April 27, 2000

Easter Recap

Me Some pictures from my family's decidedly non-traditional Easter dinner this year. I met everybody at my grandma's house, and we ended up going out to eat at the local Chinese restaurant. Good for me, as I've had major Chinese cravings for weeks. Nothing near me delivers! It makes me sad. Anyway, I do love my family, and I don't get to see them often enough. (Yeah, I know, it's my own fault!) In descending order: me, my mom, my Aunt Vera, my Uncle Elmer, and my grandma. I know the pictures are dark... the restaurant was so dark we nearly needed flashlights to see our food.

Mom My mom. I can't say enough about her, really. Growing up she was always the disciplinarian, mostly because my dad couldn't bring himself to do it. (I know I've mentioned what a daddy's girl I was.) Of course, that meant I always thought of her as the mean one when I was a kid. I know differently now, of course. In a way, I don't think she and I would have gotten as close as we are, ironically, if my dad hadn't died. As it is, I don't think there's anything we wouldn't do for each other. We're each very protective of the other one. I know she sorta despairs of me at times, but both of us have finally found a place we can be happy after a lot of tough times.

Aunt Vera Vera is my mom's sister, and one of my 'other moms'. I have a couple of them. When I was a kid, I used to love going over to her and Elmer's house. I don't know why exactly, I can't remember. Vera is without a doubt one of the sweetest, kindest women I have ever met. She's a saint. I'm serious. If you do something so bad that she gets mad at you, then you know you're in deep trouble. Typical of the women in my family (see above), she's highly protective. Come to think of it, the only person I've ever seen her get mad at is her husband Elmer (below), and that was years ago when he had an argument with my mom...

Uncle Elmer Everybody has at least one crazy uncle. Elmer's mine. When I was growing up, he was absolutely my favorite uncle, because he was the one who'd play with us. Or tease us. Or make us laugh. ('Us' meaning my cousins and me... I'm an only child.) He used to tease my dad (who never met an animal he didn't like) that my dad won over all the dogs, while he won over all the kids. He's the one who used to hold floating contests in the pool at my house. He's the one who told his dog to pee on my first boyfriend's car tires. He's the one who tried to teach me and my cousin Sheri to drive when I was twelve and Sheri was fifteen... and laughed at me when I ended up in the ditch. He still laughs about that: "She said she wasn't used to the gas pedal!" he chortles.

Grandma My grandma is yet another one of the amazing women in my family. She had eight children (my mom was the second youngest, I think Vera was the third), which alone makes her amazing. I remember arguing once that my family was truly matriarchal, with my grandma as the matriarch for many many years. She just turned 92 a few weeks ago, and she still lives by herself, with some help. My grandma's another one of my 'other moms'. She babysat me a lot when I was little. I can remember when I misbehaved, she used to threaten to get a switch from the yard and "beat that devil right out of you!" I don't think she ever did though. The threat was enough. She's been gradually getting more forgetful as time goes on, which makes it a little hard to visit with her.

Just an update on me today... I've been cranky most of the day, partly due to the fact that it took me an hour and forty minutes to get into work today, as compared to about thirty-five minutes. You see, Michigan has two seasons: winter and construction. Grrrrr. Other than that, it's your average Thursday. Now if I could just figure out why I'm so sleepy all the time...

Posted by Lisa at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2000

Wild at Heart

Me in the wind Oy. This week's obsession has been all about my Changeling game. After finishing my first storyline, I came up with a second one almost right away... the trick was to get all my ideas in coherent order in a form that made sense. Finally this past weekend I sat down and managed to do that, with a lot of help and encouragement from Brand. (Okay, I'll be honest. I fired up MS-Word while we were on the phone and we pulled together the beginnings of my notes.) He's probably the best sounding board for story ideas I have. Needless to say, once the basic storyline started falling into place, I got extremely psyched. I still am. So. Basic story arc in place. I know what's going on behind the scenes, and I know where I'm going. What's left? All the organization for the game I'm running this weekend, the first story in the chronicle. So I started working on that Monday. I've been writing and planning until my head hurt.

