November 30, 1999

Arrested Development

Yesterday was probably one of the worst days of my life. For starters, I got arrested.

My aunt's funeral was at 10 am. Mom told me the family was going to meet at 9:30. Unfortunately, I didn't leave my house until nearly 9 am. So... I was driving a tad fast. I looked up, too late to see a state trooper with a radar gun pointed right at me. I slowed down, but it was too late.

He pulled out behind me and turned on his lights. I pulled over -- have I mentioned that authority figures make me nervous? They do. The first time I was ever pulled over (this past July -- more on that in a moment), my hands were shaking, and shook for about half an hour afterwards.

So there I am, hands shaking, as the trooper comes up to the car. I hand him my license and registration and all that, and he asks, "Ma'am, do you know what the speed limit is back there?"

My brain was trying to freeze. "F-f-fifty?"

"That's right. I clocked you at 73. Where are you headed?"

I explained that I was going to my aunt's funeral and that I was running late. I think that fact, combined with how shaky I was, made him feel sorry for me. He was sympathetic and said he'd hurry.

A few moments later, he came to the car, "Ms. Nichols, I'm afraid there's a slight problem. I have to ask you to step out of the car."

"Wh-What's wrong?"

"I'll explain once you get out of the car."

So I got out, getting more scared all the time. He made me leave my car keys in the front seat, and led me to the back of the car. "Ms. Nichols, I have a warrant here for your arrest."

"What?!" I went numb as panic started to set in. "Why?" I couldn't figure out what I had possibly done. Had they gotten me confused with someone else?

He explained about a ticket I'd gotten back in July for expired plates. I'd forgotten to pay. I nodded dumbly and expected him to read me my rights at any minute. He did, in fact, look at me as if he was about to frisk me. Instead he said, "You don't have anything illegal on your person, do you?"

"No!" My composure was slipping.

"Any drugs or weapons?"

"No!"

"Okay. Now, I'm afraid I'm going to have to handcuff you. It's procedure."

And sure enough, he got the handcuffs out and started to put them on me. Well that was all she wrote. I hadn't cried about my aunt, although I'd wanted to. I just wasn't able to for some reason. But as soon as that metal touched my wrist, I burst into tears. I was scared, humiliated, angry. There I was standing on the side of the road with handcuffs on. That was the catalyst it took to get me started crying.

I stood there sobbing, and then, wonder of wonders, the cop started to apologize, "Lisa, I'm really sorry. It was a bench warrant and I didn't have a choice." He looked at me carefully, "You understand that I don't want to do this...?"

He kept on until I reassured him that I didn't blame him at all. Then he helped me into his car and told me what I had to do to get free: pay bond. He took the handcuffs off, saying, "I don't think you're going to try to hurt me." No really? Yeah, I'll cry on you to death.

He took me to an ATM and I got the money, he gave me a receipt, and I went on my merry way, sans speeding ticket -- the original reason he pulled me over.

However, by the time I got back on my way, it was nearly 10 am. I didn't get to the funeral home until the ministe was saying the last prayer. I missed the whole damn thing.

Believe me, I beat myself up all the way in about how irresponsible I was, how if I'd paid the ticket to start with, that whole mess never would have happened, etc. I ended up in a horrible state of mind.

After the prayer, I went up and sat by my mom in the front row. People started coming up row by row as they filed out.

I was upset. I was crying. And after a few moments of talking to people, I was hostile. People from my old church kept coming up and saying, "Boy, we sure do miss you, Lisa." This is Church of Christ code for "You better come back to church or else you're going to go to hell!" Trust me on that. One woman, as she hugged me, got all conversational, "Now, where do you live now?" (Also CofC code: "Are you close enough that you can come to church here, or should we call another congregation to come after you?") I was thinking, "Lady, get out of my face!"

Like I said, I was hostile. Once it was over, I got in the car with my stepfather. While we were waiting for my mom, he singsonged, "Good morning, Lisa, how're you?" He was teasing me, thinking I'd overslept and that's why I was late. Hostile me replied cheerily, "I got arrested this morning, how're you?" I said it just to watch him freak, which he did. "Arrested?!" I told him why and he started to fluster about my irresponsibility ("How long did you have that ticket?" "Long enough.") but between the hostile wall around me and my mom showing up, he stopped.

I also think I saw ghosts yesterday. I kept thinking I saw my Uncle Eddie in group surrounding and consoling my grandma. I think it finally hit me that he isn't coming back either. It's almost like I mourned both he and my aunt yesterday.

Posted by Lisa at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 1999

Thanksgiving

My mother called me at 8:20 this morning to let me know that dinner was going to be delayed today. She said that she'd gotten a phone call and that my aunt Eula was going to have to go to the hospital, that they'd called EMS for her.

My stepfather called me about twenty minutes ago. "She didn't make it," he said. It took me a couple minutes to process that. I kept wanting to say, "You mean she died." Almost as a confirmation. I didn't want him to be so vague with me. He said that my mom and my aunt Vera were going over to my grandma's house to tell her, and that my stepfather was meeting them there. I'm wondering now if I should have offered to go too.

I'm very afraid for my grandmother. She's ninety-one, and she gets so unbelievably overwrought with grief. When my uncle Eddie died in January, she passed out at the funeral several times, and just looked stunned. I was terrified then that we would lose her. I'm worried about it now, too.

Other than that, I don't know how I feel. I'm numb. Eula was always one of my favorite aunts when I was growing up. Although she'd been married at one point before I was born, she was the epitome of a maiden aunt. I can remember looking forward to the weekends she would come out to my grandma's house, because she always would give me some sort of gift, always something little, always something a little odd, but as a kid I loved it.

