Experimentation

I got my Beginner’s Soy Candle Making Kit via UPS today. This, along with my recent rediscovery of baking chocolate in the cupboard, drove me to be experimental tonight.

Experiment #1: Quick and Easy Fudgey (Low-Carb) Brownies
I had previously looked at the recipe in the Hershey’s box and discovered that the only bad things in the brownie recipe were flour and sugar. So, this weekend, we purchased some almond flour and a pourable box of Splenda to take care of those naughty ingredients. Tonight, I took the plunge and baked the brownies, with the intention of bringing them to work tomorrow for a goodbye-to-Lockbox-early snack.

Experiment #1 Result: Marginal Success
Maybe I halved the recipe wrong. Maybe the almond flour was a poor idea. At any rate, the brownies were not fudgey, neither were they fluffy. In fact, they were rather dry, though moderately cakey. I’m not going to take them to work. At six carbs a brownie, though, they’re not a complete failure. Maybe they’d work well with some vanilla Atkins ice cream…

Experiment #2: Soy Candles
In my candlemaking kit was two pounds of soy wax, several ounces of fragrance, a small brick of dye, six wicks with metal clips/stands, and three warning labels. Oh, yes, and instructions, which I carefully followed. I melted about 16 oz of wax in a glass container in the microwave, then added some dye, then added (oops) twice as much fragrance as I should have. Ah, well. So far, so good. I attempted to stand the wicks in the containers I’d chosen (purchased from Goodwill this weekend), and finally glued them in place as suggested. Note to self: next time, either melt the wax in a container with a spout, or locate an appropriate funnel through which to pour the wax. It’s a good thing I put newspaper under the containers, otherwise I would have "waxed" our kitchen table. The wicks, of course, immediately heated and wilted off to the side; I had to wait until the wax cooled a little to ever-so-carefully balance and center them.

Experiment #2: Moderate Success
As mentioned, the wax got everywhere during the pouring process, which makes for a very unpretty container. The two candles are of different sizes, too, due to me freaking out about getting wax everywhere and not concentrating more on getting equal amounts of wax in each candle. And don’t forget that I added waaay too much eggnog fragrance. I actually guessed well about the amount of dye to melt in, though — but even so, they could have been just a little lighter.

Overall, I intend to try both of these experiments again, being better prepared and working on improving my techniques. I didn’t expect both of these to be stellar on the first try (certainly not the candles, though I had higher hopes for the brownies). I’ve already taste-tested the brownies; I think I’m going to go see if the candles have finished setting, and do a test burn. Mmm… eggnog.

Update: midnight
I don’t think I added an excessive amount of fragrance to my candle. In fact, I could have added more. I’m also a little unsure of the containers I chose — I think they’re a little wide for the burn pool. (That’s the area of melted wax.) Overall, though, still a successful experiment.

Babies Babies Everywhere

Seems everyone’s having babies these days. I guess we’re just that age ("we" being myself, Aaron, our friends, and my blog readership). A few years ago, it seemed everyone was getting married. It’s the next logical step.

I used to have a "thing" about pregnant people. Even when I was eight and my aunt (who lived with us) was pregnant with my cousin Michael, I was uneasy around her. It just makes me feel… weird. Like I’m witnessing something that should be more private and less obvious than hiding a watermelon under your shirt. Or like they might break. Or like something’s wrong with them. All of which I know is slightly ridiculous.

Since I’ve known more people who have become pregnant, had to work with them (half a dozen in my building), and socialize with them (mainly Kathy Fries), I’ve become less stand-off-ish about pregnant people.

Now it’s the baby thing that unnerves me.

Babies and I just do not get along. Especially little ones. It’s like they can feel my trepidation and awkwardness, and start to cry for Mom not two minutes after being plunked into my arms. Again, I feel like I’m going to break them. And I’m afraid to be too obviously taken in by the marvel that is Life. Someone might be watching, after all, and I can’t show that I’m a softie, now can I? Especially not around my Mom, who I’d like to think I have convinced that I am an emotional rock.

But at the same time, I’m getting this feeling… this knowledge that I’m going to do this someday. It’s akin to another feeling I’ve had, one that will require some backstory.

