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It's been a while, and it's been rough. I noticed a few months ago (not long after my surgery) that while my anxiety was close to under control, my depression was getting worse. It took a while to convince myself that I actually needed help, but I finally got a referral to a psychologist.

While the new doctor is lovely, I think we need some different kind of treatment. She took me off Citalapram (which was my anti-anxiety med) completely, and increased my dosage of Wellbutrin (my anti-depressant) from 100mg to 300mg, then to 450mg. Things started getting rough after that, because the anxiety came back full-force. I've become prone to breaking out in stress hives when an anxiety attack is imminent, and right now, my arms look like I've been attacked by mosquitoes. When I mentioned this, the doctor recommended I take Benadryl when I start feeling the hives.

Right now, I've gone back down to 300mg, and I'm already feeling the depression trying to take a foothold. At this point, I'm just sick of it all. I'm not even sure what's me anymore, and what's the medication. Part of me wants to stop taking everything and try to figure out where I am again, and part of me is terrified of doing just that.

I'm here! I'm here!

I survived 2014! I realize I probably should have said something after the surgery, but you know, better late than never. Things seem to be back to normal-ish, and the pain isn't anywhere near what it was. An unexpected bonus - the pain medication that the doctor gave me post-surgery completely kills the Headaches of Doom! Not something I can take all the time, but it means I don't have to be completely incapacitated. Huzzah!

I realize I haven't been around here much - I spend most of my online time either on Google Plus or my blog. I'm trying to figure out how to automatically post here from my blog, but I'm having issues - anybody have any ideas?

Overall, I'm just trying to get back to normal. Anxiety remains a bear, but I'm managing. I've given myself some solid goals with regards to my writing this year, which I'm hoping will give me milestones to reach and keep me on track. I got some new ink (pictures here), based on lyrics by seanan_mcguire and vixyish, and I've been incredibly happy with them (and pleased with the responses, because it's just so cool to see one of my favorite authors link to my blog and talk about my tattoos!). It's been a great thing to keep me motivated.

Post-surgical update

Well, I survived. Evidently the mega-fibroid was more problematic than anticipated (it was twisted around the stalk that attached it to my uterus), and there was another big fibroid that my doctor took care of at the same time. I was up and walking around on Wednesday afternoon, and was able to go home Thursday afternoon. Evidently, I was healing faster than anticipated, but I just knew I wanted to get home and, if nothing else, stop having needles poked into me. My poor left hand looks like it's been pounded on with a mallet.

I'm struggling to stay focused, especially now that I'm working again (from home, so at least I still don't have to succumb to the tyranny of pants). I've been lethargic and I've found myself staring off into space a few times. This, naturally, means that I'm behind on Nanowrimo. I'm just trying to keep it together, because the last thing I want is to be needing help every five minutes. I know it means I'm probably pushing myself harder than absolutely necessary, but I just want to be done with all of this.

All I hope after all this is that it helps in the long run. It would be wonderful if I could mark off one source of constant pain. My doctor said that they contemplated removing more of the fibroids, but, as she put it, "there wouldn't be much uterus left if we did." One of the fibroids is also under a fallopian tube, so it would add an extra layer of complexity to remove. At some point, I'll probably have to have this same surgery again, or just have the whole mess removed as it's failing in its job. It had ONE JOB.

At any rate, I'm here, I'm still kicking, only not, because that would hurt. Time to try and get things done.

Health and whatnot

This morning I had my pre-op meeting with my doctor. I'm scheduled to go in on Wednesday at 5:30am, and will be on the table by 7:30am to have the mega-fibroid (the one that's big enough to squish everything else out of the way and cause pain) and a polyp from the inside of the uterus removed. I won't be able to have a laparoscopic surgery, as the mega-fibroid is too big, so they'll be opening me up. The appointment was a lot of "here's the terrible type of things that can happen, and here's the likelihood of them happening, which is to say, not very." Eric was able to be there with me, thank God, because I was absolutely terrified the entire time.

In a little over a week, I'm going to be unconscious while people I don't really know cut me open and mess around with my insides. I'll most likely need to stay overnight in a hospital (something I've never done before), and will be on medication that will do who knows what to my upper cognitive functions. Eric's going to be home with me, so I won't be completely alone, but it's not something I'm looking forward to.

My coworkers keep telling me to look at it like it's a nice little break. I'll be completely offline for a few days, and then working from home for a week afterwards to give me some more time to recover from the surgery before I fight the public transit commute. It would be one thing if I were taking some kind of vacation, but that's not what this is.

My doctor remains awesome, and she knows how nerve-wracking this is for me. (She said that she much prefers to have patients who are nervous about surgery than those who are a little too excited about it.) Right now, I just have to get things in order for work so I can leave for a few days and not be leaving a mess behind for my coworkers, all while fighting the mother of all panic attacks with some crippling pain to go with it.

Stupid bodies. Can't I trade it in for a newer model?

Health updates

So it's been a while, and I have news across the board. First, the most dramatic, I guess - on November 5th, I will be going in for surgery to have a large fibroid, a small fibroid, and a polyp removed. I will not need to have a hysterectomy. After the last round of testing, my doctor determined that the largest fibroid (hereafter referred to as "Mega-Roid") is only attached by a small stalk, and is not deeply embedded as previously thought.

Due to the size of Mega-Roid, a laparoscopy isn't the best option for me, as it would be longer and more complicated than an open surgery. I decided to go with the method that means I'm under for less time and don't have to come anywhere near something called a morcellator. (Man, Chrome's spell check is having a field day with this post.) It's still not something I'm super thrilled about, and the previously-unknown polyp is cause for a bit of concern, but there's not much I can do about that until it's been removed and tested.

Between panic and the growing pain, I am, on the whole, not OK. I've had to spend several days working from home, either because the panic is going into overdrive or because the pain leaves me unable to stay upright. I am seeking help, meeting with my therapist regularly and having my pain levels carefully monitored by my doctor. Last week was probably the worst it's been - I felt like I was in a fog, either from pain or from panic, which led to some issues with the depression. So far this week, things are going a bit better. I'm taking things one day at a time, and I have been incredibly fortunate to have friends and family who have been immensely supportive, and who are completely willing to let me take the time to take care of myself.

In college, before the big breakdown, I remember feeling like things were getting bad, and so I started to pull away from everyone to try and focus on getting myself back together. At the time, it felt like there were a lot of people who depended on me in one way or the other, and I remember sitting with one of them and talking about how I was having a rough time and was trying to focus on myself for once. I jokingly said, "Yeah, I'm going to try being selfish for once," and his response was "Yes, you are. You're being completely selfish." He wasn't joking. That attitude has been stuck in my head and keeps me from taking the time I need all the time. I know it's dumb, and it's one comment from a young man that I don't even talk to anymore, but it stuck, and it's been really hard to overcome.

All in all, I'm doing my best to make it through all of this. My boss has been fantastic about the whole thing, which has been a huge weight off my shoulders. Soon, at least one part of my pain will hopefully go away. Now it's just a matter of making it to that point.


Thank you guys for the support on the last post. I still feel more comfortable spilling my guts here than in the other social media outlets, so you might be seeing more from me going forward. I will say it was somewhat gratifying on Facebook, though - I posted a somewhat vague "Hey, gonna have to have surgery, kinda freaked out" post, and within minutes two good friends had texted me and my older brother called - CALLED! He's practically allergic to the phone, but he needed to know what was going on. I don't think he really appreciated finding out about his sister's uterus, but hey, I gave him fair warning.

For now, I'm just exhausted. I'd kind of gotten used to the constant head pain, and can usually push through without too much trouble anymore. But having a new constant pain, along with the low-level panic that's going on pretty much all the time, is wiping me out. I need to ping my therapist again to see when I can get in to see her, but in the meantime it just feels like it's all I can do to stay upright and going through the motions. I can feel the depression sinking its fangs in, and I hate it. At least this time I can say pretty confidently that I'm not in danger of hurting myself, because most of my panic is over being hurt by the surgery. So that's something, I guess.

I need to get moving, I need to do things, and I just...can't. I have no spoons left to be myself anymore. I know full well that I'm letting this little thing take over everything, and I'm completely overreacting and being melodramatic. (Wow, channeled my mother from my teenage years for a minute there.) I know this will pass, and even though I won't be the same on the other side of it (even if it's just physically), I'll still be me. I just need to get to the other side of it, and that seems to be the difficult part right now.

Updates on the home front

Wow, but it's been a long time. I have no idea if anyone's still reading this, but I feel more comfortable spilling my guts here than in the various social media outlets I use for the day to day mundanity. At any rate, things are getting...to me, at least, they're getting scary.

