Monday, February 27, 2012

The Truth Is Out There

Since I've been without television for, oh, six months now, I've had to entertain myself in other ways. Reading and writing have always been a major part of my life, and thanks to NoTV, I've been able to make it even more important. I've started up my Couch to 5K program (in an attempt to complete one of the entries on my bucket list)I'm also working on getting all the achievements on my video games and preparing myself for the release of Mass Effect 3.


Ahem. Moving on.

The internet has also been really awesome in keeping my cabin fever in check. I've been able to keep up with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and thanks to Netflix, I have been rewatching TV shows that are now off the air: Firefly, Angel, Battlestar Galactica, Slayers, and now? The X-Files.

X-Files was a really popular show with a lot of kids I went to high school with. My 10th grade English teacher was a big fan and even had the "I want to believe" poster on the wall in his classroom. I, however, didn't watch it. Granted, at the time, I was all into everything anime (well, what was available at the time, which wasn't much - Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing, and Sailor Moon) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and one of the episodes that I watched just didn't interest me. The premise seemed ludicrous to me, which is ironic, considering my love of Buffy, whose synopsis - a little blond cheerleader who fights demons - is just as silly sounding.

When I was flipping through the Netflix queue, it recommended X-Files. I was like, meh, what the hell? Could be interesting. I am HOOKED, guys. I'm still on season one ("Ghost in the Machine" right now), but I love the juxtaposition of Scully and Mulder. The acting isn't as good as I'd hoped it would be, but then again, it is the first season. They're trying to nail everything down at this point, and I'm okay with that. If I had judged Buffy by the first season, I would have stopped watching after "Teacher's Pet."

I'm looking forward to the rest of the seasons, even if it does get weirder from here on out. I think I prefer the platonic relationship between Scully and Mulder, so I'm not sure if I'll like the later season where they get "involved." But I'll see when I get there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bucket List

I didn't get to watch the Oscars this year due to lack of access to television. Since my movie watchage has decreased as of late, I wasn't really interested in watching the awards ceremony, although the buzz going around "The Artist" has me itching for when it's on Netflix, but I really wanted to see the dresses. I know, I know, I could just go online and look at pictures, but it's not the same.

I don't think I could ever be a celebrity. I just value my anonymity, where people don't really care what boring shit I do on a regular basis. I can go to the grocery store and not have paparazzi snap photos of my shopping trip ensembles. However, I would LOVE to go to an awards show, all primped and fancy. This got me thinking about the other things I want to do in my lifetime. My bucket list is probably a little boring to most, but hey, it's mine.

  1. Attend an Oscar/Golden Globes ceremony
  2. Attend a World cup
  3. Attend a San Diego Comicon
  4. Visit India and Southeast Asian countries
  5. Visit South America
  6. Run a marathon
  7. Get a book published
  8. Shoot and screen an animated and/or live-action film(s)
  9. Attend an Olympics ceremony
  10. Go on a ghost hunt
  11. Hike a mountain over 14,000 feet
  12. Run my own store/business
  13. Own a goat farm to make goat cheese
  14. Maintain my own website for my story series
  15. Get my Master's degree in English (creative writing)
  16. Complete a survivalist course
  17. Learn how to scuba

It's pretty short right now, of course, since I just started it today, but I'm hoping that it will get longer. Or more accurately, that I'll complete a lot of things on it so I'll have to expand it.

Does anyone else have a list like this? I'm usually much more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal, but I'm worried that I'm going to forget some of the things that I want to accomplish. I'm kind of flighty that way. Just ask my family and friends.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh, how the sexists will play.

I'm a gamer and I'm proud of it. I started with the Gameboy, and then, when my dad's birthday (or was it Christmas?) came around, my mom, my sister, and I - really, it was really my mom because we were not of workable age - upgraded him to a Gameboy Color. Can you guess who played the damned thing first? For days on end? Yeah, that'd be me. I also fiddled around with Donkey Kong on my dad's old Atari when I became a teenager. Oh, was I pissed when my parents wouldn't buy me one of the gaming consoles that I read about tirelessly while avoiding doing chemistry homework. However, I played PC games in the meantime, keeping myself abreast of the goings on in the gaming industry.

