Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking back on 2011.

So it's getting disgustingly close to the end of the 2011, and although I'm giving 2012 the stink-eye it's a glare that is tempered with a tiny glint of hope. Next year will bring a lot of "firsts" for me, mostly because of The Hubby's new and exciting career choice. And although it's terrifying and more than a little stressful to be facing all these changes, I truly am excited. Now it's time for me to put up or shut up... Am I the super-tough, badass, independent babe I claim to be? Or am I simply the "baby ox" I am jokingly referred to as ("I'm strong as an ox!" "Pssh, maybe a baby ox, probably a fetal ox.")? We're about to find out in 2012, y'all!

Like many others more talented than myself, I thought I'd figure out my "Best Of" blog posts this year. Here goes.

In January I talked one of my favorite people, a mother of a gorgeous little girl, into starting up a blog. Her love for her daughter and for a more researched brand of motherhood spoke to me, even though I have no children myself. (The furry four-legged kind don't count in this situation.) I thought she would be well-served to take her passion onto a more open forum than Facebook, and hoped she'd be able to inspire others as she'd inspired me. Unfortunately she hasn't posted much beyond those first couple posts, but hey--they rocked! She's got a lot on her plate right now, but my fingers are crossed that one day she'll work around to it and put that passion out there for a wider audience.

In February I decided to stake my own claim in a tiny slice of the blogosphere, although my start was less than impressive. A few days later, though, I finally got around to why I needed to start blogging. I needed something to help me work out all the changes in my life, and to chronicle my "journey" back to (hopefully) some semblance of sanity and confidence.

In March, I was astounded at the pages Google Reader suggested I visit... at least until I visited them. I profusely cursed St. Patrick's Day, and shook my head in amazement at a couple awesome but poorly-thought-out purchases. I seemed to be off to a pretty good start. The posts weren't coming daily, or even regularly for that matter, but I was doing pretty well at not letting it sit un-updated for long.

In April I continued on my awesome-ish posting streak, sharing a horrible Mean Woman Week story (but also a poem!), gave my few readers a taste of my personal brand of depression, introduced Teh Kittehs, and established a possible menu for the imaginary restaurant that I will never start because I have no interest in owning a restaurant or in cooking.

Then tragedy struck. My home was damaged in a horrible flash flood, leading to about a week solid of nothing but chaos. It was close to the end of the month, and I didn't get the chance to post for a while, so...

May's posts started out with a hell of a bang. I had no idea what was going to happen next, all I knew was that suddenly we were essentially homeless.  There was very little posting that month, because there was a whole lot of stress, but I did manage to sneak in a post that was fun to write.

June only brought a couple of posts, but one of them is one of my absolute favorite posts (of mine, anyway), because I firmly believe that you should treat people how you want to be treated. Being a dick ultimately gets you nowhere, and you'll most likely be angry the majority of your life if you keep putting that out into the world. I'm a rant-er, and this was prime rant material, although I personally think that it has a positive message!!

July brought another one of my thoughtful posts, where I express my amazement that people continue to believe in my ability to do anything, ever. Fake it 'til you make it is damn right.

August didn't bring a lot of posts, because it was kind of crazy and I wasn't feeling so chipper. I'll just post those links here without a lot of description (there were only three), because they all meant something different to me. Which do you like best, if any?
About halfway through September I finally started picking up steam again, post-wise, but there were only a couple of gems in there... I finally introduced myself using my actual name rather than using "The ZB," which is a small step toward being more comfortable with blogging but is a step nonetheless. I also told the nail-biting and hilarious "tail" of our juggabuttin' kitty getting stuck in the attic. That was one of the high points of my year, once I regained the ability to breathe and laugh.

In October we mourned the loss of a most fabulous fowl, whose side-of-the-road strut will not soon be forgotten. I also mourned the loss of my original Kindle, but soon My Dear Replacement Kindle took its place of permanent attachment to my hands.

In November I broke the news of The Hubby's enlistment, and later I wrote about my feeling stuck in limbo while waiting for everything in my life to come together.

December has been another crazy month. I've just left my retail job to go back to the factory job, albeit at a higher pay rate and in a position without a time limit. Yay! But there's been some bumps along the way, some super busy days and some super crazy days, and even an exhausted but somewhat desperate letter to Santa.

This has truly been a helluva year, and I'm so glad it's over. My first *calendar* year of blogging has been a doozy. Hopefully 2012 will be a better, happier brand of crazy.
Mama's Losin' It

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh, this world.

To the person who found my blog by Google-searching "Is caffeine and meth bad for you?":

The answer is Yes. Always yes. And I hope this helped. And I hope that wasn't a serious question.

Actually I'm pretty sure it should help.

Hugs! (The "arms-way-outstretched-barely-tapping-your-shoulders-with-my-fingertips-to-prevent-any-potential-bodily-contact-with-seeping-wounds" kind of hugs.)

Sometimes you just have to go with it.

It's just been one of those days. Not a super-bad day, by any means, but still. I got almost no sleep last night, most likely because I knew I had to get up "early" today. At work people were aggravating as hell, and the receipt printer kept jamming up, and I barely even knew what day it was. But I ended up getting to go home early today, which allowed me to get some things done. So that was good. I went to drop some stuff off at our house, then went back home. After pulling into the driveway and shutting off my car I realized I'd left my purse behind. Sigh. I went back to the house to retrieve it, and on a hunch I checked and verified that yes, I had in fact purchased the wrong color caulk. Ah well, it's paintable. Plus I got to complain about my stupid caulk. (In my own head, it was hilarious. I decided not to test the sound-alike jokes with the in-laws.) I gave up and went back home, making sure I had my purse with me this time.

I stopped and chatted in the living room with the in-laws for a minute, and it ended up turning into an hour-and-a-half gab session. Which is fine, I don't chit-chat with them enough, but it means I got to hear the same stories I've heard countless times before. My feet were hurting like hell from being on them all day, and all I wanted was to sit down. But I couldn't. If I sat down instead of continuing to lean against the wall near the hallway where our room is, that meant I was accepting the conversation wasn't going to be ending any time soon. Plus they had said they were getting ready to leave! I wouldn't want them to feel obligated to stay longer to chat with me. But dear sweet cheetahs my feet hurt, and after a long day and a night of no sleep I was wore out. And starting to get hungry, which after a remarkably short while flips my grumpy switch into the "on" position. But finally, sweet relief. I got food, and got to sit when they left.

I finally realized *today* that Christmas is next weekend. I keep thinking it's a couple weeks away, I have plenty of time to mentally prepare for it, no big deal. Mind you, this year I've been totally on the fucking ball--All the gifts have been bought, and all but one yet-to-arrive gift has been wrapped or carefully placed in a gift bag artfully stuffed with tissue paper. I'm much better at gift bags than wrapping. Historically, presents I've wrapped ended up looking like they were wrapped by someone with hooves. Martha-Freakin-Stewart I am not. I'm pretty sure the cats could do a better job. The Pants is nothing if not meticulous, as long as it doesn't require her to maneuver through a room. The Hubby can most definitely do a better job, which is why I steal his glory and place the blame on him for the botched jobs that I am in fact responsible for. This is our system, and it works very well. For me.

But this year it was all me wrapping the presents, and all but one got wrapped atop a pillowtop mattress. Not a big deal for someone skilled in the art of gift wrap, but for me it was the equivalent of someone with hooves (see above) wrapping presents aboard a ship sailing in choppy waters. To all recipients of gifts from us this year, my apologies.

I've felt more "festive" this year than I have the past few years, but that's most likely due in part to the fact that I am unable to decorate my home this year even if I wanted to. Now I can be all "I TOTALLY would have put up a tree this year!" without having to back that assertion up with action. Again, it's a win/win for me. But still, this is a big Christmas for my family, because with my two brothers and The Hubby doing the military thing, who knows where we'll all be next Christmas? Christmas also signals the almost-end of the year, so I'm also a little on edge for that, too. Gots to reach my goal of being in my own home by January!

...Aaaaand I just got sucked into a half-hour-long Youtube-fest, thanks to Facebook. I started here ("Oh God, I can smell his face!") and ended up here. I love Jenna Marbles. The Hubby introduced me to her channel a few months ago, and I am so happy he did. 