She was the one who told me that Santa had a tiny little elf who went through keyholes for houses that didn't have fireplaces or chimneys. I think she even named him, but I can't remember what. I can remember being maybe four or five, and she came to stay with us. I ended up sleeping on the sofabed in the living room with her, and I was afraid of the some tree-shadows on the wall. The empty branches waving in the wind scared me. She told me the trees were putting on a puppet show for me. It worked, and she loved to tell that story later. Almost every time I saw her as an adult, she'd say, "Do you remember about the puppet show?"

She was a very gentle, very quiet woman, oddly child-like in some ways. She was one of those people who always meant well, even if they didn't always manage to do just the right thing.

I'm sitting here feeling angry at myself now. I was so looking forward to having a nice, relaxed Thanksgiving with my close family -- my mom and stepdad, my grandma, one aunt, one uncle and one cousin -- and I'm feeling upset now because that won't happen. That makes me feel very very petty. I feel pouty because I'm not going to get what I want.

I don't know what to feel thankful for.

Posted by Lisa at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 1999

Sleep Is For The Weak And Sickly

After a long hiatus, I finally had a Traditional Brand Conversation (tm) last night/this morning. Now what, you may ask, is a Traditional Brand Conversation (tm)? There are certain protocols that must be followed, certain things that differentiate a Traditional Brand Conversation (tm) from an ordinary Brand conversation.

  1. The conversation can begin no earlier than 4:00 am, Eastern time.
  2. The duration of the call should be no less than 3 hours. Two and and a half is the bare minimum.
  3. The conversation should be meandering, and should cover at least four of the following topics: gaming, mythology, religion, philosophy, current events, books, TV and silly pet and/or family stories.
  4. Max should either bite me or freak out at least once during the conversation, with Brand's encouragement.
  5. I should end up the morning by dragging myself to work, sleep-deprived but content. And usually sore from giggling.
I am a happy giggled-out sleep deprived puppy right now.

Yes okay, all right: I watched the second half of the Buffy/Angel crossover. I have simply three words to say: ANGST, ANGST, ANGST! Damn, but the writers for that show are sadistic. "Hey, Brooding Angsty Guy! You can everything you ever wanted out of life, for one day. Then everything will go back to normal, and you're the only one who'll remember what really happened. Have a nice day!" I was distracted with cooking dinner while I was watching it, otherwise I probably would have been sucked in and started crying at the end. As it was, I was vaguely cynical and rolled my eyes a bit.

I realized, however, how remarkably similar that sort of treatment (from the writers) is to my treatment of most of my role-playing characters, especially Jake. Life isn't complete unless I'm throwing her in front of one metaphorical train or another. Currently, in the game she's on, she's wandering the spirit world with another faerie (a troll), a werewolf, and a spirit guide in the form of a white rabbit, looking for a gate back to Arcadia, the mythical faerie homeland. So far, she's had to watch what she thought was her dead true love fighting a losing battle. If she tried to help him, she would never be able to return to her daughter, and would most likely endanger the rest of the group. So she had to watch him die. Again. Now, granted, putting her through that wasn't my idea, but... what can I say? It was fun.

(All together now: "You have a strange sense of 'fun', Lisa.")

Posted by Lisa at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 1999

Apocalypse Now?

Last night I watched a show on PBS about the Apocalypse. I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't focus solely on the Year 2000 thing, but only used it as a springboard to why people are getting so loopy about the Apocalypse itself. I realized something: I'm not afraid of the world ending in the year 2000. I'm not afraid of civilization collapsing because of the Y2K bug. I'm afraid of all the crazies out there who do think the world is going to end. The end of the show talked about the cults, like the Branch Davidians and the Heaven's Gate folks. I'm afraid those are the ones who are going to be out in full force New Year's Eve.

I haven't made New Year's plans yet. I realized today what I'd love to do. I'd love to have a party, and drag in my friends from all over the country. If the world does end, I can't think of a better way to go than to be in my house surrounded by the people I love and never get to see. Or at the very least, if civilization crumbles, we can all point and laugh at it together.

Whaddya say, guys? Who's coming to Michigan for the Apocalypse?

(Weird thought process: I keep typing 'Apocalypso'. Which was, apparently, the ship belonging to Jacques Cousteau's evil twin. Either that, or as Raido just commented, "There should be much dancing and steel drums at the end of the world.")

I think the l-tryphtophan is affecting my brain. We had a huge potluck Thanksgiving dinner here at work today. Did I mention that's another reason I don't mind staying in this job?

Here. For silliness, go read Stee. If you want something more poetic, check out tesserae.

My job here is done.

Posted by Lisa at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 1999

Stigma

This is going to be a very long short week. No Jo this week, and in fact, next week is her last week here. It sucks immensely for so many different reasons. We have three temps working in my department now. Three temps out of a six-person department. And nobody is as funny as she is. Who else is gonna help me poke fun at corporate life around here? I might have to start reading Dilbert or something. For the record, this wasn't a very Dilbert-ish place to work when I first started here. But the company's doubled in size since then, and the bigger it gets, the more Dilbertesque it becomes.

I started thinking on Friday that it might be time for me to move on as well. I feel like I could honestly do better, but I don't know at what. I've got a lot of skills and I learn so damn fast... but I don't know what to look for. We get our annual bonus checks in February. I'm definitely not leaving until after that.

