December 28, 1999
Oh god. The horrifying onslaught. It's too soon, too soon, I tell you! I wasn't prepared, not mentally, not physically, not emotionally!
It's begun. That means nothing to most of you, I'm certain. But to one who works in an accounting software company, a company whose main product line is a series of tax preparation software, and when one works in the technical support department of said company, well.... you can understand why those two words ("tax season" *shudder!*) bring a chill to the heart and a glaze to the eye.
Tax Season = Open Season... on receptionists.
Or to sum it up simplest of all: it's been a hellish day. Three staff members down (out of seven) and twice the call volume we usually get. Normally the support department takes 800-1000 calls a day. Today, as of 2:30, we'd taken over 1200 calls. And that doesn't count customer service, which was equally busy. I really didn't talk to 2400 people today, but it sure feels like it. And it feels like all of them were cranky. Like the caller who kept asking if Jesus worked here. Well, okay. No he didn't. He just kept muttering, "Jesus Christ." I was reminded of this past Good Friday when Jo had a similar caller, and responded, "No, He's not in right now, but we expect Him back on Sunday." Things like that are the reason I miss Jo.
I think the Idiot of the Day Award goes to the accountant I spoke to who was frantically trying to order software for his clients (a program similar to Quicken, only the data flows into the accountant's accounting programs as well), explaining, "I have to have it by Friday! They're not Year 2000 compliant!" I resisted to urge to just go, "Dude. You're fucked." Of course, the next thought was, "Dude, it's December 28th. What have you been doing ?" The word 'dude' crossed my mind a lot today. It's a sure sign of mental deterioration.
My plans for the evening are simple ones. A trip to Oasis Gardens, the local hot tub place, then home to relax as much as humanly possible.
December 24, 1999
Merry Christmas to All...
Christmas Eve, 1999. I'm at my parents' house, writing this on my mom's computer. Until tonight, I was decidedly down on this whole Christmas thing, as evidenced by last week. I wish I could have written this an hour ago, because the feeling I had then is fading slightly, the words in my mind not quite as clear.
I went to church tonight.
I grew up in a church that didn't celebrate Christmas. That's odd to a lot of people, and to me too, now that I've grown up to think about it. Here's the logic: "Well, we don't know exactly what day Jesus was born on, so it would be wrong to celebrate the wrong day." Never mind that this is a time that practically the entire world focuses on Christianity.
But I digress.
Down the street from my parents' house is a Methodist church. Small, picturesque, right on the lake. They had a Christmas Eve service tonight, and despite the fact that neither my mom nor I are or ever have been Methodist, we went. My stepfather seemed vaguely amused at the whole thing. He was raised Methodist, but wasn't interested in tagging along.
When we got there, they handed us each a program and a candle. I was so nervous sitting there, waiting for the service to start. I don't know why I was nervous, but I was. It's been years since I went to church, and I know it was for mom, too. Raised in the Church of Christ, seeing a church decorated for Christmas is still odd for me.
I was happy to see that the program was essentially going to be carol singing and the reading of the Christmas story. I wanted so much to be able to sing Christmas carols with a group. Honestly, that was my main reason for wanting to go to church. Silent Night was going to be sung by candlelight, and I was pretty sure I would start crying. That sort of thing usually has that effect on me.
It's odd how things come back, sensory memory triggers: sitting in a pew, holding a hymnal and standing to sing, the warm, almost drowsy feeling of a winter congregation listening to a sermon (there was one, it was small).
I felt so much. I could feel it in my heart, but I don't know what I was feeling. I felt... connected. Not just to the people around me, but to the whole human race. It made me realize how isolated I have become to the world around me. My daily life includes, as a general rule, people from the age of about 22-52. Sitting in that church, I saw families. Babies, teenagers, kids, old people... and I realized how long it had been since I'd seen such a broad spectrum of people.
And I sang. I sang harder than I've sung in a long time. And my mom sang next to me. She's the one who really first taught me to sing, and she's the one I grew up singing next to in church. I missed singing in a group of people.
It's hard to say if what I felt was simply overblown nostalgia, or if I really and truly did have a spiritual experience. The former is easier to believe. Less frightening. Having to face that I was wrong to walk away from Christianity and that 'they' were right all along is troublesome. There are many areas where I do part company with traditional Christian belief.
All I know is that I felt that connection, that sense of ritual tonight. I completely understand now why religion is such an important thing. Beyond beliefs or faith, it's almost worth it to find somewhere to go, just to feel that bond with another group of humans.
I don't know. I'm still piecing this out. But I feel much better about Christmas now. I feel like it is really and truly a holiday this year.
Oh, and it turns out I didn't cry during Silent Night. I watched my candle flame and wondered what I believed about it all.