What was I saying again?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Yeah, "joyful" wasn't going to happen today.

3. Open letter to Santa Claus.

Dear Mr. Claus,

I'm not even going to lie. I haven't exactly been my ideal self this year. I've been lazy, I've eaten too much junk food too often, I've flaked out on friends and loved ones, I've made seemingly whim-induced life changes that have gotten me nowhere, I've hidden from everyone, I've become a bit of a harpy at times, I've retaliated against passive-aggressive behavior by becoming more passive-aggressive than I've ever been at any other time in my life, I've wallowed in self-pity, I've raged internally and at anyone "safe" to rage at, I've started a blog to unleash myself onto a somewhat-anonymous format, I've successfully and unsuccessfully battled depression, I've made plans and set goals I didn't/couldn't stick to, I've been ashamed of myself, I've been furious at myself/everybody/everything, and I've blamed others for things that are my fault--or aren't anybody's fault.

I don't believe in God. But I do believe in random miracles, and I do believe in redemption. I do believe in love, and family, and friendship, and charity, and community, and forgiveness, and kindness, and happiness, and hope. I do believe in doing what's ultimately right, even if it hurts in the moment. I do believe in making sacrifices and in finding the silver lining in any dark cloud.

I know that your typical atheist should not give a crap about Christmas. And honestly, I go back and forth over it. But I still love the general sense of happiness and love and family that is much more freely expressed around this time of year (with an being exception in retail--you stand between an old lady and her expired coupons and the only sense of "family" you'll get is when you're crying "UNCLE!" as she glares and stabs you with her bony elbows.). I'm hoping that the universe, and you, Santa Claus, will throw me a metaphorical bone here this year. Really, all I am hoping for is peace. I'm hoping that things will miraculously align in such a way that I will be able to live peacefully in my own home by the end of this year. I know it's a lot to ask, and that there are a lot of things that need to be done. I know that my home won't be completely repaired for a while, but if you could help a girl and her hubby out a little and make it liveable I promise I'll go as much all-out as I can next year. I'll decorate a tree, I'll put up lights, bake cakes and pies and cookies from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, occasionally listen to (Santa-not-Jesus related) Christmas music, and I'll put a wreath on the door. Maybe I'll even host a party with fancy clothes and finger foods and apple cider or lots of booze. I don't drink, but by golly my guests will. And you know I don't like my home being invaded by large groups, Santa, so you know I'm willing to make sacrifices here. All I want for Christmas is to not still be living in someone else's home in any part of 2012.

Also, The Hubby would like a good 3D TV.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Review of The Noon God.

As you may know, I read a lot. I've been trying to do reviews on Amazon of some of the stuff I read, but every once in a while I might feel I'm better served bringing the review here. I'll try not to do this too often, unless people just really like to read book reviews. 


I recently read The Noon God, a short book by Donna Carrick, on MDRK. (In case you were wondering, MDRK has been very good to me, and is as much my constant companion as his predecessor was. *swoons*)

Here's the book description given on the Amazon page:

Living in the shadow of greatness can be a difficult thing. Just ask Desdemona. When her father, the magnificent J. Caesar Fortune, is found murdered inside the offices of the Faculty of Art, there is no shortage of people who carried a grudge against him.

I absolutely loved The Noon God. It's a mystery, of course, but the mystery almost takes a back seat to the Fortune family saga. Mona is coping with the significant loss of her father by focusing not only on what must be done but also on how things got to that point. This story subtly "explains" the characters and their actions by delving into their dysfunctional past. A lot of story seeds are planted in the beginning, and they slowly and gently begin to grow throughout the book. Some books are more explicit and "in your face" with the information being revealed, but this is more like a glimpse into this time in Mona's life. There is no painstakingly-detailed backtracking to cover details that aren't relevant in Mona's mind at that moment. If she is already aware of something, she doesn't necessarily feel the need to take the extra steps to point it out to you if it doesn't serve a purpose.** (See ** for **Spoiler Alert**)

We do get glimpses into her past and the kind of environment she was raised in, but only in parts where Mona would naturally be considering it herself. Am I making sense with this? I really liked this aspect of the book--it trusts the ability of the reader to make the connections themselves. Some reviewers (well, the one negative reviewer...) felt like the characters weren't developed enough, but I heartily disagree. Everything you need to know is revealed bit by bit, and it builds to an awesome conclusion. There are still questions, of course; primarily, What's next for Mona?       

I will gladly read more by this author, and have added one of her stories (free!) to MDRK. I hope it is as interestingly written as The Noon God.

**The main example of this would be Mona's pregnancy. Now, I don't consider this a spoiler--even though she doesn't explicitly mention the baby until the end--because the "clues" are there the whole way through, but some might. At first Carrick lets you believe it's a reaction to the trauma Mona's experienced, but you should quickly see that it's more than that. There was actually a point where I wondered if she was going to approach the subject explicitly at all, because it was finally made clear that she knew about it but it still hadn't been explicitly stated or even alluded to in conversations. But if anyone who reads this story hasn't figured that out way before the last couple of chapters, and gripes about a lack of character development, then I don't know what to tell you. Maybe stick to "Everyone Poops." It's got that "spell-it-out-for-you" clarity you are looking for.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Love, "Beth-not-Dana"

I had a real *headdesk* moment earlier today. You know how I've been applying for different jobs? Well, I got a call back from one today. Unfortunately, she had called the wrong number. But in the good news department, now I have a new nemesis, and her name is Dana. Dana the Job Stealer. (Maybe it's just "Interview Hoarder," but "Job Stealer" makes it easier for me to shake my fist at her while scowling.) So Dana? Whoever you are, you better have ROCKED my interview and got the job. If I can't have it, I at least want to know it went to a worthy foe.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You win this time, felines.

Writing prompt from Mama Kat!
5.) Tell us the story of how your pet came to be a member of your family.

I was not supposed to have cats. I could have sworn I was a dog person. After all, when I was growing up the only animals we ever had were dogs. No cats, no hamsters, no rabbits, no lizards, no horses, just dogs. Well, there were a couple fish every now and then, but they were a--and I absolutely must say this, it's too tempting--short-lived obsession every time. No joke, once I tried to "show" my own goldfish a "trick" that my brother's goldfish could do. I scooped him out of the water, made a circle with my thumb and index finger above the opening of the bowl, and dropped him through the circle into the bowl. Ta-da! ...At least the first time. The second time I guess Fishy saw his chance to escape, but alas, flopped in the wrong direction, landing behind the (thankfully turned off) furnace. I couldn't reach with my stupid little arm, so I pretended nothing happened. I don't remember the outcome of that story, but I'm sure there was an interesting one. How the hell did I explain the missing fish?! Then again, my family is very good at coming up with bad explanations.

In any case, although I was never anti-cat, I was always a little suspicious of them. The few cats I was ever around were usually out of sight, only occasionally slinking into my line of vision. Otherwise they were porch-dwellers, sprawled out on decks, the railings, the chairs, or the steps. And of course, being mostly around dog-loving people I only ever heard about how all damn-cats (I swear it might as well have been hyphenated, because the words always went together) were anti-social, snooty and want nothing to do with people.

Then one day five years ago it was decided that I needed a companion for when The Hubby was at work. This was to be a whole new world for me. A litter box? What? So New Kitty is "welcomed" into the home by none other than me, home by myself, with no clue how to handle a damn-cat. I make sure damn-cat has food and water and toys and knows where the litter box is and how to use it. We're good. *Pat pat* kitty head, now I'm off to do whatever it was I was needing to do around the house. Problem? Damn-cat didn't get the memo about cats not caring about humans. This cat followed me around the house all damn day, mrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-owing at me. And since she was to become our "woe" kitty, with the most pitiful drawn-out mournful *woe* cry, she'd chase her mrrrr-ows with woes. She was desperate for love, and I was panicking. "No Kitty, you can't eat my food! You have your own!! OH GOOD GOD What is it you want from me???" So I went about awkwardly petting her and holding her until she calmed down. But as soon as I'd get up ("Jesus, Kitty, I gotta put my bowl up! Give me a break!") she'd be following me and mrrr-owing and woe-ing. Sheesh, even the dogs I'd had before weren't this high-maintenance.

