Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dreaming weird... again.

I dreamed last night that I suddenly developed an allergic reaction to ... something. My lips and right side of my face swelled up so much that my top lip split open. I tried to get my brother and sister to take me to a hospital, because I was having trouble breathing, but due to a series of miscommunications, I wound up wandering a shopping mall by myself, thinking I should just collapse on the ground and maybe someone would take me to a hospital. :) I just happened to be shopping for a date with a really handsome man. LOL

What does all this mean? Probably that my chigger bite was itching (I have a reaction to those - golf-ball sized swelling) and my allergies were causing me to get stuffy-nosed as I was sleeping. My sleeping brain is ever the drama queen of the id.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Writing... when??

I've been working on my story in fits and starts, but I can't seem to keep it together long enough to work consistently every day. I know, consistency is the key. But consistency is also the hobgoblin of little minds. LOL

I suppose that you could find a quote or a piece of Scripture to support just about any thought that you have, as if to prove your point is valid.

The truth is that I don't feel secure knowing that I can't concentrate on my writing unless it's the weekend. I had thought that I would have moments throughout the day when I could mull over my writing but I can't focus until I get home, and then I'm always so tired I take a nap for several hours. I don't know how I'm going to break that cycle alone.

It really does require a second person to distract me long enough to pass the afternoon and evening AWAKE instead of in an exhausted sleep.

I believe that I won't really get into my own writing until I do it on a daily basis and so far I'm just hitting it hard on Saturday nights. Part of me is a little peeved that I haven't got anything better to do with my Saturday nights. Or my Friday nights.

Heck, I'm a good person and not too bad to hang around with when I'm not nervous about trying to impress the person I'm with. Yeah, I said that out loud. I know, shouldn't try to impress some jerk who isn't paying attention anyway. Okay, coming back from the tangent.

I haven't found some magical ritual or formula to help me concentrate or stay awake after the school day is over. Could boost myself up on caffeine from Java Cafe, but there are a couple of flaws with that plan, other than the owner probably does not want to see me in there every day, even if I am spending $4 a drink. LOL Seriously? I could make my own coffee when I get home because sitting there drinking it by myself just makes me feel even more isolated. I can get isolation at home! :)

Everybody already knows how afraid I am to sit in public places by myself for any length of time. Ha ha, big joke, agoraphobia, and no, I'm not over it. It would be so much easier if occasionally someone wanted to carry on a conversation, but no... that never happens. Cafe, bar, same thing always happens. Go in alone, spend all the time alone, leave alone. Or just stay home alone, save money, and have my dog available for hugs. Understand now?

So, how does a person with a full-time job find the motivation to go home and write on a project when the project itself doesn't pump them up with excitement? Due to tons of self-doubt of course.

Well, that's why I'm carrying around index cards. If I have a fleeting thought, I can at least write it down. I have a spiral notebook but it's too intimidating to begin writing on that first page. I'd much rather type what I'm thinking because I can get closer to thinking speed than if I were hand writing anything.

Which means that I'm either a slow thinker or a typing speed-demon. Well, I leave the kids in my class agape lots of times when I'm answering their questions at the same time I'm typing super fast on some other document. :D I think I'm doing okay, typing-wise, but I do my best on a good old PC based keyboard. Laptop, no. I don't care about the clicking sounds, because it sounds like progress to me. I enjoy the tappity tappity sounds, as long as I'm the one doing the tapping.

Today the silly writing block I've put up is this: I need to move my computer to the other side of the desk, where my previous computer has been living. Why? The other one is dying rapidly and I can't access my scanner. Why should it get the best desktop real estate if I can't be sure it will power on?

Eh, I need a new desk. This one is fifteen years old and it was a good old desk, but it doesn't fit my needs. No drawers, ineffective CD storage, no spaces for peripherals. Ah, if only I were a carpenter. I could alter it. :)

You know what my office needs? Painting. A new computer desk with lots of drawers and shelves. Bookshelves. Decluttering. Organization. A way to block Quincy from marking everything as his with his squirts of weewee. Better lighting. Inspiration.

Am I interested in tackling ANY of those tasks? Gosh no.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Smell the Roses??

Have you ever noticed that people who are demanding that you stop and smell the proverbial roses already have a garden full of said flowers? They preach about how you should be counting your blessings and feel they have uplifted some pathetic souls in some way, but they wouldn't be singing the same tune if they didn't already feel wonderfully blessed.

I've never noticed someone in the worst depths of despair calling out to everyone ELSE to stop and smell the roses. Count the blessings.

Okay, once I heard of a man who counted his only blessing: "At least I'm not twins."

Before tossing platitudes about how everyone ELSE should be acting and thinking, why don't you stop and think? When you are already happy, you don't have a clue what it is like to be the unhappy person. No, you really don't. You only know your version of unhappy, and you probably have been very fortunate in your life, indeed.

Forget "walking a mile in their shoes." A mile isn't long enough. The truth is that you can't possibly know what it is like for another person unless you become that other person.

This is not a snarky commentary on how you should stop preaching to people you don't understand and will not join in their own misery. It's just a request for you to rephrase your own superior commentary into something that's non-judgmental.

Try again. Make it kind and uplifting next time, instead of a command with finger-pointing, eh? Cliches do not help people in need; they just piss the people off.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Alexander Skarsgard sketches

Out of the blue last week, I decided to see just how bad I might be at sketching a portrait in graphite. Really, I was just going to see if I could "see" shadows and highlights in a picture well enough to just play with them. I found one of Alexander Skarsgard's head shots and got the major outlines down using a light box, and then went freehand on all the rest of it.

When I got about halfway through with my sketch, I was actually shocked at how good it looked. Mind you, I know there is a lot of room for improvement, and I know that I needed better contrast, but all I had was a #2 mechanical pencil, and you just can't do that great without a small range of hardnesses.

Still, it looks a LOT like the original photo (plus the additions I had to make to compensate for deep shadows covering stuff like a whole side of his face and a hidden eye), and if you've seen that photo, a lot like the subject. From about 6 years ago, of course, and a lot of people change between their late 20s and mid 30s. (though the headshot isn't one that looks like he typically looks, and not like he is often seen in real life, which is kind of slicked back, goofy, big brother looking - that's adorable) In other words, it's a really good beginner's sketch, for all its weaknesses. :D

And I did another of him which is closer to his everyday look and not quite so old. Found my sketch set by this time and got to play with my woodless graphite pencils, which I REALLY enjoyed doing.

I'll get better with practice. I'm thrilled that my first two (ever!) portraits came out as well as they did. It tells me that practicing will be worthwhile, for me. :) Happy happy joy joy.

You know how good pens and pencils get me thinking like Gollum. My precious-es. LOL Seriously, I love good writing and drawing instruments. To the point that when I find a pen I love, I buy lots of them and use them exclusively. Thick, heavy ink that doesn't smear if you look at it crosseyed. Love Sharpies especially much too.

Maybe that's because growing up I always got frustrated when markers started running out of ink and the color came out streaky. Try to color over the poster or paper again and the paper started disintegrating. I wanted a veritable flood of color to come out. When I started creating my own classroom decorations and signs, I would use my paint pens by pressing down on the tip until the paint started flooding out of the reservoir, and then spread it to the borders with the tip. (That's not a marker... now THAT'S a marker!!) Strong, bold, serious thick color is what I love.

So, it looks as though maybe I *can* draw after all, if I have a really good reference photo that I feel comfortable working from. If nothing else, if someday any of the local colleges (UTM, Are you listening???? Help me!!) start offering any studio art degree classes at night, I'll at least have a portfolio to show.

The second sketch surprised me too. Granted, both would have probably been better on somethingh other than printer paper, but that's what I had and I didn't think that anything I'd be able to sketch would come out well enough to potentially sacrifice something like Stonehenge. I didn't even remember that I have a pad of Stonehenge in my studio... duhhhhhhh... I found it when I lifted up my tins of Prismacolors in search of my sketching set.

I have seriously got to do something about that slapdash little room of a studio. When I had to build my own work table, I should have accepted that was the way it was going to have to be and got the rest taken care of . It's still a mess, though it has the bones of organization in it. Someone needs to learn to put her failures in the trash and get on with life.

But... my suspicions about being bipolar come from my rabid jumping from one project to another and completely forgetting about the old projects altogether. Maybe that's just a memory issue. But then again, maybe there is something to those stretches of weeks at a time when I'm lying in bed, unable to sleep for one creative idea after another flying through my head. I have to give them the think-through time or I just will not be able to sleep. Then months of depression... I could see yet another doctor but I hate the risk that they won't really be listening to me and then I'll just want to rip their head off. Really.

I gave it a good shot with one counselor and when I told him that my mother (who I had told him of my very serious issues with on the visit prior) had just died the previous week.... he told me that my mother's death didn't matter at all!

Well, it mattered to me! Thus the desire to commit bodily harm to this person who was getting paid to help me and couldn't even call me by my first name until he shuffled through my folder and looked at it a few times. Add another loop to the noose for my trusting men, and forget me trusting a stranger with my personal demons.

I might be crazy. I might just be suffering from major clinical depression. However, I think that any of that puts me right in with your average member of society. And I know that a lot of people out there pretending that they define normal do things behind closed doors that would make everyone else run away from them, screaming, if they knew the truth. There's no such thing as normal. Boring yes, but normal, no. And I don't consider creativity a character flaw, as the uncreative consider it.