In the Mormon Church, the first Sunday of every month is set aside for the members to share personal experiences and bear testimony of the Gospel as they know it. It’s known as Fast and Testimony Meeting, because members are also encouraged to fast for two meals, and donate the money they would have spent on those meals to the Church welfare fund. (Mom and I made use of this fund several times — the Church has a Storehouse of food for the poor, funded by these donations).

Anyway, at this particular meeting, there’s no set agenda: after the standard opening song and prayer, and passing of the sacrament (This is My Body, This is My Blood… you Christian-types know the drill), the pulpit is open to all in attendance to come up and speak. It’s kind of funny, too, because so many people are poor public speakers, but they want to let everyone know they believe… so there’s kind of an unspoken ritual opening that all Primary children know, but all adults try to break away from: "I’d like to bear my testimony that I know this church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and I know that God lives. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that [insert current Church President here] is the prophet today…" Then the child or stumbling adult stammers through why they felt the need to bear their testimony. Usually something happened that week to particularly affirm their faith, or something happened to them that they feel the need to share, in order to reaffirm someone else’s faith.

So, as a member of the congregation, you either sit and listen quietly and pensively (or not so pensively), or you start to wonder what you would say, if you got up there. If your case is the former, then Testimony Meeting is either entertaining and uplifting, or boring and tedious. Either way, no stress on you. If your case is the latter, though, the most interesting sensations come upon you. You can’t seem to listen to the testimonies, because your adrenaline starts up. A feeling of inevitability wrenches your gut. You know you’re going to have to get up there and say what’s on your mind. It reminds me of knowing you’re going to puke, except this feeling is supposed to be much more warm and fuzzy, coming from the Holy Spirit and all. (It usually isn’t, though.)

It’s that feeling of inevitability that I’m talking about. That knowledge that you’re not sure you want to do it, but you’re driven to it anyway. Something is compelling you to do this thing that you’re so apprehensive about. You know you’ll feel better afterwards, and you’ll regret it if you don’t.

That’s the feeling I have about procreating. Aaron and I are comfortable with the fact that we’re going to do it someday, so that’s a step in the right direction. But we’re also agreed upon not having kids for another few years, preferably until we have a house. It’s not like my internal clock’s a-ticking… though it kind of is, although I’m choosing to ignore it for now.

There are so many things to look forward to about having children, and so many things to be apprehensive about. For right now, though, I can’t even keep my fucking room clean, much less raise a child. But I’m inwardly jealous of all the new parents I know, while outwardly snickering at their sleepless nights and new responsibilities. Without waxing all emotional (I am a rock, after all), suffice to say that the bond between parents and child intrigues me, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it someday.

I’m 27 right now. OK, 27-and-a-half, but who’s counting? I used to think I should have kids by age 30, and I know that fertility becomes an issue at some point (right now, I do believe). I don’t know, though. I don’t know if we’ll be ready by then. I’d wager we’ll never feel totally ready… but Aaron’s too careful to have an oopsie, and I’m perfectly OK with that. 🙂 I’ve just got that feeling of inevitability, and it comes and goes. I want to, but I don’t, but I do… but my crotch tells me in no uncertain terms that it is not looking forward to pushing a watermelon through a straw.

Tonari no Totoro

totoros!So, how does this work: whenever I sit down with a sketchbook and the intention of drawing, I end up with crap. But, when I have the sudden urge to draw something in particular, I grab a handy piece of scrap paper and end up with something cool? Something I might actually want to keep?

I was sitting here at my desk, contemplating my Totoro desktop wallpaper, when it occurred to me to try to draw Totoro. After all, he’s not that complex. So, I grabbed the nearest piece of blank scrap paper (well, almost blank — one side had yesterday’s quotable from the men’s track team alumnus) and a handy pencil. And, after some scanning and coloring in Photoshop (I love my HyperPen stylus), I ended up with this loverly arrangement to your right.

I love Totoro. If I had my way, every child in America would be introduced to what Japanese children already know: Totoro plushies. The movie is fabulous, but the merch is even better. 🙂 I already have a Totoro on a chain (currently being used as a zipper pull on my purse), a Catbus [Nekobasu] on a chain (on a knick-knack shelf in the bathroom), and a metal wind-up Totoro with umbrella (on a knick-knack shelf in the living room, along with the Evas). When little Sam Fries gets old enough to appreciate it, I have every intention of buying him the Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) movie. And maybe a big plushie.

