Thunderstorms

I love summer rain. Some people are freaked out by thunder and lightning. I am calmed by it, and find it beautiful.

But there’s a reason for that.

See, when my Mom was little, she had a scary incident involving a thunderstorm and a man who played a sick joke on her, telling her she’d never see her mother again. Mom obviously did not see the humor in this, being only a little kid, and was consequently freaked out by thunderstorms for a long time after.

I was born when Mom was 21, at that age when childhood is still relatively fresh in your mind. (Listen to me, at the ripe fucking old age of 27, sounding like some wizened scholar or something.) Anyway, she decided to help me not be as frightened of storms as she was. One of my first vague memories is of being cradled in my mother’s arms, standing in the open front doorway. I could smell and feel the rain, and hear it, and hear the thunder, and all the while my mother was telling me how beautiful it was. I’d like to think that’s part of the reason I love thunderstorms so much.

Anyway, on to other things…

Turns out A’s gig is for a Harley dealership — and, seeing their website now, pretty much anything would be an improvement. She’s got her work cut out for her. When she’s not designing for their website, she’ll be doing light office work, too. Seriously… I wish her luck.

I’ll work on getting some wedding pics scanned and posted soon. Right now, it’s drumcorps season, so I’m trying to work on my long-time pet project. The Northern Aurora alumni page has seen many, many revisions and several redesigns, but this time, I’m hoping to have a design concept that sticks around for a while. If I can get some asp help — OK, not help, but someone to do it for me — it’ll be right about where I want it, in terms of functionality and design and content. Alumni are being so helpful, scanning photos and old programs and schedules and all sorts of stuff. Seventies alumni are so cool. 🙂

Good For Her…

My former co-worker, A, got a job doing web work for Harley-Davidson. No offense to her (well, maybe), but I’m working at a bank, and she has a job with a nationally-known corporation, designing their website?

I think I’m going to shoot myself.

One Month Without A Blog (Oh The Horror)

I’m glad to know that my blog has been sorely missed by some (and moderately by others). I was being optimistic when I made an offline entry two and a half weeks ago, thinking that ecom meant it when they said my credit card would be reprocessed in 24 hours…

Where to start… Jeez. I never thought I’d actually use my website to communicate with people, no matter how small an audience. You seven people are important to me, dammit! 🙂

OK… here’s the narrative of what you missed.

Week After The Wedding: Honeymoon, duh! Monday was a travel day — got to Cummington, Massachusetts in roundabout 12 hours, give or take eating and fueling. Aaron drove the whole dang thing. Tuesday we drove up to Mt. Greylock, the tallest peak in the state. Wednesday we drove out to Boston and spent the evening and night there; Thursday evening we drove back. Friday we left Cummington and headed west to Niagara Falls, where we spent Friday night. Saturday afternoon we completed the drive home, only to get the message that Memaw had just died that day (shortly after we had driven through Cleveland, in fact. How weird). What a downer. Called work on Sunday, left a message that I’d be out for three more days.

Week Before Last: Didn’t really need to take all three available days of bereavement pay, but I did. The funeral was on Tuesday in Parma, and I drove there because Aaron had to drag his ass out of bed much earlier than he would have liked. He slept a good deal of the way there. Got there, ate lunch at Mom and Gary’s, and steeled ourselves for the funeral. The "viewing" was the first hour, although Mom had opted to have the service be closed-casket. I provided a nicely matted and framed Olan Mills portrait of Memaw back in the early 80’s, before she even went gray — the way I remember her best. The viewing was a little strange, because I saw people I hadn’t seen in years and was glad to see, despite the circumstances. Also, Aaron and I received many congratulations on our recent marriage, in the shadow of Memaw’s death, which confused my brain. I wasn’t all that mournful to begin with, but I was downright happy after a while, seeing my Aunt Connie and Brother Squire from church and all. The service was small, relatively brief, but appropriate — come to think of it, the drive to the cemetery was longer than the service, I think. 🙂 We ate dinner afterward at a local restaurant where my step-brother Philip works as a cook (he’s 16 and just got a car, fyi). I guess the best part about the whole affair was that Mom got back together with her best friend Connie.

Last Week: Full week of work? Wow. Same old shit, finally. Oh, yeah, and we picked up our wedding proofs.

