Friday, April 30, 1999

Archive - 30 April 1999

I'm so happy the work week is almost over. Not that this has been a bad week, per se, but I'm just tired. And I've got my annual exam right after lunch. Yuck. But rather than whine, I'll give you some links to something funny. But maybe this year my doctor won't lecture me about being overweight, since I've been losing weight. Just because I feel like sharing my pain with you, here's a list of things I have to remember to pester my doctor about:
  • Don't forget to use the narrow speculum. The regular one caused some bleeding, some bruising, and a fair amount of pain. (Another reason not to have kids: My pelvis is too narrow, and the very idea of a Caesarian makes me nauseous.)
  • I need a renewed prescription for birth control pills.
  • I need something for these patchy rashes on my leg and chest, and this time, I want something that actually works, dammit!
  • I need my synthyroid prescription renewed, and if you're only going to check my thyroid levels once a year, why do you keep giving me six-month prescriptions?
  • I want a post-dated prescription for something for the allergies that always hit from mid-summer through the end of autumn.
  • If you're taking blood, go ahead and do a cholesterol screening. I haven't had one in a couple of years.
Damn, I take a lot of drugs.

I'm sortof sleepy this morning for no good reason. Well, the cat woke me up at 4, but that's nothing new. Guess I'm just ready for the weekend.

We went to the post office yesterday to pick up a package from Matt's mom which she had warned us was coming - an anniversary present. It looked like it was in two Priority Mail boxes which had been re-folded and meshed together with most of a roll of packing tape. It took Matt almost ten minutes just to get past the tape. Inside the mail boxes was an Eddie Bauer box, which was taped shut, and inside that was a card and the gift. The card was very nice (I adore Anne Geddes pictures). Inside the wrapping paper were two layers of bubble wrap, several layers of tissue wrap, and (drum roll please...) a clock! A very nice clock, I might add. I love clocks. Yay, Jill!

See, I'm allergic to a lot of metals, including stainless steel. If I wear a watch with a metal back (and even plastic digital watches usually have a metal back over the battery) then I'll break out in hives where the metal touches my skin. (You have no idea what kind of a pain it was to find glasses that wouldn't have any metal against my skin but still looked decent.) Anyway, so I can't wear a watch. But I go absolutely bezerk if I can't know what time it is. If there's a clock in the room, I frequently won't look at it for hours at a time, but if there's no way to know, I get obsessed and have to know what time it is every five minutes. I don't know why. It's just me. So I've got a lot of clocks. About the time Matt and I got engaged, I realized that, although I hadn't done it on purpose, I'd started a de facto clock collection, and I figured that I might as well just accept it and make is a real collection. So "clocks" has been on my wishlist for a couple of years, now.

Have a good weekend! See you in May!

Thursday, April 29, 1999

Archive - 29 April 1999

Man, I have got to change my directory structure. But that means going through and changing all the links... Bleah.

Clean apartment, blah, blah, blah... Sand in the house foundation, blah, blah, blah... Haven't paid the bills yet, blah, blah... Almost blew the diet, blah, blah... That's about it for the laundry list of my life.

Last night, after I went to bed, I wanted to pet the cat. Just wanted to feel him snuggled up next to me in the bed and reach out and lightly stroke his soft fur. (That's one of the three main reasons I prefer cats to dogs: softer fur. The other two are the drool factor and the walk-vs-litterbox factor, in case you're wondering.) Anyway, I wanted the cat. But he wasn't inside; I'd let him out about an hour earlier, and we've been letting him stay out all night lately.

So I got up and went outside and called him. He didn't come, and it was pretty chilly, standing there in my nightshirt, so I went back to bed, figuring I'd just deal with it and go to sleep.

Nope. My overactive imagination kicked in. What if he's been hurt and is cowering under some car, waiting for you to come and find him? What if he's dead ? Are you going to just let his little cold body lay there all night? Then I started trying to imagine how I would bury my cat if he was dead, until I couldn't stand it any more, and I made Matt come outside and help me look for him. We called for ten minutes, walking up and down and around the building, but he didn't come. Ten minutes after we went inside, though, he showed up and I let him in and felt better.

Is it only my brain that does this? It's not just my cat, either. I used to go crazy, when Matt and I worked at different places, if he was late coming home from work. I always imagine the worst. And while it doesn't get me if we're just driving around town, any time we go on any kind of long trip - driving or flying or whatever - I always envision an accident. I can see it so clearly, too: We're driving through the mountains on our way to visit friends in the western half of the state, and there's an accident. Maybe one of those giant trucks changes lanes without checking, or I have a coughing fit and lose control of the car, or the businessman in that other car suddenly snaps and pulls out a gun and starts shooting people randomly. The plane runs out of fuel or crashes into a mountain or is hijacked. I've seen them all in the movie theater of my mind. I've imagined all the possible consequences, too: We're fine, but the car is dented and I pull out my cell phone and call AAA to come and fetch us. One or both of us is severely wounded. (I imagine waking up in the hospital with Matt holding my hand - or I imagine waking up alone to the knowledge that Matt will never hold my hand again.) One or both of us is dead. (I envision funerals and sobbing parents.)

I can't stop it. I get frantic when people are more than ten minutes late. I try to maintain a cool exterior (because I know how dumb it is) but I just can't stop it. My cat, my husband, my parents, my family, my friends - everyone I know has at least once become a statistic in my fevered imagination.

And what can I do when it happens? Trying not to think about something just reinforces it. Trying to think about something else doesn't really work. Distracting myself with busywork sometimes helps, but not for very long. When I was in grad school and expecting my boyfriend to come up for visits, I'd put a movie in the VCR about an hour before he was due to arrive, because otherwise I'd spend the entire hour hanging out the window, trying desperately to look casual. (Don't let that fool you, either - I almost never sat all the way through the movie. Multiple "casual" trips to the window were made.) Excitement and worry all rolled up into one.

Do other people do this? Worry obsessively and unnecessarily and without real cause? Am I a mutant? A worry-wart? (Well, yeah, I am. But is it abnormal?)

Oh, forget it. I'm going to go fix my breakfast (and try not to envision the hot water suddenly gushing out of the cooler and scalding my hands so I can't type).

Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Archive - 28 April 1999

Man, yesterday was fantastic!

Matt found out early in the day that Ben and Jerry's was having a free-cone promotional, so we planned to go. Luckily, I'd packed myself a very low-point lunch, so I had plenty of room in my diet to accommodate ice cream. Especially free ice cream. Especially free good ice cream.

I had a pretty good day at work, too. I had to pester Jeremy for a fair amount of help, but I got yesterday's goal accomplished. Then my task lead dropped by to see how things were going, and when I told him I was sure I'd have everything ready for the May 7th deadline, he admitted that the deadline had been moved back to the end of May anyway. Hurrah! So if I finish early (which seems to be a reasonable assumption, at this point) I'll have more time to work on my journal.

After work, I went to Weight Watchers, and discovered that I've lost another pound and change. Finally, maybe I'm off the plateau! I decided on some new rules for myself, too: If I lose more than two pounds in a week, I'm allowed to go home after weigh-in and skip the meeting. If I gain more than two pounds in a week (it's only happened once in the seven months I've been going) I have to leave after weigh-in and go to the gym, instead.

Then I went home to a clean clean clean house! The cleaning fairies arrived! Hurrah! When I lived at my parents' house and my room was a mess, I thought, When I'm out on my own, I'll actually clean. When I lived with two roommates in college and our place was a pigsty, I thought, When I've got my own place, I'll clean. When my apartment through grad school was dirty, I knew, It'll matter more that the place is clean when it's not so ugly. (What can I say? The apartment that hadn't had new carpet or appliances since the mid-70's was cheaper.) When I got a good job and a decent apartment, I thought, No one's ever here except me. It doesn't matter. But I finally had to come to the conclusion that I'm simply a rotten housekeeper and always will be. But I like living in a clean house. I want my friends to come over. So I finally hired a cleaning service. Now that my student loan payments are almost done (I'm writing the last check tonight!) and that awful hypnosis service is going to stop billing me (long story) I feel I can afford it. Yesterday was my first day of service, and I was astonished. For the rest of the night, Matt and I kept marveling at it. They cleaned things that never even occurred to me that should be cleaned! Oh yeah, this was worth it! And when we get our house, I'll carry over service, and the new house will never get as bad as this apartment has been for the last year or two!

