Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Snapshot of my day

I'm not one who ever posts a summary of my Twitter activity as a substitute for a blog entry but I'm making an exception today because I think these give a pretty good snapshot of my day.

Chris is gone for the weekend, playing games at Enfilade in Olympia. The weather is supposed to be really outstanding this weekend so I hope to hang with Kate and get a lot accomplished on my yard and gardening projects while the sun shines. Also, barbecues!

Here's the snapshot of my day:

I have a family of Bewick's wrens living in my birdhouse. I think this is the first time it's been used instead of my laundry room vent. Yay (12:25pm Pacific)

http://twitpic.com/5pplv - Sunny day 'office'. (12:57pm Pacific)

A boy just walked past chanting/singing happily, "Yipee Yi Ay, mini sirloin burgers!" I can hear him fading into the sunny distance. (3:17pm Pacific)

Text message from my daughter: "Can I have a squirrel?" Uh... no. (3:25pm Pacific)

Kate and I grilled burgers, watched birds and talked anime. Next: movie night! (8:52pm Pacific)

Just overheard Kate telling my plan to eventually have her drums in the garage. "Then we could have a real garage band." (8:54pm Pacific)

Eavesdropping on teen phone call: "Awsome...awesome...that's,like, triply awesome...sounds awesome.... That would be totally awsome." (8:56pm Pacific)

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Around here

My mother's called me several times in the last couple of weeks, usually to talk about things like what Kate wanted for her birthday or to check to make sure the package she sent arrived (she was permanently scarred after the UPS store sent my package with my grandmother's ring in it across town). After my grandma's health crisis I convinced her to go in for routine testing and to get her sleep apnea looked at. To my surprise, she actually did it and was happily sharing her excellent test results with me (a first). This afternoon I noticed the little icon that lets me know that I've missed a call on my cell phone. She didn't leave a message but I called back anyway. She'd been calling about something insignificant, like how Kate liked her birthday present, and chatted about that first before breaking the news to me that she wouldn't be coming up for Christmas with my brother after all because they've just confirmed that her husand has prostate cancer. He's told my mom that his doctor said it hasn't spread but told his daughter (and some random yahoos down at the bar while he was drunk) that it had spread "to his abdomen." He's going in for further tests after Christmas.

Of course this is the alcoholic, verbally abusive, chain-smoking good-for-nothing who has been taking money out of her bank account to gamble and leaving a permanent divot in her couch while the house has been literally falling down around them. He's the reason I don't visit more, the reason I've stopped sending Kate to spend time there. I can't count the number of Christmases that have been ruined because he (and all of his similarly drunken, abusive, chain-smoking children) were spending the holidays extra drunk. I asked my mom frankly once if he had to get sober to keep her would he? She scoffed. He wouldn't. The whole thing makes me very sad.

In a detached kind of way I'm sorry for him. I'm sorry he's having to face cancer the way I'd be sorry for a stranger I'd heard about on the news or something. I'm sorry for my mom, sorry that she'll have to carry his burden. But I can't bring myself to feel broken-hearted or anything. In fact, I'll admit that I see this as an opportunity for my mom to get out from under this thing she got herself into... and I feel a little ashamed at myself for thinking things like "Well, maybe everyone would be better off...". If faced with attending a funeral I don't think I could even appear sad... just be there for my mom (like I was for their wedding in the first place) and support the family who do love and miss him. And, of course, we're getting way ahead of ourselves here in thinking of death and funerals anyway. Prostate cancer is quite treatable, if the stubborn old fool actually goes through with it (apparently "after he has a few toddies" he starts talking about how he's not going to let them cut him open, not going to go through treatment).

He's such a pitiable person, so unable to cope, so hopelessly addicted (and unwilling to change) that in my best moments I can only feel sorry for him, pity him. In my worst moments, I feel hope that he will die so his poisonous influence will just go away and I feel truly ashamed about that. I would love to believe that I'm a better person than that but I have to face up to the fact that the weakest and worst parts of me are, indeed, that bad. Tough stuff.

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Around here

My mother's called me several times in the last couple of weeks, usually to talk about things like what Kate wanted for her birthday or to check to make sure the package she sent arrived (she was permanently scarred after the UPS store sent my package with my grandmother's ring in it across town). After my grandma's health crisis I convinced her to go in for routine testing and to get her sleep apnea looked at. To my surprise, she actually did it and was happily sharing her excellent test results with me (a first). This afternoon I noticed the little icon that lets me know that I've missed a call on my cell phone. She didn't leave a message but I called back anyway. She'd been calling about something insignificant, like how Kate liked her birthday present, and chatted about that first before breaking the news to me that she wouldn't be coming up for Christmas with my brother after all because they've just confirmed that her husand has prostate cancer. He's told my mom that his doctor said it hasn't spread but told his daughter (and some random yahoos down at the bar while he was drunk) that it had spread "to his abdomen." He's going in for further tests after Christmas.

Of course this is the alcoholic, verbally abusive, chain-smoking good-for-nothing who has been taking money out of her bank account to gamble and leaving a permanent divot in her couch while the house has been literally falling down around them. He's the reason I don't visit more, the reason I've stopped sending Kate to spend time there. I can't count the number of Christmases that have been ruined because he (and all of his similarly drunken, abusive, chain-smoking children) were spending the holidays extra drunk. I asked my mom frankly once if he had to get sober to keep her would he? She scoffed. He wouldn't. The whole thing makes me very sad.

In a detached kind of way I'm sorry for him. I'm sorry he's having to face cancer the way I'd be sorry for a stranger I'd heard about on the news or something. I'm sorry for my mom, sorry that she'll have to carry his burden. But I can't bring myself to feel broken-hearted or anything. In fact, I'll admit that I see this as an opportunity for my mom to get out from under this thing she got herself into... and I feel a little ashamed at myself for thinking things like "Well, maybe everyone would be better off...". If faced with attending a funeral I don't think I could even appear sad... just be there for my mom (like I was for their wedding in the first place) and support the family who do love and miss him. And, of course, we're getting way ahead of ourselves here in thinking of death and funerals anyway. Prostate cancer is quite treatable, if the stubborn old fool actually goes through with it (apparently "after he has a few toddies" he starts talking about how he's not going to let them cut him open, not going to go through treatment).

He's such a pitiable person, so unable to cope, so hopelessly addicted (and unwilling to change) that in my best moments I can only feel sorry for him, pity him. In my worst moments, I feel hope that he will die so his poisonous influence will just go away and I feel truly ashamed about that. I would love to believe that I'm a better person than that but I have to face up to the fact that the weakest and worst parts of me are, indeed, that bad. Tough stuff.

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Busy Weekend

Kate and Pramas and I were in Portland over the weekend. I crashed the Canby High School Class of '88 reunion, even though I moved to Minnesota in my Freshman year, and reconnected with several of my junior high school friends, visited with my brother for the first time in a year and a half, squeezed in breakfast with my friend JD Roth and his wife at their place, and attended a barbecue with my mom, grandma, brother, and a bunch of people from mom's husband's side. Grandma is going to have to start dialysis soon and this is probably the last visit to Oregon she'll make so it was a bittersweet visit. Drove home last night and promptly collapsed into bed.