I probably broke them down with my complaints and general constantly-talking-about-it-ism, because a few years ago, my mom and dad finally bought me an Xbox 360 for Christmas, along with Lego Indiana Jones and Gears of War 2. My addiction was now a full-on obsession, and an expensive one, at that. I don't have nearly the amount of games that I'd like, but it's probably a good thing, considering my predilection of being a hermit. It's a nice size, though, with games that I will play over and over again. Because, hey, the fun.

You'd think that the industry would have suffered, what with the economy and all, but it seems that it has flourished. I'm thinking it's the "Star Wars coming out at the right time" syndrome. We need something to keep ourselves distracted by the giant economic shitstorm in which the world is engulfed, and they offer a wonderful amount of escapism. And it's catching on. E3 keeps getting bigger and badder, and comicons across the country are becoming giant social events, instead of only bringing together woefully awkward people that satisfy their need for interpersonal interactions taken care of over a headset, screaming, "I GOT YOU, NEWB!"

But as it's gotten more clout, the giant purple gorilla in the room is getting more and more conspicuous.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I am officially a horrible person.

You know when you get on Facebook and you're sifting through your feed, and you run across something that just makes you realize that you, quite possibly, are one of the worst human beings on the planet? Yeah.

It's a normal thing after a long day for me just to mindlessly read posts about politics, Community or Parks and Rec updates, at LOLcats until I'm ready to write or exercise or, hell, just take the puppy for a walk. It was no different today, except that I saw a picture that just made me cringe: the ugliest baby that I have ever seen.

In my work, I see all sorts of kids. Most of them are pretty cute, but there are some that are just ... not. Squished faces, hair everywhere, etc. But this one on Facebook? Even worse than the ones I see in person. Maybe it was just a bad shot. I don't know, but I found myself saying, "God, what an ugly child. I hope my kid doesn't look like that when I finally have it."

And then I felt horrible. Absolutely HORRIBLE. Because it's a damned baby. Something that a woman birthed and loves and wants to grow up to be the president. Or happy. Or whatever. And I just judged it because it was ugly (this remains true; I just feel bad about it).

I have the highest hopes for this child, that it will grow up to be awesome, fulfilled, and nerdy, and that it will never know that I called it ugly. And I really have nothing else to say because my brain is fried. It's been a long day. Hopefully, I won't dream of ugly babies tonight.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I might be slightly crazy.

I have a thing: when I get restless or stressed, I turn into a homewrecking machine. Today and yesterday, I've been at home by myself, since Three had to work, and our abode looks like a tornado ran through it, decided it wasn't done, and came back through again. Three has actually said that he's surprised every day he comes home that I haven't turned the apartment upside down. Or set it on fire.

At first, I played jokey-offended because, really, this is just life with me. But when he set foot through the front door with a completely shocked and overwhelmed expression, I was a little on the side of upset. Firstly, I hadn't had access to a vacuum cleaner because ours decided it didn't want to suck anymore, and half of what I had wanted to accomplish was kind of hinged on the vacuuming: I can't really move furniture over carpet that is covered in cedar sprigs (holdover from our Christmas tree - don't ask). I just jumped from job to job, as I am wont to do, and things ended up a tad bit ... hectic-looking. We had to get out of the house - me because, hey, I was stir-crazy and him because he couldn't process all of the changes - so we went on a walk in the park.

Maybe it's the Sagittarius desire for change; I don't know. I also get my hair cut, or dye it, depending on whether or not I have control of a situation. Our life has been kind of insane lately, so of course, I chopped off all my hair and have been progressively altering the way our apartment looks. I read somewhere that people with my Sun sign have houses that are constantly in a state of "improvement." Looking back over the last 28 years, yeah, I'd have to agree with that assessment. Any room that I've lived in or apartment I've rented was never "as I wanted it." I was forever changing the location of my bed, the posters/wall art, where my books were, etc. It's also probably why I have such a hard time sending out any of my writing or artwork: "It's not 'done!'"

