Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

There is a commercial right now, for insurance I believe, that talks about easier ways to save money. In this particular commercial a guy is trying to save money on a diet plan by having local popular middle school girls follow him around and pass judgment on him every time he eats. In the commercial the three girls respond to everything he eats by disdainfully saying "eww" and "That's so gross" and "Really?". Effectively the guy doesn't eat anything. 

The commercial is amusing. I am not really sure it is effective at selling car insurance, but hey it does its job because I remembered the product. Only the thing I take away from the commercial has nothing to do with insurance at all. In fact all I can think of after watching the commercial is how I sort of want to slap those girls for being obnoxious judgmental brats, and praying my theoretical daughters are never like that.

Here is the problem though, my daughters will be like that. Well not exactly like that, because I would like to think my children would have better vocabulary than those girls, but the harsh judgmental thinking is going to be there. Even if I manage to raise sweet kind and friendly children who make those girls look like the vapid shrews they are, they are still going to judge other people. They might not express it out loud in such a format, but the thoughts will be there.

Lets just admit it right here and now; we all judge people. I do it and I am not terribly proud of it all the time, but I still do it. You do it too. It might not all be huge damning judgments about peoples faiths or lifestyle choices, it might just be something little like the brand of pasta sauce the woman in front of you is buying, or the volume of music that guy in the next car is using, or the type of perfume the women in the next cube is drenched in, but the thoughts are there.

I think that judgment is natural to humans. I think perhaps it is almost as easy for us as breathing is. There is something hard wired in our brains to make us compare ourselves to others and then judge them for the differences. Of course this is so wrong on so many levels.

We can never accurately judge another person. The problem is that all of our personal judgments or formed through our own personal perceptions, which are formed by our own unique lives and upbringings, so no one else is ever going to truly match up to what we think they should be.

Even if you share the same faith and socio-economic background as another person, there is going to be something that you judge one another on. It might be something stupid like laundry detergent, but it will be there.

I get the brunt of other peoples judgment much more often than I would like to admit. Being pagan sort of puts a big old target on me for other peoples thoughts. They, much like the popular girls in the insurance commercial, have no problems voicing their opinions on my choice in faith. Also much like the popular girls their vocabulary is really lacking and unimaginative.

Thankfully over the years I have learned to let these statements sort of slide off my back. I tell myself that they think they mean well and just sort of move on. I would be lying though if I said that some of the hateful things that are said don't hurt a little.

I have someone very close to me who is suffering from some fairly serious mental problems just now. There is some bad depression, anxiety and panic disorders, as well as severe OCD. One of the things they said was that they were afraid people would think they were crazy or weak if they knew what they were going through.

In their mind they didn't think anyone would understand that they had to do these crazy OCD rituals, were absolutely driven to do it by a compulsion, or else they would break down. They saw it that any rational person would say it wasn't really a problem. A rational person would say if they wanted to stop they just would.

Of course a rational person would think that. I have watched the TLC specials on OCD and thought to myself that I just didn't understand why they couldn't stop. I don't understand it, because I have never been controlled by such compulsions. Just because I don't understand it though doesn't mean I don't believe it is a real problem. I know it is a real problem.

Still there will be people who judge them. There will be people who say that they are making it up, or should just get over it, or any number of stupid things. They will judge this person, and they will say it out loud, and the only thing they will accomplish is making things worse.

I guess in the end what I can hope for in my theoretical daughters and sons is that they know that they should keep those judging thoughts to themselves because they will never know what is going on in the other persons life. Just because their faith might say working on Sunday is evil, for all they know is that the person they are thinking that about would think that they are evil for going dancing on Saturday night. Just because in our family we don't eat salt because of severe high blood pressure, that person might have perfect blood pressure and can eat all the salt they like.

I guess what I am saying is this; judge because you will, but keep an open mind that you could easily be wrong. Also keep it to yourself. Saying your judgments out loud is a really rotten thing to do. If you wouldn't want to hear what everyone else thinks of your choices, then they won't want to hear your opinion on their choices either.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Never quite enough

I really do love the things that I do in my life that make my life so completely full. What I don't particularly love about this is that my life is so completely full. Sometimes I think that is an exaggeration of the truth, but others I am not so sure I am that far off.

Every season when faire starts up I know I am going to lose time. I lose spare time on the weekends, and I lose a lot of free time on my week nights. There are always things to do for faire. There are costumes to be made, there are shows to rehearse, there is research to be done, there is mentoring newbies, there are projects to prepare, and any other number of fun extras or a last moment crisis or ten to attend to. Add all of this into my regular 8 to 5 job, household duties, and extra curricular activities, and that really is a recipe for no time at all.

This morning as I was sitting at my desk reading through all of the blog entries I missed over the weekend I realized my normal 30 minute morning email and blog routine had taken almost an hour and a half. How did I get so back logged over just one weekend? Don't most of the blogs I follow only update during the week? At least I am not playing catch up on webcomics I read as well.