Woke up this morning to find that JD had posted something of an interview with us, from our talk about entrepreneurship over breakfast, over on his highly successful personal finance blog, Get Rich Slowly. Kinda cool, that.

Chris and I leave for Finland in one week and I'm freaking out just a tad about getting everything done that needs to be done. Speaking of, I shouldn't waste any more time noodling around on my blog right now. Eek.

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My friend's little nephew succumbed to leukemia earlier this year after quite a fight. More than once she broke the news to us that it didn't look good for little Heiko and we set about to praying or meditating or wishing well across the miles in the hope that things would turn out differently. We followed along when there was anything to report and cheered when Heiko went through two miraculous, if short-lived, recoveries. Las Friday Heiko's father's tribute to his son appeared in The Globe and Mail. I'm reposting it here because it's such a vivid and loving testament to their son.

Son, brother, nephew, grandson, dragon-slayer, preschooler, beloved little friend. Born April 26, 2003, in Toronto. Died Jan. 3 in Toronto of acute myeloid leukemia, aged 4.


March 14, 2008

We almost lost Heiko last May. Over the course of one weekend he went from being an ordinary four-year-old to a leukemia patient on life support.

Again in July we were told he might only have hours to live, ravaged by a brain infection brought on by chemotherapy. All we wanted was to see him conscious and aware of us.

Our prayers were answered; we were lavished with almost four more good months. Heiko regained most of his strength and spirit. We went for fall walks and bike rides, played at the wooden castle in High Park, and when snow came went tobogganing and skating. He learned to switch from his left hand to his right because of brain damage, and soon resumed his magical drawings and kindergarten letters.

He was a real boy, with a boyish love of pirates, spaceships, knights in shining armour and dragons. Yet he had a gentleness more characteristic of a younger child. For Halloween, friends donated Batman and Spider-Man costumes, but he insisted on being a bunny. "I don't want to be scary," he said.

Heiko loved details. When I read him stories written for older children and paraphrased the more complicated parts, he gently corrected me and filled in the missing words from memory.

He loved fairness. When someone won a bingo game, he would not allow us to stop playing until everyone had won and all the spaces were filled in.

When his strength returned, so did his pranks. Putting on his pyjamas always meant chases around the house confronting imaginary barriers for which we had to learn secret passwords. He loved hide-and-seek. Sometimes my car keys would turn up in his pockets. Or he might pull off my slippers and I would find them days later in a random drawer.

The only time sadness welled up for him was when he saw old friends. It pained him to see them run and play so effortlessly while he had to relearn how to hold a crayon, climb stairs and walk.

If Heiko struggled with his illness he never talked about it. Instead, we sometimes got the feeling he was more concerned about us; he would cover up his sores, tell jokes if we looked at him with concern, and as a last resort try to tickle us out of our seriousness.

There may have been moments of prescience. Once he told us, "You will have to get another Heiko." He knew we would miss him grievously and felt sad for us.

We will never have another Heiko. So soon after celebrating Christmas, a time of hope and new birth, we and his older brother Langton turned to grieving the death of our child, our star of wonder.

Even as a distant bystander to the family's ordeal, I was very sad to hear of Heiko's death. I've been reflecting on how very fortunate I have been: my family is intact, we have our health, we are reasonably secure, we live in a beautiful city, in a safe and healthy home, with food and clothes and belongings that would not be considered extravagant in American terms but are a wealth of riches and luxury when contrasted with much of the world. Yeah, I have my share of problems and stresses but I can only hope I'm fortunate enough to keep my own troubles and continue the relatively smooth sailing I've enjoyed up to now. I am afraid to face the depth of grief something like the death of a child or a spouse.

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Jury Duty Observations

Spent two days in a room at the courthouse waiting for anything at all to happen. Nothing did. I was not called for anything.

I sat for the entire time in what I dubbed "the outlet corner" which had two outlets easily accessible by four chairs, a little away from everything. I sat in that corner with three other laptop wielding would-be jurors. For the first four hours of our ordeal there was free wifi access in the jury room and I was happily clicking away. After lunch on the first day my anti-technology field caught up with me and internet access (and cell phone service for me, though not for everyone) was knocked out for the duration. I spent the rest of my jury duty cleaning up my AOL address book. Woo fun.

Here's a little something I don't think I've shared before: I hate the sound of my own voice. I hate the way I talk, hate the inflections, my accent, my pronunciations, the way I phrase things. I hate to hear myself on tape (and I feel the same way about appearing on video, where seeing my gestures and cartoonish eye rolls make me feel like crawling under a rock) and some part of my infamous reluctance to talk on the phone is related to this. I can't wonder that people sometimes underestimate me or think that I'm dumb because when I hear myself even I think I sound like an idiot.... Yes, I do talk a lot for someone who hates the sound of her own voice but when I'm with my friends or, more likely, when my brain is spinning and drowning out the echos of what I've just said with new thoughts that area begging to be formed into something, I don't have the same reaction. Usually.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, because I ended up spending two days sitting near some strange alternate universe doppleganger of me. In a hoodie and black Chuck Taylor hightops, toting a Hello Kitty bowling bag purse, she sounded like me when she talked. And she talked a lot, as she took several phone calls and chatted with people around her. She punctuated her speech with little ums, laughs, and so on exactly where I would. She talked to her daughter on the phone the way I would talk to Kate, and talked to her friend about her daughter's trouble with the bus driver the way I would talk to my friends about Kate's troubles. We actually probably had a lot in common but I didn't want to strike up a conversation because I couldn't stand to listen to her because it was like listening to myself. There was a point where I actually had to put in some earplugs because it was distracting me so badly.

A bonus of the lack of need for jurors was that we were released for two hour lunch breaks on both days. I took advantage of this and bought lunch at Salumi yesterday (only open 11am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday). I bought a salami and cheese plate with olives and bread and washed it down with some Limonata. Mmm, that's good stuff. I should call in an order of sliced meat for us (minus Rev. Dr. Evil) to enjoy during the upcoming Green Ronin summit. Today I rode the free downtown buses over to Lola where I had some butternut squash soup topped with a splash of curry oil (outstanding!) and a drop dead gorgeous shawarma heaped with goodness and too much for me to finish. I spent more on my two lunches than I'll be compensated for my time (Seattle's jury pool earns a whopping $10 a day for their trouble) but it was totally worth it.

Not being picked for a jury means that I've completed my service and I'm off the hook until the next time I'm called up. It also means that my plan to get away with my husband for our anniversary can proceed tomorrow without further interference. The trip has already been modified to accommodate Kate being with us (since her dad isn't taking her for the weekend after all) and the weak and shitty United States dollar making the expensive hotels and restaurants all that much more expensive.

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Drove to Portland and back today. On the way home, right around Centralia, this pick up truck blew past me going over 80 (while the driver talked on his cell phone) and ruthlessly tailgated the car in front of him for 10 or 20 miles. The entire rear window of his pick up was take up by lettering that read:

Liberalism is
Self-indulgent Bigoted Racist
Illogical TREASON Intolerant
Socialist Fascist Spiritual deception

I've heard the "Liberals are racists" thing (for believing that minorities need "help" overcoming bigotry and injustices perpetrated by the majority), I've seen the "Liberals aren't good Christians" thing (which I'm guessing is the root of the 'spiritual deception' line) and there are certainly liberals who are Socialists (which seems to be code for 'Commie pinko', which these guys can't throw around anymore). But Liberalism is TREASON? Liberalism is FASCIST? Liberalism is DOMESTIC TERRORISM? Please.

