Monday, December 15, 2014

A Pagan Terrier?

"Did either of you put Josie's toy on my altar?"

This question was addressed to my mom and brother. Of course I knew that the answer was no, but I still wanted to ask. But let's back up just a bit.

You can imagine my surprise when I was laboring over an essay and happened to glance over at my altar to see something odd on it. At first I thought that my oil warmer was somehow broken, since it's black and the toy next to it was also black. When I realized that the warmer wasn't damaged I stared at the toy trying to figure out what it was. Hey, it was facing me at an odd angle, and it wasn't where I expected a toy to be.

But, sure enough, Josie had put one of her toys on my altar.

Not just on my altar, but at the very back and more or less center of the altar. Sure it's only at knee level, but being a terrier mix Josie is a smaller dog. She must have gotten on her hind legs to reach back there. Which would be easy enough for her to do, but it would have been less effort to put it on the edge of the altar. Or, you know, drop the toy on the floor. Like I'm pretty sure most normal dogs do.

Maybe Josie was making offerings to the gods? Should I be worried? What god was she petitioning, and what for?

Josie getting tummy rubs from me

Monday, November 17, 2014

Books Unpacked

Readers who've been with me for a while may remember that I had my own apartment briefly a couple years ago, and that I had to put some things into storage when I moved back in with my parents. Some were things like kitchen stuff that I don't need here, but I also had to sacrifice my books so that I could make way for a computer. I wasn't happy about it though, and I was only willing to part with them because I expected it to be a short term situation.

I finally retrieved my books from storage a few months ago, though they remained in boxes (nine total) in the living room. While still inconvenient, I at least had them close at hand, and that was an improvement.

Then, I finally did a bit of rearranging and got a proper bookcase in my bedroom last week. It's a bit cramped, but still comfy, and most importantly I've got my books.  And actually, I'd say my room is even more comfortable now that my books are here.

I hadn't realized how much I've missed having my books where I can see them.

The religious/spiritual type stuff section

Things are still somewhat disorganized (ok, messy) in my bedroom, and my bookshelf reflects that. My most organized section is pictured above, and even there it's somewhat lacking in proper organization.

And yes, I'm in the habit of putting things on my shelves. Above is my Cerridwen doll, from Dancing Goddess Dolls. (If you're unfamiliar with them, I definitely recommend checking them out.) Below are some Halloween decorations that I found  while cleaning yesterday. Yes I know it's late for Halloween, but I figured I may as well put them out briefly this year even if it's November already. Lastly, there's a dragon who guards my books.

Pumpkins, tombstones, and dragon

It's good to have them back.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Josie

I've said before that mom needs a dog, and I wasn't the only one who thought that. So I was delighted when mom started talking last month about getting one, and even happier when she brought home Josie this evening. Josie's a small white dog, mixed breed, but we know she's part Cairn Terrier.

Meeting Josie

This was my first photo of Josie. I tried to get a photo of mom holding her, but by the time I was ready to take a photo Josie was already on the floor and trying to meet me. She's a very friendly dog. She's also adorable when she stands on her hind legs.

Standing up

Josie has really taken to mom, and already gets separation anxiety when mom steps outside momentarily or is otherwise out of her sight. I actually heard her bark before mom did (she's mostly a quiet dog) because Josie objected to mom stepping outside to get dog supplies from the car. I guess she's decided that mom should be her person. I also wonder if the separation anxiety could be in part because this is Josie's fourth (fifth?) home, and she isn't even two years old yet.

She's already settling in nicely though, seems happy and she likes everyone. Josie has also decided that there's one spot of the floor that's hers, as you can see in the photo below. And yes, she's also got a sweater. She'd had one before, so mom bought her a purple one with hearts. I'm pretty sure that mom will be knitting another sweater for Josie soon.

So cute, with eyes closed and a sweater

Now, as for the cats...

The cats aren't sure what to make of Josie. We're keeping them fairly separate for now, but already started introductions with Kokopelle. And we only did that because if we didn't, he'd slip past us to meet her when he have little control over the situation. We'd rather things go as well as possible.

Kokopelle isn't sure what to think of Josie. Keeping her on the leash, we let Kokopelle into the kitchen/dining room where she's staying for now. Once they got a good look at each other she tried to get to him with lots of enthusiasm. I thought it was really cute, but Kokopelle disagreed. We let him in a second time when she was tired and sitting on mom's lap, and they actually went nose to nose before Kokopelle decided to leave. Both times he had control over how close he got to her, which I think was the important thing for introductions.

I don't know if Kokopelle will ever be a fan of dogs, but I think he'll at least learn to live with one without much fuss.

Saphira still hasn't met Josie yet. But for some reason she did let me pick her up so I could show her where we moved the cat food to. (It had been in the dining room, which is now occupied by puppy.) Saphira really sticks only to dad, and for her to let me pet her is unusual. For her to let me pick her up is somewhat shocking. She's also been hiding under my bed, and I have to wonder if Saphira blames Josie's presence on my dad somehow and is making a statement by hanging out near me. She does things like that when she's ticked off at him.

Saphira under my bed

And, before anyone asks, no we aren't introducing her to the rats. Not sure why anyone would ask, but people ask about how I handle having rats and cats, so I guess some might wonder about this as well.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sabine and Samhain

My emotions have been pretty mixed today.

First of all, Sabine. I managed to get a vet appointment for her today to help me determine if it was time to help her on her way. I'd already begun to resign myself to it last night, but wanted to see what my vet said first. After finding out that her condition was worse than I had realized (for example, a bizarre heartbeat) I decided it was time.

Putting down a rat is different from how a cat is put down. It's easy to find a vein on a cat, but rats are too small. So they put Sabine under with gas, first in a chamber and then fit a mask over her head. Once she was asleep they put an injection straight into her heart. It took a bit for her to fall asleep, but she went really quickly after the injection.

I'll get her ashes in a few weeks.

Despite my morning, the day wasn't all bad. I spent it with my boyfriend, who has a knack for making me feel better. He took me out for beer and pizza, and we cuddled while watching movies together. We also celebrated our three year anniversary, which was really last weekend but we'd decided to combine it with Samhain this year.

As for Samhain, I haven't done much for that so far today. I guess I've been too busy thinking about Sabine. But I have listened to a couple Samhain songs in the last couple days, including this one by Heather Alexander.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sabine

Sabine is pretty old for a rat, at over three years. She's almost entirely blind due to cataracts in both eyes, is underweight, and has no strength in her hind legs. And yet, she's managed to remain affectionate, energetic (or as energetic as possible since she can't climb), and makes happy noises when I pet her.

I'd said that so long as she's still making happy noises, is affectionate, and energetic, I'll give her more time. But now I wonder, does there come a point where it's best to help a pet on their way even though they don't seem to be telling you it's time?

I worry that I'll make my decision, one way or the other, based on my own emotions rather than on Sabine's needs.

I don't know if I'm thinking about this because it's so painful to always wonder whether Sabine's still alive when I check in on her.

I don't know if I should have helped Sabine on her way before now.

And I really don't want to think about this at Samhain, the day to honor and remember the dead. But I've watched Sabine get even thinner the past few days, and she also didn't make her happy noises one of the times I checked on her today. She even seems weaker. Whatever the day or holiday is, it would be pretty irresponsible of me to not to try to do what's best for her.

