Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Feeling Uninspired

The conflicting winds raking the vast wasteland of my brain blow thoughts, like tumbleweeds, in random directions. The lush flora that was once my imagination has atrophied into a bit of hardy brush, clinging to the barren rocks. Will the rains ever return?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bye, Anarchy

Pretend, for the moment, that you've joined a social club. You joined this club to get out and meet new people and do interesting things that you by and large can't/don't want to do by yourself.

Initially, you really like this club! The people are funny, the things they do are entertaining and frequent. You form a few closer friendships with some of them, but on the whole, it's a bunch whose company you truly enjoy.

After a while, some of the people you enjoyed being around leave or are asked to leave by the group's leader/organizer. Then some more leave because the initial few take them with them. In the end, you're left with a handful of familiar faces, and none of the closer relationships. Sure, you maintain the relationships with those people, but the club itself isn't the same without them.

Inevitably, new members come, and and then more new members. You try not to be one of those people who compares the way things are to the way things were, but there's something about this new group of joinees that you just don't like. They're obnoxious, they're much younger (or, at least, they act like they are), and they're all out for themselves rather than the group. They don't want to do things with you unless there's something specific they can get out of it. Eventually, you're just there out of habit, and you're not enjoying yourself anymore. You barely even speak to them anymore, but they don't even notice.

So you finally make the decision to break away from the group and seek another one. NOW all of a sudden everyone's concerned about your leaving and make it out to be this big betrayal. They point out all the things they've done for you in the past (the very DISTANT past, at this point), and try to make you feel bad, like you're letting the group down.

Only you know this not to be the case, because it's been months since anyone's asked you to join in on an activity, and when you suggest one, they kind of look at you like you just farted loudly in the middle of a sermon. You tell the leader how you feel about the no-longer-new group of people in the club, about how you don't feel like you fit in with them.

Instead of understanding and letting you go quietly, the leader then starts making you promises you KNOW he can't keep. After all, he couldn't MAKE this bunch be less obnoxious. And why should they have to alter their personalities simply because you find them distasteful? He can't MAKE people choose you for activities or join the ones you want to engage in. Yet he's insisting things will be different if you would only come back.

Sorry, Chris. It's time to move on.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Complete Fabrication

During the months that follow Autumn, Winter assails our lives. She flies shrieking in the sub zero winds and rakes our faces with her bitter-cold nails as she passes. Her minions march through the streets, crawl the grounds and climb the trees, wreaking their own havoc in her name. Snow hurls itself down from the sky, each flake a kamikaze flyer dashing itself to the ground with its army of comrades, littering everything in their white, fluffy corpses. The bodies grow colder, solidifying or slushing, making the ground slick and perilous with their rot. Ice crystalizes, making daggers of itself, awaiting the opportunity to release its tenuous grip on the heights they cling to, and lance down on our unsuspecting heads.

And every year, we fortify ourselves against Her and her Army of Elements with boots, hats, gloves, chapsticks, and four-wheel-drive vehicles. We arm ourselves with the anti-siege equipment of the season: snow shovels and blowers, plows and salt, lock de-icers and window de-icers. We hunker down in our warm bunkers to wait out the siege, knowing our victory is only a few months away when our slow but timely ally, Spring, will arrive to do battle with, and ultimately triumph against Winter.

Early one morning, my husband stumbled over the threshold into our fortress, wielding his snow shovel and winded from the morning's battle hauling the snowbodies from our walk and driveway. It's now safe for me to cross to my armored transport that he has warmed for me. I put on my boots and cross quickly, throwing my supply bag into the passenger seat and then hurling myself in behind it, pulling the door closed to block out the grasping winds. I engage the four wheel drive, the only defense against the Stealth Ice that hugs the roads instead of the branches and eaves, and begin making my trek to work.

As everyone knows, Winter employs another clever enemy: The Pothole Makers. Until that morning, i'd never seen any evidence of them but their destruction on the roads. Stopped at the sign on Colfax and 45th St., i surveyed the minefield before me, attempting to find a passable route. Out of the corner of my eye, i saw a slight movement a few yards ahead of me. Figuring it to be a small animal, i paid it no mind at all until i saw it again, fast and furtive, a few seconds later. I turned my head, pretending to be looking to my left for signs of traffic before entering the intersection, watching the area i'd seen the movement.