I drove along behind this guy for a while after he got stuck in traffic and dangerously tailgated the people in front of him. I wondered what kind of person is driven to use his free speech in such a way. I wondered if he really believes Liberalism is treason? Would he look at me on the street and think I should die for being a "domestic terrorist" because I believe in things like socialized medicine? I wondered what I would do if his tailgating, speeding and distracted cell-phone-enabled driving caused a freeway accident... would the innocent liberals he'd blown past (like the angry guy in the Prius who rolled down his window to flip Mr. Pick Up off) stop to help him in spite of his loudly proclaimed hatred of them? I supposed I would help him as much as I would help anyone but I did entertain a small fantasy of pulling him out from the self-inflicted wreckage, making sure he was cared for and waving him off in his ambulance with "By the way, I'm a liberal!"

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Lazy, Sickly Long Weekend

Yesterday we headed over to R&C's for a planned evening of kibitzing and some quality time with them and 4/5ths of the Gitel-family. On the way I started developing a migraine. It was a wacky, slow-developing one, triggered by I don't know what. I actually got the nausea first, before any pain. The first "pain" wasn't even really painful, more uncomfortable, like a phantom headache centered around the eye and temple where my migraines usually manifest. It wasn't until we were well into the bus ride that I realized that I wasn't having some weird motion-sickness episode but developing a freaky migraine. Then I spent the last half of the bus trip covering my eyes from the bright sun and trying not to moan too loudly or puke every time the bus driver slammed on the brakes (which seemed to be every block or so... these guys just don't believe in easing up to a stop, I swear). By the time I showed up at R&C's I was in poor shape and they hustled me up to a dark room with some meds, ice water and a cold compress.

Thankfully, the meds worked wonders and I was feeling entirely better within a couple of hours, so I wasn't sick and knocked out for the whole evening.

Home this afternoon and have finally fallen to a late-summer cold. I've been lucky so far this year, considering all of our travel, that I haven't picked up more diseases or "con crud" but I thnk the two weeks of travel, hotels, and mingling with strangers has finally taken its toll. Thankfully, I don't have to drive down to get Kate from my mom's until Tuesday, so I'm planning to lay around in bed, watch TiVo and do some logic puzzles tomorrow while drinking lots of liquids and generally being lazy and recuperative. Hopefully I can roll into next week feeling a little better than I do now. Not exactly an exciting holiday weekend but after the last few weeks I'm just pretty happy to see the inside of my own house and sleep in my own bed. Oh, and pet bunnies (even bad, cord-chewing ones).

Kate officially becomes a middle schooler on Wednesday.



Another day down

As I write this, Pramas is ensconced in a British Airways jet and halfway to England, where I hope friend and stranger alike will take good care of him. He's gone until Monday night. I leave for GenCon on the red-eye flight Tuesday and he'll follow a day later.

What does Nikchick do when she's all alone on a weeknight?

Shops for hay, treats, litter and toys for bunnies
Has Mexican food for dinner
Takes advantage of an unexpected sale to replace the 10-year-old, thread worn blanket on her bed
Picks up a book from the library
Plays Guitar Hero II on Medium
Watches reruns of Animal Precinct

I'll bet you can just taste the excitement, huh?



Get Rich Slowly

My junior high soccer teammate and high school poetry friend, JD, has been having great success with his personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly. JD and I come from the same side of the tracks, I guess you could say. We definitely came from families where money was tight and poorly managed, where personal finance was not something we learned from our parents or had any idea about. JD has always been a passionate fellow, always throwing himself headlong into one thing or another (photography, comic books, animal intelligence...) and I'm so glad that his personal quest to right his finances has evolved into Get Rich Slowly and taken off!

JD and his lovely wife are currently away on a European vacation with her parents. In preparation for his trip, JD asked around to get people lined up to contribute essays for Get Rich Slowly for the duration of his absence. He asked me if I might have something to contribute but I felt I had to say no. It's the busiest time of the year for us and I didn't feel I could give a contribution the thoughtfulness it deserved. An essay for Get Rich Slowly felt like a lot more pressure than something similar for my own tiny blog.

Another thing has been holding me back from taking JD up on his offers to participate on his blog and its associated forums. I'm not sure I'm cut out for "getting rich" (no matter how slowly) in the manner that his most avid readers are likely to appreciate. I want to live fully, I want to live in a manner aligned with my beliefs, and I am not always appreciative of the supposed "savings" trumpeted by many of the converts to frugality who are so excited about the "savings" they experience by shopping at Wal*Mart or switching to generic diapers.

JD's site stays away from ethics and values when addressing personal finance. In fact, JD specifically stated "Iíve intentionally kept my political and religious leanings obscure at Get Rich Slowly ó they have no bearing on personal finance." One of his guest essayists took the opportunity to disagree and laid out why his Christian beliefs affect his approach to personal finances, which (although applying a different set of rules) has much in common with my feelings on reconciling ethics/values and money.

For example, I have posted several times this year about my feelings on big agribusiness and irresponsible corporate farming practices (check my post on Corn, for example). So when someone gives me advice to save money on food by watching for sales or using coupons at big national chain stores that exclusively offer meat that's been treated with growth hormones and antibiotics, fed industrial waste and by-products, and born/bred/slaughtered in ways that I consider to be suspect if not outright inhumane... well, that "savings" doesn't seem like something I want. Other things that I've done (such as my love affair with Flexcar and my lack of car ownership lo these last three and a half years) are not universally practical and of limited use to recommend to people who are more interested in saving a few bucks on generic disposable diapers than in giving up disposable diapers in favor of reusable (but "less convenient") cloth.

I go round and round with myself, wondering where I can or should draw the lines of my personal beliefs. Most of the time, I end up thinking of this awesome Cat and Girl cartoon, which is how I find myself feeling more often than I'd like:

I figure that's probably not the subject for an essay at a personal finance site, especially when the owner is out of the country and wouldn't like to come home to find the place burned to the ground.

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Home is where?

The other day someone made a comment over at Ex-Teenage Rebel that got under my skin. Considering that it's not even my blog and I don't know the commenter, I've given a little thought to why the commenter's jokey little comment bothered me.

In response to Pramas talking about our search for a decent falafel and Garlic King's failure to hold a candle to his favorite falafel joint in New York, "Scooter" busted out with a couple of stereotypical pot shots about not being native to Seattle, (where we're lectured that it's "pop" not "soda" and "I-5" not "the I-5" and how it's all the out-of-towners clogging up the roads for native Seattleites, blah blah). Just kidding, of course.

Shit like that bothers me, obviously. I react badly to that kind of native son snobbery and it only took a little thought for me to hit the deeper reason why. More than the us vs. them dynamic it sets up, which is the kind of thing that would predictably rub me the wrong way, if I buy into that logic I then become a person with NO HOME.