Yucky March

Okay, it's March now, and I know I can't expect a sudden Spring to blossom forth.

Still, it looks like it's the dead of January right now. Grey skies, mushy ground, cold and rainy once again.

Just politely putting out there my request for some warm, sunny weather, because I'm going stir crazy.

Went to Hastings yesterday where the only inspiring stuff that I saw was an article in GreenCraft depicting a pair of patchwork jeans. They were really cute looking, but also, really 20s looking. Somehow I don't think that wearing something meant for a 20 year old will catch even the eye of one of those many men out there in their 40s with their hearts just set on having a 20 year old trophy wife / girlfriend. Oh yeah, and I do know who they are. Got 'em pegged already, and they are the only ones who don't realize how obvious they are being.

I've dated a few. Two of them actually did say that I was too old for them, and I was a couple of years younger than them. *snort* Okay, I know what they were getting at. They wanted someone who looked and dressed like she just came out of a Girls Gone Wild video so they wouldn't have to go to the trouble of remembering that when they WERE in those girls' dating pool, they weren't desirable to those girls at all. Now they have jobs and stability to boast of, and they think it's enough to get the hottie on their laps. LOL

Yeah, good luck with that fellas! :) You're still old. And it's really okay. I'm old, you're old. We deal with our agedness however we can. Women lose weight and men get sports cars and gold chains. :D And ex-wives, as if they are collectibles. *ducking*

Speaking of losing weight, I'm getting healed up slowly but surely from my own exercising injuries. Uh huh, bet you thought I hadn't been doing anything. Did enough to damage a hip flexor and crack a bone in my foot, I sure did. But now the pain in both places is beginning to lessen and I feel like I can go back at it soon. Hopefully during Spring Break. Maybe next week, if weather and pain permit.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hip Flexor Strain

Found this while I was researching tonight: "Hip Flexor Strain is a muscle (psoas) strain felt in the front part of the hip. It is often associated with speed training or compensating for another injury, especially Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

To see if you have strained your hip flexor muscle try the following maneuver: while standing, flex your hip such that your knee comes up towards the chest, then have a friend apply moderate pressure to pull the knee down while you resist. This test should result in pain similar to your symptoms.

You may be able to run just fine at slower speeds and shorter distances, but as the distance or speed increases; watch out - it can bite. Be sure to fully recover before resuming progressive training."

So THIS is what has been making walking painful for me for the last month. Darn it. Now I just have to figure out how to make it heal, since regular old exercise looks to be a bad idea in the meantime...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Point of No Return

I realize that I'm at that point... You know what I mean - the point where you have lost interest in absolutely everything. I don't want to play Warcraft (6 years invested), any of the Facebook games. I don't want to paint, or watch anything on TV. I don't want to even hear music. I don't even want to go through the trouble of even talking to the few people I'm still interested in, because it won't work out in a way that makes me happy anyway. Besides, who wants to be bothered with a depressed person? Someone like me is too tiresome to be around, and though I know it, there's nothing I can do about it.

I don't want to do any work on the story I've started, because I can't even imagine what should happy next. Little snatches of potential conversations and scenes flit through my head and the dissipate before I can really give them a good think-through.

Life is just too much of an energy requirement to get out of bed each day. I'll get up and take care of Quincy, but really, what else is there to my life now?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I knew it

Do you ever suspect that someone is only being nice to you in hopes that it will get them closer to someone you know? I won't mention the part that was a concern for someone else but I am going to speak on the part that I figured affected me for, well, decades.

It used to really hurt my feelings at family reunions (not my blood family, of course - we never got together) when many people would come up to me just to ask me all about how my sister is doing and what she was up to. They didn't ask me about myself, of course. *rolling eyes*

For a long time I figured that I just misunderstood all of those people's intentions - that they were just being polite, and not that they actually preferred my fair-haired prettier sister. Okay, that's the family part.

On the other hand, when a guy made a beeline to me because he wanted to pump me for information about my sister, it became rather apparent what was going on. I was just a prop, a stepping stone to be utilized to get to my sister. If it took a little pretending that he was interested in me for a short while, until I came forth with the information, I'm sure he considered it a sacrifice for his greater interest. LOL

Recently someone did this to me and I remembered back in our teen years when he had done the exact same thing. Tolerated my presence and feigned interest long enough to see if I was a useful passageway to my sister. Yes, I remembered. And that's why I wouldn't take his bait.

Let me say this, in case there is some deluded soul out there calling a foul on me for saying my piece: You will NOT get the girl if you constantly want to talk about her sister. Don't use it as an excuse that your intentions have been misunderstood. THIS girl is tired of being subjected to that treatment, so many times I have lost count.

Now, the proof. My siblings and I had dinner yesterday with their local children (because the eldest is in California in the Air Force). The subject was broached, and when I reminded my sister that one man is still VERY interested in hearing how she is doing, just like when we were kids, our brother mentioned that when he sees that man, he always asks how my sister is doing. Not me. Just my sister.

See there? Verified. :)

[Insert feeling of superiority for having suspicions confirmed.] LOL

So even though this is all vastly insulting to me personally, I've still got enough of a twisted sense of humor to laugh about it. Further proof: I heard almost on a daily basis growing up (from the boys in our neighborhood) "It's a good thing that you got the brains, because your sister sure got all the beauty!" (I could give exact names, but what would be the point now? Nobody defended me then, and I know they don't care now, if they even remember what bullies they were.) The bad part is that it's a two-fisted insult. Luckily, my sister took it as pure compliment every time, and never stopped to think that they were indirectly insulting her intelligence while they were calling me ugly.

But I'm sure those boys didn't even know they'd insulted her as well.

And it isn't as if ANY of this matters now anyway...

You do need to understand that I don't hate men. I hate the crummy way they treat me, oh most definitely. I'm not going to start playing for the other team either. Still, it's well-documented that I have turned the other cheek enough times to realize that blanket forgive-and-forget is a very bad idea for me.

I might forgive. I might, if you can handle being properly apologetic. But I'm never going to truly forget. Even if something slides away from my conscious notice for a while, it will inevitably come back like a Jack-in-the-Box to say hello at a time even I wouldn't have chosen. You should remember the evil that you do. I know I will. LOL Especially if the evil is done to me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Moderate Pain

First, let me say that I realize I have no right to complain about anything hurting, since there are so many people around me who are undoubtedly in worse pain than I am. My father, for example, is going to have fluid removed from his lungs today, through a needle in his back. Ouch.

But ever since I gave it my all on that stupid workout game (YSFE), my feet have hurt (HURT, not just ached - stinging, twingeing pain on putting weight on them, left foot especially) and my left hip hurts inside the socket. I blame that virtual witch who kept telling me to get my feet further apart. I think something got yanked loose in my hip socket and it's going to end up leading me to a doctor's visit because it's been bothering me since at least January, and maybe December if I go back and check.

Realistically, my feet and my hip have been hurting daily (really hurting) since early January, and now that my trapezius is acting up again (due to sleeping on the bench in the ICU during Dad's hospital stay), I am starting to have trouble walking down the halls of the school without a limp.

Okay, I know I just turned 40, and this means I'm officially "getting old" but I know that there's nothing magical about that age that means everything suddenly starts hurting at once.

Unless of course, you fall and break your hip, and then "it's all downhill from there!"

I'm torn between wanting to fix whatever is wrong and dealing with the frustration of being told by a doctor that either they can't find anything wrong or they can find something wrong but they don't know what it is or how to treat it. Please don't let me end up with another "mystery illness" again. Yes, I am still freaked about that time that my joints swelled and froze up and I got covered with a bright red rash from my neck down to the soles of my feet. And a five day headache that suddenly turned into the "worst headache of my life."

Seeing your doctor freak out at seeing the extent of your complaint is NOT comforting. Hearing that he can't figure out what's causing it to happen despite his running tests on you for Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and several other scary things doesn't help much either.

Oh woe is me, my "immune system over-reacted" and curled my fingers into claws I couldn't unclench myself? (Among other things... it just started in my fingers and stretched itself inward to bigger things like my hips and legs) Okay, it's in the past but now every time my joints hurt I'm afraid the mysterious "virus" has come back and I'm going to be paralyzed forever.

At the same time, I hate getting that look that means the nurses are calling me a hypochondriac behind my back. I am not. I don't even go when I have the flu. I'm always sure I can just tough it out in a few days. Don't need a doctor to tell me to stay in bed.

So anyway, now that I've thought about it some more today, when I was 20, all of my energy *noticeably* evaporated and never really came back. (found out after 9 years of trying to get listened to on the subject that I have diabetes. ) I'm 40, and everything hurts all at once. What the heck will happen when I'm 60, limbs just start falling off??? Yikes!

80? Will I live that long, or just completely disintegrate? Hmm.

Hopefully, I will figure out how to fix this all - whether it's a diet thing, or exercise issue.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Vino Veritas

Isn't it strange how some people drink and want to feed you a line of absolute garbage, and others tell you things that, under normal circumstances, they would never admit to?

And then there are others who wouldn't pay you a moment's attention sober, but let them have a few drinks, and suddenly, you're irresistible to them. Ah, but I digress.

