Monday, December 22, 2008

winter blunderland

Hey, it's been snowing for a few days now. I missed like a day and a half of work last week and i missed today as well. People are still driving but it's ... well, they're crazy. You can't see the pavement, there's snow and ice, and it's still coming down. Buses have gotten stuck right outside our apartment and people are still needing to do something bad enough that they'll risk it.

Not me. I would leave the apartment if we had no food or no cigarettes, but man. Maybe not even then. Weather wimp, yeah you bet! Maybe if the apartment was on fire.

There's a good chance I would, then.

Enjoying videos of the last time this happened up here:
Portland Ice Storm (YT)

My favorite of all the C&H snowmen:
Ishkamina (Flickr)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


So, last night the wife and i went out to the brew pub to get together with some of my friends. They're her friends, too, but they started off as my friends and she got them as part of the package. The reason for the get-together was the passing of Gary Gygax as we are huge D&D nerds.

We had one pitcher of ruby and talked about our first times.

We had a second pitcher of stout and talked about players that have moved out of our life and how tragic it all is.

We had a third pitcher of porter and made promises to game again, and soon.

We had a fourth pitcher, this time an India pale ale which sort of agitated the mood. We all agreed that these were excellent beers but drunk in entirely the wrong order.

I had a slight hangover today. I had four beers, and two gives me a good buzz. I'm what's known as a "lightweight". This is the day after the Daylight Savings Time switch so I'm beery and sleep-deprived. But, as seems to often be the case, Coincidence covers for me.

It just so happens that today is the day that our department is taking our building's EFO team out to lunch as a thank you for the hard work they've been putting in. And a lunch is cheaper than a raise. I had forgotten completely, in fact, I thought it was going to be the following week.
I was just along for the ride and free lunch, and my half-hour lunch turns into an hour-and-a-half lunch, and I still get to go home at my normal time at full pay.

So I got to talk D&D and movies with Nick, and it was a really good day. I got some really satisfying Mexican food and got to shake off some of the stupor. Then, back at the office, I'm getting some coffee, and Jacob, the one who foot the bill, a really nice guy, comes up and starts talking to me about the coffee machine.

The machine went through the first grinding shooshing noise sequence. We talked about whether the machine actually had cups in it or if you had to have a mug (I have never seen the cups and he's never used his mug, FTKSAH.).

The machine paused then hissed a bit, like a startled snake, and then a thunk. We talked about how much better this coffee is than the free coffee (I drink the free coffee, always. Except today I was needing a little more pep (read: sugar) what with the good food and "late night". I said the good food part out loud, but said the "late night" in my head.

He can't stand the free coffee.).

It spat out the rest of my drink and I walked one way and he walked the other.

I should make a D&D character based off Jacob. He'd be a dwarf paladin, I think.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Gramma Rose!

My maternal grandmother turned 91 today. She was born in 1917, which seems like an impossible age away. You might as well be talking about the 1800s. She lived on a farm and rode a horse and buggy to church every Sunday, which was in the one-room school. She remembers when the Model-Ts came out, which for me is like hearing that you were there when Jack the Ripper was stalking the streets of London and how you had to take your mercury pills to calm your vapors.

She said they were amazed by the radio and she felt the need to tell us that there were no pictures, just sound. She didn't say it like it was better, just matter-of-factly. Like, you kids probably didn't know this because of the Internet, but there was a time before television! Right, the Dark Ages. But she's a sweet old lady, so it was just one more odd, funny thing to come out of her mouth. She talked about the first telephone the family got, at the prompting of my sister. As a side note, I don't really know why people tend to talk about how much phones have changed over the years, disproportionately more than any other technology. We're not constantly pointing out how different cash registers are, or restaurants. I think those examples came up because we went to a restaurant afterwards. Anyway.

That was only a little of what we talked about. Mostly, she wanted to talk about death and not being a good enough person. I mean, we touched on how great her kids turned out, and the amazing travels she's had in her life, what she really wanted to talk about was how much she wanted to be with her dead husband and how much better that's going to be.

And everyone, even me, said, yes, that'll be nice, won't it, when it happens. That was a lot going on in one sentence, but we basically were saying a) yes, you're going to die soon and b) that there's an afterlife where the soul of your dead loved ones will be waiting for you and it's like the most perfect retirement home EVER. Of the ones that said, "Yes, that'll be the bestest, huh?" I was the only one who was thinking, "except for b)." My wife thought the same thing, but she wasn't going to lie to a woman who she just met a year or so ago, so she just looked happy for her and was nice.

I understand the need to feel a purpose in your life, and I understand the pressures of going along with how you were raised. So, I can't flick my white-haired nonogenarian gramma shit for doing the best that she could, in difficult times.

What I don't get are my parents and my siblings. I love them, I even like them, but I do not understand them because they DO believe in b). And they really don't get me, either. They love me and like me a whole lot, but I'm kind of a mystery to them. The things we don't see the same are pretty fundamental assumptions of ourselves.