After my longer than normal morning routine I went about planning my day. There is of course work, but then I have a trip to the gym I want to make, plus stopping at the grocery store for some various sundry items like bread and laundry soap, then home to clean the kitchen and cook dinner, prep lunches for the week, do some laundry and pick up the clutter that is starting to overwhelm the house since we have weekly game night on Tuesday plus a dinner with friends on Wednesday. That is a lot for one night.

This is about the time I remembered I need to pattern a shirt tonight since Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be eaten up by social events. I looked at the list and decided something would have to go. I had already decided that there would be no TV tonight, so what else could I cut?

Cleaning and grocery shopping are a must, and we have to eat so it is cooking since I am trying to avoid take out. So the gym will be sacrificed tonight. I am beginning to remember why it is so easy to gain weight during faire season. 

In fact I am realizing it is a foregone conclusion that until I have at least finished making all of the costuming for this year that things like the gym and TV may be completely out of the question. My poor DVR is going to explode. I can also see that there will be a lack of sleep in my near future, not that that is so unusual for me.

I have to say though it is all worth it. Faire really is one of those things that I love so very much, that a few sleepless nights, and being desperately behind on my favorite TV show is well worth it. It is easy to make sacrifices for things that you love.

I just feel lucky that I have a reason to make sacrifices.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Faces from the past

One of the side effects of going to a funeral is that you have to see people you have not seen in a very long time. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes not such a good thing. In the case of my grandmothers funeral I was mostly seeing people that were in my church growing up and only really remember me as a little girl in ruffly dresses.

I really can't say I had much to say to them any more than they had anything to say to me. The conversation for the most part was kept to condolences and very polite mundane chit chat. This was probably for the best on multiple levels. For one thing it was a funeral and I have never really been clear on what is appropriate conversation for such an event. I mean you want to catch up, but at what point has this suddenly become inappropriately social?

Also there is the general fact that my grandmothers church friends probably would not take well to who I grew up to be. I am not that little girl who helped the ushers, worked in the church nursery and kitchen, helped run childrens church, and was an acolyte. I doubt I turned out anything like they expected or find acceptable. My not being Christian alone would freak them right the hell out and they would never even get to my weird hippy liberal hobbies and lifestyle.*

After I got home I started thinking about the people I used to know. Not necessarily these women from church when I was little, but more so of people who actually mattered to me. My friends from high school and even from college. People who meant the world to me that now I barely know anything about.

I wonder am I the person they remember or thought I would be today? Or would I be to them like I am to those church ladies; some sort of unrecognizable stranger. The same goes for them. Are they who I remember? Are they who I thought they would be or have they grown and changed so much we wouldn't know what to do if plopped in front of one another.

So of course I did what any normal person of this time would do; I facebook stalked some former friends. Now its true that I already have basically been doing this with a  number of people. I have them friended, I watch their updates, wish them a happy birthday, and am basically a voyeur in their lives. That doesn't really make us friends though.

There was one guy though that I have been thinking about for years. No not like that! There was never anything even remotely romantic between us. I simply never thought of him that way. For one thing he was younger than me, back in high school when such things mattered, and for another I always saw him sort of like a little brother or even like, contain your shock, my kid. Plus I was a stupid teenage girl and was totally obsessed with any number of other guys during that time.

Looking back on it I think we were pretty close back then. I can remember at the theater banquet during my senior year, at the end when we had done a final good show circle**, we broke off and he was the first person I hugged. I was of course sobbing and so was he. I remember how tight we hugged each other and how it lasted so long. I know it was not just in my mind because there were other people waiting to hug me and they started to look awkward like maybe they were seeing something that they shouldn't see.

It wasn't like that was the last day I would ever see him. We had at least a week of school left plus we were both going on the theater trip to New York that summer and would be spending over a week together there. Still I think both of us knew that this was it. After school ended and after the trip we would probably never see each other again. It allowed us to enjoy the last few weeks because we had already said goodbye.

Of course that was a logical thought. It was before Facebook or MySpace or anything else. I was all internet crazy already, but he wasn't. There was no real way for us to keep up with me in college far from home. And we didn't.

I am pretty sure I haven't seen him since we got back from that trip to New York. When our high school director died a few years later he couldn't come back for the funeral, so I didn't even get to see him then. I have tried over the last few years to track him down on MySpace and then Facebook, but never could seem to find him. It was like he was resisting the social media age with all of his might.

So having been thinking about him again I tried one last time. Searching his name did not immediately yield any results as his name is pretty common. He had a brother with a less common name though, so I searched for him. Low and behold there was his brother. The beauty of friends lists soon led me to what I was looking for. Him.

Now it seems I was right. His profile was sparse and his wall was empty. It looks like in the two years he has had the account he has done little more than making the account. Still it is there. I took a chance and sent him a friends request.

I am not sure I will get a response or even if I want to. I have no idea what to expect from him. I know he probably isn't that kid I loved so much all those years ago, but I can't believe that he is totally gone. I don't even know if he wants to dredge me up again.

