. If I can pull off As - and high ones, at that - things are ok no matter how panicky I may feel sometimes and no matter how much I may want to just give up, crawl into a hole and just sleep the bad things away.

Despite all of the crappy things that have been brewing in my life lately, I kicked that classes ass, and it was not an easy one by any means.

• Matt hurt his shoulder pretty badly at work and just had surgery on it a month and a half ago. He may never regain his full spectrum of movement or strength in that arm, and despite surprisingly good progression with his physical therapy, he can't do a lot of things right now. This leaves me to pick up a lot of slack, which with work and school, I don't have much time to do that. I don't even have much time to tell him to hang in there, or to give him a hug when he looks most miserable.

I'm trying my best to be understanding because I've seen the surgery photos and been there at his doctor and physical therapy appointments with him to hear all about how this kind of surgery goes so I know he's dealing with some pretty amazing pain right now, but it's starting to wear on me. I feel like a horrible person for admitting it, but I'm getting kinda tired of the knee-jerk response "I feel like shit," to my question of "how are you doing?" I sort of wonder what the point of asking is, but if I don't at least ask, it might seem like I don't care, and that couldn't be further from the truth. So I keep my sighs to myself, knowing that if I were going through what he is, I'd probably be in a much worse mood than he's showing. I can handle pain very, very well for quite some time, but once I hit my limit, get out of range: even I don't want to be around me then. Matt hit his limit long ago, and is just grumpy all the time. His reaction to the situation is really actually not that bad; I think the reason I'm starting to feel sorta grumpy back is that I feel helpless about the whole thing. Aside from giving him hugs and asking that awful, stupid question everyday, there is nothing I can do to help him.

Maybe what I'm actually tired of is being so useless. He's the one who has to do the hard work of healing; I can't do it for him no matter how much I might want to switch places just for a day to give him a break. Maybe what I'm actually tired of is the silence that is all I can give back to that "I feel like shit."

• We are ridiculously understaffed at work, and it just keeps getting worse. We in the production department are continuously given more and more work to take over from people who have been transferred or let go, or who simply quit and have not been (and may very well not be) replaced. And we're not getting paid any more for it, even though we are each individually doing at least three times - if not more - the amount of work we were doing at this time last year, when we couldn't really keep up too terribly easily even then. And there is no slack, no understanding, from other departments. We are expected to be perfect machines and just keep on making things work no matter what happens, but honestly we are seriously bogged down and I have never in my life hated any job more than this one. Which is made worse simply because it's not the job I hate; it's the people and the situation. I actually really like doing what I do, we just need much, much better upper management. I'd say we need a cash injection, too, but we just purchased a weather-reader thingamagig which will read the actual weather at our little spot in Placerville and feed it into our website in real time. Because god forfuckingbid we should continue using the weather service we've used -free of charge - for years which is pretty damned accurate? I mean, it's not like every portal site on the internet (Yahoo, MSN, etc.) doesn't already have weather info. We have to have our very own report, given by a spiffy new technological device that probably cost about what the last person let go from our department made in half a year.

Can you tell I'm bitter?

• The school I go to, being an internet school with each term only five and-a-half weeks long, is very intense and requires way more work than a traditional campus school class would. This means that if I take two classes per term, I am doing school from the time I get home from work till the time I go to bed, and all day Friday and Saturday. No personal time. No time for housework or even grocery shopping, and the hair on my legs grows long (even in summer - thank god for long pants) because shaving that stuff takes time I don't have to spare. Because of this ridiculousness I have cut down to one class per term, which will have me graduating much later and is still pretty intense - enough so that dishes still pile up until I get an hour or two of free time to do them once a week if I'm lucky. (Remember that Matt can't do much right now because he's basically one-armed, functionality wise.)