There! A small flash of light and an upward spray of debris! Keeping my eyes carefully averted, i saw several figures jumping up and down, and hauling something along as they moved with incredible speed to their next site. I pulled off into a nearby convenience store, and went inside. I crept back toward the window, and was rewarded with a much closer view of the figures and better cover. Several brownish, hunched over man-like creatures about an inch and a half in stature scurried out into the streets, carrying what appeared to be small sticks of dynamite. Quickly and stealthily, they worked the tiny explosives into the existing cracks in the street. When they were finished, they drew the fuses out to the shoulder where one awaited with one of those plungers you used to see Wiley Coyote employ against his nemesis, The Road Runner. The waiting one connected the fuses, pushed the plunger, and i saw once again that small flash of light and the debris flying upwards. After each explosion, they did a little dance and laughed and threw the bits of black-topping at one another like sinister children lobbing sharp black snowballs.

After watching this go on a few more times, i saw a couple more man-things arrive with cages. They hauled the cages up to the edge of the holes and opened them. Out of the cages poured amorphic pools of slime that looked like overgrown amoebas with two eyestalks swiveling around to guide them, and cavernous, gaping maws lined with row upon row of gleaming black teeth. The amoebas spilled into the holes, devouring the rock they came into contact with, enlarging and deepening the holes the TNT-wielders created. How vile, these secret agents of Winter! After eating their fill in one hole, they pulled themselves up onto the street and surged off toward the next hole. Insatiable, they were!

But here comes another car. Surely they'll be discovered? The amoebas swiveled their eyes toward the intruders and relaxed themselves in their holes, looking like muddy, oily puddles of dirty water and melted sludge. The car rolled slowly through the newly-cratered road, careful not to allow its tires to be eaten by these craters. Once the car was safely away, they continued their gluttonous work until the man-things came back to gather them back into the cages and take them away to a stretch of intact road.

Shakily, i got up from my spying-place at the convenience store window and rushed back to my car. I was now late for work, and no one would ever believe my reason. I sat in my car for a few moments, waiting for the adrenaline to pass and for my composure to return. There is a train that crosses Ridge Road at Grant Street, directly in my way. I decided to tell them i'd been stuck behind it. I looked at my ashen face in the rear view and pinched my cheeks to bring some color back into them. I tried on a couple of smiles, until i found one that looked passably natural, and completed my journey to work. I arrived safely, lucky not to have fallen victim to any of Winter's agents.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Protect And Serve, My Ass!

No one likes to brush too closely with the Law, policefolk in particular. I haven't had many dealings with them in my life, and especially in the past ten years. Yep, clean and unticketed. Up till the last three months.

Back in November, i was stopped twice in the same day for speeding (I know, what're the odds?!) The first time i was doing 51 in a35. There's a stretch of Ridge Road (the street i use daily to commute) with no stop signs or lights and the 35 mph limit just seems unreasonable. I've been flouting the 35 mph limit down this particular stretch for the better part of two years with impunity, so i guess it was bound to catch up to me one day; and that day was November 9th.

Anyhow, i was stopped, and the usual procedure ensued. You can usually tell by a cop's demeanor when they approach your window whether there's a chance you can talk your way out with a warning or not. . . this guy was ALL business, and i knew i didn't have a prayer. I couldn't really be mad at the guy, either, seeing as how i was doing 16 over the limit. I accepted my citation contritely and carried along my now less-than-merry way. What could i do?

I continued my journey down Ridge at the speed deemed appropriate by the state for a while, easing up off the pedal when i found myself making my way toward 40mph. I even turned my radio to something a little less energetic, as i have a nasty habit of unconsciously letting the pace of my music dictate my speed. I made it all the way to Broadway without incident, and continued with my unsatisfactory 35 mph when i noticed lights in my rear view again. I moved into the right hand lane, trying to get out of the cop's way, but he moved over with me, and it dawned on me that i was his intended target. Damn and double damn! I still had my damn license and registration laying on the passenger seat, but i didn't reach for them as i was absolutely POSITIVE i was only doing 35. I opened my door to ask what the problem was.