This can be paralyzing for me in a way. I'm a perfectionist, which can seem paradoxical to most of what I do, but I want everything to match up to the epic vision I had in the first place. I'm also easily distracted, too, which puts a damper on things. Kind of like my "progress" with the apartment: I know what I want to do, but I get bored quickly with the task at hand. As a matter of fact, I'm taking a break to write this, while juggling the reorganization and dismantling all of the rooms in the place, as well as balancing a article spiral and looking at studio apartment decorating advice. It's a fun place, my head.

While on our walk, Three expressed his need for a semblance of consistency. He understands the I can function in a state of chaos, and he can handle clutter. He can get used to that. But complete and utter anarchy? It kind of freaks him out. He also has a photographic memory, so when things are thrown out of whack, he might has well have just walked into a house that is not his. It wasn't a fight or anything but a mere explanation of psychology. And also how different we are.

So today is mainly about getting things somewhat organized. It's not perfect yet (I borrowed my mom's vacuum cleaner so yay) but I've been able to establish some kind of order. There's a spot in the kitchen where Three can cook, and our bed is in the living room*, where I can play video games at night and not feel like, well, I've slept on the floor. Portions of the carpet have been vacuumed, and I've done about 679136 loads of laundry (more like 2, but still).

I can only hope that I'll be able to do this in the new apartment. Sigh. Three married one weird lady.

* We're moving into a smaller apartment and I'm trying to make that process slightly easier by consolidating everything into one or two rooms. It's been ... interesting, although I love having the TV right in front of our bed. I don't even care that it doesn't match up with feng shui.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Soft Rock FM Queen

My music tastes are pretty damned eclectic. Rosemary, my wonderful iPhone, has one of the most random assortments of songs that one might think a person with dissociative identity disorder owned it. Take this current shuffled playlist:

1) So Nice So Smart - Kimya Dawson
2) Breathe (2 A.M.) - Anna Nalick
3) Doth I Protest Too Much - Alanis Morissette
4) Heartbeat of "Shinma" - Artistes Divers (from "Vampire Princess Miyu")
5) Barrel of a Gun - Guster
6) "Jem and the Holograms" Theme
7) Open Your Heart - Madonna
8) Infiltrate - Michael Salvatori & Martin O'Donnell ("Halo 3")
9) The Old Account - Johnny Cash
10) Teeth - Lady Gaga

And that only covers part of the randomness. Sometimes on the bus ride back to the apartment, I find myself thinking, "Huh, I totally forgot that song. When did I download that??" My musical moods tend to change fairly quickly, so I'll bounce from a Phillip Glass marathon to a string of songs by the Crystal Method. And it's usually a frenetic pace at which my mind is working.

Currently, though? I'm on an easy listening, soft rock kick. A few days ago, I found myself singing Michael Bolton's "Time, Love, and Tenderness." Why? I have no idea. I don't have a radio, and oddly enough, I don't have that song on iTunes.

Now, I have a soft spot for Michael Bolton. I have never hidden this fact. His voice is amazing, and he doesn't really take himself that seriously. For evidence, watch this, if you haven't already. Hell, watch it even if you have:

If anyone can sing about Captain Jack Sparrow, Forrest Gump, and Scarface in one song, all the while calling it a "big, sexy hook," you just kind of have to love him. Shut up. I love him. To my dismay, my collection of his songs that I had bought several years ago were on my computer that went to Hewlett Packard Hell (after barely a year of owning it), and iTunes didn't have iCloud or whatever the hell it has now. So there I was, with this growing need of hearing more Mr. Bolton, and I had no access, save for Youtube. And I don't have Spotify on my phone, because yeah, right, I'm not going to pay for it (yet).