The point is that a few days ago, an ex called me sounding completely wasted. And I told him so. My worry was that he was driving at the time, but he wasn't. You see, he usually calls me right about the time, late at night, he's having to drive a distance but he's getting sleepy. So I'm a prop. Yay, me. So wonderful to be useful for that. Oh, and my blood, but that's a different story.

Half of the words he said were all mushed together, and occasionally I had to wonder if this wasn't some elaborate practical joke to see if I would worry about his well-being. Then he alluded to something he said that he needed to tell me, but he didn't know how to say it.

Ho-boy. I was dreading that one. All kinds of room for interpretation and hurt feelings in that.

At this time, I wasn't the "keep me awake while I drive" prop, I was the "keep me from passing out because I drank too much and I have a meeting to get to in an hour" prop. Hey, at least I recognize the limits of my value.

Sometime in this hour (bye bye, saved cell phone minutes!) he told me that when he is able to look behind all the layers of "stuff" (his words were mushy, so this is what I understood - stuff): my low-self esteem, vulnerability, bad childhood, lonely adult years, etc. - in other words, when he was finally (after all these years) able to see the "essence" of who I really am...

That I'm someone he can trust, and always could.

And he's right. Because there were so many times I could have demanded that he treat me a lot better, and I didn't. And a fair few times I could have held his feet to the fire and practically blackmailed him into doing what I wanted, because there were things I could have held over his head. Again, I didn't.

I didn't want to be the evil, manipulative woman that is the rallying cry that defensive and abusive males are always yelling to explain why they are doing something destructive to every woman they lay their brutish hands on. Literally.

But ya know... being soft, sweet, and vulnerable has never done me a bit of good. And it has honestly taken so much out of me that I don't think I can maintain the sweetness when it's a rare thing to have it reflected back to me by another person. Like any other rare breed of thing... following rarity is extinction.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wistful Thinking & the Lie Detector

(I started this at 11 pm on the 14th, actually.)

Today is my birthday. Nothing special happened. Instead of getting to go home and rest I was a taxi service all evening long. I don't mind taking my nephew somewhere when he needs to go and nobody else is around. And of course I knew that nothing would be done for me, because my father is in the hospital in Memphis, and he has to be our prime concern right now.

My brother is staying the night with him tonight and my sister had her boyfriend she needed to have yet another Valentine's event with. (Like she did on Saturday night. And Sunday afternoon too. Gee - never get enough of the Valentine's stuff, do you? I wonder what that's like...)

Anyway, a bunch of people on Facebook wished me a happy birthday, and a few at work did, and I'm really grateful for their kindness. I got phone calls from my siblings. And I got a phone call from an ex-boyfriend (the provider of the only *good* Valentine's Day I had - my 18th birthday). His was more the "chin-up, you deserve a good day even if you're not getting it" type. He made me laugh. I needed to laugh.

Someone mentioned going to Young Life back in high school and I found myself still wishing that I could have gone. Would have been allowed to go.

You see, I did ask my parents to let me go when I was in the 9th grade. And I was told no. My father's attitude was that he didn't know "those people" and he thought that the organization was suspect. As if it were some kind of front for a bunch of teenagers getting together to smoke pot and have sex.

I wanted to go because it sounded like a non-denominational youth fellowship group, and at that point in my life, I knew that I needed something like that. After all, our family never attended church in my lifetime, and they stopped sending us to church when we were little girls. I really just wanted to be a good girl. I was in the middle of a bit of religious fervor in my life, and I wanted to be around people who understood me, at least on that point.

Of course, there was the obstacle of me actually GETTING there, if I were allowed to go. My stepmother refused to drive me anywhere after dark and was always very angry with me anytime I had to do anything at school outside of normal school hours. She said she couldn't see after dark. She didn't have any special visual problem that I ever heard of. I knew that she didn't want me involved in anything that would inconvenience her.

When I turned 16, I was told I had to get a job and start saving money if I ever wanted to have a car. So, after 2 straight months of intense pressure (browbeating) I got a job at Gibson's. Worked there over the summer and then got a job at the Sound Shop in the mall. And I never again had an evening when I could have even gone to Young Life. I worked full time in the summer, which earned me scathing comments from a guidance counselor who derided me (in front of the whole class) for not signing up for some accelerated Summer School college prep class the high school was offering.

I was not one of those kids whose parents thought that a job was beneath their precious angel. My parents did not give me money, beyond my $3 a week allowance, which often turned into my lunch money when Dad forgot to put ours in the band-aid box in the kitchen cabinet. (The $3 was earned, not given. We had plenty of chores to do.)

Oh, I loved my job at the mall. :) But there was a problem. My stepsister eventually became the assistant manager, and the girl who was one slot beneath her spent an awful lot of time leaving the store to go shopping on the clock with her husband and baby when she was the one in charge of the store for the shift.

That was when the campaign to get rid of me started. My stepsister called me in the office and related to me the lies she had been told. What could I even say to defend myself, when she had already decided for herself they were true? She even hurt my feelings by quoting that I always made big sad "puppydog eyes" at the other girl whenever she told me to do something. Just like I was supposedly making at my stepsister then.

I remember forcing myself to look at the floor and then at the wall a few inches in front of my face, because I wasn't *trying* to give any kind of a look. (I was just trying not to cry.) She claimed I did that every time I got in trouble at home. I was wondering what there was about my eyes that people hated so much.

And I was trying not to cry, because at the age of 16, even though I had done none of those things I was accused of, I was about to get fired from my dream job.

All because the other girl was feeling paranoid that I had told on her for all the times she left the store on the clock and went shopping for an hour or two while she was being paid. Extra long lunch breaks. Extra breaks she wasn't due for her shift.

I hadn't told on her. As a matter of fact, I was thinking that the mature thing to do, while I sat in that midnight blue slice of back office space, was to *not* spill my guts over what the other girl was doing. I never told on her, even after that. She wound up quitting a few months later.

I'm still hurt by my stepsister's absolute disbelief in me. It feels like I had (pardon my language) a huge bucket of shit dumped on me that I still feel taints me to this day. Let me be clear: that girl lied to cover her own sneakiness.

In this case, the teenager should have been trusted, because the adult was dishonest. Ever think about how often adults will do bad things and then try to pin it on a kid? Happens a lot. It's how child molesters get away with so much. "She seduced me! She's a 7 year old Jezebel!" Um, sure. Enjoy Hell.

If I remember correctly, the only reason that I wasn't fired was that the store was shorthanded, and I was really good at my job. And my stepsister wound up quitting herself. The next manager was a really nice guy and he always told me that I was doing a great job. He let me do lots of the wall displays, and I was proud that I got to do something creative (while I was getting paid!) LOL

His assistant manager eventually became the manager when he was transferred, and she was more crooked than the first girl that caused me problems. Any time that we had a promotion for suggestive selling, she would steal our claim tags and put her name on them, and then blabber on and on about how she had talked to the customer first. Or she did days before, really being the one who convinced them to buy something.

Naturally, she won every single company contest we had in the store while she was the manager. She took all of the promos for herself too. And then... I got promoted, slightly.

I became the person beneath the assistant manager, which meant I was the highest level peon, for I had a key to the store's front gate. Which translates to me doing a lot of opening and closing and no benefits whatsoever. But that was okay, because I was in college and not planning on the store as a career anyway.

One night when I was counting down the register, it came up short by some minor (albeit important) amount under $100. I called the manager. Asked her to review me on the countdown procedures. Asked if she bought change and forgot to put it in or something like that. I was really confused. And scared. And ashamed that I couldn't get it right. I had thought I was a smart person.

The second time it happened, it was a huge amount. $365, if I remember correctly. Inside, I was freaking out. All this time, I was wondering just how I counted down the register so badly. My fear of math took over my brain. My self-confidence in doing such a simple task absolutely died. I called the manager again, after I had done the procedure a few more times and found the register short that exact amount every single time.

She didn't sound bothered. She said she would fix whatever *I* had screwed up the next day. She didn't want to be bothered in her new home that night.

Flash forward a few days. The AREA manager showed up at the store and we had an after hours store meeting. He was careful to look around at all of us equally, and say that if any of us needed an advance on our pay, he could arrange it, but that stealing from the register was going to be prosecuted. And if they had to resort to a lie-detector test, they would.

I remember the store manager speaking up as if to assist him and saying that she knew I was probably hurting for money, being in college and all. I told her that all of my college was currently paid for by scholarships. 100%. I wasn't having ANY money problems. Patrick didn't seem too happy about her jumping in like that, though. I had been scared about responding (I was always scared of Patrick, because I was shy and he was very outgoing, but seemed a bit stern, like "I am the boss; do not MESS with me.")

He talked to us all individually, and privately. I had, by this time, known him a few years more than anyone else, and I risked asking him if he thought I would steal from the store. He told me not to worry so much, because he was pretty sure he knew who had done it, and it was a weird coincidence that it happened on nights when I was closing. Weird, as in arranged. I told him that I would take that polygraph test whenever they wanted me to. He blandly told me that T, the assistant manager, had said the exact same thing.

So T and I wound up with appointments in Memphis for polygraph tests. We took them and never heard anything more about the missing money, except that the store manager wasn't getting her Christmas bonus that year, and what do you know, it was $365 exactly. She didn't have the sense to act angry about it. Nobody else took a polygraph test over the matter. I believe that our unflinching requests for the test pegged our innocence in the matter.