I'm tired of the crap here, though. And believe me, there's a lot of crap. I'm tired of dealing with people on the phone and trying to help them through a rather inefficient support system, and I'm tired of suggestions for improvement not being listened to. I'm not sure where the change came, but once I felt like management listened to me here. Not anymore. The support manager smiles and nods and I watch everything I suggest go right in one ear and out the other. I'm just a receptionist, after all, what do I know? Never mind that I've been here longer than the vast majority of the support reps.

But damn it, I'm not 'just a receptionist'. I know for a fact I'm smarter than my supervisor, and most of the support department. I can do better than this job, in terms of salary, in terms of job satisfaction, in terms of just having a job where my talents are not only utilized, but even just recognized for what they are.

There are a lot of good things here. The money is definitely decent, especially for the no-brainer job I do. The workload is light enough that I can spend a good part of my day doing my own projects -- writing, web design, whatever. Benefits are really good.

But I can't get past the stigma lately. I feel like people look at what I do and draw conclusions about who I am and what my abilities are. In fact, thinking about it, I've felt extremely stigmatized lately. By my job. By my lack of formal education. It's made me very defensive about the whole thing. This isn't helped by the fact that I seem to keep running into college students who are very much into the whole 'I am a college student, therefore I know more than everyone' mentality. I find it terribly irritating and feel it to be my self-appointed duty to burst their bubbles whenever possible.

It also renews my determination to self-educate myself as much as humanly possible. Brand said a great thing to me yesterday, after hearing that I'd finally finished The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy. He said, "Congratulations, you now know more about philosophy than a lot of the people in my doctoral classes." I think he might have been exaggerating, but it made me feel good anyway.

I know I've been over-sensitive about this lately. But my intelligence is something that has always been a defining characteristic of who I am, of how I see myself, and lately it feels like everyone and their brother is running that part of me into the ground.

Posted by Lisa at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 1999

Rabbit Season

Back on M-Net we used to call them rabbits.

What is it about random people sending me ICQ messages lately? I keep checking my profile to see if it somehow says, "I'm female and I'm horny and I love guys who can't spell!" It doesn't, so why do people keep assuming that? Today I realized what it is. You see, among men who like to use 'u' instead of 'you' and 'r' instead of 'are' (as in 'r u horny?'), avoid the shift key and go heavy on the punctuation, there is a universal law:

If a female is on the internet, it can only be because she wants cybersex. From you, baby.
There is no denying the universal law. I had a brief glimmer of hope today, however. I received a message out of the blue that simply said, "intelligent and sexual male for your erotic pleasure". My standard response to respond with something confused, like, "What makes you think I'm interested in that?" Today, the gentleman on the other end was relatively clueful. I started questioning him on why he thought that approach would work, and it evolved into a fairly intelligent conversation. Although, he did keep trying to steer the conversation back to sex. After an exchanging ICQ messages for about an hour, he wanted to meet me. Because he wants someone to have sex with.

So much for the hope.

~ ~ ~

In other news today, I'm feeling much better. I did a lot of thinking about my downswing in the early part of the week, and I realized a lot of things. First of all, I've been on an incredible high for nearly a month since moving. It was inevitable that the pendulum would eventually swing back the other way. Also, I'm dealing with being emotionally self-reliant for the first time ever. It's a great thing, but it's a little scary. And when things get a little scary, my brain sometimes gets a little wonky in self-defense.

It sort of works like this: Lisa starts to feel complete unto herself. This makes part of Lisa (which doesn't like change at all, nopenopenope) very uncomfortable. That part starts to panic, pulling the sabotage lever. "See," it cries, "we really can't do this!" Fortunately, even unconsciously, I'm aware of my tendency to try and create my own self-fulfilling prophecy. The closer I get to real change, the harder part of me fights it. So, I can judge from the severity of my reaction to something just how close I am to a (how I hesitate to use this word) breakthrough. Resistance is not only futile, it's very Freudian.

Freudian wordplay. I love me.

Posted by Lisa at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 1999

Deja Vu

Tired and out of sorts today. I feel as if I'm interacting with the world at a distance, like someone swaddled all my senses in cotton batting. I'm woolly-brained and thick-tongued.

I had a bit of a scare yesterday, a reminder of sorts. While I was driving home, I was struck with this sense of panicked anxiety and confusion. It's almost as if I forgot how to drive. Little things threw me. I'm at a red light. No one's coming, should I turn right? I panicked, unable to decide if it was safe. And for one disorienting moment as I got near my house, I couldn't figure out where I was or where I was going. I got home with no real problems. The whole time, I realized what it was. My depression, my old nemesis, decided to raise its head and look around, Hey! Guess what? I'm still here and you still have to fight me. Didn't want you getting too complacent on me... Aside from making me feel like crap, it often fuddled my thinking that way, sending me into a blind panic that confused everything else.

And I realized why it made a brief reappearance. I'm sleep-deprived and I haven't been eating as well as I was. I've been staying up much too late and getting up late, which makes my whole day feel frantic and rushed. And since I was doing housework in the mornings, that's a little behind too. I mean, it's not that I'd feel horrified if anyone came to visit me right now, things just aren't as clean as I want them.

So tonight, I go to bed early. Or earlier, at least. Tonight's the last night of the New York documentary, and I don't want to miss it. Last night there was a huge segment on the Triangle Fire in 1911. It was haunting. I can remember reading about it when I was a kid, but the reality of it didn't sink in until last night. I was transfixed. What would I have done, if faced with burning in a fire or jumping from the eighth floor?

It's no wonder I didn't sleep very well last night.

Posted by Lisa at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 1999

Viewers Like Me?

Home sick today, hacking and coughing. It's about as fun as it sounds. This has been due for several days, though, so it's no great surprise.