If he responds that would be great. It would be nice to catch up and get to know him again. If not then that will be fine as well. We said goodbye that night after the good show circle, and sometimes being able to say goodbye really is enough.

* I wouldn't actually call myself a hippy or a liberal, but these women certainly would. 

** We had a tradition of doing a good show circle before every show, and then one last one at the end of year banquet. It gave everyone the opportunity to make a goodbye speech if they wanted. Very emotional.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Writers Campaign Challenge!

So the first challenge in the writers building campaign is here, and I am really excited to participate in it. My writing isn't really something I have posted to my blog in the past, nor something I had ever really planned on putting here, but seriously when have I ever stuck to the plan?

So the challenge was for a short story/flash fiction in 200 words or less that starts with the phrase 'Shadows crept across the wall'. There was the added challenge of using the word orange, writing in your style, and using exactly 200 words. I managed 200 words exactly as well as keeping this well within my style.

That phrase immediately made me think of something spooky and ominous, which with my recent state of mind with my grandmothers death was not really a good place for me to go. I don't want to write about death just now. It took me a while to make myself move away from the utterly morbid.

I am however very happy with what I did come up with. I always find flash fiction to be hard since getting in a story and the imagery I like to use under the word count is so hard to do. What can I say I get wordy. I hope you enjoy.*

Shadows crept across the wall as the dark form of a man crossed in front of the moonlit window. Anne sat on a rickety stool in the middle of the room staring at the cold stone floor hidden beneath dead leaves.
“You are late.” She said with annoyance to the man as he entered the abandoned goat hovel.
“Bloody geese attacked me.” he grumbled scowling back to where he had come from.
“Do you have it?” she asked with impatience, obviously not caring about his excuses.
He produced from his pouch a piece of parchment with a hawk imprinted in the red wax seal. He began to extend it to her but then hesitated,“And this will settle our accounts?”
Pressing her lips together she nodded “Your secret is safe.”
With this assurance he handed her the letter which she took and pressed to her lips momentarily. It still smelled of the sea.
He did not wait for her to dismiss him, nor did she watch him as he skulked back into the night. The only mind she had was for the words that awaited her in the letter, reminding her that she was not truly alone.

* If you enjoyed it you can go over to Rach Writes and vote for me by clicking the like button by my link. I am #75.

Secret Cupid Exchange

So as I mentioned a few weeks ago I participated in a Secret Cupid Exchange hosted on one of my favorite blogs.

I really had so much fun planning the gift that I sent to the person I received. It was difficult because I had pretty much no information to go on. My person had no blog to stalk check out, and she didn't list any likes or dislikes on the form, so I was just working on the fact that we both are cheeseblarg fans.

I took this one fact very much to heart when choosing what I stuffed in her package. I ran my ideas by most of my friends, who thought my idea was brilliant and hilarious. Of course they are my friends for a reason so maybe they weren't the best judges on whether or not my idea was appropriate for a perfect stranger.

What I ended up sending my person was simple. First she got a bag of mixed Godiva chocolate truffles. Chocolate is always a good idea, and I got the good stuff. I also, in sticking with a valentines day theme, got her flowers. Ok so it was one of those little grow your own posies things, but I couldn't think of how else to send flowers to New York on my incredibly limited budget.

I know you are right now thinking that this isn't weird or anything like that. It sounds sort of generic, and well at this point you would be right. It is only the last thing I sent that qualifies this present as either hilarious and cool or kind of creepy and inappropriate. I am hoping for the former.

It's so cute for being a disease.
I sent my person the kissing disease. That's right I sent them mono for Valentines Day. I figured it was more polite than giving her the clap, and the common cold is just so, well common. Plus the only other disease that sounded Valentines like was Heart Worms and those are just creepy looking (and you can only get them from dogs, which I am not).

So that was what I sent my person. Not all together traditional, but I am not known for being a traditional sort of girl. I am still not certain if it was taken as a silly joke or not. If nothing else she got some really tasty chocolates. I hope she liked them all.

As for what I got, well it wasn't traditional either. It was actually not very Valentinesy at all, which suits me just fine. I don't really celebrate Valentines Day, so I am glad I didn't get anything overly Valentine like.

I actually buried my grandmother on Vanlentine's Day morning and drove the 5 hours home that afternoon. When I got home, cold, exhausted, and depressed, I was thrilled to find a small white package waiting for me. I had actually forgotten that I was expecting something.

After getting comfortable and settling in I opened the envelope to find inside a book. I was thrilled. My Secret Cupid had sent me a copy of The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. I had never heard of this book before but after reading a few pages I decided it was right up my alley.

I know it is not chocolate or flowers or goofy cards, but really it is the sort of thing I love. Besides if it had been chocolate I would have just eaten it all on the spot in my grief, and trust me I had done more than enough grief eating over the last week.