I had realized that the manager must have stolen the money, thinking she could get away with it and set me up for the theft by taking the money on nights when I closed the store. (This was a woman who sent everyone in the store an invitation to her bridal shower and told us what we could get her for gifts, and then made sure to schedule it so that none of us could attend it.) All in all, she's a pretty bad person, and I'm glad my last connection to her has been severed forever. The last I heard about her, she was fired from some other job. For stealing. Go figure.

Thanks so much for trying to ruin my reputation, by the way.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Well, I was being honest.

These are the results I got for an informal online depression test. I don't know how truly accurate it is, but the questions were pretty serious and to the point. I did not save the results from the personality disorder test because that one was just embarrassing, and not what I was expecting. I'll never own up to any of those things, but going by the description... well, you'd see why I won't post them.

My first response was one four letter word that starts with an F. Two guesses and the first one doesn't count.

DisorderYour Score
Major Depression:Very High
Dysthymia:High
Bipolar Disorder:Extremely High
Cyclothymia:Very High
Seasonal Affective Disorder:Extremely High
Postpartum Depression:N/A
Take the Depression Test


but HEY, at least I don't suffer from postpartum depression, right? That would put me at batting 1000 for forget-it-she's-beyond-help. At the same time, I'm thinking that this explains why Celexa never helped me do anything but caused some serious internal shivering all the time. Eh, I'm a little angry about this. I'd be just as angry as I would if an actual doctor said, hey, you KNEW you were bipolar - you recognized the signs yourself.

Still, some of those indicators don't apply. I'm not promiscuous (though, ha ha, I'm thinking it might freaking HELP if I were), I don't do drugs (vehemently opposed to the thought of even prescription meds even if I seem to need them), I don't drink, and I am never euphoric. Somehow, I feel rather cheated by that last one. If I'm going to have the extreme lows and the nasty mood cycles, why can't I just have a week of extreme (though unreal) happiness to temper it? ARGH!

Of course, I could go to a doctor and tell him / her that I have suspected I'm bipolar for a long time, and be told noo.... you couldn't know that! Because one thing I know to be true: A doctor will NOT listen to your own unprofessional suspicions -- they want to be the FIRST to come up with that diagnosis! Otherwise, it's been my experience that they will not take your worries seriously.

Case in point: For years, I had doctors tell me there was no way I was diabetic. Finally I insisted on the fasting glucose test, and offered to just shut up and stop complaining when I was proven wrong. I nearly passed out in the waiting room from low blood sugar and oh gee, looks like I was right. I don't have to be right or even first to figure it out if they will just care enough to help me with whatever IS causing me misery.

Ending with the previously mentioned 4 letter word.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CICU

I'm at the hospital with Dad, Steph, and Tommy. He's recovering from his mitral valve replacement surgery, and seemingly doing well, but mine is an uneducated eye with little knowledge of health care.

They've been giving him some liquids and hopefully he will eat some real food later today. :)

He has lots of apparently itchy tubes all over and he's really thirsty. :(

I'm trying not to get sleepy, but having a hard time for some reason. I did sleep last night but I'm having a hard time being awake right now. I can't be thinking about me -- I need to be thinking about Dad.

The more he's awake today, the more miserable he is. Up, down, back hurts, oxygen mask bothering him, etc. Seems like a constant set of contradictions troubling him. If he could just get some rest and get those tense back muscles to stop spasming...

The nurse told us that during heart surgery, they tie the patient's arms behind their back to present the chest better for surgery, and after hours in that position, I guess it stresses the back into cramping for a few days afterward. :(. I know how that can wake me up from a sound sleep, but I can usually force my back to go numb and let me sleep again.

I wish something was working for Dad, but nothing seems to help much at this point. :(

***
Update: When the surgeon made his rounds today, he removed the tube that was snaking around into Dad's back for drainage -- he said that was what was hurting Dad, and it wasn't really draining enough to justify keeping it in there and causing him pain.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pain Blooms

Don't worry, I'm not going to write a page on my owwies today, but something just popped into my mind a few minutes ago. I was in the kitchen, getting a breakfast (protein enriched with cardboard) bar. I opened the cabinet, thinking they were in their container, but they weren't. I hadn't taken them out of the boxes with I bought them a couple of nights ago, so I decided to remedy that. And as I was shutting the cabinet door, the bottom corner of it caught me in the back of my hip.

The pain *bloomed*. Meaning that at first, it was just a little jab to the middle-back of my hip and while I was wondering, is that going to hurt? the pain began to radiate outward from that tiny little point of impact. In my mind I suddenly saw a dark pink flower opening up into bloom, and that's where the phrase came in.

The older I get, the more I wish I could get all shots in my arm, but no, some of them are given in the hip. I got one of those with a kidney infection nearly 10 years ago, thinking that when the nurse said hip, she was just trying to delicately say butt. LOL No, it was in my upper hip, in the actual bony area way up above, and it hurt worse than any other shot I remember. Beats my many tetanus shots hands down. She said I did great because a lot of men pass out when they get that one. It took everything I had not to tense up because supposedly it hurts less when you relax. :) I focused on my hands and tried to avoid thinking about how much I was sweating in the minutes it seemed to take to inject all that medicine into me. I swear, the needle was filled with something neon green.

Ouch. So I do understand why it was there - proximity to my kidneys which were swollen visibly out from my back. And the shot worked because things got to working and I was able to pee again a couple of days after we got to Florida. Ewww I know, gross topic. But it was like a switch had just been turned off and that function just wasn't working. The alarming part was that I didn't even feel the need to go and I knew that everything was just holding there in my kidneys... Dangerous.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, it's just a shot, and shots are no big deal.

I did some organizational writing for my story last night. I had been floundering, trying to figure out what story I was going to tell. I had no more than a spine decided upon at that point. Taking a piece of advice from a book I'd started reading about writing, I just started working, and points that I was having trouble just *finding* in my head started to pan out into a useful story outline.

Anybody who knows me from high school knows that I am not an outliner. I am the girl who wrote entire research papers and then went back to write the outline after I found where my research had taken me. Of course, that's cheating, and it defeats the whole useful purpose of outlining first. When I did try to do things the proper way, my outlines were useless anyway. Possibly, I was always waiting on a muse to light upon my shoulder and tell me in which direction I should sally forth and conquer the writing assignment I was never so jazzed about in the first place.

Hmm. I think I just visualized a muse as a fairy. Tinkerbell-esque. *snicker* Strange, because if I had to have a fairy in my life, it would definitely be a hunky male with dark hair and beautiful eyes. Oh yes, that would inspire me to have many naughty thoughts. But I don't think that there were any male muses. :D

Back to my point, and there is one. Writing from real life won't be as much of a problem as I had thought before. I was trying to figure out my antagonist, and that creepy cop I dated popped into my mind with this random thought: I wonder if he's on Facebook? Then, oh my God, I hope my privacy settings are good enough to keep him from ever finding me. There can be some doubt about some of the work stories he told me, but never any regarding his treatment of me. No mistaking his darker intentions there. My bad guy has an infusion of HIS blood now, and it makes him more formidable. Originally, he was going to be too weak, as in, how could anyone believe you'd do anything worse than swat a fly?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Absolutely (Story of a Girl)

"Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)"

[Chorus:]
This is the story of a girl
Who cried a river and drowned the whole world
And while she looked so sad in photographs
I absolutely love her
When she smiles

Now how many days in a year
She woke up with hope
But she only found tears
And I can be so insincere
Making her promises never for real
As long as she stands there waiting
Wearing the holes in the soles of her shoes
Now how many days disappear
When you look in the mirror
So how do you choose

Your clothes never wear as well the next day
And your hair never falls in quite the same way
You never seem to run out of things to say

[Chorus]

Now how many lovers would stay
Just to put up with this shit
day after day
Now how did we wind up this way
Watching our mouths for the words that we say
As long as we stand here waiting
Wearing the clothes or the soles that we choose
Now how do we get there today
When we're walking too far for the price of our shoes

Your clothes never wear as well the next day
And your hair never falls in quite the same way
You never seem to run out of things to say

[Chorus]

[Guitar solo]

Well your clothes never wear as well the next day
And your hair never falls in quite the same way
You never seem to run out of things to say

[Chorus]

This is the story of a girl
Whose pretty face she hid from the world
And while she looks so sad in photographs
I absolutely love her

This is the story of a - girl
Who cried a river and drowned the whole world
And while she looked so sad in photographs
I absolutely love her
When she smiles
When she smiles!
---

Wow... as long as she stands there waiting on him to keep his promises, THAT's what makes him happy? What an insincere jerk! He loves to see her smile, but he never does anything to make her smile.... Sounds like a typical male.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sitting in Judgment

I think it is so bizarre that certain people can make comments bordering on the judgmental (whether those comments are aimed at me or not) and make me feel absolutely guilt-ridden for drawing a breath without stepping to the beat of *their* personal agenda.

(I'm not saying that the person is aiming it at me, but I manage to place myself in the target area anyway. I kind of doubt this person ever really registers me completely. So it's unlikely that I am a consideration in the subject matter. But I read what people post, and I think about it.)

What the heck is that -- manipulation? Or is it just that I'm still looking to other people for guidance on how to be a person that is acceptable to others. I'm still not succeeding at that, because intrinsically, I know that I can do everything some people require of me and it will never be good enough to reach their bar.

