Happy Halloween!!

Few things bring Halloween to mind quite as thoroughly as do Vincent Price and Edgar Allan Poe. There's something about Price's voice, his spooky, spooky voice and the way he narrates. His voice bring chills, I love it. And Poe, don't even get me started about how amazing Poe is. Last year, I shared a handwritten section of the Raven, written by Poe. This year, The Raven again, but narrated by Price.



Happy Halloween! I hope you have a nice one. Matt and I went out to lunch today and ran into road blocks in the town square where they're doing a safe trick-or-treat. It's something I really like about small town America, community events like that keep the little ghouls from knocking on my door. ~.^

Oh, and before I go, here's another--quite familiar to us children of the 80s--Vincent Price, this time with Michael Jackson. Or should that be Michael Jackson with Vincent Price? Either way, I love this video, which scared the wits out of me when I was little (I think I was 4 or 5 when it came out).



Have a safe Halloween, wherever you are! For me, I'm going to a NaNoWriMo kick-off party tonight and Matt's working. So for now, good night!

NaNoWriMo 2012!!

It's that time again! Since I'm not working outside the house right now, and I'm not in school, I've decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. I'm hoping to secure another win, too, since I have so much time on my hands. No excuses this time--assuming my issues don't get in the way--for not finishing it. And you know, I'm really looking forward to and that's saying a lot right now. I'm pretty stormy-in-the-head right now, so being hyped about anything is a pretty huge thing.


And what's better, I actually have an idea. I have no idea if it'll work, but I'm hoping so. My first concern about said idea is that I have no idea how to classify it, that is, none of the genres seem to be the right one. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Strangely, I think chick lit might be close, even though the book will be very (and I cannot stress the very enough) loosely based on Dante's Inferno. At this point I have a setting (a university), characters, and themes (the journey, romance, bildungsroman), but sadly no plot. I know what I want to happen, but that doesn't exactly translate to plot. It's been my experience that seeing something in your head doesn't mean you can make it work outside your head. Or at least, I have that particular problem. So, with just a little more than 24 hours to go, I'm thinking I may just let the inmates run the asylum this NaNoWriMo and give my characters (and my mind) free reign to let the story develop however it sees fit.

With all that in mind, I think I'm going to try to attend some write-in events this year. I found out that there's a NaNoWriMo group in my town and that they're having events, so I'm going to try to go. Matt works tomorrow night, so I may have to catch a ride to the kick-off party. It's from 10pm - 6am or whenever everyone is gone. I've been struggling a bit with the idea of going to a perfect stranger's house, in the middle of the night on Halloween, alone, but I found out a guy we know in town is also going which, surprisingly, makes me feel better. So, we'll see. It'll be a matter of whether or not I can get the car (if not, they've offered me a ride) and whether or not I can win the battle with my agoraphobia/social anxiety just long enough to get there. Again, we'll see. I would hate to miss the opportunity to meet new people, even if it is the middle of the night, just because I'm afraid to leave my house without my husband.

So what about you, plan to NaNo this year?

Struggling. . .

Thought I mentioned a few days ago that there are some goods things happening around here, things have been a little bit rocky of late. Partially, it's my fault. Partially, it's Matt's. Partially, it's something completely out of our control. Whomever it is that's to blame, we're struggling. And not just a little bit. Though, I have to say, our struggles are all emotional and health related, which is both better and worse than if they were, say, financial struggles. Better because it's a good thing to be able to pay one's bills, but worse because financial struggles are much simpler to overcome than are  those struggles that come from inside.

For my part, emotional struggles are taking over. My social anxiety and agoraphobia, which have become fairly profound issues, are flaring up to the extreme. I struggle to do anything that might be considered social (even online) without some anxiety and the idea of going out of the house alone, even to places I know and are familiar to me has become an almost full-on anxiety attack inducing thing. The thought of socializing with groups makes me shake almost uncontrollably. I'm thinking that these issues are compounded by the fact that I've been working from home and have, therefore, not gotten out much. Being shut-in has always upset my agoraphobia, but it's worse right now that it has been for a long time. I'm a bit of a basket case, but I'm going to be looking for work, which I think will help.