We gradually became more comfortable with each other, and after a couple of days we settled on the name "Kiki" for our little woe-kitty. (Eventually she somehow ended up "Kiki Pants," and is now mostly just called "Pants.") After a little bit it was time for the big vet trip--getting her spayed and de-clawed. When she came back home after that, I sat on the futon we had in "her" room, holding her in my lap and bawling my eyes out. She looked so pitiful, and it was so heartbreaking for me to see such a spirited, affectionate kitty all droopy-eyed and mangled-looking. That's when I fell in love with her. I missed her personality. I just chilled with her for a while until she jumped off my lap. After that, we were besties. She's the first kitty I ever had, and she's awesome.

She went from tiny cute damn-cat...
To lover of heights.

To attacking from boxes. (We had to buy a second one of those after they tore one to pieces.)

To a lover of laps. And staring contests.

To a glorious fetcher. Check out that back claw action. She's a warrior down to her toes.
(...And down to her evil glare of victory.)

To a stealth attacker of feet. (With soft paws, of course. She's still a lady.)
To a lover of boxes and soulful gazes.

And she absolutely slays a nap on her favorite blanket.

She's a very thoughtful kitty.

Once she brought me a half-dead cricket when I was in bed, half-asleep. I think based on my reaction she understood that Mama is simply not able, or willing, to learn how to hunt and kill her own food. The half-dead thing has never been repeated. She has, however, gifted us with fully-dead mice, thoughtfully placed next to the bed or in the doorway, where we'd clearly be able to see she's earned her keep. Or that we'd better be on our toes, because she's a cold-blooded killer. Even if she gives us hugs (a paw on each side of our necks, head brushed along the side of our faces) and begs to be held and walked around the house so she can bat at the ceiling fan pull chains and peek out the windows. But she's such a bad-ass, I'd swear she actually catches the red dot of the laser pointer.

We have another cat, too... but Juggabutt's a whole 'nother story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holding pattern.

If you're here looking for a laugh, check out the hilarious reviews for this amazing product. Seriously, who doesn't need a pair or two of handerpants?? And if you're not impressed, there's always the classic Three Wolf Moon shirt, where I can always find the most epic, amazing reviews that can instantly cheer me up.

* * * * * *

In any case, that was the "phoning it in" fluff so the few readers I have don't forget about me, and know I'm still alive and haven't forgotten about them! If you're here to read a rambling wallow in self-pity, read on, because after this sentence comes the *actual* post.

It's been almost 2 weeks since I last posted, and I am ashamed of that. It's not like I haven't had plenty of time on my hands, or plenty of ideas for posts... I actually have a ton of drafts of posts started, but I just haven't seemed to have the energy to do much but sleep or read or snack or watch shows on the computer or anything else that doesn't require much getting up off my butt or thinking. I go to work, come home, and blah. On days when I don't work, all-day blah. Folks, I think it's safe to say that the depression is back.

There was a couple of weeks solid where I was crying at the drop of a hat, and every time I went to sleep it was nightmare after nightmare. I just want to be left alone, I'm extremely irritable, don't feel like doing anything productive, and just want to sleep all day. That oh-so-familiar empty feeling is back, and I feel like my job is not helping at all. I'm basically selling my weekends and ability to make plans, and the tiny paycheck is totally not worth it.  I've already had to miss one event with my friends that I really wanted to be able to make it to, and I don't want to have to wait until Christmas to see my family again. This will most likely be the last year we'll all be together for a while, and it sucks ass that I will most likely only be able to spend a few hours with them on Christmas day. I so hate working retail. I've sent out resumes, but no luck so far. There's just not a lot of hiring going on right now, and although I totally rock at everything most places are looking for people with experience that I don't have, or it's more freaking retail.

I'm just kind of miserable right now. I hate that I've moved backwards like this in the job department. I hate that in every other aspect of my life I'm just in this kind of holding pattern, waiting. Waiting for our house to be finished. (I hope it's done by Christmas, and the fact that I have to *hope* for that pisses me off. It's been 6 months. It could have been done twice by now. "Progress" keeps getting stalled.) Waiting for a different job to come along. Waiting for The Hubby to leave for and be done with boot camp and all the training after that so we can get out of here and away from some of the toxic cycles we're stuck in. Waiting for our life to start. It feels like starting over, and I wish it would hurry up already. I feel like I'm about to lose it, but I can't allow that to happen because I wouldn't even be able to simply deal with it in the privacy of my own damn home.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Flailing limbs FTW.

 Thanks to Mama Kat's blog for the writing prompt!
3.) Married? Tell us the story of how the question was popped.

The Hubby proposed to me not once, but twice. I said "Yes!" both times.

Folks, I hate to say we were high school sweethearts, but that's the closest label I have. However, we didn't start dating until a month before he was to graduate (I was a year behind him). It was only a couple weeks before we were using the L-word. We spent all our time together, usually at his house because he's fairly reserved and let's just say my family, Jeebus love them, is not. Scatological jokes, TV/movie references, and profanity abound when my family is all together. There are few subjects my beloved ones will not approach, and approach inappropriately with great humor and gusto. But I digress.

It was a typical teenage romance, but we both knew it was "a big deal." I have never had any problem with knowing what I want, and after some of the shit I'd been through by the time I hit about 15 or 16 I was also damn good at knowing how to balance heart and brain in making decisions. Even my mom saw that I seemed much happier with him than I'd ever been before. (Whether she'd remember or admit saying that now I don't know... but I swear it happened!) In July of that year he unofficially popped the question. Of course, he couldn't just come right out and say it at first, but he's horrible at hinting and I'm awesome at figuring shit out. After about five or ten minutes of him "debating" out loud about "something he wanted to ask me" he finally just asked if, after I graduated, I would marry him. Of course, I said yes. Of course, this was also unofficial, because although we both already knew that we were just right for each other, it was a little soon to be declaring our ambitious intentions. A few more months went by, and we were into November. We were running around the mall and he suggested we go look at engagement rings. He bought the sweet little ring I wanted right then and there, but we had to order it in the right size. I expected that he would speak to my mom for "permission" first before officially popping the question, and that it would probably be closer to the time I graduated if not the night we graduated. Again, I'm awesome at figuring shit out, especially when it comes to anticipating what he's going to do. I guess I didn't count on his extreme level of impatience.

One day he called and asked to speak with my mom. I can't remember if he also spoke with my stepdad-at-the-time or not, because ultimately that didn't matter to me. A couple days later I was over at his house. We had gone into his room to watch a movie, and he told me to sit down on his bed. Naturally, I said "No." Cuz you ain't tellin' ME what to do. He asked again, looking me in the eyes, hands on my shoulders, and naturally, I said "NO!" Why the hell is he bossing me around?!

Only this time, in the process of jerking out of his grasp I stumbled back onto the bed, throwing my arm up and hitting him in the face in the process. Right in the nose. With my elbow. I apologized profusely, he cussed profusely. He sat down next to me with a heavy sigh, grasping his abused face. I continued apologizing, until finally he held up a hand to shush me, still holding his nose with the other hand. Then he took the hand down, and reached over to his nightstand drawer... and pulled out the box with my ring in it.

The moral of the story is: If you try to do something spontaneous and romantic around me, odds are you will end up exasperated... and maybe injured. Although in my defense you should know by now I'm a little accident-prone, and frequently take people down with me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November News!

So there's been a lot going on in my life here lately... Not so much a "constantly staying busy" thing as a "a hell of a lot on my mind" thing. And until some of it had sorted itself out I wasn't really feeling like I could blog about it. Plus, The Hubby had requested that I keep a bit of it under wraps until some things were squared away. He's a much more private person than I am, and I respected his wishes and waited until I got the go-ahead to spill. But enough with the cryptic bullshit, eh? Here's what my month has been like so far.

This past week The Hubby went through MEPS, the Military Entrance Processing Station. He has been sworn into the Marine Corps. He's been back and forth about wanting to do this for the past couple years, but he's finally committed to it. He started talking to a recruiter a few months ago, had to make some changes before and after going to MEPS for the first time a month or so ago ("clothing" a tattoo on his back, and getting the holes in his ear sewn up--he had two holes stretched to 0 gauges), and then waiting on going back to MEPS for the second time so they could verify the changes and get him sworn in.  At this point he's not going to be able to ship out until around the beginning of May, and he'll be going through the 13-week boot camp in San Diego.