I'm not asking for advice, I'm just trying to get my thoughts in order. And I wonder if, when I have to make this decision again someday (I expect to always have pets, so it's inevitable), referring back to this post may help me.

With Beka, Sabine's sister, I came close to making this decision. She was very sick, and I planned to put her down if I became certain that she had no hope of recovery, but she died before I could reach that conclusion. I also made this decision together with my mom for Socks, the cat we helped on his way just the day before I lost Beka. But I've never actually had to face this decision for a pet that I'm solely responsible for before.

Again, I'm not asking for advice. I'm just getting my thoughts together.

Sabine and Beka

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Talking Crochet

I started a new crochet project yesterday. It's the most ambitious thing I've done with yarn, not in terms of time, but in terms of complexity. For the first time ever I'm making something that requires counting stitches, adding stitches, and doing crazy things like that. I'm even using a stitch marker to keep track of my starting point, something I've never found necessary before now.

It's a challenge, but it's fun. More fun than I'd remembered crocheting being (I haven't crocheted in years), so I'm not sure if I'd just forgotten how awesome it is or if I should have been doing more complex projects ages ago. You know, things that require more thought than a simple scarf.

I've also found that I keep talking to myself while working on this project, and was amused at some of the things I found myself saying. The only other time I've found myself making such odd commentary was when playing D&D, which is a rather different activity from crocheting.

Just a few of the things I found myself saying:

"Ok, I'm just going to pretend like I know what I'm doing and hope for the best."

"Wait, twenty-three single crochets? I can't count that high!"

"...twenty five, and twenty six. Good. Wait, I only needed twenty-three. Dangit! Yeah, I can't count."

And later...

"Hey, that worked out! Awesome!"

*directing music that I'm listening to on headphones*

You can ask what I'm making, but I won't answer for a few days. It's a surprise for someone. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adventures With Chaucer

So let's see, what adventures have I had in school this term? Well, there's Chaucer...

Assigned reading for school last week was Chaucer. In particular, I read "The Wife of Bath." This wasn't my first encounter with Chaucer, but I hadn't remembered it being so difficult to read. I'm going to guess that either my memory is faulty or that I read it translated from Middle English. Because, what was in my textbook that I got this time around? The original Middle English. And it wasn't an easy read.

I thought it was odd to get the reading in Middle English without any advice from the professor on how to wade through it, but I figured she had her reasons. So I charged ahead. I'm an English major, after all, and I am totally up to a challenge like this. I read the footnotes, and the odd word translated into my own English (frequently not the words I really needed translated), and found that reading it got easier the more time I spent with the language. Although I knew that I was missing things I was certainly able to understand it overall, and I looked online to read briefly what others had said about "The Wife of Bath." I almost finished the reading, too.

Then I got to class, and the professor mentioned that she'd sent us an e-mail with the translated text. At our puzzled expressions she asked "Did none of you check your e-mail?" Of course I did, and so had others. But it turns out that somehow that e-mail hadn't sent.

To top it off, I was apparently the only one who waded through it in Middle English rather than look for a translation online. Or at least, I'm the only one who admitted to it.

I'm really not sure what the moral of the story is. I guess it's either that I'm crazy enough to cheerfully do crazy assignments, or that I'm crazy enough not to question crazy assignments. Actually, is there a difference? Either way has the same end result, I suppose. *sigh* Oh well...

On the up side, at least I got to laugh at myself.

Beowulf

This isn't Chaucer, but I wanted to share a photo and this looks prettier. It looking prettier probably has something to do with the fact that it's easier to attack a text with highlighters and pen if I can really dig my teeth into it. And Beowulf was easier for me than Chaucer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Horror Conventions

Last weekend was Zompire, a local undead film festival that I was able to attend the first evening of. Unlike the other horror events I've attended the focus was on zombies, not Lovecraft. But there was one thing that was the same as what I experienced before, which was the sense that I belonged there. That surprised me at the first horror convention I attended, and by now I've stopped thinking about it.

Now that I am thinking about it (and this may be me over analyzing things), that may be that sense of belonging that has really kept my interest in horror. Though I can't say really put my finger on why I feel like I belong there.

Over the weekend I found myself thinking, again, that it may be strange for me to like horror since I have an anxiety disorder. Most of my life I made a point of avoiding the genre because I expected horror to be horrifying. After all, it's called horror, right? But somehow, most of it doesn't bother me. I've found that I just need to listen to my gut if it's saying that a particular movie may be too much for me to handle.

Actually, thinking back, maybe I should have figured out that I might like horror from my experiences with haunted houses I went to when I was younger. In particular I remember laughing at a scene that involved a woman giving birth to an alien baby, because it was so ridiculous that it was funny, and afterwards a friend told me that people aren't supposed to laugh at a haunted house. Um, sorry, I just found it laughable. So I laughed.

Although I didn't really have a plan when sitting down to write, I did want share a song I discovered at CthulhuCon in April. I realize this is rather after the fact, and I had intended to write about it in April, but was too busy with homework and migraines and stress. This, and other songs that the group performs, are a retelling of a Lovecraft story. Unfortunately I can't remember which one and I haven't yet made a point of reading it. Yes, I know, bad of me if I really like the music...in my defense I've been a bit distracted.



I was lucky enough to see this performed live, and it was amazing. I was also surprised since it's not at all the usual music I enjoy. So I can't say why I like it, but I just do.

...And I'm realizing that I didn't have any particular place I was going with this post, and I hadn't even planned most of what I said above. I had also meant to avoid the subject of anxiety because I'm tired of writing about it on the blog, but since it's just part of my life I may as well acknowledge it.

And now I'm thinking,  maybe I should just sit down and start writing and see where it goes more often, rather than thinking that I need to have a plan? If I do that, I may blog more, which is what I want. Hmm...

So, this is my maybe sort of random post that isn't exactly the sort of thing I'd been wanting to write, but it feels so good to write that I'll go ahead and hit the "publish" button.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Anxiety Stuff

After too long waiting, I finally got to talk to someone in mental health yesterday about the anxiety. The appointment was specifically to discuss medication, but we also talked about the anxiety itself.

Guess what? Apparently it's not uncommon for people to be out of it for the rest of the day after an appointment like that. Or that's what my mom said, after I spent the rest of the day being out of it. Even trying to hit the reset button on my day by taking a nap in the afternoon (which is funny since I told the mental health guy that I don't really take naps, which is usually true) didn't help.

On the up side I feel like I understand the anxiety a bit better, though I'm not sure how.

Another up side, I finally learned that ADHD medications can make things worse for people also suffering from anxiety. This actually explains a lot, and the more I think about it the more pissed I am. I've been on so many ADHD meds that I've lost track of them all, many of them didn't help much, and some of them hurt me. Generally if they were harmful by making me depressed or zombie-like I could fix that by just coming off of them. But when I'm stressed can I still get the chest pains that Strattera started years ago, which can still be scary despite the EKGs showing that my heart is fine.

I might have been spared a lot of pain if, while treating the ADHD, people had checked out whether I could also have an anxiety disorder.