Normally planning a game doesn't cause this much blood, sweat and tears. But this is a big story, and I want to do it justice. Most veteran game masters/Storytellers say they don't plan much for a game. I can't do that yet. I need to know exactly where I'm going, or I don't go anywhere. So I give myself plenty of material to work with, and let it go from there. If we stray from the material I have planned, no biggie. But at least I have something to toss at the characters if things slow down. Writing game notes is sort of like writing a story... except that I have no control over the main characters (the players). So, I write everything else that's going on, and leave the rest of them. It takes some getting used to, and I'm not quite there yet.

As far as the rest of the week goes... it's been mostly good, but interesting. I got my emotional knees a little skinned earlier in the week. Me and my innate desire to have drama in my life. I think sometimes that means I create it or exaggerate it out of small things. Essentially, I had a small crush on a friend of mine, and it came out that he's interested in someone else, and that I'm his best friend. This should sound familiar to anyone who knows me. I realized fairly quickly that it wasn't so much the incident itself that upset me, but the pattern it represents. Once again, Brand came to the rescue, with some words that helped, at least: "You've got a wild heart, and you tend to lead with it. That means you sometimes get hurt more than others." I whimpered something about wishing I could build more walls, and he said, "Then you wouldn't be you. Sooner or later, living the way you do will pay off though, and you'll find the right person." Something about having a 'wild heart' made me feel better. And what he said made me think of the two quotes on the sidebar.

I'm highly adolescent in some ways. While I'm perfectly capable of having an adult relationship, when I'm not in such a relationship, I tend to get silly, like recently. I don't know. It's a complex part of me that I'd planned to break down and analyze tonight... but the self-analysis is going to have to wait... again.

This is why I adore Michigan in the spring time:

Whitmore Lake
Posted by Lisa at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2000

Bleah -- In Shades of Cyan

Probably not one of the most exciting days I've ever had in my life, to be certain. I'm fairly down today. I don't mean that I'm 'oh god I may as well slit my wrists' depressed, more like 'just let me curl up here in the corner with a blanket and leave me alone' depressed. I feel sort of overwhelmed, and I'm not completely sure by what. If you asked me, I'd say "Everything!" So it's no big deal, really, just general feelings of inadequacy. It'll pass soon enough.

So why am I writing? Not sure... partly a feeling of guilt because I haven't written anything in nearly a week. Partly because I needed somewhere to be able to wail "I really suck today!" Admittedly, I feel better than I did when I first got here. Something about comparing William Wallace of "Braveheart" fame to accountants made me grin (see sidebar quote).

Keeping a journal has been good for one thing in particular. Noticing cycles. The year ago link at the bottom, in point of fact. Hey. Look. I'm going on and on about how uncertain I am about this job. Imagine that. I'm also starting to wonder if spring and fall don't both stir up strong emotions in me, both good and bad. I always get restless when the seasons change. It can't be coincidence that I get worked up every fall and every spring.

My own whininess aside, you all simply must go read Melissa's entries for the past couple days, here first, then here. I'm amazed. My poor romantic heart almost can't take that sort of wonder. And Melissa, if you're reading this, I'm insanely jealous. It's absolutely beautiful and you're making me cry. In a good way.

(Yay me for finally updating the links page.)

Posted by Lisa at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2000

Review

So. I've been here before. Annual review in one hour. I hate this. I am always, always convinced that I suck. I'm sitting here getting myself all riled up over this. I shouldn't. Dave, our latest supervisor, is a cool guy, and I think he likes me. I'm certainly in a better position than I was last year, I think. Still, every year about this time, I start re-evaluating:
Do I still want to be here?

Well, not necessarily, but do I want to go anywhere else, either? Until I decide on a job that I'll actually care enough about to work hard on, I may as well stay here, vaguely apathetic but competent.

Why does that bother me so much?

