I did. I did. I do.

like real people do

Well, since my last melodramatic update, I am the same/okay/mildly better, for those of you hanging in suspense. The professional conference was actually much better than last year’s and my boss and I both had a very productive day. The keynote speaker was Alex Sheen of Because I Said I Would, an Ohio-based nonprofit/social movement that, in essence, allows people means to be accountable to themselves about the commitments they’ve made. I was somewhat skeptical of it at first – why do you need a “promise card” to do what you said you’d do; just do it – but I’m trying to be more open and understanding in my old age, so I stayed with it. I’m not sure if the story is on their website in video form, but I very nearly cried at one point.

About thirty minutes into the 90 minute drive home, Heather got a call letting her know her older brother had dropped dead of a heart attack. It was a very sad car ride.

Lymph nodes have been mysteriously swollen since mid-August and I’ve had the energy of a wet paper sack, which I imagine has contributed to my general sense of malaise. Haven't been able to concentrate enough to read a book in a while, so my Goodreads count has held steady at 45/52. I went to my primary care doctor twice and got two different 10-day antibiotics and a daily antihistamine, then to an ENT specialist after finishing the antibiotics and still being swollen, got a 6-day steroid pack. ENT seemed quite patronizing, but I was also quite upset, as I had been ill for three weeks at that point and was pretty well convinced it was cancer. Felt mostly better for a while, then flared back up after the first laser treatment (more on this below). Only slightly swollen today. Woke up this morning so dizzy I had to sit with my eyes closed on the side of the tub for about 10 minutes. Pretty sure it’s the fault of the antihistamine, because I took it for the first time last night and that is the primary side effect.

At this point I’ve decided, “Fuck it.” I’ve accepted that I need to take an anti-depressant every day because my brain, if left unattended, will try to kill me, but my allergies are not so bad that I need to take a pill for them every day. I don't want to be on 10 different medications. One reason I was so upset at the ENT's office (aside from the cancer fear) was that I didn't want another pill to treat my symptoms; I wanted to address the root cause of whatever was making me sick. If the swelling isn’t completely gone by Friday, I’ll go back to the ENT, because he said it wasn’t urgent/anything to worry about until the 6 week mark, which is coming right up. One of those rare situations where I would honestly be thrilled to be wrong.

I got a shitty tattoo in January that has been bumming me out hardcore for eight months now, and after talking to multiple different artists about the likelihood of being able to cover it, had my first laser removal Saturday.

I GOT SHOT WITH A LASER ON SATURDAY.

Based on everything I'd read, I wasn't expecting to see any improvement after the first session, but about 50% of the shitty shading is already gone. On reflection, I think this means that it was even worse quality than I initially thought, because it's supposed to be a lot harder to get rid of newer tattoos.

I went to the artist who did my thigh piece, which I love, because she had done such a good job and I trusted her to do this one. An artist friend of mine later pointed out that they are very different styles: the thigh piece is very artistic, with lots of bold lines, whereas the new one was supposed to be fairly simple and understated. The line work looked like she had done it on day two of heroin withdraw. She put in a shit-ton of dark shading that we hadn't talked about to try to cover up the bad lines. It was devastating. I'm not even exaggerating; I was devastated. I've been wearing button-up shirts since January so I don't have to look at it.

Anyway, the laser place is 1.5 hours from me and it costs $199 a pop, but (a) fortunately you are required to have at least two months between sessions, so you can heal and (b) my mental health/not dissociating from my body is worth putting back $50 a paycheck to save up for it. (Look at me, all grown up and prioritizing my needs.)

The funny part (to me, at least) is that once I get this removed, I might try the design again with a different artist on a different part of my body. I still want a Star Trek tattoo; I just haven’t figured out what. If I could ever be bothered to do weight lifting and actually develop arm muscles, I’d get a watercolor of the poster for The Search for Spock.

By the way, last week in my spare time I painstakingly painted a wooden pallet and mod podged magazine cut-outs from the 50th anniversary stuff to make a Star Trek collage, which is now displayed next to my TV. I am who I am.
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This is a real fuckin debacle here today

The important thing is that I kept up my special birthday tradition of gut-wrenching misery.

