August 31, 2001

Goals

Life, it seems, is starting to resume its old rhythm. For a little bit, at least, then I start my new job. And school again. I'm torn. I'm somewhat less than excited about having all of my Saturdays tied up this semester (see Jason's comment on the blog -- bye bye gaming, at least in its normal format), but part of me thinks that a Saturday class, particularly one that doesn't start until 11:30, will in many ways be better than a night class. I'm also less than excited about dropping my T.S. Eliot class. I was really looking forward to that one. However, I emailed the professor yesterday to see when she'll be teaching it again, or if I can do it via independent study at some point. So there's still a little bit of hope. So, U.S. History instead of Western Civilization, and Literature 103 (Drama) instead of Literature 450.

My plans seem to constantly change. With my new job, it's going to take me so much longer to get through school, but at the same time, I'll be making more money, so I can probably pay tuition and still survive out on my own again. So I'm looking at moving out of my parents' house. Not next week, not next month -- I'm taking my time this time. The times I've "gone on my own again" in the past have been rushed and not well-planned out (i.e. "You're making me crazy! I'm moving out NOW!"). This time I'm setting goals and making longer-term plans than I usually do. I'm paying attention to details I haven't normally paid attention to (like, oh, how much MONEY I have vs. how much I need...). Right now I'm looking at moving back out next May or June. That will give me time to pay off some more bills, and save some more money. Money in my savings account -- that gets left in my savings account for more than a few weeks -- is a novel concept for me. And this might sound silly, but that will also get me back out on my own again before my thirtieth birthday. That's becoming a sore point with me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not freaking out about turning thirty (good thing, cause that birthday's still about ten months away!), but there are just certain things I'd like to have accomplished and/or under control by the time I reach that birthday.

Things I want or have wanted to do before I turn thirty:

  • Finish my bachelor's degree. (Okay, so this one's not going to happen. Probably by thirty-five, though.)

  • Have a "real" job that I'm not embarrassed to tell people about. (Done!)

  • Be financially independent. (Done, thank god. I know I'm living with my parents, shut up. ;) Back in my early twenties I didn't think I'd ever get as far as I have.)

  • Be financially stable -- yes, there is a difference. (Almost there. Almost.)

  • Be happily married with children. (Yeah, giving this one a miss too. But I'm a crazy aunt!)

  • Get published. (Done!)

  • Go to Europe. (Probably not by the time I'm thirty, but it will happen.)

Those were the specific goals I've had, at least. The overall generalized goal is "be a grownup", which boils down to things like being responsible in terms of finances and things like, oh, housework. And I'm getting there. I'm getting there. I don't think I'll ever "grow up" completely. I wrote, a long time ago about the idea of post-adolescence. That's where I think I still am, and I may decide to stay here. I'll probably always have a love of roleplaying games and computer games -- which most people don't associate with "grownups". I'll probably always have a tendency to stay up too late and sleep in too much, but I can live with those things. They're part of who I am.

And that relates to a goal I didn't even know I had -- that I didn't have really -- but that I accomplished anyway. I know who I am. For that, I can thank my depression. I may not always be able to be rational about them, but I know my strengths and my weaknesses, I know where I stand, I know how my mind and motivations work, most of the time. At times I may seem overanalytical, but that's a sort of defense mechanism against a mind given to irrational emotional outbursts. It's like there's a part of my mind that's constantly checking up on things -- "How's it goin', guys? Are we in step with reality today?" Or even, "Aw, buck up, little camper! You're not really mad at Brand because he thinks you're a poopoohead, you just feel like a poopoohead because of your own insecurities! Which aren't even based in reality anyway! There, don't you feel better?" Okay, maybe it's not that simple, but you get the idea.

Right now, and for the past nine months or so, I've been at the point in my life where I'm re-evaluating a lot of stuff (in case you missed that), and really, setting new goals. Or at least looking to see how I've done with the old ones. Ironically, rather than feeling stifled by the fact that the big 3-0 is just around the New Year, I feel full of possibility. For a lot of reasons (not the least of which is my new job), I feel like doors are opening by the dozens in front of me right now. It's a heady feeling. Someone, please remind me of this when I'm sobbing over my birthday candles next July, will you?