Oh, I didn’t mention that, did I? Kris and Kathy had their baby on Wednesday, November 19th at almost 7:00 in the morning. Labor for 22 hours… whee. Over 8 pounds. Part of me is really excited for them, and can’t wait to go up to Toledo and see their firstborn. Another part of me knows that we’ll rarely see them ever again, especially since they seem to have this attitude that their lives are over. Ah, well. Auntie Schnuth will be more than happy to spoil little Sam… for a while. 🙂

OK, and the job hunt thickens… I got a call today from another of the companies I sent a resume to. The exec, Steve, conducted a brief phone interview, with such highly laughable questions as, "What web page software have you used? Do you have experience with graphics programs, like Photoshop? How about flatbed scanning? What FTP programs have you used?" Holy shit. I feel smart again, highly akin to my recent Kinko’s experience. Seems this company, WorldStart, maintains an online catalog of closeout computer equipment, and the entry-level position would entail scanning product images, typing descriptions, and generally updating the catalog on a daily basis. Even though this would pay less than my new Patriot Act job with Sky, and would require a commute, I think I’d be OK with that. We’ll have to see. When it rains, it fuckin’ pours.

Today’s random news from CNN.com: When will teachers ever learn that inciting non-conformist acts is not necessarily the best idea amongst high schoolers?

And the random humor from Lockbox: Only in Salt Lake City, Utah would you find a bank named "Zions First National Bank."

More Random Bloggage

Lots of randomness to post today. I spent too long making a neato surprize to be posted on the page in a couple weeks… so I’d better get started.

[Again. After my computer locked up and lost half my entry while trying to download some damn fool midi on a webpage. Sheryl, why is my computer being wonky and freezing during startup and at weird random times lately? I scanned for viruses, and I should be clean. Arrgh.]

I ran into two people today who work in the department I’m moving to on December 1st. They’re both people who I’ve worked with/under before, so they know me and are glad I’ll be joining them. It seems, though, that my identifying characteristic is my frequent wearing of headbands. One of the ladies said someone was trying to explain who I was, and called me "the lady who works down in that corner in Lockbox who wears headbands all the time." Heh… I have now sworn not to wear any more headbands to work. Hopefully in a few months, I’ll be "that lady who lost all that weight," instead.

Speaking of losing weight, I figured out today that during the first three weeks of this diet, I lost an average of seven pounds a week. In contrast, during the past month, I’ve averaged one pound per week. But I’m OK with that. If my weight loss is slow and steady, I have a better chance of keeping it off, or so I hear. And, hell, I’m already down 26 pounds. I’m a third of the way to my ultimate goal, which is being on the way-upper end of the healthy range.

Segueing with the food bit: Next time you go to Chi-Chi’s, watch out for the tainted green onions.

Also in the news: If you’re walking down the street, and a guy flashes you, don’t be afraid to kick him in the jimmy.

One more, one more… Every college student worth his or her salt knows you have to pace yourself if you plan to drink a liter and a half of vodka. "Gibby…? Gibby! Oh my God, Gibby, you’re passed out in the hallway in your own vomit!"

My quotable for today — and this one nearly made Loni squirt pop out of her nose: While processing a large batch of health insurance payments from a local convent, I declared, "Stupid Sisters of St. Francis! Why do you need health care? You’ve got God to take care of you!"

One day this week, I came in to work and sat my purse on top of my desk, instead of plopping it right in the drawer as usual. And someone happened to notice my Totoro zipper pull. And, of course, I then had to explain what Totoro is: kind of a part cat / part raccoon / part owl / God of the Forest. That really confused them. The one newer temp asked, "Is that Pokemon?" NO. "Digimon?" No, it’s just a Japanese cartoon. "You know the square brown guy? Yeah. I like him." Sigh.

And, the wrap-up for today… *drumroll* Written on a BGSU Foundation donation coupon were the words: "I am an alumni of the Men’s Track Team. Your fund can kiss my ass."

Staying Current

While updating my online portfolio, I sifted through my old VCT projects and located my Director portfolio from 2001. What fun! I’d forgotten that I knew how to do cool things. Shit was changing color, flying around the screen, zooming in and out — and I’d made some cool-ass icon graphics to illustrate. I made them! I didn’t steal them. Sure, some of the stuff didn’t work, and you could tell where I started running out of time to complete the project, because objects on-screen didn’t do as many cool things anymore, and there were some flubbed links to movies and such… but, damn, I forgot that I knew something cool!