This Week So Far: Flew to Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday (and boy are my… oh, nevermind). First airplane ride since I was less than a year old. Fun. I want to do it again, despite having to remove my shoes for the nice metal detector. Texas was actually OK; we visited the Water Gardens (featured in the 1970’s sci-fi flick Logan’s Run), Cowtown (the original Fort Worth downtown, complete with fake gunfights on the hour and more cowboy hat stores than you can shake a shotgun at), and a water park (with a wave pool and enough innertube rides to keep me happy and my face out of the water). The Smoke clan is actually much cooler than you would think, given only Gary as an example. Mom and Gary stayed until today, but I bailed on Tuesday. Got home around 10pm, went to work the next morning. Since then, things have been pretty normal again.

Don’t worry, I’ll supply a better, longer, and illustrated version of the honeymoon soon. I’ve just been disinterested in updating lately, since, well, no one was going to see it.

Since I Last Updated…

…the wedding and reception happened with only minor issues, we got lots of wedding presents (and money), my domain name expired, my credit card went overlimit, we drove to Massachusetts for our honeymoon (and back via Niagara Falls) totaling over 1700 miles on the Kia, my grandmother died, we put away all our gifts, I paid on my credit card and renewed my domain, and we’re preparing for the funeral in Cleveland on Tuesday.

Oh, yeah, and I go on “vacation” with my family to Texas in less than two weeks.

I think I’m going to put the honeymoon and wedding entry separate from the “normal” blog entries, so as not to overload the June blog page. ‘Cause this is going to be loooong. Like Sheryl‘s Japan narrative, but not quite.

I called Amy last night to see how she was doing. I guess she’s doing a little better — she’d been planning to try to go back to work today. She’s been home all this past week, tired and weak and kind of in pain. Good thing she didn’t try to make the wedding, cause she would have been miserable.

Well, I guess I’ll go start on the wedding and honeymoon entries, and maybe scan some pics. I don’t have the professional proofs from the wedding yet, but a friend of Aaron’s brought a digital camera to the wedding, so I have some wedding and reception pics, too.

Oh, and don’t feel too bad about Memaw. I’ve already done my mourning, and I will continue to do so tomorrow, but it was expected. Honestly, I’m glad it’s finally over.

The Unexpected…

You know how you can never plan for the thing that’ll go wrong in your wedding? You think you’ve got everything under control, but one unexpected glitch always gets you?

Amy called today. She’s in the hospital.

She’ll be fine, don’t worry… she just has an inflammation of the lower colon. (Ick.) She checked herself in to the ER on Tuesday with excruciating stomach pain and a 102° fever. Got to do such fun things as having a CAT scan, among other more invasive procedures. She says they might let her out tomorrow if her fever subsides, but not to plan on her being at the rehearsal, and only tentatively at the wedding itself.

Damn, that would suck.

In happier news, the programs are printed, my nails are done, and the engagement photo is ready for signing.

T-minus 92 Hours

In case anyone’s interested… here’s the latest on the wedding front.

Got the Marriage License today. Basically, it took a half hour of our time plus 40 bucks for us to guarantee that (a) we are not related — that is, second cousins or closer, (b) we were not intoxicated while applying for a marriage license, and (c) neither of us have syphilis.

Seriously. We had to swear that we didn’t have syphilis. How long has that law been on the books?

Anyway, we’ve touched base with pretty much everyone, including the photographer, officiant, bakery, our families, and our wedding party (well, pretty much… I still haven’t gotten hold of Mel yet, but she’s supposed to call tonight). Still on the to-do list:

  • Cut fabric and tie ribbons for centerpieces
  • Get programs printed at Kinko’s
  • Get French manicure on Thursday
    …or is that a freedom manicure? 😉
  • Buy crepe paper/tulle and balloons for decorations
  • Make giant "Cook-Schnuth Wedding" roadside signage
  • Pick up wedding dress on Friday with Amy
  • Buy flowers for centerpieces on Friday
  • Finish matting engagement photo / guestbook
  • Call in final guest count to Catering

I’m sure there’s probably something else that I’m forgetting, too. Ehh.

If you’re not in the wedding party, and you’re coming in to town on Friday night, you’re welcome to hang out with us after the rehearsal. We think we’re going to Junction for dinner (we’re all going Dutch), but we’re not positive about that yet. I’ll try to leave my cell on as much as possible on Friday, not including the time we’re rehearsing (5:30pm – 6:00 or 6:30), so if you want the number, e-mail me.

Just out of curiosity, I looked at the guest list and broke it down by age group, so all you folks attending will have an idea of the cross-section of society that will be at our reception. The Young Adults (ages 16-ish thru 30) have the highest attendance, at about 55 or so. After them, we have about 15 Adults (our parents’ ages), a dozen Kids (under 14 or so), and four Grandparents.

