June 30, 2001

As Eric and Jo and

As Eric and Jo and I were leaving the State Theatre last night, Eric pulled out his cellphone and immediately called one of his brothers to tell him NOT to go see the movie we'd just seen. Friends don't let friends see A.I. It might have made a passingly good Spielberg film, or an even better Kubrick film. The two together, however, are just bad. The last half an hour was one of the most painful things I've ever sat through. (Of course, part of that might have been my ass squeezed into the State's tiny seats.) Jude Law and Haley Joel Osment are both quite good, and there some stunning visuals, but overall... ugh.

In other news, I have an entry written that I'll try to post later today. No promises. My 93 year old grandma broke her hip on Thursday and things aren't going well at all. I'll be at the hospital most of today and tomorrow.

Posted by Lisa at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2001

Musically Inclined

Hee. Normally I'd put this in the blog, but this is a conversation I just had:

Cinderella sings at the top of her lungs, "No cares for YOU a SMIDGE, when you're in an ORPHanage! It's a hard knock life!"
Magnus says "Are you doing this at work?"
Cinderella is doing this in her heart, yes. ;)

I'm notorious for posting the lyrics of whatever I'm currently listening to. Songs get into my head and get stuck there, often for days or weeks or even years at a time. You think I'm kidding? I'm not. For years now, my default cheerful humming tune is a snippet of Ralph Vaughn Williams' "For All the Saints", which I sang in choir back in my first trip through college. I've tried to stop. I've tried. But sure enough, I'll be walking along, and find myself humming "For all the saints who from their labors rest..."

When I worked in day care, I learned that several choir songs, particularly medieval pieces, make wonderful lullabies. Note to new parents: "Now Would I Fain", a medieval bit, fits perfectly to the rhythm of a rocking chair. Particularly a tired, frustrated "please just to go sleep already!" rocking chair rhythm.

I sing all the time. Even when I'm not singing, I've probably got music in my head, or I'm listening to something. That, if anything, has been the big drawback of listening to audiobooks in the car. When I lived alone, I often sang at the top of my lungs, anything and everything that I was listening to. Once I moved in with my parents again, I wasn't able to do that, and I missed it. I've spent many many hours sitting in front of my computer singing along to my MP3s and typing online. Sitting silently in front of the computer is still odd-feeling. So instead, I sang in the car. It's true. You know that lady you always see when you're stuck in traffic, the one with her head either moving to the beat or tilted to hit a high note, who really gets into whatever she's singing, complete with the scrunched facial expression? That's me. Or that was me, until I started listening to audiobooks.

Sometimes I desperately miss being formally involved in music, but really, music has never ever stopped being a part of my life. Growing up in a church that strongly emphasized congregational singing (no evil organs or pianos, oh no!), spending about eight years in school choirs, on top of about six years' worth of voice lessons and singing informally every chance I got -- I never really had a chance to escape, I guess. One of my earliest memories, when I was about four or five, is of teaching a song I "wrote" to my imaginary friend Jeff. I also have memories of "writing" a country song when I was about eight or nine. That one I went so far as to try and write it down, but I didn't have much in the way of music notation or theory knowledge. It was... bad. Even for country. I didn't mention a dog or a job, but I think my story did have someone leaving someone else in a pickup truck.

For a while, after I dropped the idea of getting a music degree, I worried that I was wasting my potential and my talent by not doing so. After all, I told myself, one voice teacher once told me that I had the potential to sing at the Met, and several remarked on my voice. Wouldn't I be wasting that? Then I stopped to realize how much I hate practicing . It frustrates me. I stopped to realize how, as much as I like the idea of performing, singing in front of people usually leaves me terrified. Enough so that I don't want to do it as a career, much less as a career where a good part of my time early on would be spent getting rejected. After I thought about that, I thought about how much I adore just casual singing, and how much happiness it gives me to drive along (or sit in front of the computer) singing my heart out. A waste? Not at all. That was my first lesson in "You Don't Have to Make A Career Out of Something to Cherish Doing It".

Posted by Lisa at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2001

I have one squeaky shoe

I have one squeaky shoe today. I think it's going to drive me mad before the day is over. It sounds like a bird. In fact, one of my coworkers came to me and told me she was worried a bird had gotten caught in the building. I had to tell her no, that it was just my shoe.

Posted by Lisa at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2001

Most interesting web search lately

Most interesting web search lately -- from Google: "I want to sleep with Lisa". Heh.

Posted by Lisa at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

First Kiss

I have always had a weird memory for dates, particularly where my romantic life is concerned. In high school I prided myself on knowing the exact date each of my relationships began and ended (and some of those dates were only a few days apart, I think three days was my shortest "relationship"). For one relationship (and I'm not naming names here), I actually marked milestones on a calendar (first kiss, first makeout session... you get the idea). Why? I have no idea. It seemed important at the time.

In June of 1985 I was twelve years old, almost thirteen. I had just finished eighth grade, and was looking forward to high school, because that was the big time. Eighth grade was a good year for me in a lot of ways. I spent most of sixth and seventh grade (particularly seventh grade) being tormented by my classmates, especially the "gifted and talented" group that I'd been stuck with since about fourth grade. For the first part of eighth grade, I stayed in the "advanced" classes, with the teasing getting so bad I looked for ways out of school. Science labs were always the worst, as they were so freeform and had little supervision. I remember lying to get out of several labs, saying that this dissection or that one was too upsetting for me, and I was allowed to write a report instead. I don't remember exactly what triggered it, but one day I decided I'd had enough. It may have been the day I told an ugly-faced boy named Steve to go to hell -- the first time I ever remember swearing. He laughed. Anyway, I found myself crying in the guidance counselor's office. I told him the teasing was too much, and I wanted out of two of my classes, advanced science and advanced English. He tried to talk me out of it, but I insisted, and I switched the two classes. Same teachers, just flip-flopped the periods. It was nothing short of a miracle. I went from being the token object of scorn to being the really neat smart girl in both classes.