Cut for oh so much TMICollapse )

I'm absolutely terrified. I've never had any kind of surgery before, and the idea of being knocked unconscious and cut into is pretty much my worst nightmare (second worst, actually - being awake while they do it is the worst nightmare). And even though I've resigned myself to not being a mother, I'm still not a huge fan of the idea of getting...whatever the female version of "emasculated" is. I don't particularly want to go into menopause at 33.

My doctor is fantastic, and is well aware of my concerns. She isn't going to make me schedule this a second sooner than I'm ready for it, but it does need to happen. I just hate being this scared, and knowing that my body's betraying me like this.

RIP VIII - Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken, Original Cover

I've been a huge fan of Sarah Rees Brennan (sarahtales) for several years, having followed her LJ and blog before her first book came out. When she mentioned that she was going to be taking on the gothic genre, I was all over it. The fact that she spent many weeks leading up to the release of the book discussing the gothic romances/mysteries that she read as research, and pointing out just how ridiculous and awesome they are, certainly didn't hurt. I approached Unspoken eagerly.

Kami Glass, girl reporter, has lived in the village of Sorry-in-the-Vale her entire life, and has always had a boy named Jared speaking to her in her head. Naturally, this has worried her family and friends, but Kami is generally well-adjusted, and has learned to hide her discussions with Jared. Until the day that the remaining members of the Lynburn family, the family that rules the village, comes back to their home, and Kami discovers that Jared is real.

The reveal is done gloriously - there's no looking deep into each other's eyes, knowing each other as their soul mate. No. There is panicking and freaking out and reacting basically the way anyone would if a figment of their imagination turned out to be real. I absolutely adore this about the book; it's nice to see characters react realistically to unrealistic circumstances.

In the midst of all of this, Kami is determined to find out what is causing violent changes to happen to her town. The additional fantastic elements are woven into the story very well, and by the time the big reveal happens, it makes sense.

There are a few instances where there are awkward jumps in scene or location, that are a little hard to follow, but that's my only nit to pick. The combination of the shift in gender roles (compared to what is generally seen in gothic romances) and well-developed characters makes for a wonderful, heartbreaking read. Overall, I enjoyed it as much as I cursed the author's name, and I'm approaching the sequel with equal parts trepidation and excitement.

4 stars

In the land of Steph

It's been an interesting few months. To wit:

1. Work - Things are getting both better and worse there. I've been taking on more responsibility, which is good, but I've been butting heads with my manager more and more. I've been working on a project lately that is no longer me working on a tool that our team will use, and more me being a software developer for a client. That's not what I want in a career, and it's making me really frustrated. I'd previously been looking at openings in other departments in my company, and my manager was aware of that; he asked me what I would like out of my current role that would make me want to stay. Of course, we had that discussion before the project from hell got so, well, hellish, which would probably change my answer. The project should be ending fairly soon, though, so I think I just need to push through it and do the best I can.

2. Health - Eric and I have both been working on getting healthier and losing weight, and things are starting to pay off. He's lost almost 40 (!) pounds since April, and I've lost about 25. I think this is my version of a mid-life crisis - I realized not too long ago that I'm getting close to the age my father was when he had his first heart attack. Between that, and realizing that children are no longer in the game plan for us, it's been a bit of a shock to the system. At the same time, I think that for the first time in a really long time, I no longer just don't want to die - I actively want to LIVE. The Headaches of Doom still strike with distressing frequency, but the panic attacks have lessened significantly. Even living with constant pain, I'm still feeling better. I still have self-confidence issues, and I don't see those going away any time soon, but I'm occasionally more OK with being in the limelight, rather than fighting to be backstage all the time.

3. Writing - I wrote my first short story, and submitted it to an anthology for consideration. I'm on my way to my first official rejection letter! It was a really great experience to get myself back into writing more regularly, and between that and the fact that I'm beta testing a sooper sekrit project at work that's geared toward writers, I've probably written more in the last three months than I had in the previous year. I've been going through some of the things that I've started for NaNo in the past, and there are some things that are surprisingly not as bad as I had thought. I've been working toward finishing some of those things, fleshing them out and cleaning them up, and I've been having such a good time with it. I realized the other day that the things that I consider essential to be with me at all times include something to read, a way to write, and a way to listen to music. No matter how many times I've said that I want to be a writer, I think it just occurred to me that I may already be a writer. There's something incredibly comforting about that.

4. Eric - I am ridiculously lucky to have found my husband. Things aren't perfect, because they never will be - there are people involved, after all. At the same time, I would much rather be in an imperfect relationship with him than in a "perfect" relationship with anyone else. He has been fantastically supportive of me, and I love the fact that he's willing to back me up with anything I want to try. I just want to make sure I'm giving back to him as much as I'm getting from him.

So overall, I'm in a pretty good place. Things aren't perfect, but they're good. And considering how bad things were and have been, I feel pretty great about "good."


So, I figure it's time to try and resurrect this journal (again), and I came across a reading challenge that seemed interesting. I think I'll be giving it a shot this fall.

The books I'm hoping to read, as far as I can tell right now:

The Historian

Unspoken (a re-read, in anticipation for...)

Untold, which comes out later this month

Mistress of the Art of Death

These are, of course, subject to change, but I think they're a good starting point.

Anyone else want to join me?


Politics ahoy!

Fair warning - I'm getting political in here. If you want to skip, feel free.

I'll even put it behind a cut for youCollapse )


So, I understand that not everyone knows how to handle someone with a mental illness, rather than a physical one. It's not something a lot of people talk about, and there's not really a definitive "better" for mental illness - it's not like the flu. So, I'm willing to cut people some slack.

Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor, who's the one prescribing me anti-depressants. My doctor is pretty awesome, as I've previously mentioned, and his medical assistant, bless her heart, is a doll. (You just know this is going to be interesting, right? "Bless her heart" AND calling her a doll? Oy.) However, I don't think she has much experience with patients who come in with a mental illness. As she's checking me in, getting my vitals etc., she verifies that the appointment is a follow up for depression. I nod, and she responds with "So, how's that going for you?"

Blink. Blink blink.

There's really no good way to answer that. "Oh, great, thanks!" "Pretty horribly, thanks for bringing it up!" I think I just got out an "Uh, OK," before I had to focus on not laughing in her face.

Later, as she was taking my blood pressure, she asked me how long I'd been dealing with depression, and I told her since high school. "And there's no, like, reason for it or anything?"

This one, I admit, kinda made me mad. Depression - actual, clinical depression - isn't something that comes on because of a death in the family or something. That can cause a depressive episode, sure, and it ends up as a valley in the ever-changing landscape of the mind, but it doesn't flat "cause" depression. It's like asking someone what caused their asthma. There may have been a trigger for an attack, but those are the attacks, not the underlying disease.

It was a little harder to laugh that one off, but it made me realize just how hard it is for people to see mental illness as an actual illness. It's one thing if you've got the flu - people know how to take care of their body (or at least, know that their body needs to be taken care of) to make the symptoms go away, and know that the disease will run its course and get out of their system. Depression? Anxiety? Not so much. It feels like all we're doing is treating the symptoms, sometimes, and hoping to suppress an attack.

To keep anyone from worrying, I am doing a bit better. Meds and therapy are helping, and yes, I'm keeping up with both. I think I need to remind myself, though, that some days I'm going to feel like I'm just treading water, and some days I'm going to feel like I'm going under completely, but in the end, I'm just learning how to swim. I'm probably not ever going to get out of the water, but at least I'll be able to swim through it.

(Apologies to anyone who wants to leave a comment anonymously - I had to turn that off, as I was getting more spam comments than anyone should have to deal with. Damned spammers, ruining it for everyone again.)
I realized that I never posted about my appointment with my actual gynecologist. Long story short, without surgery, testing, and medication, it's unlikely that I will get pregnant. The surgery and medication would only possibly increase my odds - there's no way to know for certain if it would actually help anything.

Effectively, we can't have kids. It's been hard for me to wrap my head around, especially since there are things that could be done that would possibly increase our odds, and Eric and I are choosing not to go down that path. The fact that I'm not willing to allow myself to be poked and prodded in the intimate manner that would be necessary to take care of the issues tells me that it's probably for the best, and that I probably wouldn't be a very good mother. After all, if I'm not willing to go through this now, doesn't that mean I'd be unlikely to sacrifice myself for a child? At least, that's what it feels like.

