August 29, 2000
My god. Has it really been nearly a week since I updated? Shame on me! I kept meaning to, but there never seemed to be anything worth writing about going on. I mean, there was, but when there was, I was too out of it to try and write about it. The usual stuff has been going on, work, gaming, a little bit of writing here and there. I'm still waiting to hear about the second draft of the book, but I was warned that it might be a little bit.
Work has been ungodly busy the past couple of days. I mean, ungodly. So ungodly that I fully expect the antichrist to show up at the office any day now. Probably with a shotgun. I mean, he or she is probably one of our customers. Yesterday I took 548 phone calls in nine hours. That is literally a call a minute almost exactly. So far today, with about an hour to go today, I'm at 375 -- wait, 376. There goes the phone. I haven't taken a lunch in two days. Last night I lost my temper at Max, I think because I was so stressed. You see, I managed to bruise the hell out of my forearm bumping it against my cubicle last night. I should take a picture of the welt. When Max was on my lap last night he, as he often does, got irritated with me typing on the keyboard and bit my forearm -- right where I got bruised. I screamed at him and threw him off my lap, then threw a plastic cup at his head (disposable plastic). Then I spent several moments feeling like I was going to cry. It scared me a little. I'm not the type to scream and throw things.
Today has been a little better, I think because I made a point of chilling out last night and getting enough sleep. Then again, I've also got something to distract me today: my audition for the Choral Union is tonight at 7:40. Nervous? Hell yes. Trying to ignore it? You better believe it. I keep telling myself that it doesn't matter that much. I mean, it's not like high school or college, where you've got four years to get into this group or that one, and then your chance is gone. This is a 150+ voice choir. I'm thinking there surely can't be 40 or so professional-quality altos in the Ann Arbor area, can there? I mean, I'm not exactly a professional-quality choir alto, but I've got a ton of training and even more experience.
Pardon me while I have a small confidence crisis here. Okay self. If you don't make it this year, there's next year. You're not going anywhere, and the Choral Union isn't going anywhere. I guess what I'm mostly worried about is not doing my best. It's an amazing vicious circle: I get nervous, so I don't sing as well as I can. So next time I get even more nervous. I keep remembering the last several times I've done solos though, and they were all fine. Maybe the first couple notes were shaky, but after that, fine. I'm holding on to that. The sight-reading is the big one. But still, either I get it, or I don't. I know I can sight-read well in a group, if not always alone.
I can do this. I will do this. In about two hours. I'll post an update to this when I get back, if I find out anything.
August 23, 2000
Filk and Other Frightening Stuff
I am amazingly tired today. However, last night was an enormous amount of fun and therefore, worth it. I got to indulge in some very good online roleplaying (which has been scarce lately), hang out online with good friends, and stay up entirely too late. I am one of those evil, evil Napster users, and last night I stumbled onto a veritable treasure trove of Obscure Music I Thought Only I Listened To. So I also downloaded MP3s like mad. I managed to get an entire album by an old filk group called Phoenyx (which includes one of my favorites, Heather Alexander), this after finding out earlier that evening that the album was forever and ever out of print, never to be seen again. I also found a bunch of Tom Smith songs, including "A Boy and His Frog", a Jim Henson tribute that makes me cry every time I hear it, and "PQR (You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet)", a song best described as rather... intense.
I've reached the conclusion that I need a CD burner. :-) I mean... mix CDs would be sooo much easier than mix tapes. Okay. Maybe not need. Strongly desire might be a better term.
Speaking of mix tapes, I'm supposed to be making several. I should tack that onto the list of things to do this weekend.
Oh! I remember something I meant to mention days ago and didn't. While I was looking over my stats, I saw that I'd had a visitor from Brigham Young University at about four in the morning. The referrer was from a search engine, so I followed the link to see what my presumably Mormon reader was looking for. The search was done on "skin to win" and "xxx". The page that apparently fit that search was, surprise surprise, one of my selkie stories, specifically Maire's background. What I don't understand is that there's certainly plenty about skins, but nothing XXX in that story. (That I apparently save for Tribe 8 stuff.) Granted, it was late, but I just got the giggles picturing this poor lonely Mormon guy huddled furtively in front of his computer, and finding a story about a half-crazed selkie.
Finally, in the Way Way Wrong News Department (I bet you didn't know I had one of those, did you?), I give you this story from CNN. I have only two things to say. No, I take it back. I can sum it up in one statement: only in Georgia.
Wow. I may get my first hate mail over this one. If you're Georgian or Mormon, the email address is at the bottom of the page. ;-)
August 22, 2000
Well. It's been quite a day. So I've been fighting with Netscape vs. Internet Explorer vs. lesser known browsers like Opera, right? Liz IMed me today and had a suggestion for how to fix it on the Changeling site. Great! Then I realize I don't have Netscape at work, so I wouldn't be able to see if it worked. No problem. I can download and install it. Famous last words.
So I do. The installation program asks if you want Netscape to be your default everything-but-an-electronic-can-opener. Since Netscape and I are having an uneasy truce, I tell it "No." I also tell it I don't want shortcuts for Netscape all over my computer. I'm perfectly capable of finding it when I want to use it. So I install it. First thing I see are shortcuts. All over the place. Shortcuts on my desktop for Navigator, AOL Instant Messenger, the email program, Publisher -- my desktop turned into a billboard! Then there's a bunch on the little shortcut bar next to the Start button. So I delete them all, muttering "Why'd you ask me if I wanted 'em if you were just gonna put 'em there anyway?"
So I open it up. Unfortunately, Liz's coding trick didn't work, so I'm back to square one with that topic. So I go back to work. I try to email a rep. What? What's this? Netscape tells me I have to set an email identity with them. Screw that. It changed my defaults. I'll change it back. So I do. Still, Netscape insists that I need an identity. 11:00 am, and I'm already having an identity crisis! Finally I break down and uninstall Navigator, and go back and do what I should have done to begin with: just download the standalone browser. I was half-afraid to install it though.
That kind of shit right there is exactly why I'm starting to like Opera more and more. Unlike the Blunder Twins, Opera isn't trying to tap into the wealth of Internet users who aren't precisely experienced computer users. (Translation: Opera doesn't assume you're an idiot.)