So why am I even worried about it? Oh that's right. I still have that hidden agenda that boils down to wanting to be liked and cared for. What's that line from the song.... "I'm human and I need to be loved... like everybody else does." This would be an excellent time for others to not make me feel like that basic human need is a failure of mine. I've merely failed in accomplishing that.

And I am the one who has to deal with that.

When a person starts listing things that everyone better do or risk being unloved forever, it tells on them for being controlling. What they're saying is that nobody will be happy in their life if they don't follow *that person's* rules, because that person has a need to dictate to others how they should live.

On the other hand, if that person is wanting to offer a helping hand, I'm the kind of person willing to accept help. But not if I'm going to be looked down on by someone who has a sanctimonious attitude toward me.

I've already had plenty of that in my life and I'm not going to voluntarily bow down and kiss their feet because they feel self-righteous.

I've had some pretty bad things happen to me in my life, but it kind of goes against the idea of a God that loves all of His children to say that we aren't ever going to be good enough unless we do something that one plain old human says to do. If bad things happen to you, and you happen to survive them, wasn't that part of the divine plan? Test of faith, perhaps.

"You're going to Hell because you don't go to my church." Would you say that to a truly holy man (or woman) because they don't attend your church and follow YOUR path? I think it's a bit presumptuous for a plain old human to go ordering people around. Watch out. From what I've been taught, that's dangerous ground.

You can't just tell everybody else where they are going wrong and then not try to help them get it right. If you don't know what's in their heart (and how could you, when you aren't God?) how can you sit in judgment of them? Are you so sure that you're not heading for a bad end yourself? Hmm?

Well, just try and remember that if someone is holding on to the edge of a cliff with their fingertips and clawing with their nails, it's not Christian to stand over them and say why they deserve to fall. The Christian thing to do would be to reach down into that icky place where they are and give them a hand. You might get your own hands dirty, but there's always a chance that's the act that will save *you*.

Disclaimer: Don't get your knickers in a twist over this. It's written by one very broken, surviving human who is indeed hanging on at the edge of the cliff and hoping that a helping hand will appear. I know that even if I fall, God will be there at the end to move me past the body smashed on the rocks below.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bad Bokeh

All right, I will admit that I tried to capture bokeh with Christmas tree lights and utterly failed. :) Mainly because I am still using only the original lens that came with my Rebel, and I need a better one to capture that effect. Still, I couldn't accept total defeat, so I went into Photoshop and *played* to see what I could come up with.
So this is the best I took from the attempt. You can see why I was dishearted and didn't touch this photo until tonight when I was doing a little delete-&-organize-boogie on the new pc. When your photo is awful, there is nothing to lose by fiddling with it. Hey, at least you might get some kind of special effect.


I duplicated the original layer 3 times and turned them in various directions, then added blend modes "lighten" and "linear dodge" to the top three layers. I had squished around the layers to make them all fit into the constraints of the photo dimensions, then realized it would be interesting to jog them around, and not have such a perfect circling around the center. I resized the whole thing to 12x12 x 300 ppi and cropped the edges, and this was the result.

I think it has some value as an abstract background, anyway. :) Better than having a totally useless photo. Granted, it wasn't the effect I was trying to achieve in the beginning -- in that respect it's an utter failure. But I think it's a happy accident, and I am going to keep it.

I do love playing around in Photoshop. :) Bet you can figure out how I did that zig-zaggy effect.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Massage - Wow

Just got back home from my first professional massage, and boy, do I feel better. :) I also felt, all the way home, that I was about to fall asleep behind the wheel, but since it is bright and sunny out, I made it home okay. LOL

Diagnosis - lots of knots, especially in my neck and back, and hamstrings that are so tight they couldn't be lifted. Oops, I guess that could be blamed on a lack of exercise. And maybe a lot of stress and zero opportunity to relax.

I know, it seems that someone who spends as much time alone as I do should be relaxed to the nth degree, but when life itself isn't stressful, my mind starts looping back to the past and wondering just where I went wrong; what could I have done differently to be a happier person today?

Oh, probably nothing. One thing I definitely have faith in is that it's all part of the Master Plan, and I doubt I'll ever deviate from what was already planned out for me.

Anyway, even my hands feel good. *grin* I didn't expect that, but hey, I'll take it. I am, of course, expecting a lot of soreness later today or tomorrow, but I noticed that some of the places that hurt when I went in (my lower back, my hip, and my foot) aren't really hurting anymore. Yay for that. When she was moving up my leg muscle to the end point in my hip, THAT I felt, but it was like, Owwww. Oh, that's better.

So now, I'm drinkingalottawater for the rest of the day, as advised. I was going to start drinking more water anyway. I think my skin is dehydrated. Okay, so is the rest of me. Furthermore, when you drink a 16 ounce bottle of water before bed, and wake up the next morning and you DON'T have to go to the bathroom, that's probably not a good sign. Trying Ozarka water right now. It tastes like nothing, which is what I've always thought water was supposed to taste like, but never did to me. I can always taste the chemicals, minerals, and metals in it. Blech. Makes me wanna hurl, really.

(Please, kindly don't give me your opinion on how I'm imagining things if you are a smoker. We both know you are smell- and taste-impaired. *sweet smile* It's true! Quit smoking if you don't believe me, and you will see the light. And smell the flowers, and taste the most delicate of seasonings. Oh, and you'll be able to breathe without hacking, too.)

So, a professional massage is something I'm definitely going to repeat in the future. I got so tired of giving my boyfriends (over the years) really good amateur massages and then being told they were just "too relaxed" to return the favor. *drumming fingernails* Hey, my effort scales directly with how much I'm feeling loved. :) If I ain't feeling loved, I ain't gonna bother. That's a fact, Jack. On the other hand, how many years is it since I've had an actual boyfriend? 6. Still, for a decent guy, I'd give the same consideration as before. ;) As long as I get my turn, so don't be selfish!

****
I've gotten through 3 bottles of the recommended 4 bottles of water today. Still having trouble choking them all down. LOL I feel really good though. :) No soreness yet. And I think I just got a story detail from the whole thing. hehehe

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Working Through the Block

So, here is what I've been working on despite the fact that my creativity seems to be at a standstill. First, I made myself an afghan (well, more of a blanket, because it's so dense and warm) out of Lion Brand's Homespun yarn. I did most of it in the early fall. I had seen a pattern for a similar afghan on their website, and just fell in love with the color combination. (Actually, I knitted myself a sleeveless sweater and crocheted myself a shrug before that.)

Then I realized that I didn't want to crochet a whole afghan in single crochet stitches because they would be so stiff and knotty feeling. I didn't want to knit it because that seemed like such a dreary prospect and I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep my work going at a smooth and even gauge.

Eureka moment. I redesigned the afghan in Tunisian crochet. :) Probably my favorite stitch because it's an awesome blending of crochet and knitting, and I can work it so fast my fingers fly. And fly they did. I was able to complete an entire strip of the afghan in a day, if I worked at it consistently. And there were only 5 strips to make. LOL

I got about half of the strips seamed together and lost interest because I really HATE seaming. I put it aside for a month and a half. Then I realized that not only was it cluttering up the living room, being a UFO (unfinished object), it was also a tremendous waste of money if I didn't finish it and start using it. There's about $70 worth of yarn alone in that blanket. Homespun is an expensive yarn! Between $5 and $7 a skein, depending on where you can actually find the colors you need. Wal-Mart only carries a few colors, and then only puts out 5 skeins at a time of each color, if they have them.

I know they must have the rest somewhere in the back, because I took all 5 one day and came back a couple of days later to find another 5 on the shelf in the same dye lot... Yeah, I felt a little lucky there. And it means that there's a bag full of that dye lot somewhere in storage but they won't fully stock the shelves for some reason.

Kinda kills the creative process and the rabid desire to make something if you have to wait a few weeks on an order to make it through the mail. I feel like I'm back in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder - waiting for 6 months for that Christmas barrel to arrive - in May. I can't even go to Hobby Lobby in Jackson because they only keep 5 of each skein as well. "But we'll be glad to order it for you!"

So I finished seaming the afghan and left all those stupid loose ends showing because I was just cold and I hate weaving in the ends more than I hate seaming. I figured I could do a few at a time while I'm watching TV. And I did, over the course of a few days. Given all the color changes, there were a lot of ends.

So then I made myself a scarf in tunisian stitch, out of Candy Apple Red Homespun. (K hook, 18 stitches wide - work even until you run out of yarn. End with a row of sc for stability. Only TWO loose ends to weave in.) I wanted a soft warm scarf to match my coat. :) Then I made a grey one, also to match my coat, but I asked Evan if he would like it, and boy did he! :) It made me feel good. :D

Then I decided to see about knitting myself a hat (because a crocheted hat would be too stiff), and found a simple pattern on the Lion Brand website. 56 stitches wide, 2x2 rib, size 10.5 needles, work until 12 inches long, cut and draw the yarn tail through the loops on the hook, pull snug, knot, and seam up the back. Fold up the brim. Piece of cake. Then I decided maybe Evan needed a matching hat for playing in the snow I knew was coming. He loved it. :D I made myself another scarf in "mixed berries" which turned out to be so much prettier when worked up than in the skein. The skein looks like a bizarre variegation, but when it's worked into something, there's a self-striping deal going on that makes it a "painterly" hue. Purples, pinks, etc. Loved it! Not bizarre, just beautiful.