Learning to deal with the anxiety is still an ongoing process. I'll probably continue to write about it simply to keep myself from trying to hide it again, since I've seen that hiding it can do more harm than good. And I had a reminder yesterday of how bad I am about hiding it (as well as how good I got at hiding it), when I mentioned to my family that I'd been having anxiety while taking the bus with my brother...and that surprised him. Yes, I actually successfully hid that I was having to tell myself to calm down from my brother when he was sitting right next to me.

So...it's an ongoing process.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Defining Bisexuality (Again)

Bisexuality Visibility Day was last week, but us bis celebrated all week. Along the way I got into arguments about how this weird word should be defined. There are sort of two camps on this:

1) Attraction to men and women. This is a very binary definition, and I'm still unclear whether this is supposed to exclude anyone who isn't cisgendered.

2) Attraction to your own gender and other genders.

Both definitions are used by bisexuals, and although I favor the second (maybe because it's what describes me) I consider both to qualify one as bi. After all, many bisexuals experience our sexual orientation differently, and some are only attracted to two genders while others are attracted to any and all. In defining bisexuality we may as well acknowledge that either of these definitions can fit a bi person, and I tend to be happiest when one acknowledges this while explaining what we are.

My arguments in the last week were the result of finding that seemingly most of the people on a particular queer Facebook page I'd taken a liking to were saying that the first definition is the absolutely correct one, so I commented a couple times saying that the second one is perfectly acceptable as well and should not be forgotten. I saw a few others trying to clear this up as well on that page.

It seemed that no one who insisted on "bi = two = men and women" was willing to listen, and they disregarded the few of us pointing out that many bisexuals do in fact use the second definition. After being told by one fellow bisexual that I should rethink what I call myself, and someone else (maybe also bi?) suggested that I should call myself pansexual or polysexual, I admit to bursting into tears.

I was upset because being part of the bi community, even being a fairly inactive member of it, has brought me a lot of comfort. It can be comforting to know that there's a place I belong because I was born into it, and that no one can take that away from me. So, to be told that I don't belong...let's just say that it had me messaging my boyfriend something along the lines of "This hurts so much that I wish I were straight."

This arguing about the correct definition to the point of telling someone they aren't really bi needs to stop. I don't want to make this all about me, because it isn't, but I'm describing my own experiences because that's all I can do. I know I can't be the only bisexual who has cried over this, and who has wished (briefly in my case) to be monosexual so that I could just avoid the whole argument. I've also realized that I'm glad I never questioned my sexual orientation as a teen, instead always insisting to myself that I was straight, because that means I didn't have to handle this drama then.

When anyone is wishing or thinking these things, we've got a problem. (Yes, I'm aware that I was probably part of the problem in the past.) But it's a problem that can be fixed through people being willing to listen to each other, and being willing to educate themselves on things such as the history of this weird word.

Once my sobbing finally died down I turned to Google to double check how bisexual websites define the word so I could reassure myself that, yes, I do belong in this community. I'll share what I found soon, plus some more, but for now I'd like to share what Robyn Ochs says in her book Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.
"Every new idea I grappled with changed my definition of bisexuality. I have a new working definition: I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge in myself the potential to be attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree. I expect that this definition will change yet again, as I continue to learn."
This is a word whose definition isn't simple, and as Ochs points out its definition can change. Heck, it may even mean something different in fifty years. In the meantime it's my hope that people will learn to be more accepting of the fact that there is more than one definition for bisexual, and can think more about our similarities rather than our differences. Maybe we can focus on the fact that we are all attracted to more than one gender, and then talk about more important things like bi visibility.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Writing Novels

Over the years I've made various attempts at writing novels. When I recently retrieved my books from storage (remember I put much of my stuff in storage when I moved back in with my parents a couple years ago?) I discovered that I had placed my previous attempts at writing my own novels along with those boxes. Or, I at least had tidbits of each writing project. A couple of them were written on previous computers that I shared with my mom, I think, but I at least found outlines or notes on them with my books.

Ospella

I don't know how I came up with this name, though I suspect that it had something to do with my obsession with ospreys at the time. Ospella was majorly inspired by the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, complete with an abbey (or fortress?) named Ospella that was home to woodland creatures who had to fend off an unbelievable bad guy named Barblood. I may have been a little too inspired by Redwall, even having a hare who was obsessed with eating, and I called the youngsters dibbuns.

I don't think I had thought this one out very well since I don't know how it was supposed to end, aside from glorious victory for Ospella, and I only have about fifty handwritten pages of it.

Vanessa and Her Rats

A teenage girl finds baby wild rats who were orphaned, and decides to raise them by hand. Her friends help, and (completely unrealistically) they grow up to be great pets. (In reality, even hand raised they'll be too wild to be good pets if the parents were wild. But I didn't know this at the time.) Let's just say that I was extremely enthusiastic about my pet rats at the time. I was also really excited about Girl Scouts and decided to have the girls earn a Girl Scout badge during the book.

I think that I only have an outline for this one, and was writing it on a computer whose whereabouts I've lost track of. I figure it's around somewhere...

NaNoWriMo

Once upon a time a friend persuaded me to try writing a book for National Novel Writing Month. I have just a few notes on this one. It consists of two countries with new tension between them, a guy who's a bard/poet, and a lady mage who's also a warrior (and vegetarian...I was vegetarian at the time). They bring about peace somehow, and there's a dragon who helps at times. I also wanted a bit of romance, which I recall my family teasing me or giving me a hard time about, but I was trying to stretch myself. I don't think that writing romance would be easy for me.

I had no clue where I was going with this, it crashed and burned pretty quickly, and I'm not sure where the computer I was writing it on is. This was really my last proper attempt at a novel before this summer at a novel, and it was at least five years ago.

World building notes

I guess this doesn't quite count as a novel since I was just world building, but a novel was (is?) the ultimate goal. And I don't know, the NaNoWriMo thing may have been placed in it...? I have a notebook with twenty-five pages of notes about this world, and it's influenced some by Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea cycle. In particular the First Language and the dragons are similar to what you'll see in her Earthsea books.

My first entry in this notebook is dated 12/12/2004, the second to last is dated 9/29/2005, and the most recent is 9/3/2014.

Those Who Passed On

Summer classes may have fallen apart for me due to the anxiety problems (it was impossible to handle school for a while and I still don't know how to get completely back to normal), but my genre writing class got me started on writing what will be my first completed novel. Let's just say that it's urban fantasy influenced mildly by the horror genre. Oh, and there's a small but ancient dragon living with the heroine. Because I like dragons, and because everyone needs a dragon who perches on top of a cat tree and argues about whether you should have pizza or rare steak for dinner.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Strange Idea

A few months ago I discovered that one of my fellow students was about to go into surgery for something that could be cancer. (Turns out it wasn't.) It was something she'd been discussing with doctors for some time, but she was pretty private about it until just before the surgery when she would finally get a definite answer.

I never questioned her decision to keep things private for so long, and was amazed to see her apologize on Facebook today for not telling everyone sooner. Apparently some people disapproved of her decision to keep things private for so long and made their displeasure known.

Let me be clear: how someone deals with a medical crises should be about the person having the crises, not those around them. If someone needs support or just wants to be open about things, then telling everyone is awesome. If they need to deal with it privately and only tell one or two close friends or just their family in confidence, then that's also fine. But ultimately, it's about what's best for the one going through the health scare, not what others around them want for themselves.