I think all the other times I thought I was having a quarter life crisis, I was wrong. Or I started having a quarter life crisis at 24, and will continue having one until some as of yet undetermined date. Which is to say, my 28th birthday is Thursday, I will be spending it at a professional conference, and I feel very sad. I might be over-exercising (?) because it is, quite frankly, the only thing that soothes my nutjob anxiety at all, so I'm giving myself a pass on it.

I've had the same job for four years, and while I truly love the fact that I've learned so many different skills and had the opportunity to be successful at the goals set for me, I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. I'm not even sure I want to do this for the rest of the life of my car loan. The problem is that I'm good at lots of things, but I am not passionate about anything. And my birthday is coming up, and I feel like I'm in exactly the same place I was in last year.

I keep thinking, "Well, grad school," but I don't know what discipline I would pursue, which means that would be a pointless waste of time and money. I looked at a job posting for my exact position, but making twice the money in a bigger city, and even though I know I could excel at that position and rake in some $$, the thought of doing the same thing BUT MORE was so disheartening. WHY CAN'T I MAKE A CHOICE ABOUT WHAT I WANT TO DO.

How did you pick your career? Did you feel a calling to do something?

I made mango-banana-Greek yogurt "ice cream," so I have that to look forward to. Man, this is grim.
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Multa quoque et bello pass(a).

Now I know what a TV dinner feels like.

https://www.reddit.com/r/relationships/comments/4dxez9/just_found_out_my_23f_cousin_31f_and_her_mother/

So this is my life right now. I'm Vicky. The OP is my lil sis. The number of people on this planet that I love is dwindling.

The part we left out of that post is that when "Lacy" asked me for money the first time a month ago, I gave it to her. $80, which is sadly still a lot of money for me. She said she owed someone money and she was scared. I really did spend my childhood idolizing that family; they were loud and boisterous and swore like crazy, and seemed quite exciting in comparison to my parents, who are quiet and hard working, like my sister and I are.

Anyway, Lacy asked me for money, I gave it to her, didn't expect to get it back. I operate under the "don't give money to family expecting to be paid back" theory, because that way the bar is set low. Harder to disappoint. The next week, I gave her a lead on a job that she applied for and got. She told me she needed money, didn't think $50 was enough. Here's the text she sent me. If you can parse that shit, you're doing better than I am.

I was already starting to feel. . . weird about the situation, like a tall and cranky ATM, but I gave her $20. In between these two asks for cash is when I learned from my mom that they were clearing out grandma's bank account. Mom also told us later that Lacy had gone to our grandmother, who has worsening dementia and who seriously CAN NOT give informed consent in these situations, waited til our dad left the room, and got grandma to write her a check for $50. She also hadn't started her job.

I could have gotten over the money I gave her, eventually, because I'm an adult in control of my faculties and I can make decisions for myself. But I can't forgive her for taking advantage of our frail, sweet, confused grandma.

The Reddit post got a lot of legal advice, some of which was redundant (my uncles and dad are working on getting power of attorney). What I need is a way to communicate with my aunt and cousin in a way that doesn't lead to murder. Advice?
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In my heart of heart; as I do thee.

bon jovi and me are still strugglin'!


Yes, that is Nic Cage on the drum. No, I don't know why.


All jokes about p2p aside, music is much harder for me to share with people than movies or TV shows. It's on the same level as books, almost, where if I hand you As Meat Loves Salt and you say, "I don't get it," I know we are fundamentally different people.

During the great LiveJournal Blackout of '13-'15, I started listening to The Gaslight Anthem, and haven't actually stopped yet. Get Hurt was the record I heard first, and I listened to it so many times straight through that when one of the songs comes up in shuffle, independent of its brothers, I know which one is supposed to follow after. It's the first album I've listened to that thoroughly since I was a kid with a cassette player.