Matt had already asked me for an afghan and a ski mask, so I have the yarn for the afghan ready to take to the hospital. I'll need something to do there. The ski mask has me a little puzzled, so I decided to try to find a pattern for it in Homespun. No such critter.

On Thursday, we all got out of school early due to inclement weather, and I spent a little time with Matt. We sledded a little while, and I realized that his only gloves are fingerless, and his hat couldn't possibly be keeping his head warm. I gave him an extra pair of black gloves I had in my car. I asked him if he wanted me to make him a scarf, and he told me that he really wouldn't wear one. So I left, and went to Wal-Mart to see if I could find more yarn and some gloves for him. They didn't have any ski gloves. Nothing useful for playing in the snow. But I got him some handwarmers and over-the-calf socks to put on because I noticed his were ankle socks and his legs were exposed.

When I found him, he and Zack rode up on their 4 wheelers. Matt's skin was icy cold. So I gave him what I'd bought for him, and he seemed pretty happy with it. As I was leaving, I asked him if he was sure he didn't want me to make him a scarf? His answer was a vehement, yes, now he WANTS a scarf. LOL So now I've made him a scarf. And I'm trying to work out the ski mask. He only wants eye openings but I figure if I make it with a big eye opening, he can pull it down under his chin if he needs to. Well, that one may be trial and error, so I'm in the trial process now.

When I get that finished, I've got a request from my brother for a hat and scarf. :) I realize that posting comments and updates about things I'm knitting and crocheting is the equivalent of flying a freak flag, but what made people look down their noses at me before isn't getting quite the same reaction these days. I bet that there are fewer people around these days who can do what I can with my hands. :) Since I'm approaching grandmother age, in spirit anyway, it's more acceptable, I suppose.

Here's to keeping me and my loved ones warm, anyway.

**** I finished the ski mask last night. I'll post a picture of it when I find Matt again and he puts it on. It actually looks good. :) Yay, I created another original pattern.

Creatively... blocked

I shared some photos of things I've painted, today on Facebook. Lots of compliments, which I love, but don't often get. :) Yeah, I'm a sucker for the warm & fuzzies.


Once again, I'm wondering what discouraged me so badly from painting. When I quit, I was doing great. And yet when I think about painting now, I have a reaction somewhere between sulking and despondency. Such a feeling of failure associated with that one activity which used to make me so happy.

When it went well. When it didn't, I'd have temper tantrums and once I even completely freaked out and cried over a corrugated metal mailbox. Rippled metal is hard to paint smoothly.


Still, I never turned my home into a showplace of murals and painted borders as I had intended. Now, all of my paint is separated and / or gummy. I don't have the colors I'd need to start again, and what's worse -- I can't even buy them locally because of the huge Wal-Mart screw-over to painters.

I emailed the Dewberrys tonight to see if I am still eligible for my discount as an OSCI. Supposedly, even if I never became an active instructor, I'm supposed to always have that perk. I notice I'm not listed on the website as an instructor, but hey, I did try to do it.

Dyersburg and this area is a creative dead zone. Back in 2000, I hosted two free painting workshops, all supplies provided. It was a make & take, and participants got to take home a paper mache heart-shaped box with a leafy vine they painted on it. Oh, it was a great project. And my sister assured me that I did a good job teaching it.


But when I read the evaluations afterward, I really got my feelings hurt. I think there were a few half-hearted affirmations in there somewhere, but what stood out (and slapped me in the face) were several really mean commentaries in the stack. Some just said it was a lousy class. Some expressed their anger that I didn't turn them into instant rose painters in under an hour. Some seemed unhappy that they weren't getting a very expensive goodie bag and that they thought a paper box wasn't good enough for them. Several stated that they would be glad to take another class from me, as long as it was totally free. *sigh*

But the ones that hurt me the most were family. My mother and my stepmother both gave me a thumbs-down on their evaluations. I still have them here somewhere at my house. They're like poisonous snakes, ready to slide out and bite me, unsuspecting, some time in the future.

You know, it was made perfectly clear in the ad that the project was a paper mache box, covered in faux painting and one-stroke leaves. All of the complainers seemed to think I was there to teach them everything about One-Stroke painting in under an hour. I was two years away from having my instructor's class at the time and still had most of it to learn myself, but I'd been given the opportunity to get the free materials and teach the class, and I thought it would be a gesture of goodwill to my hometown.

Nothing says hometown like bitter and greedy old women.

Two years later I took the certification course (and it was about a $700 venture, all expenses combined). I came home having mastered the techniques and truly painting like an old pro. I set up classes at the local community college. Due to sabotage, none of them ever were held. I don't know *why* I got the treatment I did, but it became apparent that they were so desperate to get SOMEONE to handle their classes for children, they wouldn't let my classes work out unless I agreed to do it for them.

Various things happened. First they wouldn't let me charge the going rate for classes. Then they told me I wasn't allowed to have any of the money for the classes - I'd get a small hourly fee and they'd take all the rest (after they greatly inflated the price for the class) for "administrative fees" because the college is having "funding problems and everybody has to sacrifice". Oh yes, and from my hourly rate I was expected to furnish all supplies out of my own pocket. Surfaces, paint, foam plates, paper towels.... Then I finally agreed to their terms, figuring out how to not lose my shirt paying for materials myself.


And they put me in the fall brochure... which came out far past the deadline to sign up for my class.

The gist of it is that they really didn't want me to teach painting classes. For a college hurting for money, it no longer surprises me that they don't have much in the way of personal enrichment classes. Those classes don't cost them anything but an empty classroom and maybe a paragraph here and there, but they won't do what needs to be done. Another example of someone who thinks about nothing but instant gratification. Sorry, but I wasn't going to sacrifice my grocery money or my house payment to help them along. They will sink or swim without me. I don't even recommend to students that they go there.

So that was discouraging. I painted some gifts for people, and some were received with disdain. I tried to paint in people's homes, but they all cried poor when I told them what (little) I charged. Everyone seems to think that they are too poor to pay for a custom hand-painted wall mural (sometimes whole-room mural) but that I should be glad for the honor to paint their house at my own cost.

I painted in my house, my sister's house, and our house at the lake. I painted some mailboxes and some bulletin boards, and even painted bulletin board characters that I used in my own classroom for years.

It became obvious that I was never going to be able to make a second job out of my painting as I had hoped, and I lost my desire to paint. It was costing too much to keep up with the Dewberrys, and I just needed to get out of debt. Every once in a while our art teacher would hire me to paint a mailbox and I'd grudgingly do so. I should have been flattered that he still believed in me. LOL I worked all of the extra weeks I could, and sponsored a club after school, until I got myself out of debt. In the years since I made it, I haven't regretted it one bit. :) Well, not that. My life is still devoid of love. (I'm still dumb enough to keep trying, though I'm smart enough to realize that's never going to happen for me. I need a lot of distractions if I'm going to make it.)

Now that I've looked back at my old painting pictures, a little bit of the old pull is still there. I want to do something spectacular, but I know that there's not much that will ever come from it. I feel a lot of "I CAN'T!" bubbling out. Where does the inspiration that I need come from?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scylla

All the while I was feeling the pull of the giant whirlpool, I forgot to look out for Scylla, who has taken huge bites out of my heart today. Thanks. I was already hanging over the swirling water, and I really needed something to make me let go of the branch I was hanging onto.

For the record, this is exactly the sort of thing that would drive me to be a downright alcoholic, if I had that inclination. I said a while back that now i understand why people become drunks or addicts, because they are just trying to alter their horrible reality.

I think my semi-happy posts are gone now, and they will be gone for a while.

At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
Dead lay in pools of maroon below

lyrics cut from "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SOS II

Yesterday I tried one of the recipes for SOS that I found on the net, and though it was so tasty that Quincy pestered me for as much as he could get, it still wasn't quite right.

Seems like I remember it being kind of greyish in color.

I probably overdid it with the worcestershire sauce, because the first taste was just too bland. I think that the two handfuls of chopped onions helped quite a bit. I'm sure my brother wouldn't have approved. ;) He hates onions, peppers, strawberries, pickle relish... All the stuff that makes cooking tasty to me. But I wasn't making it for him. Just me. :D

A couple of recipes I'd seen spoke of making a roux with the flour and grease, but that didn't seem right to me. The recipe I used instructed mixing the cooked ground beef (with no mention of draining it, though I did anyway) with the flour and other stuff, cooking it a few minutes until the flour was absorbed, and then mixing in the milk and worcestershire sauce. Hey, worked for me. No lumps in the gravy, I suppose.

And it gave me some ideas for tinkering with the recipe to make other things such as stroganoff (add sour cream).

I didn't put it on top of anything with carbs. No toast, no rice, no potatoes, no noodles. Just ate it by itself. Should be better for me, right?

Well, I liked it anyway. :) And Quincy loves me for sharing it.

Charybdis

Though I don't regret having spent the entire weekend alone -- I literally have seen no other human beings since Friday night -- I still want to spend my rare day off tomorrow, by myself.

On the other hand, worthwhile and interesting adult company would keep me from falling into the whirlpool that's currently tugging on me. This is what the spiral into depression often feels like for me. A few days ruminating on things that have disappointed me, or even just one colossal event that was enough to cause the tip over the edge.