Pathetically enough, whenever I think of cool things I’ve managed to throw together, my thoughts usually turn to Tim Schavitz. Yeah, yeah, I know… I shouldn’t have to compare myself to anyone… but sometimes, you just need a yardstick to measure up with. Back in college, when I felt like academia was dragging me down, and my lack of creativity was dragging me down, Tim was one of the only design influences who pulled me up.

He and I had enough classes together during my last year at BGSU that we compared notes and fed off of each other. …OK, truth is, I fed off of him. He was everyone’s starchild, and rightly so, although he’d deny it if given the chance. Anyway, we’d look at other people’s projects, and critique them privately amongst ourselves, and wonder in amazement at how many of our classmates were sub-par designers (though, in retrospect, given the VCT curriculum and focus, it’s not surprizing).

Among what you would expect from design students — that is, lumping VCT students in with Graphic Design students — I’d have given most VCT students in our general age range at the time a 4 out of 10. Myself, I’d give a 7 out of 10. Tim, 9 out of 10. Most Intro Graphic Design students and Typography students I studied with, I’d give them a 6 or 7 out of 10. Some rated a 5, some rated an 8 or 9. Graphic Design students just seemed more immersed in design than VCT students, who were more immersed in the mechanics and process of “how” than the overall plan and scheme of “what.” Like Sean used to say, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. You need good ideas, good media, good footage, to produce a good product. Ideally, anyway.

Usually at this point in the “I suck and I should be destroyed” rant, Aaron (or whoever’s handy) will smack me around and say, “You don’t suck! Look at the shit I made! Now that sucks!” Very well. I will accept your compliments with thanks, and continue with my rant.

So, looking back on all this — my Director portfolio, my designs, my wares in general — I have decided that I need to find more foo-foo projects to embark upon, to sharpen my skills. Now, Tim used to do this all the time, making funky Flash stuff that didn’t really mean anything too deep, or do anything too amazing, but it was cool to look at and probably fun to make. With that in mind, I sought out a source of design inspiration… and came up frighteningly short. All the old, bleeding-edge style that used to make our entire group of self-proclaimed VCT Elite spontaneously mess in our drawers — that stuff just doesn’t do it for me anymore. 2advanced, meh. I’m having a hard time finding anything that takes my designer’s breath away these days. And if I can’t find it, if I can’t even identify what it would be, how am I to produce it?

Links I’ve found to mildly get my juices flowing:
+ Designs by Mark (great Photoshop tutorials)
+ THREE.OH: Digital Design Journal
+ We’re Here: Intelligent Design & Development
+ The Shodown Forum: Graphics & Web Dev

P.S. – I know I had another weird dream last night, but I forgot it before I could write it down.

Me and my f_¢k€d up dreams

OK, so this time I was at college. It was supposedly BGSU, but again, you know how dreams are. I had a room by myself for a while, then my old roommate Mary moved in with me. (Good christ, Mary teaches the Gifted class now?!) — Anyway, I was living in a poor excuse for a dorm — more like a shabby apartment complex that should have been demolished. But it was mine, and I had it all figured out. But Mary moved her stuff in, and blocked the doorway so people had to literally crawl into the room, and kept moving the beds around into weird and unsuitable places in the room. Then she found a room in the next building over where we could cook food, and proceeded to make four different dishes on the stoves in this dank, dark, unheated and really creepy place she’d discovered. Of the dishes, I only recall the cheesy potatoes. Then she went back to our room and left me to put the food in containers and store it… somewhere. When I finally got back, via back hallways and tunnels, she was asleep or studying or something.

Somehow, at the end of the dream, Mary magically became Amy — either Mary moved out and Amy moved in, or one of those weird dream-things happened, where people just randomly become different people and it’s perfectly OK… until you try to explain it later. Anyway, the end of the dream involved me trying to convince Amy that maybe we should move out of the dorm we were in and back into one of the dorms with larger rooms: Rodgers, or even Kohl. She was quite receptive.