They went on hiatus last summer, right around the time Jon Stewart announced he was leaving The Daily Show, making it a rough couple of months on my cultural touchstones. But before I could get too deeply into the whole "nothing gold can stay" mindset, the lead singer, Brian Fallon, announced he was doing a solo album. And a tour. And that he would actually be near the godforsaken hellhole I somewhat affectionately call home, "near" being just 130mi drive away.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from it, since I got into Gaslight so late in their career. Get Hurt remains my favorite album of theirs, and it is substantially different from their other records in style and lyrical content. I didn't want to be the asshole going, "BUT IT'S NOT THE SAME."

It wasn't the same.

It was joyously, beautifully, perfectly different.

I left Hellhole around four yesterday afternoon and got to the venue about two and a half hours later. I learned a valuable lesson, which is if something is built after you get a GPS for Christmas and you never, ever update your maps, you will have to use Google Maps on your phone and eat 60% of your battery life. Which is why, in addition to my cat being an asshole with a schedule, I woke up at 7:30 this morning after getting back at one a.m. and let Garmin do its update thing. Estimated install time: 82 minutes! I don't know how I haven't gotten lost more often.

Anyway, when I got to the venue, there were only about twenty people in front of me in line--the doors opened at seven, but Brian Fallon & the Crowes weren't going to come on until around 9:00. I wanted to save what was left of my battery to take a few pictures, so I spent about half an hour with my hands in my pockets, trying to keep my nose from freezing off, and looking around pleasantly at the lights. And then an hour inside the venue, waiting for the opening act to come on stage. Whatever. I was within arm's distance of the stage. I won. Plus, I have a rich internal life, so I can entertain myself pretty well, lacking external stimuli. One of my friends had halfheartedly offered to go with me, even though she had never heard of the band, which is why I willingly bought a bridesmaids dress and all that for her, but I let her off the hook--I didn't want to spend the whole concert worrying about if she was enjoying herself, which is what I would have done if she had come.

I did consider throwing my jacket over the couple next to me, but they stopped making out when the music started, so I spared them.

Corey Brannon was the opener. He reminded me a bit of Waylon Jennings, which I liked, and he was really funny in between songs. And, actually, during songs. Good dude. There was a half hour break between the end of his set and the start of the Crowes show.

I'm not into meeting celebrities - and I suppose I still haven't "met" Brian Fallon - because I don't want to taint the relationship I have with their art (ugh) with my weird anxieties, or their own weird anxieties. It's hard for me to describe, but I suppose anyone who's ever gone to a live show has felt the same. A rush of excitement as someone whose voice has kept you company through some dark times is suddenly in the same room with you.

While Gaslight was still together, Brian had a side project with some of the members called The Horrible Crowes. They put out one album, Elsie, which is what I listened to on the way down. I had purposely avoided looking at concert videos from this tour, because I wanted to hear the new songs for the first time live.

Oh my god.

I've been to concerts before, concerts that I have loved, but this one was the best. Just the best. Maybe because of the venue size (only held a few hundred people), maybe because I was so close to the stage, maybe because the lighting people were on POINT, maybe. . . I don't know. I'm not an emotional person, especially in public, but I couldn't stop smiling. Just couldn't. I sang along with the songs I knew, and put my whole heart into listening to the new ones.

He looked at me while I was dumbly smiling and singing along, and smiled, but he was smiling the whole time. Much like me, he apparently couldn't help himself. He was so happy, as the drunken bro beside me exclaimed at some point. I've watched a lot of Gaslight concert videos, and when I compare how positive and goofy and energetic he was during this show to the later Gaslight stuff, I can truly see a difference. I do now have a visceral understanding of the phrase, "A thrill ran through me."

They played "Atlantic City," which surprised me, and some dude yelled out for another Springsteen song, and Brian said, "Sorry, brother, I don't take requests. Dealer's choice." Which was a very nice way to say, "Go to a fucking Springsteen concert if you want to hear more Springsteen." Heh, and he gave Springsteen shit for promoting a tour on Twitter. "Leave some room, brother! Bon Jovi and me are still strugglin'!"