Wasted potential. A fucking lot of wasted potential. Last tested, my IQ was 158. And what am I doing with it? Not a lot. I don't like being apathetic. Not this apathetic, at least. (And yet, I'm not apathetic, am I? I'm worried about this damn review!) I'm hitting another period of dissatisfaction. I do this, what, a couple times a year? Everything about my life sucks for a few weeks, then I pick up and go on -- usually with no changes made. I feel like I'm... on hold. Waiting.

What am I waiting for?

That's the $64,000 question, isn't it? I don't know. For a choir of angels to show up and sing me to my perfect job, my perfect career, my calling... for someone else to do the work to get me there. I am ambitionless. Nothing pulls at me as being worth struggling towards, worth fighting for. I'd rather sit here and play around. I'm... lazy. My idea of the perfect job right now is one that requires the least amount of work for the most amount of pay. I'm ashamed of that on some level.

What do I care about?

My friends. My family. My games. My... freedom. Freedom from caring about what happens here at work, really. When I leave work, work stays behind. Hell, even when I'm at work, it doesn't usually bother me or unduly stress me. I don't want a job where I'm so invested in it that it takes over my life. I listen to some friends of mine freak over their 'careers', and I can't help but think I'm glad I don't have to worry about that.

So why am I so bothered?

Thinking about it, I suppose that doesn't sound so horrible, really... God, what is this, the time of year or something? Also from last year: "My true self is elsewhere. In my writing, and my friends... but it bothers me that I can usually be complacent with that. Not content. If I was content, I wouldn't be writing this at all." As if I needed any further proof that my life goes in circles.

So what's it all come down to?

Am I an apathetic, lazy, typical Gen X slacker wasting her potential and screwing around? Or am I an 'alternately-directed', laid-back sorta chica who's doing what she wants to do and telling all the traditional values and expectations to go screw themselves? I don't know either.

I'm being summoned for my review. Back with results in a bit.

3:30 pm

(Cue ominous music.) Well, it's official. I Meet Job Requirements. All the way across the board. I'm apathetically competent. I feel much better about it now, though.

Seriously, Dave's probably the coolest supervisor I've had here. We came up with some ideas that might result in some additional challenges for me, without me having to give up my low-stress status.

Viva la Services Administration. Or something.

Posted by Lisa at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2000

Written in the Stars

One week left of tax season. I slept most of the weekend. I have wonderful, wonderful friends, both online and off. I got to talk to an old online friend from years ago, who not only remembered me, but has been missing me all this time. My desk here at work is finally clean. My hair is wavy and shiny and almost orderly today. I have Wheat Thins. I have been told, over the past several days, and from varying sources, that I am cute, that I have a sultry voice (that one always makes me grin), that I am brilliant, that I am talented. Perhaps most delightful of all... one of the above sources was me.

I am having a very good day. I am giddy with the goodness of the universe as it stands right now at this moment. I feel like I'm in love... but I know I'm not. I just have that same lightness of being, of belonging somewhere, of being comfortable in my skin. Maybe today I've fallen in love with me. (Ooh, that's so cheesy!) But cheese is a good thing! Today, at least. Today, there is little that does not count as a good thing.

Of course, the small cynical part of my mind is murmuring, 'Wow, as happy as you are, you're probably going to, like, die any minute now...' So, you read it here. If I keel over, you can all stand in amazement at my phenomenal psychic powers.

Ironically, I decided to check my horoscope today, which is not something I usually do. Here's my cosmic outlook for the day, courtesy of Astronet:

CANCER (June 22nd-July 22nd): The emotional Moon, your very own lovely silver orb, has moved into your house of personality, Cancer. With your ruler in this place, you might be feeling as if you were "wearing your heart on your sleeve." And, as if that weren't enough already, this tenderhearted Moon will connect with Jupiter, the planet that makes every emotion bigger than life. But that's not all; she'll also connect with Mars, who'll turn up the thermostat on all those enlarged feelings. In other words, regardless what you're feeling today, expect it to erupt in a big way. Don't worry; your display will have an appreciative audience.
So in other words, I'm sure it's perfectly in keeping with all this that I'm feeling the urge to burst into song, to grin madly, to howl at the moon -- even if it is broad daylight.