But anyway. I finally installed Netscape (with little problem this time) because Liz had found another idea for a solution. It worked! The Changeling test site looks approximately the same in Netscape or IE. Also, those of you that use Netscape might also notice that you can now actually read the quotes on the sidebar. That was also with Liz's help. I had some rather careless CSS going on. Thanks again, Liz!
Now I feel compelled to bring you a small moment of tranquility. God knows I need one today:
August 21, 2000
Oy. There is no small amount of drama here at work today. Or rather, very little drama, so therefore wild speculation abounds. Apparently the coworker heretofore known as The Banal One was fired on Friday.
That's the assumption, at least. There's been no official word from my supervisor about it at all. I wouldn't even know she was gone for good if another coworker hadn't told me. It's really crappy of me to feel a little happy about this news, but honestly, she was highly annoying to work with. Aside from being constantly late or constantly on personal calls (which we got to hear alllllll about -- I knew more about her sex life than I did my own) or constantly away from her desk, that is. She clipped her toenails at her desk and made us watch, y'all! During lunch! And I don't even want to get into the phone sex calls she used to make in the evenings to her scary Internet lovers. (I know they were scary. We met a few.) I'm not kidding. I used to have to sit and listen to her giggling and cooing breathily and saying things like, "Well, I can't talk about that here..." and "Oh really? And then what would you do?" The thought of her being sexually aroused in my vicinity was a highly disturbing one, let me tell you.
But now that era's over and I don't have to listen to her nasal little voice right behind me anymore.
In other news... I'm still incredibly frustrated over the Netscape fiasco from yesterday. Of course, I could have done my homework to realize that Netscape has really poor support for CSS, but the thing with the tables just makes me bonkers. If you're viewing this site on Netscape, please could you email me? Let me know what version you're using, what font the text seems to be showing up in and if the quotes on the sidebar are readable? Screen captures would also be lovely. I am going to figure this out, I am.
Right now I'm considering working on a more multiplatform design, and leaving the frames and its archives up as a separate subdirectory of their own. I don't know. I've been getting a redesign bug for a while now anyway. But with working on the Changeling site redesign too... I dunno. I'm really, really proud of everything I've learned about web design and coding. But every time I think I've reached a pretty decent level of knowledge, I realize just how much further I have to go. Or, more accurately, every time I get too smug about my own abilities, something like the whole Netscape thing happens to knock me down a peg.
So now my new goal is to start educating myself in browser standards and what works in what browser and such. I'm really tempted to just say to hell with it and design for IE only and let everyone else deal, but... I can't. I'm too much of a perfectionist. I also downloaded Opera (an alternate browser to the Big Two) last night and started using it, to see how I liked it. First impressions are good: it's much much smaller than the insanely bloated Big Two, it didn't try to install an email program and a newsreader as well, and it didn't try to take over my computer and 'help' me by giving me shortcuts everywhere and establishing itself as my default browser.
Help me. I'm turning into a webgeek. (Yeahyeah, I hear you all going, 'Turning into?')
August 20, 2000
Netscape is Evil
Pretend you're in California (or somewhere else in the Pacific time zone) if you aren't already. There. I updated before midnight. :-) Honestly, it's a wonder I updated at all, as the past 24 hours or so have been jampacked with little else but HTML. Still, I'm really proud of what I've gotten accomplished.
After a lot of waffling, and a lot of consideration of different scripts and such, I finally got around to switching the notify list away from Onelist and onto the server here. Once I got past a minor conflict with the browser at work, it was really easy to set up and customize. I started out irritated at Liquid Web's script, but ended up very happy with it. I was very proud of myself for figuring it out, but I spammed my notify list to hell and back while testing it, I'm afraid. Y'all are patient, understanding souls though.
Way back in April, Brand and I talked about switching his Changeling site over my domain, partly because he needed a better site and because I wanted to do a Changeling site, but knew I couldn't compete with the thoroughness of his. He also, we decided, was in need of a redesign. A couple months ago I finally transferred his site as is over onto my server (http://www.selkie.net/changeling/). I'll do the redesign later, I said. Well then we ended up getting the book contract, which kinda limited my time to work on HTML projects.
Brand asked about it last night, and I felt overwhelmed. The site was originally done on MS Publisher and so all of the code is horrific. Peek at the source if you think I'm kidding. It's a scary, scary place. I think Microsoft deliberately makes Publisher create such bloated, convoluted HTML to scare people away from learning how to code, which is really pretty easy. But if the Evil Empire makes it look complicated, people will be more likely to stay with Publisher. That's my theory, anyway.
I also was having a problem deciding what I wanted to do with it. In addition to using Publisher, the original site -- in proof of Brand's role as the Instigator of All That Is Evil -- didn't use any subdirectories. None. For hundreds of files. The first thing I did, back in April, was separate all of them out into subdirectories. Who cares about broken links just yet. Then, last night (or rather, early this morning), inspiration struck, and I knew what I wanted to do with the site.
As it was about 4 am at the time, I rather wisely decided to go to bed. I was up today by a little after noon and dived right in. I'd intended to work a couple of hours on the site, and then maybe to go one of the parks in town, where there was a mini-music festival going on. Or alternately, I was going to unpack the bedroom finally.
As you might have guessed, neither happened. I sat here and slogged my way through HTML and CSS for over nine hours. In the end, I was very pleased with what I came up with. Or I was, until I looked at the site with Netscape. I hate Netscape right now. A lot. The way Netscape handles tables means that what looks wonderful on Explorer looks very 'enh' on Netscape. I'm so tempted to just slap an "IE may be the Evil Empire, but it's better than Netscape" notice on the site and be done with it.
But anything I do, I'm definitely going to do tomorrow.
August 18, 2000
So. Last night I got home, finished editing the second draft of the book and emailed it off. (Yay! The editor emailed back today to say she got it, but it's going to be a while before she gets to it -- two more books in highly busy production stages at the moment.) By then it was about 11:00 or so, and I figured I'd write my journal entry. Before I could, I got sick. Icky, I'll-spare-you-the-details sick. Dinner apparently strenuously objected to being dinner. So, obviously, I didn't write.
But, the good news is, the book is done (again). While I was given a due date for a third draft, I'll be surprised if I actually need one. As few changes as we had to make this time, I don't think there'll be more we need to change. But we'll see. The fun part last night was coming up with illustration suggestions for the book itself. I thought it would be really hard, but once I got started, certain scenes from the stories just jumped out at me as good illustration ideas. And honestly, now that some of the excitement has worn off the whole idea of being published, the thing I'm really excited about is seeing the illustrations. Brand and I came up with all these characters -- I can't wait to see how others picture them.