How am I feeling about all this? Honestly, I couldn't be happier. Any time he has mentioned the possibility of entering the military I have supported him. I think this is a great opportunity for him, and a great opportunity for us. I know it will be difficult for us both, in very different ways, but totally worth it. We both understand the risks involved--with our country having been at war for the better part of a decade it would be foolish for us not to anticipate a Marine to be deployed into a war zone. They have made it clear that because he is married his first permanent duty station will be within the continental US, but after that? It will all just depend on his job and where he is needed. I will admit to feeling some trepidation... After all, I talk a big game about my independence and toughness (I'm super tough.), but my hand has never been forced like this. Being without him for a weekend is one thing, but I'm about to be away from him for a solid three months while he's in boot camp. And then another month for combat training. And then up to a year while he's at his MOS (Military Occupation Specialties) school. And then at some point I know I'll have to face the separation of deployment, and everything that means. At least he'll get some time in between all that to come home, and while he's gone for boot camp and all the training after that I'll have the support of my friends and family nearby.

But in the meantime, and throughout his military career--whether he stays in for four years or until retirement--we'll just do our best to take it one day at a time, and deal with whatever comes our way. Besides, it gets us the hell out of this area. We'll be selling the house as soon as I'm able to move with him. Unfortunately, it'll probably still be a while.

But that's not all that's been going on... November also marks my youngest brother's birthday. I adore that kid--even if having just turned 18 he's officially not a kid anymore. I spent the Saturday after his birthday with my family, celebrating at Buffalo Wild Wings and at Mom's house with a homemade ice cream cake and lots of music. Youngest Brother had a friend over who, like Y.B. is talented with a guitar. I had so much fun listening to the two of them singing and playing guitar. Our house had frequently been filled with music in the past, but it's been a while. At least for me, because The Hubby doesn't play as much anymore and Y.B. isn't always playing when I'm over there (which is nowhere near often enough). Y.B. has also enlisted in the military as of this month, but like my other younger brother who is older than Y.B. (he will be O.Y.B. I guess...) Y.B. has enlisted in the Navy. He will most likely be shipping out sometime around August or September. Lots of big news in my family these days.

However, the same day that I was celebrating with my family, The Hubby was mourning the loss of his maternal grandfather with his. If it was any month other than November, I would have been with him. But there is no way I would have been able to handle a funeral that day. In any case, things have been a little rough lately for The Hubby's family. Maybe in another post I'll talk about why I personally find life a little more difficult every November, but I'm not feeling like going into that right now. Besides, this post has been long enough, don't you think?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Is that a wad of Kleenex in your hand or are you just happy to see me? Wait...

In theory, fall began on September 23rd, and will last until December 22nd. Weather-wise, it began much more recently. Still, the leaves began turning, the new season of TV shows started up, and everyone started decorating for the holidays. Some people of course skipped straight over Halloween and Thanksgiving to Christmas, but Halloween is definitely getting lots of love this year. (Although I'm not sure how "Halloween-related" LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" is, jack-o-lanterns made out of lights definitely count.)

However, I'm not here to talk about people whose neighbors must be ready to move by now, I'm here to talk about me. Me me me, and my pitifulness.

Fall weather finally started. And with it, I started to feel a little tickle in my throat. Last Wednesday I had a major dizzy spell at work, which I have now been forced to fully accept that my body subjects me to as a sign of impending illness. I wasn't really hungry all that day, and the next was much the same. Another big indicator. It didn't help that on Thursday my alarm didn't go off, so I got up later than usual. My own fault, because after setting it, I forgot to hit "save." (Note, this same alarm of mine will go off after I've turned off the alarm and then deleted it altogether from my phone.) Anyhoo, it's Thursday, I'm panicked, and even after I'm no longer panicked I feel nauseous and my throat is killing me and my nose is alternating between stuffy and runny and my head is pounding. So at work I ask if I can go home early to get some rest... Nope! I was supposed to get off at 5, and the girl who would be coming in to take my place didn't get back to us until 3:30. Whether I get a lunch break or not depends on how long I work, and by 2:30 I knew that I needed to eat whether she was coming in or not so I decided to take my half-hour lunch break and just finish out the day. The miserable, miserable day. Friday I was off work, and my sore throat took over. Saturday I was also off work, and the sore throat was even worse. Sunday I barely had any voice, and was exhausted from not being able to breathe.

Luckily I got a 3-day weekend, so I spent all day Sunday sniffling, coughing, and playing Need For Speed Most Wanted on the PS3. I'm not very big on playing games, but I whoop ass at the racing games, and am a *pro* at escaping the cops in Need For Speed. When I have trouble with a race, I hand it off to The Hubby. When the cops start chasing, he hands it off to me. We also noticed that it's a lot harder to make it through all the challenges than it is to actually beat the races at the end of each level. It's like having to beat Bowser repeatedly throughout the game, and then you're only having to battle a Koopa Troopa to level up. WTF.

I called in sick to work today, because I laid awake all night last night coughing and not being able to breathe for being so clogged up. My throat is still super sore and I'm just wore out from it all. I'm pretty irritated that it's not an awesome Halloween-related reason. It's a stupid season-change reason.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A letter.

To My Dearest Replacement Kindle,

I know you're there in the Post Office, waiting patiently for me--I got your note. I'm so sorry I was at work when you arrived, and was unable to pick you up today. I want you to know that although I haven't met you yet, I love you and have anxiously awaited your arrival. I know how difficult it must be for you to have to try and fill the shoes of your friend, My Original Kindle, but as he suffered through the terminal illness we only know as "hardware issues" he promised that you would be able to take care of me as he no longer can. I know you are two totally different Kindles, and I would never expect you to be exactly the same. I'll even buy you new clothing, rather than placing the library scene on you as I did on My Original Kindle. You are a unique Kindle and you deserve better than second-hand skins. Er, "clothing." 

I can't wait to hold you and stare adoringly at your face for hours and hours as you tell me wonderful stories. Maybe some of the stories won't be as good as we hoped, MDRK, but we both know that will be my fault and not yours.

I will see you very soon, MDRK, but in the meantime stay snug and comfortable in your cubbyhole. I know that Mr. Postmaster will take good care of you until we can be together. I can't wait to start our long and happy life together...

At least as long as the call of the newer Kindles continues to leave me unconvinced.


Monday, October 24, 2011

First world problems.

*This is probably going to sound like an advertisement, but I promise it's not... Nobody's paying me for this, nobody's asked me to do this, etc. This is all me, as always.*

I'm so sad. Late last week my Kindle died, and I'm anxiously awaiting the replacement. (Amazon rocks, but I've been without since Thursday and it's now Monday night.) What's that? "Pshaw!" you say? Perhaps you're a lover of a Nook, or of a Sony or some other brand of e-reader, in which case I will not argue pros and cons of different systems, because your ass would be just as devastated if it happened to you. But perhaps you pshaw at the idea of not holding the lovingly crafted binding and paper in your hands when you're reading...

I was once like you. I scoffed at the idea of not holding an actual book in my hands, of not having and adding to the bookshelves filled with books stacked on top of books and on top of books that are in front of other books, of not having various other stacks of books scattered throughout my house because of (obviously) inadequate shelf space. (Actually, that book-hoarding was quite a problem.) I took books on trips, agonizing about how I was going to fit enough books into my bags and still have room for clothes. One of my favorite books when I was in high school is missing the cover due to an unfortunate unpacking incident in Mobile. It was already in bad shape, and alas, it couldn't make it through being accidentally stepped on by my giant foot. Yes, I was a little rough on my books, but only because whatever book I was reading became an extension of me. And me is clumsy and accident-prone; a frequent flailer of limbs regardless of what those limbs may be carrying. On that note, don't give me babies and expect me to do anything but sit still.

I couldn't imagine not holding an actual book in my hands, smelling that amazing book smell, turning the pages, and getting frustrated because in the process of a page-turn something further on caught my eye and now I've spoiled it for myself. I couldn't imagine not scrambling to find a bookmark, because usually my bookmark was some random piece of paper that I was constantly misplacing. I couldn't imagine finishing a book and not getting to stand in front of my bookshelves for an eternity, poring over the covers of books I've read time and again, trying to find one that it's been a while since I read so I can enjoy it again without wanting to skip through parts. And would that mean I'd stop buying books? If so, would any visitors think I was some dense uneducated lady-brute who doesn't enjoy reading? Would I gush about my love for books only for them to look suspiciously around only to find no books to prove my sincerity? And I had just gotten a library card. Granted, my tiny local library was only open for four hours two days a week, meaning I could hardly ever check anything out for fear of my work schedule not allowing me to return things on time, but still. I had plans.