So anyway, summer of 1985. In May a gospel quartet from our preacher's hometown in Missouri came up to our church and sang. Looking back, I realize that they weren't all that great, but they presented themselves well and (perhaps more importantly at the time) were comprised of four boys all around 17 or 18 years old. The girls in our church youth group were all immediate fans. When the youth group was scheduled to go to Missouri at the end of June for a mission trip, we all signed up.

The trip was fun, in that lots of church activities sort of way. We spent our days going from house to house inviting people to a gospel meeting and trying to set up Bible studies, and spent our evenings going to said gospel meeting. On Tuesday of that week, the 25th, our friends from the quartet showed up, and after the meeting was over came much socializing. I forget how it happened, but one of them, Tim, started flirting with me! I was absolutely giddy with the attention. True, I hadn't thought he was very cute before, in fact, I thought he was sort of funny looking originally, but as I've discovered through the years, someone's attractiveness always increases dramatically when I learn they might be interested in me. It's also worth mentioning at this point, that when I was twelve going on thirteen, I did not LOOK twelve going on thirteen. On one memorable occasion I was mistaken for twenty-one rather than twelve. Anyway, the next night I contrived, with a little bit of teasing from my friends, to sit next to Tim during the meeting.

Well of course, as crowded as the pew was, we had to share a songbook. And since he forgot his Bible, I was happy to share mine with him. (There you go. Evangelical flirting tips.) Halfway through the sermon, he took my hand underneath my Bible. It was the first time I'd ever held hands with a boy, and I thought I was going to pass out. My face was flushed and I was sure the whole world knew what was happening. After the meeting was over, we started talking some more. Turns out he'd just graduated from high school, and was eighteen years old. I grinned and told him to guess how old I was -- I think he knew then he was in trouble. "Uh, sixteen?" I shook my head and told him that I'd be thirteen in less than two weeks.

Tim blinked. Then blinked again. He promptly circled me around, arm around my shoulders, and said to fellow quartet member Mark, "Mark! This is twelve!" Mark looked puzzled. "Twelve what?" Neither of them believed that I was twelve years old until one of my friends confirmed it. Nonetheless, apparently Tim was still smitten, because when we all left the meeting (to go to a devotional, of course -- I did say it was a week full of church activities) Tim somehow managed to get the okay for me to ride with him in his car. And what a car. It was a Firebird, a relatively new model I think. I remember being awed that a boy interested in me was not only old enough to drive, but drove an awesome car to boot.

We held hands all through the devotional, gathering curious looks and knowing grins from most of my friends (and no doubt some worried looks from the chaperones). By the time it ended, about 10:30 or so, my head was spinning. A boy! Interested in me! We managed to wander out by his car, away from everyone else. It was, in memory at least, a perfect moment. The night air was warm and soft, and there was a full moon overhead. In the distance I could hear people talking and laughing as Tim and I stood looking into each other's eyes and -- on my side at least -- being shy. I think we talked about how amazing all this was, and I know at least once he lifted my chin to stop me from staring at the ground. Like all teenagers, we were certain we were the first two this had ever happened to. Finally he told me that he loved me, then leaned in and kissed me. My poor brain. After spending three years in middle school convinced that I would NEVER EVER have a boyfriend (compare to my crazy cat lady fears of today), it seemed I had hit the romantic jackpot.

I spent the ride home that night blissed out, while one of the chaperones lectured me and told me to be careful, and what would my mother think. I wasn't listening. Every song on the car radio seemed to be about Tim and me, and I watched the moon up in the sky, thinking she shared my secret.

I saw Tim again on Friday, the day before we went back to Michigan. Our group spend the day in St. Louis, doing touristy things like visiting the Arch and the zoo and going to a Cardinals game. Tim and I spent most of the day dodging my preacher, who was (understandably now) watching us like a hawk. At some point during the day Tim gave me his class ring to wear "just for the day". We said goodbye outside of Busch Stadium, acutely aware of everyone watching us. He told me to keep his ring. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and promised to write.

And write we did. We dated long distance probably until October or so, when we drifted apart. My mother's reaction to seeing her 12 year old daughter come home with an 18 year old's class ring around her neck can be imagined. She and my dad were both very calm about the whole thing, and to this day I wonder what they really thought. You're probably wondering what kind of 18 year old would start dating a 12 year old, and to tell the truth, I've wondered the same down through the years. I might have learned the answer when I was in college, when I ran into Tim again, but that's another story for another day, and I think for now I'll let the fairytale part of things stand as they are.

Posted by Lisa at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2001

Guilt In All Its Various Forms

I was a definite homebody this weekend, if not a giant slug. After last week, and with things still being so up in the air here at work, I needed some serious alone time. Granted, I probably should have spent more of that time studying for my last Sociology test tomorrow night or researching and doing background reading for my next writing project (hence the Arthurian books in the sidebar). Instead I played the Sims nearly incessantly. I've hit an awful snag though. With one of my families, the computer locks up at the same game time each time I try to play them. I can't figure it out. There's some sort of glitch going on. It might be one of my drivers, which I tried unsuccessfully to update yesterday.

Lest I give the impression that I was a total pile of inactivity, I did manage to get my laundry done as well as my grocery shopping. And I even cleaned my room. To add to my list of weekend virtues, last night I was even in bed before it was completely dark outside. (Of course, this time of year, it doesn't get completely dark until ten, so that isn't saying much.)

The health kick I started last week is continuing. (Did I go to aerobics on Saturday? No, I was sleeping blissfully. Going tonight, though.) To give the doctor credit, I can tell a difference in the swelling in my legs, which is a good thing. As far as eating is concerned, I've just been trying to eat something other than sugar and grease for breakfasts and lunches -- hence the grocery shopping. I am not on a diet. Let me say that again, as much to remind myself as anything: I am not on a diet. I caught myself falling into diet mentality last week. I think I had a craving for ice cream, and was bummed because I "couldn't have any". Um, no. Once I realized what I was doing I stomped on that thought. It's hard, because I've always equated "eating healthy" with "being on a diet". That probably explains a lot. I'm very all-or-nothing in terms of a lot of things, diet and exercise being just two of them. Back when I did diet I was one of those people who fell all to pieces when I went off the diet, and often started binging, thinking "Well since I messed up already..." So yeah. No diets for Lisa. I don't need the guilt.