In other news, there's an actual term for some of my issues - I apparently have a panic disorder with agoraphobia. I had to do some more research into the agoraphobia bit, because I always thought of that as being something related to wide open spaces, but it also covers things like large crowds and the overall feeling of not being able to get away or get someplace safe. That makes sense. That, plus depression, has made dealing with the news above more difficult that it probably should be. It's like a form of grieving, but I almost feel like I can't go through the entire grief process, because I haven't actually *lost* anyone - just the potential of someone.

I've been trying to make a point to continue doing something creative, but it's been a little difficult to get going. I still want to hold to my original timeline, but I think I'm going to have to push things back a bit.

Overall, it's hard not to feel like a disappointment, especially to myself. I know that it hurts Eric, too, but he's been doing such a great job of trying to hold things together for me that it'd be hard to tell. I don't want us to end up like my family did when Dad died - with everyone spent so much time trying to take care of each other than we didn't let ourselves be taken care of - and I want to make sure Eric is OK, too. It's a rough blow for both of us.

I thought I was more resigned than I am, but it's hard to get the thought of Theoretical Future Child out of my mind. The fact that there are things I could do, and am choosing not to, doesn't help.

Blah, blah, whine, whine, whine. Sorry, guys. Hopefully, the two of you that are still reading this don't get too bored with me.

Health updates (again)

So, I went to the doctor (my regular doctor who is made of awesome) yesterday for a follow-up on my meds, etc. I mentioned to him that I'd gotten the results back from the ultrasound but had no idea how to read them. Through the power of technology (and the fact that all my doctors are in the same system), he was able to pull them up and take a look at them.

Cut for TMI about my reproductive systemCollapse )

So, basically, my doctor thinks pregnancy would be a "steep uphill battle" without help, be that fertility drugs, surgery, or some combination of both. I still have an appointment next week with the gynecologist, and I'm going to get her take on all of this, but...it's not looking good.

At this point, my focus is on doing what I need to in order for me to be healthy. I'm not going to get treatments specifically for the purpose of allowing me to become pregnant - Eric and I had decided that in the beginning, and I still feel it's the right course of action. However, now it's not just about not getting pregnant - it's about my overall health. I need to see what needs to be done, and take things from there. However, it's looking more and more likely that Eric and I aren't going to be parents.

I am...surprisingly at peace. I would have expected to be more upset, but frankly, if this is what it's going to be, I still have a damn fine life. It means that I'll have an even greater obligation to spoil the hell out of my nephews and niece (as well as the kids of my friends, so beware! :) ), and I think I can live with that. It says a lot about how far I've come that something like this, during a week I'd be at my lowest, isn't sending me into a pit of depression. I'm sad, certainly, but...I guess "resigned" is the best way to put it. It's bittersweet, and Eric and I had a long talk about it last night, but I think at this point, we're willing to call the game.

Surviving another year

Welp, the world didn't end. Anyone surprised? Yeah, me, either.

This time last year, I was working in the same group as I am now, getting frustrated that I hadn't been promoted, but still enjoying my work and learning all the whys and wherefores of my particular corner of the business. We were living in an apartment that had seen better days (most of them before we had moved in), and Eric and I were starting to get a little bit sick of both it and the commute. Overall, though, things were pretty good. I...was not. I was having some issues, and scared to death about getting help, but even more scared about what might happen if I didn't.

Since then, I got promoted, we bought a house (!!!), and I got help. I'm not "better", but I'm better. I have a long ways to go, but I'm not quite so scared anymore. I can look toward next year with an idea of what I want to do, and it seems...feasible. There are still going to be obstacles - chronic pain is, well, chronic, and it's going to be an obstacle for a long time, but I'm learning to work my way around and through it as much as possible. It's really hard not to let depression and pain define who I am, but I'm on the road, I think. I know that I'll probably slip back a time or three, but at least I know I can get here. It's possible. And that's something I haven't had in a long time.

So, onwards to 2013. May the road have just enough bumps to make us appreciate the smooth stretches, and may the world not explode. :)

On year's end and plans for the future

So. Things are slowly but surely winding down for the year. Holiday parties are done, we've done Christmas with my mom (many sweaters were acquired, which is fantastic, as most of mine are buried in the Things to Unpack), and gifts for Christmas with Eric's family have been acquired. We saw the Hobbit (which, it's been long enough since I read the book, so I could go into it going "That's so pretty!" as opposed to "That's not how it was in the book!", which I greatly appreciated), and had a lovely visit from Erin. Overall, things are running in a pretty smooth groove.

It's extremely rare that I would wax philosophical about something on Cracked, but one of their articles hit upon something that I haven't really been able to articulate lately. I haven't been creating anything. No writing, no sewing, no...nothing, really. Even if it's crap (and with my writing, "crap" is a distinct possibility), I need to create something. So, that's the plan. I have things that have been written, and need polish or completion, and so that's what I plan to do. I'm always so hesitant to say "I'm going to do X, Y, and Z", because it smacks of I'm gonna-ism. Somehow, saying I'm going to do something is one of the surest ways to make sure it doesn't happen. So, uh, I plan to spend the next two months polishing one of those works up (either cleaning up the NaNo from 2009, or finishing the NaNo from 2011 and cleaning it up), and then...then's the big step. I'll need to let someone else read it.

It's so much easier for me to just keep all my writing to myself, so I'll never know exactly how bad it actually is. If I don't let anyone else read it, then I won't have my worst fears confirmed, and I can pretend that it isn't really as bad as I think it is. So, the plan:

Now-February - clean up/finish up SOMETHING
March 1-15 - complete freak out/convincing myself to let someone else read my work
March 15 - send it out to a few readers (incidentally, if you want in on this, let me know)
March 15-31 - complete freak out about what people are going to say about what I wrote
April 1-whenever I get all the feedback back (preferably by end of June) - read the feedback, see what can be fixed
July - edit edit edit
August - round 2 of reviews
Keep up the cycle of July and August until either a) I feel comfortable calling it "done enough" or b) (more likely) someone takes it away from me because I'm editing it to death
Publish on KDP.

Am I going to hit all of these milestones? Maybe. The important thing is that I'm trying. I'm working toward creating something. If it's crap? At least I know not to do that next time.

So, that's 2013, as of right now. How about you guys?

Health updates and spoon deficiencies

(Before I start, in case you've not heard of this before, you can read about the Spoon Theory here.)

It's been a hell of a last couple of weeks. Work has been kicking my butt, and I don't think I'd quite realized just how much it had been affecting me physically until today. It should have been a bit more obvious - I've had some very long and very busy days and nights the last few weeks. The Headaches of Doom suck, obviously, but it's the pain I know. Lately, the pain is just finding new and more interesting ways to make life difficult. My right hand (naturally), my hips, my back, my shoulders...everything just HURTS. I was supposed to have an appointment with my doctor yesterday (a check-in on the medication, which is still doing reasonably well, though I've had trouble remembering to take it and have taken to carrying it with me just in case), but due to a last-minute meeting that I had to go to, I had to reschedule the doctor's appointment. The next time I can get in to see him will be January. If my hand hasn't improved by then, I'll probably have to go to the walk-in clinic or something. I don't think that I'll be able to get much help for it, honestly, but it would be good to make sure I didn't manage to fracture something somehow.

I had an ultrasound regarding the whole PCOS thing, and while I got the results back, I have no earthly idea what they mean. I have an appointment with the OB/GYN next month to check in on things, and figure out what the devil's going on and what our next steps need to be. The doctor's office confirmed that I would have received a phone call if there had been something "seriously wrong", so now I just have to worry about all the things that could just be "moderately wrong" that wouldn't merit a phone call. Because, y'know, I'm me.

I think the worst thing about the pain and how badly it's draining me is that I don't feel like I can say anything, because I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. People who don't have chronic pain or chronic illness don't really understand that "just a headache" can be a perfectly viable reason for being completely unresponsive for a day, and because of how my work situation is, everyone's stressed and underwater. It's something that my first mentor here told me that's been hard to forget - Everybody's busy, and no one needs to hear about how busy you are, when they're probably just as busy, if not more so. It does tend to turn into a game of "who's got it worse?", and I've always hated that game. On the personal front, I just feel like I'm letting everyone down if I can't live up to my obligations. I know I end up disappointing people, even though they understand (because my friends are made of awesome), and I've never done very well with that idea. At the same time, the combination of work stress and physical stress and emotional stress is not great. It makes me feel like I'm running on fumes, and won't have a chance to recover for a bit. At least I have a visit from Erin to look forward to, and I get Christmas and New Year's Day off. With luck, I'll be able to stay unplugged both of those days, and no one will need anything from me work-wise.