So overall it was a great experience. I hope my person enjoyed my gift as much as I enjoyed coming up with it, and I hope my sender knows how much I really do love my gift.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A week in mourning

I am not sure that anyone is ever prepared to mourn. No matter how much you know it is coming, it still hurts. I knew my grandmother was ill and didn't have much time left, yet it still came as a shock when she died. It was harder on me than I expected.

Things were not helped by how upset my mother was. I am a very empathetic person and seeing my mother in that much pain just eats me up inside. She would cry and I would cry, she would get angry and I would get angry. It was emotionally exhausting.

It also didn't help that we had to go through two funerals for my grandmother. The first was held in San Antonio where she lived and the second held in Woodville where she was from and our family cemetery is. It made sense but it was really hard on all of us to have to go through that twice.

I did get up and speak at the service in San Antonio. It was hard. Really really hard. I clutched my hand written notes which did me little good. I could barely make out the words on the page between the tears in my eyes, the smudged ink from where my tears soaked the paper, and how badly my hands were shaking. What I said came from the heart and I was told it was lovely.

The entire first set of services seemed a little surreal. Part of that came from still being in a state of shock, but the other came from the fact that the majority of the people there only knew my grandmother through my aunt. In the end it was more like all of my aunts friends were there, and not many people for my grandmother.

Also none of these people had any idea who my part of the family was. I stood to the side with my siblings and their spouses and we watched as people poured out their condolences to my aunt and her husband and children, and then watch these people shuffle past us giving us strange sideways glances as though they were wondering who we were. I was introduced as her granddaughter when I spoke, they all knew who I was.

The ones that did stop to speak to us only gave half hearted condolences sounding like they were only speaking out of obligation. They also kept mistaking the husbeast for my brother. That was more than a little awkward. It got to the point that when someone would approach him he would stop them and say "Husband not brother" and then point to my brother who was on the other side of me.

Oh did I mention we were also shunted back during the service. My aunt, her husband, her children, and her sister in law took up the front row. My siblings and I took the second row while my mother and father were in the third row. Mom wanted all of us kids to sit together which is the only reason she wasn't in the second row. This also meant that mom was sort of pushed out of the receiving line as much as we were.

In the end most everyone there was there to support my aunt so I guess it doesn't matter. The people who knew us made sure to make their way to us to give sincere condolences.

The second service was different. This one was for the family who mostly live out in East Texas. My aunt has never been good at keeping in touch with this part of the family since she feels they are beneath her. My  mom on the other hand has talked to them for years. This time around my aunt and her kids were the ones standing in a corner feeling awkward.

After the second wake we went back to the hotel and proceeded to get really really drunk. Normally we would have played poker as well, but there wasn't a large enough space to accommodate all of us. We stuck to gossip and white russians instead.

I don't suggest going to a graveside service hung over. It was foggy and cold and we ended up having to stand around for longer than expected as we waited for a few people who got lost going through the back roads to the tiny cemetery. It was not a pleasant experience. Crying with a hangover is dumb.

So in the end we had two wakes and two services in four days. We drove over 15 hours and never left the state of Texas. There were feelings hurt and tension galore but amazingly no one came to blows. I am glad it is all over now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Playing catch up

After spending a week in mourning I feel like I have fallen behind on life in general. My house is a mess, my cupboards are bare, the laundry is piled high, faire business hasn't been addressed, and I know things at the office are in shambles. Somehow the last thing I can find time to do is try and catch up on what i have missed on the internet.

I really want to go back and read blogs and web comics but somehow I can't make myself focus. I can't seem to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. I keep going to read things and it is like they are not in focus.

I suppose after the week I have had that is to be expected.

I am taking another day off of work to try an play catch up on the house and faire business. I might try and catch up on the internet, I might not.

So to all my new followers, especially those coming over from the writer building campaign I want to real quick say hello and welcome to the insanity. Please stick around, as I promise I am usually more attentive than I have been.

You can all expect to see in the next week or so probably a rather emotional recap of the last week of my life and some serious introspection on my part. Also I will be talking about my Secret Cupid gift and the start of another faire season to keep things light.

Anyways, thank you all for sticking around, and thank you for all of the condolences I received. It has been a hard week but I am surviving.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

No words

I spent most of Friday in this strange sort of stupor. There was this pressing hollowness in the center of my chest that felt as though it would crush me from the inside as it struggled to get out. I couldn't decide if it was sorrow or guilt or some other emotion I was incapable of pinpointing at the time.

By the time I reached my mothers house, almost exactly 24 hours after I had been told of my grandmothers passing, the hollowness had left me. I no longer felt the need to cry or to be alone or anything else one experiences in grief. I felt fine, which made me feel worse.

My immediate family has a way of making me feel better. The thoughts in my head were the words on their lips and the need to make this better for my mother was the only concern any of us seemed to have. Thoughts of grief for the dead seemed smaller than the need to comfort the survivors.