And when Matt came home from his weekly post-work basketball game, we dashed off to Ben and Jerry's for free ice cream! Lots of other people had heard as well, and we only just made it! We were one of the last people allowed through the door! Mmmm - Strawberry Kiwi Sorbet. We strolled along the sidewalk, eating our ice cream and peering into shop windows. It was lovely.

And to make matters even better, the cat decided - for whatever reason - to stay outside all night and not scratch at the bedroom window, so I got to sleep all the way through the night.

So I'm in a really good mood today. Maybe even good enough to work on my webpage this afternoon, if I meet my work goal by noon... You never know...

Tuesday, April 27, 1999

Archive - 27 April 1999

Apparently my right wrist is significantly stronger than my left. Or, rather, my left wrist is significantly weaker than my right. (I wouldn't want to give you the impression that any part of my body qualifies as strong...) I went to the gym yesterday, and ran the course of weight-training machines, making wild guesses at how much weight I could stand on any given machine. I think I did okay right up until the end, where there is one machine that has three different exercises associated with it, for different muscles in your forearm and wrists. I set the weight where I thought it should be, and did the exercises. I had to strain a little to finish them with the left wrist, but didn't think much of it - I'm right-handed, so it follows pretty naturally that my left wrist wouldn't be a strong.

But in the locker room, changing back into my street clothes, I noticed that the dull aches of an exercised muscle, fading slowly over most of my body, were slowly becoming more and more painful in my wrist. As the evening wore on, I came to realize that I'd strained, rather than merely pushed, my wrist. Dammit. So today I'm wearing an ace bandage in the hopes that a day of immobilization will help.

And apparently I missed a few muscle groups when I was stretching afterwards, because there are aches in my back and chest today that feel like dehydration and the flu. (However, those aches prompt me to hope that some muscle-tone will firm up a few things that have been sagging lately...)

The cat is still keeping us up half the night. For a while there, we could toss him outdoors when he started being a pest. From our bedroom, we can't hear him scratching at the front window, which is what he usually does when he wants to come inside, and we can sleep in ignorant bliss of his desires. (Don't look at me like that. When the weather is truly foul, we don't let him out. It's more like ignoring a child begging for a toy than real neglect.) But on Thursday last week, which I took off, it was such a beautiful day that I opened all the windows in the apartment, and the cat re-discovered the hole in the bedroom window. We discovered this Friday night, when we put the cat out, and an hour later he appeared at the bedroom window. We couldn't blithely ignore the sound coming from directly over our heads, and the cat didn't budge when we opened the door and called, so Matt had to go and get him. It happened again Sunday night. Last night, we simply ignored him altogether and didn't let him out at all until nearly dawn, but we're still not getting a lot of sleep. The annoying thing is that as soon as we've had our showers and dressed, the cat curls up into an adorable, cuddly little ball of fur and goes to sleep.


Oh, well, I promised myself that I would really, truly, get some work done today, so I'd better get going...

Monday, April 26, 1999

Archive - 26 April 1999

I'm back! Didja miss me? I had a lovely couple of days off - the weather couldn't have been nicer, and I relaxed and read and did a lot of work on the afghan I'm making, and blew my diet a little. So I had a good few days. I won't say that I'm really happy to be back at work, but at least I think I'm ready for it.

I dropped my car off to be inspected and have its oil changed this morning before work, and less than ten minutes after I got to work, they called me with the inspection results. To pass inspection, all I needed was a light bulb, but they told me one tire was badly worn and would need to be replaced inside of a month, so I told them to go ahead and replace that tire as well. They tried again to tell me I needed to have my serpentine belt replaced (this is a $300 job, because there's only the one belt for my entire engine) but I remember having it done already a couple of years ago, so I'm not due for a new belt until 2002 unless they find visible wear. Anyway, it looks like I'll get my car back for less than $100, which is good.

Matt and I dropped by our house site this weekend, and they've put in the foundation! Cinderblocks and mortar now define the outer walls of the house! Hurrah! We're a little disappointed with how low the foundation is in the back, though. Because of the steep slope of our lot, we had thought of eventually putting a deck on the back of the house, and building a storage shed into the area under the deck - in anticipation of eventually converting the garage to a den, you see. But at the back of the house, the foundation is only about five feet off the ground, which would make the ceiling to the shed only about four or four and a half feet high, and we're not sure we really want to deal with it being that low. It probably wouldn't be a problem for me, but Matt would have to bend almost double to get in and out. So we'll have to think of another solution to our shed dilemma. But we're thrilled that they're actually working on the house!

I'm really hungry this morning. Actually, I was hungry while I was asleep this morning, and I had this dream that I was at William and Mary campus, trying to remember where my desk was (because I keep a box of instant grits in my desk) and I just couldn't remember what building it was in. I kept running from building to building, and all over every floor of each building, thinking, "How can I have forgotten where my desk is?!?" Of course, I woke up and realized that my desk isn't at W&M at all - it's at work! Silly me.

On Thursday, I finally got my package from Silhouettes, which is a catalogue of clothing for larger women. I'd ordered this outfit like three months ago, and it finally arrived! I tried it on - and it was way too big. Especially the skirt. So now I have to send it back and exchange it for the next size smaller. As Jeremy told me, worse things have happened, but I wonder if it will be next spring before I get this outfit!

A very good, long-time friend of Matt's is getting married in two weeks. Matt and I decided this weekend that we would go to the store at which they registered and get them a gift. Our first surprise was that there are no retail versions of this store close than a 45-minute drive, and that store was located in a rather run-down, seedy mall. Joy. So we get to the store and at first everything is going smoothly - a clerk shows us to the registry computer, and the registry prints, and so far only one thing has been purchased from their list, so we have plenty of choices.

So, we go eat lunch and talk over the list and decide on a couple of items. We also decide that (since the bride and groom both live in Chicago) we will pay for the items and have the store ship them to Chicago for us - the groom's parents' address is listed on the registry, so we assume this is possible. We head back to the store, and hunt down a clerk, which is surprisingly easy. "We'd like to get these items and have them sent to this address." WHAM! It's like running into a brick wall. The clerk looks confused and tells us she thinks that isn't possible. Don't be silly, we think, of course a major department store has a shipping process! She calls someone, who transfers her at least twice, and the final consensus is reached: They don't ship. Matt and I are annoyed, but decide to go find the actual items we'd decided on, to see if we want to get them and ship them ourselves. Halfway down the escalator, Matt gets a fantastic idea: We'll get a catalogue for the store, and then when we call to order the items, we'll simply give them the correct shipping address! Hurrah! We find yet another sales clerk... who tells us that the store no longer has a catalogue. We explain our dilemma to this clerk, who gets on the phone and is transferred at least twice, and at least twice explains our situation incorrectly. I ask her what would be done if we went to buy the item and it wasn't in stock. She asked me when we wanted to come and pick it up. So they still don't ship, and she tells us that what we should do is go to the actual department which handles the item we wanted, and they'd be able to help us. Well, that was bullshit if I ever heard bullshit - she just wanted not to have to deal with us anymore, because it was rapidly becoming obvious that we were getting more than a little irritable. At this point, Matt and I decided to hell with it - we'll get the couple something that isn't on their list, or at least something from another store. (Actually, we came home and Matt tried their website, but it was just as useless.)

So we're never going back to that store again, and I have told my brother that if he and his fiancee register there that they won't get a present from us. And I don't even want to use the store's name here, but it rhymes with "Beers" - or maybe you know it as "Beers Throwbuck".

Wednesday, April 21, 1999

Archive - 21 April 1999

I had the most obnoxious dreams last night.

In the first, I dreamed that we killed my mother. Matt looked at me and said something like, "She just can't be controlled," and we added Pine-Sol to a drink and gave it to her. (In the little universe of my dreams, apparently this was a completely untraceable way to kill someone.) But while we were waiting for her to die, I realized that we'd already killed my brother and at least three other people for pretty much the same reason - they were uncontrollable - and I was just tired of killing people. So I thought I'd take my mom to the hospital and see if they could cure her. I have no idea how it turned out, because I woke up about then.

Then I dreamed that I was at my high school class reunion. Not unreasonable - it's coming up this summer. All these people were there that I'd completely forgotten about, and I was having a great time talking to people. My high school boyfriend, Bjõrn, was there (with this really awful little goatee) but he was avoiding me because Matt was there with me. I was a little hurt, because I wanted to introduce them - I thought they'd get along pretty well. But Bjõrn kept avoiding me, and Mila was telling me, "I told you so."