My family loves to have verbal scraps about things, and we love to talk religion, politics, and morality and we love to do it all the time. It makes for a weird Thanksgiving, but I do enjoy debating the existence of God.

The discussions get heated, and people play dirty, but there's a genuine joy of scrapping, of getting your point across the face of your opponent and getting a laugh, too. It's pretty overwhelming, if you're not used to it. I am, and I have been doing research all my life on the topic of God. Not that you haven't, but I've seen your library.

For the faint of heart, I must point out that my grandmother's 91st birthday was not one of those occasions, but my sister said something that normally would have triggered a rapid escalation. Here's how it went down: we were talking about different places my family's lived through the years and out of nowhere, my sister says, "Oh yeah, and what about that house where I saw Jesus?" and our heads snapped in her direction.

I said, "Jesus?"

"Well, Jesus or an angel."

"Orrrrr ... ?"

"Orrrrr what? It was my imagination?"

"Well, maybe ..."

"Okay, well, it wasn't my imagination, because I've thought of that and here's what happened. I would go to bed each night in this one house and for a while there I would wake up and there would be a demon there trying to get in me" and she gestured with her hands that it was trying to float into her chest area, where I understand it's easiest for demons to enter. Probably has something to do with the soul. But I'm interrupting her. "and I would freak out and run to my parent's room ... I mean our parents ... I mean Mom and Dad ..." and she sort of loses her train of thought for a second as she remembers once again that we have the same parents.

"And I would run into their room and the demon would stop and go away. This kept happening and I was told it was all in my head, go to bed, there are no monsters, but then we went to church and there was a guy there who said our house was haunted by a demon and it was because there was an old well there and that's where the demon lived.

"And our house was new, like two or three years old, so Mom and Dad are like, 'No, there's no old well,' but he draws out the layout of our house and it's exactly right and tells us to look for the old well, and there it was and then the demon got destroyed," which to my mind always gets glossed over when she tells this story, "So, I slept all through the night and I woke up the next morning and it felt like Christmas, and I wanted to be with Mom and Dad but I didn't want to wake them so that made it feel even MORE like Christmas, but I went up to their room and in front of the door was an angel.

"And I know it wasn't my imagination because I had never seen an angel like this, I always thought of angels as chubby babies, but here was this guy and he was big and there was a light around him and he said the demon was gone. And he was, and that's how I know it wasn't my imagination."

Well, for my family, that's the equivalent of that old saw about how Uncle Jimmy once got his pants caught in the tree and was attacked by squirrels. There's a lot of nodding as if to say I know it's weird, but it really happened.

Except of course it didn't, not the way they're talking about. The man that described our house was older, had lived and been involved in the community for some time and it's not unreasonable for him to know that there was an old well where our house was. It's also not unreasonable to assume that if my parents were in a new house, knowing that they were poor at the time (and it was no secret, especially at the church that my family was poor), that the house would be built by a developer who produced a lot of houses with a standard plan. Perhaps the man didn't even know he was doing it, but he was drawing on this subconscious knowledge to produce this "answer". There is an old well in that location, this is where it is according to your layout, if you have a demon it's going to be here.

That subconscious thing is an amazing thing, though. It really makes me aware of how we should better know our minds and discover what we can do when we don't know we can't. But when that happens to a religious person, they don't get to take any credit for it, it comes from God. I've heard people say some pretty cracked out things and attribute it to some Almighty Telepath, but when it's a really cool insight, something that person would normally never produce consciously, that's when it pisses me off. Those moments are to be treasured and learned from, but if it comes from God, all you have left is "hey, wasn't that neat, when God told me that? Sure wish that happened more often ..."

I digress. The more plausible story, I think, is that a young girl had some pretty scary hallucinations, and then everyone got caught up in it. I do like the symmetry of the story, though, where an angel appears at the end (like a mirror of the demon at the beginning) to announce that the story's over. I mentally picture him dusting his hands off and then looking around, nodding, and then vanishing. Thanks for the help earlier, buddy, when there was a demon, remember? Sure you do, you just said it was gone.

Anyway, my family's full of these stories, so, growing up, I thought I was weird because I wasn't seeing demons and being filled with the wonder and glory of the presence of God. Then I thought it was because of sin. THEN I thought it was some secret, hidden sin that I didn't even know I was doing. And it was.

It was questioning.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm Cheating On My Novel

It's true. I've started writing another Story, while in the midst of my Novel, and I know it's self-destructive, and it's hurting my Novel and she doesn't even know it. But this Story is so damned sexy.

Okay, it's not like that, but it is, really.

