Friday, February 29, 2008

Revelation

This is probably old news to those of you who have iPods, so ignore if you choose.

I have a whole bunch of music that I've ripped onto my work computer using Windows Media Player (I can't have iTunes at work). I have them in a play list that I listen to when I'm doing a bunch of solo work. Now normally, the play list plays in the order of the albums I added to it. In other words, it plays one whole album in order, then the next, etc.

Well, the other day I discovered that Media Player also has a shuffle function, so I shuffled the songs on my playlist today.

It's like I'm listening to all new music. I'm hearing songs I had no idea were on any of the albums. It's amazing.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is the ACEO art card I just won on ebay.


I've acquired a new collecting obsession (like I needed another collection to clutter my apartment).

A while ago, I bought an ACEO of lillies of the valley on ebay. ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. Basically, these are small (2.5 x 3.5 inches), original works of art. They average around $10 on ebay, and some of them are really quite good. Of course, you have to look at a lot of crap to find the good ones.

It's a fun way to collect original art without breaking the bank, and a way to support working artists, which I believe in.

Just thought I'd share.

I am so tempted to buy this.

I had one when I was kid, and I loved it and used it until it died.

But that is just nostalgia speaking, alas. If Ibuy it, I will never use it because I never have ice cubes at home.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I hate the jeans I'm wearing. They were a little too big when I bought them (well, not really too big, but they are a looser fit than I'm used to) and know they are a lot too big. they are literally falling down. The only reason I wore them today is that my right calf hurts (that's the one that got run over with a 15 passenger van), and they fit really loose in the calf. It isn't swollen or anything, but when it's bothering me, anything close fitting feels really miserable.

Sigh. I should just go see my doctor and ask her about it. But I hate doctors. I haven't seen my primary in a year, and I don't really want to.

Sigh.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A bit of fiction

Hello, all. I'm not feeling very inspired to write anything profound at the moment, so I thought I'd share with you a short piece of fiction I wrote for a contest sometime last year. It didn't win, needless to say, because I would have been screaming that bit of news from the rooftops.

It's not very long, but I don't think it needed to be. The theme of the contest was "Daily Sacrament". Please don't republish this or link to it without dropping me a note - I may get the urge to submit it again somewhere else because it doesn't completely suck. (it only sucks a little)



To Give Grace
by Sheryl Groovyname (not my real name, by the way)


I hated going home.

The house that had once been a haven had become a prison. I hated the way a ramp replaced the steps I used to leap from, trying to touch the awning. Now, I had to duck to keep from banging my head on that same overhang. The living room was rearranged with all the furniture crammed into one small space to allow easy access from the front door to the hallway. The scent of home, of carpet freshener and home cooked meals, had vanished. In its place was the astringent scent of antiseptic and sickness.

The dining room table, where many meals had been shared and much homework had been done, had been taken down; a hospital bed and a portable commode now occupied the space. The buffet no longer held knick knacks collected over a lifetime. Instead, it was decorated with medicine bottles and medical supplies. The china cabinet was the sole symbol of normalcy, still displaying the wedding china and good crystal that never got used any more.

I hated seeing him lying in that bed. I wanted to imagine him as the same man who walked down the hill to the playground with me and my tricycle, carrying both of us home when I inevitably fell and scraped up my knees. I wanted to see the same man who taught me to catch and throw a softball in the side yard and came to every one of my games. And I wanted him to be the same man who helped me move into my dorm just a few short years ago, trying and failing to hold back tears as he left me on my own for the first time.

But he wasn’t

Oh, I could search my memory and create an image of him sitting on the porch with me listening to a ballgame. He'd have a beer, I'd have an iced tea, and we'd share a bag of pretzels. We'd share bits of baseball trivia and analyze coaching decisions. Neighbors would stop by to listen to an inning or two. It would be that one perfect moment that everyone dreams of. But in truth, he was barely aware of the world around him. I tuned the radio to the opening day game, and he barely acknowledged it. He was asleep by the second inning. I hated the fact that this was our reality now.

I hated going home.

But I loved him.

I loved him enough that I hid my embarrassment the first time I helped him transfer from the bed to the wheelchair and saw his genitals, which I never had before. I forced myself to remember that this was the man who changed my diapers and bathed me when I was an infant, and I pretended I didn't notice his vulnerability. Had he been more alert, he would have been mortified.

I washed his hair in the kitchen sink, and as I poured water over his head, I remembered his patience as he taught me to swim. He supported me as I attempted to float, and I was fine as long as I felt his hands. The minute he'd let go, I'd stiffen up and start to flail. He'd just catch me, calm me down and start all over again. I remembered that as my patience is tried when he spasms involuntarily, causing me to spill water all over the floor.

I rubbed lotion into his papery skin, repeating his actions in cleaning my many wounds. I was both adventurous and clumsy as a child, which is a dangerous combination. Skinned elbows, cut-up knees, bruised hands and shins, he treated them all with a gentleness that was so contrary to his large, awkward hands and gruff voice. I tried to mirror the actions of my memory as I anointed the bald spot on his head, avoiding the scab that appeared since the last time I saw him.