It's funny, since I moved, I've been watching TV again. I hadn't actually watched it with any regularity for well over a year. Mostly because the TV I had in my room in the old place was really only there to hook up to the VCR, it had no reception to speak of. I got rather snobbish about it, though -- "No, I've never heard of that show... I never watch TV..."

Serves me right for getting so into it now. Of course, with no cable, I still have very little reception, but there's enough. After years of hearing people talk about it, I finally got to see "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Not a bad show. However, it's on when I'm still at work, so I don't see it often. But, I, um... I got started watching "Angel" too. Isn't it, like, a law that if you're a female journaler you have to watch it, though? Oh all right, I confess. I'm as much a sucker for the brooding angsty handsome type as the next single-occasionally-lonely female.

But I found a way to salve my conscience! My intellectual snobbery can rejoice: I watch a lot of PBS. Admittedly, it started out because the local PBS station is the one I pick up the clearest. But now I think I'm hooked. I never realized how much of a history buff I am. Last week I watched Ken Burns' documentary on Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "Not For Ourselves Alone". This week it's his brother Ric's documentary on New York City.

PBS is like this whole little subculture, I think. They have as specific a target audience as any other network. I have a feeling I know what Brand would say. He'd make comments about pseudo-intellectual bourgeois. And he'd probably be right. But then there are people like me who get caught up in actually learning things.

I've gotten so caught up, in fact, that I'm realizing just how much I'm into history. I never really thought about studying history before, as history classes have usually been pretty boring to me. But watching the historians on these documentaries was completely different from watching a history teacher. The historians seem more alive about their subject, with interesting bits of trivia to go along with their facts. Yet another thing I could almost see myself doing. Now you see the real reason I'm not back in school. I can't decide what to focus on. I want to learn everything!

Oh okay. I'm also developing a liking for British comedy too, like "Are You Being Served?" and "Red Dwarf".

Posted by Lisa at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 1999

Stuck

I spent most of yesterday visiting my mom. Normally we spend forever just talking, and going back and forth, but I was in an odd mood yesterday. I'm not sure how to describe it. Needy, maybe. Uncertain. I was a little down for unknown reasons, and I didn't want Mom to necessarily find out. I don't know why. That was probably pointless on my part. I'm certain that she knew anyway. She always does. I felt fake a lot of time I was talking to her, and I didn't like that feeling at all.

Despite that, we had a pretty good conversation. She and I are in a pretty similar place in some ways. She's been looking back over her career wondering what she might have done differently, disappointed in herself, somehow. "[For my age], I should be in a much more stable position, and a better job," she said. I've been doing something similar. Again. I terrify myself into immobility, like a deer in headlights. It's like I hear a clock ticking somewhere, and time's running out for me to fulfill my potential. And I have so much potential. I just don't know what to do with it. I don't know where to start. Or have I already started?

My brain is so lazy now. I think I mentioned a while back that I was reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy. I'm stalled on it. Once the ideas got more complex, I stopped understanding them. So, rather than work on it and puzzle them out, I got frustrated and stopped reading. That's my reaction now when I don't immediately understand something. I give up. I never really learned how to work on something. And yet... I know I'm capable of it, when it's something important to me.

I've been disappointed in myself so much lately. I do realize, most of the time, that I've done things and learned things and experienced things about myself that most people don't get to until they're my mom's age. But those things can't be quantified and measured. I can't set them in the scales of judgement when my brain starts berating me for all the things I haven't accomplished by the age of 27.

College is such a sticking point with me. I'm acutely conscious of my lack of education in many respects. Last night online a bunch of us were having a random conversation about Shakespeare -- his motivations for writing, his subtexts, etc. I felt that someone was getting a little snooty and condescending about the fact that she was an English major, and that such a conversation was pointless, because there was so little fact -- implying that the rest of us just couldn't know as much as she did. I was astounded at how defensively I reacted. I got bitterly sarcastic and said something to the effect of, "Well, I'm not an English major, I'm not even a college student, so there's no way I could know anything about any of this, so I'll shut up." The English major responded with something about how the conversation, if she contributed to it, could get complex, and I did it again: "I suppose I can handle complex. If there are any big words, I can even use a dictionary to look them up. I learned that much in high school."

I felt bad about it, and several of my friends sent me messages asking if I was okay, but I honestly wasn't. I feel... trapped where I am. Trapped in my job, trapped at my current level of education, trapped in my lifestyle. I think I said it best in the old entry I referenced above: "Scared to stay where I am, scared to move forward, and really scared to go back."

I keep complaining about this, but I should really just shut up or put up, shouldn't I? I keep finding all these reasons why I shouldn't go back to school and why I shouldn't change jobs and why I should just be a contented little mouse where I am. And when it comes down to it, there's really only one reason to make the change: I am more than what I am right now. And I know it.

For the record, I think my mom kicks ass.

Posted by Lisa at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 1999

Sekanjabin

Up until the time I moved in with Hollingsworth, I was extremely involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA tries to recreate the Middle Ages "as they should have been". That means, basically, all the fun stuff and none of the nasty stuff, like poor hygiene, disease and rotting food. For about three years, the SCA and SCA-related activities made up most of my social life. I miss it sometimes. In fact, just lately I've been terribly nostalgic.

Lady Alianora le WyseFor many, the SCA is a chance to reinvent yourself. Geeky computer programmer in real life? In the SCA you can be a valiant knight and warrior, or a sly, witty courtier. You can be whatever you want. Choose a medieval name, take on a persona, fix up or buy some medieval clothing, and off you go. I was known as Alianora le Wyse, and later, as Lady Alianora, after earning one of the Society's awards, an Award of Arms, for my involvement. Lady Alianora is remarkably like me, except she had more of a penchant for flirting and had a tendency to be a bit more outrageous and free. I liked her very much. She's a side of me I don't let out often enough.

