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.