Now that I've gotten my whining out of the way...how are you guys doing? Ready for the holidays, or trying desperately to pretend they don't exist? Come, have some tea, let's chat. :)

Reason #8,763 why I love my husband

Posting this here so I don't lose it.

It's been a super-stressball of a week. We got back from GenCon on Monday night, and I took Tuesday off to recuperate/actually get a bit of rest for once. So, naturally, Wednesday, Thursday and today have all be slammed, mostly with back to back (to back to back) meetings. My mother is coming into town, which is its own brand of stress (in that "Yay, Mom gets to see the new house and I get to see Mom! CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!" kind of way). And yesterday we noticed that the car was sounding like a small jet engine when we were driving.

Through one thing and five others, our plans for this evening got all shades of wonky, which lead to more stress on top of everything else. I did my best not to snap at anyone, especially Eric, because it's one of those things where it's not anyone's fault - it's just a bunch of stuff piled up on each other and my crap tolerance is not very high right now. I started to get panicky, which is always awesome, and ended up having to take an anxiety med to keep myself functional through the rest of the day.

Eric, being Eric, was able to tell how on edge I was, and sent me this email:

Cut for sap and proof of Eric loveCollapse )

What I love is that it's not enough for him to protect me - he also wants to make sure I can protect myself at the same time. One of the many reasons why our relationship works is because we can trust each other to be able to handle ourselves, with or without help (though help is nearly always appreciated).

In conclusion, my husband > your husband.

Blue Angels

Just got back from an office "event", going to a business manager's house on Mercer Island to watch the Blue Angels practice. It was...interesting. It's been a long time since I saw an air show, and I'd forgotten a few things. Such as, I'm not a huge fan of air shows. They're too loud, it's nerve-racking, especially when they get super close, and...they were one of my father's favorite things.

I grew up on military bases, because my father was career Air Force. Military bases looooove air shows. LOVE. So, every summer, at least once (often twice), out would come the planes, and everyone would ooh and aah and stand out in the sun staring up. I wasn't a huge fan even then, but my dad loved it so much, watching the planes fly in formation and talking about this kind or that, that I was happy to go, just to see him act like an excited little kid.

It's been 14 years since he passed, and every now and then, something like this will come up and I'll think, "Man, I wish Dad could see this." And then it hits me again like it just happened yesterday. I start imagining what life would be like if he were here - how would he get along with Eric? Would he like Seattle? We never lived on the West Coast as a family - we were in Maryland when he passed. Would I even be here if he hadn't died then?

It's a pointless exercise, and yet I find myself doing it over and over. It's not exactly the best mindset to be in when going back to work. At the same time, it makes me feel a little, tiny bit like he's still here. I'm terrified that someday, even that little bit will be gone.

So, now that I've depressed the hell out of everyone, what are you doing this weekend? :)

Becoming an adult, and ending childhood

scarlettina posted an interesting question on her journal the other day, which got me thinking. On KUOW, there was a call-in show asking the question, "When did you realize you were an adult?" Some of the answers sounded pretty interesting, and it made me think.

To be fair, I'm pretty sure I'm not really an adult, but I think I can pinpoint the time when I was no longer a child. When my father passed away, my mother and I were visiting her family in another state. My older brother (who had come home to find my father dead of a heart attack) had called my aunt's house to tell us what had happened, and my mother sort of broke. The part I distinctly remember was sitting downstairs with her, while her sisters and nieces and nephews milled about upstairs, and having to convince her that it was true - she's always been a very practical person, but there was something about this news that she just couldn't handle, and she kept insisting that it wasn't true, that "God wouldn't do that to us." I had to convince her that no, Rich wouldn't have called and told us Dad was gone unless he was - Rich was already an EMT at that point, and the fire department had already come and confirmed what he'd found. The only thing I wanted to do was cry until I couldn't cry anymore and have Mom hold me and tell me everything was going to be all right, but instead I was holding her and telling her we were going to be all right, even though I didn't believe it.

On the more frivolous side, the first time I actually felt like a grown-up was when I was able to make Mom's flour tortillas myself, and have them turn out edible. The fact that I could do something I'd watched my mother do so often, and not screw it up? Hell, that wasn't just being a grown-up, that was being AWESOME.

So, what about you guys? When did you feel like you'd become an adult/stopped being a kid?

Moving, etc.

The moving continues apace. We're actually making really good time - we have the old apartment until July 31st, but I imagine we'll be done getting our stuff out of there by next weekend, which will give us a week to get things to the dump and vacuum the ever-loving hell out of the carpet. (Not that it'll matter, because the property manager said they charge for a professional carpet cleaning regardless, and I can't imagine they aren't going to replace the carpet, but it would be a nice touch.) Eric's parents have been absolute rock stars (there's a sentence I don't think I ever imagined writing), coming up to the old place every night this week to help us load furniture in their truck and box miscellaneous crap for travel in our car. Stultz, also, remains made of awesome - he took me to the local farmers market on Saturday, which was fantastic and DANGEROUS. I can see myself spending waaaay too much money there very easily.

The new house is feeling like home. We have some of the bookcases over, and wanderingfey is willing to build some (absolutely GORGEOUS) bookcases for us as well. Eric has been fantastic - he's been going out of his way to make sure things that are important to me are moved over early, to try to make the place feel more like home for me earlier. One of the things that got brought over was Dad's funny money, which still gives us a bit of a smile. It's funny to me to realize what it takes for us to consider the house Home - for Eric, it was the ability to do laundry for the first time. For me, it's being able to look around and see that the house is looking distinctly like it's ours - games in the game room, cats sprawled about, a book or a Kindle somewhere easily accessible.

The Unpacking (dun dun DUN!) is still a work in progress, of course, but at least I'm not digging through boxes to find everything - though I'm still not sure where our silverware ended up. Overall, though, most things are In the House Somewhere, as opposed to In the Apartment, I Think? It's an important step.

Meanwhile, work is in its usual summer slump - it's hard to have a ton of people asking you for stuff when everyone's on vacation. Mind, that doesn't stop EVERYONE, but it at least makes some of them pause for a bit. It means I get to spend some time working on those long-term, not super high priority but it needs to get done sometime projects. It's always a little difficult to get motivated for that sort of thing, but it's nice to keep them from hanging over your head. And who knows? Maybe I'll get the chance to get back into writing (or editing, in one case - I'm going back to my 2011 NaNo and seeing if there's something salvageable there). Provided the world hasn't ended, I hope that next year will be the Year Stephie Publishes Something. So, y'know, here's hoping that whole "world ends in 2012" thing is wrong. :)

Moving, or Look! A Breakdown!

So, we bought a house. There's an entire house, and it has our names on it. A credit union decided that it was safe to lend us $boatload. We closed on Tuesday, and started staying here on Wednesday (along with the cats). The big move from the old apartment was scheduled for Thursday.

We decided to actually spend the money and get a professional moving company to pack us up and move us out, because, as anyone who's been to our place knows, we have a LOT of stuff. When the movers arrived, they had apparently been told that they were coming to a one-bedroom apartment that needed "a little bit" of packing help. When they got to our place, they obviously weren't expecting what they saw. They took a quick look around, said they were going to their dispatcher, and then...they drove off.

I called the main office after they hadn't come back, and was told that the crew told the dispatcher that the place was unsanitary, and refused the job. That's...that's about the point when I froze. The humiliation was...I don't think I'd ever gotten that low before. I was incredibly fortunate that Stultz was there to help, because it's entirely possible that I would still be sitting there otherwise. I was able to get a hold of Eric and tell him what was going on, and he was able to leave work and head back to the old apartment.

The last few days, Eric and I have been working on unloading the new furniture (new bed frame, sectional, dining room chairs, and washer/dryer), and he and his parents have been packing up the old apartment and bringing things to the new house. I haven't been back inside the old place since Thursday - my job has been unpacking, and I can't be more grateful that they've been handling the hard stuff. It's going to take a while, but fortunately, we have the apartment until the end of July.

On the upside, the new house is shaping up nicely. The furniture we got from Eric's office has all been awesome, and the cats are slowly but surely getting used to things like hardwood floors and stairs. We'll see how things go starting Monday, when we start the morning work routine, but I think I'm getting over the depression of everything. I basically wanted to curl up and just not do anything, and it's still a little bit hard to convince myself to get up and get going, but I'm working through it. This time of year's always hard, and having all of this go down as well isn't helping.

I wish my father could be here to see the house. Mom hasn't had a chance to come up yet, but she's hoping to come up later this month. We're going to have some people over on the fourth of July for Game Night, and hopefully I'll be able to get through that OK. We'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, there are boxes to unpack.