While the SCA holds weekend events throughout the year, without a doubt the biggest event in the Society is the annual Pennsic War, held in August in western Pennsylvania. It's a Mecca of sorts for SCAdians, especially those in the eastern part of the United States. Held in a rustic campground in Slippery Rock, Pennsic is two weeks' worth of immersion in SCAdian society. The last I heard, they were getting close to 10,000 participants a year. Yeah. 10,000. People as far as you can see. There was talk of legal difficulties, as once a place reaches a population of 10,000, it's considered a town and has to have all sorts of official positions filled.

So, for two weeks out of the year, Cooper's Lake Campground becomes a small medieval city. A city under siege, as Pennsic includes a war between the Kingdom of the East and the Kingdom of the Middle. (Yes, these are actual Kingdoms with rulers and everything... but that's another story. Go to their web page for details.) For those less into combat, there are classes and merchants and competitions in everything from crafts to dancing to music. Once the sun goes down there's dancing and parties and bonfires and bardic circles. There's always something going on.

In 1995, I got to go. I was only there for about five days, but it was wonderful. Everything I'd imagined it to be and more. I danced to the wee hours, sang and drank and told stories even later than that, and even had a charming and completely innocent four day flirtation with a young man from Washington State. (Ah, Taran, where are you now?) It was a time of much activity, and of forgetting important things like food and sleep and water.

Oh. And it was hotter than hell. August of 1995 a heat wave hit most of the eastern US, including Pennsylvania. Most especially including Cooper's Lake Campground. For that week, temperatures hovered around 99 degrees during the day, with about 98 percent humidity. Imagine going through that while camping in a place where showers were nominal at best, with no refrigeration of any kind, save ice chests, and where running water was something you had to hunt down. While wearing medieval clothing. You'd be amazed how comfortable cottons are, though. Needless to say, people spent a lot of time swimming in one of the two swimming holes available, and most of the war's 'battles' were fought early in the morning. People were exhorted to drink water constantly. I did, carrying a metal tankard around with me while I went shopping or wandered around with friends.

The weather was so hot that buying a jug of refrigerated Gator-Ade from the campground canteen was reason for celebration. Water from the spigots kept me from passing out, but nothing was ever really cold enough to be thirst-quenching.

On that Friday, two days before I had to go home, I experienced one of the most perfect, most pure, most overwhelming sensory experiences of my life. I was wandering through the merchant area with several friends. By that time, amazingly enough, we'd all gotten used to the heat. So we shopped, trying on medieval clothes and hats and accessories, oohing and aahing over this artwork, or that craftsmanship. In one tent, a man and his wife were selling different types of hair ornaments and jewelry. We retreated there as much for a little bit of shade as to actually shop. In one corner of the tent, a large cooler was set up, with a spigot at the bottom. A sign was taped to the cooler: "Sekanjabin, $1.00."

Sekanjabin, as near as I can tell, is a Middle Eastern drink that originated in the Middle Ages. You boil vinegar, sugar and mint into a syrup, then dilute it with water to serve. Despite the odd-sounding combination of ingredients, it's very tasty.

Tired of water, I decided a dollar was a small price to pay for variety. The man smiled at me and filled my tankard up with sekanjabin... and ice. Real ice, something I hadn't had in a drink in well over a week. Eagerly I took the first sip, condensation forming almost immediately on the metal of the tankard. The ice chilled the metal as well, making it pleasant to hold and inviting against my lips. I took the first sip, and I stopped still where I was and marvelled. It was sweet and slightly tart and wonderfully minty and so very very cold. It was so cold and so good I wanted to cry. I had to share it with other people. At that moment, it wasn't a drink, it was a religion. I called my friends over and passed the tankard around. We were all united in oohing and aahing once more, but I was the only true believer. I wandered around the rest of that afternoon in minty bliss. It never even occurred to me to go back for more once I'd finished it all. It was too much to experience more than once.

Leaving Pennsic two days later was leaving another world. The five hour drive home was like decompressing, leaving behind the stripped-down version of me, the me that's left when you take away the computer and the TV and the job and the real world. The heat of Pennsic XXIII had boiled away everything incidental, leaving only the essence of me.

I haven't felt that 'essential' since then. I haven't had sekanjabin since then either.

Posted by Lisa at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 1999

Happy Anniversary To Me

As you might have noticed on the sidebar, I started keeping an online journal one year ago today. The "One Year Ago Today" links are going to be sketchy, as I wasn't terribly consistent a year ago. (Yeah, I know, like I'm Ms. Consistency now.)

Anyway, to celebrate, I decided to move this to a new format. When I started this, I had no idea I'd learn so much about HTML. I had no idea I'd want to. I had no idea this would become so important to me. It's an addiction, this need to ramble about what's going through my mind to an unseen and mostly unknown audience. But I love it, and I don't see myself giving it up any time soon.

I've learned about a lot more than just HTML. I've learned how these words, addressed to no one in particular, could actually bring me closer to the people I love. My mom is probably the best example. Keeping up with me through this journal, I imagine she's gotten to know more about me than she would have just by talking. There are just things that you don't think about telling people you talk to all the time. Little things, usually, but sometimes big things too. There are some issues that are easier to address 'out there' than directly to the person involved. Maybe that's cheating. Maybe it isn't. In either case, I've had some wonderful soul-searching conversations with family and friends based on things that came from this journal.