Matt is a whole other issue. He's trying to quit smoking, which is always a difficult thing for him, and for the most part he's been okay. But, there are times when he's not, or when he seems fine and then snaps and starts to freak out. It's really upsetting my already upset anxiety, but I understand and have tried to be a good ally to him him in this. I'm a terrible enabler, so I'm trying hard to be more supportive. He's about 5 days quit right now, he's struggling, but I'm really proud of him. He's doing the Quit for Life program, which has him on both transdermal patches and nicotine gum. Even still, with all the emotional outbursts, he's doing better on this program than he ever has before.

The last thing is all me and completely out of my control. I found out this week that my ex-husband's grandfather passed away. Though Mike and I didn't make it, and our relationship was rocky and ultimately doomed to failure, I really got along with his family. I loved his grandparents, so when his grandmother, Dean, passed away a while back, I was pretty broken up. Now, his grandfather, Earl, has passed and I am, again, feeling really sad. But, I feel like I have no outlet for my feelings. I can't exactly go to the funeral and I'm sure that even if I could, I wouldn't be welcome. I want to offer Mike my condolences, but that's always been awkward in the past. I just don't know how to handle it, and I don't deal well with pent up feelings and though this is obviously not about me, like, at all, I still feel terrible.

So yeah, things are tense around the house lately. I'm glad the holidays are coming, hopefully things will calm down. Though, Matt's working a bit of overtime again and it's looking like Halloween is going to be a lonely holiday for me. With that, I'm crossing my fingers that he's off for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My only consolation on that one is that they usually close for major holidays. . . usually.

Alright, I'm going. I feel like it might be an early night for me. Good night.

 

Wine & Music

I think I may have mentioned this before, but one of our professors is in a band. They've just released a new CD and were having a release party today out at a local vineyard, Bluff Dale Vineyards, so Matt and I trekked out there to enjoy a bit of the late summer/early fall weather. Its a nice drive and is only about 15 miles out from where we live. Though we weren't out there long, because we had only had a few hours of sleep each and because Matt had to work tonight, the time we were was so lovely. We had never been out there before, but now that we've been, I don't think it will be the last time. The winery is lovely and I got a bottle of wine that is, hands down, the best wine I have ever had. Seriously. And, we had the opportunity to hear The Accidental Band's new music and get their new CD, The Bull Rider's Trilogy.


The drive there--and that picture was actually taken on the way home, when Matt was driving--was so beautiful, except that the road is really narrow and a bit winding. Once we were there, though, the winery was lovely and the breeze on the outdoor patio made the warm day really bearable. The music was, as always, really good and after I took that picture of the band I realized that I cut someone out of the picture. They were spaced too far apart for my iPhone camera to get them all. I felt pretty bad about that, Nancy Easterling is such a lovely woman and I just barely managed to capture the tip-top of her bass guitar.

During their break, while Matt was getting a CD, I went inside and got myself a bottle of wine, which I must say is amazing. When I came out, I got these pictures of the vineyard itself. Since I've only been to a vineyard, or two, once in my life before this, I was really taken by how beautiful the countryside is out there. The only other vineyards I've been to are in California's Napa Valley and not since I was, like, ten years old.


All of this, hiding only fifteen minutes from where I live. How could this really be our first trip out there? We've lived here more than eight years, for goodness sake! And I have to tell you, I really, really needed this little afternoon trip. Since I'm not working right now, I'm feeling really shut in and it's messing with my agoraphobia, big time. So much so that I had planned to go out to Bluff Dale alone, had Matt not been able to wake up in time, but the closer it got to having to actually go alone, the more anxiety I felt. And you know, that's really crazy because it's a) close to home, and b) I wasn't exactly going to be among strangers. At least, not all strangers. So, taking a little trip, with Matt, was a breath of fresh air. It didn't exactly wipe the agoraphobic slate clean, but it was a step closer to being able to go out alone again.

Okay, the wine. I've said several times that I got a bottle of wine. It's called Bluff Dale Vineyards - Sweet Caramella and it is stellar. It's to die for. It's the best white wine I've ever had. It's sweet and aromatic, and just lovely. It's exactly what I want in a white wine and it wasn't at all expensive. I see myself driving the fifteen minutes out to Bluff Dale Winery to get another bottle, or two, or heck, a case or two!