December 17, 1999
Christmas is a week away. It doesn't feel like it. Not at all. I never got the tree put up, I haven't done much shopping. The only reminder I have about the season are the Christmas decorations up in my neighborhood. Some of them are quite pretty. Some of them are beyond tacky. And honestly, those icicle lights were pretty the first fifty houses I saw them on. Now they've become trendy and dull. Knock it off, already!
If I sound faintly cranky, it's because I am.
If you had asked me a few years ago what my family's Christmas traditions were, I'd've chuckled, "Traditions? What traditions? We don't have any!" The fact of the matter is, we do, they're just very informal ones. Tree decorating at my house always meant my mom and me. Dad would watch. I'd follow mom around the tree (fake, and older than I was) with the lights. Then we'd hang the ornaments. From the time I was a baby, my mom got an ornament for me each year. They were one of the best parts of Christmas. Little cloth and plastic dolls of carolers and ice skaters, I made up stories for each one each year. Mom hung the glass balls on the tree, I hung the 'special ornaments'. When I got married, Mom gave me the box holding all those ornaments. For several years, they hung on mine and Gary's Christmas tree. Then when I left him, they got left behind, like so many other things. As far as I know, those ornaments are still in his parents' attic. Sitting here thinking about them has got me almost ready to cry.
Presents from immediate family are always opened Christmas Eve. (Brand tells me this is a Welsh thing. Considering that my family's from eastern Kentucky, that's not improbable.) Christmas morning was always for Santa presents and stockings. Then we'd head off to my grandma's or my Aunt Vera's. Christmas dinner is always early, like around 1 in the afternoon. After everyone stuffs themselves silly, it's time to open presents. Usually one of the younger kids present plays Santa and passes out gifts. An orgy of paper-tearing and box opening ensues. When the dust clears, my Aunt Eula would go around picking up paper. I wonder who's going to do that now.
My Christmas traditions are dying. The ornaments are gone. I have a tree and ornaments, bland, meaningless things that Hollingsworth and I bought for our first Christmas together. Maybe that's why I haven't bothered putting the tree up. It doesn't seem to mean anything. For the first time in years, I'm going to spend Christmas Eve with my mom, but it doesn't feel the same. Because we lost Aunt Eula on Thanksgiving, apparently there's not going to be much of a Christmas celebration with the rest of the family. I have the option of going to my stepsister Dawnn's house, but that leaves me cold. It feels worse than celebrating Christmas with strangers, which, really, it is. I have nothing in common with my stepsisters save that our parents got married when we three were all adults.
I realized this week that Christmas means nothing to me this year. Everything seems empty. And yet... I found myself singing Christmas carols. Lest I become a likely target for a TV Christmas movie (sweet urchin/kindly old lady shows cantankerous woman the Meaning of Christmas), I decided to create my own traditions. I am, however, astoundingly short of ideas. How does a person alone create a tradition?
I got two Christmas CDs last night. It's a start. Maybe I will dig out the tree this year, maybe when I finish Christmas shopping this weekend, I'll find a couple of ornaments that mean something to me. Start the collection over again.
I don't know. I really don't.
December 13, 1999
I started a journal entry Friday, but it just didn't go anywhere. I did, however, write this:
I'm kicking myself, but I'm giddy. And I can't really tell myself that it's all sleep deprivation, either. For the past couple of days I've been giggly and silly. I have so many patterns that I follow, especially when someone catches my attention for some reason, and I'm staying true to my pattern now. I want to kick myself, because I know I'm acting like a twelve year old. In fact, last night I kept telling Brand to kick me. For all the good a 'virtual' kick did. I'm twenty-seven years old. I should not be reduced to giggles because someone I've never met called me cute.
I give up.
I also think I'm entering into winter hibernation mode. Usually on the weekends anymore all I want to do is curl up inside my house. That's also partly a response to things getting busy at work, too. Busy season used to start in January, but now apparently it's starting in December. Silly accountants.
Today I got email about a job opening here in my company. Whenever there's a new one, they post it internally via email first. I'm going to turn in my resume for it. Network Services Administrator. It's being described as largely administrative (which is a lot of what I do now) with a little bit of technical, with the opportunity to learn a lot more on the technical end of things. It sounds, if I want to stay in this company, right up my alley. And I have to admit, for an Evil Corporate Empire (tm), this one isn't that bad. So I dropped a note to my supervisor about it, and he was very encouraging. His response was, "It really sounds like a job you could definitely handle. At least you wouldn't answer phones huh?" And my thought was, "That's the point."
I hate doing my resume. I hate it. I don't sell myself well. Never have. But damn it, I can do this job. I'm still wavering on whether or not I want to, as it'll mean longer hours most likely, but I can't argue with the money, which I know will be higher. I mean, I'm not in trouble or anything financially, but more money and a potentially more interesting job is nothing to ignore.