20120621_204239 by setauuta
20120621_204239, a photo by setauuta on Flickr.

Portland-area folks! Do you need a kitten? You know you do.

My mother's neighbor's cat was recently graced with a litter of 8 kittens. Mom's neighbor doesn't have a ton of room, and apparently all of the people who had previously said they would take a kitten are not able to do so. She wants to keep one kitten for herself, which leaves 7 kittens in need of a good home. At the very least, if someone could foster some of the kittens for a few weeks, it would be a big help.

Also, if Seattle-area folks are interested, transportation can be arranged. Just ping me here, and let me know if you can help out.

LOOK AT THAT FACE! You can't say no to that face, can you?


I'm done

This whole buying a house thing? I've reached the point where I have no blessed idea what the hell is going on, and we need to do things ZOMGNAO and there are papers to be signed and a mysterious sum from the sellers that maybe might be coming but maybe not and maybe the bank will allow it and maybe they won't and I'm just DONE. I hate it, but I've asked Eric to take it from here on this part, because I literally have no idea what half the stuff he and our real estate agent are talking about. NONE.

Between that, the various stresses of work (we still haven't hired my backfill after my promotion, and another team is down two people, so they've asked for help as well, and half a dozen things are getting ready to happen soon-ish), dealing with a bunch of people shouting at us on a not-infrequent basis (really, protesters? Either go away, or bring pie.), I've been a stressball of epic proportions for weeks, and everything seems to be suffering. I have anti-anxiety meds, and I can take half of one pill and drink something caffeinated and not fall asleep at work - that's about the best I can hope for at this point. I HATE being dependent on medication, though, as several of you know, but some days, it's either that or curling up under my desk and hiding, and I'm pretty sure my boss won't let me do that.

On another, weird, note - coming back from an off-site meeting this morning with a couple of people I know ish (like, we say hi in the kitchen and such, but we don't work on the same team or work together on a regular basis), and somehow the fact that my father was in the military came up. Both of them responded with "THAT explains it!", and proceeded to try to delicately explain what the hell "it" was. One of them was fairly complimentary - "you always strike me as needing to make sure everything is running smoothly and correctly if it's on your watch" - I can deal with that. It means I'm a control freak, but I knew that.

The other, though..."OK, listen to what I'm saying, not the words I'm using. You have an...edge...to you. In a good way!" OK, guys? Little FYI - "in a good way" rarely works to make whatever you just said not sound bad. I'm...not really sure how to take that. An edge? Maybe? I dunno. Like I said, these are people I don't know extremely well, but that almost makes it worse - it means that this is the public face I'm giving off. What do you guys think? (Why yes, I am shamelessly soliciting opinions of me - it is LJ, after all. :) )

Quick update

No whooping cough for me! Yay! Still a bit cough-a-riffic, but no longer contagious. Woooooooooo*hackcoughwheeze*

OK, maybe I need to hold off on the celebration just yet. :)



So, for the last week or two I've been feeling pretty crappy - congested, coughing like crazy, overall achy and bleh. Now, the achy, I could explain pretty easily, as my office went paintballing on Friday, and I'm not exactly in paintball shape. I've got some impressive bruises, and my right arm was killing me the next day. But after a few days, I realized that there's no way the aches are still from paintball. I decided to head to the clinic near my office yesterday to get checked out (and get a vaccination at the same time, since they were doing those for free for Amazon employees). I figured it might be a sinus infection or something, so I figured some antibiotics and I'd be all right.

Instead, they decided that they needed to test me for whooping cough, because there's been something of an "epidemic" in the area. And, of course, it's rather contagious, so I can't go back to work until after the test comes back (and, if the test comes back positive, I can't go back until I finish up a round of antibiotics, which I've already started). I hate it - yes, I feel fairly miserable (the cough's gotten a little worse), but I hate that I can't DO anything. I'm working from home today (and probably tomorrow, since it takes 24-48 hours to get the test results back), which is hard to do. Overall, though, I just hate being sick. And thus, I go to LiveJournal to bitch about it. :)


100. Stairs

The very first thing that I can remember is from when I was about four. We were living in North Dakota at the time, which was where I was born, and I vaguely remember that the house was yellow, and it had two stories. The stairs had a small landing, which had a couple of big bookcases on it.

I remember being upstairs with my brother, and then I remember falling. I hit the landing and managed to continue falling all the way to the first floor. I don't remember it hurting very much, just that it scared me a lot. I've always been clumsy, and I think this was the first time I'd ever had a "big" fall.

To this day, I'm actually still afraid of being on stairs. It doesn't help that about once every couple of years or so, I'll end up falling down the stairs again. In college, I lived in the third and fourth floors of the library, which had some fairly rickety stairs leading up to the stacks. There was at least a couple of times that I would be leaving the library and would end up flat on my back as my feet went out from under me. Fortunately, I never fell head over heels the way I did that first time, but it was still terrifying every time, and I'm always vaguely nervous when I climb stairs - especially coming down.

I've the feeling that this exercise is going to show a lot more about my various neuroses than anything else. :)

Content? Surely you jest

I never jest, and don't call me Shirley. :)

{Take the 100 Things challenge!}

Thanks, smallbearcub, for pointing this out.

My subject? 100 memories that explain/illustrate why I am the way I am. Otherwise known as an exercise in narcissism. :)

Jan. 4th, 2012

Every time I start to think that things can't get worse for myself, they do. I'm in a bad place, and it only seems to keep getting worse. I'm starting to become afraid for myself.

I read a post written by a blogger who I've followed for a few months, because I thought she was hilarious. It turns out, she's been battling depression and anxiety for a long time, too, and she's just now starting to come out of a bad hole. Reading her description of what the fight is like hit home, because I know what she means and I know what the fight is like. The trouble is, I'm not sure I can see my way out of this hole.

One of the worst parts about this is that I don't feel like I can talk about it. Who's going to give a damn about the problems someone like me might have? I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a husband who loves me, and work I enjoy. So what if I constantly wonder if everyone around me would be better off if I weren't around? So what if I've written the notes in my head, or done the math to figure out exactly how much of what kind of pill to take? It's not like my like if hard by any stretch of the imagination. I have it easy, and I always have. I have no right to be upset, or sad, or depressed. I should just get over it, once and for all, and either never talk about it again or just do it and be done with it. All I'm doing is dragging everyone else around me down with talk like this.

All that? That's my family you just read. I'm still not convinced my mother believes depression is an actual medical disorder - I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm just faking it for attention, and so was relieved when I stopped talking about it in college. Of course, in college was when things started really going to hell, but hey, at least I wasn't telling her how sad I was, right? That's not entirely fair to Mom. She knew something was wrong, she just didn't know how to fix it, and I think that has to be one of the scariest parts about being a parent - not being able to fix everything.

Being a parent - there's another thing. Eric and I have talked about having a kid for going on two years now. We haven't, yet, obviously, nor are we any closer than we were two years ago, and the idea fills me with both anticipation and mortal dread. If I can't keep myself in working order, how in the hell am I going to bring someone else into the world and be the one (or one of the ones, rather) to teach them how to keep themselves going? I would be the absolute worst person in the world to bring someone else up.

For any of you reading this whose first reaction is to call me and try to talk to me about all of this - don't. I still can't talk all of this out yet, and even knowing that you've read this, I will still probably tell you that everything's fine, and that I was just being melodramatic. And, hell, I probably am. I've always been oversensitive and over-dramatic - anyone who's known me for more than about a year could tell you that. I'm not going to do anything tonight. I promise - I'm not going to do anything tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or any time in the near future, to be honest - just because I've thought about it, doesn't mean I'm going to do it. I'm just...I'm starting to get worried that I'm thinking about it at all.

I will be here tomorrow. I promise.


(In an effort to convince myself that I might actually have something worth saying, I'm going to be trying to post more often. Fair warning!)

I just moved into a new cube, from the team room we were in before. (For non-cube-farmers, "team room" means a big room with several people, so usually a little more space but less privacy. We had screens up to give us at least a little bit of privacy, but not much.) I'd been there for over a year, so it's actually taking a little bit of getting used to to be in a cubicle again. But, hey, walls! It's the little things. :)

They've been doing an office bake-off the last few weeks. While my Chocolate Elvis Bread (chocolate peanut butter banana bread) went over well with my husband and a few other folks, I sadly did not win my department. Today is the big all-legal bake-off, and I stopped by to offer my support to a friend who was elected to be a judge - such a hard life, really. There are some really good chocolate chip cookies in the world, and several of them are in my office. And a few are on my desk, but not for too long, I don't imagine.

