March 25, 2000

Notes from Steelcon 2000

(Most of this entry was written at the above time. Notes to pictures were added later.)

I'm so ashamed! I now have two characters for a game I swore I'd never play. Yes, it's true. Since arriving at the con yesterday I've played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D for the initiates) twice. I arrived at the hotel just as the first session was starting, and got dragged into a game before I'd even seen my hotel room. With a great deal of help, I managed to create the character I've played both times -- a cleric of Tyr. Yeah, it didn't mean a whole lot to me either. Think a Knight Templar, who follows a god of justice.

It was fun. So fun, that I ended up creating a second character to play tonight. Well... adapting, more accurately. I'll spare the non-gamers the details, but I'll be interested to see how she plays. Suffice to say, I've seen a few too many guys playing gorgeous, scantily clad tarts. Subtlety may be beyond them (hee hee), but I've got to try. So -- I'm playing a brainy, gorgeous Druid (nature-type priest, in truth, she's a version of Jake).

Mike and his band of followers This is Mike. Mike was my first AD&D gamemaster. Here he is, either describing just how big the monster really is, or trying to fly, I can't remember. I ended up playing with him quite a bit over the weekend. Although his wife was one of the other few female gamers there, I didn't get to play with her. Phil, I should mention somewhere through here, is a lot of fun. Whenever we haven't been busy playing, we've been talking nonstop. Well, except for now. See, I was ridiculously sensible last night and went to bed around 1 am (actually, I was ridiculously tired), unlike some people who stayed up all night playing. At any rate, he went off to take a nap while I tried to figure out AD&D's character creation process. I may be tackling Feng Shui (one of Phil's pet games -- based on action movie cliches -- it's a riot) next. I'm mulling a character concept.

However, as a result of all this hack and slash gaming, I'm getting the bug to run Changeling. I could try for a pick-up game, I suppose. If nothing else, I have a story idea for one of Phil's characters. The biggest problem, I think, is that my style of storytelling doesn't mesh well with AD&D-type roleplay. We'll see what happens.

For now, I'm sorta tired, but happy, and thinking that I need to go to more gaming conventions. [Transcription note: Female gamers are extremely popular at conventions! Of course I should go to more!] But now I have too many game books and accessories that I want to buy!

Diplomat Wannabes?

Above is the group I played with Saturday evening, in a scenario called "The Forgotten Land". It's a rather atypical AD&D scenario, involving more diplomacy and roleplaying than hunting down bad things and killing them. I enjoyed it very much. It was exactly the sort of thing that Jake (or in this case, Grainne) plays well. Looking into the camera is Jeremy, who played a truly hysterical female character named Spunky, and turned out to be an awesome gamemaster -- even if we were a bit rushed Sunday morning. Hiding in the shadows in the left corner is Phil, next to the empty chair.

Phil When he's not hiding, this is what Phil really looks like. Well, with no sleep for two days, at least. And when I make him pose in front of my rented monstrosity and squint into the sun.

Before I forget... I had a rather surreal experience on the flight from St. Louis to Tulsa. A young woman traveling alone with a baby sat down opposite me. I, of course, spent some time admiring the baby, who was asleep. The woman looked so familiar, I couldn't put my finger on it at all. Then it came to me. She looked exactly like Jake. Jake, who is currently a single mom with a brilliantly blue-eyed baby girl. Surprise, surprise, when this woman's baby woke up, he had amazing blue eyes. I so wanted to take a picture of them both, but she was already looking at me funny for staring. How do you say to someone, 'I thought you only existed in my head'? Simple. You don't.

I have so many voices inside my head. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I met one of them.

Posted by Lisa at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2000

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

I'd forgotten how much I like to travel. I actually like going to the airport. Maybe I shouldn't jinx myself, but so far this has been a piece of cake. Got to the airport at nine for a 10:30 flight. Turns out I only live about ten minutes from the airport. In fact, it took me longer to walk to the gate than it did to get to the airport. Which is a disadvantage to flying a cheaper airline, but hey, I needed the walk.