I'm feeling a little at sea today. With the book finished (again), I'm not sure what to work on. I jokingly told my editor that I'd use the time to figure out what I want to write next, but that's only partly true. Looking at the books that the Tribe 8 folks are looking for, I'm not sure I could write any of them. They're looking for adventure sorts of books mostly, and I don't know how well I could write that. I don't know. There are a couple of possibilities, aside from the books I hope to be helping a few other people write.
And then there's non-gaming stuff that I'd like to write. How does one start a novel? I have a feeling starting might be the toughest part. I feel like I'm looking up at the Cliffs of Insanity trying to figure out how to climb them, and hoping I have enough rope. It's a little overwhelming.
One handhold at a time. That's all I need. And I can't look down. Or up.
August 16, 2000
(Finally I get to do the Waning Poetic collab for August: "Open your purse, your wallet, or your desk drawer. What's in it? Why is it there?")
Well. This is a good time for me to do this, because since we just moved at work, my desk drawers are still remarkably neat and organized. I have five. So let's do this in an orderly fashion, shall we?
Bottom left: I'm responsible for keeping up with the daily schedules for the support department. In this drawer you'll find schedules for the past four months, filed according to department and month. Need to know how many hours JEO (as everybody goes by initials here -- I'm LAN) worked on July 10th? I've got you covered. Also are some cleaning supplies and a huge box of business cards I doubt I'll ever use.
Top left: Um. Hrm. Nothing. I should fix that. I need more stuff.
Bottom right: My super secret writer's drawer! It contains high quality paper for printing manuscripts, envelopes, both to ship in and for SASEs, and my copy of the 1999 Writer's Market. There are printouts of various poems and stories that I've collected in the time I've been here. Also hidden away down there are some very very scary coffee mugs, but we won't talk about those.
Middle right: Also known as the pantry. The haven of both breakfast and lunch, the two meals I almost never eat at home. Tucked away currently are about a week's worth of instant oatmeal (raisin, date and walnut, yummy) and ramen noodles. (So sue me. Dinner is my 'interesting' meal of the day.) Oh, and about three different kinds of tea. And in case you ever want to rob me at work, this is where I usually keep my wallet and car keys during the day, since I don't carry a purse.
Top right: Miscellaneous office supplies. Let's see. There's push pins, Sort-Kwik (the finger sticky stuff), a calculator that doesn't work, some batteries for my phone headset, a few pens, a headset extension cord (in case I want to go for a walk while I'm on a call), some staples, and some extra napkins (see middle right drawer).
Anything I need closer to hand is in one of the stacking trays on the shelf right above my desk. I'm so organized at work. It scares me. I can't seem to make it cross over to home though.
August 15, 2000
There Is Such a Thing As a Free Lunch (Sort Of)
I keep meaning to do the Waning Poetic collab for this month, but as I have no desk drawers at home and I don't carry a purse, I need to write that particular entry at work. And work's been a little goofy lately. Various personal crises and people being sick and all that. Hopefully tomorrow. Really. My drawers are fascinating. I promise. (My desk drawers, you perverts!)
Despite being ridiculously busy at work, this has been a perfectly lovely day. This morning I got email from Eric (from three days ago) confirming that yes, I did indeed have the right Eric, and how the heck had I been? I sent a chatty reply then went on to nearly finish doing my manuscript editing. Yes, it's true! I would have finished tonight, but the file I emailed myself didn't make it home. Feh.
Theeeen, I got email from Momma (I shall hereafter be known as 'NOT the Momma!'), which made me smile enormously. She got confirmation of her pregnancy test results today. I guess she'll get a specific due date when she has her ultrasound next week. It was neat to listen to her tell me all about what the baby looks like now and what's going on developmentally. I admit, in my reply, I tried to subtly nudge her towards keeping a web journal during her pregnancy, or at least, a journal of some sort, so she can look back on all this later.
Also, as if that (and a free lunch -- well, because I worked through it) weren't enough, I got off my behind and called to schedule my audition for the UMS Choral Union tonight. August 29, 7:40 pm. I need a song prepared, music for an accompanist, and I need to be ready to sight read. Oy. Well, I know what I'm singing. That's the easy part. I have the entire score for The Pirates of Penzance from when I was in it, so why on earth shouldn't I use it? I'll be singing Ruth's big solo, "When Fredric Was a Little Lad". Ordinarily I wouldn't use something like that, because it's very much a character piece, but I think it's the only thing I could pull together on such short notice, and without being able to practice with the accompanist first. It's the sight reading I'm nervous about. I shouldn't be. I know it's not something I've just forgotten in the past five years. But I've always been nervous about sight reading. Very little confidence, and that's what kills you when you're doing it. You can be dead on pitch, but if you don't sound confident about it, you sound like you're off.
The woman I talked to said he'll have me read the alto part of some major choral work or another. That made me feel better. I've been singing alto for over fifteen years. If he actually plays the melody and lets me sight read with it, I'm golden. Harmonizing is not a problem.
And on top of all that, I ended up taking something like 380-something calls today. Now if I can just get a decent night's sleep tonight, I'll consider this a nigh-perfect day.
August 14, 2000
I know. I didn't write anything yesterday. In truth, not a whole lot happened yesterday, to me at least. I spent most of it feeling icky and listless, and the thought of trying to come up with something marginally entertaining to say was just too much.
However... one utterly magnificent thing happened yesterday. Or rather, I just found out about it yesterday. Dawn and Jason found out on Saturday that Dawn is pregnant. When Jason told me (the sneak, he made a reference to 'Aunt Lisa' and waited for me to get it), I let out a big ol' 'Woo-hoo!' I know they've been waiting for this for a while. Congratulations, guys. :-)
It was rather funny. I talked to Dawn on Friday night and she mentioned it was a possibility, and started listing symptoms and such. I knew it then. I mean, I knew it. Dawn said she didn't want to get her hopes up, so I told her not to, that I'd do it for her. They were supposed to come over Sunday and were going to tell me then, but for me getting icky-sick.
