Girl Talk and Power Outages

I got home from work today around 5:30pm, just in time to have missed Aaron before he went off to work himself. Sigh… But on a good note, I noticed that both my giant 20-disc CD-R trade (lots of The Smiths, The Cure, and similar bands) and my order from Lane Bryant had arrived.

Some of you may not know about Lane Bryant, be you a "normal-sized" woman or just a guy. Lane Bryant caters to the larger woman, sizes 14 to 28. — Guys, you’ll be clueless on the size thing. Let’s say that your average height, average weight (not-too-waify, not-too-fat) female is probably a size 12 or so. Maybe a 10.

(Hey, guys? If you’re squeamish about girlie talk, skip down a few paragraphs. I’m going to talk about my new bra now.)

When I was out lingerie-shopping with Sheryl on Saturday, we visited a place called That Special Woman. It’s actually a mastectomy-supply boutique, but they also carry plus-size lingerie and undergarments, to our surprize. When we arrived, the attendant ushered me into a fitting room and took my measurements, then brought me a few actual bras before I could announce my intentions to look for a long-line or bustier. Anyway, I did try on one of the bras she brought in… and holy crap, that thing was comfy! OMFG. It was an underwire, but the cleavage part didn’t stick out all funny like some of them do, and the back was plenty supportive. It didn’t threaten to pull up between my shoulder blades after a few moments of wear.

This bra, I later discovered, cost between $40 and $50. Holy crap.

So… a few days later, I visited lanebryant.com. — Actually, I visited several online stores looking for a bra just like the one I’d tried on, but Lane Bryant was the first and only place where I actually found one in my size. OK, girls, if you have big titties, or you’re a "husky" girl, I recommend this bra. Just like the one I tried on in Toledo, it has full-coverage cups, non-sticky-outtie underwires, a stay-in-place back, and it’s made of a neat-feeling cotton/Lycra blend, too. Honestly… it makes me want to squeeze my boobies like one of those stress-reliever things you see in Spencer Gifts. TMI… sorry. The underwires still get me in the armpits, though. I don’t think there’s any solving that issue.

(Hey, guys? You can come back now. It’s safe.)

After parading around in my new get-up, I reclothed myself, sat down at my computer (which had been left on to allow fellow WinMX’ers to download from me), and prepared to check my e-mail.

Cue loud, echoing, percussive noise from outside and resulting instant silence inside. Only sound: that of my hard drive spinning down. A transformer had blown, and I was in silence (but not yet darkness).

First action: look outside. I saw the neighbors congregating across the street, so I threw on a ratty old black cardigan and some shoes and went out to hobnob. The guy who lives on the corner had already gotten out the cell and phoned the city. Looked like he was still in his work clothes: dress pants, crisp collared shirt. I wandered across to the other neighbors, catty-cornered from us. I met Toby (I think), Danny (short for Danielle?) and her husband Rob (Ron?), and a few others. We chatted for a while about how much we like the neighborhood, how we got to live here, how nice this side of town is (away from the bar crawl), etc. Eventually Toby’s wife had to go get grilling-out supplies, so we all dispersed from their driveway and went back to our own houses.

The power still wasn’t on, and it was almost thinking about getting on to dusk, but not quite. So on to the second action: get out the candles. It’s not dark yet, but who knows when it will be. I’d rather be prepared than fumbling around looking for the lighter. I managed to locate one votive in a tulip-stem holder; two votives in short, roundish holders; one votive in the snowman my Mom gave me for Christmas; and one scented candle-in-a-jar from my grandmother. I lit them all and placed them strategically around the apartment. Then it occured to me that I wanted to go trim the hedges, so I blew them all out but two. 🙂

Watered the houseplants, trimmed the hedges. As I was outside, I saw a relatively rare occurence: there were people outside. Danny, her husband, and their neighbors had started a pick-up game of basketball — "PIG" or "HORSE" or something like that. Neighborhood kids were biking, skateboarding, and inline skating up and down the street, and some of them joined the game. Neighbors peeked their heads out to see if the city had come out yet, and some still milled about, meeting one another.

I finished pruning, went back inside, got my book and headed back out to sit on the front steps. (Or the "front stoop," as my Mom or Memaw would call it.) Reading was actually a facade — I was listening to the b-ball game ("How old are you? Thirteen?"), watching the kids skate up and down the street, quipping very junior-high-ish rips on one another, and eventually watching the city workers fix the transformer up the road. Once my porch light came back on, I retreated back indoors. Others didn’t, though — the game went on, at least until the families’ respective cookouts were ready for consumption.