An overall feeling of internal shakiness that feels as if it stretched outward from behind my navel, with sinuous tendrils creeping up into my arms, squeezing my heart and lungs, and finally stretching down into my legs and feet with currents of lead. I feel like I'm being pulled down to the ground by ever-increasing gravity.

And that trembling that may never show on the outside, but usually leads the way for a lot of unexplainable tears. I hate that. It's the same feeling that precedes hypoglycemia, and it's never escaped my attention that low blood sugar comes on for me with almost instant depression and fear.

Being by myself is probably not a good idea, but on the other hand, who would want to be around me when I'm feeling like this?

Oh, sorry for anybody reading this who expected a story that was concocted to amuse you. Anais Nin, I am not. :) I wouldn't want to have an affair with Henry Miller anyway. He seems pretty grotesque to me. Or maybe it was because he was portrayed in Henry and June by Fred Ward, and I have a hard time finding any appeal in that man either. I still think of ole Fred as Remo Williams. Kind of a slob at the beginning of the movie when he is "killed" and not much better when he becomes The Destroyer. LOL

Still no word from the man I asked out... I would think that by now he'd at least have the courtesy to say no? *sigh*

Oh, to have friends I could visit with when I'm feeling down. I see that other people do that sort of thing all the time. It makes me wonder why I have to feel so friendless.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TV is fixed

Took my brother under 5 minutes to fix it. And it was something simple. Still, I had no clue that was set wrong. I feel like an idiot, but the last new tv to come in my door was in about 1996. I'm just not familiar with all the bells and whistles on them thar newfangled tvs.

Signed,
Ignorant Couch Tater

Dad's Heart Surgery Update

Here is what I know about it so far, but keep in mind I may have some details wrong.

It's not set to a date yet, but it needs to happen soon. He needs (I think) a mitral valve replacement. He's understandably very unhappy about all of this.

He said he'll have to stay in the hospital 7-10 days for recovery, and then he'll need round-the-clock supervision for about 3 weeks after that. He morosely mentioned a nursing home.

I told him that was nonsense. He has three grown kids, and we'll find a way to work it out. That week or so that he's in Memphis is going to be exceptionally hard to deal with, but we just have to make it work.

He says he doesn't want to be a burden, to his family, but I assured him that this is what family is for. It's our privilege to be able to take care of him if he needs us to.

There is, of course, the possibility that the heart surgery could cause a stroke, but he said that not having it will more likely cause a stroke, so it needs to be done. When it's a success, I think he'll feel much healthier.

I keep reminding him of how proud I am he's quit smoking. :) (He smells good. :) My siblings don't understand how I can tell a huge difference, but hey, they both smoky - they don't even realize that they can't smell things well.) It's been six weeks since he quit! He says that he's not coughing at night, not coughing up a bunch of phlegm every time, and he can breathe through his nose again. :D His voice has a healthier quality to it when I hear him speak, though his mood isn't the greatest. That's understandable. It's a scary prospect to know that someone is going to be cutting your HEART, and that heart surgery has only been going on since about 1944. (Props to Drs. Vivien Thomas and Alfred Blalock.)

Another scary prospect is that my paternal grandfather died from heart failure on the other side of the block from my house. Not long after his shift started at Dyersburg Fabrics, he died. I'm not ready to lose my Dad to the same malady that kept me from ever meeting my grandfather. My father's 75. I think he's got plenty of happy living left in him if he'll reach for it. :)

I hope he gets to see his great-grandchildren, though I must caution, don't look at me. I won't be having grandchildren of my own. (If I have to have heart surgery someday, who will take care of me? Nursing home? Yikes?)

If I can take a moment to go on my personal crusade.... See? Just six weeks after quitting smoking, and look at how your health improves. :) Quit now and enjoy the benefits quicker than you thought! (And you won't stink like an ashtray anymore.) :D

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fail

Last night I decided to go to bed a little earlier than usual, and watch TV while I sipped some hot apple cider. Yeah, that's what I get for thinking I could do something simple and comforting like other, more normal people do.

I turned the tv on and got a nice black screen that says No Signal. Crap. I don't know what's wrong. Everything is still all connected and nothing has been moved or jostled.

All the wi-fi apps work, and I can't change the input from TV to... uh, TV.

Now I'm waiting for my much smarter brother to come over and take a look. :( I just don't study TVs. The rare occasion when I watch one, I expect it to freaking WORK!!! Too much to ask?

All right, I'm in a bad mood now, so I might as well write about the other stuff on my mind that is likely petty and unimportant.

One of my classes got 13 students added today because of someone's cafeteria duty being a problem. The bad part is that I can't even blame a specific person for this, and I'm not the only one that got screwed over in the situation. It's my fault for being relieved that particular class was going so well. Now there are about 8 extra clowns in it, one and a half weeks AFTER I finished all my intro stuff. I can't stop and repeat a week and a half now!

I think I'm justified in feeling frustrated about this. I'll be polite, but I'm unhappy.

Might as well go on and admit another likely defeat. It's been almost a week since I asked the guy out, and he has said nothing about that since his only comment which was along the lines of "I'll get back to you."

Yeah, on the order of "I'll call you..." when they don't know your phone number. :-\ Oh yeah, I got the subtext. *sigh*

What am I supposed to think after a week? Keep my hopefulness?

Don't you think that would just be stupid of me? I do.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SOS (---- on a Shingle) LOL

The full wording is NOT my creation, it's a military nickname for creamed ground beef. My mother used to make it when we were little, and she probably learned to make it when she and my Dad were newly married. He was in the Army. (She also made Hawaiian Spam, but that's a different post. LOL)

No, it doesn't look like poop. :) It's ground beef in a cream gravy, and if it's made right, delicious on toast. I would love to go camping and have it for breakfast on a cool morning. Hey, anybody want to get a group together for camping? (Once the world thaws out in the springtime, that is!) I love camping. :)

Over the years, we had requested Mama make it for us occasionally, usually at Christmas. But the last 10 years of her life, the quality of it seemed to suffer a bit. I'm not sure what ingredient she was leaving out, or why, but she did die before we got a chance to ask her how she made it. :(

Tommy and I have looked up recipes for it on the internet, but he says that the ones he's tried have all been bland, like something was missing from them as well. Maybe Mother's Love was missing? Maybe it was just the Worcestershire sauce. ;)

Stouffer's makes a decent creamed chipped beef that is a passable substitute, but it's really salty. Even the military cooks know that you have to soak chipped beef in water overnight to cut the saltiness. Maybe Stouffer's doesn't? Anyway, that's what I had for supper, minus the toast. I can't tell you the last time I've used my toaster. Carbs are bad, man, BAD for me! See? Now I'm thinking "mmmm, toast... crunchy... mmm butter!!" Down, girl!

I'm going to try some of the recipes for SOS that I've found online. I'm reasonably sure that when I find one which is close, I can doctor it up to taste more like Mama's, like I did with Grandmother's Poor Man's Pudding. :)

Camping... Ooh, I need to buy myself a tent.

For several reasons:

1. I gave my tent to Tyler when he needed one. It was just a two-person pup tent, but I was awesome at putting that thing up in minimal light, and I had really totally waterproofed it.

2. If my house gets squashed by the pecan tree which hangs menacingly over it, I'm going to need someplace to live. :)

3. If a friend asked me to go camping, I'd like to be able to say yes.

4. Without a tent, i feel too unprepared for the werewolf apocalypse. Yes, that nightmare I had in college about werewolves taking over the world did a number on my head and I like to feel that I'm prepared for a survival situation. Or maybe even just well prepared for camping. :D

(I do love tents and campers. Just think they're neat. Portable mini-homes to get away from it all.)

That Was Difficult

Trying to join a Facebook group that a friend has started, to discuss ways to be a better Christian. Basically, he described it as an online Sunday School class. Everything about it is anonymous, and I have had a very difficult time just getting set up on it. First I couldn't get a new email set up. Then I couldn't find him online to add my phony persona. then I couldn't even find ME online to add as my own friend so that I could find him and his phony persona, to get added to the class.

This is one of those times that people will say Satan was standing in my way, and the whole time I was trying to get it all together, I actually felt like something was blocking me at every turn.

Darn it, I'm annoyed by that. Here I am trying to get with some people to discuss things I can't talk about with another soul on the planet, and I'm getting roadblocked.

Finally I was able to get connected, and it felt like a virtual miracle had taken place. Frustration over. Now let's see if I did the right thing to get added.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weaving in the Loose Ends

I detest weaving in the loose yarn ends when I knit or crochet something. (Knitting is two long pointed needles; crochet is one short hook... got that? *grin*) But I've finished a truly cuddly afghan, and those loose ends are the only thing standing in the way of my triumphant completion.

No, you don't think that's a big deal? LOL Okay, neither do I really. That's an easy achievement for me to accomplish. I've been doing needlework since I was six.

I remember that my mother was crocheting something lacy, and I was absolutely fascinated by the motion of her hands, and the fact that she was creating something beautiful from tiny little strands of string.

She showed me how to crochet a simple chain, and when I made that nice and long, I had her cut it off and I played with it. In my mind, it was one of those gorgeous long dancing ribbons that gymnasts use in their floor routines. Twirling and swirling all around my dancing legs.