I guess this bothers me because it reminds me of something that happened to me when I was in my late teens. I'm pretty sure I'd told my friends that I was seeing a doctor to help me manage my ADHD, but I hadn't told them that I was trying a new medication. The first they heard of it was when I asked them "Hey, um, have I seemed depressed and withdrawn in the last month? I have? Uh, I guess it's my new medication...which I will be coming off of immediately. Thanks." By that point I couldn't even keep track of all the meds I'd been on over the years, so why bother mentioning one more medication? I mean, do I need to share every time the doctor gives me cough medicine?

My two closest friends didn't see it that way and were upset that I hadn't told them about the new medication. So not only did I have to deal with the stupid medication making me depressed, I also had to defend myself to my friends when I needed their support.

Think about that. If someone you know has just told you that they're having health problems they need your support, not your criticism. The best thing you can do is ask how you can help them. I hope this idea isn't nearly as strange as it seems to be to some.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anxiety Stuff

One weird thing about anxiety is that it likes to rear its head in different ways at different times. The one common thread is that it usually only strikes at night while I'm alone.

The most typical anxiety for me seems to be the irrational fear that something horrible is hiding in the dark, and it's why I sleep with a flashlight. To be clear, I'm not afraid of the dark itself, but rather what I imagine to be in the dark. Sometimes it doesn't bother me at all (even off my medication I can sometimes feel fine), and at its mildest I can just pull the blankets over my head while I distract myself with an audiobook. At its worst I either sleep with my bedroom light on or stay up all night.

Bad as that one is, there's another way my anxiety has popped up recently that's actually worse. That is, the fear itself isn't worse, but...I just prefer to be terrified of imaginary monsters. I'm talking about when the anxiety teams up with hypochondria. This actually took me to urgent care during a panic attack because I wanted to make sure that the panic attack was all that was going on with me. Fortunately my anxiety seems to abandoning this fear in favor of monsters in the dark again.

Of course, I've also had anxieties about other things. A common one is irrational worrying about people I care about. In the past I've lived in terror of ball lightning (super random, I know), and of the house burning down. I even had nightmares about fires, though they ended about when I managed to turn back a wildfire in one of my dreams. Then there was this one horror movie that really triggered my anxiety last summer...that was bad enough that it bothered me during the day, even at work when I was surrounded by people. (Fortunately most horror doesn't bother me.)

The good news is that the anxiety medication seems to be working, though I could still be better. I actually realized a couple nights ago that I was doing better than usual, but then that realization got me worrying that there was something wrong with me. *sigh* Two steps forward, one step back? I think I giggled at myself when I realized what I was doing, thinking of Hanners from the comic strip Questionable Content. Check out Number 801: Like A Fainting Goat if you want to see what I mean. I actually kept thinking about Hanners, and the author of the comic who also has anxiety, to help myself through the worst of it.

Now that I feel mostly ok again I need to figure out how to get back normal again. Part of this will be properly picking up homework again since I got really behind in the last month...it turns out that it's really difficult to carry on as usual when you've got panic attacks and adrenaline rushes. I've also realized in the last couple days that I seem to have lost my ability to really keep track of time, and this isn't helping me get back on track.

I'll probably write a bit more about anxiety over the next month. If nothing else, it's a way to make certain that I don't go back to hiding it again.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why Say I'm Bi?

On the subject of bisexuality there's one question that keeps popping up: why even tell anyone that you're bi? I'd been noticing this question more often recently, always with people telling us to stay in the closet for various reasons. I thought it worth writing about after a certain advice columnist compared bisexuality to plushophilia when saying why a bi woman should keep her sexual orientation a secret.

So, why come out as bi? Here are the reasons that come to mind.

Because I want you to know who I really am. I can't explain this any better than Robyn Ochs in her book Getting Bi, so I'll quote her: "The cost of silence can be great. Failure to communicate, to share important information about ourselves, creates a barrier between us and our loved ones. André Gide said, 'It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.' We want others to know us not as their illusion of what we are, but as we truly are. Without this, we cannot truly be close." This seems like a good enough reason to come out all by itself.

Avoiding awkwardness or weirdness. It's weird to be in a conversation/argument where I'm being treated as a straight ally. This came up recently when I declined to attend a party where same sex couples weren't allowed, and those of us who said we wouldn't attend because of this rule were told off for "humiliating" the host because of our "political stance." This turned into a raging argument that I quietly observed for a while, and oddly enough things became somewhat polite once I pointed out that I'm bi and take homophobia/biphobia pretty personally. 

Lesson learned that day: conversations can go differently when a queer is known to be present. I'm not sure if this is another reason to be out of the closet, but it's worth noting.

Role models. I know I must have known bi adults as I was growing up, but I wish I'd known adults who were out of the closet as bi. This might not have helped me come to terms with my own sexual orientation in my teens, but it might have helped. I like to think that more of us being out of the closet might help future generations.


Showing people we exist. For some odd reason some people can't comprehend that we really can be attracted to more than one gender. Just read the comments on a few bi articles and you'll see what I mean. I'd like to think that these people might rethink their attitudes of they realize that they know someone who's bi, though I know I may be overly optimistic.

I want to acknowledge my community. I haven't been particularly active in the bi community, but I'm part of it, and bisexual issues are something I try to pay attention to. When I sang in choirs and was part of Girl Scout troops that meant a lot to me anyone who knew me knew about them. Why shouldn't people also know that I'm part of the bi community?

I don't want it to be a secret. Seriously, why does the fact that someone is attracted to more than one gender need to be treated like a dirty little secret? Can you imagine telling someone who's straight to keep it a secret? I don't think so.

Hopes for the future. I'm probably a bit hopeful, but I'd like someday for people to not assume another's sexual orientation. (I'll admit, I need to work on this myself. I discovered recently that a new friend is bi rather than straight as I'd assumed.) While it doesn't hurt me when people who see me with my boyfriend assume I'm straight, and I look forward to the day that it also doesn't hurt when someone is assumed to be gay when seen with their same sex partner, I hope that someday people will be aware that bisexuality is also a possibility. The first step to this, I think, is for more of us to be out.

After writing the above I realize that it may look like I'm urging people to come out of the closet. I'm not. Whether to come out is a very personal decision, as I've discussed before. But there are a number of good reasons to come out as bi, and these need to be discussed until people finally stop telling us to stay in the closet.

I guess it's worth acknowledging that despite my wanting to be out, not everyone knows I'm bi. I'm not always sure how to come out, so acquaintances often only find out if they pay attention to me online or if it somehow becomes relevant to the conversation at hand. Everyone close to me knows, though.

If you're LGBT, another minority that requires coming out of a closet, or an ally, what other reasons do you see for coming out of the closet? I know I haven't covered everything.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Daily Goals

I've been thinking about the things I do, or don't do, and wondering how I can make myself happier. I guess it was the realization that I haven't outgrown my anxiety disorder as I'd thought I had that got me thinking. Once I was mostly past the panic attacks and started getting comfortable in my own head again that's when I really started asking myself questions. These questions led to this list being created.

The following are goals, not an absolute set in stone daily to do list. I won't always accomplish every one every day. But I can try.

1) Write. This can be blogging, homework, fiction, an essay, in my diary...a lot or a little, the idea is to write something, even when school doesn't require me to.