This is the first time that anyone close to me has been pregnant. It's an odd feeling, in a way. I mean, I've known the two of them for fifteen years or more and... and now they're having a baby. It's like... I don't know, this big Kleenex moment for me. Seriously, if I stop and think about it, I get a little wow'ed at the whole miracle of life thing. This sounds really stupid, I know, but I don't know how else to put it. Two people that I care about very much started a new little life. One that should be here around April or May.
I have a feeling I may be doing a great deal of vicarious living during all this. Even if I drop the fear of being a crazy cat lady for the rest of my life, I honestly don't believe I'll ever be pregnant. I've had too many problems, and there have been too many opportunities for it to have happened already. Plus, aside from my maternal grandmother and her eight kids, most of the women in my family have had fertility problems.
So maybe I'll never be a mom, but I swear, I'm going to make the best crazy maiden aunt ever. Jason says this child is going to be fourteen before he or she realizes my name isn't 'Crazy Aunt Lisa'.
I'm shooting for eighteen myself.
August 12, 2000
Time Passes By
Oh children. I've been so incredibly useless today. I was up too late last night, after being tired already, so naturally today I slept until about 1 pm. Then I sort of wandered into the living room and looked through old videotapes. I found several of me in high school and spent the afternoon pleasantly reminiscent.
Case in point: the picture to the right is me at sixteen. (I took a picture of the TV, which explains the weirdness.) It was a choir concert, and I was singing "Goin' to the Chapel" with an 8-member all-girl vocal group. Watching that concert, which I hadn't looked at for years, was just... neat. I saw people I haven't seen in well over ten years. Of course, most of them I wouldn't especially want to see again, but hey.
Do you know I thought I was fat when I was sixteen? I was convinced I was huge. I was painfully self-conscious and thought I was the geekiest, funniest-looking thing in my senior class. And, aside from the late-80s hair, I was damn cute! (I'm still damn cute, but that's beside the point.)
Maybe I'm biased, but one thing those tapes showed me is that I was a pretty interesting performer. I mean, I got into it, as evidenced by the picture.
Then happily, when I got online, I found the website for my old community theatre group, and found this. Yeah. That's me behind the cream pie. It was my last play with them, The Canterville Ghost. I was playing a medium a la Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost. I remember that pie. We had to find something that wouldn't melt under the lights in the heat of summer. I think we ended up using frozen Cool Whip -- by the time the ghost (played by Eric Cruzen -- Eric if you read this, email me!) splatted me with it, it was still vaguely whipped-cream-ish.
Ah... those were the days.
That does it. I'm auditioning for the Choral Union.
August 11, 2000
Vague Rush of Air
I'm falling-over tired today. After last night's entry, I was up until 3:30 doing some work -- for work, even. Silly me was going to try and come in at seven to do some more work. I ended up making it in by nine. The evil awful project is done, forever! This made me happy.
Shelly wrote a much better synopsis of the concert last night than me. I was way too incoherent last night to really write, I think. And for the record, I walked out of that concert wanting to go 'Eeeee!' too. :-) I got to listen to my new CDs at work this morning while I was doing data entry, and this made me happy.
I hate this feeling. I feel pretty okay, until I try to sit and concentrate on something like, oh, writing a journal entry. Pah. It's almost like the difference between letting the air out of a balloon in a controlled stream and just cutting a gash in the side. I have energy, but I'm not able to focus it enough for it to be anything other than a diffuse, vague rush of air.
Which is about what this journal entry is amounting to. ;-)
My plan this weekend, as it has been every weekend, is to unpack the bedroom. I'm getting tired of climbing over boxes to go to bed. Also, I will pin myself down and do the editing on the manuscript so I can send it back in. And I'll watch movies. Right now, a quiet weekend with mostly just me sounds very good.
August 10, 2000
Stress, Music and Friends
God. So much to talk about today that I couldn't bear to wait till tomorrow, although this is probably the equivalent of two journal entries.
Today at work was horrendous. I was reminded yet again that I am far too empathetic for my own good -- even when I'm not trying to be. It's one of those situations where I feel like I can't say too much, because it's not my story, but it's seriously affecting me. Essentially, two people I work with are best friends. One is married, one is not. The unmarried one lives with her sister. Apparently this past Sunday the four of them (the two friends, sister, and husband) got together. Husband apparently gets infatuated with sister. Trouble ensues. I spent most of my day today trying not to listen to the two friends yelling at sister and husband on the phone. Honestly, for various reasons, I've seen a separation coming for quite a while, so seeing it come now isn't a surprise. I just... don't want to feel involved. There was so much tension and anger and badness floating around our rather small workspace, I just... sort of absorbed some of it.
Then I was stressed about my monthly data entry project, which is due tomorrow at noon. Ordinarily, I would have been able to take time off of answering the phones to work on this project. However, the front desk receptionist is on vacation. What does that have to do with anything? Well, before we moved, we were seated right next to the front desk, with a little window installed. That way, if someone came in while the receptionist was gone, we could greet them from the window. Her phone automatically forwards to ours if she's gone. Our move upstairs was delayed, in fact, because the sales reception team was delayed in moving to our old area (window and all), and the Powers That Be decided that they needed to be there, for when the front desk receptionist isn't.
Completely logical so far, right? So when I get in this morning, I find out that one of us has to sit down at the front desk all day. Apparently sales reception is only able to greet folks for very short intervals. They couldn't possibly do it all day for three whole days. I mean, it's not like one of them sits three inches from the window or anything. Frankly, this was the stupidest bit of illogic I've seen in the three years I've been with this company. How does this all tie in? With one of the four of us downstairs at the front desk, we're shorthanded upstairs, which means I can't take time off the phones to do my project. Add to that the fact that the other two both spent their day mostly yelling at sisters and husbands on the phone, and it was all horribly stressful. I think the kicker was, after doing this project for three years (and in fact, this is the last month I'll be doing it, as it's now automated), discovering a shortcut that would have saved me hours of work. Probably like, weeks worth of work, all told. I wanted to cry.
But salvation arrived in the middle of all this. Shelly (psst, click the link, she's a journaler) emailed me to ask me if I was going to the Nields concert tonight at the Ark. (I think I just set a personal record for most links in one sentence.) At the beginning of the week, we'd talked about possibly meeting there, as she's a great fan of the group, and since, well, it's in my town. Besides, I've heard great things about the Nields, so...