Posted by Lisa at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2001

I have not forgotten you,

I have not forgotten you, Gentle Readers. Most of my time over this past week has been spent either avoiding writing or studying accounting. Whee! T-minus six work days before I start my new job. I learned all about financial statement formatting today -- and to my surprise, I kinda dug it.

In other news, I've been corresponding with a third cousin I didn't know I had. Remember all of the genealogy files I mentioned in the last entry? I emailed the woman who posted them -- and it turns out she is, in fact, my third cousin. We've been swapping family stories and getting to know each other. She's very cool, highly literate and interesting -- and musical! Apparently she's got a degree or two in music. According to her, the Oliver Cromwell I spotted on our family tree is in fact THE Oliver Cromwell. Woohoo!

In other other news, I rearranged my school schedule for fall to fit my new work schedule. Obviously, I won't be in school full time. I am taking two classes, though: US History to 1877 and Reading of Literature: Drama. The history class meets one night a week and the lit class meets on Saturdays. Not my ideal schedule, but I figure I can deal with it.

Posted by Lisa at 03:50 PM | Comments (1)

August 24, 2001

This is not only a

This is not only a troll, it's hysterical -- assuming you've spent much time reading RPG-related message boards a la RPG.net.

Posted by Lisa at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

Family Matters

Among my grandma's things was a large collection of family photographs. My mom and I spent quite a bit of time going through them during the last week of her life. The oldest of those pictures are now mine, and they've rekindled my long-standing interest in genealogy and family history. One of the pictures, a reproduction of a photo probably taken in the 1920s, is of my great-grandmother, Jane Bentley Baker, and her brothers and sisters, and possibly her father or grandfather or uncle. I still haven't quite tracked down all of the relationships. The picture itself wasn't labeled, so before my grandmother's funeral, I sat down with my great aunt Lula (Grandma's sister) and asked her who everyone was. She knew most of the names.

"Now that's Uncle John Vent Bentley," she'd say, "and that's Uncle Otho. That's William. That right there is Aunt Nancy Ann and Cora and Josephine and Laura... and that's my mother..." She went on until she named just about everyone. There is an original picture of my great-grandfather (Jane's husband Ed Baker) taken when he was a young man, which would have placed it right around the early 1900s, as my grandmother was born in 1908. There are a couple of pictures of Martin and Malinda Bentley, parents to all of the above children -- my great-great-grandparents. To give you an idea of how old the picture might be, Malinda died in 1933.

Scarily, my maiden name was Bentley. Scarier still, my grandfather on my father's side was named William Bentley. From the same area of Kentucky as the Bentleys listed above. If that's the same William, that means my parents were first cousins once removed -- my grandmother was my father's first cousin. Now, William is a very common name, and there are a ton of Bentleys in Pike and Letcher Counties, so it's probably not the same man. Right now I'm trying to find out more information on my father's parents, because it's highly likely my parents were related and didn't know it. I'd just like to find what the relationship was. (Any jokes about my non-forking family tree may be directed to the email address at the bottom of the page. ;))

So last night I idly went over to Rootsweb and did a search on Otho Bentley, figuring he had the most unique name of the bunch. Jackpot! Not only was he listed, but Martin and Malinda were as well, and someone had already traced their ancestry back to the 1700s. I was captivated. I spent over an hour surfing through my family tree. Otho, it seems, was a profoundly fertile man who had twenty-one children by two wives. As near as I can tell, he had about eight brothers and sisters, including my great-grandmother Jane.

Among the other fascinating tidbits, one of my ancestors (probably more than one, but one's been verified) William Cromwell, born in Wiltshire, England in 1637, was transported to Maryland in 1667. In other words, he was probably a criminal who got shipped to the colonies. We moved further south eventually, to Rowan County, North Carolina, and eventually to Letcher County, Kentucky, which is where my grandmother and mother were both born.

The real kicker, as far as I'm concerned, lies way back in the 1600s. There are a lot of Cromwells listed in the family tree back around that time, minor knights in Huntingdon. One of them was named Oliver. He may have been THE Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England who terrorized the Irish and executed Charles I, etc. The birth year and death year are the same, the wife's name is the same. The parents' names in my list, however, are not. But still... if it is that particular Oliver Cromwell, that means he's my great grand uncle, about eleven generations back. Oy, if he is, the Irish ancestors on my father's side are going to come kick my ass...