2) Read. Fiction, nonfiction, a book, a blog, homework, for fun...the idea is to read daily. This is food for my soul.

3) Comment online more. I'd say that more than half of the time that I start to write a comment online these days I get too shy and erase it. It hasn't always been like this, and I'd like to go back to where I was before.

4) Meditate and/or pray. For reasons I won't go into I had gotten away from my spiritual practices, and that's something I've regretted.

5) Go outdoors. This doesn't mean that I have to go very far outdoors, just that I should get out of the house and into fresh air a bit. Assuming that the weather isn't absolutely terrible.

6) Do something creative. This can be needlework, writing (so yeah, number one on this list can easily cover this), playing piano...just, something creative.

7) Be grateful for something. The smell of rain, a good book, talking to a friend...even if I'm not in a mood to really be grateful, at least take note of something good.

This is a list of things to do, not of things not to do. Putting down something to stop doing doesn't really have a place on this list, but this post about how to be happier also doesn't seem like it would really be complete without the following: I need to stop judging myself. I've realized that when I judge myself I also expect others to judge me, and this can lead me to hiding parts of myself. But I've also found that when I open up I can be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Facing My Fears

On one hand anxiety is still something I don't want to talk about. On the other hand, it's something people need to be able to discuss. Speaking from experience, not being able to talk about something is a barrier to getting help, so maybe the more people who are able to talk about this sort of thing the better.

And, yeah, the last couple weeks have been rough. Sometimes really rough.

I wrote the following on August 4th, Monday of last week. I figured I may as well finally hit the "publish" button even though, yeah, I did also write another post about anxiety a few days ago. Who knows, I may write more on it soon, depending on whether writing seems to help.

... ... ...

I went to the doctor this morning because of dizziness. I've also been having more frequent migraines and a few other symptoms that have caused me to get behind on my schoolwork, but dizziness has been the big one for much of the last week. Or rather, it was the only big one that I intended to discuss with the doc, though she managed to find the other big one that's possibly a worse problem. I'm not sure what I said to tip her off, but she also asked if I've been having anxiety.

Am I dealing with anxiety? Yes, definitely, yes. And it's not a new thing, either. I'm certainly not happy with it, but I'm used to it. Resigned to it, I guess you could say. When I was younger I could talk about it quite easily, and one doctor I was seeing for ADHD decided to treat the anxiety I was constantly talking about instead of what I'd originally gone to him for. That turned out to be an excellent idea on his part. So I went on Prozac when I was eighteen, and stayed on it until a couple years ago.

I'm not sure when the anxiety crept up on me again. But it did, and I mostly kept it to myself. That was easy since it typically only strikes at night while I'm alone; if I'm with someone or it's daylight out the anxiety isn't likely to be a problem. I did say something quietly about it at first, and of course my family could see that I got nightlights for my bedroom. I'm sure they also sometimes noticed when I slept with my bedroom light on, which I've done on occasion. But I tried to handle it quietly, by myself, and I didn't even tell my boyfriend until it had me crying on him recently.

For some reason I didn't seriously consider getting treatment for it. Sure, the Prozac helped before, but I didn't particularly want to go back on it again (side effects) and I'm wary of trying new meds (too many experiences involving unfortunate side effects). Having trouble talking about it was also a barrier to getting help.

Although I still don't know why I've had so much trouble talking about it, I finally know just how difficult getting help really is. I'm facing the anxiety head on again by taking a new medication for it, and what's my response? Panic attacks. Not the worst panic attacks I've ever heard about someone having, but they're completely new to me. And scary.

Imagine being afraid that something will happen to you, and your fear causes it to happen.

I don't know if I'll publish or delete this post, but I thought writing it (and attempting a rewrite that will read better than my original attempt) might help. I probably will publish this because silence obviously didn't help, so maybe opening up will. And how much more open can I be than putting this online where the world can see it? Maybe I can even figure out why I thought that I had to deal with things alone this time around.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Questions

You may remember that I used to be a music therapy major. That didn't work out for me since I really shouldn't study music academically, so I went back to my books as an English major. But there's one question from the interview for the music therapy program that I've been thinking about in the last week.

That question was whether I'd be willing to seek treatment myself. As I recall, I saw the question as being less about going in for something like the flu and more about whether I could seek treatment for ADHD, depression, anxiety...you know, mental health stuff.

My answer at the time was an immediate yes. It was almost a "Well duh," and I went on to clarify that I had gone to a doctor for help managing my ADHD.

At the time I genuinely had no problem talking about my problems, or going to a doctor for help.

Somehow that changed.

I used to be on Prozac for an anxiety disorder, but decided to try coming off of it a couple years ago. The anxiety crept up on me again, and I didn't ask for help. I thought I needed to deal with it quietly by myself, and it wasn't until last week that I started getting help for it. But I'm not getting help because I asked for it. I'm getting help because I somehow said something to my doctor that gave it away, and after a bit of talking about medications we picked a new one for me to try.

In the last week I've struggled with (new) panic attacks, and more anxiety in general. (It seems that having the issue being addressed before I was prepared just worsened things temporarily.) But I've also been thinking back to that interview when I was able to say "Well, yes, of course I would seek treatment," and wondering how that changed.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How I Read

"Whatever your reading practices, becoming aware of them is a first step to reading strategically" (48).

The above is from The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers by Bruce Ballenger. (Guess what one of my classes this summer is?) It is in the conclusion of the first chapter, and got me thinking about 1) how I read, and 2) how my reading habits change depending on what I'm reading.

For that matter, how I read has been changing with my recent return to school. It used to be that I would always give things a close reading the first time through, determined that I would understand everything as I go. But depending on the subject and writing style, this isn't always possible. I've been trying to train myself, with limited success so far, to sometimes skim texts before reading them more closely. This can give me a basic idea of what the writer is saying, which helps me figure out the details during my second and more thorough go at it.

I've also been learning to use a highlighter, and to write in my textbooks. This is something I used to be 100% against, but started relaxing sometime after I started marking up my beloved copy of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. (It now has several years worth of notes and questions in the margins, and even several colors of highlighter.) It was last term that I finally figured out highlighting textbooks and making notes in them not only helps me return to important points later, but it also helps me focus when studying. I'll note down about interesting ideas, points I like, questions I have, and it sometimes lets me vent frustrations. An example of this last perk was when my queer studies textbook referred to Wicca as a pre-Christian religion.

Being able to write in my textbooks seems important enough that, rather than continuing to borrow my brother's copy of the latest A Writer's Reference by Diana Hacker, I bought it for myself after one week of class. Used, of course. Those things are expensive.

A page from the Hacker book

Yes, I seriously highlighted "Use a pencil instead of a highlighter..." Hey, it seemed like an important point Hacker wanted to make, so I figured I should highlight it.

Lastly, I tend to read fiction differently than non-fiction for school. While this normally isn't practical when reading a novel, I like to read short stories twice. The first time to just enjoy it, and the second time bearing in mind that it's for school. And although this method usually isn't convenient time-wise when studying novels, I did reread Mary Shelley's Frankenstein last term so that I could highlight sections that were important to a final paper I was writing on it.