I know I forgot a lot of the details, and there were plenty, but that’s the basic gist. Jeez, is this what I get for thinking, "You know, I haven’t remembered my dreams for quite a while now…"? Or maybe it’s from being regularly awakened by my alarm clock earlier than usual, to prepare myself for 8-to-5’s again.

Anyway, back to the real world…

I had my phone interview with HCR ManorCare today. Mr. Kevin Shoop sounded to be about my age or thereabouts — seems they had the guy call all the people he could potentially be working with, and tell them about the job to make sure they were still interested. He seriously sounded more nervous than I felt, and that really relaxed me a bit. So, I’m to be one of ten candidates eligible for an in-person interview for this Web Content position, slated to be filled by mid-December. I’m glad I don’t have all my proverbial eggs in one basket this time, though — even if I don’t get this HCR position, I still have a new job and a pay increase. And a $600 incentive check in January, and another raise in March, if I stick around that long. Either way it goes, I’m happy. I think.

I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on the Saginaires Alumni Association website lately. Well, why not, when we have an alumni benefactor who’s donating 300MB of webspace indefinitely, plus covering our domain name (which was once my own "donation")? Oh, yeah, and the traffic on our Yahoo! Group has increased from a rare maximum of 19 messages a month between December 2000 and September 2003, spiking up to 233 messages this October and nearly 1000 this month so far. I attribute the growth to the success of the alumni reunions (which I had nothing to do with this time — I didn’t plan it, and I didn’t even go, because it’s on Black Swamp weekend). They all seem to love the site, so I’m going to continue to run with it. There were times when I’d considered shutting the whole damn thing down — but I didn’t, because it was my baby, my first website, the reason I learned HTML in the first place. And now, I’m glad I kept it around. Just goes to show, I guess.

Oh, and by the way: if you feel you must drink diet soda, check out Diet Rite. White Grape rocks my world.

Weird Dreams and New Jobs

I had the weirdest, most intense dream last night. I was at work (but not quite; you know how dreams are), and my boss Andrew was there, as was the rest of Lockbox, I think. Somehow, Andrew had been infected with some sort of fatal virus / infestation / disease, one that we knew killed swiftly, horribly and painfully. (No, it’s not a revenge dream…) I don’t recall how we knew he had it, or where he’d gotten it, though I think he’d stepped in it somewhere. We all knew about it, anyway, and how it ate the flesh of the victim within minutes of becoming active. The skin would turn pitch black, starting from wherever the infection had begun — wherever the victim had first touched the blackness to become infected in the first place. (It reminds me a little of the black oil in the X-Files, but not quite.)

Like I said, we all knew Andrew was infected. We stood around him, kind of keeping our distance, and he leaned on one of the desks, feigning lightheartedness. Tension was high, not only because we knew he was about to die before our eyes, but because we didn’t want to become infected ourselves.

We could see the tendrilly waves of blackness creeping around his shoes. (Apparently the virus consumed clothing, too…) Before they got much farther, though, Andrew leaned out toward me, careful to keep his feet back away and clear of me… and puckered up for a goodbye kiss. And, strangely enough, I obliged. Just a peck, mind you, and just a friendly one, like you’d give a relative, but on the lips. This seemed appropriate in the dream, like a final farewell.

A few moments later, Andrew slumped to the floor, still conscious, but in pain. He half-leaned against the desk, half-lay on the floor, and we were aware of the blackness beginning to overtake his ankles. He screamed, and his hands became taut claws of pain. Then I screamed and started to cry, because I was witnessing his death — at which point he stopped screaming and said, "No, no, I’m just kidding. It’s really not that bad yet." And he relaxed a bit and grinned up at us.

I was relieved by not yet witnessing his gory death, though a little peeved at his melodrama, but I was still tense and shaking. A few seconds later, I saw that the virus was moving up his legs, and he wasn’t faking anymore, and I screamed again, looking away and bracing myself on a table.

Before the virus overtook his entire body, though, I either woke up or shifted to a new dream. I may even have the sequence of events mixed up. At any rate, I didn’t stay in the dream long enough to actually witness Andrew’s death, which is good.

I’ve gotta tell you, though, when I woke up this morning, I was tense and stiff and my eyes were crusty, like I’d been crying in my sleep. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a dream that intense. The image of him writhing and screaming on the floor is still burned into my head, and has been all day… which made it that much more interesting to work right next to him all day, while he was subbing for Loni, who’s on vacation this week. After seeing Andrew almost die in my dream, I think it made me that much nicer to him today, because I was glad he was alive in real life.