As I made his breakfast, I recalled his efforts at meal preparation. He was of the opinion that everything was better the second day as long as it was fried with an egg, an attitude that was probably the result of growing up on a chicken farm during the Depression. That philosophy of cooking led to some interesting dishes, including the very memorable spaghetti omelet. It also led to my utter aversion to eggs. Still, I cooked them for him because he liked them, and they were one of the few foods he could digest easily.

I broke the toast into tiny pieces, small enough that he wouldn't choke, and mixed them in with the soft-boiled egg. I placed the bowl on his bedside table and elevated the head his bed. He used a specially adapted spoon to eat, but he still struggled. Every bite he took was a major effort, and he acted as if that one morsel was so important that it would sustain him forever. He could no longer hold a cup, so I held the glass of orange juice to his lips every now and then for him to drink.

It was hard, this meal time ritual. I was impatient, and I sometimes resented the fact that I was taking care of a parent when I should be out living my life and having fun. But then I would see the framed photograph hanging on the wall near his bed. It was a picture of me with him and my mother at my high school graduation, just before she died. Looking at their expressions, the love and pride they felt was a tangible thing, and I knew what I had to do. How could I not give everything to someone who gave everything for me and asked for nothing in return?

Sometimes, late at night, I'd hear him become restless. He'd move around as much as he could, and make small noises. I'd go and sit with him, smooth his hair and hold his hand. He sometimes called out with the one of the few words he still had: "Help."

An outsider would think he was suffering, that he wanted relief from his pain. But I knew better. That small utterance was prayer, in its most basic form. I can't count the number of times, when things were desperate, I heard him say, "Help me, Lord," with complete confidence, as if he knew that God couldn't ignore that simple prayer.

I never understood that. To my logical mind, it didn't make sense to believe in asking some unseen entity for assistance - an entity who may or may not exist and who may or may not care. It made even less sense to be confident that he, she, or it would respond. And now, as I watched my father, a fairly young man, deteriorate by the day, I wondered how any God could inflict so much pain on someone who had such profound faith and love. Not only was it illogical, it was unjust and hateful. Where was the God of Love now?

Still, late at night when I held is hand and smoothed his hair, something in me stirred. I found myself moved by the simple faith of this dying man. And even though I wasn't sure anyone would hear me, I joined my prayers to his.

"Help."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hello, internet.

Sorry I haven't written much lately. I've been busy and I've been feeling kind of cruddy. A combination of allergies, a cold (or something), and hormones, I think.

I will write more sometime later. Just wanted to let you know that I'm alive and more or less well.

Love,

Sheryl

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thank You Tim!

For your Valentine's Day wishes. The only real reason it sucks to be single on Valentine's Day is that everyone else is getting lovely gifts delivered to the office. I got the gift of reformatting a craptastic proposal.

Sigh. I might have to stop by Whole Foods and buy myself a plant tonight.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So I've been seriously moisturizing my so-dry-it-burns skin. It isn't doing much, but my skin is coming off in sheets now.

Sigh.

I really should make an appointment with the dermatologist.

I Need to Stop Reading the Obituaries

In my shock at seeing the name of an old classmate in there, I totall missed that a former teacher (sorta) of mine recently passed away, too. Sr. Amadeus. I never actually had her for anything - she mostly tutored kids who were struggling - but she was always kind to me, and I appreciate that.

I really, really hate it when people, when discussing the presidential candidates, refer to the male candidates by their last names, or with a title and their last names, and refer to Hilary Clinton as "Hilary".

I'm not a fan or supporter of Senator Clinton (though as I said before, I would vote for her against the Republican candidate if she wins the nominiation), but she deserves the same respect as the male candidates. I find it more than slightly sexist when people do that, like she isn't worthy of the same regard as the male candidates.

This is my 800th post. Just thought you should know.

Another kid I went to school with died. He was a year (or possibly 2) ahead of me, and we went to the same elementary and high school.

I don't understand why so many people I have gone to school with (high school and college) have died. Yes, I know that the incredibly heavy drinking they did in their youth probably played a part (at least for the high school people). But still, they are in their mid-30's - and some died younger than that.

It just doesn't make sense.

The skin so dry it burns is back.

I really should go to the dermatologist.

But I won't.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

You know, sometimes I really wish my mother hadn't been so embarrassed to talk about sex with me when I was a kid. I really did learn everything I knew from medical text books. I could tell you more about the clinical aspects of sex than some doctors, I think, but I didn't know anything beyond that.

But then I read blog entries like this one...and I'm kinda glad she kind of skipped that. The writer, by the way, is right at her due date - maybe even a couple days over. She's just one of about half a million bloggers I read regularly who are having babies in the early part of this year.

Meanwhile, the shrivelling of my uterus and ovaries continues. Just thought you'd like to know.

Sigh. It's just Valentine's Day, and the buildup to Valentine's Day. This is why I think President's Day should be the official holiday of single people. We need it to recover from the waves of lovey-doveyness radiating off of everyone else.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Starting next week, I'm going to try to go to the farmer's market downtown every Saturday. I always want to go, but I never get up early enough. Plus, I'm not 100% sure where exactly it is.
 