He replied that i was being pulled over for driving 35 in a 25. Fuck me, i'd completely forgotten that Ridge turns into a 25 mph zone after you cross over Broadway; i'd been so focused on keeping with 35 mph that i didn't even notice the sign. In a rush, i explained to him that i'd already been cited for speeding about ten minutes prior, and that i was honestly just trying to keep my speed down and didn't notice that the speed limit had changed. "You don't know how hard it is to drive the speed limit, man! You get to drive however fast you want and no one can say anything to you!" i finished weakly. To my surprise, the cop burst out laughing. 'Yeah, real funny,' i grumbled in my head. He walked away with my license and registration, and i sat in the car cursing myself volubly for my inattention and what it was going to cost me.

He returned a few minutes later with a warning in his hand and I swear the heavens opened up, and started trumpeting down HAAAAAA LAY LOU YAH in my grateful mind. I thanked the cop in a disgustingly obsequious fashion. He laughed again and told me to slow down AND pay attention, and i ceased sweating bullets as i made the rest of the trip home without incident. I really was grateful, because it was once again my fault, and he had mercifully granted what felt to me like a stay of execution. I was relatively sure i could get the other ticket dropped with a defensive driving course, and my insurance rates would remain securely where they are.

town,in an effort to offset the deficit it's currently running, made a money-saving decision last fall: to not plow snow off of the minor or neighborhood streets, or lay salt on them. At the time, i knew no good could come of this, but i had no idea at the time that my prophetic thoughts would be about me in particular. The last few weeks have been snowy ones, and though the town did decide to cave on the no-plowing policy, it remained steadfast in it's decision not to lay salt. So we've been driving on the poorly maintained streets, turning the remaining snow into sheets of ice.

Friday night, as i was driving in to work, i came to a stop sign. As i attempted to brake, i began sliding, and unfortunately slid my way right through the stop sign, narrowly missing a silver truck sitting on the other side of the intersection. Sliding while driving on ice is a reality i've been living with for many years now, but it never fails to make my heart race like Seabiscuit in the Triple Crown when it happens. I was SO glad i hadn't hit the truck. Ridge Road was the next intersection, and i was grateful to reach it, as it was much better-maintained due to its status as a main thoroughfare.

I drove down Ridge for about two miles when i saw lights in my rear view. I KNEW i wasn't speeding because the roads were incredibly treacherous and driving in snowy/icy conditions just scares the fuck out of me. I muttered some unflattering things about power-tripping cops who can't go around people as i moved over to get out of his way. He moved over with me. Wtf?! 'Great, now i'm gonna be late for work,' i thought darkly as he took his sweet-ass time getting to my window.

"What's the problem?" i asked as he finally ambled over to my window.
"You disregarded that stop sign back there."

It took me a moment to process what he was talking about, as there aren't any stop signs on Ridge until you get to Gary. Then it dawned on me that he'd followed me all the way from the intersection in my neighborhood.

"I didn't disregard it, i slid through it," i replied, trying not to be terse.

"Yes, well, you have to STOP at a stop sign," he replied, not trying to hide his terseness at all.

"I TRIED to, but the roads are kind of icy (in case you didn't notice, you sadistic fuck, i added in my mind). I'm just glad i didn't hit the truck."

"Well, you have to drive more slowly, and then you won't slide."

WHAT?! He was obviously not living in a world with the same laws of physics i was.

"Am i receiving a speeding ticket?" i demanded, my anger breaking through my thin veneer of control, " Is my speed at issue here?! I WAS driving slowly! I still slid!"

He ended up citing me anyway. Because the roads weren't maintained well enough for me to achieve a full stop at a stop sign. Though there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that the court will believe him over me, i plan to fight this ticket anyway. So much for the security of my insurance rates.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I Don't Have Time For This Shit!

Myspace breeds some rather interesting individuals. I'd heard/read of others coming across these strange people, but had yet to encounter any myself. I just had my own close encounter with the semi-obsessive Myspacer, and, consequently, my first experience with blocking someone.

Around Thanksgiving, i wrote a blog and made it friends-only. Out of this action, i got a friends request from someone, and to my surprise, he was honest in his reason for requesting me:

I read your blog and noticed this one was friends only, and i want to read it.

Something along those lines. So i accepted, and over time things got real interesting (or annoying, depending on your perspective).

For one thing, Myspace seemed to be the focus of his daily activities: I got more comments and messages than i could easily keep up with. I do my best to return comments and, though i like them a little less depending on who they're coming from, messages in a timely fashion. However, when i'm bombarded with either one, i start picking and choosing which ones i respond to. I don't mean to be offensive, it's just that my time to spend on Myspace is fairly limited, and the thing i like to do best here is read (and sometimes write) blogs.