I am absolutely amazed by all this. It's like putting a huge jigsaw puzzle together, only better. For all of the information I have about my great-grandmother's brothers and sisters, she has shown up on none of the family lists so far. I don't know if it's because she was alive when the original research was done (as most genealogists protect the privacy of living relatives) or if she's just been forgotten. I have a hunch we may be a missing branch of the Bentley-Baker family, as far as the genealogy world is concerned.

Imagine, me -- a missing link!

Posted by Lisa at 09:20 AM | Comments (2)

August 23, 2001

Oh yeah, I keep forgetting

Oh yeah, I keep forgetting to hype this new comic:

winter

The artist is a MUSH friend of mine, and the writers are his housemates, I think. Some really intriguing stuff so far. They're just getting it started, so there aren't tons of archives to catch up on yet. Go read. Start here.

Posted by Lisa at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2001

So I've futilely tried to

So I've futilely tried to FTP from work again, but it seems that the firewall is just too clever for the likes of me. So the link over to the left that says there's a new entry up is lying. There isn't. Also, the entry from the 6th has temporarily vanished, until I can get home. Grar!

Posted by Lisa at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

Matters of Life and Death

I wasn't really involved with planning my father's funeral, that I can remember. I remember wanting to sing at his funeral, and I did, with a friend of mine. I can remember talking about the funeral with my mom, but I don't remember really being involved. I just wanted to avoid a lot of the events surrounding my father's death, to ignore as much of it as I could and go on with my life. While I understand now that I had a normal seventeen year old's reaction, I've always felt guilty about it. When we knew Grandma was dying, I decided to be as involved as I could be.

I wasn't there when she died. She died last Sunday night, while I was at home. My mom and my aunt Vera were staying with her. Around midnight, my mom called me and told me that Grandma was gone. I got dressed and went over to my Grandma's house. When I got there, I thought that my mom had been wrong. Grandma looked as peaceful as she had when I left earlier in the day. I kept expecting to see her start breathing again. She didn't. I remember sitting down next to her bed and crying with my mom and Vera while we waited for the rest of the family, and the hospice nurse. The nurse came about 1:30, made the official declaration of death, and called the funeral home. It was that simple. No police, no 911, no coroner. Then she offered to wash Grandma, and asked if anyone wanted to help. Some families, she said, often did. Everyone left the room except for me and my aunt Dot (my mom's sister-in-law). I helped the nurse wash, well, the body. I don't know why I felt compelled to, but I did. It wasn't any different from washing her earlier in the weekend, except that she was cool to the touch. The only time it really hit me that I was helping wash a dead body was when we rolled her over, because the movements of her body were completely wrong. The only thing that really bothered me is that when we finished, her eyes had opened. I closed them.

I don't want to squick anybody. If you're bothered by this, I'm sorry. I don't know if I have the words to express how important, how solemn, how ultimately loving it was to go through this, which honestly, was little more than a ritual washing. I understand now, I think, why people used to do this every time someone died, why they kept the body at home for a time and sat up with it. I could go into another rant about how removed our society is from death, but I won't. This was the first time I'd ever seen a dead body outside of a funeral service. My mom said it was the first time for her as well. I've always been afraid of death, and of dead people, largely because of an overactive imagination and a love of horror fiction. This wasn't like that. This was miles away from anything Stephen King.

We sat up with my grandma -- me, my mom, my aunt Vera and her husband Elmer, and my uncle Junior and his wife Dot. Even after the funeral home came and took Grandma, we still sat up, telling stories, not just about her, but about other family members who had died, like my dad, and my uncle Eddie, my grandpa. And not just about the deceased, but about each other as well. We laughed as much as we cried. That has been the central theme of this entire experience, from the time Grandma broke her hip in June until now: we've told stories and remembered -- and we've laughed as much as we've cried.