I was born in Minnesota, sure. I lived in tiny, remote little Ely, Minnesota until I was almost eight years old. However, I moved away as a child. I didn't put in my "time" enough to claim that I'm from Ely or that Ely is my home. It's certainly home-ish and important to me for those years and all the others when I returned for a week or two here and there for visits with friends and relatives. But those who were born and raised and continue to live in Ely, I'm an outsider. Little better than a tourist, unrecognizable to the population.

From the time I left Ely until the time I settled in Northfield mid-high school, I had no "home." I wasn't from anywhere. I lived in one place for a year, then on to another. Until junior high school I'd never gone to school in the same system with the same kids three years in a row. My mom eventually settled in Canby, Oregon and I lived there for three straight tumultuous years, but it's not my home either. No matter how many people I remember from high school or how many visits back I made to visit my mom and brother, Canby was a blip.

I recently had to put together and swear to my list of residences from the time I was born until the birth of my daughter. Because Kate was born in Canada, I'm having to jump through an impressive series of hoops to prove that she's really entitled to US citizenship. Though my citizenship is not (nor should it be) in question and I have a passport myself, getting Kate a passport has been a frustrating series of hurdles, including having to do things like prove that I actually lived in the United States before she was born. Laying out all of those different places of residence (and the implied challenge to my "legitimacy" that has underscored this whole process) has only served to inflame this sore spot that "Scooter" so unintentionally exacerbated. I lived in Minnesota for the first ten years of my life. I lived in Oregon for the next almost five years, in three different places. Back to Minnesota, where I spent seven years (with a brief sojourn to Georgia in the middle). A marriage and four years spent in Vancouver, BC. A divorce and a new life in Seattle ever since. Where is home?

I've lived in Seattle for a decade now. That's the longest I've lived in any one place, ever. Even the time spent in Minnesota was broken up by frequent moves. My dad had three different places while I was in high school and I lived in five different places once I moved out on my own in Northfield alone. By contrast, I've lived in Seattle proper for ten years and I've been in the region (if you count living in Vancouver, where I could watch the Seattle television stations and make frequent trips to the city) for even longer. I own a house in the city and have lived in it for seven years! If I don't make the cut, if I'm not a legitimate and accepted resident who can call Seattle home, then I don't have a home and never will. That's a pretty crappy prospect. Unlike my friends who chaffed and longed to get away from their families and their roots and their home towns, I've always wanted a home and a history to attach to it. I didn't start with the advantage that (as Bill Hicks might put it) my parents fucked in one spot and never left, so HOME is where I've built my own life, where I invest my energy, contribute to the community, where I've started my business, gotten married, bought my house, raise my child, create my happy memories. HOME is Seattle, no matter how many native sons want to throw down over who was here first, or longer, or more "legitimately."

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I've been struck by two powerful cravings today:

1) for a cigarette
2) for a bottle of red wine

It's probably for the best all around that I have neither, though I don't know if sticking to drinking black coffee is really ideal for my agitation.



Mellow Weekend

Pramas was sick all weekend and spent two days holed up in the bedroom so Kate and I had a pretty mellow couple of days. No Easter baskets this year, though Kate did color a dozen eggs or so. Kate and I went out to a showing of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which was way better than the rubber turtle suit movie from 1990. We got outside a bit to enjoy the spring sunshine with the bunnies and I managed to get the yard hacked down to HOA-approved levels before the rains started last night. I didn't do any cooking all weekend, unless you count throwing some frozen veggies, packaged udon and some tofu in a pot. Chris and I finally watched Oldboy, which I'd gotten him for Christmas. Yow, that movie is hardcore. I stayed off message boards and barely checked my e-mail. I helped Kate sort through outgrown clothes and books. Pretty mundane, nothing at all special, but I was able to knock a couple extra things off my To Do list so that's something.

I woke up with a headache and scratchy throat this morning but I just don't have time to be sick. Kate is off school all week on school break and she can't go to Canada to visit her dad until I get her passport situation sorted out (the responsibility for sorting that out lying entirely with me, of course).



Yesterday was not a good day

It started with the credit card charge/phone tree thing in the morning. Then, of course, there was the shooting across the street from Kate's school.

Yesterday we also found out that my father-in-law was admitted to the hospital for irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and dizziness and had unplanned (I don't know if it was truly "emergency") surgery to insert a pacemaker. Thankfully, the pacemaker looks like it may just clear up problems that my FIL has been struggling with for months. But that makes two mortality reminders in one day...

The capper on my evening happened while I was putting groceries away. Chris had started the dishwasher and suddenly I looked up to see water flowing everywhere from the sink vent! All over the counters and all over the floor. Then it stopped as the dishwasher cycled and I pulled the vent cap off to see what was up, *while* mopping the floor and counters, as Chris and Kate just sat there gaping. Jeez, get some towels or something! Completely overwhelmed, I didn't even *think* to, you know, STOP the dishwasher or anything... so, while I'm holding the vent cap in my hand trying to figure out what the heck is going on the dishwasher cycles again and a micky fricky geyser of dirty dishwasher water shoots a foot and a half into the air and all over everything while we bumbled around like the three stooges.

That last one is kinda funny in hindsight (especially since I was able to fix the issue) but I was SO ready for yesterday to be over.

Here's hoping today is better.



Lovely, quiet Sunday

Fell asleep on clean sheets last night and slept pretty well. I awoke with Eggs Beatrice on my mind, so while Pramas made coffee, I whipped up the rest of breakfast.

Kate and I played a little Viva Pinata together this morning. Technology continues to hate me, as my #2 garden that I was painstakingly grooming into a water garden (god but it takes forever to dig ponds) became corrupted and now crashes if I try to load it, so once again I had to start over but I managed to attract both the elusive Fizzly Bear and an Elephanilla to the new garden, which gave me massive experience points. Yay me.

Chris left for gaming at Tim's and Kate was invited to a friend's all afternoon and evening so I was able to mop the floor, watch three TiVo'd shows that neither of them would have been interested in, do a couple of loads of laundry, play with the bunnies, measure the back yard for the loose-laid brick patio I'm determined to install this year and think about that landscaping I've been meaning to do. Maybe this is finally the year for installing that raised bed down the sideyard. The house was quiet and smelled of Mrs. Meyer's Lavender and I was uninterrupted all afternoon. Bliss!

No worries about cooking for anyone so I had Scallop Chowder left over from last night. I feel awfully close to refreshed, though I'm greedy and wish for one more day just like today before the weekend comes to an end. Still, I'll take what I got because what I got was pretty darn good.

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1000th Post

Today I make the 1000th post to Nikchick.com. Back in January 2003 I decided to move my paper journaling habit to the electronic world of the blog. I have to admit that I've been struggling with how to approach this milestone. I really didn't want to look back and see that I'd spent my 1000th post on a Lord of the Rings character meme or detailing the contents of my refrigerator.

As seemingly arbitrary as milestones can sometimes be (why does the 3000th Iraq War casualty rise to consciousness more than the 2999th or the 3001st? Why is turning 30 or 40 or 50 a big deal, but 33, 44 or 55 less so?) I do think they play a role in focusing us. As long as we don't obsess, freak out, or instill the milestone with undue importance I think it's beneficial to recognize certain milestones and the 1000th post on Nikchick.com was one of those I felt some attachment to.