What this is is a long story in and of itself. My wife (I almost wrote 'girlfriend' which is weird ...) has always wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons(TM) and got to briefly play a game with me (I say 'briefly' because she only got to play three sessions, and the first one was just creating her character (She hasn't had the chance to learn the game, but she wants to, so badly (Honest and for true!) And I'm not in a game right now, and I've played for years but never DMed and I've secretly always wanted to (And I know I would rock at it, but it's losing that virginity, you know?( Some people go for the first chance they get, but I've always been the 'wait for the perfect moment' sort of girl. Where was I? Oh right).).).)

So, here is the perfect opportunity for me to break my DM cherry, and the perfect opportunity for her to be comfortable with the crazy arcane, byzantine rules -- or at least the fears of them -- that can be paralyzing to creativity. And this is all about me having a fun time with my favorite, special lady.

So, I'm coming up with a solo game for the two of us, and if it gets good, and if she's having fun, and I'm having fun and being comfortable, why, we'll invite some friends to get together for an enjoyable evening! Where's the downside?

Dammit, I'm using my brain for D&D and not for Novel. Well ... it's okay, right, because I'm still writing, right? I'm still being creative and it's for a really good reason!

And let's face it, the shine has sort of worn off the ol' apple, there, N. Hate to be the one to break it to you, but you haven't been lighting my fires recently. There was that one good night a few weeks ago, but you know, this has been a lot like work, and I'm pretty tired of it.

Oh, don't do that.

C'mon, listen, don't. Just ... come here.

I'm sorry ... I'm sorry ... Shh

We'll be okay. We'll be okay.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Waiting for the third shoe to drop

Got a text last night from my mom saying that my grandma was in the "hospital at least thru weekend. Anemia, checking for ulcer. Blood transfusion and endescopy."

I replied "oh my. let me know if there's anything we can do to help"

She replies that i can call her and gives me the number & room.

I call today and had a brief conversation with her. I called, and this lady answered, and i asked if Ethel was there, and i overheard a brief discussion about how to get the phone across the room. I heard a nurse being called, and then my grandma was on the phone.

I said, "Hey, grandma, this is Mark" and she said "what, in the park?" and i said "No, this is Mark, your grandson." And she was happy to hear my voice, and she asked if she was supposed to be there, in the hospital. I said, "Yes, you should be there, you're supposed to relax and get better," and she gave a relieved laugh and said she didn't know if anyone knew she was there. I said my mom knows because she gave me the phone number to call, so we know grandma's in the hospital, she's okay.

So, i tell her i love her and hope she gets better soon, and she says she loves me and that she thinks she's going crazy. And i say, "What? Going crazy?" and she laughs and says, "Not crazy for loving you, but that i might be going crazy. Something's wrong. Okay, i love you, bye!" and she hung up.

I stood there for a moment with my mouth open, kinda stunned. I know she's losing her ... stuff. She complained once, at Thanksgiving, that we hadn't visited her since she moved into the retirement home, and i let it slide, but we had. But this was different because ... well, she's probably right, she may be losing her mind, and she's aware of it on some level. How do you deal with that, other than show support and reassurance? I think she has the right to get a straight answer, if she asks, point blank, "Do you think i'm going crazy?" but otherwise it's probably best to not bring it up. If i were going crazy, i'd probably want someone to tell me, but my grandma's not me. I dunno.

Oh, and my cousin and his family were in a head-on collision today and so my mom's rushing to the hospital as well.

Man, you tell one God you don't believe in Him any more, and He gets all pissy and starts taking your family away.


The Digits are on their way to visit Grandma. Cousin is okay, has a broken femur by the pelvis and a couple of busted ribs. He wasn't wearing a seat belt.

I said, "HOW old is he?"

They said, "Forty ... old enough to know better!" So, looks like they're okay. His wife got banged up and they're observing her to make sure there was no damage to her heart.

Okay, God, funny joke, ha ha. Now, stop being a dick, 'kay?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Back to Writing

Okay, so I'd been avoiding it this week. I was wrapping up the start of the change in Narrator Two and felt like i needed to digest a bit.

Before I pooped out her next chapter, i guess is the natural extension of that metaphor, sadly.

Anyway, stuff was going on and i had other things i wanted to do. Clumsy Thinker had some comment about it and then came time for accusations and proportions vis a vis the blowing out all this of.

But i finally wrote and it was great, totally unexpected and a little sparkly if i do say so myself. Narrator One had not been resting on his laurels, no sir. I was surprised at what he had been up to, in the meanwhile and he had some good stories to tell. Well, one story, but he's got a few under his belt to pull out when needed. Save it, big guy, all in due time.

So, yeah, getting my ass kicked a little does help me get back on track. I'm not what you'd call "disciplined" or "goal-oriented" or "effective" when it comes to being creative, and that's the whole point of this blog is to change that about myself.

If i can be disciplined, goal-oriented, AND effective in every other aspect of my life, why not in what i love to do most?

Well, second most, i love to be lazy and daydream mostest.