That week is almost a blur to me already. The visitations were awful. I hate those things. I run out of small talk and I run out of polite responses to offered condolences, and I end up sitting alone and waiting for it to be over. But I did help plan. In addition to all of the flowers that were sent, we had one of my grandma's quilts on display near the casket. That was my idea. Quilting was one of my grandma's two big loves, that and her garden. She made three or four quilts every winter, almost all by hand. The one we displayed was in various shades of pink and has literally thousands of tiny decorative stitches all through it. Although I know Grandma would hate it (because she never understood the idea of quilting as an art form, quilts were made to be used and used hard), I want to frame it to be able to preserve it and display it.

The funeral is the one part of last week that isn't a blur. You see, when we started planning Grandma's funeral, back before she died, I told my mom and my aunt that I wanted to speak at the funeral. I didn't know what I wanted to say, but I wanted someone from the family to talk about Grandma. So after the minister finished talking about the details of Grandma's life, I stood up and read the following:

"Family was the most important thing in Grandma's life. Even more than her garden and her quilting, her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids and even great-great grandkids - and there are about sixty of us in all - were what mattered most to her.

"I can remember when I was kid Grandma would have Sunday dinner at her house every Sunday after church. Anyone who ever ate at her house knows what a great cook she was, and she would cook enough to feed an army. On a normal Sunday there'd be at least a dozen people, and on a few Sundays there were upwards of thirty. There was a running joke that the sign reading "Food - This Exit" on US-23 was actually referring to Grandma's house. We'd all eat, then the grownups would sit in the living room and talk while us kids would go play in the back bedrooms or in the yard. Grandma said later that was the best time of her life.

"My cousin Sheri and I would spend the night over at Grandma's house all the time during that period. Every night it was the same thing. Before Grandma would go to bed, she'd come to us and ask, 'Now what do you girls want for breakfast in the morning?' and we'd tell her, then Sheri and I would sit up in her kitchen, making macaroni and cheese and giggling. Then we'd go to bed and giggle some more. Grandma never complained that we kept her up. She never complained about much of anything her grandchildren did, really, as long as we were there visiting her. In the morning she'd get up and make us breakfast, usually pancakes - which she made from scratch. No Bisquick or pancake mix for her! In case you've missed it - nobody ever left Grandma's house hungry, not if she could help it.

"Grandma loved family reunions. She'd always tell us stories about her and her brothers and sisters when they were growing up in Millstone - about the trouble they got into, about their boyfriends and girlfriends, I think I remember stories about sneaking out to dances - sometimes it was hard to reconcile those wild-sounding kids with my sweet great aunts and uncles. You could hear all kinds of stories at those Sunday dinners, especially if you found a quiet corner and just listened to the grownups talk. That was where I first learned that yes, my grandmother and all my other relatives really did have lives before us kids came into the picture, and those lives were often interesting and eventful.

"Grandma loved listening to and telling stories about the family, especially if they were funny ones. That love of funny stories is something she passed on to her children and grandchildren. The week before she died, we thought we were going to lose her. It was a Sunday night, and she was in such bad shape. All of her children were there. In the midst of our worry and sadness, my aunt Hazel started telling stories about my aunt Vera's sweet tooth, which is awful. Grandma's girls got to giggling, and before long, none of us could stop. I was sitting next to Grandma's bed, and she was smiling, listening to us laugh. I leaned over and told her that Hazel was picking on Vera Mae, and Grandma smiled even wider. The day before she died, several of us were there again, and we looked through Grandma's old photo albums, remembering and telling stories about the pictures. She was there, and although she couldn't speak then, I know she listened, and I know it made her smile again.

"All the dinners, and the reunions, and most importantly, Grandma, were the things that held our family together. She was the hub at the center of the wheel, and each of us were the spokes. Right now, it feels like we're just sort of wobbling along, a wheel with nothing holding it together at the center. She was our center, and she's gone. It would be easy for us to fall apart, for cousins and aunts and uncles and even brothers and sisters to drift away over the next few years. Grandma would hate that. Even though she's gone, she still connects us. Without her, many of us wouldn't be here today. While we'll all remember her, and the wonderful person she was, we also need to remember each other, and remember the way she connects each of us to one another. The best way for us to honor her memory is by doing just that, keeping the closeness and the connection we have as a family. That's what I think she would want, and I think that every time we get together and laugh and tell stories about each other, Grandma will be there, watching us and smiling."