I've learned things about myself. By keeping a written record, it's been easier to spot trends in my thinking, pit traps that I fall into over and over again. Once or twice I've even been able to avoid some of those traps, simply through noticing that they're there. I can relive my old triumphs, and memorialize my old defeats. My history is my own, and in choosing to share it with the public, I leave a mark, however tiny, to show that I was here.

Online journallers spend a lot of time talking about their 'why' for keeping a journal. "What's your why?" we ask each other. I do this for me -- to develop my ideas and thoughts, to piece together who I am and where I've been, to remember. But I also do this for an audience -- to keep me honest, to point out things I missed, and, in all honesty, to remind me that there are people who care out there listening. Thanks for being one of them.

Posted by Lisa at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 1999

would u like to chat???

It's only Tuesday, and it's already been a long week.

I've been moderately cranky for the past couple days, for a few obvious and not so obvious reasons. All I have to say is this: if you're male, you don't understand the utterly infuriating feeling of getting caught by surprise by irregular events that are supposed to be regular while wearing brand new underwear. Listen! Can you hear it? That's the sound of male readers fleeing: Oh god! She's talking about periods! Heh.

Well, as a result of all this hormonal joyfulness, I've been rather bitchy. Here's what happens when Lisa gets bored and gets an annoying random ICQ message from an annoying random stranger. Note that all errors have been left intact.

AnnoyingGuy: Hi there, 27 male from Southfield, MI here, would u like to chat???
Alianora: That depends, are you capable of typing out full words instead of just letters and can you use only one punctuation mark at a time? :)
AnnoyingGuy: i can try
AnnoyingGuy: and I can type with one hand too :0)
Alianora: How talented you must be then.
AnnoyingGuy: you can guess
AnnoyingGuy: how about you..can u do that
Alianora: Why would I want to?
AnnoyingGuy: that is a good question...u never want to????
Alianora: I fail to see how typing one-handed has any sort of appeal. I type much faster with both hands.
AnnoyingGuy: i was just trying to be a little kinky thats all....no offence pls.
Alianora: Why would you want to be kinky with someone you know nothing about?
AnnoyingGuy: isnt that mystry kinda exciting
Alianora: How exciting would it be to discover that I'm a 13 year old girl and my parents are reading everything you send me?
AnnoyingGuy: than I will appologize for being like that from them. and ask you to change your profile as it says that u r a 27 years old girl....
Alianora: I'm using my aunt's account.
AnnoyingGuy: then u should have told me first...but anyway I appologize again.Sorry about that and bye.
Well, I thought it was funny at least. Although, I did find it particularly obnoxious that he tried to blame me for his mistake at the end. That's the point of randomly messaging someone: you never know who you're talking to.

Attention internet users: "Chat" is not a euphemism for a lame, poorly spelled sexual conversation with a stranger. Thank you.

But seriously... I've been thinking about a lot of different things lately. I've always been mistaken for being older than I am. When I was a kid, I looked older, and acted older. Now that I'm an adult, people think I'm younger than I am. Now.. normally that'd be a great thing, right? Except I realized why. As much as I've always considered myself a very mature person, I'm not nearly as mature as I think I am. In many ways, and in many areas, I lack a certain amount of emotional maturity. That was really hard to say. But it's true. Especially where romantic relationships are concerned. I don't know how to date someone. I don't know how two people have a healthy relationship and keep it going. Hollingsworth and I were a 'healthy relationship' in many ways for the first year or so.

Since my divorce, every relationship (or even, for lack of a better word, pseudo-relationship) I've had started online. I'm not sure what to make of that. Is there something so... off-putting about me face to face that in order for someone to fall in love with me, they can't see me first? Possible, but I think it's more likely that I'm more comfortable meeting people in that setting, because I'm -- like it or not -- self-conscious about my appearance around people who don't know me.

Then there's my overwhelming need to have someone to fixate on romantically. No matter what, it's like I have to be in love with someone. I am happy to say that as of right now, I am getting much better. I don't feel like I'm fixated on anyone right now. That doesn't mean there aren't people that I care about or that I 'have feelings for'. There's a difference. I'm not fixated. There is no one currently who fills my mind night and day. For the first time in a long time. I like it. I like it a lot. I hope I can keep it this way. I feel... mentally clean.

I'm kinda fixated on me, I guess. Going through a period of self-evaluation. Again. Every time I think I'm done, the cycle starts over again. Whee!

Posted by Lisa at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 1999

Pleasantville

Here I sit, with a cat on my chest. Max has apparently decided that when I'm on the computer, I'm fair game. My computer chair is a little reclined, so there's a perfect resting place between my chin and my keyboard. And that place is where Max is right now. I don't mind. He's warm and purring. He does, however, get irritated at me when I type too fast and disturb him. And as far as using the mouse goes? Forget it.

All in all, I'd say it's been a good Saturday so far. I slept in, did my housework, then goofed around all day. I watched Pleasantville and Ever After. I'd seen Ever After before. Fluff, but very fun fluff. It's a fun movie. Pleasantville was a wonderful surprise. I'd heard that it was good, but I was more impressed than I thought I'd be.

The premise is to take two modern teenagers and send them into the world of a 50s Father Knows Best-style sitcom. What happens when they start exposing the TV characters to new ideas? It was a great look at how much times have changed, and (especially) how things weren't as wonderful back then as we made them out to be. What I found most interesting was the use of color -- or lack thereof. The sitcom world is, of course, black and white. The bathroom stalls are empty (no one ever went to the bathroom back then!). The books are all blank. There are no minorities. The world goes no farther than Main Street. Until new ideas start trickling in. Slowly but surely, little things start turning up in color. Eventually, people start turning up in color. The books that were blank start to fill in, and the kids -- who had been flocking to Lovers' Lane -- start lining up at the library.