Anyway, I was sitting with a bunch of other people under this tarp outside, and my friend Jen was sitting on the ground near me (I don't know why; she didn't graduate from my high school) and my friend Jo, whom I haven't so much as thought of in the last three years, showed up and I asked about her daughter. Then something dripped on me, and I turned around. About fifty feet away, there were these crocodiles hanging from a tree over a lake, fighting with each other. After the longest time, they finally fell into the lake, and as they did, this huge splash of water came up and soaked everyone who wasn't under the tarp, and the people who were under the tarp didn't exactly escape unscathed. (It was like being at a water show, actually.) The crocodiles were doing these enormous, agile leaps in the water - they acted more like dolphins, really, but they were definitely crocs - and every time they landed, the water would splash. Everyone thought this was sortof fun, and I was just thinking, "The crocodiles weren't nearly as numerous when I was in high school," when they decided to come over to us. Everyone sortof froze in panic, the way people do when a potentially unfriendly dog wanders up, and one of the crocs started sniffling at Jen's bare toes. We were all hissing, "Don't move!" at her, but then this really enormous crocodile came up - it was the size of a bus - and I started to get really scared. Then I remembered that we'd been given these little jars of cream to repel the crocodiles with, and I found mine and started rubbing the cream all over my arms and legs, and then I reached down and smeared some on Jen's foot that the croc had just about made up his mind to eat. All the crocodiles wrinkled their noses as if to say oh, gross and waddled back into the lake.

Then I saw this hippopotamus just running through the water toward the crocodiles. (In the little universe of my dream, hippos were the natural enemies of crocodiles.) The crocs all got scared and started swimming away, but of course it was a circle-shaped lake, and the hippo just chased them around and around... Then I realized that it wasn't a hippo at all, but this little sortof table-shaped robot. It had been designed to scare the crocs - the way that its feet hit the bottom of the lake made the crocodiles think that it was a hippo, but it didn't look like one at all. I was marveling at the engineering when I woke up.

And that's why I'm not awake enough to put down a real journal entry today. Anyone who wants to take a stab at an analysis is welcome to try.

10:30 AM - I'm sleepy and I've got a headache that actually feels like a mild hangover (sinus headache, I guess) and I don't want to do any work today. I'm reading a new journal that the Mighty Kymm recommended because it's basically a sappy love story, and I like sappy love stories, especially when I'm not feeling well. I'll probably add it to my other journals page soon. But my eyes were hurting (she's got a purple page with light yellow text) and I decided to take a break. Besides, when I'm typing away at this page, it sounds almost like I'm working.

So yesterday I skipped out on my Weight Watchers meeting to run some errands with Matt. We stopped by our house lot, and while they haven't actually done anything new yet, a whole pile of cinderblocks has been delivered to the site, so I guess that means they'll be starting the foundation soon. (Maybe even today, if it doesn't rain!)

I thought about going to Roses to pick up some more yarn for the stained-glass afghan that I'm making, but I decided I'd rather catch the last half of the Muppet show, so we went home instead. After dinner, we went to K.T.'s to pick up our anniversary present.

I confess, I was confused. At the party on Saturday, KT told me that the present wasn't done yet. Monday, she sent me an e-mail telling me that we needed to pick it up on Monday or Tuesday or it would be too late. So (I confess, somewhat disgruntled by the insistence that we hurry) we rearranged our schedules for it, because Thursday is really the only night that we have completely free. But I'm glad we did, because it turned out to be the most adorable cake in the shape of a dragon. And a dark pink jellybean formed the tongue that was sticking out. It was just the cutest damn thing! I ate one of the tufts of "grass" frosting, though, and I hope to god the rest of the cake uses a different recipe, because it was stale and flavorless! (But decorating icing frequently is. I'm holding out much higher hopes for the main cake.)

I brought my leftovers from Outback to have for lunch today. I usually wait to have leftovers like that for the weekend, but then I thought - why bother? I'm going to fix it all in the microwave anyway, and I didn't really want to do much in the way fixing lunches this morning. So Matt is having leftover Chinese food, and I'm having leftover steak. Hmm. Doesn't seem quite fair, does it? (Though I've only got about 1 1/2 oz. of steak to eat. The rest of it is half a sweet potato and some grilled onions, which isn't any more exciting than the Chinese food.)

Okay, that's boring. I'll stop now, I promise.

2:30 PM - I've been tired and headache-y and I was just on the verge of telling myself that if I promised to be good on my diet, I could skip going to the gym after work.

But then I remembered that cookie I ate this morning, and while nothing is really off limits, eating sweets just makes me want more sweets, so that was bad of me. So I have to go to the gym anyway. But then I was thinking about the weight-lifting stuff I tried on Monday, and maybe I'll do that; it's a little more relaxed than trying to get my heart rate up and keep it there. Whether I do the whole set or just the weights I'm interested in depends on whether my headache gets better or worse once I get started.

I've got an appointment on Friday with a cleaning service. They're going to come to my apartment and tell me how much they'll charge to clean it. I've been thinking of getting a cleaning service for a long time, because I really prefer to live in a clean place, but I'm am a terribly lazy housekeeper. I don't mind so much taking out the trash or putting the dishes in the dishwasher, but the "real" cleaning - vacuuming and sweeping and mopping and scrubbing the sinks and bathtub - I just hate doing it, and so I don't. So, I decided to just admit that to myself and get the damn maid service.

Then I started calling around and getting estimates. Every place in the Williamsburg phone book charges a minimum of $40 a visit. I was thinking of a cleaning every other week, which means $80 a month. It sounded like a lot of money. (Never mind the fact that I've been known to blow over $200 in a single month on books, and that my average book/comic budget for a month is approximately $75.) It just sounded like a lot.

It finally dawned on me that as soon as I get my next paycheck, I'm going to be paying off the last of my student loan. I've been paying $200 - $250 on that loan for the last several years, and it's finally going away. So surely, out of that $200 that I'm getting back, I can spare the $80 for the cleaning service. I felt much better.

Now, I'm embarrassed. Why? Because this cleaning service person is going to come to my apartment, and it's completely disgustingly filthy. This seems to be a bit stupid: If the house was clean, I wouldn't need a cleaning service, would I? I'm sure they've seen dozens, if not hundreds, of filthy apartments and houses before. And given the state of some of my friends' places, ours isn't even all that bad, really. But I still feel embarrassed, and I'm sure I'll embarrass myself even further by saying something stupid to the evaluator like, "Please excuse the mess." The fact is, I guess, that I want the service to think I hired them because I want to stop doing the housework, when the fact is that I never really started it in the first place.

Oh, well. No hope for it. I'll just have to live with being embarrassed, because I refuse to clean the place before the maid comes! It's just too absurd!

I gave my statistics a look this afternoon, and it looks like I have about eight regular readers! Yay! (Of course, three of them were easily identifiable as friends, and if I then add up the other people who know me in real life and have admitted to regular readings of my journal, that takes care of most of the rest.) But there were three I.P. addresses that I couldn't identify easily: One at UCSF, one at W&M, and one at AOL. No clue who those people could be. Could I actually have readers who don't know me in real life? How astonishing. (Will I be embarrassed if I find out that the AOL reader is my mother-in-law? Have I said anything here I don't want my family to read? No, I don't think so - after all, my mother was reading the journal for a little while before she got too busy to surf, so I tend to keep that in mind...)

But you haven't signed my guestbook!

Tuesday, April 20, 1999

Archive - 20 April 1999

Oh, god, I'm turning into a gym puppy. I had an appointment yesterday evening to be shown the weight-lifting equipment. I didn't really care about lifting weights - I just made the appointment because it was something I wanted to get out of the way, in case I changed my mind one day.

So I got to the gym and met Troy, who was going to show me all the machines. I had no idea how many of them there were. Forty different weight-lifting machines, each to work a different muscle group, each with its own adjustable levels and pads and seats... "No way," I thought, "am I going to do this. Too much to remember." But as we moved along the row, I found myself thinking things like, "Hey, this would really help to tighten up my arm flab," and "I wonder if this would help shape my [insert body part here]?" I caught myself asking training questions, and figuring out how to divide my admittedly limited workout schedule between the weights and the cardiovascular equipment.

You're my friend, so I'm going to beg you now: If I attempt Tae Bo, just shoot me in the foot or something. The pain might bring back my brain.