The honeymoon is going to be in Cummington, Massachusetts, so I won’t have internet access for that entire week, just so you won’t yell about a lack of post-wedding updates. We’re heading out early Monday morning (after one day of wedding decompression) to arrive there Monday night — it’s a 10 to 12 hour drive. On the agenda is (1) eating lobster, (2) whale-watching, (3) seeing Boston, (4) buying maple syrup, and (5) visiting Mt. Greylock.

Why Cummington? Because Aaron’s grandmother owns a house there, and rents apartments out of it. We’ll be staying in the apartment she reserves for herself when she goes up to visit her tenants for three weeks out of the year.

Feel free to e-mail or call me to chat about the wedding… This wedding thing is making me necessarily more social than usual. 🙂 See you on Friday, if not before!

My Very First Breakdown

Some of you will be surprized that I ever break down at all. Back in drumcorps (in Northern Aurora, anyway), they used to say I was a rock. But everyone has his or her breaking point. I reached mine on Wednesday.

I came to work Wednesday morning feeling generally sick. Sore throat, dry eyes, headachy, nausated, mild fever (I think). But I didn’t even consider not going. I wasn’t puking, and I could walk, so off I went. (Note: Monday was a 12-hour day. Tuesday was a 10-hour day. I was expecting things to let up just a little…) Of course, oodles of mail came in — three full mail tubs full. (Two is a light day, and four makes you want to give up and camp out on the floor and just work all night.) But I plugged away, all day, feeling like shit. Loni left at 5:00 to get her hair permed, and Rama and I continued to plug away. Andrew, our Team Leader, jumped on Loni’s machine after she left and started processing work over there. Aaron called around 6:30pm to let me know that work let him go home early, and I told him I’d be home in about 45 minutes. Still felt like crap, but I was looking forward to seeing Aaron soon.

Now, there are two phases of the processing that we’re responsible for: (1) entering payment information into the computer and printing reports for clients, and (2) encoding checks and preparing the client’s deposit for Item Processing, where the actual banking magic happens. (You know the line of numbers on the bottom of your checks? Well, after you write a check, someone at the bank encodes the amount of your check on the bottom right-hand corner of the check. Look at your cancelled checks online sometime, and you’ll see.) We got to a point in processing where Rama and Andrew were processing the last account, so I started encoding their checks from previous accounts. And, in the middle of encoding one deposit, my computer told me to change my encoder ribbon. *sigh* Annoying, but only mildly so. Changed ribbons, continued being highly productive. Only half an hour to go.

Or so I thought.

Justin from IP (Item Processing) came and picked up the about 1200 checks we had processed and encoded and took them back to work their magic on. They use the encoding we put on the checks (and they encode other checks from other places, too, like banking centers) to debit each checking account for the encoded amount. Hence, your check gets "cashed." Anyway, I continued to encode.

About two deposits (of 300 checks each) later, I saw something bad. Very bad. The encoding wasn’t right. The bottom third of the numbers weren’t printing correctly. This is bad, because the machines in IP are automated, and read the MICR line to enter the info into their system. If the numbers aren’t printed right, the machines can’t read them. At all. When I had changed the ribbon on my encoder, a little piece of plastic in the new ribbon had been defective. I should have checked the encoding sooner, but I didn’t. It was my fault, but it wasn’t. I almost swore aloud when I realized what had happened. But I kept my cool, got out the box of white stickers, and began putting blank stickers over the encoding for over 500 checks. Called Aaron to let him know I’d be later than I thought.

After all the checks were stickered up, and I’d fixed my encoder, I began encoding again. But this time, the machine I work on made me do it differently. Usually, the machine encodes by showing you the amount that is to be encoded. If it’s right, you hit enter, and it goes. On to the next check. After it’s encoded once, though, you can’t go back and do it that way again. You have to do it the hard way, which is to enter each check amount manually on the computer, then hit enter. This relies on your being able to read the checkwriter’s handwriting. So, of course, once I reached the end of the first deposit, I found I had misread one check and I was off by 60 cents. So, I had to compare the calculator tapes to the amounts I’d encoded. (If you’re not following, it’s not all that important. Suffice to say everything was going wrong at 8:00 at night.)

Cue Justin from IP. He came in with two more deposits that he’d taken back earlier, and said, "I can’t run these."

Without even turning from my computer, I snapped (a little too sharply), "Which ones did I miss?" At which point I turned to see two full deposits in his hands.