It's going to be a long two and a half hours before I get to go home.

Posted by Lisa at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2000

Rambling

The caffeine monkey is on my back again. Oy. When you look at a bottle of Frappuchino in the store and think 'salvation in a bottle', you know you're in trouble. Far too little sleep this week. (Haven't we been here before?) Reason: same as always. Lisa's been having a wee bit too much fun on Something Wicked again. Basically, things always get more interesting when some sort of major change (good or bad) happens to a character -- just like in a movie or book. Conflict is what drives plot. Plot is what drives Lisa to stay up until all hours of the night and morning. I really really need to update the scene log page in the writing section of this site. (As a matter of fact, I just did update it. A little. No scenes from this week yet though.) That way, after complaining about how late I was up the night before, I can just point to the scene log in question. :-)

I wasn't all sure what sort of reactions to expect from my last entry. I got a lot of *hug*s from friends online. Brand and I talked about it some. He was a little surprised, mostly that I hadn't told him that already. I was too. That was part of the reason I finally just gave in and wrote it all down: I hadn't told anyone. Not even the people closest to me. That really bothered me. I try not to keep secrets like that as a general rule. Not from people I'm close to. I mean, I may be evasive about some things in my life, but... there's nothing really about my past that I'm so ashamed of that I'd keep it from everybody. And yet... I had.

Ugh. Enough about that already. I guess what I'm trying to say is that no one's threatened to brand me with a scarlet 'A', but no one's stood up and cheered for me either. Although I am sort of worried about how my mom's going to react...

So... I think I've mentioned that Brian is getting married in about a month and a half. I'm a little stuck, trying to figure out how to get to his wedding, which is in New Jersey. I don't know that I can afford the whole plane ticket, car rental, hotel room thing again so soon, but at the same time, I sure as heck don't want to drive to New Jersey by myself. Well, truthfully, I don't want to make the trip alone, period. The only person I'm really going to know is Brian, and well, he's going to be a touch busy. Anybody wanna go to Jersey in May?

Shifting gears yet once more... I have never had a nickname I really really liked. In elementary school most nicknames were painful, cruel or both. Same with middle school. A few of my guy friends from high school called me Aunt Bunny (after Eddie Murphy's old comedy routine), but I was never completely sure that wasn't based in meanness either. My friends just weren't the types to give out nicknames. The closest I've had to a nickname is 'Lis', which is just a shortening of my name. I never thought much about it.

My friends, except for one. One of my friends has a nickname for me, and I confess, I grin like a loon just about any time he uses it. Silly, but true. Raido calls me 'storyteller', and for some reason, that makes me very happy. I don't know why. It wouldn't work coming from anyone else, but from him, it's like this affirmation of me as a writer and a gamer (because the Storyteller is, in White Wolf games at least, the one who runs the show). I don't know. In any case, it's extremely cool, even if I do feel like an ass for mentioning it. But hey, if I can't do asinine stuff here, where else am I going to do it?

Posted by Lisa at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2000

A Woman with a Past

Why yes, this entry is riddled with Rent references. This may be a growing trend. I finally listened to a copy a friend of mine sent me last year... and I'm hooked. It's incredible.

I've noticed a growing trend in entries of late, spending a lot of time talking about my past, especially around the time I left Gary. I don't think I'm dwelling, exactly, but... 1994 was a big year for me, good and bad. I thought about doing a breakdown of the year as a whole, but I'm not certain what purpose that would serve. So... 1994, some highlights (?) if you will:

February: Gary and I got our first computer, a 286 affectionately known as Frankensystem. I still have it, but something's wrong with it. One of these days I'll get it fixed... there's a lot of writing on the hard drive that I'd like to see again. Curious about the whole BBS phenomenon, I managed to track down the school's dial-up number and I learned how to telnet. On February 13th (god help me, I remember the date), I discovered ISCABBS, and got hooked. ISCABBS is still around, I know, because I just recreated my old account there. If you go poking around, look for Rowan Mayfair. In any case... I got hooked, like I said.

