Friday, October 29, 2004

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

I've always liked Emily Dickenson. She's on my list of favorite poets (which also includes Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Mark Strand). She writes with such an innocent, childlike tone, but her topics and themes are so deep and serious.

The above is one of my favorites. The persona in this poem is someone who revels in melting into the background. Yet she seems to feel a certain excitement when she finds someone else lurking back there with her. But she doesn't want to be outed (so to speak). She and her companion seem to be content existing in anonymity.

I was taught that Dickenson was never published within her life time because she was a recluse who bucked the trend of what was considered to be acceptable in the world of poetry at that time - strict meter and rhyme scheme. But maybe she was happy in her anonymity. Maybe she was content with writing for herself, and no one else mattered. Perhaps she found validation in simply seeing her own words in her own hand on paper and didn't need the validation of critics or scholars.

Dickenson is always painted as being somewhat depressed and, well, a bit of an odd duck. Some scholars believed she was insecure and suffered with a low self esteem. But maybe, just maybe, the opposite was true. Maybe she was so secure that she didn't need the approval of anyone else. Maybe she was able to write about death and isolation with a lighthearted tone because she was happy and didn't despair in those things. Maybe she was happy just the way she was.

Or maybe I'm really bored at work again and needed a way to stay awake. But it's something to think about.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Look At My Artistic Talent!

I really need to go home or something. You know it's bad when you spend your time at work drawing purple sheep. But hey, at least it killed a half hour.

A quiz to alleviate the boredom

My angst tastes like...
black licorice
Black Licorice
Unique and difficult to place, your angst finds its source in something you keep hidden. You have something serious and possibly traumatic, but you try to hide it from everyone and just tell them to ignore you when you seem troubled, that everything's really OK. You might think that you have good reasons for not telling people, and some of them may in fact be true, but most likely a lifetime of keeping your secrets has led to a resolution fortified by rationalization that nobody else can shake simply because you never give them a chance. Ask yourself if it would really be that horrible to open up to others; nobody says you have to do it all at once, even. But you should at least try getting out of your shell a little. It's not healthy to internalize everything and conceal it. Anyway, if people really care for you, and they probably do, then they'll be loving and supportive regardless of any reason to the contrary.
Hmm...I hate licorice, but this actually fits me. Scary, isn't it?

It's Amazing What Boredom Can Do

It can even lead to me blogging two days in a row.

I have nothing to do. Again. I hate that. Next week is going to be pure hell, with my boss on vacation (she's taking another 2 hour lunch today it seems - I've been back for an hour and a half and she hasn't been here in all that time).

Last night I stayed up until 2 a.m. working on our stupid box for the stupid scavenger hunt. Then I got up at 5:30 and worked on it until 9. I felt guilty because I wasn't able to help the team much since everyone I know lives 1200 miles away (well, except for the CCC folks, and that's a whole 'nother story). Sure, someone I know might have a glass Tab bottle, but I'm not driving to Pittsburgh to pick it up. A friend in Pittsburgh did send me the Partridge Family Album, but it didn't arrive in time, and no everyone is ticked off with me and I feel bad. Although I shouldn't. The prize for the winning team is lunch in the Admin. Conference room. It's not like it's money or something. But nonetheless, I'll blame myself if we lose.

In a way, it's like being in high school all over again. There was this girl, who I called a friend but was really a friend of a friend. J wasn't overly popular or anything like that, but she was the leader of our little group. I was so desperate to fit in and have friends that I did everything she told me to. I joined the clubs she wanted me to, wore the clothes she liked, you name it I did it. I know now that she was using me. I realized that my freshman year of college when she barely acknowledged me, despite the fact that I wrote to her on a regular basis. Since we were at different schools, it no longer served her purpose to have her own personal charity case. Her rejection really hurt.

To this day, I have no idea why her approval was so important to me, but it was.

Did I ever tell you about my sheep theory? No? Well, you know how the one who doesn't fit in with the family or the crowd is always called the black sheep? That doesn't make any sense to me. Black is still a perfectly normal color as far as sheep go. Just a little genetic twist here or there and bam! You've got a black sheep.

Now, if say, a purple sheep suddenly turned up, well, then we have an abnormality. A sheep that doesn't fit in with the herd, and in fact stands out from it. That's why I think we should call the rebels, the ne'er-do-wells, the obvious oddballs purple sheep.