And on my goodness, I just read on their websites that it's for sale at many HEB stores. I may not have to drive all the way out there to get a bottle after all. That makes Kristyn a very happy girl! Oh, and the crazy yellowish lighting in those last two pics, of the wine, are mostly my iPhone 3GS camera and the fact that they were taken inside my house tonight. The lighting inside never comes out looking quite right. Some of the color, though, is true to the wine. It's a really beautiful golden color. I've just loved everything about it. I literally had to make myself stop after two glasses, otherwise, I might have drank the whole bottle and Matt wouldn't get any at all--ah well, he's more partial to red wines anyway. (~.^)

So, in short, we had a lovely afternoon even though it was brief. That said, Matt and I are both quite tired for a lack of sleep and the poor guy is actually working. He worked 12 hours, got 3 hours of sleep, and is now working 12 more hours. He's a trooper. So for now, good night!

A Blog Rant About, Well, A Blog...

I'm crazy tired tonight, thanks to my evil pooches barking their heads off last night. I got about 3 hours of intermittent sleep, which isn't nearly enough, and it's got me a little bit grumpy. Add to that one horrible week and you've got a recipe for disaster. . . or bitching. . . or both. What the hell. I'm in that kind of mood. And let me just start by saying, before the ranty, ranty rant to follow, that there are two kinds of blogs I enjoy, personal blogs and cooking blogs. That's how it has always been with me, I don't care if a blog is famous or gets a lot of hits, I just like to peek into the lives of others and/or catch up with friends.

So, I was looking at Pioneer Woman a few minutes ago. It's not a blog I read often, because, well, she and I have pretty much nothing in common and her blog being pretty isn't enough to hold my interest for long. Her humor is, however, so I was peeking at some of her recipes--I got there tonight following a pin from Pintrest for Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. Yes please. Anyway, while I was there I got to reading her "confessions" section where she actually blogs--her site is a lot of things, a personal(ish) blog, a cooking blog, home & garden, home schooling, photography etc. You may or may not know that she started as a blogger who wrote a book and now has a TV show on Food Network.

What strikes me, though, is that she's a really, really genuine type person who seems to really enjoy her life. The point here being that she came from blogging and has really made something of her passions. Good for her. She seems very genuine and I even quite like her despite the fact that she spends a lot of time talking about things that happened while her show was taping, which I don't find terribly interesting. She also manages to squeeze being a real person in there--and her husband is gorgeous! She talks about her family life, her horses, things other than being a "star."

Why am I rambling on and on about Pioneer Woman? Because seeing her blog and how likable she still is, despite her success, got me thinking about another quite popular blogger I read on occasion  I won't say who, because who it is isn't the point, and because I don't feel like it would serve any purpose. Anyway it was someone I started reading because a friend (Mayren) posted a link to a cupcake recipe she thought I'd like--cupcakes I made and didn't actually like, by the way. While that cupcake recipe wasn't wonderful, and was in fact the only cupcake I've ever met that I didn't like, some of her other recipes were really good. She also posted pictures of her sweet little dogs, gave away fonts (she's quite creative), and posted about her life some. All in all, it's a blog I liked... until the last few months.

And this is what gets me. This blog I've really liked and read pretty diligently, has gotten a little bit of notoriety and it seems to have completely gone to the woman's head! Her blog is popular enough that she gets free trips all over the place if she's willing to endorse products and places. Fine, I get that, and sometimes it's nice to see that stuff. Sometimes. But, this girl spends every single entry now talking about how she went here or went there. During a time when a whole lot of people are struggling, this girl spends her blog space bragging about all her traveling and the deserts she ate.

All of the recipe posts have dried up, except that she sometimes re-posts old recipes. Everything interesting about her blog has dried up in favor or endorsing all these places she's going and things she's seeing. It's annoying and I'm sitting here thinking, not for the first time, that if Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) can stay genuine and lovely, when she has a freaking TV show, can't this other woman manage to come back down to earth with all the peasants and actually post, oh, I don't know, content that isn't fluff. She's clearly bought and paid for and bragging about it has me--and judging by her dwindling comment counts--others, too, mildly annoyed. She hosts giveaways occasionally which get like 2,000 comments, while her bragging "I-went-here-and-had-such-a-good-time" posts get 25 or less.