• I just had an identity theft scare, which is a huge amount stress all on its own. While things are looking up with that, indicating possibly that it was nothing more than a couple of clerical errors, I won't know for sure for a while yet, so I'm still worried and feeling sort of paranoid. I'm carrying more cash with me now, so that I don't use my ATM card as much. Unfortunately I have a tendency to stick cash-back into pockets and then forget about it, then worry later because I don't have quite enough money leftover till the next payday to make me feel comfortable in the event that something happens, like the car breaks down or some such. I always end up finding the cash, but usually not till the day after I get that next paycheck and all's well again. Go figure.

• We love them , really we do, but they drive us nuts: Our two, three-month-old kittens, Goblin and Sister, wake up at around 5 a.m. in the morning. This means that we do, too, much to our grumpy, foul-mouthed dismay. When I'm not getting to bed until 11:30 p.m. or later, 5:30 a.m. is not a time when I want to be conscious. The shortened sleep hours are affecting my days, leaving me yawning no matter how much caffiene I consume. The caffiene gives me stomach aches anyway (thank you, Gastritis), but without it I'd be sleeping on my keyboard and drool and electronics just don't mix well.

• There has been construction going on along the street right below our house for the last few months now. We're situated on a cliff (about sixty or so feet high) right above Main Street, with only an empty gas station lot between the edge of that cliff and Mai Street. The road going up to our house is very steep, and one-way: going up. Despite our and our neighbors' many requests to the construction crew and its foreman to give us a simple 24-hour notice before they block off the bottom of that road - and thereby the only legal access to our homes - they have never once given us notice, even after smiling and nodding and promising they would every time we've spoken with them. They've blocked off our road seven or eight times, and not given notice even once. They work at night too, which we got used to pretty quickly until the last couple of weeks when the equipment they have been using is so incredibly loud that it wakes us up out of dead sleep despite having two loud fans going in our room to block out the noise (which usually works). One of our neighbors about a week ago, when we were all awakened at 2:30 in the morning by a horrid, loud screeling noise in the empty lot below the cliff, flipped out and started screaming at the construction crew from the top of the drive. It was the kind of half-screaming, half-weeping that just breaks your heart. He then got into his car and left for the rest of the night, probably to a hotel room to get some peace and quiet. We waited it out for the next hours or so, seething, pacing, and promising all kinds of hell for the workers once we got into contact with the city about it.

Our calls to the city to complain of the cosntruction crew's lack of respect and responsibility have not been returned. This is especially frustrating because in those calls we're not bitching about the inconvenience to us in our everyday lives (although that is aggravating to find our road blocked without prior notice) but instead we're mentioning the fact that because it's a one-way street, if it's blocked and there is some sort of emergency people could very well die while emergency crews have to fight construction traffic to get to our road only to have to go past it, get back onto the freeway to turn and go back around - still fighting construction traffic - and through town again, try to get around the very short, tree-lined, hair-pin turn at the top of the one-way street (which I have very serious doubts a fire-truck could make), and come down it the wrong way. We're not asking for official documents on city letterhead with detailed explainations of what's being done and why, just a simple, quickly scribbled out note saying "from this time till this time tomorrow, your street will be inaccessible from Main Street."

It's really amazingly simple and wouldn't take more than five minutes. But they won't do it, and if they can't be bothered with that simple little effort, why should we expect them to alert police, medical and fire crews of the blocked street so that emergency routes can be re-planned in advance just in case? That would take a lot more time, including the possibility of actual real paperwork or even being put on hold on the phone, fer gosh sakes. I'm disgusted and horrified, and will continue to attempt contacting the city manager until I am able to meet with him personally, at which point along with telling him what's been happening, I'll show him the late-night videos of construction work with equipment making god-awful nails-on-chalkboard sounds at volumes that would have the police shitting themselves to give tickets and make arrests for if it was music at a party. The foreman - who was foolish enough to give us his business card before promptly ignoring our very simple and sickeningly logical requests time and again, and whose job it is to make sure things are done properly and in accordance with legal as well as ethical standards - will no longer have a job when I'm done, if things go my way.

I've been pretty stressed lately, to put it mildly.

