For a set of reasons that are long and illustrious, I ended up digging through the archives of my former blog to find something, and as a side effect, sort of found something else.
The thing in question was a recipe I'd written up in 2003. It was relatively easy to find. But it was bookended by some others that brought back a lot of memories.
2003 was a hard year. It was the year my ex went to jail, with all the attendant misery. The kids and I were truly on our own. It was some of the hardest times my younger son had. I didn't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my backside most of the time.
Reading it, I could hardly recognize that poor girl. But I could feel it. That sick sense of not knowing what to do, barely making it through, and in the end the only thing she could say at the end of most days is at least they were all fed and mostly unaware of the currents flowing around under the surface.
Now that they're grown, my problems are different. I wonder how this blog is going to read 10 years down the road?
Being on the internet is not like real life. I saw an article where some psychologist was decrying
But in her rush to point out the isolating effects of technology, she gives it's ability to truly connect us very short shrift. I agree that those who just sit there mashing the refresh button on Twitter waiting for someone to say something have a problem. But if someone was of the sort to isolate themselves, they would do it with or without the presence of technology. There are many other ways this same technology helps us connect on a deeper level that is often impossible any other way.
My corporeal life is a killer; between work and kids I have been under the hammer for a very long time. I realized recently that there are people I've known for over a decade that have never seen me when I wasn't an exhausted mess. Not just acquaintances -- I mean good friends. And because of that, they have a view of me as a person that is far from accurate (at least I hope!).
I'm not saying that knowing that my life needs a "Report Abuse" button for me to press repeatedly most days is a problem. I'm saying that it's often hard to see past that to the actual person that I am. But when I'm writing online in my chosen venues, you don't see it. You just see my words. Or even if I do go on about whatever ate it's shorts in the meat world today, the effect is secondary to the facts and what I'm trying to say about it. The meaning of "my day sucked and here's why" is not always just that it sucked. There is more meaning to me than whining, and conveying that helps me get a better handle on that perspective.
That "chosen venue" part is the most important bit. If I was trying to manage that sort of connection solely through the good offices of 140 character hunks of Twitter and a couple paragraphs here and there on Facebook I'd be working with both hands tied behind my back.
And I think that over time, the line between the different kinds of interaction will continue to blur and blend. I wrote an article about this once here
. I wasn't suggesting that we should throttle back; I was just pointing out that things had become a little more complicated than they used to be and we all need to take a look at how we deal it.
Reading that makes me a little sad, though. The older lady with the prayer cards (and her Presbyterian buddy) are both gone now. I've lost corporeal friends, electronic friends, and corporeal friends I've met through electronic means over the years. They all hurt. I get very angry if someone suggests that the years I knew Robespierre through his writings on Slate's "Fray" were somehow less important than the painfully few physical meetings we had before he died.
But my favorite part is when someone who for whatever reason had sort of fallen off the radar comes back. In a corporeal relationship there is often a bunch of baggage, but in the case of the online experience there are times when a person needs to step back. Their corporeal life is too much to handle and they have to focus there, or they just grow beyond that connection. If you're in the right venue, that's not a problem.
A person whose writings and person I respected a great deal decided to pull back from the forums we frequent for several personal reasons a while ago. While I was sad to see him go, I hoped he found what he was looking for. But he came back, and in a way I've been pivileged to come to expect on those forums he was welcomed back with open arms.
Whoah. That was more fun than any grown human should be allowed to have. I just spent most of the last month in "bio-break only" mode at my Daily Planet job, and then then the last week has been spent in trying to catch up on everything else that got forcibly shoved off my plate for that.
It'll be good, once I get through this. Just time for it all to hit the fan again for the Holidays.
No rest for the wicked. Not even the EXTREMELY wicked. ;)
My younger son, the king forever of good decision making, brought home a drunken friend last night, with the predictable results.
My favorite part was when she raised her head from the toilet and said, "Wow. I did not expect on this." I didn't say more than aiming instructions, but I had other things crowding behind my teeth.