There is this overwhelming tension that lies beyond my siblings and parents. There are unspoken lines drawn in the sand. This all feels like the conditions for a perfect storm. I have a feeling that things will come to head no matter how hard we try to prevent them. Maybe it is what those on my side of the line want most.

Yesterday the pastor asked us to think of some memory of my grandmother that made us joyful. I had this whole speech planned about how generous she was. It is the truth, she was generous, but always at a price. Nothing she did was not without calculation. Somehow when I opened my mouth to say it I thought that would be wrong of me. I didn't feel right portraying her as something more than I really think she was.

Instead I told him she taught me how to cook. I told him about spending hours learning the exact method of making chicken fried steak, and the perfect size of a chocolate chip cookie, and the secret ingredient that makes everything taste better is love. I learned from her my love language, which is food. I learned that you fix every ill with the right type of food. You nurture through food. You love through it.

The pastor seemed touched and my mother cried more. I felt good about saying it because it was the truth with no pretenses. It didn't paint my grandmother in any light that was not the truth, and it really did reflect the best about her.

We were asked if we wanted to speak at her funeral, and there was a resounding no from our camp. No one wanted to say anything for various reasons. For some it was too emotional, for some there is nothing nice to say and that would not do anyone any good.

As the night wore on though I started to feel the need to say something. The viewing was quiet but I think it was only quiet for us. It seemed like the vast majority of the people had no idea who my family was and focused condolences on the other half of the family. I felt a little betrayed. I wanted to remind these people that I was there too. That I was grieving too. That my siblings have just as much a right to condolences as my cousins do.

I think maybe this was a little selfish. I think maybe that is why the words I wrote for a eulogy stuck in my brain and flowed like molasses. I am fairly sure that is why when I read back the words to myself out loud that they sounded so wrong. To the outside they might sound perfectly fine, even sweet and appropriate, but to me they sounded like a lie.

I had used my words, my gift of story, to paint a picture that wasn't true. I had turned it from a remembrance of her into a spiteful barb at others. It all seemed wrong. I knew that the entire thing was selfish and I couldn't say it, because I can't lie now that she is gone. It would be wrong.

I lay awake this morning thinking about what I was going to do. I don't have to speak this afternoon, but I still feel like I should. I feel now though like I should not to prove to others I was her favorite, but because I know I was her favorite, and I know it would break her heart if I didn't.

I don't know if I can write down my thoughts or if I will just let the words flow. I think now though with good intentions I can say the truth, as I did when I was speaking to the pastor yesterday. I think I can use my words to paint the right picture; a truthful picture of love generated by love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lost chances

When I was one week old my mother left my father, though that is not what I want to talk about. The details of that are ugly and only of note because that is how the story begins.

I was one week old and my mother had me and my 18 month old brother to care for as she fled an abusive relationship. She did the only thing she could; she went home.

For me growing up family meant Mom and my brother, and then Grammy and Daddy (which is what I called my grandfather since that is what mom called him). Moving in with my mothers parents was not a temporary solution to the problem of where to go after the divorce; it was home.

When I was 6 my grandfather was killed in a car wreck. Our family shrank at that point but seemed to me to grow stronger. I still had mom and gram and my brother. We were close and we were happy.

When I was 12 my mom met my step father, the man who is now and will always be my dad as far as I am concerned. They met and were married in under a year. I had never seen my mom quite that happy. I also had never seen my grandmother quite that sad. The day we moved out of the house she left before we began to pack and went to my aunts house where she proceeded to drink an entire bottle of 20 year old scotch on her own.

Things after that were a little tense between my mom and my grandmother, but for me the only thing that had changed was distance. My grandmother was still one of the most important people to me, and I was still her favorite. I don't say that in exaggeration either.We used to joke that my grandmother loved me so much that if I were to kill someone in cold blood she would defend me insisting that the person had surely deserved it. I want to say that was a joke, but for some reason I think that it was more than a little true.

She doted on me when I lived with her, and she doted on me more when I moved away. She lavished me with gifts and clothing, she bought me a car on my 16th birthday, and again when I was in college. She paid for my senior theater trip to New York and even paid for my best friend to go with me. She also paid for my college tuition and my housing. In short she gave me everything I could have ever wanted financially.

Sadly as I grew older I learned that these gifts were not without a price. I do not doubt that my grandmother was motivated by love. I have no doubt in my mind that she loved me more than just about anything. I think honestly I might have been the last thing she really did love.

My grandmother used her money as a form of power over all of us though, and the tighter she tried to hold on, the more it seemed to push us all away. It is hard to be controlled, it is not what anyone wants. Despite knowing she loved me I couldn't let her control me. None of us could.

It drove us away.

There was no way we could ever pay her back for what she had done. Not just monetarily, but all around. How do you repay someone for teaching you how to make the perfect chicken fried steak? How do you repay someone for teaching you the perfect way to make a chocolate chip cookie? How do you repay someone for a childhood full of happy memories? How do you repay someone for loving you?