I was afraid I wouldn't be able to speak without crying, but I managed it. I even saw some smiles in the audience, and heard some chuckles, which is what I really wanted. I wanted people to remember the good things about Grandma's life. She went the way she wanted to go, the way most people would want, I think -- at home, with her family there, in her sleep, after a very long life. But more importantly, and I was glad when the minister brought this up, she lived the way she wanted to live, and almost right up until the end she made every day count. I'm really going to miss her. I already miss her.

Grandma, taken Easter 2000
Nancy Bostain
April 13, 1908 - August 13, 2001

Posted by Lisa at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2001

Things are starting to settle

Things are starting to settle down around here. The funeral was last Thursday, and since then we've mostly been resting and recuperating from the last two weeks. I went back to work today. I never would have believed how glad I was to go back to work. It was good to go back to normalcy.

I'm working on a journal entry about all of this, but it's hard. Harder than I would have thought. Add to that a book deadline coming up within the next week and a general sense of laziness, and it might be a bit before I get it posted.

In short, I got in touch with my family again. I've been emailing cousins I haven't spoke to in years. It turns out I can't go to DragonCon after all, because I used all my vacation time the week before Grandma died. So I'm going to a family reunion Labor Day weekend instead.

This has been a very powerful, tiring, /important/ experience for me, if that makes any sense. My priorities are shifting again, I can tell.

Posted by Lisa at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2001

Grandma died about four hours

Grandma died about four hours ago. I'm so tired I can't see straight. The funeral should be on Thursday. God, what a long week it's going to be. She just... fell asleep. She was peaceful. I was glad of that. I miss her.

Posted by Lisa at 12:34 AM | Comments (1)

August 06, 2001

In My Grandma's House

My grandma's house is so quiet at night. You can hear the sounds of three people breathing in their sleep, even back in the far bedroom -- which really isn't that far away. Grandma has an electric clock hanging on her living room wall that's older than I am. My mom and dad gave it to her as a present not long after they got married. At two in the morning, that clock is the loudest thing in the house, burring quietly away, ticking back and forth.

I've known that my grandma is dying for a little over a week now. After she broke her hip in June, she just gave up. She has been active and on her own for 93 years. She planted a garden in her backyard this year, just like she has every year that I can remember. I think deep down she couldn't stand the thought of not being able to do that anymore, and having to go live with my aunt Vera. Or in a nursing home. So she pretty much stopped eating or drinking. Last Wednesday, when I came over to stay, I could see it in her face. She was getting ready to go.

I came over here to Grandma's on Saturday morning to take over for my mom, so she could get some rest and get some work done at home. When I got here, I found out that my grandma had stopped breathing during the night, and that her heart stopped. My mom was with her then. She went to go wake up Vera, and by the time they got into the living room, where Grandma is staying, Grandma's heart and breathing had started again.

So on Saturday, when I came over, all of us (my mom, my aunts Vera, Hazel, Helen, and me) tried to figure out what we needed to do. We knew Grandma couldn't go back to the hospital -- she'd just gotten out a few days before, and there's nothing they can do for her. Vera called the preacher from her and Grandma's church, and they called a nurse friend of ours as well. The nurse, Diana, was honest with us. A couple of days, maybe weeks, but not likely that long. She suggested that if anyone needed to come see Grandma, that we call them. So we did. We got in touch with hospice care, and Mom and Vera went to the funeral home and prearranged as much as they could. Then we settled in to wait.

Saturday went into Sunday, and on Sunday morning my mom and I both went home to rest and to get laundry done. We both were exhausted and slept nearly all day. At nine o'clock that night, Hazel called. My mom came into my room and said, "It's bad. We have to go." I drove us back over to Grandma's. When we walked in the door, I thought she was already gone. Vera was standing over her, taking her blood pressure, and Grandma was barely conscious. I sat next to her bed and held her hand. Everyone looked shell-shocked, me included. She was dying right before our eyes, and it was hard to let her go. While I sat there, my mom said, "Tell her it's okay, that's it all right for her to go. That we love her." She started to say more, but couldn't because she was crying.