Why wouldn't she expect this? She did the same thing just about every Friday night for years, starting when she was 15 as far as I know of, and probably well before I knew. At least she's old enough now she's not breaking the law on top of everything else. It's not like she didn't know the consequences of that much Jack, especially on a body that had been dry for over 6-months.
She'd already told me why she wasn't thinking, so I didn't need to ask that. Why did she think that this was the proper response did come out, but her answer was mostly lost in retching and sobbing.
Why do I do it? I get asked that. I don't know. What do you suggest I do? Throw her her out? I've known this kid since she was in the girls' 3rd grade class. She's been wandering in and out of my house since then. I've told her she was making bad choices, and even helped her get into rehab before. I can't do it for her; she has to want to do it and keep it going by herself.
Mostly, I do it because over the years with all of them I've realized something. When you're presented with a situation like this, you have three choices -- to help, do nothing, or make things worse. I could have shouted at her, thrown her out when they presented myself at my front door at that ridiculous hour of the morning. I could have just pretended I didn't hear them "sneaking in" and carefully not heard or seen anything was amiss until she was gone. Or let her sleep on my couch, clean her up, and try to make sure she goes off into a better situation then the one she came here from.
The trick is figuring out what is actually helping, or what is making things worse. There have been times when throwing them out was the helping choice. And while I'm not constitutionally suited to the do nothing choice, I have done it before so I could choose a better time for a word about what they're doing.
She's on her way home, wrapped up in an old work-shirt of my son's that has seen better days and I actually hope she doesn't bring back. She's had a cup of tea that stayed put, washed off the blurred and streaked makeup, and combed her hair. Her AA partner picked her up, and I imagine that's going to be a pointed conversation. Hopefully they can help her realize that failing once doesn't mean you give up, and help her get back on track. Just on general principles, I'm not going back into that bathroom until my younger son has scrubbed it until it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building.
Now that I'm writing this, I realize maybe she meant the part about me helping her clean up the mess she made of my bathroom. I guess that's different. I'm not screaming foul language at her loud enough to melt the walls like her mom used to when they lived upstairs from us. Her mother is a self-righteous hypocrite who has modeled this behavior herself all the girl's life, from the drinking through the night and it's accompanying stupid decisions right on through to the next day's penitent crawl a hundred times. But instead of helping or getting help herself, she would pray and shout and wail her way from binge to binge, and then punish her daughter for doing the same even when she was the one who gave her the alcohol. I haven't seen her in years. I haven't heard anything awful has happened to her, but I don't know how she's doing.
I don't know. If someone has another suggestion as to what to do in this situation I'd be interested in hearing it.
I'm in the middle of a nasty crunch at my Daily Planet job, and it's really driving me up a tree. But despite the fact that most of this day has sucked the chrome right off a trailer hitch, there are always little things going on that help.Today, for example, I would list:
- A retweet from a friend that read -- This has made me happy all day: "Not my problem" in Polish is "nie moj cyrk, nie moje malpy." Literally "not my circus, not my monkey." This describes this project I'm stuck in to such an eerily accurate degree that it makes me giggle. So I do that every time this idiot thing pulls another wrinkle on me instead of having to go hide another body.
- Some friends are organizing a craft exchange, where we all make X number of our current/favorite crafty thing, and give everyone else in the circle each one so we all end up with X new cool crafty things.
- Sarge, my over-aggressive jerk of a Betta fish, who had been on a hunger strike since we moved because he didn't like it, started eating all his food again this morning.
- 4 o'clock today has been named Ice Cream o'clock by collective agreement of my entire household.
I've accomplished another lap around the sun, and the children have kept with tradition by writing and singing my annual birthday song. (You can see explanation and a couple previous examples here
They have outdone themselves this year. They seem to have gone for the evil overlord part, instead of the sappy, geeky, or gray sides. And as my part of the tradition, I get my revenge by sharing this with you.
Set to the melody from Gaston
, out of Disney's Beauty and the Beast soundtrack, without further ado I present, "My Mom."