I waffled. In fact, I started to reply to her before I'd even made up my mind. I was tired. It was a crappy day. I should either stay late and do data entry or go home and do it. I shouldn't spend the money. Did I really want to go listen to a group I'd never heard before?
Spontenaity won the day. "To hell with it," I emailed her. "I'll be there." We exchanged clothing descriptions and (if Shelly's anything like me) peeked at the other's picture again, just to be sure.
Right after work, I ran a couple errands, then headed to downtown Ann Arbor. Got in line, cause I was way early, and people-watched. Ann Arbor is a great place to people-watch. Finally I went in, bought my ticket, and found three good seats. (I mean, good. The Ark's a pretty small place anyway, but we were like third row dead center.) Shelly and her husband Andy got there and we sat around and talked while we waited for the show to start. They were very cool. Shelly has a wonderful laugh. (And, at the risk of being smacked, they were a very cute couple.) I was a little nervous, because, well, while I've met bunches of online folks before, I'd never met a fellow journaler before!
Then the concert started. The Nields consist of two sisters, Nerissa and Katryna, and three guys named David. (I'm not kidding.) There are three things I absolutely adore in a live musical performance: harmony that gives me chills, intelligent, moving lyrics, and humor! I mean, I understand being a serious musician and this being your livelihood and all, but make me laugh out loud, and I'm sucked in. The Nields had all three things, in spades. Musically speaking, they're sort of folk-rock, Indigo Girls and Sarah McLachlan -- sort of. Edgier though. Wittier. Shelly said they were closer to Ani diFranco, but I've not listened to much of her stuff. Whatever the case, I loved it. I walked out with two CDs, which I'm currently listening to.
There's something about live music that makes me very happy. Especially good live music. There were moments when I just could feel the music swelling inside me, pure and powerful. After one song near the beginning of the concert, "Snowman", I leaned over to Shelly and just said, "Wow." Another memorable moment came at the end of the concert. They did the old Hank Williams, Sr. song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" for an encore. Nerissa and Katryna have great voices, and I've always maintained that family voices harmonize the best (maybe it's genetic, I don't know). Then they did a verse a cappella. You can't beat that. Not for me. Good a cappella harmony is just one of the best things in the world. There was just so much clarity I wanted to cry or sing or... something. Y'all. I'm not kidding. Go to the website, listen to the sound clips. Buy stuff.
And speaking of singing, I got audition information yesterday for the University Musical Society Choral Union. this is a serious choir. They do the Messiah every Christmas, and perform with symphony orchestras all over the Midwest. Now that my work schedule has changed, I could actually attend rehearsals, which are once a week. For the audition they want me to sing a prepared piece, and do some sing reading. I want to. I miss singing in a really good choir. However, I'm pitifully out of practice with sight reading. Pitifully. Not to mention that I'm out of practice with 'real' singing. Auditions are about three weeks away.
Guess who's been singing in the car to and from work? I want to do this. I'm good enough. I know I am. Geh I hate auditions.
August 09, 2000
I have contracted a devastating syndrome, that after a careful discussion with my colleagues online today, I will call the Idawanna Syndrome. I should be doing my monthly data entry but... Idawanna. I should be passing out the reports no one will read... Idawanna strikes again. Outside of my day job, I have several writing projects that need work, including editing the first draft of my book. I'm not doing it. Why? You guessed it: Idawanna.
Just one of those listless, blah sort of days. Oh, don't get me wrong, my mood is good, still as good as last week. My energy's just sort of down. It's the sort of day I'd love to spend just sitting and staring at a television, except I can't, so I'm sort of staring at my monitor.
I've started getting active again on Something Wicked This Way Comes. After a good month-long hiatus on roleplaying there, I've started playing and even running a plot or two here and there. I'm afraid I may have irritated a few people last night. I bent a relatively Sacred Rule of Gaming: The PCs Always Win. Although we ended on a sort of cliff-hanger note, it looks as if the PCs have, in fact, lost the challenge they were trying to meet. I was getting some pretty frantic messages last night to the effect of "But we can't lose!"
But I'm getting there, trust me. I can't say too much because some of the folks involved are reading this, but anyone who's been in stories I run should know by now that I'm a great proponent of the 'darkest right before the dawn' scenario, and just when all hope seems gone, well... that's when the cool stuff happens. Tempers were rather high last night (including mine), and the fact that it was around 1 am didn't help matters any. I felt very frustrated, partly because if certain other storytelling parties (read: Brand) had used a similar plot device, no one would have said a word. There also wouldn't have been some of the questioning of my decisions that went on.
I think that's what irked me as much as anything. The problem with being an average player running a plot on a MUSH (as opposed to a staff member), is that there's a certain lack of authority seen there. Also, because I don't have quite the STing reputation that Brand does, folks (even good friends) haven't quite learned to trust me when the story takes a left turn. Am I jealous of his reputation? Maybe a little. I think more it's just irritation at the assumption that I'm somehow going to screw characters over by not letting them 'win'. I should explain this much: they challenged what is apparently the ghost of a Celtic god, further, one who, in life, was called the Master of All Skills. This isn't somebody you beat with a couple of dice rolls. :-)
I said it last night several times: "The good guys do not always win."
At least not the first time around.
August 07, 2000
So shoot me. I'm gonna be predictable and do the survey that KT just did. :-) It's Monday and I'm idealess.
What time is it? 2:53. (but like KT, I like the Spin Doctors' answer better -- "4:30... it's not late, no, no it's early...")
Name as it appears on your birth certificate: Lisa Ann Bentley
Current full legal name: Lisa Ann Nichols
Nicknames: Lis, Poopoohead (Thanks, Brand, gotta love the younger brother mentality *grin*)
Parent's names: Marion Cecil Bentley and Frances Louada Haight
How many candles on your last birthday cake? 28
Date that you regularly blow them out: July 7
Pets: Max, a.k.a. Doofus Kitty and Maximillian the Vaguely Disreputable
Eye Color: Blue
Hair Color: Medium brown with auburn highlights (What is this, a personal ad?)
Piercing: Shriek. Often. (Also one and a half sets of ear piercings, the half being the holes that have almost completely closed up. I don't wear earrings much.)
Tattoos: I've been tempted, but I fear what gravity would do to anything carved on my body. Plus, I'm a wimp.
How much do you love your job: Okay... counting the ways here... well, it pays okay, and I have time to do things like answer this survey.