I hate it when a good blog goes bad. Bragging about your eternal vacation is a serious turn off.  I mean, is it really so hard to be genuine? I've been blogging for about 9 years and the one thing I've never aspired to is a big readership. More than anything I blog for me, for my family and friends, and for the few people I meet along the way who're interested in building genuine relationships. Not so a bunch of strangers can be jealous of. . . whatever. It pisses me off and tonight, when I'm running on little or no sleep, it does so enough to make me rant about it.

Exciting Things Afoot...

There're some really exciting things going on here of late, things I want to share, both so I remember them and so friends and family can share our excitement. Even though I'm not getting out much lately, good things are happening for us.

First, of course, is that it's almost the end of the year and that means the holidays. It also means NaNoWriMo! See the badge, over there, yeah I'm doing NaNoWriMo again after an almost two year hiatus. I did try to do it in 2010, but failed early. In 2011, when I was writing my thesis and teaching 50 students, I just couldn't fathom it. So, I didn't bother to try. This year, Matt and I are going to do NaNoWriMo together and we're both quite thrilled to give it a go. He's got a great idea, I've got one (don't think I'd call it great), so we're off to a good start already.

Next is college. I wrote, previously, that I'm going back to school in January. In short, I'm going to pursue a business degree in Human Resource Management to add to my English degree. The hope is that I'll make myself more marketable to future employers. I'm excited about the coming challenge as I try to work my way through something I've never, ever done before, business. But, I won't be doing it alone. We learned this week that Matt will also be going back to school. He was accepted into the Grad College a few weeks ago, and accepted into the Human Resource Management program this week. We're going back to school together! I'm so thrilled.

Finally, Matt's been working his behind off and it has been paying. He's gotten several promotions in the last few months, as he works his way up the ladder, to a quite good position with his employer. I'm so proud of him. He also plans to continue working full time as he goes back to college, because the program is 100% online. He's an amazing man--who just had a birthday, might I add!

So there it is, that's my update for now. I hope everyone's having a really good day/week/month!

Happy Birthday, Honey!




It's a really good day, because today is my


amazing husband's birthday!!


See this guy? This is him...




 He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Hands down.


And you know where he is right now? He's working... on his birthday.


Thank you sweetheart, for working so hard!




Happy Birthday, sweetheart!  I love you!!


Off to Pandaria...

So, now that I'm out of school for a while, I've had some time on my hands. While I'm working (slowly) on my novel, and (theoretically) keeping my house clean, I've also been looking for a way to squeeze some social time into my day because, well, I don't get out much. All of my friends are busy, I don't factor into their lives at the moment, so I've been looking for a way to socialize with others because I'm sort of going stir crazy. That socializing comes in the way of an old friend, the great World of Warcraft, which I've been playing on and off for, oh, about the last 7(ish) years. I enjoy it, a new expansion's out, so I've been playing a good deal of WoW of late.

It's actually quite a good thing because I've been able to hook back up with friends I've not played with in a long time. I'm raiding with them again (killing bosses in dungeons), which has been fun--awesome guild, awesome guildies! But you know, it's really two kinds of socialization. I've made friends with my guildies and have people to do things with, even if it's virtual things, and I've made friends with my new character, Tealeigh, a Pandaren Monk!


How cute is she?! And while I'm playing my mage, Maeleigh, as my main, I've had fun rolling around (sometimes literally, since one of her abilities has her rolling around to get places faster) with Tealeigh. She's so, well, no pressure that it's unbelievable! Oh alts, how I love you! I mean, don't get me started on what this expac seems to have done to destroy my beloved class. Ugh!

Anyway, along the way, I've also enjoyed seeing the scenery. The new content, Pandaria, which is, maybe obviously, influenced by eastern culture, is so, so beautiful. The whole thing is just so beautiful!! All the cherry blossoms are my favorite!


Tons and tons of cherry blossoms. Really wonderful! And everyone seems so happy with this expansion, unlike the last two, and for me it harkens back to the days of the Burning Crusade, when everything felt appropriately exotic and epic. The bosses are fun, so far, but challenging and we're having fun whoppin' their asses.