Overall, I'm one of the lucky ones - I have a job that I enjoy, and I'm working with people that I get along with. And, of course, I'm working at all, which is huge. All in all, it's not too shabby in this corner (cubicle) of the world. How's your corner treating you?


Where did I go?

I'm trying to get better about actually appearing on any kind of social networking, but it's been hard. I find myself repeating the same thing over and over again, almost like a mantra: Keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, no one wants to hear what you have to say. I'm actually fighting the impulse to cancel out of this post page and stop writing, but I know I need to try to push through that and remember what it was like to write for other people.

cleolinda wrote a very accurate portrait of depression here - this entry started because I wanted to comment on the post, but couldn't convince myself that someone with as huge a following as Cleo would actually want my comments on there. I know, I know - it's a problem. It's the main problem, actually. I've been fighting with depression for years now, and the cycle usually means that it gets really bad about every 4-5 years or so. The first was during high school, the second during college. It hasn't gotten to that horrible nadir of depression again, but I'm finding it to be a more constant, low-level badness - like the sound of a fan in the background, always there.

I'm not sure what I hoped to accomplish here, but I guess I'm going to try to put myself out there a little bit more. I feel a little bit like I've collapsed in on myself, and I'm loath to even really talk to anyone, because I know I'm likely to just babble about things no one but me cares about. Fair warning - apparently I'm only really capable of complete radio silence or irrelevant babbling.

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving went well. Now it's time to get ready for Christmas, woo? :)

10 years ago

10 years ago today, I was in London, having my first full day of classes at the British American Drama Academy. I barely knew anyone, having only arrived the Friday before, and was still trying to get used to the fact that I was so far from home on my own.

That afternoon, I had a couple of hours between my last class and my first solo tutoring session, and so I went wandering around the neighborhood. I ran into a couple of the girls from my class, who asked me if I'd heard what had happened. They told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and I remember thinking that it was probably just a little twin-prop plane that got off course, and while it was sad, it wasn't that big of a deal. I ducked into a nearby web cafe to find some news, and got a site that was streaming their on-air coverage live.

Which is how I saw the second plane hit.

I remember logging on to AIM to see if anyone was online, knowing that it was unlikely because of the time difference. I caught one person who was in the middle of an all-nighter, and frantically asked him if he knew anything else about what had happened. He didn't know what I was talking about - he hadn't seen anything yet.

I watched for a few more minutes, and as soon as I saw that the Pentagon had been hit, I panicked. My brother's out there, I thought. Rich could be in the middle of all of that. I didn't have a cell phone, so I ran out to a payphone and tried to get through to him, with no luck. I couldn't get through to the States for most of the day, actually - the international phone system was all screwed up for awhile.

I managed to get myself back to the school, and saw that everyone else was gathering there, too - even the people whose classes were done for the day. So many of the students were from New York, or went to school there, and none of us could get in touch with our families.

A lot of that day is a blur. I know that I walked back to the apartments with a couple of other students, and we stopped at a small shop so one of the guys could pick up an alarm clock. As soon as we walked in, the people immediately stopped talking and moved aside so we could see the TV showing the news. The people at the newsstand did the same thing, letting us look at the evening edition and seeing exactly what had happened.

...you know what? 10 years ago, I was terrified and alone, not knowing what was happening or what was going to happen. Today, I spent with my husband, cleaning the living room and preparing for a visit from a dear friend. I need to remember that I'm not alone anymore, and while I may not know what's going to happen any more than I did then, I'm not filled with the same nameless terror I was then.

Screw you, terrorists. I'm making cookies.

State of Steph

I'm realizing that I'm not really doing well. Again. I've realized that I haven't really posted anywhere (here, Twitter, etc.) much lately because almost every time I got to post, I remember that a) nobody cares and b) not many people are actually reading what I write, anyway. I've been tempted to shut down all of my accounts and just take myself offline completely.

So, y'know, that's the kind of head space I'm in right now.
Cut for my benefit, mostlyCollapse )

I don't know what I'm doing, or where I'm going anymore, and frankly, I'm not sure I care anymore.


Just heard from my mom on the Great Kitten Saga. It looks like she was able to catch three of the four kittens, and someone at her office is willing to take them to the shelter for Mom. However, Mom left them at the vet's office next to her office while her coworker was in a meeting, and the vets said that they'll try to adopt the kittens out from there, rather than the shelter. Now all Mom has to do is get the other kitten and the Mama-cat, and bring them in. The only concern now is that it's possible the kitty-daddy was one of Mom's old cats, who had FIV. The vets said they would test everybody to see if they're OK, and go from there.

In other news, I'm heading to PAX for the first time this weekend. I'll be running a couple of tournaments on Friday and Saturday, so if you're going to be in the area, stop on by. GenCon was a blast, as per usual. Work is going well - I can't believe I'm coming up on my second anniversary already.

Speaking of work, I'd better get back to it. Hope the, like, 5 of you still reading this are doing well, too.


My family

MO & HO dancing a video by setauuta on Flickr.

So, a couple of months ago, Mom, Eric and I went to Minnesota to visit Mom's side of the family. I just got a CD from Mom of photos and videos from the trip. This one is one of my favorites - my uncle M.O. (short for Moises) and my aunt H.O. (short for Hortensia)* dancing around M.O.'s kitchen while my mother records and laughs like crazy.

*For some reason, the spell check in Chrome is fine with "Moises", but not "Hortensia". WTF?


Ziggy In the Sink

Ziggy In the Sink by Gamethyme
Ziggy In the Sink, a photo by Gamethyme on Flickr.

(x-posted to kittypix)

My mother feeds some of the local cats by her house, and one of them recently had a litter of four kittens. She said that the kittens look to be about 3-4 weeks old, and the mother is still around. It looks like they've been living under my mom's house (there's a pretty sizable crawl space there), and Mom's concerned that they may be in danger from the local raccoons and possums, or the cars that drive by the front of her house. Mom's called the local shelters, which are saying that they're full, since it's kitten season.

My question is, do you know if there's anyone who fosters kittens in the Tigard, OR area? Or any other help you could give would be greatly appreciated. While my mom's taken care of cats for a long time, she's never had such young kittens before. She said that they run away from her, so she doesn't know if she would be able to trap them and bring them inside. She also said that the mother cat appears to be taking care of the kittens with no problem, but she's worried about when the kittens will be roaming on their own.

Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated. And to make it legal, here's one of Mom's other cats, Ziggy, in his favorite spot in the house.

Updating to include a few pictures of the Mama Cat under the cut!
Mama CatCollapse )

I really need a zombie icon...

So, I just finished re-reading Mira Grant's Feed, in anticipation of reading the next book, Deadline. While I have a deep and abiding love for her work (some of the best world-building I've ever read), I always come away feeling...down. Last night, I thought about it a little more, and here's the ramblings I came up with.

I read a great deal of spec fic. Fantasy in particular, but some sci fi, and some horror (less blood and guts, more psychological thriller). And in those books, people die all the time. It's just a fact of the genres - in order to make it clear to the readers that this is a dangerous world, somebody's got to bite it, even if it's just a red shirt or three. Of course, it means more if we've had a chance to get to know the characters more, but in the end, there's a pretty high body count in spec fic. And in general, while I'm not hugely thrilled about it, I can deal. I may shed a tear or two (looking at you, Deathly Hollows), but I can usually get by and be my normal self after reading it.

Zombies, however...zombies are different. I generally enjoy reading zombie books (which I realized when I read World War Z), but they always leave me feeling drained and vaguely depressed. I still keep coming back, but they're the kinds of books where I think about a pivotal moment or death, and I start to cry again. I realized that a big part of this is how the characters in zombie books tend to die. In other forms of fiction, characters are killed by demons, evil wizards, ravaged by werewolves, whatever. Basically, attack, dead, everybody mourns. Zombies, though, tend to be different - unless the character is swarmed and completely devoured, they die and turn into the thing that killed them, and then have to be killed again by someone else. I think that's what gets me - zombie victims don't just die, they get put down, usually by someone who knew them well/are close to them in the plot of the book (if it's the big, pivotal death, at any rate). Their deaths are premeditated, and are kill or be killed situations, and because things change so quickly between living character and zombie, it's hard to make the transition in my head.

Thus, the zombie ramblings of the day. I think I need to take a break before I read Deadline, and I'll probably hit some Pratchett to do so - he's very good for getting me out of a funk. What about you guys? What do you read to get out of a funk?


It's been hard...

