Friday, January 31, 2014

Oh ffs, FexEx...

Would someone please explain to me what, exactly, I'm supposed to do with this...

This is a picture of a package that was delivered by FedEx this morning (and part of Chewbi's face). It's sitting on the top step, right outside my storm door. Since we don't have a deck, just stairs, when I open the door this package is going to fall 3.5 feet to the ground. Since I'm pretty sure it's the stick vacuum I ordered (though why it would ever need such a big box, I have no idea), punting it to the ground isn't a good idea.

I am sooooooooo pissed.

What's worse, the FedEx guy didn't even knock to see if we were here. It just tossed it onto the steps, which I wouldn't have heard had Ani & Chewbi not had an epic shitfit, barking at the door. And, I can't go out the back door and around because the back door is blocked on the outside by a small tree that the groundskeepers allowed to grow up through my back steps. It's okay, though, since the back door has a bad habit of opening all by it's lonesome. So, not only do we never open that door, we couldn't even if we wanted to.

Which means I have two choices. I can stay trapped in the house while that box sits on the stairs waiting to be stolen or I can risk breaking it. I suppose I could complain to FedEx, but I don't see what good that's going to do. It isn't as though they'll come back and fix this problem. I seriously wish Wal-Mart would allow me to choose a shipper. They have a tendency to ship half my order with UPS and half with FedEx. While our UPS packages always get here without a problem, it isn't the first time I've had a problem with FedEx.

Might just have to stop ordering from Wal-Mart. That should fix any future problems, but won't do a thing for this one. Whatever else I do, even if it doesn't do any good, I think I'll complain to FedEx. They can't be doing this.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Gaming

Rolling some dice...

AD&D 2e with Matt, Melanie, Joey, and Russ. Looking forward to playing again on Saturday. Okay, so maybe it's not exactly wordless... but as close as I come.

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In Defense of Personal Blogging...

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a blogosphere comprised of personal bloggers. This blogosphere was vast and wonderful, and bloggers flocked to join. This blogosphere was autobiographical, where interesting people shared interesting stories about their lives and other bloggers commented on those stories with honest feedback. In this magical blogosphere people took the time to read your thoughts and think about them. There were no generic comments, no link bait, and all the bloggers blogged happily ever after.

Or something like that, right? Right, because when blogging became a thing it was a lot like journaling. Blogs were the technological, postmodern revival of the dead-tree edition diary. They were a peek into the lives of people you knew, and people you didn't know, and they were honest. At least, the best ones were. They were a way to meet people you might never otherwise know, to make friends around the world, and share experiences. For those that still engage in personal blogging, they still are.

But there's a problem.

Personal blogs are dying out. They're becoming extinct, a relic of a time when there was less information floating around in cyberspace and people had better attention spans--and frankly, seemed to care more about people and less about missing the next big trend. Now, with the web growing vaster by the millisecond, there's so much content and information available, we seem to have collectively developed the attention span of a goldfish. This post is already longer than most people can go without clicking onto something shinier. An issue that, frankly, speaks poorly of us as a people.

For the past few days I've been searching for other personal blogs. I'm looking for reading material and relationships with like minded individuals. I'm having a remarkably hard time. Everything has to have a niche now. Mommy blogging, style, lifestyle, technology, beauty, DIY, entertainment, home renovation, photography, travel, food, book bloggers... but, personal blogging has become a catch all. It's the category for blogs that don't fit well into other niches, which would be fine if those blogs were actually personal blogs. It's less personal blogs and more "you don't fit anywhere else." The personal blogging category is becoming the blogosphere's junk drawer. Don't believe me? Go to any blog cataloging site and look at the personal category. Lots of neglected, uncategorizable link bait. Because personal blogs aren't really a thing anymore. People don't care about people anymore.