That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. How do you tell someone you love that it's okay for them to die? I don't remember exactly what I said, but I told her. I told her that we loved her, and that we were going to stay with her, but that if she needed to go, to go, and that we would be okay. I swear, I saw relief in her eyes, and she cried a little -- not much, she's too dehydrated for tears. She nodded at me and squeezed my hand. One by one, throughout the night, we each sort of said goodbye. Vera, who's been taking care of her the longest, had the hardest time.

Sunday night was hellish. Grandma was restless and in pain, and there was nothing we could do. None of her medication worked. She kept saying, "I'm going to die, I'm not going to make it." And there was nothing for us to do except hold her hand and tell her that we were there. Everyone went to bed, finally around 1 am, except for my aunt Hazel and me. We took turns sitting next to Grandma's bed. At one point, she looked up at me and said, "Are you here by yourself?" I told her no, that all of her daughters were there. I finally went to bed at 5 am, when the others got up.

I spent a good part of today at home, sleeping and resting and packing -- and trying to figure out what I want to do. I don't want to go back to work until this is over, but that's a subject for another entry. When I got over here, the hospice nurse was here, getting all the arrangements made for Grandma to receive hospice care. It's not too different from the home care she was getting before, except that now the goal, rather than to make her well, is to make her comfortable and happy. All of her medication is now geared towards keeping her comfortable. That change is enormous.

My mom has yelled at me for not crying, not because I 'should', but because she's worried that I haven't cried in front of her. If either of us learned anything when my dad died, it was how important it is to let it all out. I haven't needed to cry, much. I cried talking to Brand the other night, when I first accepted that Grandma is in her last days. When I'm talking to her though, or with my family, the only thing that's important to me is that she feels good, and that she knows we're with her during this.

Death is so foreign to us in our culture. Back in my grandma's days, people died at home, surrounded by their family. Now we die in hospitals. We're distanced from it, in many ways like we're distanced from childbirth as well. The link between the two has been on my mind a lot the last couple days. Not four months ago I watched a life come into this world. I can't help thinking that now I'm watching one leave. Ironically, Mary, the hospice nurse, said something similar today. She says she thinks of herself as a sort of maternity nurse, only instead of bringing life in, she helps it leave. There's a rhythm to it, just like there is with childbirth.

This morning when I got up, my grandma was sitting up in bed, drinking coffee. She was awake and alert, like the pale, cold woman living from breath to breath the night before hadn't existed. It was jarring, to say the least. She's been alert all day, getting visitors and smiling at everyone. I sat next to her and held her hand while Mary was here, and I kept looking down to see her just smiling at me. Her eyes were sort of misted over, like she was far away. I asked what she was thinking, and she said nothing, but I think I know. I think she was remembering me as a little girl, and how I used to always come to see her when we lived down the street from her. I've spent so many hours in this house. I stood tonight in what used to be my grandma's bedroom, and remembered how I used to sleep with her in her big bed when I would stay the night. She'd always ask me what I wanted for breakfast the next morning. I'd almost always say pancakes, because my grandma made the best pancakes in the world.

Other nights, me and my cousin Sheri would spend the night over here. We'd stay up late in the kitchen, making macaroni and cheese and giggling over boys and whatever else -- we were probably about 12 and 15 at the time -- but then the next morning it was always the same, Grandma cooking breakfast for us. She never complained too much about us keeping her up at night, no matter how long and loud we giggled.

There was a time when I was younger, when we would have Sunday dinners over here every Sunday. We'd all go to church, then after church we'd all get together at Grandma's -- me, my mom and dad, Vera and her husband Elmer, Sheri and her dad and stepmom and stepbrother and sister, sometimes even more. We'd have an enormous dinner and then the adults would sit around and talk while us kids went into the back bedrooms to play, or outside, if the weather was nice. Grandma was always there.

She's always been there. I was beginning to believe that she'd always be there. I'm just starting to realize how much I'm going to miss her when she's gone.

I feel like there's so much more to say about this, but I don't know where to begin. My religious beliefs, what there was of them, are being rocked to the core. I want to believe the way my grandma and Vera do. I want that kind of faith. I want to believe in God as something more than an abstract being.

Posted by Lisa at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2001

Lazy vs. Ambitious

Within the next month, I'm going to be leaving the job I've had for the past four years and going to a new one. I'm not changing companies, I'm barely even changing departments. I'll be on the same floor, in the same area. Those are the only things staying the same.