Plans for the Tribe 8 book are starting to come together nicely. Last night as I was falling asleep a few more pieces fell into place, and wonder of wonders, I still remembered it all when I woke up this morning. I really need to keep a notebook by my bed, because I'm always having brilliant ideas when I'm asleep or half-asleep. The concern there, is that most of them only seem brilliant because I'm asleep or half-asleep. Like the time travel storyline idea I had early one morning. It was a brilliant idea, and I woke up certain that I'd be able to write up as a game adventure and sell it to one of the big game companies. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the reason it was such a brilliant idea was because I had read it just about a week before, in Michael Crichton's Timeline. Not that I'm above lifting stories from other sources (see Harvest of Thorns, Shakespearean retelling that it is), but there's a difference between retelling a classic and directly plagiarizing from something current (not to mention still under copyright).

I worry sometimes, because it seems like so few of my stories could be termed completely "original". Which, surprise surprise, usually makes me feel guilty. (Do you get the sense that I have an overdeveloped sense of guilt yet?) That's silly. I know it is, but it's the same way I feel guilty for writing so many selkie stories. Then, last night, as I was driving home from the grocery store and listening to On Writing, Stephen King talked about getting yelled at in high school for writing "trash" and wasting his talent, and said that he'd often felt guilty for the topics he writes about too. He went on to say that probably most writers (and other creative people) had been told something similar at some point in their lives. I felt much better when I heard that.

Why should I feel guilty for the act of creation, in any form? I don't know either, but it makes about as much sense as everything else I feel guilty for...

Posted by Lisa at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2001

Phil and Josh, amusing as

Phil and Josh, amusing as always:

Magnus's hands are asleep.
Don John gives them pillows.
Magnus oohs, hand pillows. It's a day for odd body part accessories. Yesterday was all about ass, today is brain-out spoons and hand pillows.
I dunno. With this group, every day is all about ass, I think.

Posted by Lisa at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2001

Interviews and Clothes

Okay, so I skipped my water aerobics class last night. I feel like I haven't stopped running all week. It's been a good week though. I had an interview yesterday for the job in tech support -- and I have a second interview today with the vice president of our group. I'm really trying not to get my hopes up, but things look promising. Incidentally, I didn't get offered the position I interviewed for last week. I didn't really expect to, and it's really better that I didn't. School would have been very difficult with that position.

As part of my interview yesterday I listened to one of the support reps take phone calls. It was really interesting! I've been here for four years and this is the first chance I've had to really listen in on what our department does. I'm thinking of recommending that each of the receptionists have a chance to listen to support calls, maybe customer service calls too. I think it would be helpful. Of course, the really interesting part was trying to figure out what the problem was and if I could solve it. About half of them I could figure out. The other half were program-involved and are things I would be trained on.

Oh, I'm trying so hard not to get my hopes up! I am anyway, though, which is typical of me. I had an interesting dilemma last night. I bought an interview outfit last week, and it's really the only nice outfit I had -- I thought. Naturally, I wore it yesterday. Then they asked me to interview with the vice president today and I thought, "Oh shit! What will I wear?" Then I remembered the evil leopard print dress hanging in my closet. With the little black velvet shirt buttoned up, it looks fairly professional. Tada! I've gotten several compliments, so that's a good sign. God. I can't remember the last time I dressed up two days in a row. I'd forgotten how nice it is to get compliments on clothes, and to look nice. I mean, it's not that I'm usually a total slob or anything, I just don't usually pay that much attention to my clothes. I'm wondering if maybe I should start.

Can you imagine? Me? As a fashion plate? Next thing you know, I'll be wearing makeup everyday to work. The horror! I might even have to start wearing hairspray again, and then where will I be? No, no. It'll never happen. Wearing pantyhose two days in a row has been bad enough. Heh. I can't even remember the last time I wore a dress to work. I might have last summer once or twice. When did I turn into such a tomboy? I guess I'm really not, but you'd never know it by the way I dress.

Here's a true sign of my geekdom, speaking of clothes: I got a nifty package from my Tribe 8 editor (via Mo, who got it first), containing an autographed copy of the main rulebook for the game and a really cool Tribe 8 t-shirt. I already have a generic Dream Pod 9 t-shirt, and it's my casual wardrobe mainstay. So anyway, I was all excited over this new t-shirt, but alas, it's too small and they don't make them any larger. I was so sad. I may have to wear the too-small shirt around the house, just to be able to wear it. Now that's geeky.

Posted by Lisa at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2001

I've been unbearably sleepy all

I've been unbearably sleepy all week, despite getting a decent amount of sleep. I'm starting to wonder if the Zoloft is making me sleepy. I don't recall having that side effect before, though.

I have my interview with support this afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I've been reading web pages about double-entry bookkeeping all morning. Hmm. That might be part of the reason why I'm sleepy too! ;)

I wrote an entry on Monday, but it was also sleep inducing, so I don't know if I'll post it. Hopefully I'll write something today, but that would involve me waking up at some point.

Posted by Lisa at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2001

Uninspired

I got some really great emails about my last journal entry, as well as the size-acceptance email list I'm on. Some folks -- who've been there -- even told me specifically what sorts of tests I should ask to have done. So I'm going to get back in touch with my doctor's office and specifically ask to see one of the doctors, not the physician's assistant from the last time. Yeah, I forgot to mention that. She was a PA, not a doctor. I'm not certain exactly what the difference is. She was able to write my prescription, though.

I am astoundingly uninspired today. After carefully getting plenty of sleep last week, last night I was up until 1 am. What was I doing? Playing the Sims again, of course. That game is such a time sink! I started playing around 9 pm, planning to play for an hour or two. Next thing I knew it was 1 am. Badbadbad. It's funny. I'm actually drowsier if I sleep for five hours than if I sleep for say two or three. With two or three hours, I'm tired as hell, but I don't feel as groggy. That makes no sense, but there you go.