I haven't taken any pictures yet, although I'm was seriously tempted by one of my fellow passengers. Her name is Claudia -- I know this because her mom kept calling her at the airport. I'd guess she's about fourteen months old. She's sitting in the row in front of me. I'm wondering how badly her mom would freak out if I asked to take her daughter's picture. Probably a lot, so, no picture of Claudia. Trust me though, she's a cutie. She thought my bright pink boarding pass was really nifty. So I taught her how to say "ticket".

Somewhere over Missouri

We're stopping in St. Louis first, but fortunately I don't have to change planes. In fact, i'm betting I won't even have to get off. I should be getting to Tulsa at 12:40 CST, and from there it's about a 90 minute drive to Stillwater. Phil should already be there by the time I get there.

Flowers at Tulsa International Airport It was rather funny last night online on Something Wicked This Way Comes. Everybody was getting ready to go visit everyone else. There was me, going to visit Phil, Mo was leaving today as well to go see Brand (and the rest of the California contigent -- there's a lot of them), Kait, a girl from Sweden, was going to Vermont, James was going to visit another SW-ite in Kentucky... it was getting ridiculous. Of course, Mo and I were the most hyper -- okay, and Kait too. Mo because she's visiting her boyfriend, me because I'm finally meeting Phil, and Kait becuase she's meeting her online romance.

It's odd, six years ago when I first got online, online romances were seen as somewhat freakish, even by other net geeks. But of course, that didn't stop me. Even before Hollingsworth, there was a guy in England named Andy. I'll save that whole sordid soap opera for when I'm not writing longhand. [Transcription note: I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell that whole story. No one, to my knowledge, has heard the whole thing yet.]

Now it's almost commonplace. People don't give you funky looks when you talk about net-friends. I think it's kinda cool. I have this extended circle of very close friends, even though some of us have never met. My dream, of course, is to get all of us together at once. That would rock. For now though, I'll have to settle for trips here, there and everywhere whenever I can.

Heh. I just neatly distracted myself from being hyper for a bit. However, time for me to put my traytable and seatback in their full upright positions. Landing in St. Louis.

Posted by Lisa at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2000

Apathetic and Hyper At The Same Time

So I'm sitting here thinking... maybe that Frappuchino I had at lunch wasn't such a good idea. I'm very... twitchy, for lack of a better word.

Of course, it's been a twitchy sort of day all around. Tomorrow I head out to Stillwater, Oklahoma, host of Steelcon 2000. Steelcon 2000, of course, being a gathering of some of the gaming geeks populating the Southwest -- and, I imagine, one silly Midwestern chick. Said Midwestern chick, of course, heading down that way to meet a certain young man she's been talking to for a couple of years online.

Hence, reason for said Midwestern chick's twitchiness. Well, that and the Frappuchino.

Honestly though, today has not been a pile of fun. The Dreaded Data Entry Project was supposed to have been finished today, and I realized pretty quickly when I got in that it wasn't going to happen. My manager (as opposed to my immediate supervisor) came over for an update and was less than thrilled when I told him the project should be done by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. "That's too late!" he exclaimed.

Allow me to explain: the project I'm working on is one I do every year. It's a series of spreadsheets that figures each support rep's annual average call statistics (minutes per call, calls per day, etc.). They use it for the annual reviews. Annual reviews have always taken place in late April. Well apparently this year they moved it up and didn't bother to let me know. However, I'm having a hard time caring deep down about this, because, frankly, this is not a life or death situation. The company is not going to go under if the review sheets are a day or two late, as the reviews won't start for another several weeks anyway, after tax season.

This whole incident has served to make me think, at least. If something apparently so imperative to my supervisors just makes me shrug, I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't move on. I understand the whole idea of not defining myself based on my job. I got that down last year about this time. However, should I really stay somewhere where my priorities are that different from those around me? I don't know, honestly. But then, this job is very comfortable, as I've said over and over. I guess maybe I'm feeling some guilt for taking off at a kinda important (at least to them) time, in addition to not caring as much as the people around me.