However, what about the person who blends in with the background? The person who doesn't fit in with the herd, but doesn't stand out either. The person who's geometry teacher fails to notice she is in class despite the fact that she sits right in front of her desk, so the teacher turns in cut slips every day for a week before the vice-principal yells at her? That person is a green sheep. Indistinguishable from the pasture, but distinct from the herd.

Guess which one I am.

I'll write more in a bit. I'm going to go feign work now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Are They Crazy?

I just went and looked at the on-line store for my alma mater. My Gannon Stuff disappeared a long time ago, and I thought that I needed something to show my Knightly pride.

Well, they are selling diploma frames for $115 dollars. For real. I got the frame my diploma is in at Target for about $10. It's a perfectly nice wood frame. It may not be cherry wood with a fancy maroon mat with Gannon University written on it in gold script letters, but it does the job.

I (and my parents, the taxpayers and the kind benefactors that support Gannon's scholarship funds) spent around $75,000 on my college education, not counting the interest on my loan. Why would I spend $115 more to display a piece of paper that really, no one cares about but me?


The Obligatory (and ONLY) Political Post

OK. I have to get this out of my system, since election day is less than a week away.

The sad fact of the matter is that that I can't in good conscience support either one of the major party candidates. I'm annoyed that John Kerry has made such a big deal about being Catholic, yet openly and enthusiasically supports positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching. Now, that doesn't mean that I think he's wrong; it just means that I think you can't have it both ways. You want to support abortion rights? Fine. Just leave your religion out of your campaign. And this is coming from someone who isn't so enamored with the Catholic church right now. I would say the same thing about a Jewish, Baptist, or Muslim candidate. If you are going to make a big deal about your religion, then you best be a good representative.

George Bush...I just can't find respect for the man. Sure, he's surrounded himself with highly qualified advisors, but the fact of the matter is he isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I watched him in the debates, especially the last one, and I had to wonder if any of his synapses were firing correctly. Then there is the whole Iraq thing. I could support the invasion of Afganistan - that was just, according to just war theory. But Iraq just reeks of retaliation, of him wanting to finish what his father started in Desert Storm. I can't support that, and I can't support the continued presence of US troops and personnel in Iraq.

And then there is the misrepresentation and misuse of statistics on the part of both candidates. Now as a writer, I've been taught the fine art of persuasion. I know how to manipulate statistics and quotes to support my opinion. But the amount of that, and of outright lying, that has been occurring in this campaign is just a travesty.

So what am I going to do next Tuesday? I still don't know. For the first time in my life, however, I am considering skipping a general election. That's really sad.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


No reason the title is TBC. Just had to fill in that space with something.

I'm here at work with nothing to do - again. It's feast or famine around here. My supervisor isn't in yet - she supposedly wasn't feeling well last night and said she'd be in later today. Don't know if I buy it, though. She seems to take an awful lot of time off for personal things. But hey, if she can get away with it, more power to her, I guess.

I finished all her work last night. I'm honestly not sure what she does with her days while I do the market plans, research, and spreadsheets she should be doing. But I'm not going to complain about it. If I do, I could end up without a job - even one that only pays $9/hr with no benefits. So I'm perfectly content to let her put her name on my work for as long as she wants to. Still, it would be nice to make a living wage.

There's something wrong with my car. I replaced both headlights in June, but noticed a couple weeks ago that the passenger side headlight was out again. So when I got the oil changed on Sunday (which took almost THREE HOURS at Wal-Mart) I asked them to replace the headlight. Well, the guy said he took it out and tested it and it was fine, so he put it back in. And it was fine on Sunday. But then when I turned my lights on on the way home last night, I saw that it was out again. So at lunch time I'm goint to go see if the mechanics down the street can look at it. I really don't need an electrical system problem right now.

Actually, I don't need any problems right now. Now that I have insurance again, I was planning on getting the car inspected this week and praying that it will pass despite the not-so-great brakes and nick in the windshield. But it won't pass if the headlight is bad, either. It's always something.

And now for the big news. I've been trying to find a way to keep myself sane while working at a job I'm overqualified for. So I've decided to write a novel. In a month.

Sane, you ask? Don't you mean insane? Really, isn't all relative? Is it possible to write a paragraph with nothing but questions? Should I find out?

But really, I need a little help and support in breaking the 10,000 word plateau. I know I can write, but I need something like this to actually motivate me to do so. So, that story that was partially posted here way back when will finally be continued and developed.