I doubt I'll have time to play the Sims tonight. I'm supposed to be cooking dinner (my first attempt at corn chowder -- be afraid), then I'm going to aqua aerobics again. My mom might be going with me. I'm pretty excited about this class, even if I do feel like I'm going to fall asleep any minute. I need to find a more "convenient" form of exercise, cause I know sooner or later I won't want to go to the pool. I definitely can't see me doing aqua aerobics in the lake. Yuck. Lovely lake, but I don't want to swim in it.

So yeah. Uninspired. I'm at the point of being excited about several of my current writing projects, but I end up staring blankly at the document when I open one up. Words and ideas are moving about like cold molasses, as evidenced by the fact that it's now 2:20 and I've hardly written any of this. I feel like someone shot my brain through with Novocaine. Feh.

Posted by Lisa at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2001

Health

Well it's certainly been a very active Saturday, at any rate. I finally decided it was past time to get off my ass and start some sort of exercise (more on that in a moment), so I went to an aqua aerobics class this morning. At 9 am. It was quite enjoyable, actually. The funny thing was, I didn't think I was especially tired until I got out of the pool, then I wondered if the rec center would mind if I just collapsed in a heap on their pool deck for a couple of hours.

As much as I wanted to, I couldn't stick around to find out, because I'd planned to go see Tomb Raider and Atlantis this afternoon. Ironically, Tomb Raider was the one I'd wanted to see most (because Angelina Jolie is goddess-like, despite horrendous taste in men -- one can only hope her taste in women is better), but I ended up enjoying Atlantis more. Tomb Raider isn't bad, it just isn't great. It isn't much of anything, once you get past Angie duplicating Lara Croft's moves from the video game and shooting up everything and the very nice accent. I enjoyed it, but I imagine I'll forget huge chunks of it by tomorrow. Atlantis, in contrast, had considerably more personality. Also not a perfect movie -- it could have stood being about twenty minutes longer -- but more engrossing than Tomb Raider. Both movies, however, just made me want to go see Moulin Rouge again. Or Memento.

So, the exercise thing. I've said for about a year now "Boy, I really need to start exercising. I'm a slug!" I've also said, "Hey, I should go to the doctor for a checkup. It's been a while." I did neither. Then, over the past nine months or so, I've started to develop a few symptoms that were worrying me. Could be nothing, could be something serious. My calves and ankles are almost always swollen -- that's why I don't like wearing shorts anymore. I sometimes have a problem catching my breath. There are a few others, but basically, after researching a bit, I got worried, as I have several symptoms of developing congestive heart failure and/or asthma.

So I decide to go to the doctor. My appointment was yesterday. For the most part it was typical. I brought up my concerns. I was given a very brief exam. Then it started, the bit I dreaded so much that it kept me away from the doctor for all this time.

"Well, the swelling in your legs and the shortness of breath are both due to your weight." Then she went on to explain what I already knew, about how the heart doesn't push the fluids out of my legs. I listened politely, then asked why this problem should have suddenly cropped up, when I have been large all of my life. "Oh, well that might be that your weight is catching up to you." (My mother used to always warn me about that. "Your weight's going to catch up with you someday, so you'd better lose it while you're young!" I get this mental image of me, dragging about 250 lbs. along behind me, my ass literally dragging, until I pass a signpost that reads "thirty", then it all rebounds like a rubber band and hits me in the back of the head, catching up with me.)

Again, still trying to be polite but assertive, I smiled and said, "So what you're saying is that the problem is with my heart, not my weight." Well yes, she said, but my weight was causing the problem with my heart. (And I didn't say this at the time because I didn't think of it, but according to the JAMA and NEJM, my lack of activity is far more a contributing factor of whatever my trouble is than my size.) She asked if I wanted to meet with their nutritionist, and I said no. I explained that I had been quite healthy when I was active, and wanted to reach that point again. I also explained that I had no interest in losing weight. She was rather taken aback, but didn't push. Finally she said that as far as my symptoms were concerned, she wanted to wait and see if increased activity on my part would resolve the problem.

That surprised me. I have been terrified that I might have CHF, and all she's telling me is that I should exercise more. Finally, I took a deep breath and said, "I'm not asking this to be rude, but if an 'average-sized' person came to you with my symptoms, would you simply tell them to exercise more?" Again, she was startled. She answered after a pause, "Well, yes, if their blood pressure was also fine." (Mine was 114/70.) I explained that I had to ask that, as I'm aware of the bias in the medical community, and that while I understand the risk factors of being large, I also did not want all of my health problems to be solely attributed to my size. Things got a little tense, and she said that I needed to see things from their point of view as well.

Then we went on to talk about my anti-depressants, as I want to go back on them. I told her of my success with Zoloft, and she recommended Wellbutrin. "It's a gentler drug," she explained, "and it often helps with compulsive behaviors like drinking and overeating." I am not compulsive when I am depressed, and I explained that to her. "Okay," she said, "but it helps with compulsive overeating." I repeated that I do not compulsively overeat when I am depressed. In fact, I don't eat much at all -- fixing food always seems like far too much work. "Oh," she said, then pressed on. "But you didn't have any problems with weight gain on Zoloft?" By now I'm thinking 'Okay lady, you made your point. I'm fat, and by god you want to find out why.' But I just smiled and said no, I didn't gain weight on Zoloft. "Oh," she says again, looking at me somewhat dubiously, "then we should probably stick with what worked the last time." What a brilliant idea. I'm so glad she thought of it. We wrapped things up before they got actively confrontational, and I left.

So on the one hand, I held my ground, and I feel damn good about that. Maybe, just maybe this particular physician's assistant will think next time about how she works with large people as opposed to "normal" people. But on the other hand, my legs are still swollen, I'm still worried about it, and I'm not sure that after a year of this a "wait and see" approach is the best. Not to mention that she didn't even tell me when I should schedule a follow up. I feel dismissed. I have a feeling this particular score reads: Lisa's Self-Esteem 1, Lisa's Physical Well-Being 0.

Posted by Lisa at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

I thought this was interesting,

I thought this was interesting, so I signed it: Disney Initiative For A Plus-Sized Heroine. I don't know what good signing an electronic petition will do, but it felt good.