I'm sure I'll continue to think about how I read throughout this term. Maybe I'll find new tricks for taking in material, and maybe I'll get better at that skimming before closely reading texts thing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reflections...sort of

As of last night I have finished my first term back to school. On one hand I want to just relax, but on the other hand I'd planned to write a "first term back to school: vanquished!" post, in which I reflect on returning to school. So I'm doing the latter, and will probably then watch Doctor Who. Or maybe finally finish reading that new Dresden Files book that I can't believe I still haven't completed.

Funny thing is, I'd expected that I would get back into blogging once I returned to school. Writing would be on my mind anyways, since I chose a writing intensive school and, oh yeah, I was taking three English classes. (I may be slightly nuts.) Obviously, my blogging plans didn't work out as expected. I could blame it on my month long migraine, which I think would be a legit excuse, but I may have been too focused on school anyways.

Oh yes, and that migraine I mentioned? Not the most painful ever, but not mild either. I'm pretty sure it was brought on by stress, probably something to do with relearning the whole school thing, and possibly also to do with the fact that this is the first term I've completed without ADHD meds since I was...probably eighteen. So I'm going to say that this was something of an accomplishment.

And, although I'm still waiting on two of my final grades, I can already tell you that my grades are up from when I left. I'm a bit baffled, but I won't complain.

What have I learned from this last term? Probably that I need to relax and not worry so much, because I can in fact still make decent grades. And not just decent grades, great grades this time around.

Book pages

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mom's MBA Hooding

After two years (two years?) of attending school while continuing to work full time in a demanding job, my mom has just graduated from grad school with her MBA.

Zipper pull thingy on the gown

She isn't going to commencement, which is tomorrow, but we did attend the hooding this evening. Hooding, for those who don't know (I didn't until this evening) consists of placing the "hood" around the neck of a newly graduated grad student. The hood is basically a circular thing with both the school colors, and the color that has been assigned to the particular degree. In the case of an MBA student, it's drab.

Cap tassel

The ceremony was fairly simple, though it took a while since there were about 70 MBA students graduating. Acknowledgement was given to the professors, there were a couple of speakers, and then the actual hooding. After a final word from the Dean of the School of Business, everyone was allowed to go. I think most took advantage of free food at the reception, but mom, Tall One, and I left to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

The stage

Just a brief note about dad, since I guess anyone paying close attention will notice that I didn't mention him above. He can't attend things like this because his disability means he can't get out of the house for very long, but I did send him a photo of mom being hooded during the event. I normally frown on texting when attending important things like this, but I thought that given circumstances it should be forgivable.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"I think I may be a little bi."

It turns out that I have written in 30 diaries over the years. Virtually all are full, with only 2 being abandoned halfway through. I knew it was a lot, but was still surprised at how many I've got when I counted them. Why did I count them? Oh, no reason. No, I wasn't trying to put off writing a final paper for school, why would you suggest such a thing?

I got quite a surprise when I glanced at the first entry of one of them. Reading it was a little like picking through an old abandoned box and finding a treasure that had been half forgotten, since it was a day I thought I hadn't written about. I was happy enough that I wanted to share the start to that diary here, and then realized that the timing conveniently lines up with Pride Month.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

January 4th, 2012 Wednesday 9:38pm

Today I picked up and read some of the book "The Journey Out: A Guide For and About Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teens" by Rachel Pollack and Cheryl Schwartz. It has puzzled me how people sometimes don't just know their sexual orientation, and I hoped the book might help me understand.

It may have helped me understand a little too well.

I think I may be a little bi. I've pretty much always considered myself straight, but it is a fact that I have had crushes on two women in the past few years, and I've generally enjoyed looking at attractive women more than attractive men.

So, I guess I'm bi with a strong preference for men.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Consider this a snapshot in the coming out process. And I do consider it the day I finally came out to myself. Because yeah, I'd sort of played around with that strange word "bisexual" before, but I think this was the first day that I finally tentatively called myself bi without immediately reverting back to saying some version of "but basically I'm straight."

In the past I've written several other posts on the topic of coming out to myself, I guess because I still puzzle over why it took me so darned long to get things straightened (or not) out. Maybe I always will.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lunar Eclipse

Remember that I took photos of the lunar eclipse last month, but due to technical problems didn't share any? Well, here they are. Finally.

There are a lot of them. Without providing commentary on each and every single one...


 The moon started going behind a tree...I had to move the tripod. Multiple times.







 

This was an oops...but a pretty oops. And I'm sure the plant appreciated having its photo taken.


It's amazing how, even during totality, you can still see the moon.


I couldn't get a good clear photo of the moon after it started coming back. There were two problems: trees in the way, and some light clouds blew in.

Now that I've figured out how to get photos from my digital camera to my computer, it's just about set for me to take it on a field trip adventure for school. Nope, not saying what, though I'm sure there will be photos eventually. :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Studying

I wrote the something this afternoon, but didn't publish it for some reason. Here it is with minor editing.

... ... ...

This is just a minor distraction during studying, and I suppose it's also notes to remind me how best to focus enough to do homework. Though mainly it's just a small break.

Really, it's things to remind me how to cope with my ADHD, which I'm having to relearn how to manage. Turns out that being out of school for so long meant that I forgot how to handle it. *sigh* Maybe writing things down will help.

1) Frequent brief breaks. Like this one.

2) Music in the background. Something that you can listen to, maybe absentmindedly direct when you're busy thinking, but not something that will grab your attention. I find that Aaron Meyer and Bill Lamb's CDs work well for this.

[Note: You can listen to samples of the particular CD I had on here. Alas, it is no longer for sale. Why in the world did the two have to split...? :( ]

3) If you have ADHD, your mind is going to find distractions. So just plan for it and deal with it. (Unless you're hyper-focusing, but that's another topic.) You may as well give it something to focus on, in addition to whatever it is you're supposed to be doing (like homework). This can be anything from delicious coffee (yum) to an audiobook that you know inside and out and can just half listen to. I generally prefer to avoid using movies as my distraction since I'm a visual person and I don't want my eyes distracted, but that can also work for some people.

Actually, I guess #2 covers #3, since it is a distraction. Or is it the other way around?

I could come up with more ideas, but this is what I'm working from at the moment and anyways I'm keeping this break under five minutes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Zombie Rats Like Toes

"There's definitely something by my feet. Come on, don't tell me you can't hear it."

"Yes, I hear it." I waited a few seconds before informing my brother, "It's a zombie rat. It wants to eat your toes."

In other news I discovered that I can happily try to freak my younger brother out by describing zombie rats and zombie Cthulhu to him, but the moment I mention Weeping Angels I only succeed in creeping myself out. No idea why I fixated on zombies, though. Yes I was just at  horror convention, but zombies have never really been my thing and they weren't particularly a thing at the convention either.

Oh, and also another whispered part of our conversation several minutes later...

"There's definitely something out there!"

"Yes, I know, it's by my feet."

I still don't know what was by Tall One's feet, or what I heard further away. Quite possibly a (non-zombie) rat by near our feet, and maybe a dog further away. But who knows what we heard in the dark.

The above conversation occurred while we were watching the lunar eclipse last night. It was beautiful, and I think I got some decent photos. But alas, I took them with my digital camera that I hadn't touched in years, and I'm having technical difficulties getting them onto my computer. I hope I can share them soon, but for now I'll leave it at sharing my (unsuccessful) attempts at scaring Tall One with stories of zombie rats.