Somehow, despite all of this, I got all As this term. I freakin' nailed this class, and to be brutally honest, I'm damned proud of myself. When I first started the class, I was not at all sure that I'd comprehend it. Project management is not nearly as simple as making a list of things to do, and even once you get the concepts down, actually making a project plan is still very challenging because involves lots of going back and making adjustments to schedules, time frames, costs, and task dependencies not only during the initial planning, but as the project progresses as well. In spite of its complexity, I actually kinda like it (yes, yes - I'm twisted, I know). I don't know that I'll ever become a Project Manager professionally, but the experience will certainly help with any career field I choose, as well as with everyday projects around the house (and with planning the wedding, too!) So, now that my first term back is over and very successfully so, I can finally let myself relax and believe it when I tell myself it's all gonna be ok. With the construction comeing ot an end (as long as they aren't behind schedule) and Matt gaining a little bit more movement in his shoulder every day, things are looking a little bit brighter all the time.

Ya know, maybe the whole point of this post is to say, "Sorry I've been bitching a lot lately. I'm working on it."

It's my birthday and I'll get inked if I want to.

That's right. As a birthday present to myself, I got some more tattoo work done. Today's three-ish-hour session was to begin fixing the snake that I got colored this time last year. The artist I went to then is relatively good if you have easy, small stuff, but the more complicated stuff is a bit beyond his talents. And being an artist myself, I of course have to complicate the hell out of most of my tattoos. No hearts with names in them for me - I gotta go all out.

So while the snake was colored and pretty brightly so and everyone I've run across who's seen it has exclaimed at its beauty, it wasn't the way I had designed the color. The artist had tried, but just didn't have the skill to get the colors to fade into each other nicely, and he completely screwed up the snake's face. Being also too kind-hearted, I didn't say anything, just decided I wouldn't go back to him unless I had something far simpler in mind, like the Eyes of the Buddha I had done later (which looks fantastic and I have no complaints about). It's not that the other artist did a horrible job on the snake's coloring in and of itself - he does have talent - it's just that it wasn't done exactly how I had done it, and I knew it even if no one else looking at it did, and it bugged the hell out of me.

My regular artist - Eddie Julian at Something Wicked Tattoo in Rosevillle, California - is much much better than the artist I went to for the first coloring. He became "my artist" with the first tattoo he inked on me, the dragon on my chest, because unlike any other tattoo artist I've had experiences with (myself, or through friends whom I've designed tats for), he actually inks the designs exactly the way I draw - and color - them. It's like I might as well have drawn the tats on myself. And that is very very important to me. If I hand an artist a drawing and tell them to tattoo it on myself or a friend, I want that drawing tattooed on me, not the artist's personalized (see fucked up) version of it, with reversed shading, crappy coloring, etc. I drew it the way I wanted it and that's what I'm paying for.

Eddie understands this. Someday, when I eventually move to Sonoma County, I will not change artists to keep the commute down (the shop is already an hour or more out of my town as it is). I will either schedule tattoo appointments to fit in with visits "back home" with family and friends, or I'll just plain ol' take a mini, extended-weekend vacation to get the work done by the artist I know and trust.

So, getting back to today's session: No actual re-coloring or shading has taken place yet. Instead, Eddie re-inked the entire outline and added the outline of all of the scales (it had only a very little bit of scale definition here and there before). Even with only that done, it already looks much, much better than it did before. I can reast easy knowing that when it's finally done, even though there will be much more black in it than I had orginally designed (no getting out of that sometimes with re-working tats) this is going to be one helluva tattoo. It will be one that I no longer cringe about, and one that won't restrict my choice of wedding dress to something with long sleeves to hide it from the photographer (that's been bugging me, too).

It's still too fresh right now to take photos of it, but in a few days I'll post what it looks like right now. And of course when it is finally done later this year I'll post final shots of it. For now, I'm freaking thrilled, and due to the pomegranite margarita I had with my oven-baked lasagna at dinner, I'm sleepy too. So I'm going to bed, to dream dreams of a prettier, darker horned viper than the one that I've tried not to see coiled on my arm day after day for the past year.