Often I've felt like I'm just drifting along, pulled along the flowing river of life, responding to things as they come up but never really getting out ahead of myself that much. On one hand, in theory at least, I can live in the here and now without pining for things that might be or becoming so entrenched on some pre-determined course that I miss other opportunities that present themselves. On the other hand, and certainly in practice, I run the risk of living unconsciously and without being active in determining the course of my life. Without a milestone, I am slack, I am lazy, I have no reason to strive.

And so I pondered what to write, how to recognize with some application of consciousness, that I have reached this milestone.

The blogging world is almost inexpressibly large. I keep abreast of happenings with friends and family through their blogs and they do the same with me. I rely on the free expression of politically passionate bloggers for news and analysis. I indulge my creativity in blogging communities for food, cooking, and crafting. I stimulate myself in ways that I could not otherwise achieve through other bloggers' jobs, friends, families, and travels. Expanding my world to embrace other bloggers challenges me in ways that I could not achieve in my daily life within my relatively small world.

Blogging has proven superior to pen and paper journaling for me. I am moved to try to write more frequently, even if it's just a short anecdote or a recipe update. My paper journal often suffered from my inattention during busy periods and then a long, rambling, inevitably incomplete "catch up" entry and promises to myself to do better in the future. I will often record things, such as funny exchanges with Kate, that I would never have taken the time to write down by hand in a journal. I am glad to have those snapshots, those brief moments recorded. I must also admit that the interactive aspects of the blog, the challenges from people who call me on my myopia or naivety, the comradery of people who understand my outbursts of frustration or discouragement or despair, the support and appreciation of those who read along and find something worthwhile in my words... it isn't exactly a dialog but the interaction is meaningful and, at important points, sustaining.

So. There it is. My 1000th post. This blogging thing is totally working for me so watch out for post 2000 sometime before Thanksgiving 2009.

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Not a Resolution

I don't do resolutions per se but as 2005 was coming to an end Chris and I agreed that we should be more active in trying to do things, with a goal of doing something together once a month. I suggested that the "doing" part should involve being active and out of our usual rut in some way. Going over to Ray and Christine's doesn't count because it's practically our second home, but going out with Evan and Rona would. Anything that involves needing to get directions before we can get there counts. The "things" part had just a couple of restrictions; it needed to be something unrelated to work and it had to be something we were doing together. Game convention? I do that for work... and we can go to one for fun but it doesn't put a check in the doing things box. Writer's workshop, film festival, musical performance, new restaurant? Now we're talking.

We did pretty well at this last year. Looking back on 2006:

January: We went to The Harvest Vine with Jess & Shelby.
February: We spent the weekend in Vancouver and tried out Feenie's for the first time.
March: We'd planned to go to Vegas but ended up sick, sick, sick. Went to see Anti-Flag.
April: I kidnapped Chris and we tried out new restaurants, including Vios and Sweet and Savory.
May: SIFF! Baby Gramps at the Can Can!
June: More SIFF!
July: We threw a Stormhoek Wine Party.
August: With GenCon, the AIDS Walk, a trip to see my grandma and Jess's birthday, we were plenty busy, though not always doing things together.
September: We did Bumbershoot this year for the first time.
October: Another busy month, but we managed to sneak in a viewing of American Hardcore and a Bouncing Souls show. Not bad.
November: We thought for the better part of a year we'd be in England. When that trip was abruptly canceled we spent a weekend in Portland instead.
December: We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island (fun!) and endured 36 hours with no power (less fun). Both qualify as "doing something" together, though.

For 2007 I'd like to up the ante a little and not necessarily count punk shows and restaurants. If the idea is to just have some sort of date-night together, those are perfectly enjoyable date-night venues. Ideally, I'd like to expand my horizons to include things like visiting the Olympic Peninsula, visiting some Pacific Northwest wineries, spending a weekend at the coast, and that kind of thing. We've already talked about maybe hitting the Bay Area in June or July in honor of Pramas' birthday and the launch of Pirates of the Burning Sea. To help get this continuing Not-Resolution off the ground in '07, I've made reservations (thanks to another crazy good deal from Hotwire) at a rather luxurious hotel in Vancouver for next month and I'm giving Gastropod serious consideration for our limited dining hours.




I have friends with kids who run the gamut from mildly challenged to profoundly gifted. Providing for these children in their lives, often where school is concerned, is of utmost importance to these parents and usually that involves some sort of "accommodation" from teachers or others in life.

Of course, some people hear the word accommodation and get a little freaky. Accommodation? Is that like special favors? A head start, reduced expectations, a cheat somehow? You'd better have a really good reason to need me to accommodate your "special needs," seems to be the attitude.

On the other hand, I have also seen people expecting a LOT. That's the way people are. Just like there are people who are innately suspicious and resistant to any deviation from so-called normal, there are people who can take the smallest issue and turn it into a fight that reeks of entitlement and overkill.

Tonight while I was doing the dishes I got to thinking about what a horrendous struggle it was to get me to do the dishes when I was a kid. I have what I guess today would be called "sensory issues". I've toughened up over the years (I no longer gag and nearly vomit at the smell of a wet peanut butter, from a knife dropped in the dish water for example) and perhaps some of my senses have just dulled as I've aged. When I was a kid, though, I was extremely sensitive. The moms I know would have called me a "sock seam kid"--the kid who is driven to distraction because he can feel the seam at the end of his sock if it's not lined up precisely or who screams and cries over a small thing like a shirt tag (which he swears is sewn in with fishing line and feels like it's "stabbing" him). For me, the feel of the dirty dish water, with gathering grease and all the smells of wet food and little particles floating around... well it made the already kind of unpleasant chore of washing the dishes utterly unbearable. (Even now, describing it here in writing sends a shudder of revulsion up my spine.)

As an adult in my own home, especially as someone who likes to cook, I had to get over this issue. As I contentedly washed the dishes tonight, I realized that I haven't so much gotten over my sensitivities (though I have learned to choke back a lot more things as an adult than I could as a kid). I've made accommodations for myself: I buy strongly scented dish detergent and use a lot of it (lavender is my current favorite) and I wear rubber gloves.

That's it. Two small, easily accomplished, relatively insignificant accommodations. I know my limits and triggers and I work around them. Dyslexics learn to use spell-checkers, ADHD kids use fidget toys, I buy seamless socks, tagless shirts, and wash the dishes with rubber gloves on. Sometimes little things can make a life-changing difference. Not everyone who asks for their quirks and differences to be accommodated expects those accommodations to be huge, expensive, inconvenient intrusions and I'm a little sad to know that so many people believe otherwise.




M. was arrested for drunk driving. She's not a dumb woman, but she keeps doing dumb things. This isn't the first time, but I really, really hope it will be the last. M. is important to me and I fear what will happen to her if she doesn't straighten things out.

I hate to write about it, because I don't want to add to the trouble she's having. I care about M. and on one hand I'm mad at her for letting this happen. On the other hand, I can't deny any longer that she's got a serious drinking problem. I've joked before about functional alcoholics, those who drink to excess, but who don't harm anyone or endanger others by driving or miss work because of their drinking. Getting arrested for DUI (more than once!) is not "functional."