I wanted to be a gymnast. I wanted to be a ballerina. But you don't become either of those things when you're from a small west Tennessee town and your parents don't have the money for the classes, or the time to take you to the classes. Looking at my figure now that I'm an adult, I realize both of those dreams were rather impractical. I have an overly generous hourglass figure that would have thrown me way off balance in either gymnastics or ballet, as it turns out.

Soon I asked Mama to show me how to make more than a beginning chain, and she did. But darn it, my stitches weren't even and perfect like hers! She told me that I needed to have patience. Patience to work until I had something finished to look at, and patience that practice would eventually make my stitches soft and even, like hers.

So I practiced with the leftover yarn from her projects. I had a few Barbie dolls, so they gained some fabulous dresses. On my own, I figured out how to work beads into the crochet stitches. Mama was very surprised when I took my handiwork to her apartment and showed her the beads. Apparently I had jumped several years ahead in my independent study. I even created flowing blue and green mermaid wigs for my dolls when I had enough shiny yarn for the project. My yarn and crochet hooks always came from my mother. Nobody else ever encouraged me; in fact, I was discouraged from any creativity because of the possibility I might "make a mess".

One of those people who scathingly called me "Granny" every time I was caught crocheting something went so far as to try to steal a lace tablecloth I had made while I was in my dorm room. I came home from college one weekend and discovered that my glass table (a gift from Mama) and my lace tablecloth were now in her bedroom. She told me I didn't need anything that nice, and she deserved something nice for herself. So she just took my table and my work to boot. I showed a little backbone and took them both back, telling her not to ever steal from me again. After that, she did a lot to show that she hated me. Maybe she always did, but she was very well finished with disguising it by then.

Isn't it ironic that I'm doing such a bad, useless, pointless, wasteful thing with my yarn and hook and yet someone would do something like *that* to take the beautiful result and claim it for herself? (Yes, it is a beautiful tablecloth. I still have it, tucked away now in hopes of someday having a home big enough to display it somewhere. Furthermore, that whole situation still irks me. Can you tell? I should just let it go, huh?)

There is just something magical to me about taking a strand of fiber and transforming it into pretty cloth. Most especially if the finished cloth keeps someone you love toasty, snuggly warm. Currently, Matt has a request in for a soft grey afghan and balaclava, and Evan has in a request for... well, everything. LOL Socks, hat, gloves, afghan, scarf (gave that to him already.)

My sister said she wants me to knit her an angora sweater. Way to go there. Look down your nose at me while I'm knitting a sweater for myself, make snide remarks about me never finishing it (which I did, and subsequently wore out in public because it is the cuteness!), and then tell me you want a sweater that will cost about a hundred bucks due to the expensive materials alone.

Would you like platinum, diamond-studded buttons all down the front as well, madam?

A little irritation grips me about that, because I've made her an afghan that she said she didn't want, sweaters for her sons that vanished unworn, and afghans for her kids that vanished similarly. I never saw them after I gave them to the boys. Other things I made ended up never displayed, but headed for yard sales and the like.

So why would I be that stupid? Sorry, I'm not going to step in there and try to convince her that handmade is better than sweatshop-produced, on my thousands of dimes. :) I love her, but she doesn't appreciate handmade things from me.

Back to my afghan with the loose ends to tuck. I spent a lot more money on that than I have any other project, because of the yarn I chose. I designed it myself, though I did use another afghan pattern on the Lion Brand Yarn website as a color suggestion.

Homespun... mmmm... the softest, cuddliest yarn I have ever been able to afford. LOL 8 skeins x roughly $6.50 per skein = well, it's a good thing I was really committed to this yarn. When my order arrived, the yarn was even more luscious in color than I had expected it to be. Purples, heathers, and painterly colors just sang together. Except for the Plum, which rather bothers me, but I suppose it's necessary to have a little jarring contrast in there. No, I don't really believe that, but I put it in there anyway. It's a gorgeous afghan. Just trust me on that because I'm keeping it for myself. It's my substitute for a warm hug.

And yes, I'd make one for a special someone, if there WAS a special someone in my life. I wouldn't hesitate. But he'd have to be a someone who properly appreciates handmade things.

18 Tunisian stitches across x 18 rows x 5 colors per strip. 5 strips. 2 loose ends at every color-changing intersection. I'm not going to do the math, but that's a lot of loose ends to weave in. You can't leave them hanging, because they yarn is a loose spin and the ends will look ratty in short order.

So I suppose I need to commit to a movie on TV and just weave those suckers in. :) Any movies starring dark-haired brooding types on tonight, do you think?

(In case you're wondering, it's not a Heathcliff fixation. It's pure Superman. Oh, I miss Christopher Reeve!)

Water That Burns

Made you look! No, I'm not performing an alchemical transmutation (though I could, if I log into WoW, transmute pyrite bars into True Gold). I'm just talking about my shower earlier today.

There is nothing like a shower that is almost too hot, on a cold winter day, to make you feel alive and safe.

For me, getting the water to the temperature of almost stinging, takes me back every time to a bath at my grandmother's house when I was five. For some reason I remember that it was October, I had been very cold, and my sister was in the tub with me. The water was on the edge of being too hot, and yet it was perfect for warming me up. I think it may have been Halloween, and we'd gone trick-or-treating and gotten cold.

Today I wanted to just stand under that hot water forever, watching my skin get redder and drier as my tension evaporated. :) But I managed to get myself out of there before the water even started to cool off.

Ooh, I hate it when the water gets cold on me in the wintertime. That's a whole different kind of discomfort.

I used the jasmine shower gel I'd gotten during my stay at the Las Vegas MGM Grand during fall break. Having stayed there twice now, I'm beginning to think that Stephen King was describing some other hotel and not that one. On the other hand, perhaps his description of the place comes from an earlier time before it was remodeled.

The Stand was written sometime in the 80s, after all. It's possible there might have been a fountain big enough to dive into back then. :D The lobby fountain standing now is more of a potted plant holder, though it is definitely a beautiful sight.

Trashcan Man's dive into that cold water fountain must have felt every bit as delicious to his burned skin as my nice hot shower did for me today.

Instant warmth when you are cold is a precious thing. I remember being in the second-stage recovery room at a surgery center in Memphis, and eventually being put into a nice recliner, covered with a blanket, and having warm air channeled under the blanket through a big tube. I hadn't realized I was so cold until that warm air began to bathe me. Ohhhh, what a wonderful feeling. I mentioned that this wasn't the first recovery room; the first one was the immediate post-surgery wakeup on the operating room gurney. I remember distinctly my fear at waking up about to vomit, and being absolutely blind.

That turned out okay, though, because even though I literally had gone blind from the sodium pentathol used to keep me asleep, there was a nurse there by my side the whole time. I just couldn't see her, so I didn't know she was there. She took care of everything for me. :) I don't know if the blindness and nausea were normal or if that means I am allergic to the anesthesia, but I'd like to never find out for sure.

On Friday, we took three of our classes outside, because the temperature was right and the kids begged us to. I was out there in my parka, gloves, sunglasses, and at one point with my stadium blanket wrapped around my knees, yet still I was cold. I believe it was the wind that was the problem. The kids were running and getting heated from their activities, but I was sitting still. At some point the blessed sun came out from behind the clouds, and I got that warm-safe-place feeling.

I keep remembering being that cold on Friday. There is a strong possibility that's why I've enjoyed my showers this weekend so thoroughly. ;)

Snoooowwww!

It snowed last night, we got out of school today, and I got my Sunday back after all. LOL

When it comes to snow and snow days, I am still a little kid. :D I love it. Maybe it's because I'm not forced to drive in it on snowy days -- I often don't work on good snowy days -- but it's so pretty and fluffy, how can you not love the way it blankets everything and makes it look clean and charming?

When I was a kid and my sister refused to play with me in the snow (Her HAIR, for heaven's sake - refused to wear a hat because it would mess up her hair... she was definitely a vain girl), I swore that "when I have kids" I'm going to have snowball fights with them, go sledding, build snowmen, and build snow forts with them.

So here we have snow on the ground, a day out of school, and where the heck are my children?? Okay, so I don't have any. I didn't try to "trap me a man" by getting pregnant, and now I'm the weird one for simply being old-fashioned. *rolling eyes*

Truth is, I'm looking over the edge of never being able to *have* any, because as my (by the way, OLDER) sister keeps saying, I'm "getting on up in years." I take offense to that statement. I'm only 39, and I figure I've still got about 5 years left. Right?

So yes, the proverbial biological clock is ticking, but I'm not letting it call my steps. I believe it's part of the divine plan. Either that, or I need to go and have it out with Clotho, Atropos, and Lachesis for deliberately making NO strands in the web cross with mine. That's just not right, and if I have them to blame, I'd like to file a complaint, please. Either that or I'll steal their scissors and create one massive snarl in the tapestry of fate.

Aww... I just looked outside and the snow is going away. :( Sad face. It could be gone from all the streets for all I care, as long as there is still a thick blanket on the grass.

I'd still like to see a big enough snow for me to make some colorful snow sculptures. :) I'd be out there with spray bottles of colored water to make it all look extra pretty. And perhaps to make my gorgeous creation into a colorful block of ice that will make one big OWWIE should anyone try to kick it over.

Evil, yes? >:D