The revolution starts with the kids, the way revolutions always seem to. Soon the town is divided between those in color and those in black and white. As these two-dimensional stereotypes expand into real people, they change to color. Tension develops between the two groups -- black and white vs. color -- much like the racial tension that followed not long after the same time period. (In a moment of irony, as tensions develop, a black and white store displays a sign: "No Coloreds".)

I won't tell you how it ends, but there were some great images that are sticking with me. A repressed artist viewing color plates of great works of art for the first time, which inspires him to a frenzy of painting. A mother of two, nearly middle-aged, experiencing a sexual awakening all by herself -- the tree that bursts into flames outside her window just made me laugh and cheer at the same time.

Max is now asleep on my shoulder. I think I'm going to go die of cuteness.

Posted by Lisa at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 1999

Well, They're No Stryper...

Right. So... Creed isn't a Christian band, in case you missed it. From their website's FAQ section (in case you cared):

"Are we a Christian band? This is a question we are asked a lot because of some of the references made in the lyrics. No, we are not a Christian band."
It's funny, they're denying it with the same vehemence of bands denying allegations of Satanism back in the 80s. Switch "Satanic" for "Christian" in the above passage and you've got a statement made by just about every heavy metal band that came through my decade. Not a Christian band, huh? But look at the lyrics to their biggest hit, "My Own Prison":
I hear a thunder in the distance
See a vision of a cross
I feel the pain that was given
On that sad day of loss
A lion roars in the darkness
Only he holds the key
A light to free me from my burden
And grant me life eternally
That has to be, like, the most Christian set of lyrics I've seen since my days of listening to Stryper and Petra. Between you and me, I think they only used the word 'goddamn' in their latest hit to try and reduce the allegations of Christianity. Which is one of the deadliest things you can say about a band nowadays. It makes them almost parentally acceptable, which, of course, isn't cool.

I bet if you listen to a Creed album backwards, you hear a Christian ritual.

Why do I care? I guess I'm just more amused than anything.

And what the hell is this all about? I looked into getting a poster I bought at art.com framed, right? They gave me an estimate of about $140. What the hell!? I only spent $30 on the poster. I guess I could call some other framing places, but geez. I think it's just going to go up on my wall unframed.

And while I'm bitching... the new support rep that Jo and I have been ogling came by our desks earlier looking for change. Well, with bright, welcoming smiles Jo and I both looked for change but found none. Disappointed, he wandered off. After he left, my supervisor looked at both of us and said, "He was wearing a ring on his left hand." In unison, Jo and I looked at each other and said, "Aw maaaaaan!" I know it ruined my day. Jo insists he still might not be married. We'll see.

Okay. It didn't really ruin my day. Actually, this has been a pretty cool day all around. Not a bad week, either. Although I've felt really isolated all week. It's hard to explain. I haven't seen anyone outside of work -- but that's not terribly unusual. Things have been pretty quiet online, too. I've talked to James a little more than usual, which is awesome, but he's really the only one I've spent large amounts of time talking to. It's not that I'm lonely necessarily, I just feel alone. There's a difference. Sometimes it's a good feeling. I've felt more self-sufficient than ever before.

However, I discovered one major problem with living alone. When I woke up this morning, I couldn't find my glasses. They weren't on the nightstand. They weren't on the floor by the nightstand. They weren't on the bed or under the bed. Now... I'm blind as a bat without my glasses. Remember "Scooby Doo", when Velma would lose her glasses and end up crawling around looking for them? That's me. I stopped at one point and looked at Max and cried, "How the hell am I supposed to find my glasses when I can't see without my glasses?!" This is where, in the past, I would have called Hollingsworth or someone into the room and said, "Hey, can you find my glasses?"

Don't ask me how, but they were on the floor on the other side of the bed from the nightstand. It took me about fifteen minutes to find them.

I think Max hid them.

Posted by Lisa at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 1999

I've Been Framed

Lisa's playing with web design again. Be very afraid. I think I'm starting to get a handle on how frames work. I spent most of yesterday afternoon playing with them. If you want to see the results, go here. Not all of the links work yet, however. There are still some things I haven't figured out. I may not even go with frames, but I'm having a blast learning how they work.

Beyond that, things have been remarkably quiet for the past couple days. I haven't decided if that's good or bad. It's funny, even though I thought I never really saw Hollingsworth, since he worked midnights, it's completely different living alone. I didn't think there'd be that much of a change, but it really is. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good thing. I have had a few moments of getting especially lonely, but whenever that happens, Max is always around, or some friend on the net, or a friend on the phone. And I'm discovering that I enjoy the quiet.

In fact, James was laughing at me last night about the fact that I've been getting up at 8am when I don't have to be at work until 11. I made the mistake of telling him I was doing housework in the mornings. And I do. But that's not all. I've discovered that I like having that extra time in the morning, just for me. Yeah, sometimes I clean house. But sometimes I read, or sleep a little longer, or just relax. At the risk of sounding like an International Coffees commercial, it's my time. No computer, no tv. Just maybe a radio, the cat, and me. It's a good way to start the day off. It's funny. My mom does the same thing. I guess I'm more like her than I realized. Not that that's a bad thing.