Then, my brilliant brain thought, "Hey, I know! Pandora will be able to fullfil my need of Michael Bolton tunes!" So I went to the Pandora app on my phone, plugged in my headphones, and voila! INSTANT GRATIFICATION. To my delight/horror, I knew all of the words to every song. And then Peter Cetera made an appearance, and I knew his songs. This was followed by Phil Collins, to which I happily sang along, and then "I've Had the Time of My Life," and really, who doesn't know the words to that song? But it just kept on this way: I knew every single word of each song that came up. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I was actually getting scared. Does this mean that I am old now??

I mean, seriously, I don't recognize a single song on the radio when and if I do turn it on in the car, which is why I usually tune into NPR. Or JackFM. But the second a liteFM song comes on? Oh, yeah, speakers to 11, windows down, me singing at the top of my lungs without a care in the world. I've tried getting on the bandwagon of new artists, but come on. The highlight of my year, minus the new Mass Effect 3 game coming out, was Madonna at the Superbowl.

Sigh. Where's my Gold Bond cream and diluted soda?

(True story: I really do dilute my soda. Too damned sweet.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If I could choose my possible next life, I would be a dog.

Zola, my English bulldog, probably has one of the easiest existences in the entire world. Her day consists of four major actions: sleeping, pooping/peeing, eating/drinking, and playing. With a heavy emphasis on the sleeping part. At this very moment, she is forlornly looking at me, asking for the playing aspect of her evening, but oh, she lost interest and is now gnawing on her Nylabone. Her attention span is that of a goldfish. 

I'm fairly certain that I can summarize how she views everything outside of herself:
  • Me - The Ulti-Mommy, who is awesome but also gives baths.
  • Three - The Kinda-Mommy, who gets upset when jumped upon in the middle of the night and does not like slobbery kisses.
  • The Cats - Small, occasionally mean, Sharp-Footed Puppies.
  • People - Givers of pets. 
  • Cars: Friends?
  • Outside: The Poop and Pee Place; see also: where People are. 
  • Other Animals And/Or Inanimate Objects: Friends!!
Ahh, the simple life. She very much lives in The Now, where one second is an eternity and yet however has no meaning once it's over. Recalling her essentially non-existant attention span, if I go into the bathroom and close the door for some fucking peace, she freaks out for a second, warbling helplessly until she forgets what she was doing. In her mind, I no longer exist or might as well be dead. And when I emerge from my moment of respite, she acts as if I have been gone forever, spins around and does this little stompy dance. 

Monday, February 13, 2012


I've had a few people ask me about filing for bankruptcy and what it entails, so I thought, "I will be servicey!!" Before I go any further, though, disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I am not legally able to give you any legal advice. Any. At all. This is only for information purposesAlso, you'll need to know that every state has different ways of handling things, so what I write here will be based on Tennessee laws. Bankruptcy has plenty of federal guidelines that don't give too much wiggle room, from what I've found, but it's best to consult a professional, which leads me to my first point:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

And now for something completely different ...

The past few posts have been kind of ... heavy, in terms of topics, and for that I apologize. It's been a tumultuous past few months, and be thankful you haven't been privy to the themes of my diary during this time. So today I'm going to try a happy post.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feb. 5, 2012, or How I Found Myself Watching the Superbowl and Not Caring

Honestly, I am a futbol girl (that's soccer, for you Amurikuns), and the Superbowl has never really been that big of a deal to me. Sure, I like watching for the commercials, if only to see what stupidity ends up making it. In my opinion, the quality has gone down since the Bud-Wei-Ser frogs of my middle school days, and this year was no exception. obviously had the most offensive ad, and as a tweet from aspiringmama stated, "So is Danica Patrick gonna stop pretending she has a racing career? cuz [sic] all I see is one step away from porn."

I went over to a friend's apartment to watch with her husband, son, and a group of friends and was drafted as a Giants' "fan," mainly because both my friend and her husband were outnumbered. After the first quarter, I was bored, so I played with their year-old son, who had a much more entertaining itinerary of banging on doors and trying to get inside people's purses. Of course, I had to stop for the 12-minute Madonna performance, which rocked my socks off - I mean, come ON: Ma-fucking-donna, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., AND Cee-lo Green? Holy shit, that's a powerhouse experience. I will be purchasing Madonna's new album, of course.