Frankly, I'm scared to death.

I'm good at what I do. Granted, I'm a receptionist. I answer phones, I take messages. If I'm lucky, I do trickier administrative and data entry/recordkeeping stuff. It's not a difficult job, and I've done it long it enough that I know it inside and out. Answering calls for me now is very much like playing back a recording. For almost anything a customer can say to me, I have a response ready to play back. It's not often anymore that someone throws me a loop. It's automatic. I am a repository of obscure information and trivia about the company. I have phone extensions memorized for probably close to a third of the company which equals about 200 people. Things aren't a challenge here anymore.

In the time that I've been here (when I wasn't answering phones), I've started email accounts, taught myself HTML and web design, started to MUSH, fell in love, had arguments, made friends, lost friends, written books, surfed the web endlessly, had long IM conversations, started a MUSH, done homework, written papers, done Christmas shopping... I've had lots of free time.

My free time at work is about to vanish. As I've said so often, I'm going to have to actually work at work. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The lazy part of me is shrieking in protest. When, it demands, will I possibly have time to do all of the things listed in the above paragraph? The part of me that actually has a work ethic (and there is a little part, hidden in there somewhere) is a little relieved. Phew, it says, a real job! No more being ashamed of my job! No more hedging, telling people just that I work for an accounting software company when they ask what I do. I am a Product Support Representative! I do tech support! That feels distinctly career-like.

Gack. Career. That sounds so... so... responsible. I usually prefer to duck responsibility.

But at the same time, I've been dreaming about this job lately. Simple dreams, really. In my dreams, I'm doing the job, taking calls and helping people out. And you know what? I'm happy in those dreams. I enjoy the job that I'm doing. The advantage of having been here so long is that I know what tech support does. I know what support reps are expected to do. I already have a pretty good handle on huge parts of the job -- I just lack some of the more detailed information and training. (Gah. Accounting. The accounting book I'm reading is like eating chalk. Colored chalk, because it's well written, but the subject is so DRY.)

So I'm nervous. I keep telling myself that I can do this, and that I'll enjoy it. I keep hoping I'll convince myself. Deep down, I think I'm going to kick all the ass. I really do. My doubts are just so loud sometimes...

Posted by Lisa at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

I found this headline on

I found this headline on Yahoo! News -- "New theory on dinosaur nostrils":

"But we never thought about the nose again,'' Witmer said. "We left it on top of the head and never moved it.''
That's some serious science there, yo.

Posted by Lisa at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2001

Yet another 7th Sea log

Yet another 7th Sea log up: Provisions. I didn't get to play this one, but it's fun to read anyway. :)

Posted by Lisa at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

Missing Pieces

Kymm mentioned finding her father's script for a play he was in on Broadway in a used bookstore. Aside from that just being very cool, it got me started thinking. In a way, I envy her. Since her dad was an actor, she can see him on TV regularly, doing what he loved to do in life. I don't have many pictures of my dad, much less anything else. There are a few videotapes of home movies, but I don't like to watch them. In all of them, my dad is already sick, dying really. I would love a chance to see a videotape of him alive and well and younger.

I feel like so many memories of him are starting to fade with time. I remember the sound of his voice, especially when he would sing to me. My father had a cracked singing voice. Tuneful (and now that I think about it, not too horribly bad), but cracked. We had a game when I was little. He would sing the chorus to "The Battle of New Orleans" and I would yell and cover my ears until he stopped. He'd change the lyrics a little. I always thought the song was about his hunting dog Lady until I got older:

Well they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go
They ran so fast that Lady couldn't catch 'em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico!

I can't remember why I yelled. I think I just felt funny hearing my dad sing, but I have no idea why. My dad liked old country music -- Marty Robbins, Johnny Horton -- and it occurs to me now that he probably would have loved the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Are Thou? I seem to remember him having a tape player in his truck, with tapes of the above artists, and the Statler Brothers. And I can remember being mortified, because I was in middle school at the time.