She's definitely going to lose her driver's license for this infraction. I would hope the courts would have her attend AA or some other alcohol treatment, but it didn't seem to do any lasting good the other time, if they did. I fear she might spend time in jail. Since she's always on the brink of financial disaster at the best of times, I worry about what spending time in jail would mean for her job, her financial situation, her ability to live... It's terribly depressing for me to contemplate.

Most grim, in my mind, is that her companion is an enabler of the worst sort. M. needs to stay out of bars, not keep alcohol in the house, not surround herself with people who drink, routinely and to excess. Her companion does not support those efforts. Without that kind of commitment and the support of her partner, I don't see how M. can avoid the downward spiral of repeat offenses and self-destructive, addictive behavior.

She's occasionally turned to me for help in these situations. I've tried to be supportive without being enabling. It's difficult. I don't feel equipped for this.

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WedCon is ON!

Ever since my barely-post-September-11 wedding, I've been talking about having a West Coast Reception. We've lovingly dubbed this reception WedCon, part wedding reception, part gaming convention.

It's taken us two years to get things properly organized, but I'm pleased to say that as of now, WedCon I is on the schedule. If people come and have fun, there could certainly be WedCon II or WedCon III in the future.

I put the deposit on the New Holly gathering hall today. Finally, I'll get to cater my own reception. I'm beside myself. What fun.

Chris is pleased, I'm sure, because we'll have a captive audience for games for at least the 5 hours that we have the hall. We may decide to have the party go on at our house into the following day, haven't decided the details yet. It's nice to have something fun and personal to look forward to, since so much of my attention is sucked up by the upcoming convention season and concerns for the business.

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Man from my past

Browsing weblogs through links at Foldedspace.org, I happened across a link for an elementary school in my former hometown. I'd never heard of this school, so, curious, I clicked around for more information and what do you know: the principle of this elementary school is the same, hateful Vice-Principle who helped make my life a living hell when I was in 7th and 8th grade, at the recently mentioned Ackerman Junior High.

Mike Zagyva. The name still makes me feel vaguely sick to my stomach.



My Friend J.D.

I have no clear memory of meeting J.D.. I moved around enough as a kid that I'm able to narrow it down to a specific window of opportunity, but I have no recollection of a moment when we met and I became aware of him as a person, or took note of his place in my universe.

It may very well have been when I was a Freshman at Canby Union High School , probably involving the speech team or the school literary magazine, Patina. JD was a grade ahead of me, so while I might have known of him in a general way when I was in the 7th grade at Ackerman Junior High (now Ackerman Middle School) I didn't know him personally that far back.

I moved to Canby the summer after I graduated 6th grade at a grade school in nearby Oregon City. The only things of note that came from Oregon City are Tonya Harding and the unfortunate murders of two young girls at an apartment complex very near one of the houses my family rented back in the day. Oregon City was on a traditional school year system, with 9 months on and about 3 months off during the summer. I moved to Canby just before I would have had to attend classes at Moss Junior High, where a group of older, tougher girls had already warned me I was "dead meat" as soon as I showed my face.

Canby was on this wacky year-round "track" system, the first time I had ever encountered such a thing. Kids attended K-4 in one school building, then moved to another school for grades 5-6, all classes running on one of three "tracks" that were a few weeks on, then a week or two off, throughout the school year. I'd never heard of such a thing, but it did mean that when we were all thrown together into the junior high for grades 7-8, there were plenty of kids who didn't know each other because they'd been on different tracks or what have you. For grades 7-8 and then through all high school, the school year ran on the same traditional system I was used to.

During my years in Canby, I was attending Canby Christian Church and active in their youth group. JD had been raised Mennonite, but at the time I met him he was loosening his religious views. I dragged him off to some youth group rally or other once, where he later admitted to me that the evangelical bent of the evening hadn't meshed well with his "conservative Mennonite views" (a phrase I remember him using, mostly because I was having trouble understanding for myself what it meant to have "conservative Mennonite views"). We have both since completely moved away from that sort of religious lifestyle, but there was definitely a time when my life revolved around getting to Sunday school on time and being allowed to go to the next Petra concert. I can still sing the chorus of Not By Sight. JD was one of the people from that time with whom I felt comfortable with when it came to having heartfelt talks about the mysteries of a person's spiritual life and developing code of morals and ethics.

JD and I, along with another friend, Mitch Sherrard, wrote like fiends and exchanged poetry on a regular basis. JD was the best poetic talent of the three of us, with a best vocabulary and the willingness to try out many different poetic styles. I remember him as alternately serious and almost pretentious about writing as a craft and his writing in particular on one hand, and a sweetly tender, goofy, girl-crazy boy brimming over with affection for the world.

Mitch was like JD's dark counter-part in our trio. Mitch's father had died before we became friends, and Mitch was struggling with many of the typical dark issues of teenhood: alienation, loneliness, feelings of uncertainty and loss. Mitch's poetry was often dark, brooding, cynical, and then surprisingly sensitive and vulnerable when you'd least expect it.

My poetry was the rawest of the three, which I attribute to my relative youth and utter lack of life experience. I was always cooking up some melodramatic, angsty, thing and always shot to include a "message" or overt moral statement. Oh how I cringe looking over some of those masterpieces of modern teen poetry.

I have a wonderful photo of the two of them clowning for the camera outside the High School sometime in the winter of the '84-'85 school year (or so I assume because of the visible patches of snow). Aside from yearbook photos, it may be the only remaining snapshot I have of either of them.

JD and I have reconnected over the last few months, thanks to the blessed wonder of the Internet. I visit his blog regularly and he has been kind enough to visit and comment at mine as well. It's been fantastic to see how JD, the boy I knew, has become JD, the familiar-yet-different man. Wonderful wonderful technology that allows us to reconnect after so long, and across so many hundreds of miles.

JD is having knee surgery tomorrow (technically today, I suppose). It's a bit more serious than the typical, minor, orthoscopic surgery and he has dibs on all my best, most healing thoughts until he recovers. I'd appreciate it if the rest of you who swing by Nikchick.com could keep him in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery as well.

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Beautiful Mother's Day

The weather was just lovely yesterday. Kate, Chris, and I joined Charles and Tammie for brunch (and to hand off the money we owed them for sales of Charles' excellent Ultramodern Firearms D20 book).

My present to myself was to drop Kate and Chris off at home and then go out shopping by myself for several hours. We needed a few office supplies, and talking with Charles and Tammie has spurred me to go out and get a replacement for our terribly unreliable cordless phone. I also stopped at Cost Plus World Market and picked up some goodies like a Bodum Iced Tea Brewer for $9.99. Score! Treated myself to a couple off counted cross-stitch kits and miscellaneous items at the Michael's next door.