Toward the end of the show he was talking about the length of the set list, and said we were on 17 of 20. It had been like an hour and a half of them playing at that point, and I couldn't have told you that without looking at my watch. I am sorry I may never hear "Selected Poems" or "Blue Dahlia" in person, but I can't wait to love these new songs as much as I love the old ones. And I think I will.
I did. I did. I do.

ship to wreck

On my walk last Sunday morning, I listened to an episode of This American Life called "Return to the Scene of the Crime," where a few luminaries revisited consequential moments of their lives and dissected them. One was a comedian, talking about getting hit by a drunk driver and coming around to the idea of marriage; one was Joss Whedon, who sang a song about how much he hates doing DVD commentaries but loves getting paid for them (sigh); and one was Dan Savage, who talked about the death of his mother. I didn't quite finish the podcast on the walk, so I finished listening to it on my way back and had one of those awesome "try not to cry at a stoplight" moments while thinking about my grandmother, who died two years ago today.

She died of lung cancer, less than a month after being diagnosed with it. All that summer she had a cough that kept getting worse, and each of us individually begged her to let us take her to a doctor, but I think she knew what it was, and she refused to go. And then she refused chemotherapy, because the cancer had metastasized to every organ and bone in her body. After reading the report, I don't know how she lasted the twenty-eight days after diagnosis that she did. Being with her and taking care of her as she was dying is the most adult thing I've done in my life. For a year after she died, I took flowers to her every Friday after work, a thirty minute drive to the church and a thirty minute drive back on narrow country roads that I would not recommend driving while gritting your teeth through grief and anger.

Saturday, my mom sent my sister and me over to my grandpa's to go through my grandmother's jewelry; he had been asking her to do it for about a year, probably, but she just couldn't. So now I have one of her rings and a bracelet with her name on it. I thought I would have to have the ring sized up to accommodate my giant hands, because my grandmother was a small woman with skinny little fingers, but I tried it yesterday on my right ring finger and it fit.

Man, today is not a day for mascara.
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When is a monster not a monster?

(no subject)

Now entering hour three of categorizing my purchases and expenses for 2015 to try to make a grown-up budget for next year. For years, it's been a huge joke in my family, how tight/frugal I am, and it's true! I pinched pennies and wore the same pair of sneakers for seven years, because I was putting all my money into my loan payments. But when I was closing in on paying off my student loans, I definitely noticed loosening the reins with my spending, and I need to take them back in.

I don't know things about horses; I hope that metaphor was sound. You may be pleased to learn that I recently purchased two new pairs of sneakers. My mother certainly was.

It was also a pretty good excuse to indulge in one of my favorite obsessive activities, color coding. I bought a pack of magic markers, printed out all my credit card and bank statements for the past year, and color coded each transaction. While wearing a sweater and drinking hot tea. I believe I have crossed over into that final frontier, old-as-balls. I'm entering all of them into a Google spreadsheet, just in case there was any financial information about my life they were missing, so I can figure out how much I'm spending, on average. I had some expensive car repairs and a bridesmaid dress to account for this summer, which I think is artificially inflating my monthly totals. I'll adjust for that in the 2016 budget.

A few days ago, I read the first Rivers of London novel, which Goodreads insists on cataloging as "Midnight Riot," what the hell? It was brilliant; I'm about halfway through the second novel, which is still pretty great. After reading the Dresden Files, these novels, and Game of Thrones, I think I've determined the only type of fantasy I really like is urban fantasy, where wizards have to deal with magic accidentally exploding their cell phones. kita0610, I think you would really like Rivers of London! Peter is like a young Harry. Does LiveJournal still notify users if you mention them in a post? KITA. KITAAAAAA.

Okay. Time to stop looking at vintage watches on Etsy and get back to the damn groceries column.
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World's best dog.

(no subject)

Whoa, Ray Stevenson is on Black Sails! Anyone watch that? Right now, the only shows I'm watching are Bones (ugh) and The Mindy Project.

Sara and I threw a boss-ass baby shower for Kathren today with cute as hell decorations. Several little old ladies said it was the nicest shower they'd ever been to (!). I'm going to tattoo the recipe for that cheese ball on my arm so I can make it again at a moment's notice.