Yesterday morning, I talked to my friend Nancy for a bit - this is not an unusual occurrence - and yesterday afternoon, Nancy went home sick. I'd been sniffling all day as a result of allergies, but by 6:00, I had developed a sore throat. I couldn't believe it. How dare I get sick right before I was planning on taking time off! But I'm feeling better today, thank heavens.

We got more anniversary cards yesterday. In one mailbox, we had cards from Matt's mom, dad, and grandparents, and from my grandparents. And while I was at the gym, UPS delivered a box from our friend Karen, who had sent us some house numbers in the shape of dragons for our new house! (Which reminds me, I should add Karen to the Who's Who page, since she's been found again...)

I get distracted so easily. Now Karen's on the Who's Who page, and there's a useless factoid thing down at the bottom of the journal. But it includes my diet progress, so maybe I'll be able to stop obsessing about it here. Maybe not. Who knows? Yeah, I know, no-one ever reads those things, but it makes me feel better.

My turn to make dinner tonight, and we haven't had Chicken and Caramelized Onion in just weeks! (Okay, two.) Now there's an accomplishment. I don't usually decide what to make for dinner until I've already started cooking!

Jeremy, with whom I happen to share an office, has a new toy - a digital video camera. He's hooked it up to a server, and if you have RealPlayer G2 (or later) and if the server is working right, you can see whatever the camera is pointed at today at this site. Last night, when Matt and I came in to get on the MeadeHall, I turned the camera and pointed it at me. It was a little disturbing at first - especially since I turned it before I finished eating dinner, and watching someone eat is moderately disgusting at the best of times. The camera had about a 30-45 second delay, as well, so whatever I did on camera didn't show up until quite a bit later. After a while it got to be kindof fun - I'd never seen myself sneeze before. Or laugh. Or type. (And damn, but I type fast - but it makes my fingers look like fat pink spiders. It's kindof gross.) I also noticed that I have a little bit of an overbite (but not enough to really look bad, thank heavens) and that my "at rest" facial position looks moderately irritable, so I look much more attractive when I'm smiling. Interesting - maybe that's why Matt asks me if I'm OK so frequently. I should smile more.

Monday, April 19, 1999

Archive - 19 April 1999

We went with Jeremy and Elizabeth to see The Matrix on Friday. At least six people had told me it was an amazing, awesome movie and that I should go see it. (At least three of these people tried to bribe me with the Star Wars preview, but these people have never worked in movie theaters, so they didn't know what I know - that the theater picks the trailers, not the movie distributors. We did not see the Star Wars trailer.) Anyway, it was a fun movie. Unfortunately, having six people go out of their way to tell me about it - one of them Jeremy, who has been praising it since he saw it for the first time two weeks ago - had me ready for the spectacle of the year. Instead, it was just a fun movie with some stellar special effects. I think if I'd seen it based on just one or two recommendations, I wouldn't have felt quite so nebulous about it. The more I thought about it this weekend, the more I realized that was the case. But on the way home from the movie, I nitpicked at the stuff that bothered me about it, and Matt got irritable at me. (I can't blame him. I once yelled at my mom for the same thing, for a much less worthy movie.) Oh, well.

Saturday we went to KT and Kevin's "Kitchen Sink" party. (So-called because the reasons for the party included at least two birthdays, a house-warming, and an anniversary.) It was laid-back and fun - everyone brought food and we ate and drank and talked until quite late. Matt and I left around midnight only because I was starting to feel tired and our anniversary was Sunday. (If I hadn't felt tired, we'd have stayed longer. If our anniversary wasn't Sunday, we might have stuck around and crashed on the couch.)

Sunday was our first anniversary. Matt's mom, my brother, and Matt's brother all e-mailed to wish us a happy. Our friend Karen sent us an e-card, and my parents dropped by the apartment unexpectedly. We felt very loved. I gave Matt a lot of fun little things, and he gave me a gold necklace to keep my wedding rings on. (I've lost enough weight in the last six months that the rings are quite loose, and I decided I'd rather keep them on a chain until I'm done losing weight, rather than have them resized every six weeks or so.) He was very sweet about it, too - he drove me down to the church where we got married to give it to me. And we went out to dinner last night at the Outback, which was fun. I had a sweet potato instead of a baked potato with my steak, which was really yummy. I should eat more sweet potatoes.

I'm going to be taking Thursday and Friday this week off, so I may not post. I've been feeling burned out and dissatisfied with a lot of things just lately, and I'm going to take some time off to relax and hopefully re-center. I've been waffling over this for a bit - the last time I took a day off it didn't do me a lot of good, because I didn't actually relax. But Saturday night at KT's party, Carl was telling us about his idea of heaven, and how he likes to relax, and while it would take too long to go over the whole thing, his theory was that for real relaxation, you should force yourself to do nothing for a whole day. Maybe several days. An excerpt: "I woke up one morning and wondered what I was going to do that day, and I decided I'd watch the sun come up, and then I'd watch it go down again. So I did." He recommended that I pack a picnic lunch and take a book and go to the park and just sit for the whole day. He said, "You'll go bug-nuts for the first couple of hours with nothing to do. But then you'll be sittin' there reading your book, and a squirrel will run up a tree or somethin' and distract you, and you'll put down your book and watch it. You'll forget about the book and just sit there and watch that damn squirrel until the sun goes down." Now, I'm not a do-nothing kind of person. I can get wrapped up in a book, but even then I usually only read for a few hours before I get restless. So I sortof smiled and nodded at Carl and thought that I was glad it worked for him, but that there was no way I could do any such thing.

But the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. Maybe it's what I really need - to force myself not to do anything for a day or so. Matt even agreed that if I took time off and stayed home, I'd probably get all restless and distracted with things that needed to be done. So I'm taking Thursday and Friday off, and on Thursday morning I'll pack myself a picnic lunch and I'll go to the park down the street and find myself a cozy spot to sit, and I'll be there all day. (Assuming the weather cooperates. If it's rainy or too cold, I'll go to my parents' house and borrow their back porch, and I'll sit staring out into the trees behind their house and listen to the rain fall and pet their fat cat.) What I do on Friday depends on how well Thursday works. But either way, I probably won't post.

I feel better just thinking about it, actually.

Friday, April 16, 1999

Archive - 16 April 1999

I wish I could figure out my brain. I've been pretty happy lately, but there's this core of dissatisfaction with several things in my life, and I don't know why.

Dissatisfaction #1 has been my job. I had it a few months ago, and talked over some specifics with my boss, and he agreed to change them, and he even did. But I'm still not very happy, and I don't know why. Is it just that I don't want to work at all? Or maybe I just need a vacation? Or is it that I'm tired of being a programmer and want to move into a new area of work? I just don't know. All of the above, maybe. If I could figure out what my specific problems were, then I could go back to my boss and address them. But I don't know what they are - I just know that I'm not feeling motivated, and I can't think of anything that would motivate me.

The other dissatisfaction that hit last night was with the romance thing. It just seems like a lot of the romances we pull require a lot of special setup, and it makes things awkward. I don't mind going to a little extra effort to make Matt feel loved, but having to do things like make him hide in the computer room while I set up the romance in the rest of the apartment just seem too contrived. And if we're doing these romances for each other every week, then what's left to do when a special occasion comes along? (Yeah, this one came up because our anniversary is this weekend. I was trying to think of something to do to make it a special evening, but then I realized that I couldn't do anything that would top some of the romances we'd already done.) Okay, I know - special occasions are when I'm supposed to pull out the super-expensive, super-fantastic romances from the book. But not knowing what they are in advance makes it a little difficult. Matt pulled one of the super-dooper ones for his romance this week, and he confessed to me that he's not sure it'll have the impact he was hoping for.

I'm starting to think that the best way to use this book would be for us to each open all of our envelopes, so we can pick and choose the right romances to go with our busy schedules. The ones that require a lot of previous setup could be started well in advance, and the ones that can't be done for one reason or another can be chucked. That, or maybe we should open all the envelopes together, and talk about the ideas inside and tell each other, "Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun," or "I'd be completely bored by this." And we could take notes (physically or mentally) and scoop up our envelopes and put them away, and remember them when we feel like doing something special for each other.

Maybe that's the problem - all the time we have together is special, so we don't really need to work on new ways to romance each other. And the extra time, effort, and money involved is getting to be a little stressful. I thought doing these romances would be fun, and it has been, but I'm starting to get tired of it. Kindof the same way I'm starting to get tired of my job.