It occured to me after this minor incident that the invention and maintreaming of electricity was probably one of the first steps toward the decline of the family and community. I won’t say I’d rather be without it, and I won’t say that it’s done more harm than good. I will say, though, that the hour that the block was without electricity was probably the most social hour I’ve seen here.

Think about it: you can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, play PS2/Gamecube/X-Box, play on the internet… what can you do? Read. Do something creative. Socialize. Gossip, even. When it gets dark, you light a candle, read or write by the flickering flame, talk with family, and go to bed. Simple.

The days before electricity had to be so different… it’s hard even to imagine.

Fragile Moods

Lately, my emotional state has been unusually unstable. At work, I just zone out and do what has to be done, so I don’t really consider myself to be in a bad mood, even if I look it. But once I get home, one little insignificant thing can puncture any good mood I’ve cultivated and put me on a ridiculous downward spiral.

For example (you knew it was coming), today I got home before 6:00. Nice, normal day at work. Not long, not stressful. Got my raise information from my boss, got home in time for the news. Was planning to vacuum the kitchen (seriously – it’s carpeted) or clean the skanky tub or something after dinner, plus research embroidery websites so I can see what not to do on Sheryl’s and my new web venture. I was proud of myself yesterday for shaking the internet addiction and not even booting up my computer when I got home from work, so I knew I’d have oodles of e-mail waiting for me. So, after eating some pierogies, I fired up the Sheryl Special to see who loved me.

I got three e-mails from Amy, and I knew what they had to be… berating me for not mailing her the vital color swatch for her bridesmaid’s dress. I was right. She gave me a dressing-down like I deserved. Nonetheless, it still punctured my good mood. (Not your fault, Amy. You needed to give me a swift kick in the ass.) So, for the past hour or so, I’ve been kind of deflated. That one thing really brought my excitement about the evening to a dead standstill. That’s not right. I shouldn’t be this volatile. Not even a tagboard post from Timmay managed to cheer me up.

My last post dealt with a similar situation; this is becoming a trend of sorts.

What is wrong with me? It can’t just be wedding planning… can it?

Later today…

The internet is an amazing place. I was just thinking of a poem my mother used to read to me when I was little. She had a whole notebook of poems and sayings she’d collected. (I wish I knew where that notebook was.) I used to have the poem memorized, but I couldn’t recall how it started, so I Googled a line I knew for sure. Sure enough, 48 hits came back, all including this untitled poem. I found a good site about it, with all the backstory anyone knows about it compiled together.

So, here it is, the way my mother used to read it to me, including the intro:

This poem was handed to a teacher by a 12th grade student. It is not known if the student actually wrote it himself; it is known that he committed suicide two weeks later.

He always wanted to explain things
But no one cared
So he drew
Sometimes he would draw and it wasn’t anything
He wanted to carve it in stone
Or write it in the sky
He would lie out on the grass
And look up at the sky
And it would be only the sky and him that needed saying
And it was after that
He drew the picture

It was a beautiful picture
He kept it under his pillow
And would let no one see it
And he would look at it every night
And think about it
And when it was dark
And his eyes were closed
He could still see it
And it was all of him
And he loved it

When he started school he brought it with him
Not to show anyone but just to have it with him
Like a friend
It was funny about school
He sat in a square brown desk
Like all the other square brown desks
And he thought it should be red
And his room was a square brown room
Like all the other rooms
And it was tight and close
And stiff
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk
With his arms stiff and his feet flat on the floor
Stiff
With the teacher watching
And watching
The teacher came and smiled at him
She told him to wear a tie
Like all the other boys
He said he didn’t like them
And she said it didn’t matter!
After that they drew
And he drew all yellow
And it was the way he felt about morning
And it was beautiful
The teacher came and smiled at him
"What’s this?" she said
"Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?"
"Isn’t that beautiful?"

After that his mother bought him a tie
And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships
Like everyone else
And he threw the old picture away
And when he lay out alone and looked out at the sky
It was big and blue and all of everything
But he wasn’t anymore
He was square inside and brown
And his hands were stiff
And he was like everyone else
And the things inside him that needed saying
Didn’t need it anymore
It had stopped pushing
It was crushed
Stiff
Like everything else.

Hot or Not?