Oh, and this photo of my camera perched on Tall One's tripod. I'll also share that. Just because I want to share some sort of photo, and I do know how to easily get them off my smart phone.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Homework Horrors

Over the weekend I attended CthulhuCon, a local horror convention. I had fun, met some new people, bought a book, discovered some new music...

...oh, and I did homework.

It turns out that the lounge part of a restroom is a really great place to study. It's not like people will be hanging out there for conversations, so it's pretty quiet. So long as there's decent lighting and a good place to sit, it's actually pretty ideal.

So I did homework. In particular I read Karl Marx, which for some reason my brain doesn't want to understand. I read it, got confused, revisited sections of it, thought I was finally getting it, and began to write the one measly paragraph required of me. But what happened? I realized I had no clue what I was talking about. So I spent about twenty minutes banging my head against a wall (well, not literally) before giving up and moving on to my easier science homework. Which was time consuming, but easy.

Later I revisited Marx, even taking to the internet to see if I could get it figured out. But apparently what I really needed to understand Marx was discussion with another person who could point out the important bits, and I did get in class today, but I didn't get over the weekend. I guess I could have cornered someone at the convention and forced them to discuss Marx with me, but I reasoned I would be undistracted Monday morning and that I could easily come up with something before my afternoon class.

My assumption was wrong, and went into class empty handed. I had nothing to turn in.

The professor's comment? "Next time, just try."

I'm trying (and failing) to not be angry over the apparent assumption that I'm too lazy to do anything at all if something isn't easy, when the truth is that I didn't want to just make bullshit up about something I didn't understand. It doesn't help that I'm also upset with myself since Marx really shouldn't have been that difficult.

I worked my way through Plato, Wordsworth, and Baudelaire. What was so freaking hard about Marx?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Laptops in the classroom

I've finished my first week back to school, and one interesting thing to note is policy on laptops in the classrooms. There isn't any official school policy, as before. Also as before, various professors have different opinions on laptops.

One of my professors appears to have a love/hate relationship with laptops. One of the first things he made clear is that he's a bit hesitant about students using them during class. This is because he does not approve of people playing on Facebook when they should be paying attention to the lesson, since it distracts other students. (It will also distract Facebooker, but he didn't mention that. I guess he figured that if you're going to be so easily distracted that you'll be distracted with or without Facebook.) That said, he doesn't rule them out because people can use them legitly for taking notes. Also, we'll be getting all our readings via PDFs he's emailing us, and he'll let us read them on our laptops instead of printing them out if we really want to.

Another professor embraces laptops and smart phones, considering them valuable resources that can be used to answer random questions that may arise during class. (I've used my netbook for this in the past, and probably will again.) He didn't address the issue of no Facebook and no texting, interestingly. Maybe he just trusts his students to stay on track in class?

I don't recall my other two professors saying a word about laptops. Or phones, for that matter. Which is a bit odd now that I think about it, since I'm pretty sure phones were always mentioned on the first day of class in the past.

It'll be interesting, maybe ten years from now, to see if I can get a student to compare their own experiences to this post. I wonder how much will be the same and how much will be different.

For the record, I'm using a four year old little HP netbook for taking notes. Yes it's old, but I admit to being a tad attached to it, and it still runs decently.

Young woman with laptop

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Summer Prince

I just finished reading a book that will do double duty for both LGBT Month and The Artful Readers Club. It wasn't actually on my list for the latter, but I took so long reading it that I didn't touch anything on that list last month. So the list is about to get altered.

The novel in question is The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I was expecting it to be a light read, and I guess I got bogged down when I realized that it wasn't quite so simple. There are so many layers to the book. I wasn't expecting that.

On the surface it's about a matriarchal country where a king is sacrificed in the choosing of the queen, and it's the story of one of those kings. But it's also more than that.

It's about the nature of art. Love. Family. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Death. Life. Matriarchy versus patriarchy. Politics. Friendship. Loss. Sacrifice. Technology. Reconciling the old and the new. I don't really know how to say more without saying too much.

Part of what caught my attention about the novel was that someone compared it loosely to the Epic of Gilgamesh. When I got excited about "OMG Gilgamesh!!!" I was told that it was a very loose comparison. I acknowledged what I was told, but said I'd have to write about the similarities and differences between the epic and this.

And I'm here to say, this book needs a second reading before I can say anything intelligent on the matter. I suspect it's possible to write a comparison, and two of the names (Enki and Gil) certainly indicate that the author had Gilgamesh in mind, but I'm puzzled. I'm only bothering to mention this because if the person who recommended it sees this post, she'll probably wonder "Yes...but how do you think it compares to Gilgamesh? You said you'd write about that." I still want to, but that'll have to be at another time.

Of course, since this book is part of LGBT Month, I should discuss the LGBT side of things. At least three, maybe four, of the characters are bisexual. They're very open about who they love, and the novel shows different kinds of relationships. One person is married to someone who she is in a committed and closed relationship with, and I'm basing my assumption of her bisexuality on the gender of her previous spouse who she had also been in love with. Two others are in a very open relationship and are definitely into more than one gender. The fourth, whose sexual orientation I'm just guessing at, only has one lover during the book. I've got to say, I like that it shows different possibilities in terms of relationships. That is, some prefer multiple partners, while others are happy with just one person.

One thing I have to address: Any bisexual will notice when reading this book is that the B word is never actually used. That is, no one is ever called bisexual. This is something that is sometimes done with bi characters because of uncertainty how to approach the subject, or because the writer doesn't want to put words into the character's mouth. It's something that irks a lot of us, since refusal to use the B word can be a way of pretending we don't exist. Since any bisexual will be noticing the absences of that word, I want to suggest a different reason for why it isn't used.

This book takes place in the far future (I didn't mention that, did I?) in an imaginary city whose culture is so different from anything I know that I may have stared at the book in shock. I suppose it's possible that the author just didn't want to use the word bisexual, but I prefer to think that in her imaginary world any sexual orientation is considered unremarkable. Possibly even something that they don't have labels for. It's certainly something that's never mentioned.


This is the first art for The Artful Readers Club that I'm actually properly pleased with. It seemed appropriate to rethink how I draw trees for this book.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Greedy Glutton Sabine

Sabine is one of those rats who loves food. She loves it so much that I have to count my fingers after giving her a treat. Ok, that's an exaggeration, but I have had to lecture her more than once on the topic of "Please take the food, not the hand!"

A couple evenings ago I fed the rats in the evening, as usual. Of course Sabine went straight for the food, stuffing her mouth with more than it should really be able to hold, so she could hide it in some corner of her cage.

While she was doing this I found a snack for myself, which I figured I may as well share with Sabine. When I held it up to the wires of her cage she came running, as usual...but didn't take it from me.

I began to get really worried. It was obvious that she wanted the treat, but wasn't taking it. She's already getting old, her hind legs are really weak, and she's even gone blind in one eye. Considering all this, I thought something might be seriously wrong with her. When an old rat suddenly changes their behavior drastically it's probably for bad reasons, and she's never been the type to turn down any kind of food.

But when I got down on her level, trying to figure out what was wrong, what did I find? She had her mouth stuffed full of her regular food that she'd been hiding, and she wasn't willing to put it down to take the treat.

Greedy glutton.

Greedy glutton who wanted both her usual food and her treat at the same time, and couldn't accept that she could only manage one at a time.