March - July: Given the isolated nature of my life (which I talked about a lot about a month ago), it was extremely easy for me to get sucked into the net. Here were real people, friends that I made, in a place where I'd had no friends for over a year. I was innocent of the ways of the net, and so was startled when a young man I'd been talking to from England -- who went by the handle of Darkdreamer -- announced one day that he was completely in love with me and that his life was over because his true love was in America and married to someone else. It was confusing, and alluring, to talk to this person who was more attentive, in many ways, than my husband. Gary knew the situation, and was (or acted, at least) amused at this nineteen year old goth in England who said he was in love with his wife.

I met other people during this time, of course, including Hollingsworth, who still lived in Philadelphia at the time. Life went on. Gary and I fought about how much time I spent online. (Honestly? Around 18 hours a day, at least. When I wasn't asleep, I was online. How's that better than now? I have a job and an outside social life, so I'm not around that much ;-)) Andy (Darkdreamer's real name) sent me flowers for my birthday. We talked on the phone from time to time. He wrote hopelessly goth poetry and songs about me and had a lovely accent. He sent me tapes, introducing me to Tori Amos, Sisters of Mercy, Mission UK... and various other groups that I still love.

Then sometime in June or July, he started planning a trip to come to the United States for several weeks. I still look back at that time and wonder what the hell I was thinking. ISCA was a window to the world, beyond Martin, Tennessee, and to have this fascinating person write me poetry and send me flowers and go on and on about how wonderful I was... my head was turned, in spite of my better judgement. "I have to see you," he said, "just once." He wasn't just coming to see me, of course, over the course of a three week trip, he was planning to spend a week in Atlanta, with a mutual friend named Donna, a week in Ohio with more mutual friends whose names I can't recall, and a week in Colorado with one of his best friends from home, who was studying abroad for the year. Obviously, coming to Tennessee was out of the question. He freaked at the thought of meeting Gary and having to actually acknowledge his existence. So we finally agreed (the three of us, I didn't hide anything from Gary -- four if you count Donna) that I would go spend the week in Atlanta.

August: I think it was the 21st or so, that I left Martin and drove to Atlanta. Andy was due to arrive on the 22nd. Donna lived in the basement of a house, reconstructed into an apartment of sorts. She and I hit it off, right from the start. She knew the situation with me, that I was married, and smitten with someone else, but she didn't judge -- which really, is why I went to Atlanta and not Ohio. I can't express enough what an incredibly confusing time all of this was. My conscience poked at me, telling me that I was, perhaps, being unwise, if not being outright disloyal. But still... Gary knew what was going on, so how was it wrong. Of course, he didn't know the whole truth, that I was smitten as well.

I remember going to the airport, waiting at the gate for Andy's flight to arrive. I felt this incredible nervous anticipation, a feeling I've gotten quite familiar with since, of knowing you're about to meet someone face to face who already means something to you. Donna had a camcorder, and recorded the whole event. Passengers started coming off the plane. I was a wreck, "Oh my god, what if we don't recognize him?" We'd both seen pictures of course, but... and then, there he was. Not much taller than me, pale, slender, long black hair and sunglasses, wearing a leather jacket in Atlanta summer time. To this day, I don't know what he thought when he saw me. Neither one of us said much, but just hugged and trembled. It was very melodramatic. We held hands walking back to the car.

Again, I remember feeling that 'click', of the three of us getting along. If I occasionally felt like an outsider, I attributed it to the isolated way I'd spent the last several years. One of Donna's friends hung around with us, a foursome rather than a trio. Andy and I had chances to talk... among other things. The first night he was there, we spent probably an hour kissing while we said good night. I knew right then I was in trouble, but by that point, I didn't care.