At some point, though, I caved. Happily. I wanted a Kindle so badly it was ridiculous. I had tested them out at Target, I had searched message boards and tech articles online constantly comparing and trying to find something consistently saying "Don't do it! You'll regret this decision for the rest of your life!" But I didn't, and I don't. I'm an Amazon freak like some people are Apple freaks. My Kindle goes with me everywhere, and it's much easier to carry one small Kindle than actual books. It's super-easy to use, my library's at my fingertips, and it only needs to charge for about four hours every month or so, and trust me, I use it constantly. And it's much easier to eat while reading a Kindle than an actual book, which I frequently do. I've been so happy with my Kindle, and had even bought an awesome "skin" that looks like a library to cover the graphite-colored body and lovingly tucked it in a wonderful sturdy cover to protect it from the walking accident that is me. Unfortunately, my love and affection couldn't help the apparent hardware issue that has popped up about 10 months after I received it. (My mom and I both got one for Christmas, and hers is still going strong!) You see, boys and girls, sometimes these things just happen, and we just aren't meant to understand why.

The Hubby thinks my beloved Kindle's demise is a little too coincidentally timed with the release of the newest line of Kindles, but I explained that I was getting a replacement, not an upgrade. I mean, unless he wants to get me an upgrade. Christmas is coming after all...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cool story, bro.

Clicking through the Shine website, which happens to be one of my favorite ways of killing time by pretending I want to make an effort to manage my life better, I stumbled across this article called "10 Questions That Have No Right To Go Away." I guess Oprah's website really is everywhere, and sometimes she can be a real asshole.

Who does this poet/writer David Whyte think he is, making me think like this? Although really some of those questions are just reminders for me to keep doing what I'm doing, since I have already made an effort to live my life as an answer to them. (I feel like that sounded more wanna-be-profound than intended.) But the questions from the article are definitely valid, and inspiring (if written a little douchenozzle-y at times), and made me think. *shudder*

For instance, the second question prompted this blog post. As soon as I read the question "What can I be wholehearted about?" and the note that sometimes we do what we do because it's what works for others. But until we come to grips with what we are truly wanting, we're always going to feel awkward about our own abilities.

I love writing. I have since I was a kid, and although I was never going to win any awards for it, I was decent at it. But I enjoyed it, and I never tried to write like some of my favorite writers because I knew I was not in the same class. Or school, town, county, state, country, or universe, for that matter. And that's not me fishing for false compliments, that is total honesty. I was never really good at writing fiction; I preferred to write about my own life and thoughts and experiences because that's what I know. And still, more often than not when telling stories in public I get the strong feeling that those around me are just too polite to say what they're really thinking: the sarcastic "Cool story, bro. You should tell it again." This is why I prefer writing... I can edit for relevance. (I mean, I'm still not very successful at it, but the possibility is there even if I ignore it. These past few sentences, for example? Totally unnecessary and irrelevant to the point I'm making. Yet they're staying.  Ahem.)

I wish I had the audience some of my favorite bloggers do. I wish I had the time and space to write on here like I want to. I wish I had more ideas about what to write. I wish I had maintained my anonymity so that I could be more honest about some of my issues and gripes and history without worrying about hurting someone's feelings. I wish I was as funny or as off-beat or as whatever as some of my favorite bloggers, who either are parents, have a neat job or hobby, or are simply amazing writers. I wish I was as good at branding and advertising my stuff on all the available sites. I wish I had the skills they do.

But I don't, I didn't, and I'm not. And that question from the article reminded me of that. I am not one of those writers. I am not one of those bloggers. I am me, and my style is my own, however uninteresting and rambly that may be at times. I'm not at a super-happy time in my life, what with the massive employment shifts, the constant battle with depression, the flooded house, and living with the in-laws. The first two events are what led me to start this blog, so I knew that there would be a lot of not-happy posts. I know that an audience doesn't appear out of nowhere, that it takes a lot of time and effort to build one up.  At this point in my life I have a lot of trouble putting all that time and effort into this.

So what can I be wholehearted about? I can wholeheartedly write about what matters to me, whether it's a rant, a story about something funny or shocking or sad that happened, something about my cats or The Hubby (although I limit what I write about him, per his request) or that thing I saw/read in that book/article or on that website, or if I just need the writing space to express the way life and my brain chemistry just kicks my ass sometimes. I don't have to write like they do or about the things that they do (although they frequently inspire me to push myself!). I know I'll be more comfortable with myself and stop worrying if anyone's reading once I stop trying to write like someone else.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Things that make me smile.

The past couple weeks I've felt myself sinking again, despite a wonderful weekend getaway with my friends, progress being made on my house, and a relatively easy retail job. I feel like things are looking up, but for whatever reason I am struggling to feel anything but hollow and disconnected. Sometimes I feel destructive, too, but that's not exactly lending anything helpful to the situation.

I thought I'd write about some things that make me smile, as a reminder to myself that there ARE things out there that are good and happy-making.  They may be little things, but isn't a day pretty much built on the filler we call "little things"? If every instant consisted of major events I think we'd all be insane. So here's to the little things...

  • When someone in line in front of me hands me a coupon that they hadn't been able to use.
  • When I'm trying to pull out onto a busy street and someone leaves a gap so I can get out.
  • Or even better, when I have to make a left turn onto a typically busy street--and there's no traffic.
  • When I hear from a friend I haven't heard from in a while, even if it's just a text or a "Hey" on Facebook, or a link to an article they think I might like.
  • Days when the weather is *perfect* and I'm actually able to enjoy it. Even if it's just for a little while.
  • Hearing a kid laughing. Extra points if it's because their parents are goofing around with them and don't care if it makes them look stupid in public.
  • Meeting random people with a sense of humor, who appreciate yours.
  • Being complimented in a random (but non-creepy) way by strangers.
  • That first drink of soda after you haven't had one for a while. Even when for me, "for a while" is just a day or two.
  • When "Bohemian Rhapsody" comes on the radio. 
There's some of mine... What makes you smile?

Monday, October 3, 2011

RIP, Mr. Gobbles.

Last week The Hubby called with some tragic news. The delightful, sassy turkey that had been taunting hunters with his almost constant presence at the side of the road for the week prior had apparently been hit by a car. I was disappointed and sad, but unsurprised. I had admired his confidence greatly. Many conversations with The Hubby regarding the fabulous fowl had taken place during rides to and from town. He'd alternate (the turkey, not The Hubby) between staring off into the distance at the side of the road, pecking at the ground, and glaring at unsuspecting motorists. His beady little eyes would follow you until you passed, and I swear that sometimes I could still feel his 1000-yard stare after I was home. I felt like he had really "seen some things" in his all-too-short life.

The night after I was informed of his demise, we had to go to town. The Hubby was concerned that I might be saddened by the cocky clucker's remains at the side of the road, so we waited until after dark to leave.

"I just can't believe Mr. Gobbles is gone."
"You gave him a last name?"
"Of course! Tom Gobbles."
"I thought you were calling him 'Jim." Is he 'Tom' now?"
"It's both. His name is Thomas Jimsen Gobbles."
(Actually, I had forgotten that I was calling him Jim, so I made that part of his middle name. I wanted something that wasn't James, though, and thought Jimsen sounded regal. I later confessed this to The Hubby, much to his amusement.)

When we didn't see Mr. Gobbles by the side of the road that night, The Hubby sadly said, "Foxes probably dragged him off."
I replied, "He would have wanted that. It's very 'circle of life.' Mr. Gobbles would be happy to know that his remains went on to feed the fox's family... He wouldn't want to be wasteful."
*The Hubby, laughing* - "You think so?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure he would've even been an organ donor if he knew that another turkey out there was in need of his, um, parts."
"Turkey surgery, huh?"
"It's ironic, the only one who could have pulled it off would have been Mr. Gobbles' uncle, but he's on vacation. Dr. Gobbles. That poor family can't catch a break."