Worse, people revile the idea that anyone would care about personal blogging, or personal bloggers. An example: I came across a blog tonight, the entirety of which was one long entry about why personal blogging is a waste of time. Someone actually took the effort to create an entire blog, just to explain why they believed personal blogging was pointless. It boggles the mind, but is just one of the many examples available that exemplify how personal bloggers aren't valuable to the blogosphere anymore.

We don't necessarily monetize, or care about SEO or keyword optimization--though some might. We care about being who we are and sharing our experiences. We do it for ourselves, to remember, and for others to make connections with our fellow human beings. It's symptomatic of a bigger problem, though. One that extends far beyond the blogosphere. In college I studied English because I feet an overwhelming desire to make human connections--which is a big deal for someone without serious agoraphobia and social anxiety. To examine that part of the world that grasps at humanity and sees value in making connections with the human part of our past--and our present and future. I write a personal blog for the same reason. But just as in the business world my degree makes me less employable because I didn't study something others find useful, personal blogging makes me less valuable to a blogosphere that asks only what you're quantifyably worth in dollars and cents, or clicks and visitors.

I won't stop personal blogging or sharing my thoughts, even if not one single other person finds them interesting or relevant. Nor will I stop looking for others who, like me, are working toward taking part in the human experience by sharing themselves honestly. They're still out there and they're looking for an audience who will value them beyond their ability to sell something. And truly, I'm fine with the existence of niche blogs that specialize in whatever is relevant to their authors (heck, monetize away!!), I even have a much neglected book blog, but there has to be room for those things to co-exist with  personal blogs. Technology is dehumanizing enough without our willingness to participate in marginalizing and discounting one another for something as trivial as links and clicks.

I already follow some amazing people and, this week, I've found some more great personal blogs with my SITS Girls tribe members. Connections I hope will hold. But, even if they don't, they give me hope that there are still other people like me who want to connect on a personal level.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Poked and Prodded

It's going to be one of those ridiculously long weeks. You know, the ones you dread the moment you look at your calendar and realize how much you have to do? Yeah, that's this week and it's only just started. Bah! But, once it's over, hopefully things will settle down for a while... maybe? Seriously, universe, I'm talking to you. Chill, okay? I can't handle too much go, go, go before I'm gone, gone, gone! I really shouldn't complain, I suppose, because poor Matt really has it worse.

Last week I decided that I needed to get all of my medical stuff out of the way early this year. So, I called and made appointments for a check-up with the dentist for today, an appointment for my well-woman check up for Friday morning, and an eye exam next Monday. This is the week I get poked and prodded, scraped and puffed at, and everything in between. No fun. It's also been a bit of a headache because I've been having some problems with my doctors. Since I have new insurance, and the kinks are still being worked out, I've had to look for a new doctor and a new dentist.

Well, okay, the dentist thing really isn't because I have new insurance. I just needed to find a dentist that was in-network with my current insurance. I did that, made an appointment and went today. The good news is that after dreading it, because I thought I had broken a tooth, it turns out my teeth are in pretty good shape. I have to have one filling because the tooth I thought I broke lost one. Otherwise, I have to have a deep cleaning, which will be no fun, but I'll be numb and on nitrous. So, no big deal. My appointment is on February 3rd. Then I go back for an orthodontics consult on Feb 24 to see if she can work out the issue with my bottom teeth overlapping--not sure I'll do it, it'll depend what it costs.

The doctor thing, though, has been a pretty big pain in the ass. I got new insurance, which means I had to find a new doctor because it turns out that my doctor (whom I love) isn't in network with my new plan. My fault, I didn't look into it before choosing the plan. Since the new plan is saving us about $190 per month, I'm not complaining. When I got the cards, the doctor listed was someone who isn't even in town, and it was an old man. No and no. Thank you. So, I called Blue Cross Blue Shield and got them to change my PCP to a woman who's in town. But, when I call to make an appointment with her, I find out she isn't in town anymore either. She now works out of the same clinic in De Leon that the first guy works from. It's about a half an hour drive, so I went ahead and made an appointment. A better option than trying to change my PCP again.