Birthplace: Farmington Hills, Michigan
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan / Brighton, Michigan
Residence: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Been in love before? I was married. Take that as you will.
Been to Africa? No, I'd much rather go to Europe
Been toilet-papering? Alas, no, I'm an innocent child.
Been drunk? This was originally created for like teenagers, wasn't it? Yeah, I have. Never falling down, throwing up drunk though. Never want to be.
Been toilet-papered? Me personally? Yes, actually. At a party. We were doing one of those party games and I got wrapped up as a mummy. What? I was like fourteen at the time!
Loved somebody so much it made you cry? Duh.
Been in a car crash? The most memorable was in my first boyfriend's car His best friend was driving, we were in the backseat -- don't look at me like that. I was thirteen. Anyway, we nearly flipped with my mom driving behind us. It... wasn't pretty. I thought Mom was going to kill everyone in the car but me.
Croutons or Bacon Bits: Yes please.
2 doors or 4 (on a car): Two. Four makes me feel old.
Sprite or 7 Up: Sprite! Or even better, Vernor's.
Coffee or Coffee Ice Cream: Coffee ice cream, especially Haagen Daaz.
Blanket or Stuffed Animal: Stuffed animal! I have a platypus and a moose that stand guard next to my bed.
Dumper or Dumpee: Dumpee, usually. I tend to cling.
Salad Dressing: Ranch, I'm boring.
Color of socks: White, if I can't avoid wearing them.
Favorite Number: What? Hell, I dunno. Seven.
Why? My birthday is 7-7-72.
Place to be kissed: My place. 8:30. What? Oh. Neck or inside of my wrist.
Movie: God. You're gonna make me pick just one? Right at this moment, X-Men.
Quote from the movie: "The whole world out there is full of people who hate and fear you and you're wasting your time trying to protect them? I've got better things to do!"
Favorite Holiday: Christmas or Halloween
Foods: Almost anything chocolate. A really good steak. Sandwiches and salad and brownies from Baxter's Deli... or even better, from Zingerman's.
Day of the Week: Saturday
Song of the moment: Either "Another Day" from Rent or "Proud to be Canadian" by the Arrogant Worms.
TV show: "Kindred: The Embrace"! (Nonono, I'm kidding... put down the knife!) I was awfully fond of "Are You Being Served?" and "Red Dwarf" back when I had access to them.
Word or Phrase: "Bite me."
Restaurant: For really fancy stuff, probably The Real Seafood Company. For casual stuff, Tios'. Awesome little Mexican place.
Flower: Unusual colored roses, like peach or dark pinks.
Least favorite subject: Physics
Alcoholic drink: Irish Fog: equal parts Bailey's, Jameson's and Irish Mist over ice.
Sport to watch: Erm. Hm. Basketball, I guess.
Type of ice: What? Made with water, what else?
Zoo exhibit: I haven't been to the zoo in forever, but I have a feeling were I to go now, I'd be fascinated by the seals. *grin*
Sesame Street Character: *hangs her head in shame* Elmo. He's so cute!
Disney/Warner Bros.: Who was it that made Prince of Egypt? Oh yeah. Heh. Dreamworks.
Fast food restaurant: Arby's
When was your last hospital visit? April of 1997. Three days in the psych ward for depression.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Iced mint tea.
What color is your bedroom carpet? Neutral apartment beige -- currently buried in boxes.
What was the name of your childhood blanket? To my knowledge, I didn't have an object to fixate on as a child. I did, however, have an imaginary friend named Jeff.
How many times did you fail your permit and or drivers license? Zero. Although, after driver's ed, the instructor told my mom I needed a lot of practice driving.
What do you think of Ouija boards? After several scary experiences, including one where one told me I was dead, I tend to avoid them.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? As a highly successful novelist and RPG writer, proving once and for all that gaming isn't solely for the hack and slash folks. My novels are constantly being turned into outstanding movies, all of which star someone approximately like Camryn Manheim.
Have you ever been convicted of a crime? No, but I was arrested once.
What do you do most often when you are bored? Who has time to get bored? Well, unless I'm at work, in which case I do a journal entry.
What religion do you consider yourself to be? That's a good question. I don't have a clue.
Name the person that you are friends with that lives the furthest away: Right now, Mo, cause she's in Brazil. Normally, Brand.
Best thing: Writing a book and getting it published. Waking up on a Saturday and looking at the clock, knowing you don't have to get up. Sleeping in a very chilly room. Feeling the wind blowing my hair back.
Bedtime: Lately, around one am.
Who will respond to this first: I doubt anyone will, even though I'm making this the forum question for today.
Person least likely to respond: Probably everybody.
What time is it now? 4:01 pm
August 06, 2000
Quiet Sunday Night
Ah... another late night weekend entry, after another good weekend day. While I seriously considered going out and doing some things on the town tonight (options included a concert and several movies), I elected to stay in, order a great dinner, and do some writing. As far as the great dinner goes, I found out that one my most favorite restaurants from further into town opened a new location about a half a mile from here, and they deliver. Gods I may be in trouble...
As far as the writing goes, I'm getting a little more active in MUSHing again. While I hadn't exactly vanished from the scene, I wasn't playing very much at all, spending more time just hanging around. So I was working on a few ideas that are developing along those lines. Everyone else may be in trouble there. Heh.
I learned today another good reason to keep my doors locked all the time. At some point in the afternoon, I heard someone turning the doorknob to my apartment. I wasn't terribly concerned, as I figured it was just someone with the wrong apartment. However, as the got more persistent, I got up to go see who it was. Then whoever it was knocked. I peeked out through the peephole and spotted a kid, about ten years old maybe. I cracked the door and saw his eyes get huge in his face when he saw me. I grinned and said, "I think maybe you've got the wrong apartment." He nodded and took off. As best as I can figure, since all the hallways look pretty much the same, he picked the wrong one and found me.
Still, the look on his face when he walked into the wrong apartment might have been amusing, if it wouldn't have scared the shit out of me.
There was a thunderstorm around nine, and I sat and watched the lightning through my windows. The thunder was the only sound in my apartment, aside from the faint whisper of the rain. I'm learning to appreciate silence like that, and to occasionally crave it.