Also, I paid off my student loans on Friday. At last, I will buy new sneakers.
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If the truth hurts you ain't livin right

(no subject)

Another year, another cost-of-living/inflation "raise." I enjoy my work and my workplace, about 1000% more than the last place I worked, but I have "increased the efficiency" of so many of our processes since I was hired three years ago, and if I think about all of the late nights I have put in for what evens out to an additional 48 cents an hour, I get really dispirited. It's not my boss' fault; we have a board of directors. It's very frustrating. The only way I will make a substantive increase in the money I earn will be to get a new job. Which is in the plan, but not for another two years. Which means I have to live here for another two years.

I literally just let out a heavy sigh.

Anyway, to celebrate my "raise" (yes, the sarcastic quotation marks make me feel better), I got a giant pizza from the best pizza place in town to share with my parents, and had a very nice evening. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with Sara and Kathren, and then Sara and I have to bear down on the final details for Kathren's baby shower next Saturday. I'm getting kind of excited about the baby? Someone remind me of that in a few months.

Rachel sent me an article about Robin Williams, where his widow had released the fact he had Lewy body dementia and was not expected to live long. Morbidly, it made me feel so much better. Last year, finding out that he had committed suicide just sent me into this tailspin of thinking, "Well, he made it to 63 with depression, I guess that's the best I can hope for." Which sucked. This still sucks, but less. (Ah, eloquence.)

I'm now painting my nails, eating cookies, and watching a Viggo Mortensen movie on Netflix. Is there anything this guy doesn't look roughly handsome in?
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Anybody ever love you that much?

most tender and Respectful friendship

Lafayette's adamant defense of Washington during a tough time deepened and cemented their bond. He wrote to Washington of his "most tender and Respectful friendship" and confessed, the "Sentiments of my Heart [are] much stronger than a So new acquaintance Seems to admit. But an other Reason to be Concerned in the present Circumstances is my Ardent, and perhaps enthusiastic wishes for the Happiness and liberty of this Country." In other words, after only five months' acquaintance, to Lafayette, Washington and America were one and the same. "I am now fixed to your fate," he added, begging Washington's pardon if "youth and friendship make perhaps myself too warm."

In his reply to Lafayette, Washington expressed "sentiments of the purest affection." Which is about as gushy as a George Washington interoffice memo gets. He added, "It will ever constitute part of my happiness to know that I stand well in your opinion." Regarding the "dirty Arts and low intrigues" of Conway, Gates, and their accomplices among the politicians, Washington, echoing The American Crisis by Paine, acknowledged, "We must not in so great a contest, expect to meet with nothing but Sun shine." He closed the letter predicting a victorious future sleepover at Mount Vernon: "My Dear Marquis, if you will give me your Company in Virginia, we will laugh at our past difficulties and the folly of others."

Sarah Vowell, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.
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Multa quoque et bello pass(a).

Larry, everyone is miserable and you are only making it worse.

Last night instead of working out and eating dinner, I instead decided to watch Netflix for a few hours, then that HBO documentary about Scientology. I couldn't make myself do anything. Retroactively declaring it a rest day, I guess. What I have learned from my Parks and Rec binge watch is that I would be an awful sitcom character, because I would just yell angrily whenever dumb hi jinks happened.

Heather and Chris were both out of the office today, so I got caught up on some administrative work. I transferred the old applications to our new process, then scanned 2013's scholarship applications. Now we've got everything from 2004 to now online. Key Accomplishments: oversaw the transition of my organization from pen and paper to the current century.

Kathren and I had Thai for lunch--I'm always surprised that place is open when I want to eat there; for like a month the first year it was open, every time we tried to go it was closed--and she told me something truly awful.

After work (got off at 2:00, yeaahhhhh), I took some flowers out to Mamaw's grave. I haven't been out there since December, but prior to that I was going every week. I think that was probably a mistake--I don't know, maybe I needed to do it. But what it amounted to was that at least once a week I felt guilty, sad, and angry. Mom wasn't home, so I put hers in water and went to see Grandma. She was so happy to see me, although she veered between knowing it was me, thinking it was my sister, and thinking I was still in school. We talked and watched her birds for an hour. I felt moody and bad when I got there, but happier when I left. She really liked her flowers.

Oh, also I had my first bath bomb tonight. I smell AMAZING.