December 09, 1999
Embracing My Inner Geek
I look stoned.
I do. I looked in the mirror over lunchtime. I'm surprised someone hasn't confronted me about my huge pot habit. Ah, sleep deprivation. We've been apart for so long, my old friend. Bedtime this week has averaged around 4 am. Sometimes 5 am. I'm suffering the effects. Suffering? Ah hell, I'm sorta having fun. I'm always a touch hyper, my attention span is shot, and concentration? Heh. Only if I really want to concentrate on whatever it is.
Writing here has been almost impossible to even think about. I tried yesterday, but ZOOOM! Ooh. Look over there! Hey, what's that say? Wow, look, I got email! You get the idea.
My only excuse for my wild lifestyle? I'm having fun.
I am truly a gaming geek. That, and I've been on creative fire for the past several days. The two coincide, believe me. I wonder though, would I be as sheepish about the amount of material I've begun and finished and conceptualized if it were about something other than a roleplaying game? Does it make what I've done less productive, that's about 'only a game'? I've sent vast amounts of email, weaving together threads of plot, introducing new ones. Frankly, I'm having a marvelous time. I just stop sometimes and think, "GOD you're a geek!"
Then there's online, as well. Lots of stuff going on there, too -- which is the biggest reason I've been staying up so late. I think I'm kinda sorta developing a new online crush, too... and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I mean, I'm really not sure how I feel about it.
It all comes down to this: I love all the things I'm doing right now. But I feel incredibly self-conscious. Almost ashamed of it all. I feel totally geeky and without a life, that pretending to be other people (and maneuvering other people pretending to be other people) means so much to me right now. It's almost like I'm only self-conscious because of what other people will think, not because of what I think of it. I hate that.
Is geekiness my source of individuality? Is it 'quirky' or is it just dumb?
December 06, 1999
Gah! Life is starting to go back to normal now, I hope. I'm ready for it to. I had a nice normal weekend complete with a nice normal (well okay maybe not) drive up to Bay City to play Shadowrun and run Changeling. I can't explain how much I'm enjoying running this game. I mean, when I first started gaming, about five years ago, I held the game master in awe. I could barely come up with what my own characters were doing. Here was someone (or someones) who kept track of all the PCs, and played the cast of supporting characters. This in addition to coming up with storylines, creating snappy dialogue and descriptions on the spur of the moment, and being the arbiter of game rules. I could never ever do that. Or so I thought at the time.
Apparently I was wrong. I'm not only doing it, but I'm doing it well. Even if I do say so myself. I love it. I love hatching plots and springing them on my players. I love watching them try and unravel the mysteries I toss out -- and even some that I don't. The ones they only think are there are almost more fun. I love it when they surprise me by finding nuances and hidden things in the story that I didn't realize were there. I love watching them get as sucked into their characters as I do with mine. It's a rush I've never really had before. They look to me for ideas and to see what happens to their characters next. I don't know how to describe it except that it makes me glow.
Ahem. So. That was Saturday. Sunday was supposed to be a day of errands and the like, but it was cold and rainy, so I stayed in my lovely house and made homemade soup. I forgot to mention: last week was spent helping my aunt and my mom clean out my other aunt's apartment. Apparently my aunt (the one who died) had just bought new living room furniture a few months ago. I inherited it. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. Mostly I feel guilty for enjoying the furniture so much, when I came to have it because of a death. I know, I know. She probably would have wanted someone to enjoy it, but...
Anyway, I stayed home and made soup. Not a common occurrence for me, but I think I need to start doing it more often. Suffice it to say, I made yummy soup. Just like my grandma used to make.
My grandma. There's another difficult topic. I spent a lot of time with her last week, and it was rough. She forgets so much, we wind up repeating things to her again and again. It gets... well... annoying. I know she can't help it. I still love her. But she is rather trying at times. Still, for all that's happened and for all she's been through, she's a strong woman. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at one point last Wednesday. All day Tuesday she fretted about the potted plants from the funeral. There were maybe five or so in the house, plus the ones she already had.. "Welp. Looord, there're too many plants here," she'd worry. "What'm going to do with all those plants? Did you want one? We'll have to take those to so-and-so." (Some of the plants in question have been in her house for years.) I kept reassuring her that the next day we'd get the plants taken care of. Wednesday morning she woke up before I did and rearranged the plants to suit herself, but still fretted. When my aunt and mom got there, we took several of the plants to the care center where my aunt Eula had been living. All taken care of, right? As soon as we got back to my grandma's house later that day, she started up, "Where'd all the plants go? Didn't you girls know I wanted to keep some of the plants from Eula's funeral?" Mom and Vera and I just looked at each other and sighed.
But now I'm back to work and things are settling down again.