I saw them, and I knew I was fucked. I could feel the tears starting in my throat. He left, I went back to trying to find my encoding error, and something just snapped. Finally, abruptly, I turned away from my co-workers, put my elbows on the desk and my head in my hands and cried, "I’m tired and I’m sick and I just want to go home!" And, embarrassingly enough, I started to cry.

This seemed to weird out my supervisor, who said, "OK. Go home."

I answered in my best teeny weepy cute voice, "Really? I can go home?"

He said yes, and asked if I had found my encoding error, and asked what else is left to re-encode. I wiped my eyes, handed him the checks, apologized, and went home. Aaron had Hamburger Helper ready for me, and I laid down on the couch and watched TV with my Honey-Muffin and took aspirin and went to bed.

And that’s the story of My Very First Breakdown. The End.

Catching Up

So, I spent all day at work thinking of things I wanted to put in my blog tonight. Now that it’s time to post… I find myself feeling particularly unmotivated to write… but I’ll do it anyway, for the sake of my audience. So, Beth, Erk, Sheryls (who apparently are the whole of my devoted readership), here’s your latest post.

Last Week: Loni reminded me in conversation of the time a couple months back when I was called in to our supervisor’s office and interrogated about Loni’s habits, particularly regarding religion in the workplace. I’d known I was being led by the verbage of the questions, but I had to answer truthfully. Turns out that Loni did get written up as a result of Mary’s and my comments and answers. She’s apparently prejudiced against other religions, and had treated Mary (a Catholic) in a degrading manner. Loni knows that the “investigation” was started by a complaint from a co-worker. What Loni still doesn’t know, though, is that Mary is the one who started it…

Saturday: The Annual Waterville Community Garage Sale. Usually a treasure-trove of thrifty goodness. This year, however, it was a big piece of crap. I think everyone on our little trip got one thing. I got the best find of the day (IMO), an 11×11″ HP graphics tablet from 1987. (I gotta make this thing work with Photoshop…) Kris got a Vonnegut book, Mark got some 45’s, and Aaron got… um… a book? I forget. Disappointing, to say the least.

Monday: Nothing like a good old-fashioned 12-hour workday to get the blood pumpin’. Been a while since we had one of those. (Been a while since we had two new temps on a Monday.) And afterward, I went to Jerome Library on campus to photocopy wedding music and return the music books Donna had borrowed for me. Had to buy another friggin’ copy card, too, since I gave mine to Aaron when I graduated and thought I’d never need it again. Dammit.

After going to the library, I decided to take a walk around campus. It was nice out, and I’d wanted to take a walk, anyway. I walked all the way across campus, from the library to Shatzel Hall. I was actually scoping out potential wedding photo ops when I climbed the steps of Shatzel and checked out the pillars and the railing — and discovered someone’s CD wallet (which appeared to be a stolen restaurant check folder). Right in the front, once I opened it, was a CD I’ve actually been interested in (but not enough to actually purchase): Zwan. I looked, and thought, and pondered, and left it there. I’m so proud of myself, leaving it there for someone else to steal.

<girlie stuff>
Today: OMG, I am never wearing a thong to work again! I just bought a couple in my last spree of Lane Bryant shopping (sure, $40 is a spree for me), because I didn’t actually own any real thongs, and I was curious. The cute little thongs that came with my wedding lingerie didn’t seem too bad, so I figured, WTF. Never again. I won’t go into graphic detail (which I could), but feeling like I had a wedgie at my workstation all day was no picnic. The point of underwear, to me, is not to have to think about the fact that you’re wearing it. Instead, I alternated between having it up my crack and having it balance stupidly on my ass, very un-thong-like. Neither was comfortable.

— Oh, and BTW, I never realized how dimply my big ass was until I cranked around and looked at it in the mirror at home, framed by the wondrous thong. I know, you didn’t want to think about that. Well, neither did I. Deal.
</girlie stuff>

Mom called me up today, too. She said that her weekly Tuesday visit with Memaw wasn’t… well… very interactive, I guess you could say. Memaw has apparently refused to be kept functioning by mechanical means, otherwise she’d probably be on a respirator by now. She’s on a morphine drip (mmm… morphine…), and isn’t really very coherent. Mom said she sat by the bed and held Memaw’s hand, and every now and then Memaw’d come to and realize who was there, and they’d smile at each other, and then she’d go back to being dazed and in pain. It sounds like she really doesn’t have too much longer now. I hope that’s true. I’ll miss her, but I’ve been missing her for months now, since she’s honestly only a vague likeness of the Memaw I knew. She’s ready to go. Not to say I won’t be sad, but… I’d be sadder to see her carry on like this.