So, now I have to see a new doctor, whom I've never met, for my physical. Not at all looking forward to that, especially since I'm particularly sensitive about my weight and since it's embarrassing. Hopefully, she'll turn out to be nice and helpful and can get me back on the pill (which I call my "baby blockers"). Here's hopin'. Oh, and maybe she can recommend (or maybe refer) me to a good therapist. I really think I need to see someone soon.

Then, to make matters worse, I go to Wal-Mart to get some prescriptions and the (really rude) clerk in pharmacy, who clearly wanted to chat with the other girls in pharmacy rather than helping me, refused to take my insurance. They take it, my RX plan has confirmed it, but she tells me that she won't bother checking because the insurance is backlogged on their end and so Wal-Mart isn't taking it yet. Our prescriptions, which usually cost us, like, $6.00 total, cost me $30.00! I was not happy. But when I called my RX plan provider to bitch them out about it, they say there's no problem and that Wal-Mart should be taking it. Time to find a new pharmacy. Maybe Walgreens or CVS?

The only one that was old hat was the eye doctor. Though I don't particularly enjoy it, I also don't really mind going. I always looooovvveee to get new glasses, though, so there's an upside. Though I'm going to have to get both normal glasses and sunglasses, which gets pricey. Especially with two of us. Thankfully, our insurance is good and pays for new frames and such each year. Matt, though, actually hates going to the eye doctor. It's his least favorite, since he's really sensitive about his eyes, and he gives those poor people a really hard time. When he was a kid, an eye doctor told him he was the worst patient he had ever had. Our new eye doctor tells him he has one of the worst astigmatisms he has ever seen. Matt's not eye doc friendly.

Top all of that with the fact that I went back to work last week and I'm pretty tired lately. Matt went back to school last week, too. It's the first semester of his second year of grad school and he's already exhausted. He has a ton of homework already, even though he's only taking two classes, and this is his long week--meaning he works five 12 hour shifts this week (60 hour work week for the win). Both of us are going to be dragging ass by the time this week is done. Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Salon-Chair Philosophy...

I sit in the chair, holding in place the too-small towel wound around my wet hair until the pretty hairdresser swats my hands away. It's Saturday morning, I'm tired from having slept like crap, and try not to look at her--or myself in the mirror--too much. I don't want to have to force the small talk, so I stare at my hands, or the floor, and hope she gets the point. No luck. She asks what I want done with my hair, then begins to ask me the sort of questions hairdressers ask. The "do you have any kids?" and "are you married?" kind of questions.

No and yes, I say. She tells me she has just one, then makes a face that says quite clearly that she's not completely certain about motherhood. Her daughter is nine years old and she's divorced from the girl's dad. I nod and fish around inside my head for something (anything) to say. I'm no good at idle conversation with strangers. I tell her kids aren't for me, either, and she nods, then tells me about some of her family issues. I learn she was married at 16, has a little girl, is once divorced, re-married, and in the midst of her second divorce. I also learn that she loved her first husband, whose a cad, while she only married the second one out of convenience.

I mentioned to Melanie, while on our way to lunch the day before, that I needed to get a haircut. Like me, she hates going to the salon and trying to make small talk. Maybe we're anti-social, but the interactions are generally unwelcome. "Do you think it would be rude to ask them not to talk to you?"  I asked her. We had a good laugh.

But this hairdresser, a pretty 25 year old with a pixie cut and big bow in her hair, goes beyond small talk. She very nearly shares her life story with me and I find myself talking to her. Even though I don't know her, I find myself listening and sympathizing. She's having a hard time, getting divorced for the second time, still in love her first husband who had cheated on her. She swears to me that she can't take him back, even though she might want to, deep down, she can't let the past go.

I say, "You can't live on love, there has to be more." She says, "I think you put up with more shit if you love them. If you love someone marriage is more likely to last than if you marry for reasons other than love." She tells she put up with her ex's crap for years. She tells me that she's begun to hate her second husband for his intolerable idiosyncrasies, where love causes us to overlook those things we like least about our partners.