I'll tell you what is a bad thing, though. The fact that my office sounds like a TB ward. And I'm the worst patient. There's nothing else wrong with me, just the cough from hell that comes and goes. I'm half-worried that I've developed asthma in my completely-not-physically-fit state. That's me though. I don't often think about being sick, but when I think I've got something, it's never anything little. Unlike your ordinary hypochrondriac (like, oh, certain co-workers I could name -- or not name), however, I don't run to the doctor at the slightest sneeze. I avoid the doctor. Which means, of course, that when something big really is wrong with me, I'll probably die of it because I never go to the doctor. (Speaking of said co-worker, last week alone she developed a urinary tract infection and TMJ. And we heard all about it when she called various doctors at the top of her lungs.)

And while I'm bitching. Do you have any idea how much it sucks to be old enough to worry about the beginnings of wrinkles, but still young enough to get pimples? I've got a monster on my cheek that's about ready to apply for its own ZIP code. Skin care people love me. I've got moisturizer sitting next to Clearasil in my medicine cabinet.

Posted by Lisa at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 1999

Creativity Explosion

Much better day today. I feel more alive. I'm not certain why, exactly. I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm finally really and truly done moving. I got the last of things from the old apartment today. I confess, it's what I was avoiding this weekend. I'm not sure why I was avoiding it, exactly, just that I really didn't want to deal with it at all. Not the physical part, not seeing the empty apartment, nothing. I suppose (this is me being sheepish now) that I feel better today because I just jumped in and took care of it. Yeah, yeah, I know. I do this sort of thing often.

It was really odd being in the old place again. I could barely remember what it felt like to feel at home there. Living there, and the way I lived there, has become so foreign to me in just three short weeks. I didn't realize how discontented I was until I wasn't there anymore. I mean, I thought I was happy. Now I know that I wasn't. I hate it when I find that out, because it always makes me re-evaluate how I feel right now. What if I only think I'm happy right now, but I'm really not?

Ugh.

On an up note, I feel outrageously creative today. Unfocused, but creative. I should probably tie myself down this afternoon and do something with all this unbridled creativity. Several weeks ago Eric and I started trading bits of a story, making it up a few paragraphs at a time. Well, what started out as something to pass the time at work ended up being a fascinating six or so pages of what I thought was a story, but what Eric seems to be envisioning as a novel. I've never co-authored anything before, but this seems to be working well. And that's odd, because his writing style and mine are nothing alike. In any case, we haven't done anything with it since that first day, but we're tossing ideas out at each other again. It's a lot of fun. We've started to create a world, but we've only seen the outside edges of it. It's like being an explorer, starting to wade your way into unfamiliar territory, speculating on what you might find there.

Ugh. My mood just got completely thrown off by a single unpleasant phone call. I swear this job would be great if it wasn't for all the damn customers. Damn belligerent, uncooperative, interrupting, rude people anyway!

Deep breath. Okay. I feel better. It isn't often that an irate caller manages to piss me off, but when they do... yikes.

It's cold and rainy and almost snowy outside. Yesterday it was in the seventies. I love Michigan. According to The Weather Channel website, the wind chill outside is 17 degrees. Now I just want to go home and curl up with a book.

One awesome book, as it so happens. I finally got my hands on The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy. Happy me. It's a great introduction to all the things I started to learn but never finished, and to all the things I should have learned but never did. I was only too happy to set aside Robert Jordan's Eye of the World to dive into it. Don't get me wrong, the Jordan book is okay, but it's a big letdown so soon after reading Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy.

You know, over the past several weeks, a surprising number of people have come up to me at work and said something like, "Wow, your hair is getting really long!" Enough people have commented that I'm starting to wonder what's really being said. Is it:

a) "Wow, your hair looks really great!"
b) "Wow, doesn't that freaky hippie chick know how unprofessional that looks? Why doesn't she get a haircut?"
c) "Wow, your hair is getting really long!"
Yeah. I can't pick one either.
Posted by Lisa at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 1999

Bleah

Ugh. What a lifeless day this has turned out to be. I spent the first half of it at home, feeling crappy. I finally managed to drag myself to work. Physically I just feel blah. Not good, not bad, just... blah. Mentally I'm in a very strange state. I'm a little down, but I feel very creative. There's several things that I really want to do, with writing first on the list. So I guess emotionally I'm down, but mentally I'm very up. There's nothing specific that I really feel down over... I suppose just a little letdown after a really good weekend.

And it was a really good weekend. Saturday was awesome and Sunday was good. I ended up just staying home, but it was a good thing. I went out in the afternoon to rent a few movies, and I stayed home, watched movies, cross-stitched and passed out candy to trick-or-treaters. That was a lot of fun. For about forty-five minutes. Then the trick-or-treaters were getting taller than me, so I turned my light off. It was more fun when the kids were little and cute and had their parents with them to remind them to say 'Thank you'. The big kids (and I'm talking thirteen and up) were smarmy and were just like 'Hey, gimme some candy'.

Of course, the upshot of me stopping early is that I have more leftover candy than I'd planned on.

I had an interesting 'wow, it's a small world' experience. Scott's latest entry is about his ten year high school reunion. (Heh. I didn't get invited to mine. Go figure.) He talks about the twin girls he went to school with, and describes them. The whole time I'm thinking, "Hey, those two sound kind of familiar." Finally, in his entry, he put up pictures of them from the reunion, and I almost fell over. I know "Divan and Danka". I was in the Metropolitan Detroit Youth Chorus for a couple years in high school, which is where I met the two of them. Then the three of us ended up at Lipscomb University. Both of them were the epitome of everything I hated about high school. They were blond, skinny, beautiful and perfect; and snotty as hell. Being around them, and people like them, made me feel all the worst things imaginable about myself. Seeing them from someone else's perspective was very interesting. Like I said to Scott via email, "I didn't like them very much, but I thought it was just jealousy."

Of course, it might still have been just jealousy.

Posted by Lisa at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)