Posted by Lisa at 04:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2001

June 14, 2001

California, Revisited

I am at the front desk again today, playing enforcer. Anyone comes in without an ID badge, and I have to stop them and find out who they are. It's interesting (but not surprising) that several of the folks without badges are upper management or executives. The fact we've gotten so many new executives over the past year or so led to the oh-so-amusing incident in the blog where I stopped a vice president. He was not amused.

I've started listening to audiobooks in the car rather than the radio. I'd forgotten to mention it here, but I've been doing it for about a month now. I love it! It's great if you get stuck in traffic. So far I've listened to Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility both by Jane Austen, as well as Timeline by Michael Crichton. As long as I keep listening, I'll keep posting what I'm listening to.

Laura, Josh, Brand, and Mo

So I suppose I'm long overdue in talking about my trip to California, nearly two months ago now! In the course of nine days, I spent four days in Lancaster, three days in Whittier, one day in Santa Barbara, and one day in Panorama City (which has no real panorama, for the curious). That last was not a planned sidetrip. Our day in Panorama City (the first Saturday I was there) was the result of the Rental Car from Hell. On that fateful Saturday, shortly after the picture above was taken, the five of us loaded into the Rental Car from Hell (a blue 1993 Taurus) and set out from Whittier to Santa Barbara. The trip normally takes about an hour and a half to two hours.

Alas for us, we did not realize that we were in the Rental Car from Hell at that point, or we could have planned for a longer travel time than we did. About half an hour into our trip, passing through a part of Los Angeles called Panorama City, we stopped for gas, and realized that our car was falling apart. Or actually, that it was leaking copious amounts of something from the bottom of the car. We called the rental company (Rent-A-Wreck -- I know, I know, what else did we expect?). Each Rent-A-Wreck is individually owned, so the best they could do (since the rental office was two hours away in Lancaster) would be to reimburse us for any repairs. How very fortunate for us that Art's Auto Shop (I think that's what it was called, Mo has their card) was right next door to us.

Art's was our home for the next six hours. In that time, we ended up talking to Jack, one of the mechanics. Jack was Armenian, spoke fluent Spanish, English, and presumably Armenian, and was the type of character you expect to find only in a book. So much so, that the five of us agreed that we really ought to put him in a book. He told us stories about growing up in Armenia, railed at the injustice of our car rental company (his parting words: "Now you're never going to rent from that company again, eh?"), and gave us advice on lawyers (Jewish lawyers, according to Jack, are the best).

As entertaining as Jack was, by seven or eight o'clock, we were really ready to just leave. In addition to replacing the radiator, one of the belts was shredded, the water pump needed to be replaced, and the license plate was apparently expired (turns out it wasn't, but that's a long story). The final straw was when we all piled back into the car to finally finish our drive to Santa Barbara. As I got into the car and pulled on the door to close it, the inside door panel -- which had been loose -- came off in my hand! Then Laura pulled on her door, and her door panel came off. What else where there to do but sit there and laugh? Jack damn near fell over laughing while instructing his guys to screw the door panels back on for us.

Finally, against all odds, we made it to Santa Barbara to Josh and Laura's apartment, the Studio of Love. While it was as small as I'd heard, it was a welcome spot to crash after six hours in Panorama City. Josh and Laura were in the process of moving out, really at the tail end, so after ordering pizza, we crashed on the floor, invited Tyler (another one of those MUSH-types) over, and settled in to start a game of Tribe 8. After staying up to some ungodly hour or another, we crashed on the floor and air mattresses and went to sleep.

Sunday after much delibration, we dragged ourselves out of the house in time to have lunch at Palazzio's, the best Italian restaurant in the world. We drew and quoted poems in crayon on the heavy paper covering the tables and generally stuffed ourselves. After that, it was time, since we were in touristy Santa Barbara, to go be touristy on the beach. Bridging the area between State Street and East Beach (and Stearn's Wharf) is a little plaza with a fountain and a statue of three leaping dolphins. Dolphin Fountain played an unintentionally huge part in a lot of the roleplay that took place on Something Wicked This Way Comes, so we stopped and had a little old man take a picture of the five of us in front of it.

Wicked Ink

From there we split up and wandered the beach. I was the only one to actually go wading in the water, which was surprisingly cold. At the risk of sounding horribly geeky, it was very odd to stand somewhere where Jake spent so much time. I thought quite a bit about that, I admit. Also, since developing my obsession with all things selkie, this was the first time I'd been to the shoreline. Being around bodies of water (particularly large ones like the Great Lakes or the ocean) has always been something close to spiritual for me. I don't know why. I've never really questioned it. Standing there, in that place that is neither land nor sea but somewhere between, I thought about how selkies themselves are portrayed as belonging to neither land nor sea completely. Suddenly understood why I, who always feels like I have a foot in the world I was born in and a foot in the world I'm part of now, was so drawn to them.

I didn't have much time to brood, and soon we were all back together. Before long, the brat in the red shirt decided that burying me in the sand was a marvelous idea, so he and Mo went to work.

Buried in the sand!

After gallivanting all over downtown Santa Barbara we finished helping Josh and Laura load their stuff into the Rental Car from Hell, then at about 9 pm, we started back for Whittier. We stayed there for the next three days, Laura and I crashed in one motel room, Brand and Mo in the other, and Josh staying with his parents, since he was teaching and being the responsible one. During that time we: stayed up much too late and slept in equally late, usually getting up in time to go pick up Josh at school each afternoon; returned the Rental Car from Hell (which we didn't pay for, naturally), watched Mo give the owner hell (that was fun!), and rented the coolest, most space-age minivan ever; played Tribe 8, culminating in a plot that deviated wildly from game canon but left me sobbing helplessly when my character died a martyr's death; and finally, took Mo to the airport. Then it was Thursday and Brand and I left Josh and Laura as well and headed to Brand's hometown of Lancaster.