What the fuck has society come to when a moderately degrading but humorous website has become a TV game show? Twenty-somethings parading themselves up a runway to have three judges decide whether they’re hot or not? (Criteria are face, body, and overall sex appeal, in case you were wondering.) This is not healthy for society, I’m sure.

It’s bad enough that we have to deal with supermodels in ads and on television, and either consciously or subconsciously compare ourselves to them. Do we have to see the 2% of the population that almost look like them, too? And do we have to keep judging people on their looks? Weren’t we told in 4th grade that it’s what’s on the inside that counts?

Apparently our teachers were full of shit. But that’s no surprize.

Amusing distractions online

Looking for a fun and simple Flash game? Check out this hunting game… but be forewarned: losing this game is painful. In a very special way.

Ever feel like websurfing, but don’t know where to start? boingboing.net is a good place — deceptively simple-looking, and packed with amusing tidbits guaranteed to keep you busy and enthralled with the joy that is the internet.

News flash! Every U.S. resident who purchased a prerecorded music product between January 1, 1995 and December 22, 2000 is entitled to a piece of the pie. That is, since music prices were so inflated during that time (you mean they’re not still?), everyone who joins the settlement group is entitled to between $5 and $20. If the amount per settlement member drops below $5, the money will instead be donated to an appropriate charity.

William Gibson, author of such fantastic cyberpunk novels as Neuromancer and Count Zero, among others, now has a website… including a blog. Oh, by the way, he has a new book coming out: Pattern Recognition, due out in February. Visit Mr. Gibson’s website to read an excerpt.

Gibson on Gibson:

Google me and you can learn that I do it all on a manual typewriter, something that hasn’t been true since 1985, but which makes such an easy hook for a lazy journalist that I expect to be reading it for the rest of my life. I only used a typewriter because that was what everyone used in 1977, and it was manual because that was what I happened to have been able to get, for free. I did avoid the Internet, but only until the advent of the Web turned it into such a magnificent opportunity to waste time that I could no longer resist. Today I probably spend as much time there as I do anywhere, although the really peculiar thing about me, demographically, is that I probably watch less than twelve hours of television in a given year, and have watched that little since age fifteen. (An individual who watches no television is still a scarcer beast than one who doesn’t have an email address.) I have no idea how that happened. It wasn’t a decision.

I do have an email address, yes, but, no, I won’t give it to you. I am one and you are many, and even if you are, say, twenty-seven in grand global total, that’s still too many. Because I need to have a life and waste time and write.

I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here.

And now for something completely different… paper cameras. Not disposable cameras — paper cameras. As in, a camera without the camera. As in, origami photopaper = pinhole camera.

Hey, Schavitz! Here’s a companion for your robot dog!

The Operation: the fine art of pornographic film. The streaming RealVideo doesn’t work, but there are stills galore. Filmed entirely in infrared, this film is both erotic and eerie. …At least, it looks like it is.

OK, OK… that’s enough randomness for one night. But wasn’t it fun?

(Note to self: Use red-eye reduction on new camera to avoid future demon-spawn photos. Post initial roll of new-camera photos soon.)

"…A Brand New Car!"

[insert “Price is Right” theme here]

[spoken in Rod Roddy announcer voice:]
That’s right, folks! Diana Cook and Aaron Schnuth are now the proud owners of a brand new 2003 Kia Spectra! Diana can now drive to work in style in this pepper-red four-door sedan! Complete with AM/FM/CD Stereo, Air Conditioning, and an Automatic Transmission, this gem is sure to make the happy couple into the talk of the town… [end Rod Roddy voice]

No shit. We are joint-owners of a car loan for the next five years. Along with it comes a damn spiffy new vehicle, though. 🙂 If our new car were to be fabricated inside The Matrix construct, it would look like this:

Anyway, this saves us enormous car-related stress when going on road trips (i.e. ‘will the car make it back alive’), it saves me cab fare (sort of… I think the car payment might be higher…), and it makes both of us mobile. We’re both insured on both cars, so whichever car is at the end of the driveway is the lucky winner of the moment.

Come visit on New Year’s, and you can see the new car… nudge, nudge…

Local flavor experience

Got off work early for once. It was still light out. I was geeked. After chillin’ for a while behind the computer, I walked to Ben Franklin to find a Christmas present for Kris (actually, I just had to purchase the finishing touches). So, while I was downtown, I decided to stop into Grounds for Thought for some coffee goodness on the way home. Got my Milky Way (a mocha with a healthy dose of caramel and a couple dollops of whipped cream), silently approved of the R.E.M. playing in the background (must have been some album before Green, because I didn’t recognize it — sorry, Aaron), and planned to slip out the back.