Gosh it disturbs me to see you, my Mom
Looking so creepy and grim
And I can see you're constructing a bomb
And you're probably aiming at him (point to sibling who annoyed you earlier that day)
There's no one around as malicious as you
You're everyone's nightmares alive
That man who annoyed you is going to die
And it's not very hard to see why
No one's quite like my mom
Deals with shite like my mom
Dismembers a victim at night like my mom
For there's no one that matches her fury
Even short, she's still something to fear
You can ask all the fearful and wary
They'll show you the bodies she's hid around here
No one clones like my mom
Or builds drones like my mom
No one's got a collection of bones like my mom
As her specimens, yes, we're intimidated
ACK! What a quack, that's my mom
She likes the screams
She loves the wails
Have a care what you say
'Cause she's scary that way
No one jeers like my mom
No one leers like my mom
No one severs rebellious ears like my mom
For there's no one as creepy or scary
As you see she's got darkness to spare
Not a bit of her caring or merry (it's true!)
And nothing is nice in her horrible lair
No one kills like my mom
Gets her thrills like my mom
No one gives all her children the chills like my mom
She's especially good at ex-per-i-menting
10 kills for my mom!
When she looks at me with her slitted green eyes
I know I might be on thin ice
My homework is due and I haven't had time
I've been chasing her lab rats and mice
No one shoots like my mom
No one loots like my mom
No one turns nosy kids into newts like my mom
She's used entrails in all her de-fen-es-trating!
Mua ha ha ha
They totally got into it, too. After that, I think I better put a household moratorium on watching Young Frankenstein, NCIS, and maybe Pinky and the Brain for a while.
I've been typing this in with a grin on my face. I really don't mind. Now I'm a year older in the only way I want to measure it. ;)
Mom is scheduled to have her 4th of 12 chemo treatments tomorrow, and I've had to be on the phone with her multiple times each day since Saturday. She's feeling very low, and is questioning whether she should finish the treatments. I don't know what to say.
I know she's sick and tired of being sick and tired. I can get that. I'm still dealing with stupid surgery crap of my own and that was 7 frelling months ago. I remember my naive illusion that doing the surgery was going to actually fix my problems.
But her stopping the treatments isn't going to fix her nausea and other symptoms, and I don't think she really understands the odds here and that they apply to her. The medical staff she talks with keep low-balling and minimizing things so she doesn't give up, but they've done such a good job of it she doesn't think it's important enough to face the side-effects of the treatment.
She's convinced herself the chemo is the doctor being over-cautious, not a necessary part of the treatment. I've tried to talk to her, but she's not getting it. The odds are very very bad with un-metastasized pancreatic cancer, and even worse for her case; the stuff had already spread to several organs in her system. It doesn't just jump the road like a wildfire - there are cancer cells floating around in her lymbic system for certain, and possibly her circulatory system. And those can't be taken out by surgery no matter how clean those margins were. That is what the chemo is designed to go kill. With it, she actually has a decent chance. Without it, recurrence is not a matter of if but when and where, and that when is a short-term proposition.
The work-a-day world seemed very weird. The streets have been taken back by people in dress shirts. Even my comrades have doffed their blue shirts and donned regular clothes. I slid into a seat in the coffee shop at the bottom of the Washington State Trade and Convention Center musing. Sunday I had a 5' tall cardboard cutout of some character reading over my shoulder. Monday, it's a scraggly ficus benjamina trailing it's leaves across the back of my neck with the breeze from the door's opening and closing. Yesterday, this was PAX. Today, it's back to real life.
The contrast makes the dislocation seem more acute. I'd finished my part of tear-down, and come here to get coffee and WiFi so I could begin to divine exactly which precinct of R'lyeh my Inbox had descended to in the past five days. It's just like I do every day back home. Watching my iPad try vainly to download the madness into my mail client, I feel weird. Thin. Like butter scraped over too much bread. It's perfectly natural if you think about it.
I just spent five days or so with 60,000+ or so of my own kind. I was most emphatically not alone. Geeking-out is not only okay, it's encouraged. Even a cursory look around shows that you're not even close to the weirdest guy in the room. You and your buddies stumble from panel to Expo Hall to Freeplay room in a haze of camaraderie and caffeine.