I don't know. I'm babbling. It's the caffeine and the nerves talking.

I hate flying. Have I mentioned that I hate flying? Airplane seats are not designed for the fuller figure, and that's the truth. Along with the whole 'gee it might crash and I might die' phobia thing. Although, to be honest, the only time I really worry about that is when we're taking off. The rest of the time I just worry about delays and cancellations and the like. I never really think of myself as a control freak until I'm travelling and my travel plans are out of my control.

There's a chance I may be able to write an entry or two while I'm in Oklahoma. If that's the case, I'll post them (along with pictures!) on Monday. Either way, I'm sure I'll be posting something on Monday. (Yes, I know. I said this last entry. Deal with it. ;-) )

Posted by Lisa at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2000

Spring Fever

I should be working. I mean, I really should be working. I've got a project due at the end of this week. I may end up taking some of it home. But... it's spring! I don't care if it snowed yesterday here, it's still spring. I'm restless and fidgety (okay, some of that may be sleep dep and caffeine). I'm mood-swinging, but not in that odd, unsettling way I was a month or so ago. This is more... melodramatic? I think that's the word I'm looking for. The highs have been... stratospheric. Even the lows have been cathartic, if nothing else.

More resolution in various old issues, leaving me feeling even closer to the people involved than I was before. This makes me happy. It makes me happy, and it leaves me feeling far more hopeful about the future. Honest translation with all vague bullshit aside? I've gained some more acceptance where Brand and Mo are concerned. This can only be a good thing. In fact, thanks to the wonders of ICQ, Mo and I have been talking -- like, real voice to voice talking. She's just damn cool, that's all there is to it.

Self-review time at work. I hate doing self-reviews. With a passion. I can be honest on all the quantifiable stuff, no problem. I'm about at 'meets job expectations' on everything, and I way exceed things like job knowledge and so on. But. There's this:

List 1 to 3 goals/objectives you would like to attain before the next review. Indicate preparation and training necessary to attain these goals and projected completion date. Goals must be realistic and reasonably accomplished. Your individual goals must be consistent with Department and [company] goals. The goals should be performance oriented and quantifiable where possible.
What goals? My goal used to be, essentially: 'To not be a receptionist here anymore'. I wanted to go to another department, and got doors slammed in my face. So now I'm content to stay here in support reception, doing my own thing for the most part.

I hate like hell to break it to them, but... my individual goals don't have jack shit to do with Department or company goals. So... I need to try and find a way to BS my way through this. Part of me is soooo tempted to be honest though. If I didn't think I'd end up getting my butt booted out the door, I'd do it.

Annnnnd... I'm going to Oklahoma in three days. Oof. I can't even type that without getting butterflies in my stomach. Meeting people from online is always interesting. Meeting people from online that you've been talking to for literally years is even more so. Two years, to be exact. I have no idea what to expect. As shy as we both seem to get around each other, we were half-joking about needing to find a pair of computers in order to be able to talk to each other. (Hey, it's a gaming convention, that's a possibility.)

But, I'm taking my camera with me. And I may even have time to write an entry or two during my trip.

Spring is in the air... and I can't sit still...

Posted by Lisa at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2000

Twilight Twin

Eleven years. It doesn't seem possible. I know lately I've been reminiscing a lot, but... I don't know. Maybe it's just a phase I'm going through. The 'god, time is going by so fast and I'm getting old' phase. Eleven years ago today, I was a senior in high school. Eleven years ago today, I woke up in Howell, New Jersey. Each year, the choir and the band from my high school (Howell High School, in Howell, Michigan) would go on a tour somewhere. Sometimes they'd go together, sometimes they'd go separately. I don't know how they got in touch with each other, but my senior year, the band and the choir directors came up with the idea of an exchange program of sorts, between Howell, New Jersey and Howell, Michigan. The idea was simple: the Michigan kids go on tour to New Jersey in March, the New Jersey kids go on tour to Michigan in May.