And this catches me off guard since I've always thought it was the other way around. I've always thought that marriage for friendship or convenience, for good reasons other than affection, made things easier. After all, loving someone involves risk, while marrying for platonic, logical reasons doesn't. Jealousy is born from love, however misguided, and so are a lot of other negative, destructive emotions. But to marry without love is to marry without the fear of those ugly feelings... or so the logic goes. She says it's not, though, and since she's been there and I haven't, I choose to believe her.

Now, a week later, I'm still thinking on it. I've been thinking on it ever since the haircut. I wonder if I might ever stop thinking on it. I married out of fear and obligation the first time, love the second. My first marriage didn't last. I couldn't tolerate those things about my ex that made him disgusting to me: the constant emotional set down and his complete disbelief that I was smart enough or thin enough, or really anything enough, and I grew to hate him. To hate myself, too, for being an accomplice to my own destruction. My second marriage couldn't be happier, my husband believes in me and that I'm enough, even though it hasn't always been easy. It's a risk, because love means being hurt and no one has ever been married without suffering the pain that comes with being in love.

I realize now that being open to this girl's small talk, and not-so-small talk, was worth the awkward moments it took to get there. When I tell Matt about it, he says, "Do you think they plan out these philosophical conversations?" No, I say. I think that this proves wisdom can come from the most unexpected people and places. Maybe next time I'll be open to the small-talk, but probably not. It's taken 35 years to find one wise hairdresser, I'm not holding my breath for a second.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tiny Houses, Clutter, and Getting Organized...

In 2013, I tried, if somewhat half-heartedly, to convince Matt that we should move into a "tiny house." I love them. Their simplicity and the prospect of extreme downsizing appeals to me. He rolled his eyes, of course, but, actually, I wasn't completely kidding. I really do like the idea of downsizing, if only to rid ourselves of the clutter on which we've wasted more money than I could bring myself to count. I like the idea of cozy little spaces and, according to The Tiny Life, these little houses are 100-400 sq. ft. That appeals to me.

But then I realized that we just about already do. Do we live in a tiny house? No. But we do manage to squeeze ourselves, our furbabies, and our clutter into about 900 sq. ft., which isn't much. And yes, I realize that that's a pretty good amount of space for two people (twice the biggest "tiny house"), but we have so much crap that our space has been taken over by things. I counted the other day and we have 9 pieces of heavy furniture in our teensy tiny little living room. We're talking about 14' x 15'. Tiny.

An issue of space compounded by the fact that every single surface in our house, every single one, is literally covered in stuff. The clutter is driving me nuts. For a while we had a 9-cubby bookcase and that helped, but Matt broke it (long, miserable story). So, in lieu of downsizing and throwing everything away, ditching our current space for a tiny house (of which Matt pretty loudly objects), I've decided that we're getting better organized in 2014. Which means shelving, because we don't have nearly enough. So, tonight, I ordered four shelving units. Two bookcases for the living room and two wire shelving units for the laundry room.

Hopefully that will be a good enough start that I'm not staring at crap everywhere. Because the books that've swallowed up my kitchen table are driving me crazy--we have an open concept floor plan, so our kitchen and living room are open to one another. The shelving units are set to arrive sometimes between Jan 17th and 20th, so next weekend. Luckily, Matt's off and can help me put them all together--if he will. He's gotten to be quite handy since he started at his current job nearly two years ago. I'm not sure what will happen after I get all this shelving installed, but it'll be easier to assess what we need when we've started to get things better organized. I'm thinking it might be time to start throwing things away, not an easy feat for two pack-rats. When I want to toss something, he doesn't, and vice versa. Wish us luck... we're going to need it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Writer's Workshop, Take Two...