As a volunteer, it can be even more intense. On top of the geeking-out and the challenges to overcome, I had 500+ buddies who have my back and are working tirelessly by my side. Great deeds are done, songs are sung. Even with all the hassle and headaches the whole experience can have a ringing transcendence.
But like all good things, it must come to an end. Over the course of teardown you have to watch as this wonderful little world is disassembled and packed away for another year. Your buddies trickle away in dribs and drab, with a few tears and promises to stay in touch. And then, with hugs and waves, it's time for me to go, too.
I gather my stuff and schlep the bag of games I lent to CFP down to my car, and emerge from the parking lot to face the rest of the world. I'm back to normal life. Even here in Nerdvana, I'm kind of a geek-island; you can't just fly your own flag free in the breeze without getting looked at or worse. Everyone doesn't smile at you when you pass by. It's back to grumbling bosses and teachers and all the rest of the regular round. No great deeds here; you face your usual job/classes/etc with all the stress and skull-sweat they imply. Your buddies are suddenly far away in both miles and flips of the calendar page.
The hardest thing to let go of is the feeling that you can fix things. One of the hallmarks of working for PAX is the empowerment. Within those walls I am uniquely able to look at things that are wrong and gather my troops and fix them. In the real world, that's far from the case. Going back onto my usual trawl and hearing about bad things happening to people and not being able to do anything brings and doubled and re-doubled frustration at my own impotence. I read about a woman who was assaulted at a party put on by a game company and the red haze of rage that spread across my vision when I read the response of security guard she reported it to still hasn't completely faded. I did what I could - sent the info off to someone higher up the food chain than I and he in turn is doing what he can. It's not enough, but there really isn't anything else either.
Home isn't the refuge I was hoping it would be. Instead of facing the crowds, I have to deal with Mt. Washmore, the Zerg creep of dishes and stuff my younger son left in the living room, the prospect of moving, and putting back together what taking the time off did to my schedule at work. This project was already wound tight as a miser's fist when I left. I would have been hosed even if things had gone perfectly while I was gone (and of course they didn't). Some of this nonsense should be forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. No amount of coffee in the world is going to wash this away.
I've had these Post-PAX blues like ten times now, and I have some strategies in place. I know that if I get sick it means two weeks before I can get my head above water. But even if I did manage to avoid any sort of ConSARS, previous experience has taught me it's going to take me a week or so to know it all out. There aren't any easy, on-size-fits-all answers -- each person needs to find their own. For me, it mostly involves finding a way to carve out just a little bit of that same feeling into my regular life.
It doesn't have to be something big. In the past I have tried all sorts of things. Take a half an hour to beat my son's scores on some songs in The Beatles: Rock Band again. Wear my Enforcer shirt to church Youth Group. Go puddle-stomping while waiting for the bus and be a terrible example for any kids nearby. Last year I made spaghetti for dinner while wearing my pajamas and dancing around the kitchen to Ask DNA on my headphones.
I don't know for certain what I'm going to do this year. Tonight I know it will involve someone else doing the dishes and me grinding the Forge Lands like I'm going to use their bones to make my bread. After that, we'll have to see. Anyone have any good ideas?
In case you just sort of ran into this, at Gamerswithjobs forums
we have a running contest. August's challenge was to tell a story with nothing at all but dialog. This was a mean one, and all my attempts really suck. But this was the least sucky of the bunch.====================================================Working Title: Celedon
Denise: So, this is it? What do I do now?
Voice: <Just hang on a minute.>
Denise: I did what you asked. I found the stupid pendant, I'm hanging it over the stupid pool. So when do I see my son?! If this doesn't work I'm going to pound you into the ground like a tent-peg when I find you!
Voice: <Sigh. Just hang ON a minute.>
Ezekiel: She survived it. Believe it or not.
Gabriel: So now we have to do the rest of it.