Thursday, March 16th, 1989 was the day designated for sight-seeing. Howell, New Jersey is only about an hour from New York City, after all. Allow me to backtrack slightly: in high school, I was a full-fledged theatre geek. I watched the Tony Awards every year. I adored the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, because they always had numbers from the latest Broadway musicals. I secretly (or not-so-secretly) wanted to be a hit on Broadway someday. In short, New York was my Mecca. That was the big pull for this tour for my friends and me. WE WERE GOING TO NEW YORK! And not only that, we were going to see a real Broadway show.

In their wisdom, the adults concerned decided that the band and the choir student presidents should accompany us on our merry outing, as tour guides. Both seniors, Presidents Eric and Brian (choir and band respectively) were only too happy to skip class for a day and go to New York. As the teenagers we all were, most of the girls were sizing up the two new faces. (Did I mention that Eric's family was hosting Dawn and me? We were greatly envied.)

Cut to the bus trip into the city. Dawn and Jason (then newly dating, they were so cute) and the rest of our friends were goofing off, and someone started singing Weird Al Yankovic songs. Brian joined in. How could I miss a chance to flirt? So, Lisa joined in next. We were all clustered around several bus seats, some of us standing, some of us sitting. Brian and I were standing across each other. At one point, our eyes met. To this day, I wonder if I actually felt the click, or if I only see it in retrospect. In any case, the click happened, and once the singing was over, he and I ended up sitting next to each other and talking.

I was giddy. My thought patterns must have gone something like this: 'Ohmygodhe'scuteandhe'stalkingtoME!' followed quickly by 'IthinkI'mgoingtodie'. It was an attraction unlike anything I've felt, before or since. We got to New York. The Kennedy Center. The Metropolitan Opera. We all wandered like good little tourists, gaping at these touristy performing arts attractions. Through it all, Lisa and Brian were inseparable. I could see the more 'popular' kids of the group eyeing me, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I kept trying to catch Dawn's eye to give her the 'OHMYGOD!' look. South Street for lunch. Brian bought me lunch. We hadn't shut up once. I have pictures of the whole gang on the pier at South Street. I'm wishing for a scanner right about now.

Somewhere during all this, I started to feel guilty. I had a boyfriend back in Michigan, one I'd been dating for well over six months. Brian, I found out, had a girlfriend he'd been dating for three years. But we really weren't doing anything wrong, aside from hitting it off insanely well.

Finally, after dinner at Wendy's in Times Square (Brian checked a few years ago, it's not there anymore, *sigh*), came the highlight of the whole day: a performance of Into the Woods at the Martin Beck theatre. I was so excited I could barely stand it. Seeing the theatre (which had an enormous inflatable giant's boot draped over the front) nearly sent me into hysterics. Brian and I switched tickets around with people to make sure that we were sitting next to each other and with Dawn and Jason.

Sitting in the theatre, waiting for the curtain to go up. You have to understand, this was literally a dream come true for me. The tension and anticipation was nearly choking me. At one point, Brian reached over and took my hand and he, the old Broadway pro, smiled. We stayed like that for the rest of the show. The show was glorious. It became the basis of many many in-jokes between the four of us, which still persist to this day.

That day was one of the few truly perfect days in my life. The rest of the trip was not without its drama, of course. Brian's girlfriend Val met me and hated me at first sight. Dawn and Jason were trying to work through the beginnings of a relationship, with a jealous friend lingering in the background. And then finally, it was time to go back home. Addresses and phone numbers were exchanged. I was truly, melodramatically forlorn all the way back to Michigan.

That was just the beginning, of course. Not long afterwards, Brian broke up with Val and I broke up with Bob -- for reasons unrelated to anything that had happened between us. We spent most of that summer before college wavering between trying to do a long distance relationship or not. (Of course, given my penchant for long distance relationships, I'm sure you can guess what my vote was.) We ultimately decided not to pursue it, and have remained good friends ever since.