Lately, I seem to have hit the angst lottery. Losing the Baron-cat was really hard, especially when I went to visit my mom the weekend after it happened. I hadn't been to see her so close to losing one of the cats before (she's lost two others in the past couple of years, the other being the Milky-cat and my favorite cat ever, not even excluding Ramses), and we both had to deal with the momentary forgetting, and then remembering again - she almost went to the pet store to get his favorite food, before she remembered. Cue waterworks from both of us.

He was also the last of the "family" cats - he's the last one who knew my dad. Honestly, my dad was probably his favorite person, because Dad would sit still and let him curl up on his lap while he read for hours, and Dad didn't have anything to do with taking Baron to the vet, so clearly Dad was Good People. While Mom still has cats, they're "her" cats, not "family" cats, and it's hard. Yes, it's been almost 13 years since Dad died, but it's still hard to lose the last bits that we had of him. It's like a new loss every time, and it just tears at the wound a bit more.

On top of that, the depression keeps coming in waves, and I'm having a hard time dealing with it. There's other stuff, too, but I don't know how much I want to "talk" about it in "public", as it were. Suffice to say that I'm not the best person to be around right now, and that's annoying no one so much as it is me.

Ah, LiveJournal - the best place in the world to rant and whine. You'll never truly be replaced by Twitter, et al.


Not in a good place

I'll have a longer post later, but just wanted to give the, like, four people who read this a head's up - I'm probably not fit company for anyone right now. The Baron-cat (in the icon) had to be put to sleep last night, and I'm on the down wave of another bout of depression (woo). So if I look like I just want nothing to do with people right now, it's nothing personal - I feel that way about everyone right now.

Going to Mom's tomorrow, which is going to be much-needed and really freakin' hard.

"You don't strike me as ballet people"

So, last week I saw a coworker post on our internal for-sale list that she had two tickets to tonight's performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for sale. The price seemed reasonable, and Eric and I try to go to at least one theater performance each year, so we thought we'd make this year's a ballet.

Now, I'll be honest - I've been to exactly one ballet in my life, and it was "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and I was about 9. All I really remember was that in the forest, there were many stage ninja holding these DayGlo blinking eyes, and they creeped me the hell out. Needless to say, I know next to nothing about ballet. Eric has been to several ballets (insert shocked looks here), but it had been several years.

I mentioned to one of my coworkers that we were going to the ballet, and he looked utterly confused and said that he didn't think we were ballet people - he couldn't reconcile "gamer" and "ballet", apparently. Telling someone else about this at work got them very angry on my behalf, because the first coworker was trying to pigeonhole me. Personally, I thought it was kinda funny, but that's me.

As for the ballet itself...I felt like I had gone to a play done in a language I don't know very well. I know that I missed things, because ballet strikes me as fairly...I don't want to say formulaic, because of the connotation that has, but ritualistic. And I don't know the rituals. I've been going to the theater since I was a kid, both straight plays and musicals, and this was the most confused I've ever felt leaving the theater. It was beautiful, and the music was glorious, but I was left with a desire to see a stage or film version of the play, because at least then I would be back in my element.

Maybe my first coworker was right after all - maybe I'm not ballet people.


It's a new year, and all that

Another holiday season passed. We spent the weekend before Christmas with my mom, which went well as always. Actual Christmas was with Eric's folks this year, with minimal drama, though I believe Eric's mom is getting to be more comfortable with me, because she's starting to be a bit more...blatant in her comments about my weight.

Ooo! I do have to add that Eric's folks (well, most likely, Eric's dad) got me a FANTASTIC Christmas present:
It's so PRETTY!Collapse )

I am most happy with it. :)

New Year's went well, other than the fact that I woke up yesterday morning and my voice wasn't all there. I'd been fighting a cold for the couple of weeks, and it had taken a turn for the ugly. I felt better as the day went on, so Eric and I did our traditional dinner at Black Angus and game all night at Brian's. We were fortunate, this year, in that we were both off from work, so we could go to dinner earlier than usual and avoid the madhouse rush that's usually there every year. Gaming was awesome, as per usual - I finally got to play Battlestar Galactica, and I enjoyed it, even if we lost. Around 1am, though, I headed home to crash, and Eric made it home around 6am - par for the course for us.

This morning, though, I woke up with NO voice. None. The voice, it was gone. Fortunately, the walk-in clinic was open, so I was able to get in and get confirmation - sinus infection. Joy! The pharmacy isn't open until tomorrow, but I'll be starting the meds then. My voice is slowly coming back, mostly because I'm not really using it. So long as I don't sound so bad on Monday, it'll be fine - I can't really take the time off from work right now.

Speaking of work - WE HAVE A NEW EA!! *happydance* She started on Thursday (mostly to get her computer and fill out paperwork, that sort of thing - her first "real" day is Monday), and she's awesome, and yay! With luck, I'll be able to focus on the role I've been in since May for the first time since I've been in that role. I know there's going to be some transitioning, and all that, but I stand a chance of moving forward. It's a great way to start the year.

I also spent some time today putting things in order regarding the finances - basically, just making a spreadsheet of what's owed when, how much, etc. It's something that I've been meaning to do for awhile, and I feel better having everything down on e-paper. It actually looks better than I thought, which is nice. There are things that I'm hoping to do this year, and it's looking like I'm off to a decent start. Y'know, other than the health thing.

Hope everybody's holidays went well, and here's to 2011.

Still here, mostly

The problem with having a job that I adore and that is very demanding is that it doesn't leave a whole lot for anything else. I've found myself slipping into a bit of depression lately, just because I don't have the time or energy to do very much. NaNo this year pretty well fell apart in the few couple of weeks, and having the writers' group basically fall apart didn't help.

I was asked an interesting question by my manager yesterday - on a scale of 1 to 10, how would I rank my job? I had to divide it into two parts - there's the part where I'm an acting executive assistant supporting our team's VP and one other attorney who is incredibly demanding. That part, I rate about a 4 (well, I told my manager it was about a 4, but it's probably closer to a 2, with 1 being "Why God why?"). The other part of my job, where I get to research and learn and be an authority for my business team? 9, easily. This got a couple of skeptical looks, but I really do enjoy what I get to do, even when it's hard.

Work is going to be crazy for the next week, as we're having a HUGE team meeting next week (and who's got two thumbs and has had to organize all of this?), but the light is shining at the end of the tunnel - a new executive assistant starts after the first of the year. She's awesome, and I'm very much looking forward to being able to focus on one job for the first time since I've started here.

I'm sorry if I haven't been as social as usual lately, is what I'm trying to say. Hopefully after the holidays things will slow down, and I'll have a chance to do some of the things I've been wanting to do for awhile - there are projects to make, writing to do, and just a ton of things I want to do. It's going to happen, eventually - it's just a matter of when.


May. 14th, 2010

So the last couple of weeks have been a bit insane. The first weekend of May, gamethyme, deleva, and Stultz went down to Portland for a long weekend. It was made of awesome and Powell's, Voodoo Doughnuts and Saturday Market. I really miss Portland sometimes...

The following week, I worked my tail off to get my stuff together, because I was going to be flying out on Wednesday night to go to nire's graduation (she got her master's degree) in San Antonio. So, cramming as many hours as I could in three days to get as much off my desk as I could, I was a bit exhausted. But since our last re-org when we got our new assistant, I've come to terms with what my world consists of, and I have plenty of plans for how I'm going to make things work. I finished what I could, sent off what needed to be dealt with while I was gone, and flew out late Wednesday night.

nire's graduation Thursday, touring around San Antonio on Friday, driving to New Orleans Friday and Saturday, and then walking, shopping, and eating my way through NOLA for another few days. Much fun, much much walking, and a whole lot of sun and heat. That part wasn't so great, but the rest was awesome. :)

I flew back home on Tuesday, and geared up for Wednesday back at work. Lots of stuff awaits me, I'm sure, but it'll be nice to be able to get back to work and setting a normal pace. I'm chatting with another legal assistant (in a completely different team, incidentally), when he casually drops, "So, I hear you're going to be picking up some more responsibility soon."


A bit of backgroundCollapse )

So, per the rumor mill, because of the open spot on my team and the fact that they really needed the help, I was to take on some of the work to help out until they could get a new paralegal in. Well, that makes sense, and I have no problem helping out, though I would hope that I could rearrange my workload a bit to make sure I had time for that - my current workload is pretty heavy, as I've previously ranted.

I'm scheduled for a meeting with my manager to catch up on what I've missed the last few days. Two seconds after I sit down, another manager comes in.