Still my grandmother turned cold and mean. No matter how much I loved her, and no matter how much I owed her, she turned into someone I didn't know. I long ago accepted that my grandmother was gone. She let the anger and bitterness in the world harden and change her. I didn't want her to hurt me; I didn't want to remember that when I thought of her.

My visits to my grandmother grew fewer and fewer over the years. I couldn't stand to see her and listen to her say hurtful things to me. She didn't even come to my wedding because she so violently disapproved of who I was and who I was marrying. It was almost a betrayal I couldn't stand.

I still loved her though. I could never not love her. I know that she still loved me. I still know that she was fiercely proud of me.

In the last few years she has been getting worse and worse. Her health has been deteriorating both physically and mentally. She was senile and the doctors thought she might have Alzheimers. She started making up memories and forgetting things.

I was encouraged only by the husbeast to go see her. My mother knew better than to ask that of me or my brother. She didn't want us to see that anymore than she wanted to.

Last week gram fell and broke her hip. She had already been in a nursing facility for a few months after a bad incident before Christmas, and things were not good. Mom called and asked if she could fly me down on Saturday to say goodbye. I said yes for my mother. As far as I was concerned I said goodbye to my grandmother a long time ago.

Mom said today was a bad day for her. She was talking complete nonsense all day long. She said it was the strangest things you had ever heard coming out of her mouth. At one point they were talking about her German potato salad recipe, and my dad said she made it better than even his grandmother had, and then my mom said I made it pretty good and that gram had taught me well. For a moment my grandmother seemed clear and said proudly that she had taught me well. She said she taught me everything I knew, except how to visit her. After that she began babbling about being in Dorito commercials.

She passed away just before midnight. My mom had gone home and had promised to come back and kiss her in the morning. They revived her three times before my mom made it to the hospital. She and my aunt were there at the end.

I might have accepted my grandmother was gone a long time ago, but I didn't get to say goodbye.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Some business

I totally realize I went a little post crazy yesterday, and that so wasn't my intention. Three posts in one day is a little crazy. It happens though. Sometimes things snowball and there is nothing you can do but wait for it to end. Thanks for sticking with my crazy, or at least for coming back if you skipped my crazy.

Anyways, there are a couple of things I wanted to say today.

First I am trying a new commenting system because I sort of loath the generic system that comes with the blog. The fact that I can't reply to other peoples comments frustrates me to no end. It sort of limits communication in my mind, and that is never good.

So yea, new commenting system, and I would LOVE to see if it works or not, but that would sort of require someone leaving me a comment. Considering I always love comments, please leave me one today even if you don't normally do so. It would be helpful to me on so many levels.

Another thing is I started writing this morning. After my anxiety attack yesterday, and then a rather ugly moment with a coworker, I went home and decompressed by killing some things in our weekly D&D game. Yes I am that kind of geek. As we were wrapping up game for the night I was chatting with my kid about books we were reading and one of her long term writing projects.

Let me tell you there are two things that make me want to write more than anything else. The first is reading exceptional literature. It doesn't matter if it is exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, it all makes me want to write. The good stuff inspires me, and the bad stuff makes me want to be better. It actually gives me some hope.

The other thing that kick starts my writing is listening to someone else get passionate about writing. We were talking about her epic work and suddenly I was talking about one of my favorite WIPs. Bantering back and forth with our ideas suddenly gave me a flood of things I really wanted to write about.

I awoke this morning with the writing itch, and have been doing more of that than real work this morning. It feels good.

So yea, that is all I really wanted to say this morning. I just wanted to share.

And remember please comment so I can test the system and not feel like I am completely alone here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Stupidity of Irrational Anxiety

So I signed up for the Writers Platform Campaign. To say this is out side of my norm is a little bit of an understatement. Of course you know if you never try anything new you never really get anywhere. Being as I am pretty much against stagnation and going no where, I figured no harm in trying.

At best I make some new connections and get some good ideas. At worst nothing happens. Besides I get a shiny little icon to put in my sidebar. How can that be a bad thing? So I signed up.

Then I proceeded to have a full blown anxiety attack.

Yes that is right I had an anxiety attack over this, and I couldn't decide if I was feeling more foolish for such an irrational reaction, or if I was going to faint because I was about to hyperventilate.

After sipping some water, doing some meditative breathing, and listening to music very loudly to drown out the office, I managed to calm down enough to function. My heart was still racing and my breathing was still catching, not to mention that fun queasy sensation I had in my tummy, but it was much better.

Why on earth was this happening you may ask. Why would something as simple as joining in on this event cause such a severe reaction? Well let me tell you.

Yesterday I equated joining this event to lunch in a high school cafeteria when you know no one. If you have never had this particularly horrific experience count yourself as lucky. High school is all about perception and who you know and anyone will tell you that your choice of lunch buddies and location are vital to how you are perceived.