The first thing I noticed was that the Children’s section had been moved. It’s usually there on the back wall of the cafe proper as you walk back into the happily cramped shelves of used books. Hmm… more books on the side wall. Neat. I turned to exit out the side door — to find it was no longer there.

WTF?

Yes, apparently Grounds purchased the store next door and tore out the wall, because the happily cramped stacks are now spacious and comfy. I made a dork of myself by wandering around, gaping at all the room. I believe I even marveled aloud. I must bring Amy to see this.

For once, a good thing is made even better.

Unrelated discoveries: one fun, one not-so-fun

We begin with the fun: wilwheaton.net.

actual photo from wilwheaton.netHe’s 30, he’s married, and he has blue hair. It’s freaky on some level, yet comforting on another. As much as it might disturb Wil to hear it, he’s kind of like a long-distance high-school or college buddy. That’s how he comes across on his page. Totally honest, frank, and certainly more than a touch dorky. (Hell, who isn’t?) His web-design skills are pretty middle-of-the-road, his writing style is familiar and fresh, and he has interests that “normal” people have. And he likes The Pixies. Plus, after watching his character Wesley grow up on Star Trek: The Next Generation (now who’s the dork?), it’s neat to see what he’s like in real life, and to know that he’s just as cool as you’d hope an actor (and aspiring writer) your age would be.

I know, I know… I’m not 30 yet. In the grand scheme of things, though, those four years don’t really matter much.

Now, to the not-so-fun discovery. Actually, it’s downright depressing.

On Thanksgiving, I went to visit my grandmother at her new nursing home. Beforehand, my step-Gary felt the need to call me and warn me of her mental condition. Seems she would be OK for a while, then start talking about feeding pet mice and stepping on cockroaches and all sorts of random things that may or may not have root in reality. So, I felt I was armed with the knowledge that my Memaw was going off her rocker, and things would be cool.

As one might expect, the visit was unusual at best. At least when I used to visit her before, she was recognizable. This wispy-haired, bent wraith of a woman bore very little resemblance to the Memaw that I knew and loved. True to form, she wasn’t wearing her hearing aid or her teeth, and she did indeed go off on random tangents. I smiled and nodded along, answering loudly when appropriate. Just to prove how erratic her behavior had been, when she stood up to show me how much weight she had lost, I discovered that the staff had her bed monitored; when she stood, a beeping alarm sounded. At first I thought her oxygen had been disconnected, but no. It was so she wouldn’t try to wander off and break a window to escape again.

Seriously.

I dealt well with the visit at the time. I even saw the humor in it. Memaw was going off the deep end. Funny stuff. I joked with Aaron about it on the way to Parma to visit my folks.

Later, though, the truth of the matter set in. I really don’t have a Memaw anymore.

Yes, I know she’s still alive, and I should be thankful for that. But my Memaw, the one that fabricated my imaginary friend when I was two, the one who made up lullabies that stood the test of time, the one who could cook almost anything I asked for, the one with the slightly warped sense of humor (one aspect of her I didn’t fully realize until I was a little older), that Memaw… she’s gone.

Maybe it’s easier to lose her this way, slowly, so I can come to terms with it. Maybe it’s better than just getting a phone call out of the blue, telling me I’ll have to cash in my Bereavement Days at work.

But she’s still my Memaw. And God, I miss her already.

Bizarre Dreams and High-School Crushes

I once had a crush on this guy. (Don’t ask why. Certainly not for his stunning good looks.) Actually, I was hopelessly hung up on him for about four years, and probably not as secretly as I thought at the time. He was a bass in choir, lead trumpet in band, and enrolled in all the same advanced classes I was in. His name is Matt, and this is his Senior picture, scanned right from the 1994 Buckeye High School yearbook.

I dreamed about him last night.

Allow me to digress for a moment. I believe (and some people think I’m way off-base) that in dreams, some people or places can and do represent aspects of the dreamer’s life. Some mistakes and triumphs, relived in different ways, can draw parallels between today and yesteryear. For instance, when I was about to graduate college (and had been for some time), and my grades were beyond slipping and my attitude was beyond sucking, I kept dreaming about aging out of drumcorps. I relived the final performance in a dozen different ways: forgetting the drill and having to step off the field, missing uniform parts, losing my mellophone, not knowing the music, all the typical terrors. Except in these dreams, I came away with the distinct knowledge that I had lost something I had worked hard toward for so long. I drew a waking parallel between the dream-disasters and my current sitation of almost not graduating. I’m not sure it actually helped my real-life situation any, but at least I knew what my brain was throwing out at me.