Maybe I need to spend a day in a sensory-deprivation chamber. Then, when I came out colors would be more vibrant, food would taste better, and being happy would actually make me happy.

Because I'm not unhappy. I'm not depressed. I'm in a good mood today. My life is good. There's just a core of discontent that seems to have no real source, and I don't know why. Maybe I just have to ride it out.

In other news, the holes that were in our dirt on Wednesday had concrete in them last night! Whoo-hooooo! I took a picture. It will be a while before I finish the roll of film, but I'm thinking I could take a weekly or semi-weekly picture - maybe from the same spot each time, even - and then we'd be able to document the building of the house. Or is that a little over the top?

Thursday, April 15, 1999

Archive - 15 April 1999

Had a busy afternoon yesterday. We went to the gym after work and Matt went to water aerobics while I rode the reclining bike for half an hour. I actually punched in a varying intensity program this time. Whew, was that a workout! I was still breathing funny when I went to bed! The thing that weirded me out the most, though, was that the mechanism in the bike started making these little jumps - I don't know how to describe it better than that - and it would jog the backrest a little. For just a while, there, I thought it was my heartbeat, and that was a little spooky. But this time I remembered to bring my little walkman, and once I figured out that I had to hook it to the front of my shorts to keep it out of the way, it helped a lot. I'm thinking of going to the library and seeing if they've got any books on tape, because I just can't read a book while operating this thing. (Just as I was finishing up, some girl came in who looked like she was going to try it. I wanted to stick around to see how she did it, but I suspect she was just not going to use the arm levers.) And on Monday I've got an appointment to learn how to use the weight-lifting equipment. (How dumb is this? It's weight-lifting equipment, for pete's sake! But they won't let you use it until you've gone through their orientation session.) I don't really care about lifting weights right now, because I'm in such lousy shape in general, but I figure I might as well get it over with. And maybe weight-lifting would be a good warm-up or cool-down to the bike. Hmm. I'll have to think about this.

After we left the gym, we went by our lot, and they've dug some holes in our dirt! Wheeee!!!! Yeah, okay, I know, it's kindof pathetic to get so excited about trenches where the load-bearing walls are going to be, but hey, we're still entertaining hopes that this house might actually be done when they said it would be. (Yeah, right.)

Then we went out to dinner, because 1) I had tons of points left over, and 2) I didn't feel like cooking, and 3) I really wanted Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad. I keep thinking I'll look up the recipe for that dressing at Top Secret Recipes and figure out how to make a low-fat/low-cal version, and then I can make the salad for myself at home without the chicken bits, and it wouldn't be 15 points for a salad, for pete's sake.

So that was my evening. Exciting, huh? Tonight's going to be even better: We're going to go get Matt measured for a tuxedo for a wedding in May, and then - prepare yourselves for the shock - we're going to go home and have dinner! I told you it was exciting.

But ya know what? I really look forward to Thursdays, because we don't have anything going on...

Wednesday, April 14, 1999

Archive - 14 April 1999

Owch. I pinched a nerve in my neck, or maybe my shoulder. Or maybe I just slept on it wrong. All I know is that my neck and shoulder feel stiff and ache-y, and have for the last day or so. Yesterday at Weight Watchers, it was hurting so bad I could hardly hold my head up. When I got home, I laid down on the bed with the heating pad, but it doesn't seem to have improved much today. ::sigh::

So yesterday was almost a complete wash, as far as work went. I spent the morning discovering that I'd locked the card, and half the afternoon discovering that I needed a different reader. (For those of you for whom none of that makes sense, it's like this: I spent the morning trying to open a door with a key that had been filed down, and the afternoon putting the correct key in the wrong door to the right building.) Hopefully today will be more productive.

The last of my Easter candy is finally gone. Maybe now I'll be able to get back on track with my diet and stay there. Or maybe not. KT's throwing a party on Saturday, and Sunday is our (Matt's and my) first anniversary... Next week! Next week, I will definitely stick to my diet! (I'm starting to sound like a Cathy cartoon, aren't I?) But I have every intention of going to the gym today. I haven't decided yet whether I'll do water aerobics or the bike, but I popped something in my heel again this weekend and it's been kindof tender since, so I'm thinking it might be the bike just because it puts less pressure on my feet. Also, I like the bike. I can go at my own pace and it's not crowded! This time, though, I'll try to remember to bring my tape player and headphones with me so I'm not just listening to other people's breathing and watching Hollywood Squares. I think I could really get into this reclining bike thing. I actually thought about going to the gym after Weight Watcher's last night, but I didn't have my sneakers with me, and I knew once I got home it would never happen. (It's just as well, the way my neck is feeling.)

I've got a doctor's appointment in a couple of weeks. Time for the annual exam again. Bleah. Time to get the pap smear (yuck) and be weighed and prodded and poked and lectured. Time to whine about my laundry list of ailments in the more-or-less vain hope that I'll get some medication that works, for once.

Tell me this: I'm hypo-thyroidic. What that turns out to mean is that every day for pretty much the rest of my life, I'll have to take a pill to balance my thyroid levels. Not all that awful, as far as chronic conditions go. Once a year, they take some blood and test it to make sure I'm still getting the correct dosage. Why, then, do I get my prescriptions for these pills in six-month increments? I'll have to ask for a prescription in two weeks, during my annual exam, and then again in six months, just before I'm due to have my blood tested again. And if my prescription is wrong, they'll have to recall the old one and issue a new one. Why bother? Maybe I can convince my doctor to 1) move the blood test to the same time as my annual exam, and 2) call a whole year's prescription into the pharmacy when the results come back. Even that won't work as well as it should, because my annual exams are usually just a little more than a year apart, because the insurance company won't pay for more than one pap smear in a year. At least 365 days must go by between exams. Not 360, not 364, but 365. Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Oh, well. I'm going to go have some breakfast and read today's journal entries, and then get to work. Y'all have a good day!

Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Archive - 13 April 1999

I'm almost out of puzzles. ::sigh:: So much for that experiment.

It's not even 8:00 yet, and I've already had a couple of compliments on my new jumper. So it must have been worth what I paid for it. (I love linen. It looks so fresh.) Yay, KT, for helping me decide which jumper to buy!

I got a cable for my Zaurus that actually works yesterday! Now I don't have to worry about losing all my data, because I can make backups! Now I just have to figure out what to do with the infrared cable that doesn't work. I don't think I can get my money back, but is it worth the effort of sending it back to get a replacement?

We were going to play volleyball yesterday after work, but only Jeremy, Matt and I showed up, so we just went home instead. While we were at the park, a guy in a truck who appeared to work for the park drove up and fussed at us for speeding and snottily informed us that we were on our honor to pay for the parking if we stayed. (Why did he clarify "if you stay"? Was he implying that he would have us thrown out if we didn't pay the parking?) I tell you - I had a dollar out and was ready to go pay right up until this guy showed up. What a self-important little toad.

After we left the park, Matt and I stopped at the outlet mall to look at necklaces. I've lost enough weight that my wedding and engagement rings are getting pretty loose (if I'm cold, I can shake them off my hands) and I thought it would be nice to put them on a chain until I'm done losing weight. That way, I won't have to have them resized every other month. So Matt was thinking of getting me the chain for our anniversary (which is in five days), but he wanted to know what kind of chain I want. Boy, am I glad we went to the outlet mall. By the time we'd established that I want a 24-inch chain, the style I liked was priced at $450! It's just a gold chain! Sheesh! Luckily, the place at the outlet mall displays the retail price, but takes 60% off. (They want you to know what an amazing deal you're getting. All it tells me is the kind of markup we're dealing with, since the outlet store isn't exactly about to go out of business.) Matt was beside himself. He kept muttering that he wasn't going to pay as much for a plain chain as he'd paid for the engagement ring! I told him he could get me a silver chain in the same style instead, which would be lots cheaper, but I'm not sure he believed me.

I recently signed up for AOL's Instant Messenger. As a rule, I loathe AOL as a company because of the way they treat their customers and their bizarre business practices, but this is a pretty slick little program! Of couse, it's annoying that it's bundled with Netscape, and in order to get to the preferences section where you can tell it not to start up every time you reboot, you have to sign up. (That was convoluted, wasn't it?) But the program itself is pretty cool. I signed up because it's one of the few ways to get in touch with my boss when he's stuck on the phone for most of a day, but I mostly use it to talk to Matt in the middle of the day. If you've got it as well, feel free to say Hi! (Yeah, I'm going to make you look up my e-mail address.)