I for one didn't eat lunch in the cafeteria. For the first two years I ate in the hall outside the cafeteria with my best friend. For half of my Junior year I ate in my AP American Cultures* classroom because I was doing extra lessons during lunch. The rest of my junior year and my senior year were spent eating in the studio theater with the rest of the theater kids. All of these choices said very specific things about me, mostly that I was not popular or cool.

I was alright with where I fit into the social strata. I became very comfortable with being comfortable where I was. I had no desire to make some jump into a different social group, honestly it never would have crossed my mind.

This isn't high school though. Now I am not saying I am all crazy and wanting to change who I am or what I am comfortable with, I am just wanting to stretch and expand some. I love who I am and what I am, I would like to be more though.

I think I am rambling.

Anyways, back to why I freaked out.

So here I am trying this new thing that in theory will help me grow. All I can think of though is that I have no right to be doing this. That voice in the back of my head is screaming at me that I need to just go sit quietly in the hall with my friends and not disturb the status quo.

I am somehow terrified that the other participants are going to come over and look at my little blog and think 'Well isn't that quaint' and write me off. I am afraid people are going to wonder what on earth possessed me to participate because I so obviously don't belong. I am afraid of looking stupid.

That last statement is ridiculous to me considering I am a performer at a renaissance festival. Seriously one of the first things you learn is to not be afraid of looking stupid. Trust me I look pretty stupid out there quite often, but I never care. I am safe there. It is my sandbox, and I am in character, and no one can hurt me there.

I should feel the same way here. I should feel safe. This is my sandbox and no one can hurt me here. I am doing nothing wrong here. Hell there is no right and wrong. There is me, and this is me, and I am not apologetic for being who or what I am.

That doesn't make me any less terrified.
I suppose that just makes me human. My complete lack of confidence is super unsexy and all, but it is me. I am small and insecure about things I do.

It is done now, I already joined and there is no turning back now. All I can do is smile and fake it until it is over and then feel stupid for having ever been worried in the first place. Until then though, I may need a paper bag to breath into.

* Cultures was a class that combined our English and History classes together. The class lasted two periods in the day and the material directly reflected what you were learning in the other subject, so while we were learning about the civil war we were also reading literature that was relevant to that time period. 

Writer's Platform Building Campaign

So I have decided to be a joiner and try out a few new things in the blogosphere. Among these things is the Writer's Platform Building Campaign. It seems like a neat idea, and hey why not try new things. I love writing, I would love to do more with my writing and my happy little blog here, so it can't hurt right?

It actually sounds like a great idea and you should go over and check it out. 

Somehow I have this weird nervous feeling in my stomach like I would get on the first day in a new school at lunch time. You know that time when you are standing there with your tray of food wondering where you are going to find a place to sit. You are not wanting to be the kid who has to sit alone, or have to sit with the kids who no one else want to sit with. You have no idea who your friends are yet, and you are just a little terrified and trying not to show it.

Yea that is me in a nutshell.

So here I am, standing with my tray, looking for my lunch table.

Reviews and some personal issues

I have been on a bit of a reading spree lately. I finished the entire Percy Jackson series in about a week, and was well on my way to finishing The Prestige, when the book was sadly stolen. After the loss of that book I picked up The Hunger Games to read.

Now this book series has only been on my radar for about 9 months now, maybe a year at most. It was fairly low on my To Be Read list, but considering there is a movie coming out in a few months I figured I would bump it up on my list. I tend to like to read the book before seeing the movie. While I typically can enjoy both the book and the film version of a story, I like to read the book first because I find it easier to accept the movie images over the ones I have created in my head, than to create my own images over the movie images that have already been planted.

So I had picked up the first book in the trilogy at Half Priced Books a few weeks ago, and decided to give it a go. It wasn't long, but I was told it was an excellent book. I think that might be a little bit of an understatement. While it lacked a little in places, I found that overall I loved the book. It managed to keep me in suspense up until the last paragraph, but not so much suspense that I got frustrated with the book. It had a great pace and a great story, and I wanted to know how it all ended.

I splurged by buying the second book, but I just couldn't help myself. I devoured it in a day and found that it was again a very good book. It kept me on the edge of my seat through a lot of it, but it felt a little like middle movie syndrome. You know the second movie in a trilogy always seems to be exposition for the final one. It is a necessary evil that can most of the time be amusing if not just tolerated as a means to the end.

This book was good but it felt rushed in points. I felt like there was more story that could have been told but was omitted due to the thought of the length of the book, and fear of losing the audience to more banal details. Considering the audience this was geared towards I totally get it. They still got in all the major points so you know it isn't all bad.

Only I really wanted to know how it ended and I didn't have the third book. While I really shouldn't have bought it, I was being plagued by dreams about what would happen next. I had to know. I think this a sign of good writing. So I broke down and bought the third book and again devoured it in a day.

The last book was certainly my least favorite of the three. It was good but it paled in comparison to the first one, and almost didn't measure up to the second one either. I think part of it was that by this point we all knew what was going to happen on a very grand scheme of things, it was the smaller things that we were hanging in for, and that is what I feel was lost.