Lancaster is in the Antelope Valley, about two hours out of Los Angeles. The Antelope Valley is up in the mountains and pretty much in the Mojave Desert. I thought it was wonderful, but Brand said that was because I didn't live there -- and it was spring, so everything was at its greenest (which wasn't very). The last four days of my vacation were so relaxing. After running around and staying up all night for a week, Brand and I spent the rest of the week vegetating, lying around his house like slugs and watching movies and talking. I got to meet his family, which was neat. He has three younger brothers and a mother all as insane as he is. (His nineteen year old brother is a pro wrestler. No, I'm not kidding. I saw the videotapes.) I feel bad for his dad, who is a very nice, normal man.

All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better vacation -- well okay, I could have asked, but it would have involved things like Europe and Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor, so it's unlikely that I could have actually had a better vacation.

Posted by Lisa at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

Good god. I just stopped

Good god. I just stopped the VP of Technology because he didn't have a badge. I didn't recognize him. Of course, security would have told me to give him a visitor's badge anyway, but he projected that air of authority so I chickened out on pushing the issue. When he walked away, he said, "You're doing a great job," which conversely had the effect of making me feel like an idiot. Grr. I hate front desk.

Posted by Lisa at 05:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2001

Routine, What's That?

Oy, this has been one of those insane sort of days where nothing follows its usual schedule. I never realize how much a creature of habit I am until I have one of these days. To start out with, as soon as I got here, I had my interview with the forms department. I was pleasantly surprised. The job looks really interesting, doing the sort of nitpicky, detailed editing and such that I actually like doing -- much like all the proofreading I do for Wicked Ink stuff. They're supposed to let me know something by the end of the week, depending on what I hear for the support job as well.

Then after the interview, I find out that Linda has a doctor's appointment, and that she may have the chicken pox. This is a bad thing. Aside from being my lifeline to sanity at times (as well as being the only other grown-up in my department), she's the only one who's learned the new security procedures that went into place this week. The idea was she was going to teach them to the rest of us this week or next. She's out until Monday, so I'm getting a bit of a crash course today. It's not that bad, really, just more than I expected for an average Wednesday. This has definitely not been an average Wednesday.

It has been interesting, however. I'll give it that much. And it's going by fast, which is always a plus. All week I've been thinking that it's a day before it actually is -- yesterday I kept thinking it was Wednesday. I hate that. Especially mistaking Tuesday for Wednesday. That's probably the worst. Tuesday is practically Monday! And Wednesday, well, Wednesday is close to Thursday which is close to Friday, so Wednesday is practically the weekend!

I've been acutely aware of the passage of time just lately too (except for when I get my days confused, of course). I was astounded to realize at my sociology class last night that we only have four more class sessions to go. Where did the semester go? I'm all up in the air about next semester now too, and I hate that. (I'm hating a lot of things today, aren't I?) I've sort of resigned myself to whatever happens. There are positives to any outcome, whether I go to the forms department, or to the support department, or even if I stay where I'm at. I never think of myself as having a great deal of faith, but somehow I have faith in all this that everything will work out the way it's supposed to work out. In the meantime though, I have no dependable routine, and it's making me a little bit cranky. Expect more whining over the next couple days or so.

Posted by Lisa at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2001

Hermiting

It seems like I'm writing entries earlier and earlier lately -- ironic, since I can't do anything with them until I get home. It makes me crazy, but there isn't anything I can do, apparently. The latest version of WS-FTP doesn't want to upload whole files, so until the makers decide to fix that feature, I can't use that program, and straight Windows FTP won't work behind my firewall here, or something. I can't figure that one out. I hate that. I hate being hobbled. If my computer is capable of a task, it drives me absolutely bonkers if I can't perform that task, for whatever reason. Bleah.

Last night was apparently my night to stay away from the computer, and spend all my time on the phone instead. This is not a bad thing. After spending a good hour or so on the phone with Brand, I spent another good hour or so on the phone with Dawn and Jason (and Justin -- who has grown into a healthy, noisy little two-and-a-half month old). It's odd, considering how much of an absolute freak I used to be about the phone, how seldom I really talk to people anymore -- comparatively, at least. That's a little sad, too, considering how much more comfortable I am talking there as opposed to any other medium. Well, not exactly true. I'm most comfortable communicating via written word, but sometimes that's just inadequate. Sometimes you just need to hear a voice.

When I think about how I am, I can easily see how so many sci-fi writers envisioned a future where no one left their homes or ever communicated face to face. The temptation is there, for me at least, to stay physically isolated. Don't get me wrong. I don't think anything will ever completely replace sitting around or hanging out with friends face to face, but if I could, I'd work from home -- and if I did, I would probably almost never leave the house.

Well, except to game. And maybe go to the movies.

Is that sad? It sounds like it, doesn't it? Over the past several years, I've been increasingly reluctant to have actual face to face conversations with people I don't know. I've somehow turned into an introvert. Typical of introverts, I'm really outgoing when I'm in a situation that makes me comfortable. Case in point: last week I went to a full moon ritual hosted by some friends of Jo's. Two years ago I would have been outgoing as all get out in such a situation. I was a little shocked at how shy I was. Before the ritual started, in fact, when people were sitting around talking, I wanted to sink into the couch and disappear. Not only didn't I know more than a handful of people, but I couldn't think of a single thing to say to anyone sitting near me. It was awful. After the ritual, of course, was a completely different story. I felt much more comfortable, and by the end of the night I was singing Tom Smith and Tom Lehrer songs at the top of my lungs to whoever would listen.

The same thing happened to me in California. I didn't think I was acting terribly shy, although there was definitely some uncertainty at first. Finally after three days or so, Brand said something obnoxious to me, and I think I laughed, told him to fuck off, and threw a beanie baby spider at him and hit him in the face. That's when he laughed and said, "There you are! I was wondering where'd you been all week!" Apparently, I was being far more reserved than I'd realized. (On a completely unrelated note, my language completely deteriorated in California. I think I said "fuck" more in one week than in the previous six months combined. The good folks of Wicked Ink were a very bad influence on me! It was very liberating.)

This is another case of me completely having to rethink my image of myself. I don't want to be a "shy" person. I suppose the only way to avoid it is to quit being such a hermit.