At one point, he deleted me from his friends. Not really a big deal, though i did wonder briefly if i was being too unresponsive. A couple of days later, he requested me back, i forget the reason he gave for deleting me in the first place.

After that, it was pressure. Pressure to change my song, my profile, remove videos, add videos, read this blog, try this game. . . So much so that some of my other friends started sending me "What the fuck is with THIS guy?!" messages. My husband absolutely loathed this guy. It was eStalking, in his opinion. I didn't really agree, though, because i'd cruised the profiles of other people on his friends list, and he seemed to pay them the same amount of overbearing attention.

He deleted me again. This time it was because i had told him i liked to read, but i had failed to make it to a blog he had recommended. Uh, okay. He and i obviously had different ideas on what "recommended" means. And it isn't that i blew it off, I just hadn't gotten around to it yet.

And then re-added me. Hmm. I should have just said no, but i accepted. After all, it's just Myspace.

After a few days, he deleted me again, citing the reason as someone was posting things about his personal life, and he didn't know who it was, so everyone had to go. I found this to be both laughable and insulting at the same time. After all, i knew practically nothing about this guy, and even if i did, i didn't know ANYONE who would have given a rat's ass about the details of his life. He didn't seem to get that i had better things to do than to spread e-rumours about people i barely know.

Then he re-added me with an interesting message about someone having hacked his account, and sending a bunch of fucked up messages to his friends, and that if i had received one, i was to disregard it. My repsonse was that i got a message, but it sounded EXACTLY like something he would have said, but if it made him happy to delete and add me daily, then to have at it, because i didn't much care at that point.

Of course, after a week or so, he deleted me again. I could always tell when he'd deleted me because he would go to my profile and delete all the comments he'd left. Odd behaviour, i thought, but i wasn't in the habit of deleting people, so maybe this was typical Myspace break-up behaviour. It seemed like a waste of time to me. Before he could decide to re-add me, i decided to block him.

I just don't have time for this kind of drama. So if you're reading this (you know who you are), i'm sorry you found me to be a less-than-satisfactory person. I'm sure you'll construe this as spreading rumours about you, but rest assured, this will be the last twenty minutes of my life i waste on you in any form. I just thought the whole two-month experience with knowing you was beyond a doubt, the strangest Myspace experience i've had to date.

Friday, January 2, 2009

And In Other, Less Important News. . .

My computer gave up the ghost today. My husband bought it for me 6ish years ago (prolly a smidge less than that), and it's been a pretty terrific computer. Not many things in the technological world last that long anymore.

After troubleshooting for a while, we discovered it was the new stick of RAM i tried to install. I didn't do it wrong or anything, it was just defective, and it corrupted Winblows. Winblows is pretty much the whole reason i didn't want to get a new computer in the first place. I really like XP, and i've been extremely reluctant to "upgrade" to all the problems Vista promises.

My first choice was to take it to the Greeks to have it looked at. But then my husband seduced me with this beauty:


Customized and tuned to have the best value and performance with AMD Athlon 6000+ dual core processor and NVIDIA 9600GT 512MB graphics card, this system is crafted for enthusiasts looking for more graphics and processing power in their next PC. iBUYPOWER's standard silent cooling solution and enthusiast chassis allow for more upgradability in the future and the standard Windows Vista Premium is the next generation platform for DirectX 10 gaming. Show the system off with a clear side panel, a preinstalled neon light accents the system's graphics and internals. iBuypower ships all systems with professional cable management, providing the ideal tunnel for airflow within the system.

For about $700. With the exception of the OS, i'm pretty excited about it. For you techies out there who may be tempted to tell me how much this computer sucks, save it. I'm on a tight budget, and this thing has some pretty nice specs for the price. This is particularly mindblowing to me because when i had my dead computer built, it set me back $1600. My, how times have changed. RIP, Old Grinder.

It's A Boy!

A bouncing, 16-almost-17 year old boy! That's right, i'm officially a full-time stepmother.

We moved Ryan in with us today. We went and picked him (and the remainder of his stuff) up, and now he's here and it's strange to think that we don't have to return him like a library book at 8 pm on Sunday.

This is going to dramatically alter life for me. I hope it'll dramatically alter life for him in a positive way. It'll be an adjustment for all of us, but even so, i'm ecstatic.