Turns out, I'm not going to be "helping out" that other team - I'm JOINING that other team. They're putting me in there officially as a legal assistant, but the majority of my work will be paralegal-level work. Basically, they've decided that I've proven myself, and rather than waiting until I've been there a year to move me, they're taking the opportunity to get me in a position to be promoted. Oh, and I start on Monday.

It's super-exciting, and completely unexpected, and really really stressful. I'll be able to help transition the temp taking over my desk for a little bit, but every single thing that I do now, and that I'd been planning to do for some time, is going to someone else. So, if I don't really show up much for a bit, don't be surprised.


Update on the car situation

The Frog is dead, long live the Frog. We got to the dealership yesterday almost as soon as they opened (because deleva is made of awesome and picked us up and took us down there. The engine was completely seized, and it wouldn't have been worth fixing (not to mention it would have taken longer than we can stand to be without a car to fix). So, to the sales floor!

Long story short, I just bought a car for the very first time (as my credit is a bit better than Eric's, we did the purchase in my name, rather than his or ours). We now own a midnight blue (with sparkles!) 2007 Saturn Vue, currently dubbed the Beast. It has enough space that we got all the games that had been in the backseat and trunk of Froggy into just the trunk area, and still have the backseat clear. The plan is to keep it that way - I'm under orders from Eric to give him hell about it, and believe me, that's the plan (no matter how much Stultz claims that things will expand "like foam").

I think the Beast will serve us well, and it doesn't feel nearly as big as I expected it would. It has some amenities that we hadn't expected (heated seats, which are perfect for Eric's back, and air conditioning), and we'll be able to put the nice stereo from Froggy in without issue. Eric's working to see who he knows from work that can help with the installation.

All in all, the important thing is that we're back on the road, and we shouldn't have much trouble with the car payments. I can only thank heavens that this happened AFTER I got established in the new job, because we wouldn't have been able to do this if I was still temping. No way.

Feeling like more of a successful adult, now. Scaaaaaary.



Happy birthday, brigidsdaughter and queenanthai!


Why cook?

So, I've been watching Food Network's "Worst Cooks in America," and I'm noticing something that sort of...bothers me. Many of the contestants are women - I think there are only two men left at this point - and several of them are wives and mothers. For those who don't know, the premise of the show is that two professional chefs take a group of people who are the worst cooks they could find (meaning, the worst cooks that auditioned for the show and fit the producer's vision of a reality-competition show contestant), and teach them how to cook. The two chefs have divided the cooks into teams, each chef leading a team, and in the end one cook from each team will be left. Those cooks will prepare a meal for a panel of restaurant critics, and the goal is to fool the critics into believing that the chefs made the food, not the cooks.

I really like the idea behind the show, and obviously the people on the show both acknowledge that they don't know how to cook and are willing and eager to learn. However, when the contestants do their little confessional type things, I'm noticing a theme when they discuss why they want to learn to cook. A lot of them will talk about how they feel like they're letting their families down or are a disappointment, or a bad wife or mother, because they can't cook. It makes me wonder - is being a good cook, or even just an able cook, a prerequisite for marriage and motherhood?

Now, I can feed myself. I can feed my husband, and he can feed me. We do best when we cook together, and I enjoy cooking for and with him. However, I don't know that I would feel like a failure if I couldn't or wouldn't cook. I guess I never really thought of it as something I'm "supposed" to do, because it's something we both enjoy doing. It almost feels like it hearkens back to the "Leave it to Beaver" era, where Mom has dinner on the table the second Dad and the kids come home from school, and woe becomes the woman who is unprepared for a dinner guest!

It bothers me. At the same time, I freely admit that I have my moments of June Cleaver Failure(tm), particularly with regards to housekeeping, so maybe I'm not one to talk. What about you? Do you think it's a woman's duty or responsibility to keep the family fed? Do you think any less of a mother who doesn't cook for her kids?

Christmas and all that

So, work got a little hectic, but it looks like things are settling down a little bit. As many of you know, Eric and I end up celebrating Christmas 3 times every year - once with my mother, once with his family, and once with just the two of us. This year, "real" Christmas is with Ma, so we'll be taking the train down to Portland on Thursday night and staying the weekend. I'm looking forward to it a lot - I've really enjoyed taking the train down to Portland since I started doing that (when I started temping at Amazon), and I'm looking forward to sharing that with Eric.

We did Christmas with Eric's family yesterday at his brother Jared's new house - it's absolutely BEAUTIFUL and freakin' huge. I covet their kitchen so much - it's huge, and there are two ovens and two sinks, and so many counters and cabinets and zomg want. Their kids were both a little under the weather with colds, but they did really well with all the strange people in the house. We ended up playing a few games - Cloud Nine, which we gave Jared a few years back after we played it at Thanksgiving, and Snorta (another gift from us), which was WAY more fun than I expected it to be. I had a lot more fun in general than I had expected, considering there was some drama leading up to the big day.

Eric and I did our personal Christmas last weekend, and went out for both lunch and dinner (which is not common for us). Lunch was the important one, though, because the Original Roadhouse Grill by our house was having a fundraiser for the families of the Lakewood police officers who were killed last month. The Everett Police were out in force, taking donations and thanking everyone who came in. The food was great, and it was nice to think it was doing something useful.

So far, Giftmas has been quite successful. I gave Eric a copy of Amber Diceless, which, it turns out, was something that he REALLY REALLY wanted and had been looking for for, well, ever. I just grabbed something off his wishlist that I vaguely remembered him mentioning before, so, well, go team me! I also gave him a bacon cookbook, which went over about as well as anything involving bacon does for Eric (hint: he loves him the bacon). We also did well for the family, especially the little ones, as we got them a copy of The Polar Express book, and Ethan loves the movie very much. He can go through the book and tell the story, and seemed very happy to have it.

As for me, Eric's parents gave me (well, us) two new 7' bookcases from Ikea (!!!), which need to be transported to our house (and two dead bookcases need to be transported to the dump). Eric also won big-time by getting me the Big Damn Heroes sourcebook for the Serenity RPG, a Mutts compilation, and, the best, a laptop desk. The main problem with using my laptop on the couch (where I usually use it) is that Ramses really likes to curl up in my lap, and there just isn't room for both him and my computer. With the desk, there's plenty of room for the kitty, and I've actually noticed that my back doesn't bother me so much. It's been kitty-tested and kitty-approved thus far, which means that it works well. He did really well.

Really, it's been a good weekend. Today's been mellow, with Gahan coming over for a little bit this afternoon, and a frew necessities taken care of. It's like the calm before the storm of Christmas and New Year's. I hope everyone else is doing well, too - I know my presence online has been pretty sparse lately, but I'm hoping to work on that.

The Annotated Refrigerator

So, you know how a lot of people collect souvenirs when they travel? Spoons, or shot glasses, or the like? Well, in my family, we (and when I saw "we," I mean "my mother") collect magnets. It's a rule with my brother and me that when we go somewhere, we bring a magnet back for Mom. Needless to say, I grew up with a fridge full of magnets.

When I moved in with gamethyme, he had all of about four magnets on his fridge. This, I felt, was unacceptable. Over the years, I have slowly snagged a few of my favorite magnets from home, and we've started collecting more magnets from friends and such. And, of course, with magnets come things to put on the fridge - pictures, cards, that sort of thing.

This picture isn't just a note on how obsessive my husband can be (I mean, he did just spend twenty minutes annotating a photo of our fridge, after all), but it's a snapshot of the life we've built together. Lives aren't all about the big things, the ceremonies, the births - they're letters from friends and magnets made from favorite board games, photo cards of family and things that lead to five-minute stories.

It's the little things, you know?



I did it I did it I DID IT HOLY CRAP LIONS I DID IT! See icon.

I had to remove all contractions from the story, actually write out all dates (October twenty-sixth, two thousand and five), and add about three epilogues (including a "ten years later"), but BY GOD I DID IT!

Imma crash now. G'night!

Update on Baron

Thank you all for your thoughts and good wishes. I just heard back from my mother - apparently, Baron's blood tests (they did the full senior cat blood tests) came back normal, and the vet thinks that it's just his teeth that were bothering him, and that's why he wasn't eating and why he was clicking his teeth. They seem to be doing better now, and Mom gave him some baby food that he ate right up. He seems to be back to his normal self a bit.

Mom's going to be watching for the next few days to try and decide if it's worth the risk to put him under and get his teeth cleaned or possibly pulled. He has been pretty shaky lately, and I think she's just worried that he isn't strong enough to handle being under right now. Either way, she's going to keep an eye out, but she's just relieve it isn't something major.

More Baron pictures!

Baron-catCollapse )

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