One thing after another

Woke and fed Kate. Talked to her father on the phone about some school issues. Drove Kate to school. Stopped at Starbucks for a nonfat latte. Drove to Renton to check the PO Box. Gave $1 to "homeless" couple on expensive bikes, for which they were blatantly ungrateful (having accosted me outside of the post office and having seen that I also had $10, which I flatly refused to give them). Told woman I did not have any sanitary pads or tampons on me, sorry. Drove to Costco, lusted over the high definition tvs. Bought giant box of cheddar cheese Quakes. Drove to Arvey, picked up a great whack of more padded envelopes and cardboard mailers. Returned home, answered e-mail. Made a ham and cheese omlette for lunch, with Omega-3 enriched, free-range and organic eggs. Finally cut the grass and weeds in the front yard. Filled a gigantic stack of mail orders. Tore the house apart looking for the stack of return address labels I'd recently printed. Found Chris's missing Banewarrens book (so we can actually play on Thursday). Removed the bird's nest that industrious birds built on top of my back porch light (right beside the back door). Put together yet more packages for people who need products of ours for one reason or another.

I'm absolutely worn out, and still have to wash clothes (it's become desperate) and help Kate with her homework. Several number crunchy projects await my attention, but I have no brain for them tonight.

For now, Buffy.



More headache

Have a headache today. Very grumpy. Woke up well, but found a note from Kate's teacher requesting a conference about her behavior. She's not a bad kid, but she is over-sensitive and dramatic and breaks down in tears over some little thing every single day at school, sometimes multiple times a day. Her teachers have become very concerned and it's clear that my theory of letting her mature and make friends over this year has not worked. Made an appointment with her pediatrician for an evaluation. Not much else I can do until that's out of the way.

Spent the afternoon making oxtail stew, but now that it's finished, Kate doesn't want any and I feel sick from the headache. Woohoo. I hope it's good when I have some tomorrow.

Broke up a fight with some neighborhood immigrant teens who were screaming at each other and threatening to start throwing rocks in front of my house. My rep as the crazy/annoying neighbor lady remains intact. I told them that I didn't care who called whose mama a bitch, they were going to disperse in separate directions or I was calling the police. They were nearly old enough that my adultness didn't intimidate them, but backed up by the police threat, they finally left. Probably best for my temper that I don't speak whatever language they were screaming in, or I'm sure I would have heard a few choice descriptions of myself as well.

Going to lay down until this headache goes away.

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I Win!

After about 2 minutes in the Mitigation courtroom, the judge had ruled in my favor on the "unlicensed vehicle" issue and additionally knocked the parking fine down from $25 to $5. I'd been willing to pay for my mistake on the parking issue, but I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth either. Yay! Far less painful than I feared it would be. The judge clearly didn't want to hear a bunch of whining (and after hearing about 30 seconds of the story the guy before me was telling, I couldn't blame him! I was sick of it after mere moments. That job would drive me batty).

On the other hand, my visit to the Post Office was far *more* painful than I thought it would be. I wasted a good 35 minutes there, standing in line and listening to the somewhat unnerving Mumbly Guy who sometimes works the counter mumble to himself while he worked over my thirty-odd mail order packages. He's never been anything but nice when I 've seen him, but man, he still gives me the creeps.

While in line, people behind me were complaining about the wait and the slow service. "If this were privatized, the line would be moving faster," I heard one woman grouse to someone. Am I the only person left in the world who doesn't think privatization and deregulation are the cure for everything? Sure, the line might move faster, but I have no doubt the service would plummet and the cost would sky-rocket. Profit-conscious investors would constantly be under pressure to net more and there are very few ways to do that: pay the workers less and charge the customer more are two of the most popular. No thanks.

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Traffic Court

Tomorrow morning I have a date with traffic court. While in Renton, I parked in a one-hour space for a meeting that actually ran more like 90 minutes. Sure enough, I was ticketed by the time I rushed back to my car. Boo! But worse, I was also cited for not having up-to-date license tabs on my car, the fine for which was double the parking fine! Ironically, I was parked half a block away from the Department of Licensing, and I was able to go over there and get a print-out of my records, showing that I had, indeed, paid for my tabs some six weeks before receiving the ticket.

Armed with this evidence, I waltzed myself over to the Renton City Hall to try to take care of the situation right away. I was certainly willing to accept my guilt at parking over-time (much as it's irritating) but I was not so willing to just take it in the behind on the no tabs fine when I could easily prove I'd paid the tabs on my car! Of course, because I was dealing with the government, nothing was as easy as all that. No, I had to enter a plea, and they scheduled me for a court date. I wouldn't have picked April Fool's Day as the day for my court appearance (I can be superstitious that way) but it was not up to me.

Tomorrow I go down to Renton City Hall, once again armed with my evidence. It will undoubtedly be a waste of time. I predict I will have to wait a good long time for my turn, only to have the whole thing resolved one way or another in less than five minutes. Either they're going to accept the proof from the department of licensing, or they're going to say tough titty. Probably completely at the whim of the presiding judge.

Fingers crossed that I get my way on the matter!




I've been pondering the seemingly inherent gentleness of Fred Rogers this week. I've always wished that I was able to naturally be kind and gentle, calm, nurturing, whatever you want to call it. I have a tender heart but that's not the same thing. Fred Rogers saw people throwing pies at each other on television and was disgusted enough to make it his life's work to do something better.

Instead, I've always been jangly, edgy, feisty, inflamed. My mother shielded me from as much of the world's ugliness as she could, but everyone opens their eyes eventually. When I saw what was around me, I was overwhelmed by the wrongness of people. I used my anger as a weapon to beat back what I could; I defended my junior high school friends from bullies, I wrote impassioned letters to the head of the corporation that sold my favorite sports team, often I just yelled "It's not fair!!" or "Why would someone do something like that?!" and I spent a lot of time in tears. If I've had a motto, it's been "You want a fight, I'll give you a fight!" I am not a calming influence by nature and for most of my life I have believed that you can't affect change without being passionate and behaving like a wildfire or a volcano, changing the landscape of your life.

I know I'm getting older, and I hope I'm getting wiser. Fred Rogers is evidence that you can change the landscape of your life without raging around. He tended his landscape like a gardener, planting the seeds of change and tending their growth. My self is so familiar as the confrontational wild woman, I haven't the first idea how to be otherwise. I've spent a good deal of my life wishing I could remake myself only to find that I am essentially the same as I ever was. I appreciate all the more the people who have, for whatever reason, the right internal make up to flex a higher moral character and undertake (and succeed at) such meaningful endeavors.

Shit, I really need to find something to do with myself that doesn't have anything to do with the game industry. Releasing the latest book of big, bad, icky monsters for your half-elven ranger and his party of intrepid heroes to slay is just not spiritually uplifting or morally significant, even if it has paid the bills.




I used to be fascinated with the timing of seemingly random events, coincidence, synchronicity. Like when you're thinking of an old friend you haven't heard from in years only to receive a card or a phone call or an e-mail from them, or see their name in the paper. For a while in my twenties, after years of being very aware of the common thread running through an experience or feeling deja vu frequently, I stopped noticing. The mundane became truly mundane, synchronicity wasn't something popping into my consciousness as I went about my life.

Last night I watched Network on DVD. I hadn't seen the movie since I was a kid, too young to really "get" the film in any meaningful way. For those who aren't familiar with Network, it's a fantastic film and creepily close to what we see now with the advent of Reality TV, modern shock talk shows, and "extreme" everything. If you've every heard anyone quip, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" it comes from this movie. Several times over the coarse of the show, the mad prophet anchor tells people to get up, throw open their windows, stick their heads out, and scream that line or another in the same vein.