But tomorrow, I'm going to vote in Louisiana's Presidential Primary. I know who I am voting for (or, rather, who I am voting against). I wasn't going to share, but I've decided to do so just now.
 
I'm voting for Barak Obama.
 
The feminist in me does feel a teency, tiny bit guilty about not voting for Sen. Clinton, but I honestly don't believe she is the best choice. Her experience as a first lady not withstanding, she really doesn't have more experience than Obama, and frankly, Obama's message matches what I want in a President more than hers does.
 
Besides, I have never voted for a woman just because she was a woman in the past, and I don't plan to start now. Of course, if Clinton does end up with the nomination, I will vote for her in the fall. John McCain scares me, and I have a feeling that he will choose Mike Huckabee as his running mate, and that scares me more.

OK. Here is my bit of weirdness for the day.

I stumbled upon the blog of the the sister of a kid I went to elementary school with (his sister is...three or four years younger than us). Now this kid, I'll call him...Kid, was my biggest rival, my sworn enemy, by best friend, and my secret crush all rolled into one. In short, we drove each other crazy, but at the same time, we were the only people in my school who got each other. See, we were the two outcasts in my class. He was skinny, scary smart, brilliant with math, into computers, and incredibly awkward. I was heavy, scary smart, good at everything but math, into computers, and incredibly awkward. We drove each other crazy all through 8th grade with the word searches we had to make with our spelling words. We'd make them incredibly tiny, or in code, or use symbols instead of letters. And yes, I did have a crush on him when I wasn't plotting his violent death.

Anyway, his sister posted pictures of their family Christmas on her blog, and I discovered that Kid married someone who looks an awful lot like me. I mean, an awful lot. Same hair color, same eye color, same build, even the same hairstyle I had the last time he would have seen me.

That freaked me out a little bit. OK, a lot.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I've written before about my frustrations with the immature writing styles of fan fiction writers (shut up, all you judgmental people - it's my personal guilty pleasure). I just realized that there is something else that annoys me that pops up in every frickin' fic I read.

The characters never want to get out of bed in the morning, but they are forced to by "an urgent pressure in his/her bladder" or something along those lines. Geez. How pretentious can you be? I don't think even the most sophisticated, educated person wakes up in the morning and says, "My word, I would love to lollygag in my exceedingly warm and comfortable bed all day, but this urgent pressure in my bladder has other plans." No human being is that coherent in the morning. What real people think is, "Crap. I'm still tired and I'm warm, but I gotta pee."

I'm just saying.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Rest Easy, Lords and Ladies

The Great American Novel has been found. I missed it because the file had a really, really weird title that had nothing to do with the actual title of The Great American Novel.

What a relief.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It is 11:30 and 74 degrees.

This time tomorrow night, it is supposed to be 38 degrees.

That is a difference of almost 40 degrees in 24 hours.

The high today, by the way, was over 80.

I think I lost The Great American Novel. I thought it was on the hard drive of my old computer, and I thought I copied the right file over, but there were only 200 words. I had about 20 pages. It isn't on my new computer, and it isn't in google docs. I guess it's possible it's on my work computer. It shouldn't be, though.

Damn. This is really upsetting.

I don't know anything about Tarot, and I don't particularly want to, but the picture is pretty, so here you go.



You are The Hierophant


Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.


All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.The Hierophant is often considered to be a Guardian Angel.


The Hierophant's purpose is to bring the spiritual down to Earth. Where the High Priestess between her two pillars deals with realms beyond this Earth, the Hierophant (or High Priest) deals with worldly problems. He is well suited to do this because he strives to create harmony and peace in the midst of a crisis. The Hierophant's only problem is that he can be stubborn and hidebound. At his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

it is 2 am and 72 degrees.
 
God?
 
i assume there is a reason for this insanity.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This is literally on my block. It is one alley away from the corner where I grew up.

Sheesh!

This article makes me angry. Really angry. I'll say more later - I have to get ready for church.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Go read Tony Norman's column in the Post-Gazette today. Make sure you click through the links to the news story.

I knew this kid when I was in high school, and I see him all over the place around here. These are kids who the system failed. These are kids who are 16 and still in the 8th grade thanks to No Child Left Behind.

In the SotU the other night, that guy who is currently the Chief Executive talked about how well that program is working. It is not. There are kids left behind all over this country. Not only are the public schools failing them, the social services system is failing them, the criminal justice system is failing them, and society in general is failing them.

These are not kids who are born bad, who are born pre-programmed to shoot up a house and kill a 12 year old girl. These are kids who turn to gangs because it is the only place, the only circumstance where they feel supported. There family situations suck, no other adults in their lives take an interest, their teachers take one look at them and mark them for failure. Instead of getting them into some kind of diversion program on their first criminal offense, they toss them in juvenile detention, where they just learn more and better criminal techniques in order to survive.

Listen up political candidates - especiall Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton, Mr. McCain, and Mr. Romney. One of you is going to be in the White House next year. One of you has the potential to impact the young people our society is currently failing. Will you? Or will you allow the status quo to continue indefinitely?

I bet I can answer that without even trying.