At this point, we are both laughing our faces off. It has been decided that I should draw a picture of the vacationing Dr. Gobbles, featuring the floppy hat, cargo shorts or Hawaiian shirt, maybe sandals, and the necessary zinc oxide on his beak. And his boogie board, because although he's a daring doctor, he's not daring enough for a full surfboard. Maybe even his egg babies.

If I can ever remember to draw it, I'll try to post it. But I'm sure that my imagination is much better, and my skills in posting pictures or images on here may not be up to par. Mr. Gobbles' family deserves the best.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The night the kitty-saurus had an adventure.

It was a warm and lovely day. I got to talk to a few friends who stopped in at work (I must admit, I missed that part of working in retail. Until someone I don't like comes in, in which case I'll wish I was working in a factory again.), and got to spend time with The Hubby. We even went for a walk at a  park, and walked about a mile. Of course, then we rewarded ourselves with ice cream.

When we got home and settled it was starting to get late, so we started getting ready for bed. I kept hearing a cat who sounded an awful lot like our Juggabutt, but there are also a lot of other strays that run around. They seem to be drawn to the porch area, especially since my cats like to hang out in the window that faces the porch. So I tried to ignore it for a minute, but it quickly started to bother me. It sounded exactly like Jugga, and The Pants was meowing, too. She's helpful like that. Anytime they are low on food or water, or if one of them hacks up a hairball, or if Jugga's in some sort of shenanigans, The Pants will follow you around and meow like the world is coming to an end until we figure out the problem. This is the only time she does this.  I looked out on the porch and in front of the porch, but couldn't see anything, and once I was out there I couldn't hear anything, either. Shit. I had The Hubby go check our bedroom to see if both kitties were safe, because it wasn't looking good for us.  The Pants was in there freaking out, meowing desperately to let us know that her frenemy was in trouble, and indeed, the Jugga was nowhere to be found.

The next 30 minutes went something like this:

"I think she's in the wall."
"No, she can't be in the wall, there's no way for her to get in there!"
"Maybe she's in the attic. It sounds like she's in the attic."
"No, she can't be in the attic, there's no way for her to get up there!"
"Could she have gotten outside and under the house somehow?"
"She could have gotten outside, but when? And there's no way for her to get under the house. She's gotta be in the closet. Did you check your closet?"
"Yes, and she's not in our closet, and the sound is coming from this side of the hallway. She's gotta be in the wall or the attic around the bathroom closet."
"She can't be! I don't see how she could've gotten in there."
"Are there any holes anywhere that she could have gotten into to get up into the attic?"
"No, there aren't any holes anywhere, we sealed all that stuff up. Are you sure she's not in the closet?"

And repeat. Sigh.

Closets were ransacked *repeatedly*--no kitty. This whole line of conversation was punctuated by me calling for her and her responding. And almost every time we'd call Jugga to try and get a better idea of where the hell she was, The Pants meowed, too. I think maybe she was trying to help us call her, but her yowling was interfering with our ability to hear our stuck kitty.We could even hear Jugga scratching occasionally, trying to get through. My heart was pounding, but I was going to get my dinosaur-kitty out of wherever she was. The in-laws were using the generic "Here kittykittykitty," which never works for our cats (they respond to their names), so for a while when we were looking outside they weren't getting any response from her. So when I got back in and heard that, I started to panic when I wasn't getting any response either. But I think she was just like "WTF?" since after a few times of me calling her name she started responding again. There was no doubt about it, she was in the wall. We just had to figure out how to get her out.

Like they said, they'd sealed everything up (...Except for the two spots that they eventually mentioned, one of which she had used to get up into the attic. Stab.) so there wasn't an easy way to get to her without putting a hole somewhere. So they dragged a chair into the bathroom closet and ripped out some of the paneling in the wall at the top of the closet, giving us just enough open space to look and shine a flashlight. And pull out a kitty. We could hear her meowing, and she could see the flashlight beam, but it didn't seem like she was moving closer. So got up in the chair and called for her, and finally I could hear her scrambling. Obviously she had dropped down some from the attic floor into the wall space, and had to climb back up to be able to get out. I was about to cry at the thought of Jugga getting stuck in the wall with no way to climb out (she is declawed, after all), but I stuck my hand up into the hole in the closet anyway so she could hopefully see where to go.

There are no words for how happy I was to see whiskers and a nose finally peek over the edge of the hole... She climbed down so she was at the same level as the hole, but that still left a foot of a drop onto the tops of the clothes hanging up in the bathroom closet. She wasn't jumping it and she wasn't letting me pull her out all carefully and stuff, so I petted her and got her purring and happy while The Hubby grabbed her legs and I got her around the neck and shoulders and pulled. And out comes a filthy, scraped up, musty-smelling kitty-saurus, meowing and purring and rubbing against my ears, neck, hair, and face. 

And all was well with the world again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Labels, labels, labels.

Thanks to Mama Kat's for the writing prompt!

"What's your stance on 'labeling'? Were you labeled as a child? Have you labeled your own children? How do you feel about this?"

I spent years trying to fit in somewhere, but never quite getting there (in my opinion at the time). I didn't wear the right clothes, because Mom was a rational person and didn't buy her four growing, messy kids expensive name-brand clothes. By high school I was just fine with that, but middle school felt awkward. I always had awful haircuts that I hated, but it wouldn't have mattered because my hair was impossible anyway. Even then I had a quirky, sarcastic sense of humor, and enjoyed being around people who joked and goofed off more than I enjoyed people who mostly talked about livestock and sports and shopping. I didn't participate in the right extracurricular activities (well, any extracurricular activities), and the only makeup I'd occasionally wear would be either blue mascara or some bright eye shadow. I'd paint funky designs on my fingernails, and an early run in with a busted-up water gun thanks to my youngest brother meant that I wore glasses from 3rd grade until I got contact lenses in 8th grade. At the same time, I enjoyed art, which could stretch across the aisles of status, and singing in choir, which for the most part enjoying that was primarily a higher-status activity. I also loved running and playing basketball, which I found out was also a higher-status activity. The only people who made the basketball team were people whose older brothers or sisters had been involved in sports. Seriously. So basketball was out, and then we moved to a school district without a girls' basketball team, making that a moot point. I also loved reading and writing and drawing and rocked at spelling bees, and was a great student who made good grades.

I don't know if I was labeled as a kid, or what my label would have been. I was smart, well-behaved, and was able to get along with everyone since I had a wide range of interests and was quite a chameleon in social situations. I wasn't in any one "group" all the time, if I wanted or needed to talk to someone I would without any problems. Honestly, I just hated being rude, so even if I didn't like someone for whatever reason I'd just try to muddle through any situation without putting my foot in my mouth or otherwise being a dick. I always wondered if there was something wrong with me that made me so sensitive to that kind of thing and made it so difficult for me to find my "place." 

In any case, I wasn't un-popular, but I worked hard to make sure I wasn't going to be made fun of. There was a sweet, scrawny guy who happened to have to squint despite his ridiculously thick glasses, and whose pants were always a little too short, and who was always tripping over his untied shoelaces, and I stopped crushing on his adorable face because I was made fun of. He was also a little dumb, but I had been willing to overlook that, until another friend found out that I liked him and teased me endlessly about it. That friend still, in fact, teases me about it whenever we talk, but at least now I will admit proudly that I adored that mess of a kid when I was a kid. The one I'm really ashamed of though was one of my best friends who lived right down the road from me, who I dropped because it wasn't cool to be hanging out with someone a grade below you. After we moved, I called her and apologized to her for being so shitty towards her there at the end, and  she was gracious enough to forgive me, but still. There were plenty of kids that were labeled negatively. I had no problems interacting with any of them, and my heart would break for them when I'd hear them being talked about by the more popular kids, but I never had the stones to defend them out of fear of the barbs being directed towards me instead. I wish I could change that, now, because I knew even then that most of their battle was the label they'd been stuck with, and a label isn't a whole person.