Greedy glutton scaring me like that.

I dropped the treat in her cage, which seemed to be an acceptable solution for her.

Note to self: Don't give Sabine treats immediately after feeding her, that just doesn't work.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

LGBT Month: Books

Fighting DreamerI had a bit of a debate with myself about whether to join LGBT Month. On one hand, I've been neglecting my blogs. On the other hand maybe I just need a good prompt, which this will give me.

And, yeah, I'll be busy with school starting tomorrow. Then again, one of my classes is queer studies, so I don't think I can complain that I'll be too busy to read LGBT related stuff. It's not like I won't be reading and writing about it already for school anyways.

So I signed up for LGBT Month. :)

It's being run by two bloggers I'd been unfamiliar with before yesterday, and I discovered LGBT Month via a link to the post about it at Fighting Dreamer. You can click the link to read about it, but the only rule seems to be to talk about anything LGBT book (or movie adaptation) related.

I'd like to note that all these posts will make an appearance both on my book blog, and on my personal blog. This is because I made the decision back in October to put all LGBT posts on my personal blog since it's a subject that's personal to me, even though book related LGBT posts also belong on my book blog. So if you happen to follow both blogs, you'll see the the posts both places.

And, for anyone who doesn't know:

Sarita's Book Blog URL: http://saritaslibrary.blogspot.com/
Dancing With Fey URL: http://dancingwithfey.blogspot.com/

Random tidbit: My spell check wants to change LGBT to LG. Um....???

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Birthday Loot

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey
Let's see, what did I get for my birthday?

First of all, I got the new iPhone 5S. In silver. I'm not sure exactly what advantages it has over the old designs, although this one does have the definite advantage over my old one in that it has twice the memory. I'd been getting tired of having to delete things in order to get new music from iTunes.

There's also an iPhone case I still haven't received yet, but which is coming. (By the time I requested it there wasn't time for it to arrive before my birthday. Oh well...) It was pretty water colors and says "wibbly wobbly timey wimey!" And it's cute. :)

Tall One got me my own sonic screwdriver. I suppose it isn't a real one, since human technology isn't up to Doctor Who's standards, but it goes on my key chain and it doubles as a tiny flashlight. Which is pretty neat.

Oh yes, and the kukri. My boyfriend got me a kukri. Which I like.

Last, I bought some new Heather Dale music as a present to myself, and I have got to share one of the songs. I couldn't find the exact recording on YouTube, so instead here is a live performance.



I'm almost in love with the sweet colleen of the nut brown hair after hearing this song.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Of Birthdays and Hearing Aids

Today's my twenty-fifth birthday. I am now a quarter of a century old.

...I do need to stop putting it that way.

I finished watching series 5 of Doctor Who (the "reboot" or whatever you want to call it), did some reading, went for a walk, and went out to eat with my family. We went to a favorite restaurant nearby that had closed down temporarily, and reopened in a slightly new location. I may have eaten too much, and need to do some digesting before eating cake and presents...so the post about those will be tomorrow.

What I can talk about today, though, is my dad's new hearing aids. In addition to other health problems, yes, he's got hearing problems. He couldn't even make his own appointment to get them over the phone, though he did try.

Dad got the hearing aids yesterday, and I guess this will sound strange since we live in the same house, but dinner was the first time I really talked to him since he got them.

Turns out that hearing aids take some getting used to, so he'll need time to adjust to them. And apparently, at least in my dad's case, part of that adjustment is speaking in a quieter voice. Possibly too quietly, whereas before he'd tended towards speaking loudly.

It also turns out that the hearing aids can "talk to each other," so when mom called dad today he was hearing her in both of his ears. That has to be weird.

It'll be interesting to see how adjusting to the hearing aids goes, and what other odd things I learn about them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Cure For Homesickness

I've been homesick. For my old apartment. And also for school.

Getting my own place is something I've been working on. I had a temp job that seemed promising, since it lasted for half a year, but there was the slight problem of it not going permanent. And although I have been working on my unemployment problem since then, nothing promising has come along. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and getting nowhere fast. I mean, I moved back in with my parents "for only a few months, just until I get another job" well over a year ago. Over a year ago. And I'm still here. And most of my stuff is still in a storage facility that my mom is kindly paying for. Including most of my books, which as an English major I find sort of depressing.

But school...I can do something about that bit of homesickness, without having to wait for someone to take a liking to my resume.

I had a plan when I took a break from school, and it's one that I'd pretty much forgotten about. I was going to wait until I could file as an independent on taxes so that, maybe, I could get more financial aid, and I thought that I might get enough to live on. In retrospect I'm actually not sure who told me that was possible, and I don't know if it even is possible for me. I realized this in the last couple days. But I guess there's one way to find out.

Last week, sort on on impulse, I filled out FASFA (federal student aid) forms. My reasoning being, hey, it can't hurt to check it out.

Then I realized that I'd have to also apply for financial aid with my school to find out anything.

And to do that I have to be a student. Which meant contacting my old adviser in the English department and saying along the lines of "Hey, I think I want to come back to school soon, probably by fall, maybe this spring? What do I need to do?" This led to us talking to admissions (I had to apply for re-admission) and me meeting with my adviser to talk about classes.

Early on in this process, I was just checking it out. Exploring a possibility. You know, seeing if I could get enough financial aid to let me have my own home again while completing school. But while e-mailing with my adviser and admissions, even before setting foot back on campus again, I realized something.

I've missed school. I've missed it a lot, and I got really freaking excited just thinking about going back. And if I just turned around and told them "Yeah, sorry, never mind," I might hate myself for backing out. Even if the financial aid doesn't turn out to be as much as I'd hoped.

So, will I be able to get my own apartment soon? I don't know. Will I be working on my English degree again? Definitely yes.

As for how I felt after meeting with my adviser to pick out classes for spring term, I can't remember the last time I did something for myself that made me this happy.

That said, I'm also nervous. And I know school will drive me crazy, oh...maybe two weeks in. But that's all part of the fun.

The fountain at school

Friday, February 28, 2014

Growing and changing

It was during a conversation today that I realized how different I am now from when I was eighteen. In particular, how outgoing I am these days, compared to back then. Yeah, I'm still on a tad the shy side in some ways. (Never mind that if I'm working then I'm fine asking random people "How can I help you?" That's different.) But looking back at where I was when I took my first class at PCC...

When I first started at PCC, I sat at the back of the classroom. I only participated in class discussion just enough to avoid getting my grade dinged, since that was a requirement. And I think I will always have branded in my memory the following: staring at my desk as though it was the most fascinating thing in the world while I shared my thoughts with the English class.

I also tended to hide in books during class breaks, though in my first math class (that was during my second term) I would practice math instead of reading. It got to the point where my math professor kicked me out of the classroom during our break once the weather turned nice. I am not kidding. My math professor kicked me out of the room so I would get fresh air, and maybe even talk to people, instead of doing math.

She was awesome.

Fast forward a few terms though, and I started sitting at the front of the classroom while happily taking part in class discussions. Especially in my English classes. I even stopped hiding in books during the breaks, so I could talk to people. Which is probably lucky, since that's how I met my boyfriend.

It's a bit interesting to look back at how I was when I first became an adult, and look at how I've changed since then.