Monday, April 12, 1999

Archive - 12 April 1999

I had a pretty good weekend. Went to a mini-con and got some autographs and a new T-shirt, met up with KT and went to the mall (where I spent possibly a little more than I should have on some new clothes, but they were just so perfect) and then we hung out at KT's most of the evening chatting. Sunday was a nice lazy day - aside from doing the laundry, we just sat around the house not doing much of anything.

I bought myself a stress-ball. It's shaped vaguely like a cat. A very grumpy cat, with its tongue sticking out. It's so ugly it's adorable.

It rained most of the day Sunday, right up until about 4:30, which didn't help Matt's mood any. Matt's been in a mood lately. Not constantly irritable, but easily irritated. And then, of course, when he gets irritated and snaps at me, it makes him feel guilty, which doesn't help any. Vicious cycle. I wish I knew why he's been this way lately, but he says he doesn't know, himself. I guess I just have to hope he gets over it soon.

Our anniversary is coming up at the end of this week, and I have no idea what to get him. Anyone out there have any thoughts?

Ah, yet another disjointed and disorganized Monday journal entry. And short, too. Well, nothing of note happened this weekend (well, except the romance, but that's documented elsewhere) and I haven't been thinking of anything in particular worth writing down. I did invent a new recipe, which in honor of the romance I made it for, I'm calling "Out-In Chicken."

Saturday night, just before I went to sleep, I had a fantastic idea for a short story. I almost got up to jot it down, but decided it was so great I'd remember it in the morning. You guessed it. I have no idea what it was, now. But I woke up Sunday morning with a great first line for a story in my head, and no story to go with it. I'll even tell you: "When she woke up, it was September again." Isn't that great? Don't you want to read the next sentence to see what that means? Me, too. But I have no idea. I have a fantastic mental image of a woman lying in a bed and opening her eyes slowly. The first thing she sees is a window, and outside the window are some trees with leaves just starting to change colors. But I have no idea if she went to sleep on August 31 and woke up the next morning, or if she's been sleeping for days, or for weeks, or years. Much less why she went to sleep in the first place. Was she exhausted from some task? Had she been ill or injured? Is September significant to her in some way?

No clue. But it's a fantastic opening line. Maybe some day I'll use it.

That's it; that's all you get from me today. I want breakfast.

Friday, April 9, 1999

Archive - 9 April 1999

Ack! I'm down to only three puzzles in my file. I need to get some more! (I have plenty more; I just haven't put them in the file yet.) The question is - is it worth it? Do you care about the puzzle of the day? Maybe it should be the puzzle of the week? Eventually, I'm going to run out of puzzles, or start running into rephrasings of the same puzzles. What should I do when that happens? Any ideas? You could send me puzzles that you know, but you never write...

I went to Anita's baby shower last night. No, I'm not wanting a baby right now. Anita's husband's sister-in-law brought her toddler with her to the shower, and I was turned off again. Matt asked me when I got home whether we ladies had discussed our own reproductive plans, and whether I got any sympathy for the plight of being married to a man who doesn't want children. Actually, the answer was no. I was sortof surprised, myself, but everyone there seemed to think that either I was in agreement with Matt, in which case that was our business; or that Matt would change his mind eventually.

Anyway, I was proud of myself. I didn't have any cheesecake. I didn't have any candy. I only had a couple of crackers and about three of those little tiny quiches. (I adore those things.) Mostly, I ate a lot of veggies. And some of the best, sweetest strawberries I've ever had in my life. So I stayed - mostly - on my diet. Which is good, because I'd had lunch at the Olive Garden with my mom, and that used up most of my points for the day.

Wow. There's a very impressive-looking thunderstorm rolling in. Despite the fact that it would give Jeremy screaming fits, I sortof hope it knocks the power out for a while. Any excuse not to work is a good excuse not to work, in my book! (But let me save here, just in case...) I love thunderstorms. I don't know if I was ever scared of them, but my mom loves them, too. When my parents built the house they live in now, they put on an enclosed porch. Mom spends most of her time out there, primarily because she can't smoke in the house. But I can remember sitting on the porch with her during thunderstorms. We'd turn off the lights and watch for lightning forks, counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder. When the brunt of the storm hit, we'd watch the trees whip around in the wind and the rain streak out of the sky. They're beautiful.

Where I live is one of the safest places in the world, weather-wise. I've lived here my whole life, and never once seen a hurricane. (Though about once a year it looks like we'll get one. But they always catch the jetstream just off the coast of North Carolina and change course.) Every five years or so, conditions will be right for tornadoes, but the ground here isn't flat enough for them to get very big or last more than a few seconds. I've never seen one myself, though I've seen the damage they do - trees that look like they'd exploded and an aluminum shed crumpled like tinfoil. But only once in my life has anyone been killed by one. (Which is incredible when you consider that we don't have basements to hide in.) The jetstream keeps the weather fairly mild, if rainy and humid. (I don't think of this area as rainy, actually. It takes friends who have lived in other places to call attention to the rain here. I hate the humidity, but when I visit arid places I get nosebleeds.) What other weather patterns are dangerous? We don't get tidal waves or monsoons or flash floods.

Of course, we're pretty well bracketed by military installations, including the largest Navy shipyard in the country, and we're only a couple hundred miles from the nation's capitol, so this will be a very unsafe place to be if war ever makes it over here. But as far as the weather goes, it's pretty dull. (I like it that way. I don't like to be afraid of things. Thunderstorms are beautiful.)

Wednesday, April 7, 1999

Archive - 7 April 1999

Once upon a time, I took karate lessons. It was for two years in high school, and the dojo was owned and run by the senior AP English teacher at my school, who happened to be an old acquaintance of my dad. (This happens when both of your parents have been teachers. You run into a lot of people who knew them at other schools or whatnot.) Anyway, I started taking the lessons because, I am slightly embarrassed to admit, of Karate Kid. I made my folks take me to see it, and shortly thereafter, my dad asked if I wanted to take karate lessons. I agreed, and shortly thereafter, I was taking two classes a week.

I loved it when we first started out. The teacher didn't call himself a sensei, which is what most dojo masters call themselves. We called him shihan, which means "master" and which, I discovered much later, was considered moderately arrogant of him. But that's what we called him. There were a couple of black belts in the class, and we called them sensei. But the classes were good. Advanced students paired with newer students to teach the punches and the kicks, and we learned kata, and we sparred. Actually, I had trouble learning the kata at the full-speed pace of the class, so I frequently stayed late to work on it with one of the senseis. And I loved it. I didn't care much for the warm-up exercises - situps and running and pushups, but I had a necklace that I wore all the time and thought of as my "focus", and it gave me just enough of a mental edge to get through them. I did situps and pushups every morning and night, too - at one time I was doing over 500 situps a day.

But what I liked best about it was the sparring. When I first started with the lessons, about twice a month we'd have sparring sessions. I loved to spar, even when I lost badly. This wasn't tournament sparring. This was a rough, defend-yourself-at-all-costs fight. The shihan sometimes set us up with two-on-one or three-on-one fights. Once he matched a new student against a mid-level student and laughed like a madman when the new student kicked the other student's ass, because the mid-level student only knew how to defend against karate and the new student had learned street-fighting. I loved it. I wasn't taking the class because I wanted the exercise, or because karate was a trendy thing to do. I was taking it because I had become aware of exactly how vulnerable I could be. (This is something men have trouble understanding. I won't say they can't understand it, because they can - but most of them don't bother to try.) But I was in the 9th or 10th grade, I had breasts worth looking at for the first time, and although I'd never once been so much as leered at, I was intensely aware of the target that I was. Part of the territory of being a woman. Later, I would learn that attitude has as much to do with protection as strength, and I would learn how to cope with the feelings of helplessness and fear. But I'm going off on a tangent. My point is, I enjoyed sparring.

A good friend of mine started with the dojo after I'd been there about six months, and I had an even better time, because we always partnered together for practicing attacks and blocks. Because we knew each other so well (he was by boyfriend's best friend) we knew better than to try to pull punches. We forced each other to learn faster and better.

I won't pretend that it was all rosy. Practices were occasionally brutal. I once acquired a hairline greenstick fracture in my shin during a sparring session and I was told to keep fighting, dammit, was I going to roll over because of a little pain? (I didn't know it was a fracture until over a year later when I had some x-rays taken for other reasons. At the time, I thought it was just a bone-bruise.) Once I whined about having to do pushups, and the shihan arranged everyone in a circle around me and we all did pushups until I literally collapsed. But the bulk of the memories I have are pretty good.