Brian and me, circa 1995

More than good friends. From early on, Brian and I had an uncanny number of things in common with one another. Hence, The List was born. Now, whenever we still stumble across something new we have in common: "That's what, number 1,023?" At one point, The List was actually written and maintained, but we've gotten far past that. I can't remember exactly how the phrase 'twilight twin' was born, but born it was, and that's what we've been ever since.

We don't talk terribly often. We see each other maybe every few years. It doesn't matter. The link is there, and each time we meet, it takes us maybe 10 minutes to recenter ourselves with each other, and then off we go again. The last time we saw each other was June of 1998. He managed to convince me to drive to Chicago to go to ALCON '98, the very first Weird Al fan convention. (Follow the link above, really. It's Brian's take on the whole trip.)

The best part of my wedding I got email from Brian a few days ago, reminding me that some friends of his, a band called Friday's Child, are coming through Ann Arbor this weekend and that I better go see them or he'll beat me. He also reminded me about his wedding, which is coming up on May 28th. I'm excited about seeing him again. Maybe a little nervous at how this might change our relationship... but then, my wedding didn't really change much between us. Mostly I'm just anxious to see him again, and excited about being there at his wedding, as he was at mine. We have a lot of catching up to do, but then, we always do.

(My apologies for the rather unexpected hiatus. I confess, I also didn't write all of this entry on the 16th. Some was written the afternoon of the 17th as well.)

Posted by Lisa at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2000

Everything's Coming Up Roses

Last night I did something I have never ever done in my adult life (or even my life, period) before. When I stopped at the grocery store, I bought myself some roses.


It was oddly liberating. I'm not sure I can explain why. In any case, they look lovely sitting on desk next to my computer, as you can see above. Of course, while I was putting them in the vase (oh all right, I don't have a vase, they're in a Tupperware pitcher), Max decided I'd brought home a salad bar. I spent most of last night beating him off the petals, which he really thought were tasty. When I went to bed, I had to put the roses in a cupboard.

I had planned to be a hermit last night and today. Not that this is anything terribly unusual on the weekends, except that I planned for it, with groceries (and roses!) and various essentials. But alas... I'm tempted to leave my peaceful quiet cave and head out into the wide world tonight. I was watching the Audra McDonald special on PBS (watch it if you get the chance!), and during the pledge break they mentioned that they had tickets for her concert tonight in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, I can't get them anywhere but at the door at this point, and I can't get ahold of anyone to go with me. So... I could take a chance and head into town around 6:30 and see if I can't get a ticket and just go by myself. I'm soooo tempted. Especially after watching the special. I've been on a real Broadway sort of kick lately, and her voice is just incredible.

I'm just trying to decide if going by myself is a sign of independence, or if it's just pitiful. I think the former. I mean, I've done this sort of thing before. Yes, I won't have someone next to me to share it all. However, I know from experience that that means I'll just get that much more caught up in the music, which is never a bad thing. We'll see. I've got a couple of hours before I have to get ready. Hopefully the demons of sloth will be vanquished by my amazing incredible astounding thirst for culture.

Or something.

5:47 pm

Don't Get Around Much Anymore Well, I don't think I'm going to make it to the concert for various reasons, but I'm about to prove myself as the geekiest journaler around. Yes, it's true, Lisa's giving her own little rendition of the song stuck in her head today. This is the computerized equivalent of me playing around with a tape recorder when I was a kid. I thought I had streaming audio, but I don't -- yet. But... if you really want to hear yours truly singing, just click the nifty little graphic above.

I'm a geek, and I'm proud. :-)

Posted by Lisa at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2000

What Might Have Been

It's funny how a song takes you back. I've been playing around a lot on Napster. It's sort of neat, to have a song come to your mind, and just to be able to find it and download it, and then listen to it. I did that tonight. While I was roleplaying, someone used the phrase "what might have been". It triggered one of those odd cross-references, and I remembered having a favorite song by that name, once upon a time.