What strikes me most, thinking back on the dream, is: 1.) I was the only one screaming. At Halloween, by the way, the entire office had agreed that they knew I wasn’t a "screamer." The others in the dream seemed grossed out, piteous toward Andrew, and concerned about their own safety, but none grieved openly as I did. 2.) I was the only one Andrew made a parting gesture toward. Sure, it was my dream, but he didn’t even offer any kind of goodbyes, except the kiss to me.

Usually I can figure out what a dream is about, but I’m not sure about this one. There’s only one thing I can think that it might be related to, which brings me to my next topic.

Remember how I said I had three job leads outside Sky and one within? Well… I got the one within! w00t! I’m starting December 1st, and I’ll be working 8am to 5pm, no weekends, with a buck fifty pay increase. Hell, yeah. It sounds like I’m moving up from general flunky to cubicle rat; I’ll be searching reports and documents for bank clients’ missing information, like SSN, address, birthdate, etc, as required by the Patriot Act. Could suck, but could also be better than what I’m doing now. Hell, with such a pay jump, I’d be content, anyway, I think.

So, I suppose that crazy dream could have been my brain reacting to me leaving Lockbox shorthanded, somehow.

Next chapter: I received an e-mail this evening from HCR Manor Care, asking when I would be available for a phone interview. Keep in mind, this gig sounded pretty sweet: interviewing subject matter experts; writing, editing, and structuring web content; audio/video production; and graphic design. Right up my alley, I do believe. So, I’ll go through with the phone interview, but I’ll sure feel like a dick if I have to back out of the new job at Sky because I got a better deal somewhere else. Especially since I told my new boss in my interview that "I want to stay with Sky." Riiiight…

Soo… I’m going to hope for a phone interview either during my lunch Monday or after work Tuesday, since I don’t exactly want to do a phone interview at my desk in the midst of other employees. Were I in a cubicle or office, sure, but not in the middle of Lockbox.

The way I’m looking at things, I don’t have to sweat these other interviews now. I do best when I don’t get all worked up about it, when I kind of psych myself out of ever actually having the job and just relax and enjoy the interview. At least, it seems that way at the time, I guess. — No, I take that back. I know that’s how it is, because that’s how I got the Patriot job. 🙂 Either that, or they had some real slim pickins for candidates…

Anyway, before I psych myself out of any more jobs, I’m going to stop rambling.

Kinko’s

So, in Sunday’s Blade, I found not one but two potentially satisfying classified ads for Web Designers. Which sent me off to Kinko’s before work Monday to print off my specially-made resumé stationery. You know, the stuff that perfectly matches my portfolio website. When I proofed my document at Kinko’s, though, I realized that I’d goofed while resizing the final paper size to legal (instead of "a half-inch too narrow and an inch too long," according to Uncle Frank). The girl gave me the goof as a sample and I went off to work. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave work until 8:30pm (helluva half-day that was, at six hours), so I didn’t have time to get back home and fix the PageMaker document and get back to Kinko’s to get it printed.

Rant: Since when does Kinko’s close?! The BG Kinko’s has two signs on their front door: one that says, "24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week," and one that gives their real hours of 7am-9pm most days of the week. I thought Kinko’s was supposed to be "your 24-hour branch office." WTF? — OK, continuing on…

So, today, after Aaron headed off to work, I fixed my stationery (for real this time) and walked my newly-burned CD-R down to Kinko’s. Just as I had done last time, I put my CD on the counter and told the girl (a different one this time) that I had a PageMaker file on the disc of which I needed ten copies, color, tabloid size. She registered all that, and asked me, "Is this, um… is that a PC disc?" Hmm. I informed her that, yes, it was PC. She nodded, took the disc, and headed over to the far side of the employee work area, to the printing computers.