But afterwards, my friend and I got to talking about all of the other things that we've both been going through for the past few months. We try to get together fairly often, as our schedules will allow. We both have full-time schedules, her with her son and me with my job, so it's not always doable, but she's one of my oldest friends (we met in fourth grade). Our lives have not always been intertwined, but she has one of the truest souls I've had the pleasure of knowing. We talked about their chapter 7 bankruptcy a few months ago and then delved into familial relationships, Meyers-Briggs typologies, and ultimately our plans for the next few years.

It was only after her husband jumped up in glee about a play (touchdown? sack? I don't know) that I realized, hey, I'm not actually watching the Superbowl, for which I am apparently attending a party that is celebrating it. And I actually got a little resentful. There is SO MUCH MONEY spent on this one event, including the half-time show. Madonna did not get paid one penny to get on that stage, but for the sheer amount of dancers, special effects, and TV time, about $85 MILLION was shelled out. I mean ... what? Couldn't that $85 million be spent in better ways? Don't get me wrong: I love seeing Madge up there, dancing and lip-syncing her ass off, but ugh. Maybe it's because I'm currently dealing with financial issues, or maybe it's because I see so much poverty coming in and out of my office on a weekday basis, but it made me really mad; almost irrationally mad. Is this what we as a country find more important? Sure, thousands of people are without jobs, BUT WE CAN PAY MILLIONS FOR ENTERTAINMENT, RIGHT????

There isn't really a simple answer, I suppose, and I'm not harping on the people who enjoy it. The entertainment industry really helped people escape their troubles during the Great Depression. They could, for a few minutes, forget that they were struggling just to put food on the table. And I don't know what was spent back then on movies or radio programs. Maybe it was just as wasteful. I don't think I'm going to boycott the Superbowl in the near future, but I did get to thinking about what I will spend my money on in the future. And this isn't just the bankruptcy talking, even though that definitely plays a part. But what will my money do? Who will it help? Will it pay somebody to throw a football and/or catch it? Or will it help a local business pay its employees?

I don't mean to sound self-righteous, although I'm sure that's how this comes across. And I don't have the foggiest hope that what I write today will make much of a difference in the long run. But I'm going to try, at least on the micro-level that is my life, to be mindful of things like this. I think that's really all that any of us CAN do.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I complain about my current job. A lot. To pretty much anyone who will listen. I haven't done much of that here, but that's because you don't know me too well. It's not a difficult job in the least, and sure, at least I am working, unlike a lot of people out there right now, but ugh. Just ugh. Some days, it's a miracle that I don't commit some type of felony assault or murder.

I suppose I'll have to explain.

I'm an eligibility counselor with the Department of Human Services. To put it in layman's terms, I'm a case worker. No, I don't have a social work degree. Nor do I really offer any services other than determining eligibility for benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid for needy families and individuals in my county. I'm a glorified data entry clerk, essentially (not to put down any data entry clerks here). But my clients call me their case worker or social worker, interchangeably at times, so I've found it's easier just to smile and nod. And it's not that I don't actually LIKE what I do: I help people. But the sheer volume of what I do can be overwhelming.

There's just a lot of paperwork involved. Most of it is redundant and made for people who just cannot stay organized. If you saw my house, you would assume that I was one of those people, but at work? I'm like Organization Ophelia. I have backups of backups. I know my caseload back and forth. I know exactly what is due when. But I still have to work these damned reports and turn them in every week. I also have to interview clients all day, as well as process any changes that come to my desk, return phone calls to insane people, finish applications and renewals in a timely manner, etc. It's this giant clusterfuck that I manage to keep tame somehow.