August 05, 2000
Islands of Sanity
Oh ho, another entry written just under the line. Of course I wouldn't forget y'all today. What was to be a busy, productive day ended up being a rather lazy, relaxed day. I'm sure no one's surprised by that. But I got to sleep! Oh, how I got sleep. It was positively luxurious. After lounging around all day, a few folks showed up for gaming, well, really, two of them did. I got to revive a character long since dormant, and realized how much fun she is. She's an elven child with a strong penchant for trouble and the charm and cuteness to weasel her way out of it. If the other party members don't kill her by the time the adventure is over, I'll be impressed. Her 'special friend' is Hollingsworth's character, a rather blustery thief with an inflated sense of his own abilities. Elen chose him much the way cats always zero in on the one person in any given room that hates cats. It's not that he hates kids, he just doesn't know how to deal with them, particularly if they're a scootch more intelligent than he is, not to mention, well, older... but that's getting into far too much detail about Elen's history. Think Claudia from Interview with the Vampire.
Currently, it's a lovely rainy night here. The windows are open and a breeze is coming in. I think sleeping will be a good thing tonight as well. I have an odd urge to go out walking in the rain, but as decent as my neighborhood is, I still wouldn't quite feel comfortable walking around at midnight on a Saturday night.
I'm feeling a lot of contentment again. I want to hold on to this feeling, so when times get rough again, and when I feel hopeless and stressed and panicked, I can remember that there are the occasional islands of sanity and warmth and good feelings. That I can reach a place where I'm not convinced that my life sucks. Things aren't perfect now. I have problems, I have things to deal with... but despite it all, there's this... peace. I look around my house and I smile. I think about my plans for the next several days, and I smile. It's a good place to be. I want to stay here for a while.
August 04, 2000
Petting the Gift Horse
Damn. I'm being so social this weekend I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. Saturday evening is gaming with the local group from last week. Well, actually, we might not play, we may more just do some planning for the campaign to come, make characters and such. Sunday is gaming with my Changeling group, although we're playing the other two games (Shadowrun and AD&D) and not Changeling. That gives me Saturday to goof around and do 'me' stuff. And I really should unpack my bedroom. Finally. (And I did promise, after all.)
Still no word on the walls controversy. We'll probably find out Monday.
This has been an amazingly good week. I don't know why. I'm not sure what's been different about this week as compared to any other. Moving at work was a good thing, and I've been focused more on being more active physically... that might have something to do with it. No, I'm not following an exercise plan or anything like that. I'm just making an effort to get off my ass and move a little more. I'm taking the stairs at work (now that I work upstairs, at least). I'm parking a little further out at work and at the store. If I find myself not wanting to do a particular chore (like, say, grocery shopping) because I don't feel like moving that much, I do it anyway. Yeah. I'd gotten that lazy. So far, so good. Honestly, with the shape I'm in, that is an exercise plan.
So I suppose that could account for the slight increase in energy. My mood though... I don't know. I'm just hitting one of those phases where I look at my life, and I'm just... pleased with it. I like the person I am right now. I like the pattern my life is forming. As lonely as I've felt in the past, I don't feel lonely at this point. I feel contentedly single. Aside from that, things have happened lately to make me look at my convictions and my beliefs... and I've found that I'm happy with them too. All in all, I've been convinced this week that I'm a pretty nifty person. Not a bad way to wrap up a week.
August 03, 2000
The Wedding Singer
They're trying to take my walls away! My lovely, lovely walls, the ones I showed a picture of yesterday. One of the support managers has it in his head that we should be in an open area for some reason, probably just because 'well that's the way it's always been'. When we were told they were coming to replace the full walls with half ones, there rose a great hue and cry from Services Reception! "No! You can't take our walls!" Plans were laid out. We could chain ourselves to them. We could put up a petition for everyone to sign. We could stage a protest. We got rather silly for a few moments. In any case, the manager who wants them lowered is out of the office today, and my supervisor (who's on our side on this, happily) will be out tomorrow. So it probably won't be resolved until Monday. If it's tomorrow, I'm the one who'll be pleading our case. Wish me luck.
One good thing about getting back in touch with old friends is catching up on the gossip. Who's dating who, who got married, who got divorced, etc. Two of my friends, Mark and Mary, are getting married in November. That makes me smile, as I was sort of indirectly involved in the two of them getting together.
Back in my early days with the SCA (1995 -- a banner year for me, have you noticed?), I was a notorious flirt. (Okay, I still am, but that's beside the point.) I had new crushes every week. One of my most enduring crushes, that spring, was for Mark, who I've since discovered, is a sort of template for the type of guy who always catches my eye (although definitely not the only type): tall, usually wears glasses, longish dark hair, soft through the tummy (I confess, that's my biggest weakness, I don't know why), you get the idea. Ann Arbor has no shortage of guys who fit this template. Another reason to be glad I'm back. Anyway, I digress. So I had my eye on Mark all spring. We flirted, went out once or twice. He was torn, because there was another girl he sort of liked too: Mary.
For a while there, he went out with both of us, but for various reasons, it became apparent that she was a better match for him than I was. (See? They might never have realized that if it wasn't for me! *grin*) They moved in together about a year or so later, and somewhere in there the three of us lost touch. Flash forward to last year. The Tannahill Weavers were in concert at the Ark in Ann Arbor, and I managed to drag myself there to meet another friend. I ran into Mark and Mary and found out they were engaged. After much hugging and congratulating, Mary said, "Do you remember that song you sang at Joe and Dana's [two other SCA friends, natch] wedding? I'd really like you to sing it at ours."
Did I remember? Hoo boy. Joe and Dana's wedding was one of the best weekends I've ever had in my life. The fact that I got to sing a solo and got all sorts of compliments from strangers on it was only the icing on that particular wedding cake. To be asked to sing it again? Wow. So I told her yes, and we promptly lost touch again, until a few weeks ago.
Mary called to get my address for her wedding shower this month. "Did you want still want me to sing?" I asked her. "Yes, definitely! Do you still have the recording of the song?" I did, and I told her so. I grinned for the rest of the afternoon. Last night I went searching for the tape with the song on it. The tape is a mix tape that Joe and Dana gave everyone doing the music for their wedding -- as all of us learned the music by ear. My particular song is by an artist called Kemper Crabb, but damned if I know what the name of the song is. Web searches didn't tell me anything. It's a cappella, which I always adore. It starts out with just one voice, then two more voices add, one at a time, with each verse. Then the last verse is also completely solo.