Then came the evenings Donna had to work, leaving the two of us alone. We reacted about as predictably as any twenty-two year old and nineteen year old couple would, especially a couple with an overgrown sense of melodrama and angst. "This is our only chance to ever be together," we told ourselves. I didn't sleep with him. I'll state that right up front to try and salve my conscience, which is still stinging as I write this. Six years later, and I still feel guilty. In any case, things happened that probably shouldn't have. No, that definitely shouldn't have, given what I professed to believe at the time.

That was early in the week. Tuesday or so. By Thursday, an odd shift happened. I started to feel more like an outsider. Andy had been sleeping in a different room, while Donna and I had been sharing her bed. Sometime in the middle of the week, the three of us started sleeping first in the same room, then in the same bed. Innocently, really, it came from staying up late talking and just crashing where we were. Then I realized one night (was it Thursday?) that he was stroking her hair and murmuring to her, while I tried to fall asleep.

Trip to Stone Mountain. Donna had to leave early again to go to work. Andy and I talked about absolutely everything except what was going on. Before long, it was the two of them sneaking out of the room to steal a few moments alone together. Nobody said anything. One night, Friday or Saturday, we started to go for a walk together in the moonlight. I turned around and walked back to Donna's house, crying the entire way. That night, while they slept, I poured my heart onto a piece of paper. "I would have betrayed what I am for you, broke vows, only to watch you turn to someone else." I slept very little that night. I was due to stay several more days, until Andy left to go to Ohio, but I knew I couldn't.

I think we eventually talked, I can't remember. I know Andy had decided to stay in Atlanta another week, because he wanted to stay with Donna. Neither of them tried especially hard to convince me to stay when I said I was going home early. I can remember saying goodbye to the two of them, so excited in what they'd found together, so acutely aware of how hurt I was. Donna hugged me over and over again, telling me how sorry she was that things worked out the way they had. Andy at least had the good grace to look uncomfortable.

It seems now that I cried the entire ten hour drive back to Martin. Andy ended up staying with Donna for the entire three weeks. Less than a week after I left, he proposed to her. I went into a tailspin, into one of the blackest fits of depression I've ever had. And I couldn't explain why to Gary. How could I tell him that someone else had broken my heart? I couldn't be civil to either Andy or Donna, when they came back online. I remember having a huge fight with Andy, trying to figure out how he could say he was in love with me for the first part of a week, then with someone else a few days later. I felt used. As many times as I threatened suicide during my depressive periods, I think those few weeks were the one time I might have actually followed through, except that it didn't seem worth the effort.

This is so hard to write, to go back and analyze old motivations and old actions. It hurts a lot more than I thought it would. Wounds that I thought had healed have apparently festered a touch. Consider this the lancing. On the one hand, going with the Christian morality I subscribed to and the vows that I'd made, I was so wrong to do what I did. But on the other hand, that trip was the straw I needed to break the camel's back and to point out to myself -- and to Gary, really -- just how very very wrong our relationship was by that point. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing.

Within two weeks of coming home from Atlanta, I'd decided to go home. To Michigan. It took nearly a year for one of us to file for divorce -- he beat me to it, by about a month. I didn't find out until the papers were sent to me, although he and I talked every few weeks. I can remember how my stomach clenched when I saw that he'd filed under grounds of adultery. I didn't contest it. People tried to convince me to, because I told them that it wasn't true, but in my heart I felt it was... and so I didn't contest it.

I have never, ever told this whole story before. There's that much guilt. Not in three years of therapy, not to any friends, not to my mom. People have gotten bits and pieces, but never the whole thing. Now you know. I'm wondering if I'm going to have the guts to actually post this. I'm wondering, really, if it all would have hurt so much if Andy hadn't ditched me for Donna. I'm wondering if I would still feel guilty and horrible and awful if things had gone well.

I'm hoping now that I have one less skeleton in my closet to rattle bones at me at night.

Posted by Lisa at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)