Summer, 1993. I was living in Martin, Tennessee, a supposedly happy housewife. Neither of us were employed, Gary was in school full time, and I couldn't find a job to save my life, aside from being (unbeknownst to me) horribly depressed and well on my way to agoraphobia. I was spending most of my days at home, rarely leaving the house. I can't quite remember what I did with my time. We didn't have a computer at the time, my first bout of internet addiction was still several months away. I remember reading a lot. I spent a lot of time at the puny county library. And watching a lot of movies. Bizarre ones, foreign movies, surreal movies, whatever. I had no real friends, with the possible exception of the couple who lived across the sidewalk in our apartment complex. We were more acquaintances than anything. I babysat for them from time to time.

So. I spent most of my days in our air-conditioned, dim apartment. Dim, because I kept the blinds closed almost constantly. I read. I watched movies. And... I listened to the radio. Constantly. If the TV wasn't on, the radio was. Silence drove me bonkers. At the time, I listened a lot to a puny local station (puny library, puny radio station... trust me, everything in Martin was puny). Their morning show guys knew me by name, I called them so often. It was a pretty sad way to try and feel connected to the world around me, but hey, we do what we have to do.

The other station I listened to was the country station from the nearest 'big' town. I was really into country that year. A song came out that broke my heart that summer of 1993: "What Might Have Been" by Little Texas. I cried the first time I heard it, and nearly every time afterwards. But I still couldn't seem to hear it enough. When it would come on the radio, I'd sit there, stockstill. Sometimes I'd even press my head to the radio on the headboard of the bed, just listening, and usually crying. The harmony gave me goosebumps, the words tore me up. Now I realize why, of course. I was desperately unhappy, and the words spoke to that part of me that knew how unhappy I was, the part that I was hiding. Every once in a while, listening to it, I'd flash onto Bob, my ex-boyfriend from high school, and wonder where he was.

Sensory impressions come back to me: the feel of our waterbed (where I spent a lot of my time reading), the sound of the central air conditioning kicking on and off, it was amazingly loud. Tennessee summer nights, humid and warm and sticky with swarms of mosquitoes. The faint smell of manure and sewage that always permeated Martin on damp days. The dim light of the bedroom in the afternoons, with the sun blocked from the window. The smell of me after too many days in the house and too many days unshowered. The feel of the tears that fell at the drop of a hat, but most often at love songs, and almost always at "What Might Have Been".

So tonight, I was curious how I'd react to hearing it again, after all this time. It all came back. God. There are so many memories I'd lost, memories I'd left behind. Maybe they were better left behind, maybe not. I don't know. I just have such a vivid impression of me as that 21 year old girl, how alone she was. I don't think I've ever been so alone in my life, before or since. God knows I never want to be there again.

Listening to this song now... it strikes me as faintly trite and tired, although I still like the melody and the harmonies. I haven't really cried listening to it, just a tear here and there while writing this. I haven't cried, but I feel... sad. Not a heart-crushing sadness, just... sorrow for that lost girl who was trying so hard to make her life work, trying hard to find her way through a minefield. I'd lost her, amidst therapies, and anti-depressants, and years of a better life... I'd disconnected from her. I left her alone again.

Not anymore. She's part of me. She had her own lessons to teach the woman I am now. I can hear her, in my mind, singing along with the radio:

Sure I think about you now and then
But it's been a long, long time
I've got a good life now, I've moved on
So when you cross my mind

I try not to think about
What might have been
'Cause that was then and we have taken different roads
We can't go back again, there's no use giving in
And there's no way to know
What might have been

We could sit and talk about this all night long
And wonder why we didn't last
Yes, they might be the best days we will ever know
But we'll have to leave them in the past

I try not to think about
What might have been
'Cause that was then and we have taken different roads
We can't go back again, there's no use giving in
And there's no way to know
What might have been

That same old look in your eyes
It's a beautiful night
I'm so tempted to stay
But too much time has gone by
We should just say goodbye
And turn and walk away

I try not to think about
What might have been
'Cause that was then and we have taken different roads
We can't go back again, there's no use giving in
And there's no way to know
What might have been

No, we'll never know
What might have been

Posted by Lisa at 05:35 AM | Comments (0)