It's beautiful. The harmony is very unusual -- and very tricky. Sometime between now and November, I need to track down two more singers with very good ears, and I need to see if I can either find written music or transcribe it myself, because it'll be tough to learn the harmony solely by ear. Or, barring that, I could just do it solo, but the harmony is just amazing.
I'm very happy to be doing this. I love singing at weddings. Gary and I used to do it all the time. (Added romance: the married couple that performs together at weddings. Feh. I do miss him sometimes, just for stuff like that.) Between singing with him and singing with the SCA, I've easily sung at a dozen or so. So much for me being a cynic, I suppose.
Just... don't tell anybody, would you? I'm supposed to be the curmudgeonly one about weddings. It'd ruin my rep if it got out that I'm really a terrible romantic. ;-)
August 02, 2000
Home Sweet Home, Take 2
This one's going to be image-intensive, you've been warned. Now that my living room, at least, is presentable, I thought I'd post some pictures of my new place. And since I moved to a new area at work yesterday, I thought I'd include a picture of my new home at work too. (Click on the pictures for a larger view.)
Work first. I just moved everything up to this place last night before I came home. Packing it all up involved ditching about two years' worth of accumulated junk. Files no one had asked for in over two years. Papers I'd forgotten I had. Projects that I don't work on anymore. All gone. It was a nice feeling. Then this morning I was faced with unpacking. It wasn't nearly as arduous as I'd feared. So now I'm upstairs rather than downstairs, and I have a real cubicle rather than a half-walled one. I told one of the support managers today: "I don't feel like an animal at the zoo anymore!" People would always stare at us when they went past. I hated it.
So anyway. The picture. I was working on dreaded data entry when I took the picture, hence the small stand to the left of my computer. Above the stand, on the computer itself, is a picture of a dragon drawn on a post-it note by a friend of mine. Above that is my plastic spider. Why, you might rightfully ask, do I have a fake spider in my cubicle when I'm notoriously arachnophobic? I forget where he came from. Jo and I found a pair of them for Halloween decorations, and mine just sort of hung around.
The pictures on the cabinet are various SCA friends as well as me in SCA garb. Also there are a couple of pictures of James, one as Puck and one not. And yes, that is a drawing of Pan in the middle. Jo printed it from the web somewhere and gave it to me when she left the company. Oh, and I have a couple pictures of my favorite kids from back when I taught preschool. I wonder where they all are now? See all the blank space remaining? I need more pictures! Send me pictures of you! I have digital pictures of bunches of folks, but nothing I can print out. So email me for my mailing address so I can show off pictures of all my friends.
Also of note, the fan in the middle right -- it's gonna get damn hot being upstairs. Feh. Behind the fan is a sign that reads "The Computer Goddess of Services Reception". My first supervisor made that for me to laud my computer skills -- they're pretty good, in comparison to the other receptionists at least. Then on the middle left is the #$!@#$ phone, but I don't want to talk about that.
Bleah. Enough about work. Here's my computer setup at home. There's not a lot interesting here, really. Unfortunately, Yahoo! Messenger was up on the screen, and so obscured the yummy picture of Hugh Jackman from X-Men. The books on the top are only a small portion of my roleplaying books, most of them Changeling. I have everything I need right there. Computer, footstool, phone, cup (which probably held iced mint tea), books. I should confess, however, that the uncomfortable wooden chair very often gets replaced by the armchair, which I drag the few feet from the living room. Much more comfy.
Welcome to my postage stamp living room. I like it though. It's a good size for one person. Fitting five folks here in Sunday was an adventure, but we managed. Look! I have an air conditioner! The poster, for the curious, is the complete text of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I saw it in the bookstore and couldn't resist it. I decorate approximately like a college student. I have several posters stuck to the walls with double sided tape. They're very nice posters, though. The one you didn't see, over my computer, is from the comic Ascension, but I usually just call it the half-naked people poster. Of course, I do have 'real' wall hangings, I just haven't gotten around to hammering in the nails yet.
Last, but not least, the rest of my living room. If you've read this far, you should be canonized. Or committed. In the lower left, you can see the armchair which so often serves as my computer chair. Above the entertainment center is my other 'classy' poster, a Monet. The plant in the corner is fake. I can't keep a real one alive to save my life. The book on the coffeetable is Neverwhere, if memory serves. I love my window. Have I said that before? It's huge, but what I really like are the blinds. If I feel like being a cavewoman, I close them, and no light gets through. The sofa is a sleeper, so if any of y'all ever come visit me, you'll have a place to sleep.
Don't ask me about the bedroom. I promise, I'll start unpacking it this weekend. Really.
August 01, 2000
Bad TV and Good Reviews
Bad TV! Oh yes, last night was the night of bad TV. What did I watch? Well, as I confessed a few days ago, I recently bought a full run of "Kindred: The Embrace" from eBay. Friends and neighbors, I'm here to tell you: there's a reason that show only lasted two months. It was, however, almost entertainingly bad. Last night I watched the first tape, which consisted of the first two-hour long episode, and the first one-hour episode. (Which ended up taking about two hours. One-third of the length was commercials originally. That's scary.)
I told several folks online last night that was very much like watching someone's LARP. An extremely well-costumed, delightfully designed LARP where everyone actually looked like their character, but a LARP nonetheless. Some of the dialogue just made me giggle, thinking that it sounded a lot like the improvised dialogue I'd heard from various players in times past. The sad part was, it wasn't improvised. The hour-long episode was better than the pilot, and started to hint at the vampire politics that are supposed to be the focus of the game. That part was actually quite cool. In poking through the web (IMDB to be precise), I found out that the actor playing the Prince (who was probably the highlight of what I saw, at least) died in '96.
In short, there was a lot of potential that didn't quite get realized, and the scenery was well-chewed. Might be fun to watch with a group of folks familiar with Vampire.
In other news... All I have to say is that Tribe 8's editor works damn fast. Last night as I was getting ready to leave work, I got my returned first draft via email, complete with comments and suggested changes.
I'm flabbergasted. She was "very pleased". The changes she wanted made are so few that it will take me about an hour to make them. With the exception of one supporting character's name, all of the changes involved just the wording of this phrase or that one, or changes that needed to be made to the manuscript format itself. Needless to say my writing confidence is way high. And I'm still turning that novel idea over and over in my head.