In honor of that effort, I've started a new blog just for that novel. (I can't believe I actually wrote that word!) There is nothing much there now, but starting on Nov. 1 there will be.

Well, its 11:45 now. No sign of the boss and I've accomplished nothing. Just another Tuesday here in Red Stick.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

So Where Was I?

Yeah, I've been away for a while. I wish I could say that it was because I had some interesting things going on, but alas, it would be a lie.

But before I go any further, I just want to say hello to my one regular reader. I don't have a clue who you are, or where you are, or why you are; all I know is your ISP. But it's nice to know that someone is finding some entertainment in reading about my boring, boring life.

My efforts to fix myself have...well...not been successful. That eating three times a day thing is kind of not working out for me. And I've tried taking a multi-vitamin, but it made me vomit the three times I've taken it. So either my body is rejecting needed nutrients, or something else isn't right I suppose. But without health insurance, we may never know until I drop dead on the floor somewhere. Gee, when that happens, I have no next of kin to notify. Isn't that a cheery thought.

OK. I think I've spent too much time researching causes of death in the southeastern states. The company that has yet to tender me a job offer is expanding into hospice care and I've been working on market plans for Florida and Louisiana. You'll be glad to know that one person over the age of 65 in Florida died from a prenatal condition in 2002. If you make it 65+ years, doesn't the condition cease to be prenatal?

Anyhow, I had a job interview last week with a consulting firm about to start a major project for the state government. It's a job I'm way overqualified for, but it pays over $12,000 a year more than I'm currently making. On the off chance that I get it (they said I'd know one way or another today, but I didn't hear anything), I don't know if I want to take it. I think it will make me miserable, but I won't have to scrape together money for rent every month, either.

Speaking of money, the cable company and I severed relations a couple weeks ago. It's sad that everything I watch now has squiggles in it. But I'm saving half of $50 a month. It's only half because I joined Netflix instead. The video stores around here leave a lot to be desired, except for Blockbuster, and I won't do business with them any more. That's a long story I don't care to go into now.

Oh, and the student loan people are getting rabid again. They don't quite get that I would dearly love to pay them back for the fine education I received at Gannon U. However that fine education has yet to yield a job where my compensation allows me to pay the $350 a month they want me to pay. And stupid me, I consolidated my loans way back when I first graduated, when interest rates were 10% so now that rate is locked in. There is something horribly unjust about that. Especially since I didn't understand what consolidation meant at that point. The way the loan people made it sound back then was that I would have to make multiple payments every month unless I consolidated. I didn't understand that it was essentially a refinancing thing.

So what else? In the church bulletin from St. Al's CCC, the new ADYM wrote that a particular event was taking place in "da gym." Now, maybe I'm being picky for no reason, but that annoyed me. I mean, I know the kid wants to be cool, but is it necessary to sacrifice proper English to achieve coolness? I know, it's the English teacher in me coming out, but if you've read student writing lately, you know that they need all the role models they can get. Also, I got chewed out over smaller things than that. Why does he get away with it?

No, I haven't moved on. I still am angry and hurt and I just can't put it out of my mind. Yeah, I'm obsessing. I wish I could break that pattern.

What else? Manager driving me crazy. She started to do the market plan for north Florida hospice, but she downloaded the hospital information and appended it to the master table incorrectly. I caught her mistake at 5 p.m. on Friday and stayed past 7 to finish it. In her defense though, she has been stressed about being called for jury duty. They have a weird system here (like everything else in this state), and they have been stringing her along for two weeks. She's worried she's going to have to miss a cruise she is scheduled to go on at the end of the month. Still, I hated having to fix all that. I didn't say anything though - why burden her further?

I have more I want to say, but alas, it will have to wait. (Notice how I used alas at the very beginning and the very end. Clever, no?) So until next time (and I promise it will be less than 16 days), happy trails to you.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Stuff, Stuff and More Stuff

So, I've decided I need to fix my metabolism, which is really, really, screwed up. See, I got into the habit of eating only once a day when I worked at St Al's CCC. I never got up in time for breakfast, I usually skipped lunch, and I often got home after 9 p.m. and ate dinner then. Or, if I ate lunch that day, I'd skip dinner all together. Then I'd snack on junk during the day (sometimes). Actually, I was in the habit of skipping breakfast and lunch for a lot longer than that.