My first turning point was in about 8th grade. I'd been friends with this one guy forever--our parents worked together--but he'd become more popular and started to get more fun out of teasing and torturing me than being a friend. Standing in the lunch line one day, I was happy because we were actually having a normal conversation, just chit-chatting to kill time, minus the meanness. I actually thought things were maybe changing from me walking on eggshells around him to me being able to be friends with him again, when suddenly he stopped talking, looked me dead in the eyes, and said, "You know, you're so cool. If you just changed up your hair and clothes a little you could be cool like us."  I was floored. People aren't supposed to actually say that out loud, are they? But he did. I'm sure he was just trying to throw me a bone since we had been good friends for a long time. He was trying to *help.* And although I appreciated it, and his honesty, I was suddenly okay with my in-between place. I picked my metaphorical jaw off the floor and very eloquently said, "Nah. I'm good." I'd think that would've pretty much stopped that conversation, but everything after that is kinda fuzzy.

Once we moved and I started high school I went through a few more transformations before landing in my comfortable self. I was all over the place for a while, still trying to fit into what others wanted me to be. So still, no label that stuck. And it definitely helped that my high school was *tiny.* There was not a lot of  grouping off in my class, as in groups that excluded others, but there were a couple of people that were pretty much anti-the-rest-of-the-class. With under 30 people in our graduating class, it was kind of noticeable. I was the wise-cracking smart-ass who usually wore a band tee-shirt (usually black) with jeans, wore converse sneakers, had an eyebrow ring. But still, with no "groups," there weren't really "labels." And I'm happy to say the people I was closest to at graduation are the people I'm still close to today, even though we may not have anything in common but our friendships and our abilities to always have a blast together.

I'm a more complete person now than I was then. I'm comfortable with my love of jeans/band tees and with my love of cute dresses and skirts, with sneakers and flats, with goofy slapstick comedy and snarky political humor, with heavy metal and Katy Perry, with retail or factory work, with blockbuster movies and indie films, with being a homebody and loving to travel looooong distances with friends or family, with hating cleaning and loving to watch shows about it on HGTV, with being extremely compassionate at times and cold and unyielding at other times.

Labels are easy to use for those we think we're never going to interact with, or when you're sitting in a restaurant or otherwise out in public trying to have some fun observing the masses. We all do it, and that's okay. But once you actually spend time around someone, and you definitely should before forming an opinion about them, you should be able to see them as the individual they are rather than the label you originally applied to them. People sometimes live down to their labels, often suppressing those other wonderful aspects of themselves that don't fit within that label. Because everyone has those conflicting things about themselves that they love, and how the hell are you supposed to stick just one label on that?

I don't have children yet, but I sincerely hope that when/if I do I will be able to pass that lesson on. I'm guilty of labeling at times, but I try not to let a preconceived label keep me from getting to know someone better in order to replace that label with their name. As in, "That's So-And-So. She's awesome." Or hell, maybe she's not. But I'll give her quite a few chances to show me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's in a name?

Thanks to Mama Kat's for the writing prompt...

"What's in YOUR name? What does it mean? Why was it given to you? etc.."

Most of you already know me, I'm not going to lie. I'm pretty sure my only readers at this point are friends and family IRL. That's cool. I started off not wanting to use my name, and I'm still not going to use my last name on here, or the actual names of those around me. But my first name, now... I guess if I want to expand the readership of this blog beyond the thankfully kind, biased eyes of family and friends, perhaps having a name other than The ZB on here will be a better, warmer introduction. To new readers outside my circle of frequent face-time, I hope this will serve as a lovely sort of internet handshake. Or a hug. (Maybe one day I'll even post a picture.)

Hello. Let me officially introduce myself. 

My name is Beth. Full first and middle name? Elizabeth Ann. A nice, classic name. However, I happen to also be blessed with an assortment of nicknames, which are not necessarily nice or classic. I am frequently Bef to those who haven't mastered the "th" sound. Usually these are children, but not always. I have been known as Baby (as in "Nobody puts Baby in the corner"), B-Dawg, Lizard, Dizzy, Zabeth (just once, but I'll never forget it!), and Beefy. 

I was once the "Bif" half of the best-friend duo "Bif and Flem," coined by a guy friend of mine who already called me Bif occasionally. Then one day (I was told) he was feeling rather phlegmy and while hawking up a good glob he thought of my then-bestie. Sweet, huh? To throw her off track he spelled it Flem. He never told her that part of it though, he just showed up at school one day calling us Bif and Flem. 

The ZB, short for Zesty Bitch, was a nickname given to me by a then-stepbrother's best friend, who I worshiped. I worshiped the stepbrother too, but it was more of a hero-worship rather than the massive crush bestowed upon his friend. More on that some other time, but that nickname has stuck for a LOONG time. 

As for my given name, I share the name Elizabeth with my granny. Silly me, I assumed there was some sort of connection. At some point in my 19th year of life The Family was on vacation, and I'm pretty sure I learned The Truth while we were driving through Memphis. We somehow got on the subject of names, and I said something about being named after Granny. There was a brief pause, then Mom shook my little world when she said, "No you're not!"  Nope, she said, "I really liked that KISS song 'Beth,' and I wanted a little girl named Elizabeth that I would call 'Beth.'"

Can you say "identity crisis?" Because I had a little one there.

I don't remember my exact reaction to this mind-boggling news, but my mind was most definitely boggled. Then the outrage: I hate being made a liar, and now I felt like I had lied every time I had told someone I was named after my granny. How was I going to go back and tell everyone I had ever talked to about it that I was named for an awesome KISS song?? Because I definitely felt that was necessary.

So that's what my name is, what it roughly translates to, and why it was given to me. And although I've already said what it literally "means," that's not all it means to me. To me, it's a reminder of how you should never make assumptions about anything, that sometimes things that seem dull, quiet, and boring have a glimmer of awesome hiding underneath, waiting for someone to polish it up and find out what they've been missing.

And that my mom's secret badass-ery stretched a lot farther than I previously thought. I hadn't even really known she was a KISS fan. 

Kids, never underestimate how much of a badass your parents are. Maybe the only thing that stood between your parents and a rock-and-roll lifestyle of demonic grease paint, flame-attracting hairspray and tight leather was a little thing called "opportunity."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surprisingly, there's not a single cuss word.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have the good sense to know when I'm being insulted. I hope you have the good sense to know when you should be ashamed of yourself. I'm letting things go (...again), but only because I sincerely believe you do not, in fact, have the mental capacity to realize how infuriating your comments and actions are.

I deeply hope that someday soon The Hubby and I will be able to move far, far away from here and everyone we know. Those who would actually be missed are important enough in our lives to hopefully understand that no amount of distance can destroy a strong relationship, because at this point those who matter are considered family anyway. And we always find a way to connect with the family members that matter, whether it's through phone calls, texts, Facebook, or Twitter. Or those super-fun road trips we all love, but that don't happen often enough.

In the meantime, to those who infuriate me and make me want to move as far away as possible, I will borrow the words of a dear friend of mine: You make me want to reach out and touch something... violently.


The ZB

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keep your chin up, kid. (Or something else positive.)

September is halfway over, ish. It has not been good to me. Surely (or maybe not) you remember this post from the end of last month, where I mentioned losing one job and starting another the next week? That was all well and good, as it kept me getting a paycheck for a couple more weeks, but I absolutely couldn't stick with it. Turns out answering phones at a call center is not a job I would ever want in a million years, and although my coworkers seemed cool and not every call was awful, I didn't get to interact with my coworkers much and most calls were, in fact, awful. Just because I was able to calm the majority of the angry people on the phone down does not mean I wanted to keep dealing with assholes.

For future reference to anyone who reads this, if you have to make a phone call because of a question or a problem, please understand that it's not the person answering the phone's fault that the wait is long, nor is it generally their *personal* fault that your shit ain't working (especially if they're in another state/country), and it sure as hell isn't their fault if your shit ain't working because you haven't paid your bills. And yes, you most likely DO owe "all that," and having them repeat over and over in 10 different ways why you *do* in fact owe all of it does not make it any less true. And although you aren't exactly calling someone on their personal phone when you call a company regarding a customer service issue, it is in fact a full-fledged, living, breathing human being you're talking to on the other end. And they don't like being treated like shit any more than you do. Yes, there are some idiots that answer the phones, and there are some that have serious attitudes. But maybe if they weren't having to deal with people yelling, cussing, lying, and threatening them all day they'd be a little more relaxed rather than feeling like they're pulling out a sword for self-defense when they're putting on that headset. It's a vicious cycle.