P.S. In ID theft news, there is no news, and I think that's probably a good sign. Now I just have to wait a few more weeks and order my credit report to make sure there's nothing suspicious there, and so long as that's all good, I think I'm in the clear. Yay!

This is important.

Ok, maybe I won't need to take a blogging hiatus after all; I'm feeling kinda talky/needy. In fact, the more I think about it the more I want to talk about what's going on with this identity theft scare - and not just for myself, but to share what I'm finding out with anyone who reads my blog.

Identity theft is a scary thing, and rightfully so: it can ruin lives not only with financial losses and credit scores damaged beyond repair, but with actual crimes committed under stolen aliases. Identity theft victims have as much to fear from sudden warrants for their arrest for crimes they didn't commit as they do from having their bank accounts emptied and new, astonishing collections bills handed to them for accounts in their names they never knew existed.

What makes it all worse is that despite everything that you can do to protect yourself now, a good majority of victims face such extreme loss because they don't act in time, even if they know about the theft; they hope it will just go away if they change a few online passwords and get new credit and debit cards.

It's not that simple.

I think (crossing fingers and toes) that I may have been very lucky. Either what happened with my scare really was nothing more than a couple of computer or clerical errors, or I caught this in time and with my acting so quickly I can very possibly stop it before I'm ruined. I have a printout of who to contact about what and have been making phone calls. Today, I saw the inside of our local police station for the first time in the nearlyfifteen years I've lived in this county. I have a fraud alert on each of the three major credit reporting agencies - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion - as well as the new ability to lock and unlock access that information as I see fit. I have set up an account access password for the utiliy account that this whole mess began with, and set up a reverse-security check for my student loan account (wherein I ask a security question of the bank representative I'm speaking to to ensure they really are who they claim to be). I signed up for ID theft protection on the credit card that seemed to have been targetted, but maybe wasn't after all.

I keep holding on to the fact that there are so many nulling-factors in this - so many things that makes it seem like just a case of an accidental clerical error on one account and maybe just a case of mistaken alert on the other. I want to believe that's all it is, but I'm not taking any chances. I am too in-tune with the nasty reality of the world to just let it go at that; the person who seems an innocent and helpful bystander could be the culprit being very clever indeed. The seemingly mistaken alert could have been a real one which, due to my quick action in correcting my address, has been overridden, the previously changed address no longer on file. What seems to have only just started between April 2 and May 2 could have started long ago, and I may actually have quite a mess to clean up when I finally order my credit report a month from now.

I want to hope, and I am breathing easier with each phone call that turns up nothing out of the ordinary and ends instead with new, extra security measures in place. But until some time has passed - a year maybe - wherein nothing out of place is found, I'll have that little niggling worry poking at my brain at odd moments. I will wake up in the middle of the night when funds are tight, wondering if my credit card will be rejected should I need it to pay a bill or for food (it hasn't gotten to that point, yet, but with Matt getting not quite half of his normal work-pay with his disability checks, I wonder sometimes how long that will be the case).

As this unfolds, I'm learning.

Please, please, pay attention to this advice, right now:

If you don't have one already, get a P.O. box for your mail. Then get a paper shredder. Then save those paper shreds under lock and key until winter or camping time comes along, and use them as fire-starters to keep warm or roast marshmallows.

If I seem a little paranoid, believe me I'm not. Do you own research on identity theft and you'll be right there with me. In reality, no security measure is too much. If you don't have a solid internet security package for your computer (I suggest McAfee), get one. The cost of the software and license for a year is nothing compared to what you could end up losing if your idenity is compromised. Remember that money is only part of the threat. Even getting a new job could be a painful fiasco with ID theft, even once the ordeal is over and you're just picking up the pieces.

Do not wait to protect yourself, and don't think that passwords and human decency alone will save you. This is important. For those of you with families, the importance just multiplied ten-fold; it's not just your security and stability at risk now - it's theirs too.