Posted by Lisa at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2001

I have a job interview

I have a job interview with the forms department on Wednesday. I'd be helping design and proofread the tax forms that go into our programs. Support's still my first choice, I submitted a resume for that today as well.

There's a new entry written, but I can't upload it until I get home tonight. Geh. I think I should go shopping for interview clothes. I hate shopping!

Posted by Lisa at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

Recharging

Well, after some serious thought this weekend, as well as serious conversations with my mother and my therapist, and emails exchanged with what feels like half the known universe, I've decided to apply for the job in product support. The answer was unanimous from absolutely everybody. When I decided, my mom said, I think worried, "Now you'll be disappointed if you don't get it." I had to laugh a little. I admitted she was right, but said, "I can't let that stop me from applying though." Sure I'll be disappointed. My main goal in life, though, is not to avoid disappointment at all costs. Well okay. That's not my conscious goal. I'm certain that I've occasionally (often?) settled for something less to avoid the risk of trying for something better and not getting it.

So I'm working on my resume, in addition to poring over everything support-related I can find on our intranet site here. There's quite a bit. I actually feel like I'm learning something, making me wonder why I haven't done this before. I like the way my resume looks. It makes me feel almost competent. Scary thought, that.

Lisa Nichols, employee extraordinaire We've implemented a new security system here, and a ton of new procedures, including photo ID badges. I'm impressed. I've managed to not look like an utter goon in my picture. Of course, considering where the badge hangs on me, I feel like everybody's staring at my chest now trying to read my name. I can no longer make the comment "My face is up here" because there's a copy down there too! Not like I ever made that comment to anyone anyway, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

I've been reading like a fiend lately. Within the past two or three weeks, I've finished at least four books by my count. (Unfortunately, one of them has not been the long-suffering Ms. Hamilton's Mythology.) I'm reading a fifth, with twenty-two other new ones sitting on my shelves waiting for me. I love eBay. Of course, I was depressed for some of that time, and I tend to read a lot more heavily when I'm depressed. Part of it is escapism, I know. Another part of it is that I just don't usually feel like doing much more than lying around and reading. I've also seen a lot of movies, both at home and in the theatres. That, of course, is also partly due to depression, but more due to the fact that this is an awesome movie summer! Since Memorial Day, I've seen The Mummy Returns, Shrek, Moulin Rouge (twice), and Memento all in the theatre. This weekend I will almost assuredly go see Atlantis and Tomb Raider. I've lost track of the movies I've watched at home.

Of course, some of this is also a reaction to finishing a writing project, too. I've noticed when I wrap up a big project, such as the (god help us) soon-to-be-released Revanche. It wasn't conscious on my part at first, but it's almost like I'm recharging my batteries or something. I read voraciously after finishing something. Particularly if I know I have another project coming up -- which I do. Several, in fact. This will be an interesting summer.

A word on Memento: if you missed this, go see it! Particularly if you're a fan of film noir or well-made thrillers. What a brilliant, brilliant movie.

Posted by Lisa at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2001

Opportunities

Ever have an opportunity so good you weren't sure if you could pass it up, even though taking it means rearranging a lot of priorities?

I should start from the beginning, I suppose. Things have been, well... tense, for lack of a better word, at work lately. More than just lately. It's been building for a while. There are personality conflicts and lots of immaturity and just some very very nasty attitudes going on. Before I was a "senior rep", I could bury my head in the sand and ignore it. Now that I actually have a strong responsibility for what goes on around here, I can't ignore it anymore. And I'm tired of dealing with it. My rallying cry this week has been, "I want to work with the grownups for a change!"

So yesterday I broke down and let my supervisor know that I might want to try and transfer out of the department. I gave him a list of available positions I thought I'd be qualified for and why, along with the cons of each as well. We talked about it today. There is a chance I am a good candidate to work in product support. The timing is such that if I were hired into support, I could make the change and start training there within a month. I would enjoy the job, I'm fairly certain. It definitely pays better. The stress level is probably about the same, but I would have more autonomy and it would be mentally challenging. Grownups work in that department.

But...

Support reps aren't hired in part time. And they work a lot of overtime. I probably wouldn't, at least to start, have the same flexibility with my schedule, which means I would be really limited, both in how many classes I could take each semester, and when I could take them. As it is, I've been looking at finishing school in two years. This could push it back considerably. I'm acutely conscious of not getting any younger, despite myself. I'm bothered -- even though I know I shouldn't be -- by the idea of finishing grad school at forty. I'm also worried that I'll never finish school, or that I'll get so "comfortable" with a good job and a good salary that I'll never go to grad school at all, not wanting to take that step backwards financially to do so.

I want to have it all. I want to finish school, but I want to have a respectable job in the meantime. I'm also acutely conscious of being nearly 29 years old, living with my parents, and having a crappy job. At least, that's one side of the coin. The other side is that I'm 29 years old, working full-time and going to college and working as a freelance writer. I want to be more than I am, and I can't decide how to reconcile everything that I am and everything I want to be and make it all work together.

Am I running away from the responsibilities I have with my current job? Am I sabotaging my school efforts? Am I running away from all the personal issues I was dealing with last week and the week before? That, unfortunately, is the downside of years of therapy -- you start hyperanalyzing everything you do for hidden reasons and motivations.

I'm going to think a lot about it this weekend. I have no idea yet what I want to do, but I know I can't keep going as I have been.

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

Well, I've written a new

Well, I've written a new entry, but given my uploading issues from work, I can't upload it until I get home. :P I don't know yet when that will be. I'm thinking about going to see a movie tonight. Maybe Moulin Rouge again, or Evolution. Next week, of course, is the Tomb Raider/Atlantis double feature. It's a happy movie summer for Lisa.

It's been not such a happy week. Lots of stuff going on, most of which I've sent to the notify list. Speaking of that, if you want to be on the notify list (which this week has included me dishing on my coworkers a great deal), email me for now, as I haven't set up the correct links to subscribe to it yet.