I lasted a couple weeks before I couldn't stand the thought of going in another day. I don't like feeling like I'm being verbally assaulted every time I answer a call, and that's seriously what happened. I understand that people are pissed or confused when something's wrong, and that the wait to speak to someone gives plenty of time to stew in it. But again, give the person answering the phone a chance! Also? Hanging up on them doesn't solve your problem. It doesn't get your services turned back on if you haven't paid your bill, and if you hang up after threatening to switch to another provider...  It's not exactly weighing heavily on the heart of whoever you were just screaming at unnecessarily. (When are people everywhere going to figure this out? Same issue in retail!) Besides, we all know that if you want any further help you're just going to have to call back and wait again. You're basically fucking yourself over at this point.

So what all that means is that I'm unemployed again. Huzzah. And we're still living with my husband's parents. *sob* And it's the time of year when I already tend to be, um, emotionally frazzled (yeah, that's what we'll call it...), for a number of reasons. Plus there are approximately 2,439,576 different things going on with friends and family at the moment that make me want to make an effort (why must I love?), and The Hubby's got something kind of major in the works, but I'm not going to talk about that until we know more.

I just hope that something breaks soon, whether it's a new job, the house getting finished, or whatever, so that I can stop feeling like everything's so up-in-the-air. Everything's just a big question mark right now, and it's driving me nuts.

But hey, no job means more time to post! In theory. Yeah, totally more time to post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

About the October issue of Redbook. Well, part of it.

Today I got my October issue of Redbook in the mail, and learned a valuable lesson about research.

I have been a subscriber for about 6 months or so. I like this magazine, and can easily read it cover-to-cover without skipping through it, like I sometimes do with magazines like Cosmopolitan--it applies more to single women--or Marie Claire--I'm too poor for their fashion--or magazines that focus mostly on parenting (yeah... not a parent, either). While Redbook does also feature all that stuff, I feel that the variety that their magazine has applies better to my current life, and is more focused on the balancing act that adults do. Redbook is good for those of us who are married or otherwise not-single, whether you have children or not. Then again, I'm a person who enjoys reading parenting stuff, too, as a way of preparing for becoming one myself... whenever that may be. So Redbook is perfect for me, because it focuses on the more practical, day-to-day lives of actual women who aren't *only* concerned with learning about the hottest sex positions, luring in a man, and what the best drink of the season is. Yeah, it definitely covers those topics too, but it doesn't seem to be so damn desperate while doing so, and I can enjoy reading those articles without feeling slightly skeevy. Not gonna lie, though--I also have a subscription to Marie Claire (got a deal for getting that and Redbook together through Amazon.com) and I always pick up the newest issue of Cosmo in stores. It's a habit now, and The Hubby will even ask "Do you have that one?" On second thought, maybe I'm not the only one reading it... **(That means go to the ** at the bottom of the page real quick, but then you should definitely come back up here. I shouldn't have to explain things.)

In any case, Redbook's my favorite. But this time when I grabbed it out of my mailbox I was disappointed to see Jillian Michaels on the cover with the quote "I would sacrifice anything to be a mother." As a disclaimer, I do not watch much TV these days, especially reality shows, and so although I know who she is and what she does I have never watched a single episode of any of her shows. Apparently she's excited to be branching out to daytime TV, and good for her for fulfilling that dream. My disappointment was because the first thing to pop into my head when seeing that quote was "Yeah, she'd sacrifice anything but her flat belly." For those of you non-link-clickers, here's what I'm talking about from her 2010 interview with Women's Health:
She also hopes to have kids someday, saying, "I'm going to adopt." One of the reasons: Jillian admits to having an aversion to pregnancy, the result of being an overweight kid. "I can't handle doing that to my body," she explains. "Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a part of yourself."
And you know what? Bravo for her for wanting to adopt, and according to the Redbook article, she's been in the process for quite a while now. I hope it works out for her soon, because it's a heartbreaking process, and she's definitely frustrated because she thought it would be easier than this. As it should be for people trying to rescue kids from a messed up system. I don't care why she wants to adopt, I wasn't one of the people that got all up-in-arms over her apparently wanting to adopt so she can keep her figure. Didn't care, at least she was honest. But my first response was still basically a snort/smirk when I saw that quote on the front of my beloved magazine, because of the, ahem... contradictory previous remark she had made, and because of my tendency to be a smartass. It made me wonder if anyone else was making that same connection, or if there was any further information. You know how the media has a tendency to spread the sensational but keep the corrections on the DL if it makes them look like dicks for posting the original story.


I discovered that after the uproar over that interview, she clarified her statement, which she says was misconstrued. Although she did say in the interview with Momlogic that she had admitted that her having previously been overweight could be a part of why she's leery of getting pregnant, the primary reason is a much bigger deal, and she didn't say anything about it to Women's Health: She has endometriosis and PCOS, and has been told she would require surgery in order to be able to get pregnant. She says THAT'S what she couldn't handle doing to her body. And you know what? I believe it.

Endometriosis and PCOS are no joke, I have friends with both and know from talking with them how much of a struggle having children is when you're dealing with those conditions. I whole-heartedly support Michaels's decision to adopt in the face of that issue, and I understand why she wouldn't necessarily feel the need to come right out with that in the original interview. It's personal, and it's most likely a bit of a sore subject for her. I'm one person who thinks celebrities aren't required to share every aspect of their personal life and health, nor do I generally care. At the same time, it's a shame that she's more afraid to admit to a fertility issue than to admit that the weight gain might be a part of why she's hesitant to get pregnant. 

At the beginning of this post I said that I learned a valuable lesson about research. Here's what I learned: Do your freaking research if something bothers you. It's okay to have an immediate smirk/snort reaction due to your general state of smartassery, but get more information before publicly hating on someone you've never met. I was all ready to be a total dick and slam Redbook for putting that quote on the cover (Still, though, I bet others thought the same thing if they didn't hear about the clarification--or maybe even if they did--and I'm kinda irritated that Redbook said nothing about the "controversy" in their interview...), but I researched it myself so I wouldn't be an ass *unnecessarily* to Ms. Michaels herself for being a skinny-bitch liar. And since I have enough reasonable doubt to believe she wasn't only concerned about baby weight, I'll let it slide with a heartfelt "Good luck with the adoption process. And I don't think you're just some skinny-bitch liar, like SOME people might."

However, I will clarify this and say perhaps a different quote could have been used on the cover? One that wouldn't spark such a reaction (and a blog post) from an inquiring mind? It may even have prevented the possible negative reader feedback the magazine may receive on that topic. Of course, there's also the possibility that I'm the only person in the entire world that cared, or noticed. In which case, carry on, and I'll continue to research things that make me go "hmmm..."

**And please note, although the first part of this post may seem like a freaking ad for Redbook, it's not. I'm not getting paid for it, wasn't asked to post about it, and not trying to wrangle any comments or free shit from them. This was all my opinion, because something bothered me. And if you feel differently, or the same, about any of it, feel free to comment!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Scratch that.

I just had this long post that I'd been working on talking about what's been going on lately, but it was too gripey and long-winded. So I deleted it. I complain too much.

Here's all that matters from the past few weeks. The factory job ended Saturday. That made me sad. On Monday Manpower said they had no jobs available at the moment. That also made me sad, and stressed. However, I was too busy not sleeping/desperately trying to sleep to worry about that too much. This made me exhausted, and sick as well--sore throat/sinus problems. Wednesday they called and said they had a job at a call center starting the next morning. That made me happy and stressed. It went well the first couple days, and in any case it's a paycheck for the next four weeks or so. That made me happy.

Saturday I spent the day with The Family to celebrate The Mother's upcoming birthday, and had a blast. And ate freshly baked cookies. Between all of us nomming on the deliciousness, none of the batch ever made it to the cooling rack. I also got some exercise walking around a "historical village," but I quickly negated the exercise by eating an enormous meal. That meal was also delicious.  In two weeks we'll be traveling to see The Oldest Younger Brother graduate from basic training (Navy). That makes me happy.

I've been having serious problems with my phone. That makes me sad.

I stopped slacking long enough to post this after not posting for a while. That makes me happy. 

And at least I'm temporarily employed. That makes me happy.