I attended a writer's workshop with Oklahoma Poet Laureate, Nathan Brown, last year. Last night, I went to another. When he was here last, they promised a second installment and last night it happened. And it was a lot of fun! Nathan is a really nice, personable guy and very easy to engage with. Not only did I learn a whole lot, and think about a whole lot of things I'd never thought of before, I had the opportunity to hear what other local writer's thought and how they worked (as far as they were willing to volunteer). And afterward, there was a small reception and I had the opportunity to spend some time chatting with friends I haven't seen in a while.

While the workshop included a short recap of the previous workshop, he went on to discuss first impressions and catching readers with a great first line. The part that was most interesting to me, however, was his discussion about cutting through the driftwood and being willing to make revisions and edits. Since I have so much trouble with this, this was pretty important for me. I really don't like to toss anything, but it's a skill I'm going to have to learn if my book is ever going to become a real book--"And... and I'm... I'm real. I'm a real book!" Eh hem, yeah.

Anyway, I don't know if there will be anymore, but having gone to these ones has made me a) write more!! b) want to start another blog (long story, but don't worry, I've resisted so far), and c) go to more workshops. Lots more workshops. All of the workshops, in fact. But, I don't think I likely will. I was comfortable with this one because I knew a lot of the other people and I knew what to expect. I had friends there. Other workshops include strangers, and strange expectations, and stepping outside my comfort zone... and admitting that I'm an MA in english who not only reads (read: devours!) romance novels, but also wants to write them. Still coming to terms with trying to say that to someone, in person, face to face. Way easier to type it.

Now I just have to get the nerve to open that novel I've been working on and see where I was and what sort of mess I've made of it. Might just go do that right now, in fact. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

358 to go...

You know that thing that happens when you don't blog for a while and then for a little while more, and the longer you're away the harder it is to come back? Yeah, that's not what's happening with me right now. It has been in the past, and it would be easy to say it was again, but no. That wouldn't really be very honest. The honest thing would be to admit I've been avoiding it. And you're probably wondering what there is to ignore, and likely thinking that ignoring a personal blog is a bit like ignoring yourself, but had I come here before now, everything would have gone down hill. It would have devolved into a pity party because, honestly, this year has been so crappy so far. I'm ready for it to be over and we've still got 358 days to go.

You see, someone I care about--my mentor and someone I really look up to--was in a pretty bad car accident right before the new year. I've been sick since before the new year and now Matt's sick, too (even though I warned him that lovin' on me could potentially have that negative side effect). My voice is breaking, I'm coughing, and though I don't generally feel bad, it's still annoying not to be able to talk for longer than five minutes without starting to lose my voice. Since I'm going back to work in less than one week, this is really not the time for this. The crud needs to go the hell away. Oh, and we got a new insurance plan (one I chose) and I kind of neglected to do my homework so now we have to get new doctors since ours don't take our plan. So yeah, a really ugly few weeks.

But, hopefully, things will be looking up. Word is that my mentor who was in the accident (and her husband and mother) are recovering well, thought he process will be a long one. I'm starting to get better and Matt says he is too. My mom had surgery on January 2nd and came through it really well, even though she was in the hospital for two days afterward. Matt's still loving his new promotion, which makes it easier for him to be happy about going to work. And, like I said before, I go back to work next week--a situation I'm really looking forward to since, against all odds, I've grown to really love my job. I've also managed to lose a few more pounds and get my weight loss efforts back on the right track (since I lost nothing for a month and a half over the holidays).

I'm trying to look on the bright side about all of this, can you tell? But really, do you know how hard it is for a pessimist (and a cynic who worries about everything) to look on the bright side? I can barely see the damn bright side. Maybe this year is just getting all of it's crap out of the way before things get too much further along. I just wish it wouldn't, I can't really process this much suck all at once. Maybe once my schedule normalizes out and I'm back to work, and have something of a purpose and something to keep me busy again, then I'll have an easier time of it. Maybe now that I have new insurance I really well seek therapy. Good lord, even though things are starting to look up, I need some good news right about now.

And, despite my efforts to avoid it, I just realized this post turned out kind of depressing. Bah!