And then there's the clients. Oh. The clients. You have to feel for most of them. You REALLY do. Half of the time, they don't listen to what you say, so they end up asking you the question you just preemptively answered. You have to answer the same. Questions. All. Day. For instance, we started a new procedure back in July 2011 to approve clients for a full year, but on their sixth month, they are required to send in a form that states either "no changes" or "changes." You'd think it would be a simple thing, but as I've learned, nothing is simple. I'll get calls from people asking me what their letter means, even when it's in plain English to return the form by the 10th of whatever month we're in, and if there are any changes, they are required to turn in verification. They just don't read the letters and immediately react with panic. Sigh.

To make matters worse, I am also a team lead. I am right underneath the supervisor, in terms of responsibilities and duties. The only thing I can't do is sign time sheets. Unfortunately, that usually means that end up doing everything. Everyone calls me because I'm always at my desk; all of the other caseworkers (only two of which have been with the state for longer than one year) in my unit come to me.  And did I mention that I still have a caseload and have to interview clients? On top of all of this?

My supervisor and I work well together most of the time, since he kind of just lets me do my thing, but there are days when I want to smack the shit out of him. He'll give me an "urgent" task that I can in no way do on my own in a timely manner, and then when I ask for help on it, he'll just be like, "Oh, well, you can just work on it when you can. It's not really that important."

Then why did you make it seem so important when you gave it to me? Urghgrowl.

And at the same time, there's no pay raise with it. On a resume, it does look like a promotion to an outsider, but everyone in DHS knows that it's really just a lateral move. So I'm doing two jobs for the pay of one.

See why I try not to talk about this much? Because it turns me into Sarcastic Susan. Or Disgruntled Dan. Either way, I'll be sure to keep the complaints to a minimum. And if this post annoys you, don't read my Twitter. Or my Tumblr.

I'm filing for bankruptcy.

That's a sentence I absolutely never thought I'd think, let alone experience. And to be honest, there's a ton of relief that comes with it.

My life has never really been one of consistency. Maybe it's a personal failing; maybe it's not. I suppose I'll never know. But it has never been lacking a sense of adventure, of not knowing what will come next. I'm in my element when chaos surrounds me. I can react quickly and survive - hell, thrive - when other people would fold under the pressure. It's not that I don't feel stress. Believe me, the past few months have been raucous. The house we were planning to buy fell through for various reasons, and Three and I realized that we were in no financial place to even be thinking about purchasing anything bigger than a week's worth of groceries (and there were times when we couldn't even do that). That all came before we had to start picking which bills would be paid that month. We had to backpedal a bit.

When I was younger, my parents signed me up for a credit card. I could only use it for necessities, like gas for my 1995 Buick Century that I "inherited" when my grandmother went blind, and if I was going to buy anything other than that, I had to clear it with them. At the end of the billing cycle, my parents would then pay the whole thing off. Needless to say, my credit was spotless by the time I got to college. I didn't have to put a deposit on any of my apartments or utilities, and other credit card companies were just begging me to start doing business with them. Since then, I may have been late on a payment due to forgetfulness on my part, but I never just didn't pay something.

Then Three left his job. While I still know that it was the best decision for the both of us, it did put a lot of hardship on our finances. For two months in a row, we had to ask my parents for help to pay for our electric bill and we had to pay our rent in three installments. But then the next month would start and we were already behind. This was just not sustainable. So we went to a bankruptcy lawyer and for two hours, we sat there and went over budgets, financial law, credit counseling, etc., and ultimately decided that we just had to file chapter 7.

Even just a few minutes after we left the lawyer's office, my mood instantly changed. I was floating. We could have a fresh start. My car, the piece of crap that it is, is going back to Carmax (also, Carmax, fuck you); we're calling all of our credit card companies to tell them that they now have to call our lawyer; we're moving into a cheaper apartment. Everything is falling into place. When I got home, I started up a Facebook page for my soaps (more of a hobby right now, but hopefully something more in the future), something that I have been putting off for months. It just seemed like it was the right time. I started writing and drawing again. And for the first time in about four months, I had a wonderful night's sleep.

I just knew that 2012 was going to be good.
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