Anyway, the DVD ends and as I'm ejecting the disc, the last 5 minutes of whatever was on the Food Network pops up on the screen. Happens to be an episode of Good Eats with our favorite theater-major-turned-food-guru, Alton Brown. It was an episode I'd never seen before, something about coleslaw. The episode draws to a close, and one of the other actors (Good Eats uses a lot of skits and actors as hapless food buffoons to give Brown a stage from which to share his particular quirky brand of cooking savvy) asks if Alton has anything else he wants to say. Sleepily, I click to attention as I hear him say, "Well, yes. I want you all to go to your windows, throw them open, stick your heads out and yell [something something something... I think the cartoon sound of my head whipping around as I did my double take drowned out exactly what he was saying]... I want SLAW!"

A younger Nikchick would have been convinced this was a sign of *something* to come. The older Nikchick merely took note and delighted in the strange, entertaining event, and toddled off to bed.

I woke up to find that on the right hand, the Chair of an organization I volunteer for just made a major, last-moment decision to significantly alter an event in progress, and that decision is mightily unpopular with volunteers, administrators, and participants alike. Major shit-storm to ensue in T-minus 3, 2, 1. Hoorah.

On the left hand, I was asked to step into an Executive Committee position with another organization where I serve as a volunteer as the position is being vacated after (as near as I can tell) a series of rather unpleasant personal interactions between a member of the board and one or more of the organization's key staff members. Half of me feels that I should step up and help the organization in any way I can, the other half of me wants to scream that I've had enough of their stupid bickering and they can all go to hell in a hand basket for all I care. I have no doubt this situation will cause no end of chaos with the organization and it reminds me why I hate politics so deeply. Anyone wanting to enact even the most benign change, to pursue some ideal for the common good, is pulled down to roll around in the mud and suffer for their good intentions. It's enough to make a person want to pack it in, I swear.

Definitely looking forward to my "girls' weekend away" in San Diego at the end of this week.

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Cocktail Party and Thoughts on Life

The cocktail party is on for tomorrow night. Technically "tonight" since the date clock has advanced, but there is still a "night's" sleep between me and it, so I continue to think of what tomorrow brings. If tonight's sleep is anything like last night's sleep, I will be greeting the sun before insomnia finally stops kicking my ass and I get a little shut eye. Ah well, all the better to party the night away, I suppose. Kate is safely ensconced in Canada for the weekend with her dad, so at least once I fall asleep I can stay asleep for a while. Several people waited to the last minute to RSVP, so my attendee list doubled today, but I've come to expect that from our group of friends.

My weekend agenda includes going to the store to pick up last minute items (like fresh bread) and to fill out our stock of alcohol and mixers. I spent an hour putting together a dozen or so wine charms while watching Law and Order tonight. I was inspired to do that after seeing ljc's Shrinky Dink wine charms. They came out pretty well. I used a bunch of wacky charms and buttons from the bead-craft aisle at Michaels, because I'm no artist. Just taking on this small project reminded me of how much I really love little crafty projects.

For part of high school I lived in rural Minnesota, in a small old farmhouse that my dad rented. It was surrounded on all sides by corn fields and held a great old barn that was now completely unused but not yet falling into total ruin. My dad fits well in rural Minnesota, taking pleasure in duck and pheasant hunting, fishing and ice fishing, maybe playing golf or softball in the summer. Long, cold, dark winter nights never bothered him much, but I took up crafting to pass the time. If we'd had the internet back then, I suppose I would have spent time online and the world might not have seemed so close and quiet; I don't recall even having cable TV at the farmhouse, though I did go into "town" often to watch TV or listen to records with my boyfriend who lived within the four square blocks that make up the city of Dundas. I passed the time in Canada when I was living up there with no authorization to work or go to school, by cross-stitching a huge, ambitious jungle scene, 12" x 12". As a relative novice, I should have been much more daunted by the undertaking. Instead, I threw myself into the effort and came away with a really lovely finished piece. I gave it to my then in-laws for their young son. I haven't seen that boy since he was in pre-school, and since they're no longer my in-laws, I doubt I'll ever see them (or the cross-stitch) again.

I was raised in the I'm Ok, You're Ok era and it was made clear to me from a very early age that I could "be" anything I wanted to be. Not that I could "do" anything I wanted to do, but *BE* anything. I could *be* a fire fighter or an astronaut or a doctor or the President of the United States. The message I took from that teaching was that what you do is who you are, and that if you weren't *doing* something Very Important then YOU weren't very important. Being a homemaker was something the adult women of my youth were struggling to leave behind, it was a punishment, a waste of a woman's potential. Those close to me have heard me lament more than once that I don't have a calling, that there's nothing I'm better at than anything else, that I don't know what to "do" with myself. A large part of that is definitely because of my childhood belief that what you do is who you are, and you'd better not waste that potential, girl! The question of what I want to do is intimately wrapped up in who I want to be.

The honest truth is that I enjoy homemaker pursuits more than any other profession I've tried (or considered). Not saying that I want to sit home watching soap operas and playing bridge, but I do so love to cook and decorate and organize. I'm not crazy about cleaning, but I'm a lot more enthused about it at 33 than I have ever been before. That "you can do anything" upbringing means I'm not merely hosting cocktail parties, but I'm there and involved in every aspect of the care of my home. I installed our garage door opener. I've assembled and installed every shelving unit, rack, or utility device in the house. I've purchased the computer stations, the desks, the tools. I fix the blown fuses, replace the light bulbs, keep the dust buster charged, defrost the fridge, fix the leaky pipes, hang curtains and put up wall paper. I know the recycling and garbage pick-up schedules, I mow the lawn, trim the trees, put up and take down the Christmas lights. It would be quite a reward to be able to do that work as my only work, to be in charge of running the house.

Each time I plan one of these little soirees, I can't help reflecting on how much I enjoy those typical homemaker, house-wife pursuits, right down to selecting plushy hand towels and matching decorative soaps, or making wine charms, or cross-stitching some elaborate pillow cover. God, am I really saying that I want to be Martha Stewart? There's a horrifying thought to send me off to dream-land!

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I was going to have a nice, long, introspective post this morning. That's what I intended.

Instead, I had to venture out into the wet back yard in my pajamas to help my daughter open the back gate. The latch has rusted and takes more brute force to open than she's capable of inflicting. She'd been struggling with it for several minutes before I realized she was still out there and not at the bus stop.

Now my feet are wet and my child has missed her bus and instead of curling up for some coffee and some journal-writing, I'm off to drive her to school. Work will be demanding my attention by the time I return.





I have kept an irregular journal since I was 10 years old. I've used it more as a way to find my voice than as a tool for noting important events; in fact, it has often been the case that my journal contains no entries for important events at all, but plenty of observation of the mundane details of my life.

The creation of this weblog is my attempt to move that paper journal into the modern era. My attempts at starting this online journal are every bit as clumsy as my first childish entries in my first blank paper journal. I hope it results in the same degree of personal delight as well.