Last night, I dreamed about Matt. I forget the details, since it was a day ago and all, but I remember the gist. There was a choir/band get-together, or reunion, or something in the Music Room at my high school. Of course, everyone looked just as I remember them from eight years ago. The main thing I recall is that Matt and I shared the easy spontaneity of old friends (something we never experienced in real life — I was always too flustered by him). In the dream, we even traded innuendos: something about me liking sausage…? At any rate, it was clear that he knew that I had "liked" him. Maybe we’d even fooled around. In the dreamworld, it’s hard to be sure.

Without recapping all of my remembered dreams for the past several months, suffice it to say that I’ve dreamed about Matt before. No, it’s not some bizarro redhead fetish come to the surface. But putting these dreams together, and adding in my real-life thoughts, I think that Matt has come to represent a part of my psyche. I think Matt represents my former love of music. Not that I don’t love music anymore, but I’m no longer directly involved in it, and I think it filled a void that I didn’t realize at the time. But Matt helped me get into high school band when I didn’t play an instrument by vouching for my musicianship in choir, and he was one of my personal peer-heroes in high school. I think he represents my longing to return to performing, combined with my nostalgia for an era past. Not necessarily high school itself, but those years when I was immersed in music — choir, band, and drumcorps.

Some people will think this dream quasi-analysis is bullshit. You’re welcome to your opinion. This analysis is like Tarot for me, like meditation. Even if it’s bullshit in itself, it brings forth the things I need to think about. The things that matter to me, the things that need addressing. Music was once how I defined myself. Having that large of a chunk of my being unaccounted for is… disconcerting at best.

So… I wonder what Matt is doing these days?

Classmates.com

Did you know that, on Classmates.com, you can register as an alum of your elementary school? Serious. There is this one friend, Mechelle Dunphy, that I totally lost touch with back in middle school, and it occured to me that I might find her that way. Of course, It didn’t work. (Why would it actually work out the way I’d planned?) I did find another friend from further back, though: from 2nd Grade as opposed to 5th. I hadn’t talked to this friend since we were in high school, so I looked at her info. And since I don’t pay Classmates.com $3 a month, I could only see the first line of her bio:

"After wandering aimlessly from state to state, living in five or six rather strange…"

And that’s all I got. Aargh! So, of course I had to go to Google. After about ten minutes of searching, I finally found her in the law department at the University of Akron. At least, I assume it’s her… although many people could have the name "Christina Smith," I’m guessing that there are much fewer that also go by "Krys." I sent off an e-mail to the address I found, so we’ll see what happens.

Despite All My Rage, I Am Still Just A Rat In A Maze

Frustration, thy name is Corn Maze.

If you ever have the opportunity to partake in a corn maze… and if you have the choice between "hard" (90 minutes to finish) and "easy" (30 minutes to finish), don’t be brave. Choose the easy maze. Don’t say, "I want to get my seven bucks’ worth out of this corn maze!" T’will only end in frustration and many wrong turns.

Aaron and I went to the Fallen Timbers Corn Maze with our friend Kris H., after getting some yummy kettle corn and teriyaki beef jerky at the Grand Rapids Apple Butter Festival. (What can I say – it was our day to do bizarre Autumn activities out in the boonies.) We probably shouldn’t have done the corn maze after walking around for a couple hours looking at crafts and colonial re-enactments, but hey. At any rate, we did well for the first 2/3 of the maze, switching off leaders every time one of us led the trio into a dead end. Then we got caught in the hard part in the lower right quadrant of the maze. We were prepared to a.) cheat and cut through the rows of corn to just get to the car and leave, b.) wait until the maze organizers sent out the guides for us, or c.) camp out and make our own Society in the corn. I believe Kris plucked a corn stalk and dubbed Aaron a Knight Of The Corn, and dubbed me Princess Of The Corn (although I don’t think that’s how one actually becomes a princess). We did manage to get out without breaking any rules of the maze, though – we ended up backtracking a bit and finding the spot where the hard maze intersected the eazy maze. This led to the exit bridge, where a nice guide called down directions to the stairs of the bridge.

All in all… I’m never doing another corn maze again anytime soon.