One of my earliest memories (three? four? It was before I started school, I'm fairly sure) is of going to Boblo Island with my family. Boblo Island was an amusement park in the middle of the Detroit River. You got there by taking one of the "Boblo boats", boats that looked huge to me as a child, like cruise ship size. On the trip over, I got scared, convinced that the boat was going to sink and that I'd drown. I remember being pretty upset. My dad took me to one of the souvenir stands and bought me a little orange plastic umbrella. I sat for the rest of the trip, quietly holding my umbrella over my head. There's a picture of me somewhere, sitting at the railing of the boat, umbrella overhead. I can't remember my exact reasoning, but I think the umbrella made me feel safe because, well, umbrellas keep you dry, right?

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out who my father was, by talking to my mom and piecing together what I remember. It's frustrating, like getting half-glimpses of the man. I know he had his own battles with depression, and a lot of medical issues that left him in pain often, even before he was diagnosed with cancer. He loved to hunt and fish and garden and play cards. His favorite TV shows were probably Night Court and M*A*S*H. Was he happy? I think he was. I know I was the apple of his eye. This is so frustrating! I lived with him for seventeen years, and I feel today like I didn't really know him. I didn't, not as an adult. I was a kid, so I just knew him as my dad.

I know my mom. We've had time, since I grew up (quit laughing), to get to know each other. I didn't have that chance with my dad. I'll always see him from the perspective of a little kid. I'm missing a huge chunk of who he was. I miss him still. Granted, after twelve years, it's not the same grief I knew at seventeen, but I miss him. Sometimes I wonder what he would have thought of how my life has gone, but I never wonder for long. I can almost hear my mom answer that for me: "He would have been proud of you." And it's true. No matter what I did, my dad would have found something about me to be proud of.

Posted by Lisa at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

It's not an ice cream

It's not an ice cream bar! It's a Chocolate Flavored Quiescently Frozen Dairy Confection. That's what the wrapper says.

Posted by Lisa at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2001

So, I complained to the

So, I complained to the other competent person in my department about some bitching from one of the incompetent ones (the one who dresses like a hooker), and the following email conversation ensued, when she asked:

Her: "Shall I bring in a wheel of aged cheddar for the luncheon Monday?"
Me: "Yeah, cause we've already got plenty of whine."
Her: "But is it vintage or Boone's Farm?"
Me: "Vintage, cause it's gettin' old, girl."
Her: "But it's cheap too..."
I love my snarky coworkers.

Posted by Lisa at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

Hungover

I am deep in the throes of what I've affectionately come to call "RP hangover". It's the feeling I get after too little sleep, too much caffeine, with my head full of stories from the night before. It often involves dreaming about my characters during the little time I did sleep, moments of lucid dreaming after I get up, and general confusion as to the line between fantasy and reality and sleeping and waking for the first hour or so -- that much, at least, I am past. It's a good feeling. Beats an alcohol hangover any day. The best part, though, is when I get it from writing.

I'm still thinking about all of the things I wrote yesterday, especially in terms of my writing. Still haven't reached a decision about what I'd like to do. But I'm thinking about it, and I'm going to keep thinking about it until I come up with something satisfactory. The web design freak in my head is insisting that a weblog about my writing might be a good way to go. Then again, it might be one more thing that I never update, too. Just writing about this made me go and set one up. La Vie Boheme is up now. Rough, but up.

So this morning when I get to work, Laura and Brand were still up and roleplaying, it only being 5 am California time rather than the 8 am it was here. Since we were all sleep deprived and silly, we started taking tests on Emode. When it comes to sex, I'm Persephone (to which Brand asked, "You fuck the dead?" Heh.). Brand is Eros (which scares me), and Laura is Diana (which scares me still more). Then we started taking the tests for various roleplaying characters. Don't ask. I've done that sort of thing before. One bored afternoon at work I took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter test for all of the characters I was currently playing. The results were interesting, to say the least.

Hey. Remember what I said about that line between fantasy and reality and all. I'm not insane, I just have a lot of characters that live in my head. Sometimes noisily.

Posted by Lisa at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

There are new photos up

There are new photos up of the cutest baby in the WORLD. Go look.

Posted by Lisa at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

There are two new 7th

There are two new 7th Sea logs up: To The Music, They Dance and Wish on Stars.

Posted by Lisa at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)