Posted by Lisa at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2001

I think (she says cautiously)

I think (she says cautiously) that I've gotten the site fixed. Apparently there're some bugs in the latest version of WS-FTP or something, because even at home it didn't want to completely upload files. It seems to be okay now. If you find files that look incomplete, please, please email me and let me know what the URL is so I can fix it. Thanks!

Posted by Lisa at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2001

I had to quote Tyler.

I had to quote Tyler. Tyler is one of the folks I met while in Santa Barbara.

Shadow says "Like, you know, "RAW TEENAGE BOOBIES!" I might be able to understand. "MAKE MILLIONS NOW!" too. But Viagra? And weight loss? Great, let's choose the two things that if Tyler had any of, he would die instantly."
Teehee.

Posted by Lisa at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2001

Once again a random person

Once again a random person has felt compelled to email me to tell me that I'm fat. I don't understand this phenomenon. Said person also sent me an attachment to the email, but it had a virus and I didn't open it, so I don't know what it was. Of course, they may have been sending me the virus, I don't know.

I replied. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did. Here's what I said:

While I appreciate the time you took to respond to my post to the mailing list, I was unfortunately not able to view said attachment because it was infected by a virus. I /do/ hope your computer isn't badly infected as well. As to the title of the attachment, if you were writing to inform that I am, in fact, fat, again, I appreciate the time and attention from you, but I have been well aware of my body size for quite some time, and you have a talent for stating the obvious. Thank you and have a wonderful day!
I felt better afterwards, at least. As far as the site goes, I'm still working out FTP problems from work, so updates (and getting the site fixed) may be sporadic, particularly as I have a sociology test on Thursday. I'll be around ASAP, I promise.

Posted by Lisa at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

I know. There's weirdness afoot

I know. There's weirdness afoot here. I haven't had a chance to figure out why the stuff I FTP'd from work didn't completely upload, but I'm working on it, and bit by bit, I'm getting everything fixed. Thanks for being so patient. It's a miracle that anybody's sticking around and reading now!

I had my first encounter with Dreamhost's tech support last night. They were actually HELPFUL! *gasp!* I'm not used to a webhost's tech support being HELPFUL!

Posted by Lisa at 03:45 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2001

Well, I'm in the process

Well, I'm in the process of changing webhosts. I've never done this before (well, at least not with the whole domain registration thing), so the site may be wonky and/or down completely while I figure this out. ;)

Posted by Lisa at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

This is out of context,

This is out of context, but too funny not to share:

Ruth says "I want to be a Brain Surgeon!"
Ruth says "C'mere, I got a sharp knife!"
The Seed says "That's a spoon."
Ruth says "Oh. Here! I got one now!"
And yes, I do have an entry in the works. It should be up later this afternoon.

Posted by Lisa at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

Catching Up

What a long strange month it's been. One month ago today, I was in California. In fact, right about now I think I was being awakened by the sonic boom of the space shuttle overhead as it landed at Edwards Air Force Base. It was a wonderful, wonderful vacation, and I know that by not writing about it right away I've probably lost some of the minutiae of the trip forever. The important stuff, however, remains. Mo and Josh and Laura were absolutely a blast to hang around with (I already knew Brand was cool), and it was agreed that the five of us hanging around together seemed the most natural thing, as if we'd been doing it for years. In a sense, we have, just not face to face.

Among the things I learned that week were that you should never give Mo dairy products, because they make her high -- I'm not joking. As evidence, I offer an image of Mo, sitting under a tree on State Street in Santa Barbara, ice cream in hand, belting out Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" -- "Picture this, we was both BUCK NAKED bangin' on the bathroom floor" -- at the top of her lungs. I learned that I am both stronger and weaker than I think I am, and that jealousy is not the end of the world -- or of a friendship. I learned that slumber parties are still loads of fun, whether it was just me and Laura exchanging sad stories and Kleenexes at five in the morning, or whether it was me trying to stay awake and listen to Laura and Brand's theological, philosophical discussion as the sun came up. I learned that Josh is probably the coolest middle school teacher in Southern California -- soon to be the coolest high school teacher -- but his students probably don't appreciate that. I learned that the ocean has a powerful, powerful effect on me, and that my whole selkie obsession has reasons behind it that I'd never considered before. I learned that Panorama City isn't (isn't a panorama, that is), but getting stranded there makes for some good stories later. I learned that I can kick Brand's ass in Trivial Pursuit. I learned a lot of things, but most of all, I learned that I am lucky to have so many fantastic friends scattered around the country -- and that includes the ones right here in Michigan too.

Online journals are strange things. They are intimate, but they are intimate at an arm's length. I've come to some hard realizations about myself over the past week or so, very hard realizations. Over and over again in this journal, I've prided myself on how open I am, and how very much I let people get in close to me, and how often I get hurt because of that.

That's a lie. It's a lie that I've told myself for a very long time now, and one that I believed whole-heartedly. That doesn't make it any less untrue. Just like in this journal, I am intimate with other people, but at an arm's length. Even with my closest friends, I have control over who sees what side of my life, and when. Just like in this journal, I control what I reveal and what I keep secret. That's why I am more comfortable living alone. That's why I have so many friends that live so far from me -- even most of my friends in Michigan are a good hour or more drive away. Because that way I have control over who gets close, and how close they get.

That was an amazingly hard thing to realize about myself. All my life, I've had this image of myself, only to realize that that image was a fašade. It's like discovering that you've been living under an assumed name and never knew it. You start wondering who you are. You start wondering what else you've been lying to yourself about. The truth of the matter is that I was, once upon a time, the open person I believed myself to be. Then I got too close, unhealthily close, to someone, and Bad Things happened. I swore that would never happen again, so I started to change. Then the next person I got close to had walls built all around him, so I built walls of my own in defense, finishing the change. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming either party for where I am. I'm just talking cause and effect here.

So I've recognized the problem. What do I do about it? For now, I stretch a little. If I seem, over the next few months, to be acting contrary to the me you know, chances are you're seeing a side of me that I don't usually show you. And all that means is that I trust you enough to take down some walls around you. I've always wondered at people who said they couldn't get close to people, wondering how on earth they kept separate and why. I'm still amazed to learn that I'm one of them.

Posted by Lisa at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)