I milled about while she got over there and put the disc in. Finally she called out the name of my file, to make sure that was the one. Yep, it’s the only PageMaker file on the CD… but I just replied, "Yep, that’s it!" And, of course, I know PageMaker well enough to see over her shoulder at 20 feet that she hadn’t installed the fonts before opening the document — the font substitution dialog had come up. She looked confused for a moment, then just clicked through and brought up the document. Then she asked me if I wanted to come look and make sure it was OK before she printed it. I don’t think this is standard company policy… but I walked on back to her computer to look. Sure enough, it had substituted something that was not quite my fonts, and she told me so. I informed her that the fonts were on the disc, at which point she got the "boy, am I new here" look on her face and asked me if I knew how to put the fonts on the computer.

Way to make me feel smart, girlie! I needed an ego boost.

I tried to act informed (which, actually, I was) and I said something like, "Well, I don’t know exactly how you guys do it here… do you have any font management software on that thing?" Thank you, Graphic Design and Typography… thank you, VCT 308… I sound smart now. And she waded through the Start Menu until she finally found Adobe Type Manager and fumbled her way through installing my fonts. She probably had a bear of a time dealing with it later, because I know what a bitch ATM can be about ejected disks sometimes, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.. Anyway, she finally got it going on, and I retreated once more to the customer side of the desk.

From here, the story’s pretty standard. Looked at the first printed proof, approved it, got my remaining nine copies, and paid about two bucks apiece for ’em. Yup, over $20 for ten color printouts on 11×17 paper. But I think it’ll be worth it. Yeah.

Incidentally, while I was researching hyperlinks for this entry, I came across a job posting on the Thread (formerly Image Source) website, and applied for it. So, that makes three possibilities outside of Sky and one within! Hey, Amy, my tarot was right: things are moving in the right direction! Glad I jumped on it…

Friday Night

Just a brief catch-up post… I’ll write more later in the weekend.

Went to see Matrix Revolutions tonight. While I enjoyed it, I was also a little underwhelmed. The pacing seemed a little different to me in places, and it was more action-oriented than cerebral. I mean, sure, it’s the Matrix, so I liked it… but not as much as the other two.

Went to Steve Yoder’s funeral service yesterday afternoon. I knew about five people out of five hundred in attendance. I wore my Northern Aurora jacket, though, so my connection with Steve would be more obvious. I sat with Kristen used-to-be-Rebbeck, a former corpsmate of mine who actually marched in one of Steve’s winterguards. Made friends afterward with some Central Michigan students at the luncheon following, and met some of the Northcoast Academy members and staff. More on that later.

I’d already planned to take off of work on Friday and Monday, and Tuesday is Veteran’s Day. Five-day weekend for me… then I took off half a day on Thursday to drive out to freakin’ Wauseon — an hour’s drive out of BG by the Turnpike. But Loni called today and said she has a funeral to attend in Michigan on Monday afternoon, and asked if I could come in Monday afternoon so the rest of the department isn’t slammed too bad. So, I agreed. Only a half-day break in my five-day siesta. I can deal with that.

The Saginaires / Northern Aurora Alumni Yahoo! Group is taking off by leaps and bounds. Alumni are not only posting, but resolving their own issues, which makes me happy as Owner and Moderator. I hate having to step in and play peacemaker. You never know when it’s actually going to work, or if you’ll just piss off one or both parties involved. But that hasn’t been necessary, and the stories have been fun to read (for the most part). I’m glad that something I’ve done for the alumni is being recognized and appreciated so much.

Samhain

You guys are gonna think I’m so weird…

First off, before you get too far, it’s pronounced \SOW-in\. ("Sow" rhymes with "cow.") Quite similar to what a deep southerner would answer if you asked her what she was doing with that needle and thread. (Although, after a little research, I think I prefer the Welsh pronunciation: Shah-VEEN.) And yes, it’s the Wiccan (or Pagan, if you prefer) holiday from which modern Halloween stems.

But let me begin at the beginning. (Hmm, this could be a long post…)

You all probably know about my on-again/off-again battle with my spirituality. When my mother left the Mormon Church while I was in high school, I clung to my own beliefs like a lifeline. In fact, at times I was so suicidal (reference teen angst poetry) that my belief system was all that kept me from attempting it. (That’s really creepy when I think about it now. *shiver*) When I came to college, I located the local Mormon church and kept attending services, but somehow it felt different. I stopped going after a semester or two. After taking Sociology 101, I came to realize that religion was mainly a social structure, a grouping of people with similar beliefs, and that religion at its most base and fundamental level was a means of teaching and controlling a population. By or around this point in my education, I was living with Amy, who basically turned from agnostic to atheist before my very eyes while we roomed together. All these factors together — Soc class, long talks with Amy, online research about my crackpot religion — eventually made me discard my Mormon upbringing.