But regardless of when that started, the fact of the matter is that it really messed up my metabolism. A friend of mine who is a doctor thinks that that is why I've been feeling icky for so long. So this week, I ate three meals a day all week long (well, except for the day I had to skip lunch to fold the damn brochures). I had yogurt for breakfast (just discovered that if I buy the mild kind, it isn't that horrible), various things for lunch (a couple days that was just yogurt and an orange, too) and something for dinner (noodles, mostly, but it was food). I even tried to have snacks (fruit) a couple times a day.

As of right now, I don't feel better. Actually, I feel kind of crappy, in a different way than before. But it's probably just because my body isn't used to dealing with food. We'll see how I feel at the end of this week.


I wrote to a friend of mine about the whole spiritual crisis thing. She's kind of been advising me all along. I trust her because she was my house director in college and I came to respect her as a woman of faith. Plus I know she won't deride me, no matter what choices I end up making (well, providing I don't suddenly decide to become a neo-pagan or something weird like that...of course, I hope she's slap me upside the head if I ever ended going in that direction), unlike some other people I know.

So anyhow, when I told her I was wondering what I should do, and she wrote this:

"Ultimately (and I know this is a very Protestant thing to say, but bear with me--I yam what I yam, in the immortal words, or paraphrase, of Popeye), I believe that it's more important that you are trying to follow/walk with/commune with God through Jesus Christ than that you tow the (forgive me) human-and-thus-fallible dictums of The Church."

That got me thinking today, about the difference in how Protestants view faithful living and how Catholics view it. Actually, I've been thinking about it more than today - needless to say - but that transition sounded better.

Anyway, what I came up with was this. For Catholics, being faithful is following the rules. If you believe this doctrine, or this dogma, or this bit of moral teaching, you are faithful. Now, officially, we are obliged to follow our consciences. That's in the Catechism (the other CCC). But when you actually do that, and someone finds out about it, they accuse you of not being a good Catholic. Politicians run into this in the public eye, but trust me it happens outside the spotlight, too.

Also, for Catholics, there is a perception that you have to do things in the "right" way for them to be valid. I'll give you an example. Remember how I wrote about the witch with a capital B at St Al's CCC who accused me of praying wrong? Well, here's the story.

We were meeting with a small group of young people and talking about prayer. This wasn't a formal teaching time, just a discussion. A couple of the adults said how they believed that praying the rosary was just so important and that everyone should try to do so every day. Now, I had to jump in there. When I was younger, I was told that over and over, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't find any meaning in repeating the same prayers over and over, or meditating on the mysteries, and no one told me that was OK, that everyone has their own prayer style. I didn't hear that message until I was in college. So I said something along the lines of, "Yes, the rosary is important, but you know, it never much worked for me. I personally prefer more informal prayer, like, 'God, I'm still here. Thanks for getting me through the day,' or, 'Big Guy, I could really use some help here. I'm frustrated and I don't know what to do.' It's a matter of finding what works for you."

I got some dirty looks from some of the adults on that, but I could deal. Then the subject of adoration came up. The witch (I'll call her P) went on and on about how wonderful it was to pray in the presence of Jesus, and how Abbeyfest had the best adoration ever, and blah, blah, blah. The other adults were all nodding and stuff, because no one ever dared to challenge her. Well, I opened my mouth again and said, "Yes, if adoration is done well, it can be a good and very moving experience. But personally, I've usually found it kind of limiting. I can appreciate the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but I've found that, personally, adoration can sometimes be limiting in that regard. I need to experience God in the Scriptures and in the assembly as well, and sometimes adoration doesn't allow for that. There are other forms of meditative prayer I can appreciate, like Taize prayer."

Well, P jumped on me immediately. She basically said that because I didn't engage in these traditional prayers of the church, I wasn't praying right. I told her that there was nothing in any of the church documents that said that faithful Catholics have to pray the rosary or go to adoration. She still insisted that I was teaching these kids the wrong information. Well, I didn't want to get into a pissing contest with her in front of the young people, so I told her that I would be happy to discuss it with her later on in another forum. From that point on, though, she contradicted everything I said. I could have said the pope was Polish, and she would have told me I was wrong.

So my point. I think that sometimes following doctrines and dogmas, and all that stuff can actually be an impediment to belief. This isn't a new thought for me, but it's one that is stepping into prominance in my mind in light of my recent struggles.

I have more to say on this subject, but it's almost midnight, and as part of my "fix my body" plan, I've vowed to be in bed by midnight every night, come heck or high water. So far, I think I've succeeded one night out of six.