So, while I'm out of school and work--save for my novel--I'm enjoying my time in Pandaria. If I can't get out and get social in the real world, this makes a pretty darn good alternative. I don't see human faces, but I get human conversations. It's really rather nice... even if my neglected house is a disaster!

I have some other things to talk about, some good news, but I'll save that for another time. For now, I have to clean up some and then it's back to Pandaria. Good night!

Unattractive, My Ass!!

You know what I find really annoying? Okay, that's a trick question, I find a lot of things really annoying.

Okay, so you know when you're watching a movie and they try to pass someone really hot off as a total train-wreck? Like anyone really believes that Jennifer Aniston is the undesirable girl? Yeah, right! No matter what they do, she's still Jennifer-freaking-Aniston. She's not going to be dressed down far enough to pass as plain or un-sexy. As a matter of fact, I just found out that tvtropes.org has a whole entry about this they call Hollywood Homely.  Total killer to my suspension of disbelief... It's Jennifer Aniston (and women like her)!

Anyway, so, just like that doesn't work in the movies, it doesn't really work in real life, either. When women who are good looking, and very obviously self-aware enough to know they're very obviously good looking, try to make other people believe they believe they're unattractive, it sort of ticks me off. There's enough trouble with self-esteem in the world without good looking fashion bloggers trying to pull the Hollywood Homely act. And what's more, if their tagline says they're unattractive, when they're clearly not and everyone knows as much because their picture is all over their freaking blog, it wreaks of trying to ride the low-self-esteem train to sympathy/readership town. People won't like you more if you think you're ugly when you're not. And women, in particular, won't like your disingenuous attempt to play down your understanding that, well, you're not unattractive as you claim!

Just saying.

 

Pay Attention to Me, Mama!!!!


This delightfully furry face is Chewbacca, our 10 1/2 month old shih-tzu puppy. If you've read here you probably remember him. If not, that's fine too. He was my/our Christmas present last year and along with his brothers, Anakin and Galileo, Chewbi is the light of my life--well, okay, Matt should technically get that title, but this little monster comes pretty darn close! He's a rambunctious little guy, too bitey for his own good, and Anakin pretty much hates his mad energy (that and having his ears chewed on).

Aside from being constantly bombarded with cuteness, what I love most about having a puppy is how it seems like we learn something new about him, and how he relates to us, every single day. Strangely true and recently I've had the opportunity to have just such a learning opportunity. I should be grateful, but, actually, I'm a little bit annoyed.

You see, I recently began playing World of Warcraft frequently again. For a long time there I only dabbled here and there (read: turned on my account but never played), but I didn't sit for long periods of time like I have been recently. Since we've had Chewbi, I've always been accessible to him in such a way that he can cuddle with me. If I'm on the couch, or Matt's chair, he can curl up with me. In my desk chair, it's not possible. He sits his adorable little self down on my keyboard tray and blocks the monitor.

So, a few days ago, Chewbi decided he had had enough of my constant attention to the computer and tried to do something about it. My desk is so close to the sofa that my chair bumps against the arm. That means that the back of the sofa and the back of my chair are almost always in contact. In an effort to get attention, Chewbi has taken to climbing the back of the sofa, putting both paws on my chair, and laying his head on my shoulder. That picture, right there, is one I took this morning when he scaled the sofa for just such a purpose. The only problem with this is that when he puts his paws on my shoulder, it sort of hurts. He's only about 12 lbs., but his little claws can dig into flesh pretty effectively.

I always joke that Chewbi is the "king of cuddles and kisses." This is true, he loves to be loved and cuddled. So much so that he's going after the cuddles, whether I want them or not. I still haven't decided what to do about him scaling the sofa, or if I'll do anything at all, since he's not technically hurting anything--both he and Ani think they're cats and climb the back of the sofa. I do, though, think it's adorable that he's willing to go to such lengths to be close to me. He really is a gem!

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, check out those rabies tags! I just noticed it's fairly clear in the picture. You can't even read them anymore because one of his favorite things to do is chew on them. Bitey doesn't even begin to cover it. ~.^