Don't wait. Call your creditors and whatever other accounts you have - phone, utilities, even paypal - and find out what extra security measures can be set up to ensure that not just anyone can call up or log on and make changes to gain access to your personal information. Get a post office box for your mail delivery, and if you're aggravated by not being able to recieve packages at a post office box, pony up the extra money and get a box at UPS - you can get package deliveries there. Shred your important documents, but don't leave it at that, because crazy as it surely sounds, some people really are persistent enough to piece strips of paper together. Burn them. Change your various passwords regularly.

Finally, be paranoid. If you think someone in line behind you was sneeking a thorough peek at your credit card as you paid, contact your bank that day or the next and get a new card. It may turn out that the person behind you was a good person who simply looked suspicious, or it could turn out they're ordering a brand new sound system with your card number as you sit and wonder about it.

Remember: no security step is too big or small. It all helps, and with as crafty and tech-savvy as so many people are now, you can't be safe enough.

While there is a large amount of information on the internet about indentity theft, the best resource I've found so far for dealing with it is 101 Identity Theft. The Federal Trade Commission has quite a bit of extensive and important information about it as well, but the 101 site is the best organized I've seen for actual victims as far as the steps victims need to take in dealing with it.

Do yourself - and your family - a favor and check out both of those websites now. You'll be shocked at what you discover about how common and easy it is to steal an identity, and the horrors it leaves for the victims of the theft.

Now pass the word along.

Temporary Hiatus.

I most likely won't be blogging for a while. I'll be too distracted and in much too foul a mood to.

It appears that I may be either already a victim of identitiy theft, or if I'm lucky to have caught it early enough, it hasn't actually happened yet but someone is definately trying.

Having just done some research on ID theft along with some prior research before for a school assignment, I'm a bit overwhelemed at the moment with everything I'll need to do to find out exactly what if anything has occurred and to clear up the mess. I may be taking a leave of absence from school next term to deal with it all, which pisses me off even more because I just got back to school and damnit I'm doing really fucking well(all As!) and don't want to put off graduation any longer than I already have.

I fucking hate people.

Poor lil' bebbehs!

Goblin and Sister are home now. They got fixed today, and have only been back home for about forty-five minutes. They're zonked out on a blanket in the kitchen.

I worried all day about them, but of course they got through it ok. The drive home broke my heart though.

Sister, having lost a whole internal organ (which makes her appear emmaciated now, svelte thing that she is), is more affected by it than Goblin, who simply sat (very carefully) on one furry butt cheek and leaned drunkenly to the side and a little forward as a result of his procedure. We have one carrier for them and I asked the receptionist this morning if I should get a second one to bring them home separately in. She said no, that they'd be fine, but oh how I was kicking myself for listening to her later.

Goblin, drugged cross-eyed, kept stepping on Sister in the carrier on the way home. More specifically, he kept stepping on her newly hollowed abdomen. Because I had to drive, I couldn't cry, but Sister's agonized scream-yowls each time he accidentally stepped on her wrenched at my heart. What is normally a ten-minute drive seemed like an hour, and each pitiful kitten wail made it feel like the Jeep was going slower than before.

When we finally got home and in the house, Sister threw up. But, ever the tough-one, she wobbled back up onto her feet and - carefully, slowly - weaved her way over to Matt and then over to me, and then back again, demanding to be petted. So, gently, we pet her and told her it was all ok now.

I worry about Goblin's having stepped on her belly, but I've seen no blood, fresh or otherwise, and since getting home and out of the crate there have been to pain sounds at all from either one of them. We're supposed to leave them in the crate for a few hours before letting them out into a closed, quiet area, but I was afraid of Goblin continuing to step and sit on Sister, so we quickly cleared the kitchen and dining room area of any obstacles and things to try to climb on, put the blanket down, and let them out. After drinking some water and sniffing at some food, they both wobbled over to the blanket, carefully arranged themselves on it, and fell asleep.

I keep getting up to check on them and every time I poke my head out of the computer room to see how they're doing, they appear have moved very little, if at all. Goblin just blinked blearily at me, but that's it.

I think they're going to be just fine, but until they actually are, I'll worry.

Poor lil' bebbehs.