No, not just Mormon. Christian. My mom about swallowed her tongue when I told her a couple years back that I didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God. I even had a long discussion with Gary (who holds an Associate Degree in Theology) about whether Jesus was a con man, a liar, or just plain crazy (or perhaps misled). I’m sure Mom and Gary think it’s a phase. I’ll let them go on thinking that.

Now, hoping I haven’t alienated any of my readership, I’ll move on…

About the same time I was discovering what I no longer believed in, I met Kelly. Kelly was a VCT major, and was in several of my classes with me. Kelly was also a Pagan, and had no qualms about telling you all about Paganism. (Interesting sidenote: Kris H. actually dated Kelly just before I met her, and she’d turned him off by talking incessantly about her religion. So, she is known in our circle of friends as "Pagan Kelly.")

Kelly introduced me to the Pagan Society at BGSU, and invited me to a meeting. This only reinforced my idea of religious meetings as social gatherings, although I felt more welcome there than I would have at Church. The dozen members of the Society (which has since split and disbanded) all had varying beliefs: some were Wiccan, some Druid, some were Taoist to an extent, and some (out of sheer perversity, I do believe) followed Norse practices. More than anything, that made me realize that a.) my belief system is my own, and b.) as such, I need to discover it for myself.

So, here I am. Back to my original topic of Samhain.

To preface (and I’m paraphrasing from what I’ve read and researched), Wicca is a neo-Pagan religion which gained popularity in the hippie era of the 60’s and 70’s. People felt a need to commune with nature, to shed their prohibitive Puritan upbringing, and opted to revert to the oldest form of nature-worship they could discover. Unfortunately, most non-Christian European religions were nearly obliterated during the early Christian Era, and no true followers of ancient religions remained. (A few isolated covens still operated in Europe, however, believing themselves the only remaining practitioners of their faith.) Through research, interpolation, and a little creativity, modern man managed to imitate the ancient religion of the Celts as early as the late 1800’s, albeit under an extreme vow of secrecy. Most Wiccans believe their version of the ancient religion to have been founded in the 1930’s or 40’s.

Wiccans observe eight holy days, or Sabbats, during the course of the year. The first of these is Samhain, October 31, which marks the final harvest and the beginning of Winter and the Pagan/Wiccan/Celtic New Year. This is a time where one communes with one’s ancestors, remembering those gone before, and makes resolutions for the upcoming year. Wiccans believe this is a time to invite ancestors to revisit the world of the living; hence, the creepy overtone of the undead.

Since learning a little about Wicca and Paganism in general, I find that, around Halloween, my thoughts gravitate toward those have passed on, and toward my genealogy and family history. I used to think only of my Granny (1911-1990) and my stepdad (1948-1995), but now I have my Memaw to think of, too (1933-2003). I don’t know what’s happened to them, or where they’ve gone, if anywhere. Heaven? Purgatory? The Elysian Fields? The Spirit World? Another dimension?

Oblivion?

Wherever they may be, I am bound and determined to keep their memories alive — even those ancestors I didn’t know. There are a few that I feel a certain kinship to, and I’m not quite sure why. My Mormon friends would tell me that they’re urging me from the Spirit World to finish their genealogy and Mormon temple work for them. I personally think I just find their lives and circumstances fascinating, and I can relate well to some of them.

So, I think I’m going to celebrate Samhain this year. I think I’m going to get out my three-ring-binder of genealogy and study my ancestry for an hour, surrounded by candles and photos of my family. Afterward, I’ll dig out the Tarot cards (and my trusty reference book) and give myself a reading — although Amy was always better at that than I. Then perhaps I’ll write a brief list of things I want to eliminate from my life in the coming year, and symbolically destroy the list (by fire if I’m feeling pyromanic). No, I won’t "cast a circle." No, I won’t "call the corners." No, I won’t supplant the Horned God or call upon the Ancient Ones. But it’ll be a nice little evening of reverance and remembrance while the rest of the nation is eating candy and burning couches.

Wicca links:
History of Wicca at religioustolerance.org
The Sabbats of Wicca