I quit taking karate because the fun went out of it. We switched from bare-hand fighting to weapons fighting. When I'd started, we would do a little weapons work about once every six months. By the time I quit, it was every other week. We stopped having the all-out sparring matches and switched to tournament sparring, where you stop after every blow that lands and bow and start over again. I'm short, and all my favorite moves involved taking a hit on the arm or in the leg in order to deliver a more telling blow to the stomach or the face. These were good tactics for real fighting, but useless for a tournament, because in tournament sparring the first blow gets the point, not the most damaging. It seemed that the school had shifted away from being a way to learn self-defense and into something that was nothing more than a trendy way to get exercise and win awards. And that's not why I was there.

When I took AP English my senior year, I had the shihan as my teacher. He taught a very unusual English class. Senior English was supposed to be World Literature. He picked, almost exclusively, books that had a somewhat oriental philosophy. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Siddhartha, Illusions. We wrote exactly one paper the entire year. The rest of the year, we wrote essays, and then instead of turning them in we read them out loud to the rest of the class. Toward the end of the year, we broke into groups of four or five, and we created multimedia essays. My group did their essay on Finding Yourself, and we must have used ten or twelve rolls of film to get the forty or so slides we needed. We spent countless hours listening to each others' musical selections to pick the song clips we wanted. We drove for hours looking for the perfect spots for our photo shoots. It was fantastic.

As an English teacher, he still taught was I'd been missing in the karate classes: How to take something that's been done, and done, and done, and make it your own. How to take pride in what you do. How to face everyone and everything else without fear.

For those lessons, I will be forever grateful.

11:00 AM - So. Here I am. I just got so completely frustrated with my job that I just locked myself in the bathroom and cried for fifteen minutes. It's not just that the project is hard. I've had hard projects before, and they've been irritating, but not like this. The problem is that I'm pretty good at abstract design. I actually can see a clear picture in my head of how the pieces of this program should fit together. I can even write it up in pseudo-code. It's the nit-picky fucking details that are killing me. Convert this really big piece of information from one data type to another. Yeah, that's how it should be done - the best, the most efficient way to handle the program, but I haven't the slightest damned idea of how to go about it. Close off this library before starting the second, because they won't work in sync. Well, that's not the most efficient way to do it, but I have no control over the two libraries, so it's the only way to do it, but I still have to look up how to load a library in the first place every single time I do it. I haven't the least idea how to go about closing one!

So I go to my task lead for help. He spent the last several months learning how to handle that big piece of data, so I thought he'd have some good tips on how to do the conversion I need to do. He sortof waved in the general direction of some code that does the opposite of what I need to do, and gave me something to feed to the Help menu, which helped a little, but not nearly enough. To make matters worse, it seems like every time I ask him for help his answers get short and terser and more irritable-sounding. (This may not actually be the case; we're communicating via e-mail, which is notorious for transmitting incorrect impressions. But the point remains that this is the impression I'm receiving.) The longer I work on this project, and the more I have to keep begging him for scraps to the puzzle, the stupider and more useless I feel. After an hour and a half this morning of not being able to accomplish a gods-cursed thing, I collapsed under the pressure. I'm still feeling a little rough around the edges, like just anything could set me off at any time, which is not good, because I hate breaking down where people can see.

And I was in such a good mood this morning.

Tuesday, April 6, 1999

Archive - 7 April 1999

Ack! I forgot! I blithely read my morning mail, my comics, and the journals I read regularly, and I forgot to write my entry! Shame and dishonor! I'm not worthy to stain your desktop! How will I ever recover from the ignominy, the embarrassment, the guilt! Please, I beg you, cast me forth, flog me with this noodle...

Ouch! What'd you do that for?

Okay, okay, so I'm a lousy hour late or so. You weren't all that wound up about the puzzle anyway, were you? Didn't think so.

Went to Weight Watcher's last night and discovered that I'd lost the weight I gained over the last two weeks. Yay! Easter candy must be good for me! Well, okay. Maybe next week I'll get my 25-pound bookmark. Getting thinner by the... Well, by the month, anyway. I was so pleased that I skipped the meeting and went shopping instead. (Hey, I needed to pick up some sneakers to go to the gym with!)

Now Roses has some sneakers! No stupid sports-specific shoes for them, nosir! And no lame foam arch supports for me to rip out, either. (No ankle support, either, but you can't have everything, and how much ankle support does one really need for a stationary bike, anyway?)

I need to learn not to go to that store by myself, though. I almost got really carried away. Picked up a new pair of water shoes, since the old ones were falling apart. And oh - check out this strawberry scented body scrub! And look! New socks! And the hair gadgets have been marked down to two for a dollar! How can you beat that??!? Almost got an ironing board, but decided I didn't want to carry it around the store with me. I finally found some shoes with heels that were almost comfortable - but thought that if I came home with three pairs of shoes I'd be setting myself up for another mocking from Matt. (They didn't have them in the color I wanted, anyway.) I had to physically restrain myself from wandering back to the crafts section, because I haven't worked on the knitting projects I've got in two weeks, I certainly don't need any more yarn! I tried on about four hats and decided that I actually look pretty damn cute in straw hats - but I never go outside, so I didn't get one. (Though maybe if I'm very good this week, I'll go get one of the cheaper ones next week. After I see how much money is left after paying the bills.) Almost got a marked-down post-Easter stuffed rabbit, too, but decided at the last minute that it wasn't as cute as I'd initially thought. I finally had to drag myself to the cash register or I'd run out of willpower!

That place is dangerous, I tell ya!

Just took a short break to watch some Muppet movies. How cool can you get? Matt discovered last night that we actually get the new Odessey cable channel which is showing the old Muppet Show episodes every night at 6! Whoo-hoo! Of course, it was less cool when we realized that most nights, we don't get home until almost 7. We'll have to re-learn how to program the VCR, I guess!

I'm in a pretty good mood today. I hope it lasts!

Archive - 6 April 1999

Hot damn. Ten people were on the MeadeHall last night! Braz, Jeff, Tom, Mike, Karen, KT, Matt, Shbee, Jeremy, and me! It's a new record! We're usually feeling pretty exciting if we get more than four!

As a result, we stuck around afterwards and chatted until about 10:30, and so Matt and I didn't get to bed until after 11, and now I'm tired. I was so tired when the cat started his usual morning pestiness that it didn't bother me enough to worry about. Matt actually got up and put the cat out, and he even picked up my glasses from where the cat had knocked them. Isn't my sweetie great?

::yawn:: But I'm still tired. And my allergies are acting up, oh joy.

Weight Watchers meeting tonight, too. Moment of truth - how bad was I with that Easter candy? I was pretty good the rest of the week, though. Hopefully that will have offset the candy, but I really won't know for certain until I get on that scale tonight.

I'm sorry this is so lame, but I didn't get enough sleep last night again, I had to wake up before dawn again, and I've got an actual deadline coming up in a couple of weeks. I'm a little distracted.

I actually joined the gym yesterday. Up until now, we've just been paying for the one water aerobics class that we go to. Now, I've got the option of doing something on my own instead. Hopefully, having paid over a hundred dollars, I'll feel obligated to actually use the facilities. (I know, I know, $125 isn't a lot of money to spend on a gym membership, but it's more than I've ever paid to exercise before!) But last night I looked around the apartment and came to the realization that I must have thrown away my old sneakers. So now I have to go get some new ones.

Minor rant: What the hell is with shoe stores? Okay, I understand that if you're going to get really into exercising, you want the shoes that have been carefully designed for your particular pain. Walking and running shoes tilt you forward a bit (because of course everyone knows it's easier to walk downhill) and basketball shoes protect your ankles and the other sports shoes do other things for you. But what kind of shoes do you get if you don't know what kind of exercise you'll be doing the most of? I'm just starting out, for pete's sake! Will it be the stationary bike? The track? The elliptical stair machine? Weights? (Do they have special sneakers for weight-lifting? It wouldn't surprise me.) Don't tell me I should buy "cross-trainers" either. Those things are not normal sneakers, and the price tag agrees. All I want is a rubber sole, cloth that breathes, and plenty of room in the toe-box. I have my own prescription arch supports, so an arch in the shoe is a waste of time. (In fact, I'll probably wind up having to pull the insole out of the shoe.)

Anyhow, I need to go shopping for yet another pair of shoes, which is an activity that I enjoy almost as much as going to the dentist. Wish me luck...