And I can’t really discuss my beliefs (or lack thereof) with Mom right now. She wasn’t comfortable with my departure from stardard Christian Protestantism already — now that Memaw’s about to die, I can’t very well tell Mom that I don’t know if The Entity Formerly Known As Memaw will even exist once she breathes her last breath.

See, I was having this doozie of a brainstorm the other day. If the human soul-personality-consciousness resides in a given body by a series of electrical impulses in the brain, then once the brain stops functioning… what happens to the soul? Well, what happens to computer software when the hardware on which it resides goes bad? You’ve lost it. It’s gone. The only way software can exist is with hardware on which to store it. So… if the only way your unique self will exist is in your brain, then once your brain stops working… poof. No comforting out-of-body experience, no dead relatives, no pearly gates. No fire and brimstone, for that matter.

Which begs the question: if you no longer exist, how do you know? What do you have to compare your non-existence against? If your current universe exists by virtue of your having experienced it, what happens when you no longer have a vantage point? This is the part I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around.

That’s why I liked to believe in an all-encompassing Force or Tao or general life-energy from which we are all born (and perhaps reborn). I used to think that, depending on how strong-willed or charismatic you were, your soul might exist as itself for a little longer before being absorbed into the collective consciousness. But now, after seeing Memaw fade… I don’t know. She is — was — a strong-willed woman, with a sense of humor and opinions and fire. Now, she’s just there. Will her soul live on?

Don’t you think I’d like to believe it will?

Don’t you think I’d like to resubscribe to the Mormon notion that she’ll go to the Spirit World, where she’ll be with her family and old friends and new friends and learn about The Gospel until the Second Coming and the Millenium of peace? Don’t you think I’d like to believe that after the Judgment she’ll make it to perhaps the second level of Heaven (aka the Telestial Kingdom), where most good Mormons will go? And don’t you think I’d like to believe that she will have Eternal, Everlasting Life? Wouldn’t that be more convenient? Simpler? More comforting?

No, instead I have to be in the midst of a little Belief Question & Answer period with myself. Bah.

Dee-lite vs. Space Channel 5

Remember the 1990 hit "Groove is in the Heart" by Deee-lite? Me too — their album World Clique was one of my first BMG purchases (and one of the first CDs I sold off several years later).

Remember the Sega Dreamcast? Groovy system, died an early death, never truly maxxed out its capabilities (except for the launch game Soul Caliber, which looked smooooth, played quick, and kicked ass).

Remember the game Space Channel 5? It graces the Dreamcast, GameBoy Advance, and PS2 with its funktified presence. Ulala, the main character (yes, it’s pronounced ooh-la-la), has to mimic dance moves PaRappa-style (minus the helpful rhythmic graphics) to shoot invading aliens. Fun, but moderately difficult.

Finally, after about four years, Lady Miss Kier of Deee-lite is suing Sega for unlicensed usage of her likeness.

Aaron and I called this way back in ’99 or 2000, when the game was released (can’t remember if he bought the domestic or the import). You be the judge:

pic courtesy of deee-lite.orgpic courtest of sega.co.jp

pic courtesy of deee-lite.orgpic courtesy of sega.co.jp

SSDD (Same Shit, Different Day)

So, I’m starting to get used to this regularly-updating thing. Since mid-month, I’ve updated at least every three days. Considering that March only had six updates total, I think I’m doing better. ^_^

That said, there’s not much to report today. Finally put all my mp3 CDs in my old CD wallet and brought it to work, after ousting the old homeless CD-ROMs that had been living in it. Got out of work waaay early: before 4:00. Hung out with Aaron, packed up a long-overdue eBay package to Japan. Bounced on my new trampoline while watching the news. I’ve got stuff still to take care of, like messing with the logo for Sheryl’s aunt’s webpage and maybe repotting some plants or playing Civ III.

Slated for the remainder of the week:

  • Wednesday: Meet with Reverend Dr. Diane during my lunch break to discuss wedding vows and ceremony.
  • Thursday: Go to Sky Insurance in Maumee during my (extended) lunch break to interview for the position of Marketing Coordinator.
  • Friday: (tentative) Meet with Dining Services to sign reception contract.
  • Saturday: Waterville Community Garage Sale. Leave BG at 11am.