EDIT, Saturday, June 14: Matt, who came with me to pick the kittens up and was able to pay more attention to them than I was on the way home, corrected me: Goblin wasn't stepping on Sister. He was standing up, trying to keep his wobbly, woozy balance. Because of the confines of the carrier he was standing over Sister, with just his belly resting on her. Sister was looking around, nervous, probably because of the combination of whatever drug was still very much in their systems and the loudness and not so smooth ride of the Jeep. So those awful wails were not of pain, thankfully (although I imagine she was pretty sore, too, and that added to it), but of just plain old fear. Makes me feel better in one sense, worse in another because you really can't do much for fear except tell them through the bars that it's ok when obviously it's so not.

They're doing
much better today. Goblin is almost back to his old self, running around and getting into things. Sister is not quite there, but still very much on the mend. She keeps wanting to play but if she moves too much or moves wrong, she'll stop, tense, and meatloaf up for a few mintues to let her tummy stop hurting before trying again.

Haiku and Emphasis.

Mad grin; crack a smile-
If I knew better, I’d run-
No savior, I stay.

Mad grin, crack a smile:
If I knew better, I’d run ...
No, savior. I stay.

It's all about how you say what you say, really.

Smelly cat, smelly cat ...

Kittens are such wonderful creatures. They purr, they pounce, they jump and tumble and snorgle and run around your ankles like an obstacle course.

And if you feed them cheese, they break some sort of record for the Worst Smell Ever, soiling their litterbox in the early hours of the morning so that when you get up to go to the bathroom, you walk into a cloud of stench so strong and pungent your eyes water and your stomach lurches up your throat and you find yourself scuttling backwards, desperately clawing at anything within reach behind you to get away.

And the smell lingers, and clings, so that - bladder firmly told to shut the fuck up - even when you run back to your non-stinky bedroom and hide under the covers, you can still smell it, like it's been rubbed along your upper lip.


It took me approximately ten mintues to open the litter box, secure the sides of the liner (thank gods I use liners!) and tie it off, heave it out of the box and into the trash can, tie that bag off, and toss the atrocity outside to be properly stashed in the can ten yards away in the morning. It usually only takes me a minute or so to do all that, but I had to hold my breath and squint my eyes, and when I needed to breathe I had to lurch away to the bathroom, close the door, exhale explosively, and take another big, deep breath of not-so-nasty air. When a smell is so bad it almost triggers vomitting several times in that ten minute period, one gets a little panicky. Panic is simply not good for holding a proper air supply in one's lungs, so I was scrambling to the bathroom every five seconds or so for a fresh breath.

This was at 2:00 in the morning.

After emptying the litter box and putting in a fresh liner and litter, I grabbed the can of Oust Air Freshener Spray and sprayed the hell out of the kitchen, dining room, bathroom and living room, having to go back and re-spray some places that just wouldn't give up the ghost. Then I had to grab the wind-tunnel-like floor fan and turn it on in the kitchen (pointing away from the bedroom, thank you very much) and let it run for a good fifteen minutes. This scared the hell out of the kittens, who hid at the far end of the room the whole time.

And even that was not enough. Hours later when I dragged myself exhausted from bed (that lingering smell kept creeping back into my nose and making me panicky and twitchy so that I couldn't sleep for a while) there were still a few pockets of smell lingering in odd corners here and there, despite having opened all the windows I could to air the place out. Only, now those stench-pockets were perfumed. I'm not sure which was worse: the original smell or the Oust-perfumed version of it.

I have never in my life smelled anything so bad. Remember that unfortunate co-worker I blogged about a year or two ago? She's still here, she still stinks (worse now than ever) and I would rather do a face-plant into one of the folds between her fat rolls on a hot day and sniiiiffffffff than smell cheese-tainted cat-shit ever again.

Yeah, it was that bad.

Once the trauma wears off, I will probably be morbidly impressed that a stench so amazingly awful could come from somthing so very small and unassuming. Or maybe that's just shock talking.

Note: THAT, Mom, is why I texted you at o'dark thirty to say I wouldn't be walking this morning ...