Monday, April 5, 1999

Archive - 5 April 1999

::Yaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwn:: I hate Daylight Savings Time. It's completely useless. Maybe back when they first came up with the idea, it served some purpose, but these days, it's just a has-been concept playing with my sleep cycles. Why do we do this to ourselves? The office environment is not significantly improved by shifting the hours of daylight one way or the other.

My dad likes it. He goes to work at some absurdly early hour of the morning and works ten or twelve hour days, so at this time of year, Daylight Savings Time is the only way he gets to see the sun. But for pete's sake, if he wanted to come in yet another hour early so he could leave at 6 instead of 7 each night, he could probably do that without forcing the rest of us up while it's still dark outside. I hatehateHATE getting up before dawn. It's just wrong.

So last night I couldn't get my brain to shut up, and I wound up lying awake until almost 1am, and the cat woke me up at 4, and then the alarm went off at 6. So I'm not the best-rested chick on the planet right now. All I really want to do is put my head down on my desk and take a nap. But no - I've got to actually function. Write a journal entry, reply to e-mail, do my job... And all this with the sensation of cotton on my brain, and unless I concentrate carefully, my eyeballs keep rolling off in different directions.

So I told Matt to put real candy in my Easter basket. Chocolate, for pete's sake, and none of that weird sugar-free candy that plays havoc with my digestive system. Darling that he is, that's what I got. Almond Joy and Reese's Cup and M&Ms and more. Yum. Only now I'm feeling sortof guilty about it. I'm never going to lose weight like this. ::sigh::

But Easter dinner was nice. I love lamb. And carrots and peas and potatoes and bread and olives stuffed with garlic. Yum yum yum yum yum. I'm paying for it today - vegetables and soup and I'm skipping breakfast. But I only get lamb once a year, so it's worth it.

Okay, this is a really lame, whiney journal entry. But you'll have to excuse me; my left eyeball just rolled under my desk, and I think I'll follow it and take a little nap...

Friday, April 2, 1999

Archive - 2 April 1999

So, did anyone play any good April's Fool jokes on you yesterday? I wasn't taken in by any. The radio station I listen to in the car was doing it's annual prank, which is to say they were announcing that some absolutely absurd new law had been passed, and playing back the irate phone calls. (I have to admit, yesterday's was a good one - they were explaining that the state had voted to make it illegal to smoke while driving. They even had some guy call in and explain the punishments. I might have believed them if they hadn't done similar stunts for the last three years.) My office-mate was taken in by the announcement of a Microsoft lawsuit against the UserFriendly site, and because they'd been leading up to it for weeks, he scoffed at my proclamation of "April Fool!" My husband could probably have tricked me, but he was so completely disgusted by all the tomfoolery out there that he refrained from doing any himself.

Actually, he did his romance of the week yesterday, and to give him time to get set up for it, I went shopping after work and my dentist appointment. I had thought about going down to Target to pick up something for a baby shower I'm going to next week, but since my dentist appointment ran a bit long, I just went to the grocery store and bought some stuff I've been meaning to pick up, and the candy for Matt's Easter basket. Matt's a little irritated with himself now, because he hasn't picked up anything for mine yet and he's not sure when he'll have time to do it. I'm guessing we'll agree that I'll go shopping tonight for the baby shower gift, and he can dash out to the KMart or whatever then.

I'm excited about Easter, too, because we decorated all these pretty eggs last weekend, and while I'm sure I'll get sick of them before the dozen are gone, right now I've got a real hankering for some devilled eggs! And we're having Easter dinner with my parents, and my mom's traditional Easter dinner (lamb, new potatoes, and peas) is pretty damn good.

Yeah, okay, so it's a sortof boring entry. Who cares? I don't have that many regular readers, and most of you know me in real life and understand that my life is just not very exciting on a regular basis. (And hey - I keep a lot of detailed statistics on my webpages, and there's at least two regular readers out there that I haven't identified yet, but you're both logging in from William and Mary, and why haven't you signed my guestbook yet???)

And hey, I almost forgot the news! Matt and I drove by the house site last night after dinner, and there are stakes in the yard! Okay, it was after dark, so we couldn't really see what the stakes were or what they were for, but it's definitely a sign that they're going to start work any day now! ::grin::

Thursday, April 1, 1999

Archive - 1 April 1999

So. Yesterday the company provided pizza for lunch (one of the many benefits of working here) and we all sat and listened to this guy Ted talk about our 401(k) program. Ted comes in once or twice a year and tells us that unless we're retiring in the next few years that we should be investing in the really aggressive funds, and then we get to have fun asking him questions and listening to him never quite answer the questions. Anyway, at one point, he was talking about inflation, and how there was going to be inflation very soon because unemployment was down so far and everyone had so much money and we were all, and this is a direct quote: "consuming our heads off."

I don't even want to tell you what kind of mental images flashed through my mind at that!

I've been having this memory over and over for the last few weeks. Maybe if I type it out here, I'll stop remembering it so much. When I was in college at William and Mary, I dated this guy that I'll just call P., because our relationship ended rather poorly and he's decided that I am Evil Incarnate, or something like that. Anyway, P. was (and probably still is) very much into the recreational drug scene: marijuana, mostly. I had asked him several times to stop, but he wouldn't. (To be fair, it was from him and his friends that I learned that marijuana isn't quite as terrible as They had led me to believe, though I tried it twice and will never do so again, because it makes me so paranoid I can't even walk around the block.) Anyway, here's the memory that's been plaguing me:

This was still early in our relationship, when I was still trying to get him to quit the drugs. P. was protesting that it wasn't as bad as I made it sound, and he said, "Even my dad does it sometimes!" That, I couldn't believe. P.'s dad reminded me of Dr. Emmit Brown from the Back to the Future movies, in both appearance and personality. He was (still is, I suppose) a professor of physics at William and Mary. But I could not imagine him doing any sort of illegal drug. So I asked P. what made him believe that. P. replied that he'd had a stash (of marijuana) in his room, and it disappeared, and later he noticed that his dad's eyes were red - from the smoke, he assumed.

I didn't say anything, but now I wish I had. What went through my mind was, Doesn't it occur to you that his eyes were red because he had found and confiscated your damn stash and was crushed to know you had it?

Last night, Matt and I went over to KT and Kevin's for dinner. KT has started a journal of her own, called Me Too! Me Too! She doesn't promise to update every day, but that's fine. Updating every day is my special obsession.

Anyway, we went over there last night, ostensibly to talk about the Alternity game KT is running, but really just because. KT likes to cook, so this was an excuse for her to show off her skills for us. Man! That was one fantastic dinner! Weinerschnitzel and salad and baked apples and wild rice and bread and black forest cake for dessert! Yeah, I love having friends who cook... ::grin:: I think it would be kindof cool if maybe once a month we had dinner with them, and Matt and I would pay for the groceries if KT would plan the menu and do the cooking. I think that sounds pretty fair, don't you?

We wound up watching Mulan instead of talking about the game. I have to say, I think Mulan is definitely one of Disney's best offerings ever. They didn't mutilate the original story very much, and they didn't mutilate the culture very much, either. I was thrilled when I first saw it that 1) the father wasn't a short, fat, doting imbecile; 2) the mother was still alive and not a terrible person; 3) the daughter wasn't rebelling against the rules of her society; and 4) that Disney didn't turn it into a romance until the very end (and even then, the romance was implied more than shown.) I want that movie. I suppose I should wait until after Matt's and my anniversary to buy it myself, although I already know what Matt's getting me.

I had a fantastic day yesterday. I think I just sortof decided that I was going to be in a good mood, so I was. I did a little whining about going to aerobics (the jelly beans are gone now) and Matt and I got into a little snip-fight when we both misunderstood what the other person was saying, but I cheered up pretty quickly. We looked over the gym - 3GI finally sprang for a corporate sponsorship, so we're thinking of joining - and then went to class, and wonder of wonders! the locker room was a comfortable temperature, and I got my hair into a bun on the first try, and I got used to the water quicker than usual (and Matt teased me by whining about it in role reversal, but I just thought it was funny) and I worked harder than usual in class (knowing in advance, you see, that I was going to be having weinerschnizel for dinner, which is pretty heavy on diet points) and just generally had a great evening.

That's for those of you who are tired of reading my whining. ::grin:: Who knows, maybe I'll have a great day today, too. The weather is still fantastic, so why not?