Ezekiel: I still don't understand the Boss in all of this. We've got nothing in the books. And they're supposed to cover everything. I mean, look at this list! Why couldn't she just pick a mythos and stick with it?
Gabriel: You know the drill. You're going to have to find us enough common elements to get her into the same realm as the boy. Come on. It isn't that bad. Remember the one we had to do the mouse for?
Ezekiel: Of course I do! I had to be the fargin' duck. My throat still hurts.
Gabriel: I know. No one else has ever tried to do this before. The model has always been if they were alive they would wait patiently at home. Especially the Moms.
Michael: I hope this isn't a new kind of story. We're going to have to make it up as we go along.
Gabriel: You're the best there is. If anyone can do it, you can.
Ezekiel: Sigh. All right. <grumble grumble> Let me see what I can do.
Michael: No. You can take that plan and fold it until it's all corners and....
Ezekiel: Come on! It's not that bad.
Michael: Look. I like the sword. I don't mind the wings. But I am NOT wearing the dress!
Gabriel: That's not a dress. That's a robe.
Michael: You're not helping him here, you know. I'm not wearing pajamas either.
Voice: <Awake, I see.>
Voice: <I told you this would be painful. You're too old for this. It takes too much to pull you out of the world you came from.>
Denise: It didn't hurt him like this?
Voice: <No. He didn't even feel it.>
Denise: Good. Because if I found out you made him feel like this I'd have to kick your ass again. And I'm running out of feet as it is.
"Have at thee!" he roars. It's so loud the window shivers in it's frame.
The upstairs neighbors stomp back and forth across the living room ceiling yet again. They're starting to get annoyed.
"WTHeck!? Look dude, last I checked that was my line. You're supposed to roar inarticulately and send a column of flame perilously close to my shield but actually hitting the fireplace screen." Fumbling through the script with my gauntletted hands, I show him the page. "Can't you remember last time?"
"But you always get to say that. It's not fair." He stomps back over by the fireplace muttering some sort of imprecation in draconic hisses and clicks. Two turns to wrap his tail around his feet and then he hunkers down, nursing his sharply rapped muzzle. He snarfs a big breath through his nose with a gargly sound, but the exhalation just sends a few sparks out past his nostrils. They drift onto the hearth and peter out.
"I didn't write this thing - go complain to the lawyers if you think it would do any good. Oh, and I heard that, smartalec. These pauldrons do NOT make me look fat." They do dig into my shoulder something fierce from where he dented them, though. I dig at the neck and try to adjust it so it isn't cutting off the circulation to my left arm. Doesn't do much good. Using my toe I nudge a couple of the books and DVD's on the floor into the corner. They must have fallen off the shelf when he rammed me into it during the last pass. I creak a couple times as I straighten my back and pick my lance out from between the couch cushions.
We've done this way too many times, I fear. He's getting bored and God help me he's starting to improvise. I'm getting so tired.
Maybe sweet reason will help. I take a deep breath and say, "Look, you're the one who got the really cool ability upgrades last time, not me, you selfish jerk. Those hydra heads must have cost them a fortune." Ouch. Probably could have phrased that better.
I get a dirty look and a snooty toss of his purpling and swelling nose. "Yeah! Well, look how much good it did me. That torch-thingy HURT!"
A grimace is my first answer - I still flinch a bit at that one. I feel bad about it. Not only did it stink to high Heaven, but even the memory of the sizzling makes me queasy. "Do you want some ice for that eye? You're not going to be able to see out of it here pretty quick."
He's not done grumbling, though. "You figured it out too fast. Next time I'm going to get all those books so you won't be able to read up."
Don't threaten the books, man. Bad idea. "Fat chance, Sparky," I snap. "I had that one memorized."
He sits bolt upright, splaying his wings and turning his good eye towards me slowly. "Sparky? Did you just call me SPARKY!?" He steps over the spikes at the end of his tail, raises a forefoot's worth of sharp talons and spits, "Have at thee!" through his fangs.
"Oh for crying out loud," I think. I shake my head and couch my lance. Who am I kidding? They'll always find something to go on, and then here we go again.