The third book spends a lot of time building on relationships that I felt were in the end sort of brushed off. There were of course deaths I was upset about, but they didn't evoke any sort of dramatic emotional response as I felt they should have. By the point the deaths started rolling in she was moving so fast and breezing by them with so little care for detail that I almost had to stop and go back to see if I had missed something.

I know not every death has to be grand and dwelled on, but there was a sort of disconnect that didn't sit well with me. Then everything sort of spiraled out into the end. The entire end of the book sounded like one long lazily strewn out summary of events. I do realize that a lot of it had to do with the main characters mental state, but for me it was very dissatisfying. I am not sure I wanted to sit through lengthy descriptions of her insanity state, I do think that would have been boring. I just feel like the author got bored and lazy and just finished it to be done with it.

I don't say this to belittle the author or her books. I again say that I think that book series was excellent, and enjoyed reading all three. I suppose what that I am comparing the author to myself in some ways.

Stick with me here a moment, because I am having trouble articulating my thoughts.

When I write something, ever since I was a little girl to now, I have a huge problem finishing anything that is longer than a short story. I have only managed to finish one large work ever, and even then it took me a year of silence to write the last few installments.

Its not that I get bored with my stories, that would be the wrong word for it. I think it is more that I get tired of writing it. I know how the story ends by that point so there is no longer any surprise or excitement factor with it. By that point I am just trying to get out what is already pretty much set in my head and it frustrates me.

Yes it frustrates me to have to get out what I already know is going to happen. It is like listening to someone retell a long story you have heard a dozen times and you just want to shout out how it ends so you can just move on and get to a story  you are not so familiar with. Only if you just shout out the end you know something will be missed and it won't be as good.

My endings always feel rushed to me, like I am just blurting out the end so I can move on to something new. That is how I felt about reading the end of the third book. It felt as though the author knew the story so well, and was just tired of the details and wanted to blurt out the end. There was two and a half books of tension and she just had to let it all out in one breath and be done with it. I don't know if this is what happened, but it is certainly what it felt like to me.

Do I think the ending could have been done better? Perhaps.
Did I feel satisfied in the end with how the story was left? Yes.

So all in all I thought it was an excellent book series and can not wait to see if they can make the movie measure up to it. While I still have lingering images and thoughts for the Hunger Games I move on to the next adventure in reading.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Orientation for faire is on Saturday and that can mean only one thing; I no longer have time to procrastinate. I love faire more than I can say, but to do something you love often you have to pay a price. For me that price is any semblance of free time.

I suppose having every weekend between now and Memorial Day Monday being taken up is already a huge sacrifice of time, but that is not the end of it. Since my weekends are now filled with 10 hour days on site, I must now use every weeknight I have to accomplish everything else in my life. When I think about things like the gym, grocery shopping, weekly standing social engagements, a metric ton of sewing, and trying to keep the house from looking like it should be receiving FEMA assistance, I just get exhausted.

Weeknights really are not sufficient for doing everything I need to do. Of course I could have saved myself some of this stress. I could have spent the last few weekends scouring down the house so it starts the run in pristine condition and is therefor a little easier to keep clean. I could have started some of my sewing projects. I could have been doing a lot more than watching Best of I Love the 90's on VH1 and reading and catching up on the DVR. I didn't. I was lazy.

Why was I lazy? Why did I waste these last precious free days when I could have been productive and therefore saved myself a little stress down the line? Why did I do this to myself?

Simple, because they were the last days I will have to do nothing for a long time. I mean even after I finish my sewing and can get the house into order, those free weeknights will never be totally free. I will have been at work all day long, I will still have to make dinner and clean the kitchen, I will still probably go to the gym, I will still have to do something mildly productive. The only way I will get a day of rest is if I take a day off of work.

No I am happy with my lazy weekends. I wasn't completely unproductive either. I bought almost all the material needed for this year and washed it all and have pressed almost all of it. I got the material for the costume pieces I am making for other people. I got my new cutting table in and mostly set up*. I cleaned out my closet as well as completely cleaning and reorganizing the sewing room and faire closet. All very productive things.

I also watched VH1 Best of <fill in the blank> for most of one day, watched some cheesy movies, read a few books, and spent copious amounts of time snuggling with the new kitten and the husbeast (and the other animals too).

You have to have balance in this life. You also have to know to look ahead and anticipate what is needed now to survive what is to come. Sometimes you need a couple of days of being useless to weather the storm of crazed busy that is to come.

I think I am ready for the storm.

*This is a custom built table that is rather large (7x5) and is now in our garage. The thing is that the six legs for the table aren't labeled. I mean they are labeled front right, back right, front left, back left, and center, only the frame isn't labeled. So while we know which legs go in the front and back, there is no indication on the frame which side is the front and back, or left and right for that matter. We played musical legs for a while and in the end decided the best thing to do was have the original builder over for dinner and make him assemble it for us. And then we will mark the legs and the frame.